How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 33254
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
Type Your Vet Question Here...
Dr. Michael Salkin is online now

Are cereals in dry dog food good/harmful/harmless/? Thank

This answer was rated:

Are cereals in dry dog food good/harmful/harmless/? Thank you!
Aloha! You're speaking with Dr. Michael Salkin
I can understand your confusion. There's far too much misinformation when it comes to dog food, period, and certainly when it comes to cereal grains. The nutritionist in me will first state the following succinctly:

Cereals are unfarily criticized. They've been called cheap fillers when, instead, they are a good source of inexpensive protein. They've been blamed for causing food intolerance when in fact beef and chicken head the list of the most common foods causing a food intolerance. The list in the order of highest to lowest frequency of causing a food intolerance in dogs is as follows: beef, chicken, corn, wheat, eggs, soy, and rice. It's important to note that food intolerance represents less than 10% of the allergies in dogs. Cereals have supplied dogs with highly digestible dietary energy for over a 1000 years. Combined with other high quality ingredients, cereal grains are an integral part of a healthy balanced diets.

For example, take a look at these recipes as found in Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets, 2nd Ed., Patricia Schenck DVM, PhD, 2010, that may be fed as presumptive diets for a food intolerance:

Tofu, extra firm 10 ounces
Rice, white, long-grain, cooked 1.25 cup
Canola oil 1 tbsp
Salt substitute (potassium chloride) 1/2 tsp
Bone meal powder 2.25 tsp
Salt, iodized (sodium chloride) 3/4 tsp
Multivitamin & mineral tablet, kids complete 1 each
zinc, 100mg tablet 1/2 tablet
vitamin B12 liquid, 1000 mcg B12 per ml 0.25ml
Total kcal as prepared 797 kcal

Chicken breast, roasted, without skin 4 ounces
Quinoa, cooked 1/5 cup
Canola oil 1 tbsp
Salt substitute (potassium chloride)) 1/2 tsp
bone meal powder 2 tsp
salt, iodized (sodium chloride) 3/4 tsp
multivitamin & mineral tablet, kids complete 1 each
zinc, 100mg tablet 1/2 tablet
Total kcal as prepared 648 kcal

Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your reassurance - glad to know cereals/.grains have their place! Would you put a percentage proportion on to the ingredients column in any bag of dog food?

I am also intrigued that you put chicken fairly high on the intolerance table, since every vet I know of in the UK prescribes chicken-and-rice for an out-of-sorts dog!

Thank you again - Marion Somervillle

The percentages you see in the ingredient list can be misleading. They don't take into account the amount of water present in the diet. A better way to compare diets is to look at nutrients on a dry matter basis or, even better, on a metabolizable energy basis but that information isn't always found on food labels. I rely on AAFCO - our diet evaluating organization - to tell me if the diet meets AAFCO guidelines and dogs have done well after a 6 month feeding trial. You should look for the AAFCO statement on the label of any food you're interested in feeding.

Yes, while chicken breast and rice constitute a bland diet which might be appropriate for acute cases of gastroenteritis, chicken should be avoided if we're presumptively offering a hypoallergenic diet.

You're quite welcome. Marion. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Dr. Michael Salkin and other Vet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Michael very much. You have explained the complications of the information food manufacturers give us. I'm not sure we have AAFCO in the UK (presumably the first A is American?)but i shall paste up all your information and keep it handy.


I think we have to accept that a 10-year-old Airedale is not going to be quite so fit as he was even a couple of years ago, but we will do our best for him.

And he is pretty fit considering.


Thank you again - i don't think I can trouble you for more! Marion.

It's my pleasure. Please see here: I believe that your Food Standards Agency works hand in hand with AAFCO.
Thank you for your kind accept. I appreciate it.

You may receive an inappropriate follow up from the site ostensibly from me. It wasn't and I apologize in advance should you receive it.

Please disregard the info request.