Do you read the labels of every food item you buy for your dog? If yes, then you may have read about sorghum. It is becoming a popular ingredient used by many commercial dog food brands. Mainly because it's a gluten-free whole grain that provides many health benefits to your dog.
But if you’re not familiar with this grain then we’ll try to explain what it is and discuss some of the amazing benefits of feeding sorghum to your dog.
What is Sorghum?
Sorghum is considered to be an ancient grain. Some of its species are grown as cereals for human consumption and some as pastures for animals. It’s known by various names including the great millet, Indian millet, milo, jowar, and durra.
Sorghum is a staple in many rural households, especially in Asia and Africa because of its high nutritional value.
Today grain sorghum has become the third most important cereal crop grown in the United States.
6 Key Benefits of Feeding Sorghum to a Dog
Below we have listed the 6 most compelling benefits of feeding sorghum to your dog.
1. High Fiber Content
Dogs need fiber-rich ingredients in their diet. You may be surprised to know that your dog gets most of its fiber from plant-based food items like sorghum.
These fibers are complex carbohydrates that resist digestion in the small intestines. Instead, they get fermented in the large intestine and provide many health benefits to your dog’s body such as:
- Increasing bulk and absorbing excess water in the stomach to promote bowel regularity and prevent diarrhea and constipation
- Ensures a healthy intestinal pH to promote the growth of good bacteria
- Gets fermented into fatty acids that prevent the overgrowth of bad bacteria
- Helps the dog’s colon recover from injuries
- Slows down the absorption of sugar and prevents blood sugar spikes
- Helps support weight management
2. Gluten-Free Option
Gluten, which is a protein, is found in many grains including oats, wheat, rye, and barley. But sorghum is completely gluten-free. If your dog has a gluten sensitivity or you want to feed them a gluten-free diet then this is a great option.
To see if your dog has a gluten intolerance try looking out for some obvious signs like constant itching, frequent diarrhea, mood swings, restlessness, unhealthy skin, fur, and coat. In such cases, switching to a gluten-free diet can have many benefits including:
- Better digestion
- Reduced bloating
- Improved energy level
- Healthy coat and skin
- Reduced joint pain
- Improved ability to absorb nutrients from food
You can also consult with your veterinarian to get your dog tested for gluten sensitivity if you notice any signs of an allergic reaction.
3. Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants present in sorghum have an important role in maintaining your dog’s health as they prevent oxidation or damage caused by free radicals.
These free radicals are basically natural by-products that are created during the normal metabolic processes. They can cause irreparable damage to your dog’s body and can lead to various health issues like respiratory diseases, skin allergies, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, and heart disease.
Antioxidant-enriched diet can ensure your dog stays protected and leads a happy and healthy life.
4. Source of Protein
Every pet owner knows the importance of a protein-rich diet for their dogs. It’s a nutrient that’s responsible for all major body functions from building muscles, forming new skin cells, and supporting the immune system to providing energy to the body.
Sorghum contains a good amount of protein which is 11 grams per 100 grams of sorghum. This makes it an excellent source of plant-based protein that can be added to your dog’s diet.
But make sure you don’t replace sorghum as the sole protein source in your dog’s diet. They need a well-balanced meal that consists of meat protein and other healthy ingredients.
5. Packed With Essential Minerals
Sorghum is chock-full of many essential nutrients that work together to support your dog's health. Its complete nutritional breakdown is as followed:
Iron- Sorghum is extremely rich in iron. It’s a mineral that is directly involved in the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin in your dog’s body. Hemoglobin transports nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. Iron is also required for various enzyme functions in your dog’s body.
Vitamin B1 - It supports motor functions and boosts cognitive functions.
Vitamin B2 - It helps in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates into energy and also aids in the absorption of various minerals like iron and B6.
Vitamin B6 - It aids in glucose generation, hormone regulation, and nervous system function.
Niacin - It is one of the core nutrients that helps in breaking down fatty acids and supports digestion.
Zinc - It promotes healthy skin, immune system function, and thyroid function.
Phosphorous - It supports healthy kidney function and aids in motor function.
Manganese - Helps in digestion and absorption of proteins and carbohydrates. It also combines with other minerals to support the formation of a healthy skeletal structure.
Magnesium - It's required for almost every bodily function from contracting and relaxing muscles to supporting a healthy heart, liver, and digestive system.
Potassium - It aids in muscle growth, promotes bone health, and boosts metabolism.
But please note that the amount of these nutrients present in sorghum isn't enough to fulfill the daily nutritional requirements of your dog. Thus you can only use sorghum as a supplement to a healthy well-balanced meal.
6. Good Option for Diabetic Dogs
Sorghum is a complex carbohydrate that takes more time to digest compared to other grains. This ensures a gradual rise in the blood sugar level, avoiding sudden peaks and drops. The fiber content of sorghum also ensures that blood sugar levels stay manageable.
How to Feed Sorghum to a Dog
Sorghum is becoming a popular ingredient added to commercial dog foods. You can check the ingredient label on the food you feed your dog to see if it has Sorghum.
If that’s not the case, you can cook some delicious treats at home using sorghum flour. You’ll have to add more ingredients like oats, rice flour, and some peanut butter. The end product will be tasty and healthy for your dog.
Another much simpler option is to make a sorghum porridge or pancakes by using sorghum flour and adding some water and eggs.
How Much Sorghum Can a Dog Eat?
The ideal amount of sorghum a dog can eat depends on various factors including their nutritional requirements and existing health conditions. And since many dog food brands are already adding sorghum to their recipe, it becomes harder to decide how much more sorghum can you add to their diet.
It’s best that you talk to your veterinarian about how much sorghum you should feed your dog as a supplement to their daily diet.
Sorghum for Puppies
Sorghum is safe for puppies. Its rich fiber content and antioxidant properties can help support their digestive health and immune system. They can also benefit from the various vitamins and minerals present in sorghum.
You can directly buy dog food that contains sorghum for your puppy. It’ll ensure that they are getting this grain as a part of a healthy and well-balanced meal.
If you want to feed sorghum at home as a supplement to their diet, then you should consult with your veterinarian to understand your puppy's nutritional requirements. They can better guide you on how you should add sorghum to their diet.
Precautions While Feeding Sorghum to a Dog
Sorghum is a safe ingredient to add to your dog’s diet. But just like any other food item, it’s important to feed it in moderation. Overindulgence can lead to health problems and nutritional imbalance.
Another thing to consider is that some dogs can have allergies to selective grains, including gluten-free grains like sorghum. If you’re feeding them sorghum for the very first time, start with a small amount and monitor their reaction for 24-48 hours.
Look out for any of the following signs of an allergic reaction:
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Constant itching and licking
- Red or irritated eyes
- Continuous sneezing
- Swelling on the face, ears, lips, or eyelids
- Red or inflamed skin
- Itchy ears
If you notice any signs of sorghum allergy, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Sorghum is a gluten-free protein-rich grain that contains fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It can have numerous health benefits for your dog. You can either buy dog food that contains sorghum or serve home-cooked sorghum as a supplement to your dog’s diet.
But if you’re just starting out and you have some concerns, you can consult with your veterinarian before feeding sorghum to your dog.
Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about feeding sorghum to a dog.
1. Can a dog eat sorghum flour?
Yes, dogs can eat sorghum flour. It’s a gluten-free grain that contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants that can support your dog’s health.
2. Can a dog eat onyx sorghum?
Yes, your dog can eat onyx sorghum. It's a special dark-colored sorghum that’s rich in antioxidants.
3. What is whole grain sorghum in dog food?
Whole grain sorghum is added to your dog’s food because it’s an excellent source of dietary fibers, plant-based protein, and antioxidants. It’s a gluten-free grain that can provide many nutritional benefits to your pet.
4. Can a dog have an allergic reaction to sorghum?
If you’re worried about gluten sensitivity caused by grains, then sorghum is a great option for your dogs as it’s completely gluten-free.
But your dog can have allergies to selective grains, including gluten-free grains like sorghum. To avoid any severe reactions, you should always start with a small amount and monitor your dog’s reaction for 24-48 hours.
If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction like an upset stomach, constant itching, sneezing, inflamed skin, red eyes, etc. - contact your veterinarian immediately.