Dog Health

Dog Food Ingredients 101: Spelt

April 22, 2023

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter SWhen I was looking for a dog food ingredient that started with the letter “s”, I came across “dried spelt” listed on a bag of dry dog food.  I imminently thought “oh the fish, that won’t be bad to write about”.  Many of you are probably already thinking “No, smelt is the family of fish!”.  And you would be right!

This post is part of our 2023 April blogging from A to Z Challenge!  Join us this month as we go through the alphabet, A to Z, learning more about some of the ingredients that are commonly (or not so commonly, in some cases) found in our dog’s food!

What is Spelt?

Spelt (Triticum spelta) is also known as dinkel wheat or hulled wheat.  It’s an ancient species of wheat that isn’t super common but can sometimes be found in health food stores.  Spelt is closely related to common wheat.  It’s more popular in countries such as Germany, Austria, Poland, and Belgium.  It is sold, like common wheat, as flour and used in baked goods.  It can also be distilled to create beer and vodka. 

Photo Credit: Dominicus Johannes Bergsma. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Why is Spelt Added to Dog Food?

Spelt, like the more widely known common wheat, is a grain.  Although it’s somewhat common for dogs to be allergic to common wheat and other grains, many animals who are allergic to common wheat can tolerate spelt.  This is thought to be due to the fact that spelt is an ancient grain that was first cultivated in the bronze age.  People, and thus the dogs they share their lives with, have evolved alongside spelt.

Spelt is a good source of B vitamins and is high in fiber.  Like other grains, it is likely added to dog food as what is sometimes referred to as a filler.  Although, especially in recent years, ‘filler’ has been seen as a negative term, fillers are added to dog foods as sources of fiber.  They are usually high in fiber but low in calories, so they can help your dog feel full and promote GI health without adding a lot of additional calories to the food.

spelt dog food

Cons of Feeding Spelt to Dogs:

Although it’s not as common as wheat allergies, some dogs can be allergic to spelt.  Spelt also contains gluten.  It should not be fed to dogs with celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

Benefits of Spelt for Dogs:

Spelt is high in fiber and can help promote health digestion.  It can help your dog feel full and satisfied with their meals, but doesn’t add a lot of excess calories to the diet.  Spelt can also provide protein, B vitamins, and iron.  It contains amino acids.  Sometimes, dogs with grain allergies to other types of grains are able to tolerate spelt.

So What’s the Verdict on Spelt?  Is it Safe as a Dog Food Ingredient?

Spelt is dog safe as long as your dog is not allergic to it, or suffering from celiac disease.  Spelt should be fully cooked when offered to dogs, as it can be very hard for them to digest otherwise.  This isn’t a concern when feeding a commercial dog food containing spelt,  however, as most dog foods are heavily processed.

Comment below!  Did you know what spelt was before seeing it as a dog food ingredient?  I didn’t!  It’s funny how learning more about our dog’s food and nutritional needs can sometimes help us live healthier lives as well.  I’ve never purchased spelt flour before, but am going to try to find some now that I know more about it!

spelt dog food
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