What Is Millet?
Millet is a cereal grain, but it is unique in comparison to other grains because technically it is a seed. Millet is not commonly eaten by people in the western world but is quite popular in less developed countries and is used as a staple.
Millet needs to be cooked to be effectively consumed and digested. However, any Millet contained in commercial dry dog food will have been cooked during the manufacturing process, so you need not be overly concerned about the potential of it being undercooked.
One interesting and commonly known use of Millet is in commercial bird feed and birdseed. Many varieties of bird seed that you will pick up from your local store will contain Millet.
Another noteworthy point when it comes to Millet is that it is gluten-free whereas most other grains are not gluten-free. This ties into the fact that it is technically a seed — this fact is one of the reasons that Millet is somewhat unique as a grain, despite gluten not being a common allergy for dogs.
Millet is a grain, so it’s primary nutritional value is as a dense source of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are used by dogs as a source of energy, either to be used straight away or to be stored in the body as fat.
Dog’s do not need a large proportion of carbohydrates in their diet, but a modest portion is acceptable and will not cause the vast majority of dogs any harm.
Millet contains a few vitamins and minerals at notable levels. One example is the B vitamins. Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin B6 are present and can lower cholesterol and improve brain function.
Iron is present in Millet in high levels considering it is a plant-based ingredient. Most plant ingredients contain very little iron which is essential for the production of red blood cells.
Magnesium is also present in Millet. Magnesium can improve the health of the bodies muscles and reduce blood pressure.
Millet contains a high level of Manganese. Manganese has strong antioxidant properties and can prevent cell damage.
Uses Of Millet In Dog Food
One application of Millet in dog food is for those dogs who can not consume legumes like Peas, Lentils, and Chickpeas. If a dog can not eat these ingredients, then there is a very limited selection of dog food recipes available that are considered high-quality or nutritious.
Therefore many dog owners turn towards the higher-quality grain ingredients such as Brown Rice, Oatmeal, and Millet. While some would argue that dogs should not eat any grains under any circumstances, these grain ingredients are a lifeline to those in difficult situations.
For more information on how to deal with a legume or pea allergy and the best alternatives available, check out our article Best Dog Foods Without Peas.
Dog Food Brands That Use Millet
Two major dog food brands make considerable use of Millet. The first of these in Nature’s Logic. Nature’s Logic uses Millet in all of its dry dog and cat food recipes as the primary source of carbohydrates.
This exclusive use of Millet puts them in a unique situation to fill the niche of dogs who do not cope with other traditional carbohydrate providing ingredients but still want variety in meat and fish ingredients to suit their tastes and tolerances.
Below is one of our favorite formulas from Nature’s Logic.
Nature’s Logic Canine Duck & Salmon Meal Feast Review
Check Price On Chewy
The other major brand to use Millet is Fromm. Fromm does not use millet in all its formulas like Nature’s Logic does, but it is present in a selection of their recipes. Millet is often combined with other ingredients like Sweet Potatoes, White Potatoes, Barley, and Oatmeal.
In this situation, Fromm’s formulas probably not suitable for those dogs looking to use Millet to combat allergies or sensitivities. However, many of these formulas still contain satisfactory nutrition which would be ideal for a large number of dogs.
Hi James! I love that you not only separate out dog foods in terms of what ingredients they do or they don’t have, but also you have pages on the specific ingredients themselves… This is all very helpful for so many people!
I do have to add one comment on this ingredient in, something that you may not have come across in your research. There have been several studies that have shown that millet can have a deleterious effect on the thyroid if it is overconsumed… And that includes both people and pets.
One canine thyroid researcher that I’ve been in touch with told me that there was a study done with cats and millet and it did have a negative effect on the thyroid in a large percentage of the subjects.
I actually wrote to Nature’s Logic about their use of millet in their foods and they provided the following response:
“There is a fair amount of research information showing that diets with large amounts of millet can have negative effects on thyroid function. There are some compounds in millet that can interfere with iodine, leading to hypothyroidism and thyroid gland enlargement (goiter). If dogs are fed a diet that is mostly millet, thyroid problems could develop. Thyroid problems develop when millet (and other grains) are fed as staples, meaning that millet is the main ingredient in the diet. For that reason, it is not recommended to feed Nature’s Logic kibble foods exclusively.”
So, that is a pretty revealing and concrete answer about millet!
I also wanted to bring to your attention that one other dog food line also uses millet as it’s exclusive grain in its foods: Canine Caviar.
Thanks again, as always, for your terrific research and writing, James!