Monday, April 22, 2024

Is Grain Free Dog Food Safe

What Should I Feed Instead Of Grain

Ask the Vet: The Issues of Grain-Free Dog Food

The FDA hasnt reported any DCM cases from pets fed a raw diet. Taurine is found in all fresh meat diets, especially those with organ meat. If you want to feed a grain-free dog diet without having to worry about risks that come from the alternatives to grain, a fresh, whole food meat-based diet is the simplest and best solution.

You can easily avoid deficiencies in all amino acids, including taurine, by feeding your dog the diet he evolved to eat. And dont forget to include organs like heart, liver, kidney, and lung. And then your dog will be getting plenty of amino acids and you wont have to worry about the poor quality proteins in commercial grain-free dog foods.

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Are These Diets The Best Choice For Your Dog

Some proponents of the grain-free dog diets claim that grains are an unnatural source of nutrition for dogs and feel that dogs ancestors did not digest grains in the wild. While it may be true that dogs didnt sit down to eat a pasta dinner, they did hunt and consume animals that ate grains therefore indirectly ingesting grains themselves!

However, since our pets no longer live in the wild, dog foods are formulated with our dogs activity levels, weight, heart health, and overall wellbeing in mind.

While our dogs ancestors may have eaten only a small portion of grains in the wild, dogs have evolved over the years to digest different types of nutrition, including grain. There are several genes in dogs that have been modified over the years to allow them to digest grains and gluten. So, in terms of metabolism, it is not necessary to feed your dogs grain-free pet food.

Some proponents of grain-free dog food diets choose this form of nutrition for their dogs because they believe their dogs are allergic or intolerant to grains. Grain-free and gluten-free diets for dogs are becoming increasingly popular. While these diets are particularly helpful for PEOPLE suffering from celiac disease, gluten intolerances, or allergies to wheat, most dogs do NOT suffer from these same ailments.


Is It Safe To Feed A Grain

The FDAs study of DCM in dogs is still underway, and on their Q& A page, they state:

At this time, we are not advising dietary changes based solely on the information we have gathered so far.

But if you have concerns about feeding diets with certain ingredients, your veterinarian can help determine the most appropriate foods for your pets individual needs.

Although grain-free pet diets have become popular in recent years, its important to keep in mind that grain sensitivities and allergies are actually very rare in pets, compared to humans. So most pets dont require a grain-free diet.

Regardless of which diet youre feeding, if your pet shows any signs of heart problems, such as a cough, breathing difficulties, weakness or collapse, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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Whats The Difference Between Gluten

One misconception is that grain-free means the same thing as gluten-free. Some grains wheat, barley and rye do indeed contain gluten and if your dog has a wheat intolerance, which as weve discussed is one of the more common food intolerances, opting for a gluten-free dog food will help you avoid this.

Dogs requiring a gluten-free diet dont need a grain-free diet. There are grains which dont contain gluten and offer various benefits for your dog. Its always best to check the full ingredient list on the back of pack, rather than simply shopping by labels such as gluten-free or grain-free to ensure that the food delivers on the nutrition that your dog needs.

The Benefits Of Grain

Naturediet Feel Good Grain Free Dog Food

There are some different pros and cons dog owners should consider when looking into grain-free dog food.

If your dog has a grain allergy, of course, you can put him on a grain-free diet, which should address his health issues. Additionally, grain-free pet foods could be beneficial if your dog has digestive issues, since carbohydrates can be difficult for some dogs to digest.

Dog foods with grains may use wheat gluten or corn meal, which are cheap fillers that have little nutritional value and reduce the quality of the kibble or wet food. However, many grain-free dog foods will not use fillers, and instead may use better quality ingredients.

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Not All Diets Were Grain

Of the diets tested by the FDA, only 91% were classified as grain-free. They also found no single protein dominated the others but the most common were chicken, lamb and fish. Another factor the FDA report notes is this rise in DCM cases has happened within the last several years and while diet may be a factor, it’s possible some other issue is at play. This report states “changes in ingredients, ingredient sourcing, processing or formulation may have contributed to the development of DCM.” A published report in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association agrees, noting that the link between grain-free diets and DCM “may be due to the grain-free nature of these diets” or it could be related to some commonalities with other exotic diets such as “exotic meats, flaxseed, fruits, or probiotics.” The report also notes that DCM could occur due to “possible nutritional imbalances, or inadvertent inclusion of toxic dietary components.” However, after listing all of these possibilities, the report concludes that, “…the apparent association may be spurious.” It’s clear that more research is necessary to develop a clear link between DCM and diet.

Is Your Dog Deficient In Taurine

If your dog has been eating a grain-free kibble, he wont necessarily develop DCM.

With that said, theres no better time to switch your dog to an animal-protein-rich diet than today!

But if youre concerned your dog is deficient in taurine, especially if you have one of the breeds most frequently affected, theres hope

You can ask your vet to check your dogs taurine levels and even get an echocardiogram to be sure.

For now, the best way to avoid taurine deficiency is to feed your dog a fresh, whole food, meat-based diet including organs like heart, liver, kidney and lung.

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How Can I Find A Good Diet For My Dog

Every dog is different and finding the right diet for them can be really tricky. With the current concern over BEG diets, wed recommend avoiding them until the FDA have finished their investigations and made a recommendation to ensure your pets are safe. In the meantime, finding a well-recognised diet brand that fits your dogs needs is important. Many vets recommend using the World Small Animal Veterinary Association checklist to help you to find a diet that you can trust

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Cases Reported To Fda

FDA issues warning on grain-free dog food

For the purposes of this investigation, the FDA defines a case as an illness reported to FDA involving a dog or cat that includes a diagnosis of DCM. Many of the reports submitted to the FDA included extensive clinical information, including echocardiogram results, cardiology/veterinary records, and detailed diet histories. The numbers below only include reports in which the dog or cat was diagnosed with DCM by a veterinarian and/or veterinary cardiologist. We did not include in these numbers the many general cardiac reports submitted to the FDA that did not have a DCM diagnosis. However, this case information is still valuable, as it may show heart changes that occur before a dog develops symptomatic DCM. . Although the FDA first received a few sporadic reports of DCM as early as 2014, the vast majority of the reports were submitted after the agency notified the public about the potential DCM/diet issue in July 2018.

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Does Grain Free Dog Food Help With Allergies

If your dog is suffering from allergy symptoms, it might be tempting to immediately rush out to buy a variety of new dog foods including grain-free options. Before you rush off to the nearest shop its worth first assessing whether food is the culprit.

First things first, its important to consult with your vet before making any changes at home. Environmental triggers are far more common than food intolerances. Shampoos, washing powders, dust and cleaning products are all common dog allergies that will display similar symptoms to food allergies. Consult with your vet to make sure your dogs symptoms arent due to environmental causes before you make any unnecessary changes to your dogs diet.

If you do find that your dogs allergies are food related, its a process of elimination to discover the true culprit. Weve already discussed that its much more likely that your pooch will have an allergy to beef, eggs, chicken, dairy or wheat rather than grains so opting for a grain-free food which contains the ingredient your dog is sensitive to isnt going to help. Whilst it can be tempting to opt for a fast saliva or blood test, rather than going down the lengthy elimination diet process, wed recommend avoiding these tests. They not only put your dog under stress but also yield inaccurate results as high as 50-60% false positives.

Does Grain Free Dog Food Cause Dcm

DCM is closely linked to taurine deficiency, with taurine being sourced from animal, irrespective of whether a dry food is formulated with grain or grain free ingredients. A significant percentage of dogs in the DCM investigation were tested taurine deficient, and many were fed an exclusive diet of a single brand of pet food. Until recently it was believed taurine was not required in a canine diet by AAFCO standards, but this has since been addressed and added as a requirement.

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Pros Of Regular Dog Food

A big pro of regular dog food is the cost and availability. Grain-free dog foods usually cost more and are not always available at your neighborhood grocery store. Regular dog foods also contain more complex carbohydrates that help give dogs energy. So they can better than grain-free dog foods for older dogs and dogs that are less active. They also contain a lot of fiber which helps keep dogs regular and can help them lose weight. Also, grains provide a lot of protein and some veterinarians recommend dogs get protein from multiple sources beyond just meat. Dog food that contains grain will also have more filler ingredients which help your dog to feel more full after a meal. Finally regular dog food has more variety of ingredients so the nutritional profile may be more complete than a grain-free dog food.

What Are The Pros Of Grains For Your Dog

Good Natured, Dog Food

Dogs can enjoy the taste and nutritional benefit of a number of grains, just like us. But, like everything else we feed our dogs, its important to make healthy choices and not just opt for the same grains you or I would enjoy. Dogs are different. For example human toothpaste is a no no when it comes to brushing your dogs teeth.

Whole grains are our favourite type of grain for your pooch, providing the most nutrients and goodness. By definition, these are grains that have 100% of the natural kernel, meaning nothing has been removed during production. Brown rice and oats are whole grains that avoid gluten and offer an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

High in fibre

Whole grains, particularly brown rice, are full of fibre and a great source of magnesium and selenium, helping to ease digestion and keep your dogs gut healthy.

Antioxidant rich

Many whole grains are packed with antioxidants the superhero of nutrients! They can help your dog in a number of ways, including aiding weight loss, stabilising blood sugar and promoting good heart health.

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Complete And Balanced Is An Illusion

Over the last 30 or 40 years, our food preferences have changed dramatically.

In the 80s we wanted fat-free foods. Then in the 90s we wanted grain-free or gluten-free foods. Then in 2000 we wanted high-protein and paleo foods. Today we want farm-to-table, novel proteins, and even vegetarian and vegan diets.

The foods we feed our pets are largely based on our own food choices.

While we change our minds about what we want to eat, the pet food companies are happy to cater to us they sell us what we think we want.

And while our nutrition preferences change, the formulation and ingredients in pet foods change with them.

The problem is, there havent been any significant changes to the AAFCO nutrient requirements for dogs and cats.

With all the new diets and novel ingredients that have appeared in the last 20 to 30 years, AAFCO hasnt been able to keep up with the changes and this increases the risk of nutritional deficiencies.

So its important to note that the dogs with DCM that the FDA is investigating today were all eating AAFCO-approved foods labelled as Complete and Balanced.

Understanding Dog Food Labels

Reading pet food labels can be confusing. These tips will help you better understand the information you may find on the labels.

95% rule. If the product name is Savory Chicken for Dogs, the named ingredient , must make up at least 95% of the weight of the product.

Light/low-calorie: Meets AAFCO requirements for reduced calories.

Natural. Has few or no synthetic ingredients or artificial flavors.

Grain-Free. The food has no grain products: barley, wheat, oats, grain sorghum, corn rice, rye, and grain.

Guaranteed analysis. The product is guaranteed to have the percentages of protein, fiber, fat, and moisture as specified on the label.

With: Lamb with lentils must contain at least 3% of the mentioned with ingredient .

Nutritional adequacy: This means the food has either has ingredients formulated to provide levels of nutrients according to an established profile or has been tested using the appropriate AAFCO Feeding Trial Protocol.

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Overreaching By Those With An Axe To Grind

It was bad enough to see the FDAs warning reduced by a combination of poor reporting, poor reader comprehension, and social media hysteria to grain-free foods cause canine heart disease. But some media outlets also included statements from an animal nutrition expert whose opinions on diets are consistent with those of the pet food industry corporate giants she has repeatedly been quoted as implicating boutique pet foods in the current rash of reported cases of DCM. Whats a boutique food? She doesnt define this, but we suspect its anything made by any company whose annual sales are less than umpteen million

This same expert has also implicated foods that contain exotic ingredients, which she provided a partial list for in one article: kangaroo, lentils, duck, pea, fava bean, buffalo, tapioca, salmon, lamb, barley, bison, venison, and chickpeas. Hmm.

All in all, we have lost track of the number of times she has been quoted as saying that pet owners should avoid boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diets and, unfortunately, this over-broad and ill-defined description is finding its way into more and more discussions of this concerning issue.

The Latest Research On Grain

All 4 Pets: The warnings of grain-free pet food

The FDA has been instrumental in alerting consumers to the potential for DCM with specialized diets. After conducting an investigation last July, they concluded that 90 percent of dog foods connected with DCM cases were grain-free and 93 percent of those foods contained peas or lentils .

They also found that other risk factors had an impact on the likelihood of a dog developing DCM even after eating an at-risk diet. Variables include breed, genetics, and health status of the dogs in question

In the Journal of Veterinary Medicine in December 2019, Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN made it clear that it isnt just a grain-free diet that is risky. Pets developing heart disease are equally linked to boutique and specialty products, including wild game.

Although there is still no definitive proof that these specialized diets lead to DCM, pet owners should consider the benefits and risks for their individual pets nutritional needs.

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Recommended Serving Amounts For Homemade Dog Food

As a general rule, dogs will eat around 2 to 3 percent of their ideal body weight in fresh food daily. Larger breeds may need as little as 1 1/2 percent, and smaller breeds may need as much as 4 percent.

This works out to be approximately:

  • 2 pounds of food per day for a 100-pound dog
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of food per day for a 50-pound dog
  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound of food per day for a 25-pound dog
  • 5 to 6 1/2 ounces of food per day for a 10-pound dog

There is much variation in what the ideal amount should be as it depends on how much your dog weighs and how active she is.

I feel that the best approach is to feed and watch if your dog is losing weight, give more, and if your dog is gaining weight, give less.

For our pugs, we feed a scoop each in the morning and a scoop each in the evening, plus all their supplements.

We have an easy system for this: homemade food is refrigerated in a sealed container with a measuring cup , and all the supplements are lined up together in a cupboard in the kitchen. Keeping your ingredients organized and accessible will make feeding time fast and smooth.

Compared to feeding commercial food, where you might scoop out kibbles or open up a can, feeding homemade food with all the supplements takes maybe 10 seconds more. And even if it took 10 minutes more, fresh wholesome food for our furbabies is worth it.

What Is The Best Dog Food To Avoid Dcm

I prefer a dog food without corn, wheat or meat by-products. I also prefer a dog food with animal protein rather than plant protein, and for it to come from specific animal meal, such as poultry meal, lamb meal, beef meal or fish meal. Here are definitions of common ingredients in pet foods from AAFCO.

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