Monday, April 22, 2024

Is Grain Free Food Good Or Bad For Dogs

Are All Grains Okay

Is Grain Free Food Good For Dogs?

This information doesnt mean you can feed your dog any ol low quality dog food full of rice hulls and corn gluten. Its always important to choose the best quality dog food for your dog. If you are feeding a food with grain in it, the grains or other carbs should only be a small part of the food. Dogs are still carnivores and they do need quality sources of meat protein. What it means is that you dont have to feed your dog a grain-free food in order for him to be healthy. There are lots of high quality dog foods available which have low to moderate amounts of grain from good sources.

Of course, if you feed your dog a grain-free food, it probably contains other carb sources. Kibble requires some carbohydrate source to hold the food together so it can make a batter or dough to go through the machinery and be made into dog food. Even the best grain-free foods add carbs to the recipe. And dogs need carbs from a dietary perspective. They are a good source of energy for the brain and nervous system.

Are grain-free dog foods a fad? Well, to some extent, yes. Most dogs dont need to eat grain-free food if they dont have any allergies to grains. If you simply want a high quality dog food for your dog, there are lots of good foods that have low to moderate amounts of grain along with great ingredients. But it wont hurt your dog to eat grain-free food. On the other hand, it wont hurt your dog to eat a high quality food with some grain in it either.

Whats Up With Gluten Free Diets

Gluten free diets may be the current nutritional craze, but pet owners should be aware of a few facts. Gluten is a protein that is found in certain grains including barley, wheat, and rye, but there are grains that do not contain gluten. Gluten free does not mean grain free. All grain free dog foods are gluten free, but not all gluten free dog foods are grain free.

“All grain free dog foods are gluten free, but not all gluten free dog foods are grain free.”

Some gluten may actually be beneficial. Gluten is sticky and helps bind food together into kibble pieces. Gluten sensitivity is rare in dogs, so gluten may be a safe, useful part of a diet that includes grain.

Should You Be Concerned About Grain

In the , they examined labels of dog food products reported in DCM cases to determine whether the foods were grain-free , and whether the foods contained peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans, or potatoes . Their report states that more than 90 percent of foods reported in DCM cases were grain-free, 93 percent of reported foods contained peas and/or lentils, and 42 percent contained potatoes/sweet potatoes.

According to Dr. Klein, At this time, there is no proof that these ingredients are the cause of DCM in a broader range of dogs, but dog owners should be aware of this alert from the FDA. The FDA continues to work with veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the effect, if any, of grain-free diets on dogs.

The FDAs July 2019 update includes the names of dog food brands that were named 10 times or more in reports submitted through April 30, 2019. Most reports were for dry dog food, but raw, semi-moist and wet foods were all represented.

  • Acana
  • Taste of the Wild
  • 4Health
  • Natures Domain
  • Fromm
  • Natures Variety
  • Nutrisource

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Does My Cat Need A Gluten Free Diet

For most cats, a gluten free diet is not a requirement. The exception would be the rare cat that has an allergy to gluten. This, however, is very uncommon.

Some gluten in the diet can, in fact, be beneficial for providing some of your cats protein needs. However, it is important to know that cats are carnivores and they do need animal-derived protein in their diet. So, gluten or other plant-based protein cannot be the sole protein source in your cats food.

Image: Master-L / via Shutterstock

1. Carlotti DN, Remy I, Prost C. Food allergy in dogs and cats. A review and report of 43 cases. Vet Dermatol 1990 1:55-62.

Guaguere E. Food intolerance in cats with cutaneous manifestations: a review of 17 cases. Eur J Companion Anim Pract 1995 5:27-35.

Guilford WG, Jones BR, Harte JG, et al. Prevalence of food sensitivity in cats with chronic vomiting, diarrhea or pruritus . J Vet Intern Med 1996 10:156.

Guilford WG, Jones BR, Markwell PJ, et al. Food sensitivity in cats with chronic idiopathic gastrointestinal problems. J Vet Intern Med 2001 15:7-13.

Ishida R, Masuda K, Kurata K, et al. Lymphocyte blastogenic responses to food antigens in cats with food hypersensitivity. Unpublished data. University of Tokyo, 2002.

Reedy RM. Food hypersensitivity to lamb in a cat. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1994 204:1039-1040.

Stogdale L, Bomzon L, Bland van den Berg P. Food allergy in cats. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1982 18:188-194.

Pros And Cons Of Grain Free Dog Food & Treats

Best Grain

Everyone wants their pets to live a well-nourished and rich life. What you feed your pet can go a long way in impacting their wellbeing. The options when it comes to pet nutrition are endless, from hydrolyzed proteins to raw diets. Recently, grain-free dog food has joined the fray and has become hugely popular. This is mostly because of claims that dogs cant easily digest grains seeing how they cause gastrointestinal tract damage, food allergy or intolerance.

But, are grain-free dog treats good for your dog or should you keep them off the diet completely? Let us look at the pros and cons of grain-free dog food.

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Good Health Begins With The Gut

When it comes to choosing a diet for your dog, the health of their gut should be at the forefront of every decision. They only get one digestive system in their lives, and any damage can unfortunately be long lasting and irreversible. Do your research, understand your pooch and make choices based on their preferences and health.

Of course, all dogs need a healthy supply of animal protein to get all essential amino acids. Meat should be the number one ingredient on every dog food recipe. Percentages are important, but they can also be misleading. Some brands may include fresh and dried meat in the same category, so be sure to take a closer look at the ingredients list. And for those that have vague terms and are not transparent run a mile!

Our philosophy at Scrumbles is to focus on gut health. We include probiotics in our range of dry dog food and dry cat food, as well as slippery elm in our range of wet dog food and cat food for digestive health, stool quality and healthy immune systems.

A Look At The Numbers

The FDA investigated 515 reports of DCM in dogs received between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, finding 560 dogs were affected. Out of the 560 dogs diagnosed with DCM, 119 of them died as a result of DCM .

An enlarged heart is very common in humans, says Dr. Patton, but its relatively uncommon in dogs, so these numbers do seem concerning. Its absolutely something we should keep an open mind about and keep investigating.

Why would a grain-free diet contribute to DCM?

It might not be as simple as grain-free or not grain-free, according to Dr. Patton. The amount of other ingredients of concern complicate the issue.

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Animal Numbers In Dcm Reports Received Between January 1 2014 And April 30 2019


*Cats are generally more likely to develop hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy is recognized as a genetic condition in dogs, typically in large or giant breeds, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, or the Irish Wolfhound. It is also seen in Cocker Spaniels associated with taurine deficiency. It is believed to be less common in small and medium breed dogs. We suspect that cases are underreported because animals are typically treated symptomatically, and diagnostic testing and treatment can be complex and costly to owners. FDA has observed a reporting bias for breeds like Golden Retrievers due to breed-specific social media groups and activities that have raised awareness of the issue in these communities and urged owners and vets to submit reports to FDA. Because the occurrence of different diseases in dogs and cats is not routinely tracked and there is no widespread surveillance system like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have for human health, we do not have a measure of the typical rate of occurrence of disease apart from what is reported to the FDA.

Lyka Goes Against The Grain

Is Grain Free Dog Food Bad?

You wont find legumes in any of our Lyka meals, and if youd like to give your pup grain-free food, our Free Range Chicken and Grass Fed Beef recipes are a great option for you. We use organic white quinoa in our Barn Raised Turkey and Grass Fed Lamb recipes. The level of carbohydrates in our recipes doesnt exceed 17% , much of which comes from vegetables such as purple sweet potato and butternut squash.

The higher level of meat content in our meals gives your dog the protein and amino acids they need, and the ingredients exceed the minimum requirements for dogs to synthesise taurine and L-carnitine, making your dog less susceptible to DCM.

Crafted with the help of our in-house vet Matthew Muir, our nutritious recipes are designed to give puppers a long and healthy life.

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Fda Investigation Into The Link Between Heart Disease And Diet

Yes, if the FDA initiates an investigation into a brand or diet, it is usually a cause for concern.

For example, a study by the FDA investigating the association between grain-free diets and developing certain heart disease in dogs has been published.

This is because there have been many reports that dilated cardiomyopathy has developed in canines that have been on a grain-free diet for months or years. Among the first ingredients in these dog foods were legumes or potatoes.

Between January 2014 and April 2019, the FDA received 524 reports. In many cases, more pets in the reporting households suffered from the problem, so, in fact, there were well over 524 animals.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that although DCM is not uncommon in dogs, the above cases often occurred in breeds that are not prone to heart disease.

The research results were published in June 2020, among others, in the Journal of Animal Science.

Despite all previous discussions and suspicions, the experts found no clear evidence between the grain-free diet of dogs and DCM development. I think it is worth believing the conclusion, as there have been nearly 150 studies on the subject.

This can sound reassuring to dog owners who feed their little ones a grain-free diet. However, experts want to carry out further investigations, as it would be crucial to find out exactly what caused the more than 500 cases mentioned above.

Carbohydrates Blood Glucose And Diet Digestibility

Another common reason some owners prefer feeding a grain-free diet is to limit carbohydrate intake and secondary fluctuations in blood glucose. Although dogs lack salivary -amylase, which initiates the process of cleaving carbohydrates into oligosaccharides, they have similar carbohydrate digestive and metabolic enzymes found in omnivorous species such as humans. Cats, on the other hand, have numerous differences in their ability to digest, absorb, and metabolize starches and sugars. Details of these metabolic adaptations are beyond the scope of this discussion, but have been recently reviewed 13.

When contemplating the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar, some consideration should also be made regarding the types of carbohydrates in a diet. In both dogs and cats, carbohydrate sources with higher concentrations of fiber and protein tend to have lower glycemic responses 14, 17. For example, corn and brewers rice elicit a higher glucose and insulin response in cats than ingredients like peas and lentils 14, so diets with similar carbohydrate contents could have differing metabolic effects.

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It’s Not Necessarily Healthier For Dogs

First, let’s start with a simple fact: there is no scientific evidence suggesting that grain free diet for dogs is a better option for every pet. In fact, the research that has been done on these diets found somewhat opposite results. A 2014 study concludes:

Labels that read grain-free are more harmful to the dog and should not be given unless required for other specific needs.

Experts staying on the top of current research pet nutrition further confirm this, and generally disagree about switching your dog to a grain free diet without a good reason to do so .

Grain free diets differ significantly one from another

Moreover, the grain free diet for dogs has many variations, and they are not all created equally. Unless he has a special health condition, your pet’s grain-free dog food diet shouldnt be low-carb, but many are.

On the other hand, grain-free diets that are high in protein and fat and low in carbs can be problematic for some dogs .

Studies show how feeding your dog grain-free may result in an imbalance of microorganisms in the dogs digestive tract, and if not immediately then eventually resulting in flatulence, diarrhea, vomiting or constipation.

Be careful of high-protein diets that contain only one or two sources of fiber. Not all fiber is created equal and different types have different effects on the digestive system.

If you see ingredients on the label from both sides of this chart, your dogs fiber is well-covered:

Soluble Fiber Sources
Peas, Lentils

The High Cost Of Grain

Should You Consider Grain Free Dog Food? Is Grain Really ...

If nothing else, the last thing to mention about grain free diet for dogs is their expensive price tag. As you have probably already noted, whether cheap brands or those among the top rated dog foods, the grain free diet for dogs typically commands a higher cost than their grain-containing counterparts. Animal-based products are almost always more expensive pound-for-pound than plant-based products in pet foods.

Many dog food brands that are grain-free also include human-grade meats. While this can be healthier for our dogs, it commands a higher price as well. Whole fruits, vegetables and even lentils that are human-grade in dog foods also drives up the price. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend extra dollar on your pet’s food if you can afford it, but just be prepared before you make the switch.

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Some Dogs Do Benefit From Grain

-Dr. Donna Solomon, a veterinarian in Chicago .

Dr. Solomon continues, “Is it true that dogs are not designed to eat grains? No, dogs can digest grains. Your pet dog is not genetically equivalent to the ancient wolf that he arose from. The precise timing and location of this transformation is unknown but it is speculated to have occurred over tens of thousands of years ago…10 key genes have been identified that demonstrate our domesticated dogs increased ability to digest starch and fat relative to his ancient predecessor, the wolf.”

That same research above out of the University of Maine found that feeding a grain-free diet can be harmful to dogs when coupled with a high-protein diet. “Feeding a dog a high protein diet that is high in fat causes long term effects, such as harm to the kidneys due to being over worked and not being able to flush out enough urea in the system…Labels that read grain-free are more harmful to the dog and should not be given unless required for other specific needs.”

According to the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University, grains are actually very rare sources of food allergies, especially compared to animal proteins.

Should Your Dog Be On A Grain

Theres been a lot of buzz about the FDAs recently-released Grain-Free Diet Alert, which has left many dog owners concerned about potential impacts of grain-free foods on their pets health. The alert came after the FDA investigated reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy essentially an enlarged heartin dogs eating certain types of dog foods, many of them labeled grain-free.

With the growing popularity of grain-free dog food and many leading healthy dog food brands making the list, dog owners who feed their dogs these foods are faced with many uncertainties: How safe is it to feed my dog grain-free foods? Should I switch my dog to a different diet or brand of food? Should my dog even eat grain-free food? Are some foods safer than others?

With all the confusion out there, weve put together key considerations from our expert animal nutritionist, Dr. Richard Patton, to help you decide which diet is best for your dog.

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What Is A Grain

It’s pretty simple, really. Any type of dog food made without corn, wheat, soy, rice, barley, or other grains is considered grain-free, according to the American Kennel Club. But since dogs still need carbohydrates for energy, grain-free dog foods use alternative sources like peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans, and potatoes or sweet potatoes.

The Rise Of Clean Eating

Grain Free Dog Food…Dangerous?

As human eating trends change and evolve, so too do our pets. In recent years, weve seen a huge increase in gluten free and paleo diets among humans. Typically, it follows that these trends flow through to our perceptions to whats right for cats and dogs, and some pet food companies have certainly placed big bets on this being the case. The trend of gluten-free has evolved in pet food to exclude all grains with entire aisles now dedicated to grain-free options for our pets. Thats not to say that grain-free pet food is simply a marketing ploy.

Grain-free dog foods play a role for dogs who have grain intolerances and those that use high quality, natural ingredients offer additional choice as every dog is different and has their own taste preferences. A number of grain-free dog foods are packed with high-quality ingredients that can work wonders for your poochs digestion. However, it is the use of good ingredients at appropriate ratios that make these good dog foods, rather than the exclusion of grains.

The elimination of an ingredient often leads people to believe that that ingredient is bad. In turn, they think that all recipes excluding that ingredient are good for you or your dog. This simply isnt the case. If youre considering feeding grain-free dog food here are some considerations to help you make the right decision by your pet.

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