What Should I Do To Make Sure My Dog Is Healthy While On A Grain
Romine recommends taking a dog who has been on a grain-free diet to the vet to get checked outeven if that pet doesn’t show any symptoms. The vet will listen to your dog’s heart and take x-rays. Your pooch may even end up getting an echocardiogram by a veterinary cardiologist, which is the gold standard for evaluating cardiac function. But, she says, the good news is, “It’s possible to reverse the disease as long as your dog is not in end-stage DCM and you swap out the grain-free diet.”
Is Grain Free Dog Food Good Or Bad
Gluten free and grain free diets for dogs have become increasingly popular in recent years due to concerns about food allergies or the high amounts of carbohydrates in traditional dog food. But, since this spike in popularity coincides with a rise in cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy linked to grain free foods, many dog owners are at a loss about whether grain free diets are actually safe.
Why Is The Fda Investigating Grain
It is easy to panic anytime we see an FDA headline about pet food. After all, keeping our dogs healthy is essential to us, and we know that diet can make a big difference in a dogs well-being. We reached out to Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the AKC, to hear his thoughts on the ongoing FDA investigation.
The FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy and dogs eating certain grain-free dog foods. The foods of concern are those containing legumes such as peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes listed as primary ingredients. The FDA began investigating this matter after it received reports of DCM in dogs that had been eating these diets for a period of months to years. DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because the disease occurred in breeds of dogs not typically prone to the disease.
Between January 1, 2014 and April 30, 2019, the FDA received 524 reports of DCM , and most reports were submitted after the FDAs first public alert in July 2018. The total number of pets affected is greater than 524 because some reports included multi-pet households.
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Does Grain Free Food Cause Heart Problems In Dogs
Increasing popularity of grain-free pet food prompted veterinarians to wonder if a specific heart disorder called canine dilated cardiomyopathy could be caused by their clients dietary habits. Another similarity is the fact that many of the diets had been produced by smaller or boutique pet food companies.
Why Would I Feed My Dog Grain
Allergies or intolerances to grain are far less common in dogs than in humans, so most dogs dont require grains to be excluded from their diet. And whilst there are cases where the exclusion of wheat is necessary, every dog is different. Some dogs may have digestive intolerances or allergies and do better when certain ingredients are excluded from their diet.
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If A Dog Food Is Labeled Grain Free But The Grains Are Replaced With Other Ingredients Its Not Necessarily A Healthier Option For Your Dog
With so many unknowns, its hard to pin down the exact cause of or contributor to these cases. But, as Dr. Patton shares, we should consider how these foods impact our dogs health, and we shouldnt limit our concerns to the risk of DCM. There are other problems that can result from some dog foods that have been labeled grain free but actually just replace the grains with similar ingredients.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy In Dogs
Researchers have found a lot of dogs on grain-free diets have developed a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be pretty serious.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart condition where the heart is too large, Dr. Bustamante said. DCM is a condition in which the heart muscle becomes weak and the heart chambers become too wide and large, which makes the heart unable to pump blood appropriately, which leads to problems such as collapse, coughing and even heart failure.
Breeds like boxers and Dobermans are genetically predisposed to dilated cardiomyopathy. But lately, more and more breeds that arent predisposed have been getting diagnosed and the common factor seems to be grain-free diets.
In recent years, veterinarians have diagnosed in other breeds that were not found to have this condition before, Dr. Bustamante said. When studying the history of these pets, it has been found that there is a combination of similarities between cases which include grain-free diets.
The connection seems even more apparent when you consider that some dogs conditions get better when theyre taken off grain-free diets.
Interestingly, when they have started giving different diets to these dogs, their condition improves, which is very, very rare in dogs with heart problems, Dr. Bustamante said.
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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.
Good For Diabetic Dogs
It has been observed that dogs with diseases like diabetes and cancer may benefit from a grain-free diet. Diabetic dogs should not be fed foods rich in simple carbohydrates, as these can raise their blood sugar levels. Even if your dog does not have diabetes, a diet rich in simple carbohydrates can cause over-production of insulin and weight gain. It may eventually cause diabetes as well. However, diabetic animals do require some amounts of complex carbohydrates, which can be found in whole grains.
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Do We Use Potatoes And Legumes In Our Food
We use a variety of vegetables in our foods for taste and health benefits, including legumes and potatoes. Vegetables are rich in insoluble fibre, vitamins and minerals and are a great source of protective antioxidants too.
We add peas to our food as they provide vitamin C and phytonutrients, whilst ingredients such as potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrate. This keeps dogs feeling full and gives them energy.
There are some additional benefits, too:
- Sweet potato contains unique flavonoids that help with blood glucose control. They can also help support your dogs immune system as they get older.
- White potato contains carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants.
The High Cost Of Grain
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.
Is Grain Free Food Bad For Dogs
There is no need to eat grains like corn, rice, or wheat when you have a grain-free dog food. The primary ingredient of good grain-free dog food is meat. An increasing number of medical problems have been linked to these naturally low-quality but biologically-incompatible ingredients in dogs, including obesity and digestive disorders.
How To Rotate Grain
Theres no one perfect food that meets all your dogs needs. Variety is key to optimized health, which is why we recommend that you choose entrees from both grain-inclusive and grain-free lines of NutriSource.
NutriSource takes the guesswork out of rotational feeding for your pet, because they allow easy transitions from the first feeding.
Good4Life features probiotics and prebiotics, which immediately start working to eliminate bad bacteria from the gut and build a healthy microbiome.
Experience the easy transition to NutriSource, and then start rotating for optimal long term health.
The following is an example of how you might incorporate grain-free with grain-inclusive foods for your pet.
- Animal protein: Wild boar, turkey and menhaden fish
- Grains and carbs: Garbanzo beans and lentils
Within these three formula rotations, you can introduce six different proteins and five sources of carbohydrates.
Each of these ingredients offer a different slate of amino acids, vitamins and minerals to build a healthy body.
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Video Answer: Should You Take Your Dog Off Of A Grain
But grain-free and low-carb do not go hand-in-hand.
To replace grains, grain-free food often uses ingredients such as potatoes, apples, and peas.
In fact, some grain-free pet foods contain carbohydrate levels similar to or even higher than dog food containing grains.
Any dog food made without wheat, corn, rice and other grains is considered grain free. Dogs still need carbohydrates for energy, though Grain allergies in dogs are so uncommon, in fact, that they affect less than one percent of dogs. They’re more likely to have an allergy to proteins like beef or chicken.
What Is Canine Heart Disease Or Dilated Cardiomyopathy
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a type of canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle. The hearts of dogs with DCM have a decreased ability to pump blood, which often results in congestive heart failure.
Some breeds, especially large and giant breeds, have a predisposition to DCM. These breeds include Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Saint Bernards. While DCM is less common in medium and small breeds, English and American Cocker Spaniels are also predisposed to this condition.
The reports submitted to the FDA span a wide range of breeds, including many without a known genetic predisposition. When early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicated that recent, atypical cases in breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus all consistently ate grain alternatives in their diets, the FDA took notice.
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Could Diet Cause Heart Disease
Maybe, but not due to being grain-free if its nutritionally balanced and complete like tails.com.
If a diet lacks taurine, an essential amino acid necessary for cardiac health, this could lead to a problem over time. Also, certain ingredients can block the bodys ability to digest and absorb essential nutrients. Legumes such as beans, and pulses like peas or lentils contain natural plant chemicals in their raw, uncooked form that can interfere with the digestion of certain other nutrients.
But when we cook these foods , we destroy these chemicals, making these ingredients digestible and nutritious. In most dry dog food, including tails.com, the process required to make the kibble itself renders these chemicals harmless.
Is It Safe To Feed My Dog Grain Free Food
Lowering its carbohydrate content in grain-free food might cause dangerous cardiovascular problems known as dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, according to a warning issued by the US Food and Drug Administration last week. There have been few studies conducted on this, so the science is still preliminary. But the relationship with diet could be related to heart disease in fewer than 600 dogs.
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The Majority Of Dogs Can Easily Digest Grains
As dogs have evolved alongside people, their digestive tracts can efficiently digest grain-based calories. As I’ve mentioned, grain free diet for dogs can be a good option in very specific cases. For example, if your pet has allergies, switching to a grain free dog food diet may seem like the way to go . Many people decide to try a gluten-free or grain-free diet in order to alleviate certain symptoms.
While it’s true that going grain free may help certain canines, it is unlikely to help your dog in the way that you think.
Most dogs with allergies suffer from atopic dermatitis. Dogs can have itchy skin allergies to a variety of different substances, but dogs dont commonly suffer from gluten or grain intolerances or allergies. It is not impossible but very unlikely.
Only about 10% of allergies in dogs are caused by food . Most of this 10% is caused by eating proteins such as beef, chicken, eggs, and lamb, which studies have found to be the most common allergens. While it does occur, wheat and corn are a more rare cause of allergies in dogs. Statistically, your pet’s itchy skin is most likely caused by an allergy to something in the environment, such as pollen, mold, dust mite dander and cockroach dander.
If you think that your dog is suffering from a food allergy, please talk to your veterinarian. It may be better to try a novel protein diet or a hypoallergenic diet before cutting out the grains, and put your pooch through the elimination diet trial.
Not Good For Older And Less Active Dogs
While a protein-rich, grain-free diet can be great for highly energetic and working dogs, it can cause weight gain in dogs with a sedentary lifestyle. Such dogs simply do not require the amount of energy provided by a protein-rich diet. Such a diet is also not good for older dogs with limited mobility, and dogs that are already overweight.
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So Grains Are Good For My Dog
Yes, they can be very nutritious as part of your dogs diet. Whole grains offer a range of important nutrients for dogs as part of a balanced diet. This works in conjunction with high-quality animal protein sources.
- An excellent source of complex carbohydrates for energy
- Essential amino acids from plant protein
- B vitamins
- Fibre for intestinal health.
How Raw Dog Food Is Different
Rex loves the crunch of Vital Essentials freeze-dried mini nibs and his parents love the convenience.
Unlike most commercial grain free dog foods, raw dog food is naturally grain free rather than modified to exclude grains. As Dr. Patton notes, Raw food isnt grain free in the sense that grain free traditional kibble is. Its grain free because the only ingredients are what nature intended: meat, vital organs, and bones, which means more protein and fewer soluble carbohydrates.
Raw dog food products like those from Vital Essentials arent just grain free, but theyre also free of any of the other ingredients that could potentially cause problems.
Grain free is a non-issue in Vital Essentials foods, Dr. Patton says. Vital Essentials doesnt have to use special recipes to exclude grains because the grains arent there in the first place. And thats how nature intended it.
Willow knows a nutritious Vital Essentials raw meat diet is all thats needed to stay healthy no corn required!
So, should you choose grain free?
It all comes down to what grain free means in terms of the food and, of course, whats best for your pet. Not all grain free dog foods are created equal some grain free foods simply replace the grains with other carb-heavy fillers that are just as unhealthy for your dog and may even be linked to DCM.
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What Is The Link Between Grain
The majority of dogs reported having DCM are on a grain-free diet of some sort. Today, Cardiologists investigating the trend are not sure what exactly is causing this link. It could be that a chemical compound in these foods is causing DCM to appear, or maybe its the lack of the amino acid Taurine. Historically, Taurine has been shown to cause this type of heart disease in cats.
The Growing Popularity Of Grain
By 2017, the grain-free diet accounted for 44 percent of the market, with almost $2.8 billion in sales per year. Why did grain-free foods grow so popular? Dr. Stanley Coren, a University of British Columbia professor and the author of How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communicationspeculates. He believes that this popularity is the result of a human eating disorder affecting animals. Coren is referring to the general notion that gluten, a protein found in most grains like barley, oats, wheat, and rye, is not suitable for some humans and should be avoided. Consequently, companies selling grain-free diets could be cashing in on this apprehension .
Dr. Lisa Freeman, a professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University and a veterinary nutritionist supports Dr. Corens belief that the denigration of grains could be misplaced. She says, Contrary to advertising and popular belief, there is no research to demonstrate that grain-free diets offer any health benefits over diets that contain grains .
It might surprise you to learn that there is a debate as to whether dogs are carnivores or omnivores. Suffice it to say that dogs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years. As a result, they can remain healthy while eating vegetable matter.
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