The Benefits Of Grain
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.
Diet Information From Reported Cases
Review of the canine reports shows that most reports were for dry dog food formulations, but raw food, semi-moist food, and wet foods were also represented.;
When examining the most commonly reported pet food brands named in DCM reports submitted to the FDA, it is important to note that the graph below is based on reports that included brand information and that some reports named multiple brands. Brands that were named ten or more times are featured below. For a granular, case-by-case breakdown of DCM reports submitted to the FDA, see Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy Complaints Submitted to FDA-CVM Through April 30, 2019. FDA urges pet owners to work with their veterinarians, who may consult a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, to obtain the most appropriate dietary advice for their pet’s specific needs prior to making diet changes.;
To better characterize diets reported in DCM cases, product labels were examined to determine whether the product was grain-free , and whether the products contained peas, other lentils including chickpeas and beans, or potatoes . ;Because so many products contained peas and/or lentils, a category was created for peas and/or lentils. More than 90 percent of products were grain-free, and 93 percent of reported products had peas and/or lentils. ;A far smaller proportion contained potatoes.
Improved Health And Activity Level
If you have a highly active dog, then a high-protein grain-free diet would provide it with more energy. Feeding your dog grain-free foods also relieves its allergic reactions and digestive problems, hence improved health. Dog owners who use grain-free dog treats say that their dogs have increased energy, a healthier coat and were able to breathe easier.
Don’t Miss: How To Make My Dog Eat His Food
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.
Does The Research Point To Grain
Unlike the genetic form of DCM, the recent DCM cases have affected a wide range of dog ages and breeds, from puppies to older dogs. The most commonly reported breeds with DCM have included the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever and mixed breeds.
When the FDA reviewed dietary factors, they found that over 90 percent of dogs with DCM were being fed diets listed either as grain-free or zero grain.
Instead of grains, these diets contained peas and/or lentils as their main ingredients. A lower proportion of the diets also listed potatoes or sweet potatoes as a top ingredient.
The researchers examined many other components in the diets, such as protein source, minerals, carbohydrates and starches, but none of these other components trended with disease development.
It is also worth noting that according to the FDA, the diets of dogs in reported cases had high concentrations/ratios of certain ingredients such as peas, chickpeas, lentils, and/or various types of potatoes, which is typical of grain-free diets, but diets that contained grains were also represented among these cases.
The Difference Between Grain Free And Gluten Free
Another common misconception surrounding grain free dog food is that it is also gluten free. However, this is not the case. Gluten can be found in certain types of grain, including wheat, rye, barley and oats, but there are other grains which are gluten-free, including rice and maize. If you are unsure about the ingredients in your dogs food, always read the label carefully or ask a vet for advice.
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Does Grain Free And Gluten Free Dog Food Mean The Same Thing
NO, theyre not.
Grain-free dog foods do not contain any grains whereas, gluten-free dog food may or may not contain grain.
Gluten is found in certain grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Not all grains contain gluten. Hence, gluten-free dog food may or may not be grain-free, while grain-free dog food will always be gluten-free.
Gluten-free dog food may not be as healthy as they are marketed. It is a type of protein found in starchy products. That being said, there are very few gluten-free dog food products out there. Rather, you will find premium quality grain-free dog food.
Weighing In On The Grain Debate: Is Grain
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap lately. Maybe people are going gluten-free because they have food allergies or they believe that itll help them lose weight. Should it apply to a dogs diet, though?
This trend has also made its way into the world of pet food, as many dry dog food and wet food brands have grain-free offerings. Pet owners may be wondering: Is grain-free dog food better for your pup? And should you put him on a grain-free diet?
When trying to decide whether or not to go grain-free, you should first learn about this type of food and whether or not itll be beneficial for your dog.
Pros And Cons Of Grain
As of late, grain-free dog food has gained popularity when it comes to the health and wellness of your beloved canine.;
While many advocates of grain-free dog food will rave about the benefits, it pays to inform yourself as a dog owner and consider both sides of the coin. In this article, well take a look at the pros and cons of grain-free dog food.;;
The Essentials: What To Feed Your Dog
Vets Dr. Erica Irish and Dr. Leslie Brooks explain exactly what you need to know to properly feed your dog in one helpful breakout box.
Always speak with your vet about your pets diet, especially if you plan to deviate from traditional dog food or your dog has any health issues/allergies.
Dry dog food. This is easier to feed and can help reduce plaque on teeth.
Wet dog food. This is better for pets with no teeth, with kidney issues, and may be more enticing as its odor is stronger. But it can cause buildup on teeth since theres no crunching to clean the teeth.
Age-specific food: Adult and senior dog food may have fewer calories to maintain weight when dogs age. Senior foods may have extra ingredients to help with joint health. Pregnant/lactating dogs may benefit from eating puppy food, younger dogs with arthritis, senior food.
Grain-free food. Avoid it. Its linked to heart issues .
Table food. Avoid it. It can be toxic, caloric and home-cooked diets may be deficient in vitamins .
Organic food: Assuming its not grain-free, you can feed your dog organic food, though there are no added nutritional benefits from organic food for dogs.
Low calorie/light food. Check with your vet first overweight dogs can have underlying health problems. Make sure to ask about the quantity.
Raw food diets. Avoid these. Theres no scientific evidence to support them, but dogs and humans have a much higher risk of contracting bacteria such as Salmonella or Campylobacter.
Starting A Food Trial
Starting your dog on a food trial means your pet will eat a prescription diet and absolutely nothing else for a couple of months to see if symptoms resolve.
If they do, some veterinarians will suggest going back to the dogs old diet to see if symptoms return to ensure that the dog is truly allergic to one or more ingredients in their regular diet.
Are Other Factors Involved
So far, the FDA reports biggest finding is that nearly all dogs with DCM were fed grain-free diets. This suggests a strong link between grain-free foods and heart disease in these pets.
The FDA hasnt yet determined the exact mechanism for how the disease forms. To cover all bases, the FDA and partnering agencies are continuing to research any possible factors, such as genetics, heavy metal exposure and other toxicities, that are possibly contributing to DCM development.
What Is The Difference Between Grain
Before we get into the pros and cons it is important to understand the difference between grain-free and regular dog food. Grain-free dog food does not contain any grains in the ingredients. Grains include wheat, rice, oats, and even corn.
Regular dog food usually contains grains in the ingredients. Some natural and organic dog foods contain whole grains which are grains that are unprocessed so they maintain the full nutritional profile of the grain. Whole grains tend to be viewed as healthier because they are not degraded by processing. The best way to determine if a dog food is grain-free, contains grain, or uses whole grain is by reading the ingredients label.
What Is The Concern With Feeding A Grain
As grain-free pet foods rose in popularity, vets started noticing a potential connection between dogs who were on a grain-free diet and a type of heart disease called canine dilated cardiomyopathy .
In July 2018, the FDA began working with veterinary nutritionists and veterinary cardiologists to try to determine what might be causing this problem. So far, theyve received more than 500 reports.
What do veterinarians know so far about grain-free diets causing heart disease in dogs?
Most of the diets included in the reports are labeled grain-free, and affected pets have typically been eating them for several months or years.
The diets dont contain wheat, corn, soy, rice, barley, or other grains but do contain a large amount of peas, lentils, other legumes, and/or potatoes in different forms .
Another similarity is that many of the diets have been from smaller pet food companies.
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.
Taurine & Amino Acids
Nutritional research indicates that taurine is generally not considered an essential amino acid for dogs,;because these animals;can synthesize taurine from cysteine and methionine. Nearly all the grain-free products had methionine-cystine values above the minimum nutritional requirement of 0.65 percent for adult maintenance food for dogs published in the AAFCO Official Publication .
The FDA is still gathering information to better understand if taurine metabolism may have a role in these reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy.
What If My Dog Has A Grain Allergy
Grain allergies may not be overly common but they are real, and they cause aggressive reactions that may make life miserable for your dog. For dogs with grain allergies, a grain-free diet is a must.
A helpful tool for finding grain allergies in dogs is a saliva testing kit. You can use a saliva test kit at home and its very simple.
The NutriScan by Dr. Jean Dodds and Pet Wellness Allergy Scan by Glacier Peaks are available for pet owners and may greatly help you choose an appropriate diet to avoid food allergies.
Dogs with food allergies will benefit from having a homemade diet that can be tailored to help them heal using Healthy Additions. You can learn more in our Understanding Canine Allergies Series.
How Are Dog Food Allergies Diagnosed
Diagnosing food allergies in dogs isnt always a straightforward process. Its not like theres a simple test that can instantly tell what your dog is allergic to or, if indeed, he has food allergies at all.
You have to start at the beginning, with the help of your veterinarian, to know for sure whether your dogs skin or ear issues are caused by food allergies.
Treating Food Allergies In Dogs
The only effective way to treat a food allergy in dogs is to change their diet.
While grain-free foods are often touted as good for food allergies, science tells us that protein sources are more likely to be the culprit. According to a study published in 2016, the top three most common causes of food allergies in dogs are beef, dairy, and chicken.
What Is Taurine
Taurine is an amino acid, that is found in many foods. If you are thinking it sounds familiar, you might be right if you drink energy drinks like Red Bull. These drinks contain taurine to help boost our energy! This doesnt mean you should be giving your pup Red Bull! Theyll get taurine from their diet or make it from other sulfuric amino acids.
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.
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.
What You Need To Know About The Fdas Recent Research On Grain
The FDAs Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network have developed a few reports on how dogs eating grain-free foods are developing canine dilated cardiomyopathy , a heart disease.
The FDA began investigating potential new causes of DCM in dogs after multiple reports of dog breeds that are typically not genetically predisposed to DCM began developing the heart condition, which seemed highly unusual. And there was one key link: grain-free diets.
Typically, larger dogs such as Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes, Newfoundlands, Dalmations, Saint Bernards, and Doberman Pinschers as well as medium breeds like American and English Cocker Spaniels are genetically prone to the disease. Its also more common in male dogs. When reports of smaller and mixed dog breeds experiencing respiratory symptoms such as cough and difficulty breathing as well as low energy and even collapse started rolling in, the FDA knew something didnt seem right.
In 2018, the FDA received a surge of case reports of pets with DCM, with more in the first quarter of 2019. A majority of the dogs were on grain-free diets, though a few were on raw food and other diets. Interestingly enough, online searches for grain-free and grain-free dog food were steadily increasing around that same time.
Fewer Allergies And Less Intolerance
Dogs develop allergies and intolerance to certain ingredients, some of which include grains. One of the best ways to prevent allergies is by cutting down on grains in pet food formulas. The symptoms that dogs with allergies display include itchy skin, excessive gas, vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash and irritations, ear and skin infections, and loose stools, among other issues.
Food intolerance does not display severe symptoms as allergies, but they are a threat to the dogs overall health. Putting the dogs on a gluten-free diet that is also free from other grains helps to save the situation.