Over the past few years, you’ve probably heard about grain-free or gluten-free products. These foods are gaining popularity in the people food world, and now they’ve found their way into the pet food world. But does grain-free mean it’s right for your dog? Below, a veterinarian takes a closer look at what grain-free is and if it’s the best food for your pet.
What is grain-free dog food?
Grain-free dog food is exactly how it sounds: food made with none of the common grains used in dog food, such as barley, corn, wheat, rice, oats, rye, and soy. Grain-free foods usually substitute other sources of carbohydrates, such as lentils or sweet potatoes, to replace those grains.
Are grain-free and gluten-free the same thing?
No, grain-free and gluten-free aren’t exactly the same thing. Gluten-free foods don’t contain grains that contain gluten, such as barley, wheat, and rye, however they can be made with other kinds of grains, including soy and corn. So, a grain-free diet can be gluten-free, but a gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily grain-free.
Is there a link between grain-free food and heart disease?
Grain-free dog foods have gotten a lot of news lately. That’s because the FDA opened an investigation into the possible connection between grain-free diets and the development of dilated heart disease, or cardiomyopathy. Since the study is ongoing, it’s hard to point to any concrete conclusions. The research indicated that other factors besides grain-free food can contribute to heart disease. And, pets in the study that didn’t eat grain-free food developed heart disease as well. The bottom line is that a direct connection between grain-free food and heart disease has not been proven. The best thing you can do is speak with your veterinarian before feeding your dog a grain-free diet.
Should my dog be fed a grain-free diet?
Now that’s a question you should ask your veterinarian. Since whole grains offer essential nutrients for dogs, including carbohydrates, fiber, selenium, magnesium, and others, you don’t want to take out those ingredients unless it’s necessary. Grain-free foods may be beneficial for dogs with certain allergies to grain sources, but this type of diet isn’t warranted for most dogs. Work closely with your vet when it comes to Fido’s dietary and nutritional needs.
Would you like to learn more about grain-free dog food? Contact your local animal clinic for answers.