You’ve likely heard about grain-free or gluten-free pet products over the past few years. They’ve gained a lot of popularity recently. Grain-free products have become all the rage for people lately, what with the rise of low carb and ketogenic diets. But is a grain-free diet right for your dog? Let’s take a closer look at what grain-free means and whether or not it’s the right choice for your pet.
Grain-free dog food is exactly what it sounds like: food made without the common grains used in dog food, like barley, wheat rye, corn, rice, oats, and soy. Grain-free foods usually substitute other sources of carbohydrates, like lentils, sweet potatoes, or beans, in place of those grains.
In short, no. Grain-free and gluten-free aren’t quite the same thing. Gluten-free foods do not contain grains that have gluten, like wheat, barley, and rye, but they could be made with other types of grains (soy, corn, etc.). A grain-free diet can be gluten-free, but a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be entirely grain-free.
You might have heard about grain-free dog foods in the news recently. That’s because the Food and Drug Administration opened an investigation into possible connections between grain-free pet foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (heart disease). The study is ongoing, so it’s difficult to point to any concrete conclusions. It also seems that other factors besides grain-free food could contribute to heart disease, and pets in the study that didn’t eat grain-free food developed heart disease as well. Talk to your vet about the issue, and get some specific advice.
It’s always a good idea to consult your vet before feeding your dog a grain-free diet. Because whole grains provide important nutrients for your pup—fiber, magnesium, selenium, carbohydrates, and others—you don’t want to remove those ingredients without good reason. Grain-free foods may be helpful for dogs that are allergic to grain sources. However, this kind of diet isn’t necessarily a must for most dogs. As always, the best course of action is to work closely with your veterinarian when it comes to Fido’s dietary and nutritional needs.
Would you like to learn more about grain-free dog food? Contact your local pet clinic to speak with the professionals.