Pros and Cons of Grain-free Dog Food
When it comes to the pros and cons of grain-free dog food, as much as we’d like to give you a black and white answer… it’s not quite that simple. BUT WAIT, before you click away there are some things you should know when comparing grain-inclusive diets to grain-free diets based on the science and research we have to date. But it’s important to say, there are no hard conclusions we can draw just yet, more research needs to be done.
Here’s what we know so far about the pros and cons of Grain-free Dog Food
First of all, dogs, like people are individuals and their needs vary. A diet that works incredibly well for one dog may not work well for another. Consulting your vet or a pet nutritionist for what works best for your pooch is always recommended.
A large concern with a grain-free diet developed when the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) stated in 2018 about dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
What we do know about DCM is that it’s a condition in which the heart becomes enlarged and results in a decreased ability of the heart to pump blood effectively. The most commonly known fact about DCM is that it can be related to taurine levels. There are many other factors, however, that can also cause DCM, including genetics, age and weight. There’s a concerning correlation between grain-free diets and DCM but no proven causation.
Even though there’s a concern about a potential link, the relationship hasn’t been proven. Learn more about what we know about DCM in dogs here.
With people opting to go grain-free and seeing positive results in themselves it seems logical to wonder if their dog would benefit as well. But, a dogs body recognizes nutrients that a food provides not the source. So, when choosing a pet food it’s important to look at the nutritional content and not just the ingredient list.
A Deeper Look at Grain-Free Diets for Dogs
For dogs, a grain-free diet can have positive benefits if a dog has a grain allergy.
However, it’s important to note that a grain allergy is extremely uncommon in dogs so consulting a veterinarian is important if you think your dog may have a food allergy. If they do have a food allergy it’s much more likely they have an allergy to a common protein source like beef or chicken. More information on allergies in dogs here.
Grain-free dog food can also simply be prefered by your pooch! Maybe they prefer the taste or texture but as always make sure the food is complete and balanced so your pooch can stay happy and healthy.
Some grain-free diets can provide excellent nutrition but they have no proven advantage over diets that contain carbohydrates.
A common misconception is that a grain-free diet has fewer carbohydrates than a grain-inclusive diet but in truth, they just deliver the carbohydrates with different ingredients.
Overall, there are no proven specific health benefits to grain-free diets for dogs. But, as we mentions earlier if they prefer it, consult your veterinarian and ensure its nutritionally balanced according to AAFCO
Food for Thought
There’s no huge dirty secret about grain-free diets, other than perhaps marketing efforts have led people to believe they’re nutritionally superior to grain inclusive diets, but there are some things you should know about grains and why they can be beneficial in a dog food.
Whole grains are rich in fiber, trace minerals, B vitamins and vitamin E. Not to mention, grains are also a readily available energy source for dogs and cats. There are many positives to whole grains.
Benefits of Whole Grains
- Rich in soluble fiber to aid in healthy gut
- Contain β-glucans which help to maintain healthier blood glucose levels and contribute to a slower release of energy.
- Rich with amino acids, vitamins and minerals
Want to learn more about grains and pulses and their benefits for dogs? Check out this post!
Check out our Berry Buglicious Oven Baked Dog Treats! Nothing Weird, Just Bugs!
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