Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about grain-free and gluten-free products. With their recent popularity in the people food world, grain-free products have made their way into the pet food world, as well. But, is a grain-free diet the right choice for your pooch? A local veterinarian offers some insight into what grain-free means and if it’s the right choice for your dog.
Grain-free dog food is exactly how it sounds: food that isn’t made with the common grains used in dog food, such as wheat, corn, rye, barley, oats, rice, and soy. Grain-free foods usually use other sources of carbohydrates, including lentils or sweet potatoes, to replace those grains.
You may have heard about grain-free dog foods in recent news. That’s because the FDA started an investigation into possible connections between grain-free diets and the development of heart disease, or dilated cardiomyopathy. This is an ongoing study, so it’s hard to point to any solid conclusions just yet. It’s indicated that other factors besides grain-free food can lead to heart disease. And, pets in the study that didn’t consume grain-free food developed heart disease, too. The bottom line is that a direct connection between heart disease and grain-free food isn’t proven yet, so your best option is to talk with your veterinarian before feeding your pup grain-free food.
No. Grain-free and gluten-free aren’t exactly the same things. Gluten-free foods don’t contain grains that have gluten, such as wheat, barley, and rye, but they might be made with other kinds of grains, like corn and soy. In other words, a grain-free diet can be gluten-free, but a gluten-free diet doesn’t necessarily mean grain-free.
It’s always best to consult with your veterinarian before feeding Fido a grain-free diet. Whole grains provide essential nutrients, such as fiber, selenium, magnesium, carbohydrates, and others, for your pooch, and 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 required for most dogs. The best thing to do is work closely with your pet clinic when it comes to your dog’s nutritional and dietary needs.
If you’d like to learn more about grain-free dog food, contact your local animal hospital.