Is a grain-free diet better for pets?

Is a grain-free diet better for pets?

Grain-free and gluten-free products have gained so much popularity in recent years. Many pet food manufacturers are doing their best to keep up with this trend

But, is a grain-free diet the best choice for your fur friend? Are you torn between whether to give your dog a grain-free diet or a grain diet? Here is a complete guide to a grain-free diet and how it is similar to a grain diet.

What is a grain-free diet?

For you to clearly understand what a grain-free diet is, you need first to know what grains are commonly used in pet food. These grains include;

  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Barley
  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Soy

Pet food that does not contain the above ingredients is known as grain-free. Instead, the grains are substituted by ingredients like potatoes, sweet potatoes, lentils, quinoa and peas.

Grain-free pet food is not free from carbs. In most cases, grain-free pet diets may have the same or more carbohydrates contents as grain pet diets. If your pet is intolerant to some of the grains in their food, your vet may recommend a grain-free diet.

Is Grain Free the Same as Gluten-Free?

Grain-free diets are not the same as gluten-free pet diets. Gluten-free pet food does not have gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye and barley. And grain-free diets can be gluten-free unless they have ingredients that are sources of gluten.

Does a Grain-Free Pet Diet Cause Heart Disease?

All pet parents want the best for their pets, especially when it comes to their food. Feeding their pets with the most nutritious and safest food is all they want. They do not want to feed their pets with cheap filler ingredients that have little or no nutritional value. 

In the pet food market today, the popularity of grain-free pet diets has increased. However,  there are reports that show that grain-free pet food can cause heart problems that may lead to death in some cases. Is this true?

The news can be confusing and also terrifying at the same time. Why do some pets tend to do well on a grain-free pet diet that causes heart disease in others? What is the science behind a grain-free diet causing heart disease? As much as we would love to have answers to these questions, it is still difficult to get answers because research is still ongoing.

As grain food has gained much popularity, vets on the other hand have noticed something strange. There is an increasing number of healthy dogs that have developed Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy(DCM).

Heart disease is affecting 10-15% of cats and dogs, with higher rates recorded in Boxers, Golden Retrievers and Dobermans. Research points to an increase in heart disease in pets feeding on a certain type of food. This has shed some light on health effects some diets have on the health of the heart. 

Many pet owners have fallen victim to the myths and misconceptions about the best pet diet, and this is increasing the risk for heart disease. All pet parents should always speak to their vet about the best nutritional requirements great for their pets.

Dogs with Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) develop a dilated heart, which fails to perform effectively to pump blood around the pet’s body. Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy(DCM) develops into congestive heart failure that is fatal.

Is Grain-Free Pet Food Safe?

Before choosing your pet’s food, it is important to consider choosing food from a company that has a good reputation. The food you select for your pet should be developed by qualified and experienced nutritionists or veterinarians.

When pet parents increased their interest in a grain-free pet diet, a number of small brands sprung up and began producing grain-free diets that research shows are linked to DCM.

A grain-free diet may be suitable for a pet that is grain intolerant and is not predisposed to DCM or does not have an underlying heart condition. Also, pets with skin problems not linked to grains intolerance can do well on high-quality grain-free pet food that is made with wholesome ingredients.

Get the best advice about the best food for your pet from your vet. Your vet knows your pet’s health status well and is the best person to advise you about your pet’s nutritional needs depending on their age, size, breed and level of activity.

Should I switch my dog to or from a grain-free diet?

Grains are an important source of nutrition for your pet. They are a great source of minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc and copper) carbohydrates, fibre, B vitamins, proteins and antioxidants.  The carbohydrates in the grains are a great source of energy, while the fibre aids in digestion promoting great digestive health.

Pets are different and have unique nutritional needs. All pets need vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and minerals found in grains. Research shows that a grain-free diet is not necessary for a healthy pet except if they have grain allergies.  Most pets have allergies to protein sources (meat) in the pet food as opposed to grains. This means there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding the best food for your pet.

Grain-free pet diets aren’t off the menu just yet. There is no adequate research that proves that it is not harmful to pets. It is clear that the consumer judges what is healthy by considering the ingredients which have been used to replace whole grains.

There are no regulations yet in Australia advising whether or not you should not feed your pet with grain-free pet food. Always make sure to choose pet food that provides complete and balanced nutrition for your pet.

In case you want to switch to or from a grain-free diet, first talk to your vet to advise on the best pet food options available for your pet.

What should I do if my Pet is on a Grain-Free Diet?

Your vet should closely monitor your pet for heart disease if you feed them a grain-free diet. If the reason for giving your pet a grain-free diet is an allergy to grain food, there are alternative exotic ingredients that have great health benefits to your pet.

So, do you prefer a grain-free pet diet or a grain pet diet? Some say many pet food producers use the term ‘grain free’ for marketing reasons. In case your dog is doing great on a grain diet, why should you switch them to a grain-free diet? Does it make sense to fix what is not broken? However, always check with your vet before changing your pet’s food. Trends come and go. From a pet health perspective, a grain diet is always a necessity. 

Join our online community through the PetsForever app that is downloadable on Playstore and Appstore where you will be in a position to connect, interact with both pet parents and pet professionals and have all questions about the best pet food for your pet answered.


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The information we offer is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis or treatment. Our recommendation is to always do your research.

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