This month, I’d like to talk to you about a subject that’s near and dear to
my heart. Finding the perfect pet food that reflects both your expectations and
represents the best veterinary science has to offer. In particular, we’ll be
taking a closer look at grains in dog and cat foods, addressing the top three
concerns of pet parents. Are these concerns valid or are they misrepresentations
of reality? The truth may surprise you!
The Belief Grains Are Responsible for Allergies
Food allergies or adverse food reactions are abnormal reactions to
ingredients found in everyday foods. Recent estimates indicate that less than 5%
of skin diseases in dogs and cats are accurately diagnosed as being caused by a
food allergy. Even though the incidence of adverse food reactions remains
unclear, a lot of pet parents believe that grains are prime suspects. However,
the most commonly identified food allergens among dogs and cats are proteins in
beef, dairy, chicken, soy and corn. Food allergies can cause itchy skin alone
or even gastrointestinal problems as well.
The place where many pet parents get confused is comparing canine or feline
food reactions to celiac disease in humans, which is a heritable autoimmune
disease associated with a hypersensitivity to gluten proteins in wheat, barley,
and rye. There has been a very rare similar heritable gluten sensitivity
described in a small number of dogs with the symptoms being weight loss,
weakness, vomiting and diarrhea, but celiac disease and adverse food reactions
in companion animals are rare.
The Belief Grains Have No Real Nutritive Value
Whole grains, like the ones used in many of our foods, contain the entire
kernel. Whole grains are used in human and pet food because they pack a
nutritional punch. Not only are they a good source of carbohydrates, they also
contain essential fatty acids, amino acids, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals,
protein and even antioxidants! They add to the nutritional profile of the food,
which means that they add to your pet’s nutrition as well. The grains used in
our foods meet or exceed the criteria of the European Community, which currently
exceed U.S. standards for quality.
The Belief That Pets Can’t Digest Grains
Some pet parents believe that carbohydrates from grains are not easily
digested by dogs or cats. Like other mammals, cats and dogs have a metabolic
need for carbohydrates in the form of glucose. Glucose fuels many parts of the
body, including the brain, nervous system, red blood cells, the kidneys, and the
female reproductive organs during pregnancy and lactation. If the diet fails to
provide sufficient carbohydrates, the body can manufacture glucose by robbing it
from amino acids (the building blocks for protein) and triglycerides (in fat),
but this is hardly ideal. Both dogs and cats will utilize glucose from ingested
carbohydrates to meet their needs. Additionally, both species have sufficient
digestive enyzmes to allow for the efficient digestion of properly cooked
carbohydrates. We know that not only is the quality of the grains important, but
also the manner in which they are cooked. Our foods are prepared in such a way
that the grains are broken down during the cooking before they enter the
intestines, allowing them to be digested more easily.
So What is the Truth?
The key take-away from all of these points … you must feed the food that most
closely meets your own standards and expectations for your pet kid. After all,
you know them better than anyone! For all of you who want the best grain-free
option for your companion animal, I’m pleased to tell you that our two latest
foods are both grain-free!
Grain-Free Formulas That Are Nutritionally Balanced
Like all our foods, our new grain-free foods offer excellent, balanced
nutrition. Rather than relying on grain content, these natural formulas do have
carbohydrates such as peas, potatoes and a selection of healthy vegetables in the grain-free dog food.
Ideal for all life stages, our newest nutritious foods provide another great
option for pet parents who want the best for their dogs and cats. For detailed
information about these products, including ingredients, guaranteed analyses and
more, visit our site at
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks
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