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 addressing the top three concerns of pet parents when it comes to grain-free dog food and cat food.
Are these concerns valid or are they misrepresentations of reality? The truth may surprise you!
1. Are Grains Responsible For Pet Allergies?
While your pet could have a grain or gluten allergy, the chances are rare. 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.
2. Do Grains Have Any Real Nutritional 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.
3. Do Pets Digest Grains Well?
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 we now carry a grain-free dog food and cat food!
Grain-Free Formulas That Are Nutritionally Balanced
Like all our foods, our grain-free dog food and cat food 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 and cat 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, check our website today!
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks