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Understanding Grain-Free Dog Food

August 15, 2021

Grain-free and gluten-free products have gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. Well-received in the human food world, grain-free products have also found their way into the pet food world. However, is grain-free a proper diet for Fido? Here, a local veterinarian offers some information on grain-free dog food.

What is grain-free dog food? 

Grain-free dog food is exactly how it sounds: food made without the common grains normally used in dog food, such as rye, barley,  corn, wheat, rice, soy, and oats. Grain-free foods are usually used to substitute other sources of carbohydrates, like lentils or sweet potatoes.

 Are grain-free and gluten-free the same things? 

No. Grain-free and gluten-free aren’t exactly the same things. Gluten-free foods don’t contain grains that have gluten, such as rye, wheat, and barley, but they may be made with other kinds of grains, including soy and corn. So, a grain-free diet can be gluten-free, but a gluten-free diet isn’t necessarily grain-free.

Is there a link between heart disease and grain-free food?

Grain-free dog foods have received a lot of hype lately. That’s because the FDA started an investigation into possible connections between grain-free diets and the development of heart disease, or dilated cardiomyopathy. Since the study is ongoing, it’s hard to point to any solid conclusions. It seems that there are other factors besides grain-free food that can contribute to heart disease. Additionally, pets in the study that didn’t eat grain-free food developed the condition. The bottom line is that a direct connection between heart disease and grain-free food has not been proven thus far. Your best option when deciding if you should feed your pup grain-free food is to speak with your vet.

Should my dog eat a grain-free diet?

Always talk to your veterinarian before giving Fido a grain-free diet. Since whole grains provide essential nutrients for pooches—magnesium, selenium, fiber, carbohydrates, and others—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 a requirement for most dogs. Work closely with your local vet when it comes to your canine companion’s dietary and nutritional needs. 

Want to learn more about grain-free dog food? Contact your local animal clinic.