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Most likely, you’ve heard the news about grain-free and gluten-free products. With grain-free foods gaining so much popularity recently, they’ve also made it into the pet world. But, does a “grain-free” label mean that a particular food is right for your dog? Let’s take a brief look at what grain-free means and if it’s the right option for your pet.
Grain-free dog food is exactly how it sounds: food made without the common grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, corn, rice, oats, and soy, that is normally used in dog food. Grain-free foods usually use other sources of carbohydrates, such as lentils or sweet potatoes, to substitute those common grains.
No, grain-free and gluten-free aren’t exactly the same things. Gluten-free foods don’t include grains that have gluten, like wheat, rye, and barley, but they can be made with other kinds of grains, such as corn and soy. In other words, a grain-free diet can be gluten-free, but a gluten-free diet isn’t entirely grain-free.
Perhaps you’ve heard some concerns voiced about grain-free dog foods in the news recently. That’s because the FDA started an investigation into a possible connection 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 just now. The study did indicate that other factors besides grain-free food may lead to heart disease. Additionally, some pets in the study that didn’t eat grain-free food also developed heart disease. The bottom line is that a direct connection between grain-free food and heart disease has not been proven, so your best option is to talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s diet.
It’s always best to ask your veterinarian before feeding your pooch a grain-free diet. Whole grains offer essential nutrients, like magnesium, fiber, carbohydrates, selenium, and others. You don’t want to take out those ingredients unless it’s necessary. Grain-free foods might be beneficial for dogs that are allergic to grain sources, but this type of diet isn’t necessary for most dogs. The best thing to do is work closely with your vet when it comes to Fido’s dietary and nutritional requirements.
Want to learn more about grain-free dog food? Contact your local animal clinic to speak to a veterinarian.