For a number of years now, grain-free dog food and grain-free cat food have been hugely popular products, produced and distributed by countless pet food companies. Proponents of grain-free pet products generally cite a dog or cat’s biological, historical diet; that is, they point to the fact that when these animals originated and lived in the wild, they did not rely on many of the grains and carbohydrates common to our human diets today. While this, of course, is true, considering many of the grains and carbohydrates available today were not available in the same form as they were back then, there is more information to take into account before owners make a decision on which pet food is right for them.
In this blog, we’ll discuss whether or not grain-free dog food and cat food is merely a fad, and whether or not the consumption of these foods can cause short-term or long term health problems for our pets. If you’re concerned about the wellbeing of your pet and want to know if grain-free dog food and heart disease are connected, keep reading because the experts at King Komb want all of our readers and customers to have the most and best information available.
Most veterinarians and pet experts will tell pet owners that foods can be picked on a preference basis, as long as they adhere to certain health standards. What is most important for cats and dogs is that the food they’re consuming has a balanced nutritional profile and is not overloaded with one compound more than another. When pet foods are not balanced, our pets tend to suffer in a number of different ways. Owners will notice a drop in coat quality, problems with weight, fatigue or lack of willingness to exercise, trouble digesting and sleeping, among other issues. Discussing the kind of food best for one’s pet with a veterinarian is always the best choice people can make.
One popular misconception is that grain-free diets mean carbohydrate-free diets. In fact, many grain-free foods will have higher compositions of carbohydrates than foods that advertise differently. Pet owners should always be on the lookout for gimmicky marketing that is designed to catch the eye while sliding the truth under the rug.
Many pet food companies will advertise grain-free food as a way of staving off obesity, which is a common problem faced by pet owners. What these companies are not telling owners, however, is that they are offsetting the absence of certain grains with the addition of certain fats and other additives, designed to make the food more palatable to pets. They will also use a mixture of plant and legume products as additives and binders when these products are not necessarily any more “natural” than the products they’re decrying. The majority of veterinarians will recommend a holistic diet that covers the whole spectrum of what a pet should be eating, rather than making it top-heavy by excluding some ingredients in favor of trendy ones.
Interestingly, there is an increasing amount of literature within the veterinary community which speaks to the need for grains in our pet’s diets. The lack of grains and carbohydrates is actually thought to contribute to heart disease in animals, and many veterinarians also find that pets that suffer from obesity are actually consuming foods advertised as grain-free.
One study conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that dogs consuming “boutique” diets that advertise the benefits of a grain-free life actually had a higher likelihood of experiencing malnutrition and cardiomyopathy, due to the lack of taurine. Excluding grains from pet foods in favor of legume-rich ingredients such as peas or lentils was actually shown to contribute to reduced heart function and increased heart size. It is important that pet owners understand the importance of taurine and a balanced diet so that their pets do not suffer in the long term.
Owners of dogs and cats alike are encouraged to shop for pet foods that have been stamped with the approval of the World Small Animal Veterinary Global Nutrition Company (WSAVA). Science-based organizations publish their findings after years of experiments and research. They are not private companies seeking financial gain.
While it is understandable that pet owners will be attracted by the aura of “natural” foods, they should be encouraged by modern research that points to the fact that our pets have evolved over the years and can digest healthily more grains and carbohydrates than their historical ancestors. Turning to boutique pet foods should only be done under the supervision of a veterinarian or pet expert who understands what your pet needs in order to prosper health-wise. Dogs and cats each have their own unique nutritional requirements, demanding certain percentages of protein, fats, carbohydrates, etc., and their diet does not adhere to the trends of human diets.
We hope our readers will be encouraged to shop for grain-free cat food brands and dog food brands that develop their products according to scientific findings. Advertising may be catchy and certain brands may make their case in an appealing way, visually or otherwise, but our pets’ health demands more than that. Get in touch with your veterinarian or join a community of pet experts like the one here at King Komb for more information on why grain-free dog food and cat food is not as one-sided as companies make it seem.