Grain Free Pet Food: Fact Versus Fiction
We all want to do the best when it comes to feeding our families, and that includes those with four legs. Many of our clientele have been drawn in to the grain free pet food fad, but the truth is that this trend may not be a great one. So how are you to know? Let The Bluffs Pet Clinic help you understand how to make the best diet choices for your pet.
The Potential Problem with Grain Free Pet Food
The popularity of grain free pet food has been on the rise over the last decade or so thanks to the advent of some very heavily and successfully marketed pet food brands. Grain has been deemed a filler ingredient and blamed for a number of health conditions. In reality, very few pet health problems are related to grain and from a nutritional standpoint grain can even be a valuable ingredient when properly utilized.
Much of the veterinary community has ignored the grain free fad as a harmless marketing gimmick until recently. Over the last few years we have been noticing an increase in the diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This fatal heart condition has long been recognized in certain dog breeds, but we have been seeing it more often in breeds that are not commonly affected.
This trend caught the attention of the FDA. They recently released a statement on their findings. What all the dogs affected by DCM had in common was their diet. Dogs being fed “BEG” diets (those classified as boutique, exotic ingredients, and grain free).
At this time we don’t know why or what is causing this disease to appear in some dogs, but we do know that:
- The FDA’s findings correlate the development of DCM with the feeding of BEG diets
- DCM can be a fatal disease
- DCM is not easily detectable until the disease is in its late stages
At this point we can no longer look at the grain free pet food fad as harmless. It appears that in some way that we have yet to fully understand it is actually hurting some pets.
Selecting the Best
So how do you sort through all the information out there? For starters, because we do not yet know the specific factors in certain grain-free foods that lead to health problems, it’s best to stick to those diets that have not been implicated in the FDA investigation. These include veterinary-trusted brands such as:
- Hill’s Science Diet
- Royal Canin
- Purina Pro Plan
When looking at choosing a new pet food, other important factors to consider include:
- Whether the diet has been formulated to meet requirements or tested through feeding trials (look at the AAFCO statement to find this information).
- If the company employs a full time nutritionist with a PhD in animal nutrition or veterinary board certification (ACVN or ECVCN).
- What life stage the food has been formulated for.
Of course, our dedicated team is always here to help you make the best choices when it comes to your pet. Please feel free to reach out to us any time. We all want your pets to be as healthy as possible and we are happy to assist!