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What to Know About Grain-Free Dog Food

July 1, 2021

You may have heard about grain-free or gluten-free products over the past few years, or noticed them popping up on store shelves. They’ve gained a lot of popularity recently, especially with those following keto or low-carb diets. Grain-free products have found their way into the pet food world, too. But is a grain-free diet right for your canine buddy? Let’s take a closer look at what grain-free means and whether or not it’s the right choice for your pup.

 What is grain-free dog food? 

Essentially, grain-free dog food is just what it sounds like: food made without the common grains often used in dog food, such as barley, wheat, rye, corn, rice, oats, and soy. Grain-free foods usually substitute other sources of carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes or lentils, in place of those grains.

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

In a nutshell, no. Gluten-free foods don’t have grains that contain gluten, like wheat, barley, and rye. However, they could be made with other types of grains, such as corn, soy, etc. A grain-free diet could be gluten-free, but a gluten-free diet doesn’t have to be entirely grain-free. Foods can also be neither or both.

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

You might have heard about grain-free dog foods in the news recently. That’s because the FDA opened an investigation into possible links between grain-free foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (heart disease). The studies are still ongoing, so it’s difficult to point to any concrete conclusions just yet. It also seems that other factors besides grain-free food could contribute to heart disease. Some pets in the study that did not eat grain-free food also developed heart disease. Here’s the bottom line: since the direct link between grain-free food and heart isn’t proven, speak with your vet about the issue.

Should my dog be fed a grain-free diet?

It’s always a good idea to ask your vet before feeding your dog a grain-free diet. Whole grains do provide important nutrients for your pup, such as fiber, magnesium, selenium, carbohydrates, and others. You don’t want to remove these things unless it’s warranted. Grain-free foods can of course be helpful for dogs that are allergic to grain. However, his kind of diet isn’t necessary for most dogs. The best course of action? Work closely with your veterinarian when it comes to Fido’s dietary and nutritional needs. 

Would you like to learn more about grain-free dog food? Contact your local pet clinic to speak with the professionals. 

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