Walk down any pet food aisle and there are countless brands touting grain-free diets. They claim to be easier for your pet to digest (less upset stomachs) and claim to help reduce food allergy/intolerance symptoms such as obsessive paw licking, diarrhea, and dry skin, which the brands attribute to grains and gluten. But, are these claims true? Is your pet really better off eating a grain-free diet?
At this time, there is no credible evidence to support grain-free diets are better for pets. Grain-free diets are merely the marketing strategy of a select group of manufacturers that have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon of so many food brands and products sold to humans. The misinformation and misperceptions about grain that are continually perpetuated by the growing grain-free pet food market and plague the Internet, lead many pet parents to make nutritional decisions that provide little to no benefit for their pet.
Time to set the record straight on grain. Whole grains contribute valuable nutrients including minerals, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and fiber to pet food. Grains help keep calories and fat at lower levels in pet foods. Most dogs and cats have no issues digesting and utilizing nutrients from grains. Grain allergies are rare and for those few pets that are allergic, these allergies are not any more common than pets who have allergies to animal proteins (i.e. beef, chicken). Gluten intolerance is extremely rare in dogs and nonexistent in cats.
Dr. Susan Bonilla is the owner of Passionate Paws Animal Hospital in Waxhaw, offering traditional and complementary treatment options as well as full-service grooming. She is certified in acupuncture, chiropractic, and physical therapy. You can reach her at 704-256-7576 or e-mail at Hello@PassionatePaws.Vet
Grooming Tip of the Week
All dogs’ ears get dirty at some point, some breeds more than others. Without regular ear cleaning, consistently dirty ears can lead to ear infections. If your dog is not prone to ear infections, then using a veterinary-prescribed ear cleaner every three weeks or having the groomer do it with their regularly scheduled grooming will help prevent your dog from getting an ear infection. For those dogs prone to ear infections, use a veterinary-prescribed ear cleaner once a week. Make sure you always speak with your veterinarian on the proper way to clean your dog’s ears.