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Grain Friendly Pet Diet

Benefits of Grain-Friendly Pet Diet

Nowadays pet food can be grouped into two categories, Grain-Friendly and Grain-Free. With so many people moving towards a Grain-Free diet in their own lives it is only natural that the trend is affecting how people look at their pet’s food. First, let’s take a look at the difference between Grain-Free and Friendly food. In Grain-Friendly food you might see the combination of some of the following: wheat, corn, barley, oats, rye, rice, soy. In a dog’s diet grains play an essential role by providing carbohydrates which give your dog energy and supply fiber to promote digestion. Grain-Free diets on the other hand will not include any of the previously listed grains, instead they use alternative carbohydrate sources like potatoes, pea flour, and lentils. Grain allergies in dogs are very uncommon (less than 1%), however, for these few dogs there are benefits of a grain-free diet.  Despite the benefits for some dogs, there are alarming downsides to a grain-free diet. Most notable is the recent investigating of the FDA between grain-free diets and cases of dilated cardiomyopathy.

For the first time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has publicly identified pet food brands that are most frequently associated with cases of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).  DCM is a serious and potentially fatal canine heart disease, frequently characterized by the decreased ability to pump blood, therefore leading to heart failure.  DCM is most frequently found in large dog breeds and Cocker Spaniels. Clinical signs of DCM include fatigue, cough, and breathing difficulties. The FDA report outlines that more than 90% of the foods reported in DCM cases were grain-free, 93% of reported food contained peas and/or lentils, and 42% contained potatoes/sweet potatoes. According to Dr. Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the American Kennel Club, “At this time, there is no proof that these ingredients are the cause od DCM in a broader range of dogs, but dog owners should be aware of this alert from the FDA. The FDA continues to work with veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the effects, if any, of grain-free diets.”

To summarize the FDA findings, while the cases of DCM that were found were primarily in dogs with a grain-free diet it does not prove that the diet is the root cause of the disease.  However, if you have concerns about the diet that you are feeding your pet it is advised to discuss other dietary options with your veterinarian. Keep in mind that pets do not have the same dietary requirements as humans, so what you might want to cut out of your own diet is not necessarily what should be cut out of your pet’s diet as well. If you would like to learn more about the study conducted by the FDA please follow this link: https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/news-events/fda-investigation-potential-link-between-certain-diets-and-canine-dilated-cardiomyopathy .

Blog By: Nicole Lathrop—Senior at Colorado State University

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