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Is Grain-Free Better??

Dr. Bob Encinosa

Grain-free diets for dogs are the latest craze, and at about twice the cost of traditional diets, an expensive alternative at that. So why are grain-free diets better for your dog? Well the truth is, they usually aren’t.

Many people assume that grain-free diets are carbohydrate free. Not true. The makers of these foods substitute other sources of carbohydrates such as peas, sweet potatoes or cassava. It is also often assumed that grain-free means lower calories. Also not necessarily true. If there is truly a lower content of carbohydrates in a food, it could mean that there is a higher content of fat and calories.

Grains are easily digestible by the vast majority of dogs (and cats) and are an important source of energy. Whole grains have more fiber and other essential nutrients than most other sources of carbohydrates. And, contrary to popular belief, an extremely small percentage of dogs have allergies to grains. Food allergies, in general, are much less common than many food manufacturers would have you believe. But, in the few dogs that do have food allergies, the protein sources are much more frequently the culprits.

But dogs don’t consume grains in the wild, do they? Actually they do. When wild canids, ie wolves and coyotes, consume their prey, almost always an herbivore, they consume the entire animal, leaving nothing to waste, including the entire digestive tract containing whatever that animal was eating. If the prey happened to be a deer, for instance, their digestive tract (rumen) could contain 25 pounds of grass. And just in case you’re a little rusty on your botany, grass has seeds, and all grains, including corn, are grasses.

So, don’t fall prey to the gimmick. By far, the biggest pet food mistake is feeding too much !!