Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Is a Grain Free Food Right for Your Pet?

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While out on the town last week, Sleuth the Reporter Dog heard some of his human friends talking about avoiding wheat and other grains because of gluten sensitivities.  Interestingly, Sleuth also has many canine and feline friends who are eating “grain free” foods.  Sleuth had the Veterinary News Network look into the “no-grains” pet food craze.

1)    Pet owners are always looking for new things to make sure their dogs and cats are as healthy as possible.  The latest diet fad is the use of “grain-free” foods for our pets.

2)    By avoiding the use of wheat, corn, bran or other grains, many believe that they can keep their pets from developing allergies, resolve current skin issues or prevent digestive upset.  Furthermore, a small percentage of owners don’t believe dogs and cats can digest grains.

3)    Although gluten sensitivity is common in humans, it is actually quite rare in pets.  Only Irish Setters have shown any genetic susceptibility and experts don’t know how widespread it is in other breeds or mixed breed animals.

4)    Many pet owners also think that a majority of pets are allergic to corn or wheat in the commercial diets.  This urban legend is also not entirely true.  Wheat is in the top five allergens for dogs, but it falls behind beef and dairy.  Corn actually comes in at #8.

5)    With this myth in mind, pet owners have started switching to over the counter “hypo-allergenic” diets, like those made with lamb and rice, turkey and barley or other novel combinations. 

6)    Unfortunately, this easy availability may make diagnosing the true food allergy dog more difficult as many pets are exposed to a wide variety of allergens as owners try different and more exotic diets.

7)    Despite being “no-grain”, these foods are not “no-carb”.  In fact, in some of the diets made with potatoes, the diet can’t even be called “low-carb” as the level of carbohydrates is even higher than typical diets based on corn or wheat.

8)    Finally, many people believe that pets can’t digest corn or wheat.  This common myth has been disproved by decades of research.

9)    If you want to use a grain free alternative diet for your pet, do it for the right reasons.  Also, ask your veterinarian about the best brands and what might be the right choice for your unique pet.

10)    Sites like MyVNN.com can provide you with accurate and unbiased pet health information.