All About Grain Free Pet Food
What is Grain free pet food and should I feed it are common questions asked by pet owners. In this blog we hope to answer as many of your questions as we can in a straightforward and easy to understand way. We’ll also explain the differences between what hypoallergenic and grain-free means to help avoid any confusion.
What Grain Free Means
Simply put, Grain-Free means that the dog or cat food doesn’t contain any grains within the composition or recipe used. There are a number of types of grains used in pet food, the most common ones being Wheat, Oats, Rice, Soy and Corn. You may also see barley, millet and rye in the ingredients listing.
Gluten Free dog food doesn’t include grains containing gluten, such as wheat. It may contain other ‘non-gluten’ grains such as corn and rice.
Instead of using grains as carbohydrate for energy, grain free pet foods use alternative sources such as potato, sweet potato and pea flour. Some people assume that grain-free food means it is lower in carbs. However this is sometimes not the case, as potatoes and peas contain more carbohydrates which may result in unintentional weight gain.
Why go grain free
Dog and Cat food with grain is still a popular choice with owners, and often more affordable, so why do pet owners chose to go grain free?
For some dogs with grain allergy or grain sensitivity, there is a benefit to going grain-free, however most dogs do not have a grain allergy. They are very uncommon in dogs, affecting less that 1%, and are more likely to have an allergy reaction to protein such as beef or chicken.
If you pet is happy on it’s current food, there is no reason to switch to grain-free. But if you decide to switch or if you suspect an allergy, it’s worth consulting with a vet to help determine what is best for your breed, age and lifestage. They can help identify any potential food allergies and sensitivities, and recommend a diet to follow which will avoid these.
But despite being uncommon, it does still occur, and can be distressing for both pet and owner, and just because a food is grain free, it doesn’t make it any less delicious!
What Grain Free Dog or Cat Food is Best
There is a growing selection of grain free dog and cat foods now available on the market for both wet and dry. You can buy grain-free versions of all popular flavours and proteins, so deciding which one to buy is just like picking a regular cat or dog food. Just like regular pet food, budget will play a part in what food to feed your pet. Grain-free can be more expensive than regular food, and so this is worth taking into account if you’re switching for reasons other than your dogs allergies and health.
Grain-Free options are available from most major brands, including Natures Menu, James Wellbeloved and Arden Grange. Food from Ziwi Peak, Lovejoys and Burns are also gaining popularity.
Are Grain Free diets good for dogs and cats?
If your pet has a grain allergy or grain sensitivity, then following a vets advice and trying a grain-free diet may be the best course of action.
Grains are actually an excellent source of nutrition for our pets, providing energy and fibre for digestion. Grains also include nutrients which are essential to a dogs health, such as protein and linoleic acid, which is an essential fatty acid for your pet.
However manufacturers of grain free pet food put great time and effort into their foods, ensuring that it provides everything your pet needs nutritionally, and keeping them in top condition. Some grain-free foods are even more palatable than the regular version, which means they can sometimes be a good option for fussy eaters as well.
What’s the difference between grain free and hypoallergenic?
Often the terms grain free and hypoallergenic are used interchangeably, however they are not the same. Hypoallergenic pet food doesn’t usually contain grains, but it doesn’t mean it’s the same thing as grain-free.
Hypoallergenic recipes contain limited ingredients to help eliminate many offenders such as eggs, wheat gluten, beef and soy, and often grain is excluded as well, but not always. Lovejoys Turkey and Rice is hypoallergenic, but contains a grain.
Grain-free pet food does not contain grains, it’s as simple as that. But it may contain other allergens so it is always best to read the ingredients to make sure.
Hopefully this short article has been useful in finding out what grain free is, and whether you should feed it to your pet. As usual, when changing your dogs diet it is often best to consult your vet to see what they advise, and whether it is safe to do so.