Grain free human foods have made pet parents wonder about the benefits of grain free pet food. After all – shouldn’t we give our pets the best? We’ve asked PetMio Chief Food Scientist Kasra Farsad and Veterinary Advisory Panel member Dr. Nobuki Stobaeus about the trend.
Read on to learn about the benefits of grain free pet food – and what you should really watch out for.
The Origin of the Grain Free Craze | Too Much Low Quality Filler
We can’t afford to let food fads alone decide our pets’ nutrition. It is important to understand where pet food trends came from and if they have any credibility.
Farsad recalled of the pet food industry, “the concern behind grains arose when pet food producers had begun substituting in low quality grains in their food products. The revelation that these grains were not only lower quality, but caused digestion problems and lacked nutrients put the spotlight on all grains and their nutritional value. In summary, a few bad grains gave all grains a bad rap.”
Not all grains are equal, however. There are many, many different sources of grain. Wheat, oats or oatmeal, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, and quinoa are all types of grain. They do provide value, Farsad asserts, and can be rich in nutrients that benefit both humans and our pets.
When buying cheaper kibbles, however, it is highly likely that the grains used are the lower grade grains mentioned above.
In addition to the concern of low quality grains in our pet foods, manufacturers started using grains as fillers. This means that there is a higher concentration of grain than is necessary, AND the grain that is there is of low nutritional value. These empty carbs take energy to digest, and don’t give much back to your pet.
“Grains are less expensive than proteins such as meat and tend to make up a large percentage of a recipe,” Farsad warns.
The Benefits of Grain Free Pet Food | Finding and Eliminating Allergens
The benefit of eliminating grain from your pet’s food is greatest if your pet has an allergy to certain grains. While Dr. Stobaeus mentions that the percentage of pets with grain allergies is small, it is worth figuring out if your pet has them.
“Most grain allergies result in either digestive issues such as vomiting or diarrhea, or skin issues such as itching of the face, ear infections or paw infections,” Dr. Stobaeus says, “by eliminating grains from these pets’ diets, these symptoms should be alleviated.”
Work with your vet to see if your pet is allergic to different types of grains. This will help you determine if absolutely require grain free food. Your dog or cat may just be allergic to a few, so he can get important nutrients Farsad mentioned from other sources of grain.
“Gluten-free is an entirely different story [from grain free],” Farsad states, “gluten is an allergen and is the root of a lot of hard to diagnose digestive issues. For this reason when running through the options of what might be causing issues, including gluten as a suspect is worthwhile.”
The Bottom Line: Grains Are Not Your Enemy, Necessarily
Unless you have determined with your vet that your pet has an allergy to gluten or certain types of grain, a grain-free diet will not benefit your pet much. In fact, you might be withholding a healthy source of vital nutrients by arbitrarily taking grain out of your pet’s diet.
Furthermore, Dr. Stobaeus does not consider grain free a priority label when looking for the right food for his clients. “I prefer to prioritize the nutrients themselves for what the pet needs,” Dr. Stobaeus explains, ”age and size also play a role in exactly what nutrients they need.”
Farsad concludes, “the important thing to look for when entertaining grains is to make sure they are good grains such as oats, quinoa, and barley.”
The PetMio team hopes to keep you informed so you won’t bend to trends for no reason. There may be benefits of grain free pet food for your pet, so talk it over with your vet. We want what’s best for your pet, so stay tuned for how we’ll meet your pet’s nutritional needs. Check out our home page for a sneak peek.