There are a lot of speculations that a carbohydrate-free diet is good for you. I am no expert when it comes to the perfect diet, but a balance of everything seems best to me. The problem with all of these speculations is that pet owners apply that thinking when buying food for their pets as well. But according to Kara M. Burns and her article in Veterinary Team Brief, “No credible evidence has been found showing grain-free diets are better for pet, nor do any nutritional foundations support this claim.”
So why not? For those of us trying to shed a few pounds, we know that cutting back on the breads, pasta, and pastries will cut a lot of calories. If grains are cut from your pet’s food, they are usually replaced with other highly refined starches such as potatoes, cassava, beans, peas and lentils which “may deliver fewer nutrients and less fiber than whole grains and are not considered cost efficient.” These items are not necessarily better for your pet and lead to a higher chance of GI upset, and that food could cost you a lot more money.
Many pet owners think that grains are simply fillers and have little nutritional value in their pet’s food anyway. “Grains are carbohydrates, which are an important energy source, and one of the 6 basic nutrients.” Many grain products also provide protein to your pet, as well as “vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids.” So, a good quality whole grain is actually necessary to provide your pet a well-balanced diet.
Some pet owners believe that eliminating grains is a way to prevent food allergies. According to Burns, “Food allergies are uncommon” in pets and most food allergies are to an “animal protein (eg, chicken, beef, dairy).” Grain allergies are extremely uncommon. What about Gluten? Burns states “Gluten intolerance is extremely rare in dogs and nonexistent in cats.” Of course, if your pet has a veterinarian diagnosed food allergy, you should work with him or her to determine the best diet for your pet.
Bottom line, grain-free foods are likely not ideal for your pet. Stick with a pet food that has a variety of high-quality ingredients to provide your pet a balanced and healthy diet. If you have questions about your pet’s diet, please contact any of the staff of Grafton Animal Hospital at (757) 898-8433.