Are Grain Free Diets Good for Your Dog?

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Are Grain Free Diets Good for Your Dog?

So just what IS causing your pup’s itchy skin or chronic ear infections? In most cases, these maladies are caused by environmental allergies, NOT food allergies; in fact, according to a 2018 health report from Banfield Pet Hospital, 0.2 percent of dogs actually suffer from food allergies! And, as reported in an October 2019 article published by Hill’s, grain allergies are extremely uncommon in man’s best friend. In fact, many grains such as corn, barley, oats, and wheat actually provide needed nutrients for your dog, and denying them these vital ingredients can actually be detrimental to their health. Barley, for example, is high in fiber, while oats contribute to heart health. Preliminary reports from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have indicated that grain-free food MIGHT be causing a heart condition in dogs known as dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). So, what’s the answer when it comes to potential food allergies and feeding your dog a grain-free diet?

 

Great Grains: Is Your Dog Better Off With Grains In His/Her Diet?

The overall consensus is yes; grains provide many health benefits and, with an allergy being highly unlikely, it’s best to feed your dog a diet containing these and other grains:
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Sorghum

Vitamin E, protein, and linoleic acid are among the important nutrients some grains such as corn provide. With many allergies caused by beef or dairy and NOT grains, it’s crucial to get to the source of your pup’s possible food allergies and rule out grains so you do not rob them of nutrients they need in their diets. Determining a food allergy in your canine buddy is not always easy. Testing alone may not reveal the source of the allergy, and food elimination comes into play. This can be time-consuming, but may be the best way to determine what, if any, food might cause an allergic reaction in your pup. Unless the results of this type of testing proves a grain-related food allergy, it’s best to stick with these ingredients to ensure a healthy diet for your doggie. And if it is determined that a grain-free diet is needed, look for grain-free food that offers meat-based protein such as that from fish, buffalo, turkey, or duck. (Chicken and lamb are also possibilities, though along with beef these two meats are among the most common to cause food allergies in dogs).

 

The Grain-Free Diet Scare

In 2018, reports from the FDA began to surface about the link between DCM and grain-free foods, particularly those that used potatoes and legumes to replace grains. While no proof was established that these foods were indeed the cause of this heart condition, it was noted that DCM was found in breeds not prone to the disease but that ate certain grain-free foods. It should also be noted that the link between DCM and the grain-free food was only potential, and that in a five year period between 2014 and 2019 less than 600 dogs were affected by this heart condition leading to the FDA investigation into grain-free food. The bottom line? As the American Kennel Club (AKC) suggests, it’s best to work closely with your veterinarian to determine the dietary needs and restrictions for your dog and together arrive at the best solution so your dog is assured of getting his/her nutritional needs met while avoiding any potential allergic reactions. Finally, getting your trusty companion to an animal allergist rather than a general veterinarian when it comes to allergy testing and food eliminations diets might be the best way to go to determine the source of your pup’s symptoms and to get the most effective long-term treatment needed. A specialist can be expensive, but it’s well worth the cost to get to the root of the problem and to get on the right treatment plan ASAP. Let us know if your dog has any food allergies and how you found out! If you liked this article please check out our Dogs and Seasonal Allergies article, and our Allergy Season Vs. Food Allergies article!

 

Written by Harrison Howe

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