Grain-based food has long been a filler-type material for pets and livestock. It produces a carbohydrate-heavy sustenance that puts on weight and provides plenty of material for animals to work with. However, it’s low on protein. So, to balance out an animal diet properly, some other types of food have to be mixed in consistently, since most animals that are not plant-based can survive without a protein source for long.
Federal Reports Raised Questions in Consumers
However, too much grain-free food also causes serious health problems, specifically in certain animals like dogs. In mid-2018, the federal government released a report by the Food & Drug Administration noticing dog owners and vets watch out for heart problems. In particular, dogs fed a steady diet of grain-based foods were showing a higher rate of heart problems normally not seen with the given breed involved. Large-breed dogs that are very common in American households, ranging from Great Danes to Doberman pinchers showing up with issues. Labradors as well as small breeds like bulldogs were getting caught in the mix, as well.
In some cases, the effects of eating grain-free food were reversible. However, in other pet cases, the damage was permanent and likely contributed to serious conditions in the particular animals affected. However, under hard research, no one could pin down a direct and irrefutable causal relationship. There was enough data to point attention to the factor but not to push it over the edge of solid proof.
Ingredients in Grain-Free Foods
The most common recipe for grain-free pet food generally tends to be marketed as healthier foods that avoid grain filler and focus on other vegetable sources of protein. The two primary forms are either potatoes (regular or sweet potato) or legumes or both. These both produce the necessary protein intake that can replace other sources like meat by-product converted to dog food, but the cost is far less. However, the effects of a long-term diet on such foods is also not well understood either.
The dog food industry, in general, has had a long-term issue with the accuracy of the dietary value of its food products, and the grain-free versions are no exception. The proof comes out in medical cases that started popping up, especially with canine patients, since dogs tend to be immediately sensitive to their food intake when it comes to skin and fur allergy symptoms.
There are alternatives that aren’t just plant-based. Grain-free dog food with salmon, for example, is a mix that helps provide the canine body with real protein as well as standard fill from other sources of potato or legumes. Fish oil has long been a well-known positive food element for dogs, particularly their fur, and this type of dog food tends to get high recommendations as a result.
So, on the primary question – is grain-free food bad for dogs? The official answer is still out and waiting for a return. However, given the FDA’s earlier warning, some level of caution should be used with grain-free dog foods, especially with large breed canines and where the given dog food is the primary or only source of food for the animal. Animals are not that different from humans; they need a balanced diet with the correct mix of a number of food types to have a solid healthy system long-term. Given the fact that almost all dog food is processed in some form or another, including preservatives, factory-made grain-free food has to have some other food types mixed in to offset the ingredients. Otherwise, canine health is going to be affected over time just like humans are affected by processed food.