Are Grain-Free and Gluten-Free Foods Good For My Dog?

Are Grain-Free and Gluten-Free Foods Good For My Dog?

With so many food options in the market for dogs, you would think that picking the right dog food is an easy task. Just like you would be cautious about what foods you or your children eat, the same thing goes for your dog and careful consideration of the foods included in their diet is incredibly important. 

Some food trends that occur among humans can mirror the diets of our pets and animal friends, but none of these should be considered without research and understanding of the impacts and purpose the diets serve for your dogs. For example, going grain-free or gluten-free is a common route for individuals who have sensitivities or celiac disease. 

The boom of grain-free and gluten-free options for humans has also led to the appeal of the same diet options for pets, but are grain-free and gluten-free food options good for your dog? 

Grain-Free Foods & Gluten-Free Foods FAQ

Q: Are grain-free foods and gluten-free foods the same as one another?

A: Grain-free food implies exactly what the name is: it is food that does not contain grain. On the other hand, gluten-free food is the absence of proteins found in primarily wheat, rye, and barley. 

Q: Don’t grains contain gluten?

A: Not necessarily. Some do. Some don’t. Not all grains have gluten so you’ll discover that while gluten-free food may or may not contain grains, grain-free foods will never have gluten. 

Grain-Free Diets, Gluten-Free Diets, and Your Dog

For the most part, dogs do not need to have a grain-free or gluten-free diet. The introduction of a grain-free or gluten-free diet is mostly done at the preference of the dog owner (or pet parent) without solid contextual evidence that it is purely a health-driven update to their diet. 

Contrasting that though, there are concerns about dogs who have allergies. In these cases, a grain-free diet is recommended. 

The Potential Dangers of Grain-Free or Gluten-Free Diets for Dogs

Back in June 2019, the American Kennel Club (AKC) looked into the FDA’s alerting of potential risks associated with grain-free dog foods. Their team includes Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of American Kennel Club (AKC) and had him weigh in on the topic. His thoughts on the alert are as follows:

The FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and dogs eating certain grain-free dog foods. The foods of concern are those containing legumes such as peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes listed as primary ingredients. The FDA began investigating this matter after it received reports of DCM in dogs that had been eating these diets for a period of months to years. DCM itself is not considered rare in dogs, but these reports are unusual because the disease occurred in breeds of dogs not typically prone to the disease. (Read More)

According to Today’s Veterinary Practice, where they caution of boutique foods, “Pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients, are what’s being linked to DCM, which leads to reduced heart pumping function and increased heart size. The alterations in heart function and structure can result in severe consequences such as congestive heart failure or sudden cardiac death. While the most common cause of DCM is genetic, on rare occasions other factors can also result in the condition, particularly in breeds that are not frequently affected.”

Final Thoughts

With each case comes exceptions. For example, while grain-free and gluten-free diets are not necessary for dogs, the same thing can’t be said specifically for the Irish Setter breed which is prone to gluten sensitivities. It is always advised to seek a professional opinion from your local, trusted veterinarian to determine if a drastic diet shift is necessary for your dog.

This is just a sampling of tips we offer at Joyride Harness. You can find more tips and tricks and how-to’s for caring for your dog on our blog at this section. Feel free to leave a comment with tips you’re looking for!

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