Harvey Animal Hospital

18479 Mack
Detroit, MI 48236



Whats the Deal with Grain Free Food - What Food is Best for Your Pet - 01/14/2020

What's the Deal with Grain Free:
What Food is Best for My Pet? 

How to choose the best food for your beloved pet 
                     So you have been feeding your pet a very expensive, organic, GRAIN FREE diet that you heard was the best out there.  You love your pet and you want to give him nothing but the best with no fillers. But now all of a sudden you are hearing that Grain Free foods are bad and are causing dogs to have heart problems! So you think to yourself. Is this True? How is this possible?  Now what do I do? Does my pet now have heart problems? What food is best for my pet?  Well let us help clarify things.
Grain Free Diets have been linked to heart disease in dogs 

            First of all, are the claims true? Can feeding a Grain Free Diet cause heart problems in your pet? Sadly, the answer is Yes. There has been a staggering number of confirmed cases of a heart condition called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)  that is suspected to be caused by the lack of an amino acid called Taurine in these diets. Taurine helps the heart function and when the animal is deficient in this amino acid the heart can become weak and not able to contract as strongly as it should. This can then result in Congestive Heart Failure and even sudden death. There are some breeds that are more at risk for Taurine Deficient DCM such as Golden Retrievers but any breed including mixed breeds can be affected. The FDA has issued a warning regarding these diets and they are conducting an ongoing investigation into these foods. The graph below illustrates some of the Dog Food Brands with the highest number of reported cases.  You can also find a complete list of the food at .https://www.fda.gov/media/128303/download .

Dog Food Brands with the most reported cases 

          So your dog has been eating a Grain Free Food, now what? Well first alert your veterinarian. They may have specific suggestions for a diet given your pets medical history. But it is recommended to change the food immediately to a well balanced commercial diet containing grains, that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. Studies have shown, that once on a well balanced diet containing the nutrients a dog needs including Taurine, the condition improved or was cured in most (but not all) dogs. If you are concerned about your pets heart health,  your vet can do radio-graphs and blood test, and if needed your vet may need to refer your pet to a Cardiologist. The Cardiologist will have the capabilities to look closer at your pets heart with a test called,  an echo-cardiogram, which enables them see the function of the heart more in depth.

There has also been a lot of buzz regarding the Raw Diet, so we want to touch on that here as well. Raw Diets or Home Cooked diets are not recommend as they are not balanced in the proper nutrition your pet needs. In fact, In a study by the research team at UCDavis  it was found that "Overall, 95 percent of the 200 recipes examined resulted in food that was lacking in the necessary levels of at least one essential nutrient, and more than 83 percent of the recipes had multiple nutrient deficiencies."  In addition to not being balanced nutrition you are also putting your pet at risk for food born illness such as salmonella or E. Coli poising, which is also a risk to humans.

Feed your pet a well balanced diet to ensure they receive the nutrients they need 

            Although  there is no credible evidence that proves Grain Free diets are better for your pet, media has portrayed grains as being "the bad guy", creating a notion that its just filler or even the myth of grains causing allergies. When in reality, grains are not fillers, they contribute key nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber and essential fatty acids. Grains also do not cause allergies. If your pet has a food allergy or sensitivity, they are going to most likely react to the protein source in the food such as chicken or beef, and minimal chance of them reacting to the grain source.

Trust your Veterinarian when it comes to pet health

       In conclusion, grains are not the bad guy. The fad of feeding a grain free diet or other buzz diets such as, the raw diet, can actually do harm to your pet as they do not contain adequate nutrition. The perception that has been falsely created that grains are fillers or cause allergies are incorrect. So what is the best food for your pet? A well trusted, commercial diet containing grain that follows the AAFCO guidelines by a reputable company that have animal nutritionist and veterinarians on staff is what is recommended. If you have questions about your pets nutritional needs or health, talk to your veterinarian, not the 19 year old cashier at the pet store, or people with no adequate or relevant education on Facebook. Your veterinarian is here to help you and help your pet live a long happy healthy life.