What are the differences between grain free and gluten free pet foods?
Grains are the most common form of gluten in pet food today. Grain free pet foods are free from all grains and almost always gluten free. You can still have a gluten free diet that includes grains such as corn or rice (which are gluten free grains).
How do I know if my pet is suited to or needs to consume a grain free or gluten free diet?
Grains are carbohydrates commonly used in traditional dry pet foods. They are generally cheap and used to bulk out recipes. Grains lack many of the nutritional benefits of other carbohydrates and vegetables that are used in most grain free foods today.
In general, dogs have evolved to digest grains. Some still have allergies and intolerances, which can be spotted by itchy skin, loose stools and gas. These can also be put down to other elements in the dog’s diet too, such as the use of meat meal and high cooking temperatures that make food tough to digest.
We choose a grain and gluten free recipe: we select nutritious and digestible vegetables and pulses. We use white potato and chickpeas, complimenting 50% fresh or freshly prepared meat and fish. White potato has no fat or cholesterol, is packed with potassium, vitamin C & B and antioxidants. Chickpeas are a great source of fibre and protein. These ingredients are nutritious and digestible for your dog.
Make sure you check the recipes as a whole, don’t just focus on one element. Is there any fresh or freshly prepared meat or fish? If so, the food is likely to be much tastier and more nutritious. What % of grains are there? If it is a high %, the diet may not be very nutritious and you may end up feeding more often. What temperature is the food cooked at? If it is a high temperature, lots of the goodness from the original ingredients could have been cooked out.
Are grains or grain filled pet foods ‘bad’ for pets?
Every dog is different.
Grain or grain filled foods are not necessarily bad for pets who have not developed intolerances to them. That said, grain heavy foods tend not to have the same nutritional benefits as grain free recipes which include vegetables and botanicals.
What are the benefits of swapping my pets diet over?
When you switch to a grain free recipe with fresh or freshly prepared meat or fish, you will tend to find your dog is less gassy, they produce small, firm stools and their coat tends to be glossier.
When you switch to a natural diet cooked at low temperatures you tend to see the benefits from the ingredients in the recipe too. If it is a fish recipe, the natural omegas 3 & 6 help support a dog’s bones, joints and heart: if chicken, it tends to be good for sensitive stomachs.
How can I tell if the pet food I buy is Gluten or Grain Free?
Your best bet is reading the ingredients on the back of the pack and checking exactly what is going into your pet’s diet.
Is Gluten Free Pet Food More expensive to buy?
It is usually more expensive per kilo to buy.
When comparing Gluten Free Human Foods – such as bread – the portion sizes seem to be smaller. Does this mean that I need to feed my pet less?
What you will find is that you tend to feed less of the food, as it is more nutritious than a grain filled alternative. So overall the cost works out as equal. It’s always worth checking the feeding guidelines vs the cost per kilo.
In a very recent news article, there was said to be links between dogs eating ‘grain free pet food’ and heart disease, what are your thoughts?
I was not involved in the research and so am unable to debunk or back up the article. From my current knowledge, there is nothing in the grain free alternative ingredients that link directly to heart disease and millions of healthy dogs enjoy a grain free diet without heart disease, every day.
I believe the issue raised in the article is with the taurine level in a dog’s diet. Fresh chicken is high in taurine, so feeding a grain free chicken diet is likely to have higher levels than a grain filled lamb diet. If in doubt, you can always contact the manufacturer and they can run you through the recipe and taurine levels.