Grain-free dog food: is it breaking our dogs’ hearts?

Over the past couple of years, some vets in the USA have suggested there could be a link between dogs developing heart disease, and grain-free diets. The FDA (Food & Drug Association) first highlighted this potential link back in 2018, with further studies taking place towards the end of last year (September 2020).

If you’re worried about your dog’s health – or you just want to find out more – we’re here to answer your questions. The most important thing to remember is that grain-free food is not bad for dogs if it is balanced and nutritionally complete. Every recipe contains all the nutrients your dog needs to be at their happiest and healthiest, so there’s no need to worry.

What’s sparked this?

The US Food and Drug Administration released a statement saying they’re investigating a potential link between dog food and a series of unusual cases of heart disease in dogs. A similarity uncovered during the investigation was that these dogs were all fed grain-free diets, using potatoes and legumes (beans, peas, lentils etc) as the main carbohydrate source.

Could diet cause heart disease?

Maybe, but not due to being grain-free if it’s nutritionally balanced and complete like

If a diet lacks taurine, an essential amino acid necessary for cardiac health, this could lead to a problem over time. Also, certain ingredients can block the body’s ability to digest and absorb essential nutrients. Legumes such as beans, and pulses like peas or lentils contain natural plant chemicals in their raw, uncooked form that can interfere with the digestion of certain other nutrients.

But when we cook these foods (for ourselves as well as our pets), we destroy these chemicals, making these ingredients digestible and nutritious. In most dry dog food, including, the process required to make the kibble itself renders these chemicals harmless.

Is grain-free food bad for dogs?

Grain-free food is not bad for dogs if it is balanced and nutritionally complete. When formulated by qualified animal nutritionists to contain everything an individual dog needs, then that dog should thrive on the diet in question.

Why would I feed my dog grain-free?

Allergies or intolerances to grain are far less common in dogs than in humans, so most dogs don’t require grains to be excluded from their diet. And whilst there are cases where the exclusion of wheat is necessary, every dog is different. Some dogs may have digestive intolerances or allergies and do better when certain ingredients are excluded from their diet.



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