Why vets don't like grain-free?
With the rise of grain-free dog foods, veterinarians started to notice a worrying trend; dogs eating these diets were found to be suffering from a rare heart condition. This illness, called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), causes the heart muscle to weaken and can lead to sudden death.
A grain-free diet, "may be low in fiber unless other foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, or lentils) are included," says Andrews. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, a nutrient that is lacking in many Americans' diets.
"With an all-natural and grain-free type diet they are lacking an amino acid called taurine which essentially predisposes them to a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy," Billmaier said.
Researchers aiding in the FDA's investigation have found that a lot of dogs on grain-free diets have developed a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy, which can be pretty serious. “Dilated cardiomyopathy [DCM] is a heart condition where the heart is too large,” Dr. Bustamante said.
Despite the benefits for some dogs, there are downsides to feeding a grain-free dog food. Many people assume grain free means low carb, but that's not the case. In fact, some dog foods without grains are higher in alternative carbohydrate sources like potatoes and peas. This could result in unintentional weight gain.
Recent and ongoing research from the FDA has shown a potential link between grain-free diets and canine heart disease, specifically a condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
Dogs DON'T Need Grains
They do require small amounts of soluble carbohydrate, which can be found in meat in the form of muscle glycogen." Grains are not an ancestral food for dogs. High-quality animal tissue, not grains, is their optimal source of nutrition.
Cutting out grains completely could lead to some bathroom troubles. "You may become more backed up," says Lockwood. "Turns out the bran in whole grains has fiber which helps keep you regular." Making sure you're eating other foods high in fiber — like fruits or leafy greens — can help combat this problem.
There are a lot of dog and cat foods sold as grain-free with marketing suggesting that feeding no grains is healthier. This is not true and can, in fact, cause illness for some dogs and cats. There is no medical or physiologic basis to feed dogs or cats a grain-free diet.
Rule number one when petting a dog, always pet in the direction that their fur goes. If you go against the grain when petting them, you could cause them some discomfort and subsequent stress.