Grain-free foods have become increasingly popular in recent years. But what makes a grain-free diet different from any other natural food? And how do you know whether your pet could benefit from going grain-free?
Grain-free pet foods differ from more traditional pet foods in that their main carbohydrate source isn’t wheat, soy or corn. Research indicates that wheat is the single most common grain associated with food sensitivities, with soy and corn following behind.
These grains can lead to a number of health conditions or grain-intolerance. You may notice your pet’s sensitivity to grains in his trouble digesting food properly which can result in vomiting, diarrhea or an immune reaction leading to dry, red, itchy skin, ears or coat. By feeding a grain-free food with an alternative carbohydrate source, you may be able to reduce or eliminate any issues related to grain sensitivities.
Grain-free foods contain carbohydrates from vegetables sources instead of grains. The most common are potatoes or sweet potatoes. Others include peas, chickpeas and carrots. Rice is sometimes also considered a substitute, although it’s not strictly grain-free. These alternative sources of carbohydrates can provide pets the energy they need, without adverse health effects.
Even if your pet doesn’t show signs of grain-intolerance, he may still enjoy benefits from switching to a grain-free diet, including improved digestion or skin and coat health. Research shows that grains were never really a part of the ancestral diet of dogs and cats, whose wild cousins feed primarily on live prey and occasional fruits and vegetables – rarely grains. Therefore, many Pet Parents reason that a more natural diet for their pets would be one that’s grain-free.
If your pet is experiencing skin or digestive problems, consult your veterinarian to determine the cause. He may recommend trying a grain-free diet. Pet Parents should be aware that food sensitivities may take as long as 12 weeks to completely respond to a dietary change with most veterinarians recommending food trials of at least 6-8 weeks. Avoid treats and table food during this time, as these may contain ingredients the pet is sensitive to, including grains.