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Is a Grain free diet for dogs really the key to their good health?

Needless to say, grain free food is not at all that good a diet for your dog. It is a mere propaganda carried on by the dog food manufacturing companies to sell their grain free formulations. Such formulations enable these companies to achieve a more balanced composition that is difficult to attain if whole grains are part of the ingredient list of the food. It is seen that manufacturers have to increase the cost of producing such a food that is characterized by the absence of whole grains. And very conveniently the increased cost is passed on to the pet owners who are fooled into believing that if they care for their pet they must feed it with a healthy blend of grain free dog food.

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Let’s dig a little deeper into the negatives of a grain-free pet existence:

Grain free equals to the so called Gluten free fad. It is important to note that gluten is the main element in many kinds of whole grains. In an attempt to eliminate Gluten we get rid of the whole grains in the diet. These whole grains are rich sources of vitamin B-complex, fiber and iron and therefore when pet owners fall for the deceiving hype around grain free diet they end up robbing off these nutrients that are so very essential for the dog’s health, growth and functioning of bodily enzymes. Also a shortage of these nutrients exposes the dog to deadly diseases like cancer.


The truth is that Gluten serves as a high quality protein for the pets if included in their food. It can be a good replacement for many of the leguminous plants and animal protein/meat. Hence it is an economical approach to supply a protein rich diet to canines.


The Origin of the Gluten free fad:

The grain free frenzy emanates from the celiac disease in humans caused by Gluten. The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center has highlighted some statistics pertaining to this disease in humans with only less than I% of humans being affected by the illness. Also the disease is more common in human beings than in dogs. Therefore a very miniscule percentage of dog population is affected by gluten sensitivity. Grain sensitivity in dogs is an extremely uncommon occurrence as confirmed by Juli Gunter, DVM, MS, and DACVD. It is a delusionary belief on part of the dog owners that just as is for them a similar gluten free diet will benefit their pets. Don’t fall prey to the false claims made by the dog food manufacturing companies, and remember that only a veterinarian is armed by the required knowledge and skill to diagnose a gluten/celiac disease in canines. So far this disease has only been found in one particular genetic lineage of Irish Setters. The good news is that No other breed of dogs and cats have been medically diagnosed with this condition.

What can be the real causes of Diarrhea in pets?

Please don’t jump to conclusions and link soft stool to gluten allergy. It could simply be a gastrointestinal disease or an inflammation of the stomach due to infection that can arise from a number of causes.

  • Pets lick their coats on a daily basis; lick their muddy paws in an attempt to groom themselves, they even suffer from ticks & fleas and might swallow it in the event of licking its coat. Vomiting could be caused due to the dog ingesting dirt or critters etc.
  • Another reason for diarrhea could be the low quality ingredients that are included in the pet food. Surprising but true that permissible quantity of saw dust, bones, contaminated rodents, acceptable limits of plastic bag particles, claws, beaks, nutshells, decomposed carcasses and animals nearing death due to disability or other reasons are all part of pet food.

Therefore it will be unwise to project Gluten to be the villain in problems related to digestion in animals.

Many pet owners have claimed that their dog enjoyed improved gastrointestinal healthiness when they switched their pet to grain free food-stuff. Here it is important to note that such diets are prepared using superior quality constituents in general. Therefore the pet is exposed to a different set of ingredients or perhaps similar ingredients but in lesser quantities. And the pet may enjoy better gastrointestinal health due to the decrease or absence of a particular ingredient (apart from the whole grains/gluten) that had earlier caused the allergic reaction.

Also many a times it is not at all the diet but the other reasons that are responsible for infection of the stomach or intestines in dogs.

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The Author is a passionate dog parent and wants to encourage responsible pet parenting in India.

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