Myths and Truths about Grain Free Diets

grain free diet

Last month the Food and Drug Administration started investigating a link between grain free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy, a very serious heart condition. This association is still under investigation and the cause is still unknown. Read the whole story at

So why are we feeding our pets grain free in the first place? The push for grain free has not come from veterinarians – it is simply due to strategic marketing. There are no known health benefits to feeding a grain free diet vs a diet with grains.

Some owners may choose grain free because they believe their pet is allergic to a grain. However, grains are the least likely cause of food allergies in dogs and cats. Food allergies, 99% of the time, are caused by a protein in the diet. Additionally, boutique diets can not be considered “pure” in terms of being grain free or having a single protein source. Multiple studies have shown cross contamination of over the counter diets with items not included on the ingredient list. For example, you might think you are feeding a grain free bison diet, but your actually getting traces of chicken, beef, and corn. This is why if you are concerned about a food allergy you need to discuss with a veterinarian the best way to do a very controlled diet trial.

My recommendation is if your pet has not been diagnosed with a grain allergy than stop feeding grain-free food.

Jennifer Bentley, DVM, DACVD

Board Certified Dermatologist