food allergy

Myths and Truths about Grain Free Diets

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.  The following link has more information:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2018/08/29/grain-free-exotic-dog-food-linked-to-heart-disease/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.54fd48e1c2c0

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