Trendy Pet Food
Grain-free and exotic ingredient diets have become a trend in the pet food industry, likely based off the recent gluten-free and “gut healthy” human dieting trends. However, it’s not beneficial to apply these types of diets to animals as they have very different dietary requirements and metabolism. We often hear owners say they chose grain-free diets because they were under the impression it is healthier or because it will help with skin allergies. In reality, grains are a great source of energy for dogs, and they should not be seen as something harmful or unhealthy! When it comes to food allergies or food hypersensitivity, the problem almost always arises from an allergic reaction to the protein source, not the grain (true grain allergies are exceedingly rare in dogs!). The bottom line is, there is no scientific evidence that grain-free diets are any healthier than grained diets, and we know now that there is significant risk with feeding them.
So what’s the big concern? Veterinarians have been seeing an alarming increase in cases of a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and the common factor in these dogs is that they are eating some variation of a “BEG” diet. The term “BEG” refers to diets that are boutique, contain exotic ingredients, or grain-free. DCM is a condition in which the muscles of the heart fail to adequately contract, leading to heart enlargement and ultimately heart failure. Symptoms of DCM include weakness, exercise intolerance, coughing, shortness of breath, fainting, and even death. While cardiologists are still working on pinpointing the exact reason these diets are causing DCM in dogs, there is now a well-established link, so we are strongly encouraging all owners to feed their dogs a non-”BEG” diet.
“I’ve been feeding a grain-free or “BEG” diet… Now what?” It can be intimidating for owners to select a diet, especially with today’s nutritional fads, impressive marketing, and huge variety of products on the shelves. We encourage owners to select a WSAVA approved diet. These guidelines highlight the importance of choosing pet food companies that employ board certified veterinary nutritionists, perform rigorous feeding trials, value research and development, and have exemplary quality control. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please don’t hesitate to ask us for food recommendations. We are here to help!