Why Grain-Free Food is a Great Choice for Dogs and Cats
To feed grain-free, or grain-inclusive? In the past few years, there has been much confusion about what type of food is best for our furry friends. The FDA investigation into dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and certain grain-free dog food in July of 2018 brought even more concern among pet parents. As further research has come out, this correlation has been disproven and the FDA has not identified a link. What the FDA has found is that the high level of legumes, peas, and plant protein found in low quality pet foods has been one of the leading causes of DCM and other health issues in dogs - not grain-free food itself.
The reality is, pet food should be full of only necessary, beneficial ingredients. Grain-inclusive pet foods inherently include unnecessary ingredients, like rice, wheat, and corn. These ingredients provide no nutritional benefits for pets, and in some cases can be digestive irritants and cause food allergies. That’s why grain-free dog food and cat food are an ideal choice for pets: they're free from these filler ingredients.
Although it’s a great way to feed, not all grain-free recipes are created equal. It’s important to opt for a high quality, grain-free cat food or dog food. But how do you know if your grain-free pet food is up to par?
Here are a few key things to look out for:
Real Meat is the Main Ingredient
Dogs and cats are carnivores that naturally thrive on a high protein diet. When selecting a grain-free dog food or cat food, always make sure real meat is the first ingredient. Real meat contains the essential amino acids that dogs and cats need to thrive. Many low-quality grain-free pet foods will be full of potatoes, starches, and other filler ingredients that are unnecessary. This can cause health problems, so it’s important to do your research and understand all of the ingredients in your pet’s food, whether it’s grain-free or not.
No Low Quality Ingredients
As previously mentioned, pet foods with filler ingredients should be avoided. But there are also several ingredients that, although high in protein, can be digestive irritants for your dog or cat. This includes meat and bone by-product (meal), soy, plant protein, and carrageenan. These ingredients are lower quality, highly processed, and can cause health problems in your pet. To learn more, check out our blog, here. Always opt for a recipe that is free from these common ingredients - your pet will thank you.
Your grain-free food for dogs or cats should use natural ingredients and be formulated to retain all of its nutrients during cooking. What does this mean? Traditionally, dry dog food (i.e. kibble) is cooked multiple times at high heat, which can destroy the nutrients and flavor of the ingredients. That’s why a minimal ingredient wet food will always be a great option for your pet - it’s cooked naturally and retains the highest nutritional value.
High in Protein
A dog and cat’s diet should always consist of mostly protein. But many pet food manufacturers unfortunately incorporate much more carbohydrates in their recipes than protein, as it keeps costs low. This is biologically inappropriate for pets, and can make them prone to weight gain and obesity. When choosing the best grain-free pet food, make sure that the protein content is high. Meat should always be the main ingredient in your dog food or cat food.
Traditional kibble lacks moisture, and can actually be dehydrating for your pet. Many pets, cats especially, do not get enough hydration from water alone - that’s why wet food is so beneficial. It matches the moisture content of their ancestor’s natural diet, and helps their bodies function well. Poor hydration is associated with symptoms such as diarrhea and lethargy in the short term, and conditions like diabetes and kidney dysfunction in the long term. Feeding grain-free, wet food (in combination with daily access to water) ensures your pet is hydrated and thriving.
A high quality, grain free pet food will always be a great choice for our furry friends. But make sure the recipe you choose meets all of the criteria above.
It can be daunting to find the right recipe for your pet - that’s why we made KOHA Limited Ingredient Diet Recipes for dogs and cats. These grain-free entrées contain 90-96% meat, are moisture-rich, and are always filler-free and minimally processed. We offer several single meat options (including novel proteins) that your pet will love.
If you’re concerned about your dog or cat’s diet, please schedule a visit with a trusted veterinarian. This text cannot and should not replace advice from a licensed veterinarian. This blog is for educational purposes only.
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