Does Your Pet Need a Grain-Free Diet?
With so many varieties of pet food available, you may be unsure about what type of food your dog or cat needs to stay healthy. Not only are foods sold with varieties for pets of specific ages, breeds, and sizes, but they often have labels containing phrases like “grain-free.” The grain-free pet food trend has been on the rise in recent years, and it can pose some confusion about the right nutrients in a balanced diet for a dog or cat.
Grains come in a wide variety, and in some cases, they may simply be fillers that don’t offer much to your pet’s diet. In the case of whole grains, however, there are many valuable nutrients including dietary fiber that are added to your pet’s diet when these ingredients are present. Oats and barley are particularly beneficial, since they contain a unique type of fiber called beta-glucan that can reduce obesity and control blood glucose. Still, you do not want to select a food that has grains listed among the first ingredients, since both cats and dogs need animal based proteins to sustain proper muscle growth and development. If you do choose a grain-free food, it will still contain carbohydrates from other sources like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, or tapioca, which may be more appropriate for dogs and cats with food allergies.