I’m sure at some point this year we have all heard about the importance of putting our dogs and cats on a grain-free diet. Well, there is a reason as to why so many people have been talking about it, and for a good reason. The ancestors of dogs have thrived on an all-protein diet. Our dogs are no different. A high protein diet is essential for their health. Dogs have an intolerance to grain and it can present itself with symptoms including hot spots, itchy paws, diarrhea, and gas. A diet that is higher in protein will help build your dog’s leaner muscles. A grain-free diet is also easier for their stomachs to process which means smaller stools! In fact, one-third of the protein inside a grain-free diet goes to maintaining your dog’s coat and skin. A higher protein diet will help their coat.
So what exactly is a grain-free diet made with and why is it so important for dogs? A grain-free diet is a diet made free from wheat, corn, oats, and rice. Options for a grain-free diet exist in wet food, dry food, and treats. Although the typical domestic dog evolved from their ancestors to become more omnivorous, they still require a diet that is high in animal protein and lower in plant-based ingredients such as grains. Novel meat sources such as beef and chicken are great, but rabbit, venison, salmon, trout, and bison are also very high in protein.
Dogs require protein because it provides an essential amino acid called taurine. Taurine is an amino acid that is used by the body to build proteins. It is found in the bile and helps to break down fat. It is also really important for muscles, the immune system, the brain, and eyes. Because most kibble is heavy on lentils and potatoes which will ultimately diminish your dog’s taurine. Without the proper amount of taurine in their diets, they can develop a disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy.
One of the reasons why grain-free diets have become so popular is because of the rise in dogs developing this disease. It is also spread genetically as well so that means it is important to stop the spread before it spreads to future puppies. It was thought that dogs were actually capable of making their own taurine, but in fact, only certain breeds and certain lines of breeds can’t. Big dog breeds typically have a slower rate of taurine synthesis. It is important to note that poultry and fish are very high in taurine while red meat, beef, venison, lamb, and kangaroo are on the lower spectrum of taurine-containing protein.
Benefits of grain-free diet in Cats
Cats have a very low requirement for carbohydrates at all. In fact in the 1980’s at the University of Davis they were able to figure out that tens of thousands of cats were going blind or developing heart failure and they figured out that it was because of taurine deficiency. And we know now that taurine is almost completely taken out of all grain-based or plant-based foods. Why did they do this? The major companies knew that could make more profits if they reduced the amount of the most expensive ingredient; meat. They figured that they could make more of a profit on corn and gluten meal substitutes. With a high grain diet, cats were more susceptible of developing dilated cardiomyopathy. This happens when the heart looses strength and the walls begin to stretch. The muscles fibers aren’t able to contract properly anymore.