Grains are a common ingredient in pet foods. Whether you own a cat or a dog, you’ve likely seen the words “grain-free” on pet food labels. But why is grain-free food being promoted as the better option for cats and dogs? Is grain-free food really healthier for our pets? Let’s take a closer look at grains in pet food so that we can make an informed decision.
The Debate Around Grains In Pet Food
The debate around grains in pet food has been ongoing for years. On one side, proponents of grain-free diets argue that grains are not part of the natural diet of cats and dogs, and therefore should be avoided.
They point to evidence that shows that some grains contain anti-nutrients like phytates which can reduce the digestibility of other nutrients in the diet. They also point out that some pets suffer from allergies to certain grains, such as wheat or corn.
On the other hand, supporters of grain-inclusive diets believe that grains can provide essential nutrients like carbohydrates and proteins to help fuel your pet’s body and brain. They also point out that many commercial pet foods use highly processed forms of grain, such as corn gluten meal or wheat middlings, which are low in nutritional value and may be difficult for cats and dogs to digest properly.
Supporters argue that whole foods like brown rice or oats - which contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber - are better options for pets than these highly processed forms of grain.
What Does the Science Say?
There is no definitive answer to the question of whether cats and dogs should eat food made with grains because there is limited scientific research on this topic. One study published in 2017 concluded that cats fed a diet containing whole grains had higher levels of vitamins A and E compared to cats fed a diet without whole grains.
Another study found similar results for both cats and dogs when it comes to nutrient absorption from various types of feed ingredients including cornmeal, wheat bran, oat groats, flaxseed meal, soybean meal, potato protein concentrate, and barley malt meal. However, it is worth noting that most studies on this subject have been conducted using animals rather than humans so they may not be applicable to all species or breeds of cats and dogs.
Moreover, there have yet to be any long-term studies conducted on the effects of feeding pets exclusively grain-free diets versus those with whole grains included in their diet.
Ultimately it's up to you as an owner to decide if your cat or dog should eat food made with grains based on your own research into this topic as well as consultation with your veterinarian about what might work best for your particular pet's needs. If you do decide to feed your pet food made with grains make sure it contains only high-quality ingredients such as brown rice or oats rather than highly processed forms like corn gluten meal or wheat middlings which may be difficult for them to digest properly.
With careful consideration regarding nutrition content along with taking allergies into account, you can find the right balance between providing essential nutrients while avoiding potential health issues related to dietary choices. No matter what type of diet you choose for your cat or dog make sure it meets all their nutritional needs!