Updated: Apr 16, 2020
"Gluten-free" and "grain-free" pet diets have acquired the "healthy" award the past few years. How healthy are they in real though? And how suitable are they for every pet?
The truth always lies somewhere in the middle. Therefore, there is no evidence so far to but let's see the most common misconceptions that pet owners have about them:
1. Dogs can be allergic to grains
Food allergies represent less than 10% of all dog allergies. The most common allergens for pets are animal protein such as chicken, beef or dairy. Grain allergy is very uncommon in pets.
2. Pets can have Celiac disease
Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is a very rare disease in dogs and it has never been reported in cats.
3. Grains are low quality "fillers"
Corn in particular has been characterised as a filler implying a low quality ingredient in pet foods, being considered and allergen as well, mainly by food competitor companies.
4. Grain-free diets don't contain carbs
Grains are in fact very nutritious and good source of energy, providing carbohydrates. Carbohydrates consist one the 6 basic nutrients along with water, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals and are essential for a balanced diet.
5. Grain- free diets can cause heart disease
A study of 2019 suggested that grain free diets can contribute to the pathology of dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease, in some dogs. However, it is not yet clear which is the mechanism behind this and whether other parameters or ingredients of pet diets contribute to the disease as well.