Grain free pet foods are currently very popular. But are they really healthier for your pet than other types of pet foods? Let’s take a closer look at that question.
While it is true that many pets do well on grain free diets, it is also true that these diets were developed more in response to consumer (i.e., human) preference than to the actual nutritional needs of our pets.
Nutritionally, the most important aspect of a pet food is whether the food provides complete and balanced nutrition. If the food contains excesses or deficiencies of specific nutrients, the pet will suffer as a result. This concept is true regardless of whether the food contains grains or not.
Each ingredient in the diet provides a unique set of nutrients to the overall makeup of the food. Together, the ingredients need to combine to provide a complete nutrient profile for your pet, without any excesses or deficiencies that can cause illness for your pet. It is certainly possible for grain free diets to provide this type of complete nutrition for your pet. However, these diets are not the only option, or even necessarily the best option, for each individual pet. There is no one diet or type of diet that is perfect for all pets. In other words, no pet food is a one-size-fits-all nutritional solution.
DOES GRAIN FREE MEAN CARB FREE?
通常伴随无谷狗粮出现的另一个流行的概念是高蛋白质，低碳水化合物狗链。 高蛋白质，低碳水化合物饮食确实有它们的位置，特别是在喂食患有糖尿病的猫咪时。 然而，重要的是不要假设无谷狗粮的碳水化合物一定低。 事实上，一些无谷狗粮含有与有谷狗粮的相似或甚至更高的碳水化合物水平。 在许多无谷物宠物食品中，诸如马铃薯的成分代替了食物中的谷物，并且这些成分通常比宠物食品中使用的常见谷物含有更多的碳水化合物。 因此，无谷物和低碳水化合物并不总是同义词。
Another popular feeding concept that often seems to go hand in hand with feeding grain free pet food is the feeding of a high protein, low carbohydrate diet. High protein, low carbohydrate diets do have their place, particularly in the feeding of diabetic cats. However, it is important not to assume that a grain free diet is a low carbohydrate diet. In fact, some grain free pet foods contain carbohydrate levels similar to or even higher than diets containing grains. In many grain free diets, ingredients such as potatoes replace the grains in the food and often these ingredients have more carbohydrates than the common grains used in pet food. As a result, grain free and low carbohydrate pet foods are not always synonymous with one another.
IS GRAIN FREE PET FOOD MORE ‘NATURAL’?
无谷狗粮的支持者声称，对狗狗来说，谷物不是天然的营养来源。 他们认为家狗和家猫的祖先并没有吃谷物的习惯。 然而，可以说，土豆和其他形式的碳水化合物对于我们的宠物来说不比谷物更“天然”。 幸运的是，我们的宠物（狗和猫一样）已经演变成能够消化谷物以及许多其他来源的碳水化合物（包括土豆）。
Proponents of grain free diets sometimes claim that grains are an unnatural source of nutrition for our pets. They argue that ancestors of our current-day dogs and cats did not eat grains. However, it could be argued that potatoes and other forms of carbohydrates are no more “natural” for our pets than are grains. Fortunately, our pets (dogs and cats alike) have evolved to be able to digest grains as well as many other sources of carbohydrates (including potatoes).
WHAT ABOUT CAT AND DOG FOOD ALLERGIES?
另一个在狗爸狗妈中流行的误解是，无谷饮食是食物过敏狗狗的最佳饮食。 虽然食物过敏确实会发生在宠物身上，玉米和其他谷物不是食物中发现的最常见的过敏原。 事实上，根据一些可用的研究，玉米实际上是食物过敏最不可能的来源之一。 在一篇文献综述中，对278名食物过敏犬进行了评估，并为每只狗明确了问题成分。 牛肉是最常见的过敏原，负责报告的95例病例。 乳业负责55例，成为次要原因。 玉米被确定为过敏原只有7例。 情况类似。 本研究评估了56只猫。 其中有45种是因为吃牛肉，乳制品和/或鱼类而产生的过敏症。 由玉米引发的过敏症只有4例。
Another popular misconception that many pet owners fall victim to is the assumption that grain free diets are the best diets for pets with food allergies. While food allergies do occur in pets, corn and other grains are not among the most common allergens found in foods. In fact, according to some of the available research, corn is actually one of the least likely sources of food allergy. In one literature review1, 278 dogs with food allergy were evaluated and the problem ingredient was clearly identified for each dog. Beef was the most common allergen, being responsible for 95 of the cases reported. Dairy was responsible for 55 cases, making it the second most frequent cause. Corn was identified as the offender in only 7 cases. In cats, the situation is similar. Fifty-six cats were evaluated in this study2. Forty-five of the food allergies resulted from eating beef, dairy, and/or fish. Corn, meanwhile, was responsible for only 4 cases.
Feeding a grain free diet is a legitimate option for your pet. However, feeding a grain free diet still requires choosing a diet that includes complete and balanced nutrition for your pet. Choose ingredients with which you, as a pet owner, are comfortable. But remember that in the long run, it is the nutrient profile that is important, not the individual ingredients in the pet food.
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