Among the boutique diets popular at the moment, gluten-free or grain-free is one of the top contenders. Feeding dogs a grain-free diet is also a growing trend, believed by many pet owners to be healthier and more like an animal’s ancestral diet. 

While it’s true that wolves and wild dogs probably don’t eat much in the way of grain, canines are omnivores, meaning that they should be getting their nutrients from a variety of foods. There is no evidence that fad diets, including grain-free dog food, is healthy for dogs. In some cases, it can even lead to devastating health consequences.

Diet-Associated Heart Disease

In July of 2018, the Food and Drug Administration began conducting investigations into grain-free dog foods and their potential link to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). 

DCM is a degeneration of the heart muscle, causing it to thin out and enlarging the entire heart. Genetics and breed are to blame in some cases of DCM, but the FDA has found that a growing number of dogs without those risk factors turning up with the disease – the common link is grain-free dog food.

Is Grain-Free Pet Food Right For Your Dog?

There are certain circumstances, such as in the case of food allergies or sensitivity, where grain-free dog food may be appropriate. For the most part, we don’t recommend feeding your dog a grain-free diet unless they have undergone food allergy testing, and we have determined that one or more grain products is producing a reaction.

If a grain-free diet is indicated for your dog, your veterinarian will help you find a brand that provides the proper balance of nutrition for your dog, while staying within your budget.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to remember that, in the vast majority of cases, grain-free dog food is a marketing ploy designed to appeal to owners who are proponents of a gluten-free lifestyle, paleo, or other fad diets. 

We know that providing your companion with the best possible nutrition is important to you. Your Bayshore Animal Hospital veterinarian should be your number one resource when it comes to finding the diet that meets your pet’s individual needs. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with your questions and concerns regarding your pet’s nutrition.