Westbury Animal Hospital
713.723.3666 · 4917 S. Willow Dr. Houston, Texas 77035 

Annie's Shenanigans

Grain Free Gaining Ground

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


"Grain Free" is a term that has become extremely commonplace in the pet food industry. It is amazing how much this trend has seeded itself into the mind of consumers who are now perpetuating the market of grain free diets. This is likely a spill over from the human side of nutrition with human gluten intolerance, but the fact remains that <2% of the 1% of pets with food allergy have a sensitivity/allergy to grain. That is an extremely tiny amount of the general population!

The purpose of the information in this blog is to help you understand what the term "Grain Free" implies and to take the taboo out of non-grain free diets. 

So lets get the facts straight:

1. Whole grains contribute valuable nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids to the diet. Dogs and cats can utilize carbohydrates for their health and for energy in place of proteins, but usually a balanced diet should include some meat proteins and carbohydrates

2. Generally grain free diets will be higher in protein. Some animals need less protein such as in the case of older pets with kidney insufficiency.

3. If your pet has been suspected of having a food allergy your veterinarian will not be placing that pet on a grain free diet first for a food trial. The most common allergens in dogs are beef, chicken, and dairy.

4. Grains are high sources of carbohydrates. However, pets still need carbohydrates so in place of the grains, these pet food companies often use other sources of carbohydrates such as potatoes, tapioca, peas or carrots.

Choosing a pet food is a confusing endeavor. You should be working with your veterinarian to choose the appropriate diet and feeding quantity for your pet. There are so many factors that go into choosing a diet including age, breed, concurrent illness, skin condition, body condition score, how you need to feed to fit your schedule, other pets in the house who will be eating this food, and of course cost. There is not one answer for everyone, and not something you should NOT be asking your pet store clerk to help you decide. 

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