Many owners shy away from including grains in their dog or cats’ diet. The fear being that grains will cause allergies or sensitivities.
The truth is that grains are not the enemy! So, to dispel the myths and to champion the greatness of grains. Here are 4 reasons why you shouldn’t worry about grain in your pet’s diet.
1) Grain Allergies are RARE.
It is exceptionally rare for our dogs and cats to be allergic to grain. In fact, food allergies in general are not common, with only around 10% of allergies coming from diet.
A vast majority of allergies in our pets are caused by environmental factors. 90% of all allergies are caused by outside sources such as pollen, dust mites, grasses, and fleas.
So, if your dog or cat is suffering with frequent ear infections, intense itching and this happens more at certain times of the year. It is much more likely they are suffering with seasonal environmental allergies not a grain allergy.
2) Grains are Varied!
The term grain is very broad and often misunderstood.
So, what is a grain? Grains are small hard fruits or seeds that have been grown for both the human and animal food industries. These are used in pet food to provide energy and fibre.
Some grains are described as ‘whole’, which means they still have their outer fibrous bran layer. Grains such as maize, brown rice, oats and barley are considered whole. Others such as White Rice have been milled and had parts removed.
Ultimately not all grains have been created equally, some will certainly be less digestible than others.
We use Oats and Maize in our complete dry Yora range. These are digestible complex carbohydrates that provide sustained slow energy throughout the day.
Grains such as Wheat could contribute to more allergies or at least intolerance in our pets. However even this is less common, with some research suggesting that 1 in 10000 dogs suffer with a true wheat allergy. It is worth pointing out that even if your pet was allergic to a grain such as wheat, this certainly doesn’t mean all grains should be avoided.
Branding ALL grains as a problem is certainly not a reasonable approach to pet nutrition. Especially when it is more likely for the meat protein to contribute to a dietary allergic reaction…
3) Animal Protein NOT Grain!
Allergies are an immune response to protein within food sources. Whilst grains do contain small amounts of protein, only 1% of all dietary allergies are caused by grain.
This leaves a whopping 9% that are triggered by animal proteins, with chicken and beef being the biggest culprits.
Instead of focusing on grains within foods it is worth looking at the meat sources. Our superfood insects are a true novel protein source, meaning dogs and cats are much less likely to be intolerant to them. We use NO other meat protein in our foods to ensure these are the perfect diets for sensitive pets.
Want to learn more about our bugs? Check out our Guide to Novel Protein.
4) Incorrect Allergy Tests
It is likely that part of the reason why grain is dismissed as likely to cause allergies, is the rise in inaccurate allergy testing.
Some companies offer blood, skin and salvia testing as a way of diagnosing dietary allergies. Many these tests come back with alarmingly high numbers of potential triggering ingredients.
The difficulty is that research shows that this way of testing is completely inaccurate. Fake fur samples were used in one test, which means these tests struggle to even identify real dogs.
Ultimately salvia, blood and fur testing can cost a lot of money and lead owners down the completely wrong path. Instead, the best way to tackle suspected allergies is to try an elimination diet and of course to look at the environmental factors.
With so much information online regarding dog and cat diets, it is important to separate the fact from fiction. Grains are not the enemy, instead the focus should be on using balanced, well researched diets that keep your pet fit, healthy and happy.