Cast your eye back five years and you’d struggle to find a grain free dog food bag on the shelf. Today, the premium end of the aisle is full of them.
Is grain free dog food a trend, or is there something more to it?
There is a growing number of pets that have allergies or are sensitive tummies to specific ingredients. These are often things like wheat, corn, soy, dairy, chicken and beef.
As pet food has become such a big industry, stores and brands have tried to cut costs and keep dog food affordable as the price of marketing and rent has risen. The food has been compromised as a result, using cheap grains instead of meat or vegetables to fill your dogs stomach.
Just because it fills them up, doesn’t mean it’s good for them, however. Most grains are very hard to digest, so they don’t just increase the risk of allergies and health issues, but also require a lot of your woofers energy to break down and process.
What benefits will your dog get from grain free dog food?
Many dog owners report an improvement to their dogs skin, coat, energy levels, and digestion after moving to a grain free food.
Don’t be fooled. Not all grain-free recipes are healthy
Pet food marketing laws don’t exist in Australia, so it’s hard for you to know what’s really in your dog food.
Grain Free dog food has become associated with higher protein and higher fat as there are less grain filling up the ingredient list but this is not always the case.
The easy (and cheap) way to to make a grain free dog food is just to swap the grains for plenty of refined carbohydrates like tapioca starch.
Why is Scratch the healthiest grain free recipe?
We designed our grain-free Turkey recipe without these refined carbohydrates, instead using high protein and fibre based whole vegetables such a broad beans and chickpeas.
Our Kangaroo single-protein dog food also has 84% whole ingredients with low levels of potato starch.
What about this DCM grain free hysteria that’s sometimes in the media?
It’s a tricky one, but largely it is hysteria so far. Of the estimated 77 million dogs in the US, there have been 560 dogs affected in the last 5 years. This is a very low percentage, but any preventable issue and attention to proper dog nutrition is a good thing.
Golden Retrievers are very highly represented and their genetics and others are also being investigated. 91% of cases are associated with grain-free food with some even from raw fed dogs. 89% had “Peas” as a main ingredient which we do not use. In comparison only 62% had lentils. This is where Chickpeas and Broad Beans fit into the FDA groupings. Chicken and Lamb were the most prominent meat ingredients reported.
The FDA is not suggesting that people should move away from grain free at this stage. They are continuing to investigate and believe it is a “complex scientific issues that may involve multiple factors”.
We believe that most likely, grains are being replaced with ingredients that don’t account for the taurine that grains offer, and often replace them with ingredients that consume more taurine (as food ferments in the gut longer – a good thing for gut health).
Working with our nutritionist and US based nutrition experts, in June 2019 we decided to add two amino acids to our recipe to help mitigate any risk for dogs with genetic deficiencies while the investigation is ongoing, and continue to believe that high quality grain free food is the best option available (just don’t replace grains with more crap!).