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Grain Free Dog Food

Grain Free Pet Food: Good or Bad?

Recently, there has been controversy surrounding the topic of grain free pet food. Is it really that bad for your dog? 

There are so many confusing, misleading, and misinforming articles circulating the internet right now. We will try our best to not only clear up the confusion on the main issue(s) at play here, but also shed some light on our own line of Nature's Select Grain Free Foods. 

Now, let's dive into this hot topic!

Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs

The FDA issued a warning (find the link here) that it is investigating a potential link between diet and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.

Cardiac Care For Pets, as well as many other veterinary cardiologists, have issued reports that have seen a spike in canine DCM cases – and both breeds that have a genetic predisposition to developing DCM, as well as in breeds that are not known for having any inherited propensity for the condition. All of the cases had something in common: all the dogs had been eating diets heavy in chickpeas, lentils, peas, and potatoes.

Other veterinary cardiologists were noticing something similar. Recently, the FDA received two dozen reports of additional cases, including three dogs that died of the condition. After reviewing the medical records of these dogs, the FDA felt it was prudent to issue a measured warning, in part to alert dog owners and veterinarians to be aware of signs of the condition in potentially affected dogs. Its warning states that both vets and dog owners should be alert for signs of DCM in dogs eating foods “containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients.

Know the Signs:

  • Regardless of what your dog eats currently, if your dog shows any signs of DCM – including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing, and episodes of collapse – you should make an appointment to see your veterinarian ASAP!!!

What is considered a “main ingredient” in pet food? 

As we have mentioned before on our blog about the discrepancies of pet food labeling (read about that here), food ingredients are listed on labels in order of their weight in the formula before the food is cooked. While there is no legal definition of what is considered a "main ingredient" for a pet food, typically it is the first five ingredients on an ingredient list.

Manufacturers sometimes list smaller amounts of several similar ingredients, often referred to as "splitting ingredients". Why would manufacturers do this? Usually, it is because it allows the "bad stuff" to appear further down the list, while also making other ingredients listed ahead seem that they are more significant amounts than they actually are.

Take this example from our friends at The Whole Dog Journal

  • A pet food that lists its ingredients as “Chicken, peas, pea protein, pea fiber…” contains more chicken than any other single ingredient. But if you added up the total amount of pea-based ingredients, they would surely outweigh the chicken.  This is what the FDA is getting to with its warning about “multiple legumes” – foods in which the legumes, taken together, might outweigh the animal protein sources.

Nature's Select Grain Free Food

So after reading all of the above information, here is what we take away from it all. The main issue of concern is about the sourcing of protein provided in grain free recipes. More specifically, how much protein is sourced from meat versus how much protein is sourced from a vegetable? 

Our Nature's Select Grain Free Recipes have protein that is 75% from a meat source and 25% from vegetables.

Okay, so 25% of our protein comes from vegetables. What vegetables do we use in our grain free recipes?

  • Peas
  • Lentils
  • Sweet Potato
  • Garbanzo Beans (otherwise known as chickpeas) 

FYI: These are commonly used vegetables to replace grains in pet food. Peas are an excellent anti-oxidant and provide most of the amino acids required by dogs and cats which provides benefits to the digestive system. Garbanzo Beans are anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, provide fiber, phosphorus, protein, Iron and zinc to your pets diet. Sweet potato is excellent for digestive health, is low in fat and rich in beta carotene providing Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and manganese.

It is important to note that Nature's Select Pet Food NEVER splits our ingredients! So if you are looking for "peas" in our pet food ingredient list, you'll find them listed as such. No gimmicks or tricks here, we always want to be as transparent and honest as possible with our customers.

Curious about reading the full ingredient statements for each of our grain free recipes? Check them out below.

And remember, if you dog is not sensitive to grain by all means do not feed him a grain free pet food! Grain free pet foods typically are higher in fat, higher in calories, and contain more fruit/veggies to make up for lack of grain in the food. If you are unsure of which recipe to feed your dog, ask one of our Pet Care Advisors! You can Live Chat with us anytime on our website, or call us directly. Oh yeah, and our grain free pet food is rated 5 stars by The Dog Food Advisor. Check it out here!

In conclusion, know that not everything you read online is truthful. Many articles have been terribly generalized and it becomes watered down to the point that consumers believe their grain free pet food will kill their dog and it's just not the case. NOT ALL GRAIN FREE PET FOODS ARE BAD! We always encourage pet owners to do their research and fully understand their pet's food label and the ingredients. Your pet has no control over what they eat, so doing the research benefits them the most.

For more helpful information regarding the truth about grain free pet foods, we encourage you to check out this informative article from our friends over at The Whole Dog Journal:

Not only is it well written and easy to understand, it does a great job of laying it all out on the table for the consumer to dissect. The Whole Dog Journal is a trustworthy source for all things pet related, we just love their articles!


Should you have any other questions or concerns regarding this topic, feel free to contact us directly and our team of Pet Care Advisors will be happy to assist you.