Grain-free food: the benefits for your pet
Owners have a huge range of dog foods and cat foods today, however, choosing which is the best for your pet is sometimes tricky. A type of pet food that has a lot of people talking is ‘grain-free’ — but do you know why this kind of nutrition is proving popular?
Many pet nutritionists advocate feeding pets grain-free food to help them live better and healthier lives. Not only are there typically increased levels of protein in grain-free options, but this source is also supposedly good for animals that suffer from allergies and digestive issues.
Keen to know more? Check out our guide to grain-free food…
Grains aren’t great for pets
As carnivores, cats’ and dogs’ bodies aren’t meant to digest grain. Research shows that these creatures don’t have enough ‘amylase’ — an enzyme — in their saliva to break down grain sufficiently. Herbivores and omnivores have plenty of amylase to break down starch into simple sugars, which happens before food reaches the gut. However, dogs and cats produce amylase in their small intestines. Of course, many cats and dogs don’t get ill from eating grain, however, it’s worth noting that their bodies cannot break it down as effectively as other animals, which means they are less able to gain nutritional value from it.
Overall, your pet gets little benefit from grain, while feeding them it may cause digestive problems.
Healthy skin and a glossy coat are tell-tale signs of a healthy pet — but grain isn’t a great option to achieve this. Often, grain-free food is high in protein — so your pet gets a better dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which gives pets’ fur a thick and shiny look. Also, omega-3 strengthens hair, which means less moulting!
The same as humans, pets are just as able to have food allergies and issues. Concerned that your cat or dog has a food allergy? Follow advice from some pet nutritionists and feed them a diet that copies what their ancestors used to eat.
Dr. Ian Billinghurst, a pet nutritionist, states that dogs should consume 60% meat and 40% vegetables/other foods — also known as the BARF diet (biologically appropriate raw food). This includes eating food like peas, carrots and apples (digestible fibre). Luckily, good grain-free pet food already contains nutrients contained in these foods — perfect if you want to save cooking time. If you have a cat go for roughage, like veg, to boost their immune systems and lower ageing!
A pet with a grain allergy may exhibit the following signs:
- Skin irritation (itchy or dry).
- Ear infection.
- Fur loss.
- Inflamed paws.
Similar to humans, the UK dog population is also suffering from an obesity problem. According to an information guide by The Kennel Club, between 30% and 60% of dogs are overweight. And it seems that felines have are susceptible to this problem too. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals found that there will be more overweight cats and dogs then healthy-weight pets by 2019. Obesity causes issues with the heart and joints, as well as contributes to breathing complications. Therefore, it’s key that you offer them a healthy diet today.
Lack of exercise and an overload of carbs can make pets gain weight. Grains often contain more carbohydrates than other foods — like meat. So, could this be another reason to make a nutritional change? Instead of grain, grain-free food features more meat, fish and vegetables, so they’re typically more nutritionally useful and help boost fullness.
A dog or cat that is carrying too much weight may show these signs:
- Issues walking
- Loses breath quickly.
- Round face.
- Ribs not easily felt.
- Fat neck.
- Reluctance to walk.
Are you walking your dog enough? Do you spare enough time to play with your cat in the evening? The government states that our dogs get a 30-minute walk every day, according to The Kennel Club, while PetMD suggests that you should engage your cat in activity for around half of that time. So, pets with energy to spare will help them get the exercise they require.
Protein is a pet’s main source of energy, and so, since grain-free food typically features a large dose of protein, it makes sense to consider feeding your cat or dog it regularly to help them stay fit. You could also offer your pet new toys to help get them more active when you’re not around.
If you’re worried about your pet’s diet, exercise levels and general well-being, why not try grain-freed food? It could be the answer to a longer and happier life! Just remember to check with their vet prior to changing their diets.