Lots of people have been asking about the right diet for their pet recently at LazyPaw Animal Hospitals, specifically when it comes to grains and gluten.
Diets free of gluten and carbs are all the rage for humans, but are foods without gluten and grain okay for your pet? Many people are on the gluten-free bandwagon because they hope it will help them lose weight or feel better, yet only about one to two percent of people actually have celiac disease.
When it comes to nutrition for people and pets, needs are often very different. Before buying into any nutritional or marketing hype, talk to your pet clinic about the ideal diet for your individual pet.
What is gluten, anyway?
Gluten feels like a dirty word in diet and health-conscious circles, but it’s not bad for everyone. Gluten describes the protein found in carbohydrates such as wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is absent in other carbs such as rice, potatoes, and oats. After a carbohydrate’s starch has been removed, gluten is the concentrated protein left over from the grain.
Can grains be good for pets?
Grains qualify as carbohydrates, which dogs and cats metabolize easily for energy. Gluten can provide essential amino acids that form protein building blocks. It enhances the texture of bread, and a small amount in pet food helps treats, kibble, and canned foods hold their shape.
What is grain free versus gluten free?
Grain free diets contain no grain whatsoever. Gluten free diets may still contain grains because some grains do not involve gluten.
What about allergies?
More and more people are finding they have a true allergy to certain grains or gluten, and once they start avoiding these ingredients they immediately feel better. Though it’s possible your pet may have a grain or gluten allergy, they are more likely to be allergic to common meat ingredients. If your pet is displaying signs of a food allergy including gastrointestinal issues, licking feet, itchy bottoms, and incessant ear inflammation, talk to your animal hospital about an elimination diet before switching foods. Any allergic reaction is mostly likely from chicken, beef, egg, or dairy, but the only way to truly find out is with a planned elimination diet.
Are grains and gluten okay for my pet?
Yes Grains are okay for your pet.
Dogs and cats do not have the same nutritional needs as people, so even if you have a food sensitivity, your pet likely will not share it. Most dogs and cats do well on diets that incorporate grain and gluten.