The Truth About Grain-Free Dog Food
Patrick WardellVisionary Keto Pet Foods
It was recently announced that the FDA is investigating a potential link between certain dog food brands and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).
If that sentence sounds familiar, then you’ll know that much of the blame is placed on grain-free dog foods.
But what exactly does “grain-free” mean? As it turns out…not much.
So let’s put aside the lingo and take a look at what’s ACTUALLY going on here.
What is Grain-Free Dog Food?
You guessed it! Grain-free dog food is just like the name implies: it’s dog food that doesn’t include grains like barley, corn, or rice.
If that seems pretty vague, you’re right – it absolutely is. And that’s the real problem…
Calling a dog food grain-free tells you SOMETHING about that dog food. But it says NOTHING about the nutritional quality of the food OR its ingredients.
To best understand this point, let’s look at 2 grain-free dog foods: Visionary Keto Pet Foods and Grain-Free Dog Food Brand #4.
Here are the first 5 ingredients for our Visionary Keto Beef Patties:Beef, Beef Heart, Broccoli, Green Beans, Coconut Oil
As you can see, our beef patties are VERY low carb and contain a high-quality protein source: Grass-fed, Wisconsin beef.
I’ll explain the importance of the protein source soon. For now, let’s look at another brand of grain-free dog food for comparison.
Grain-Free Dog Food Brand #4
For obvious reasons, I’ve obscured the brand identity of this product. This is a well-known grain-free dog food product. Below are the first 5 ingredients.
Dried Sweet Potatoes, Salmon, Fish Meal, Potato Protein, Canola Oil
As you can see, this brand is high in carbs and uses an inferior protein source –potato protein. From a nutritional standpoint, these 2 brands have NOTHING in common. Except 1 thing…
Both brands are grain-free.
Looking at this comparison, it’s easy to see that grain-free says nothing about the nutritional quality of a dog food. But if that’s the case, then what could be responsible for the cases of DCM associated with grain-free food?
The answer is likely the quality of the protein.
Protein and Taurine
Many experts believe the proposed link between grain-free dog food and DCM is due to a lack of taurine. This would seem to make sense, as taurine is a vital amino acid that is abundant in heart muscle.
Taurine can ONLY be found in animal protein. That's why our Visionary Keto Beef Patties, which are mostly grass-fed beef, contain over 80mg of taurine per serving.
Animal protein is also abundant in amino acids that are vital to growth and protein synthesis. These include methionine and the branched chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine. Plant-based proteins contain much smaller quantities of these important amino acids.
Plant-based protein sources (e.g. potato protein) also contain zero taurine. This is one reason why plant-based protein can be a health risk if fed as your dog’s ONLY protein source.
And this is the REAL issue with some grain-free dog foods.
So…Is Grain-Free Dog Food a Problem?
Is your grain-free dog food very low carb? Does it include sufficient animal protein? If both of these conditions are met, then there should be no concerns.
If potato protein is the 3rd ingredient on the label, you may have a problem. And if you’re not sure, there’s an easy way to find out. Just ask :)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “grain-free dog food”.
And remember, whether you buy Visionary, use another brand or make your dog’s food at home, we’re always here to help :)