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Grain-Free Pet Food: Getting Meaty
The inventory at many pet stores includes grain-free brands of pet food. Read on to learn why some pet owners prefer them.
It’s hard to imagine a pack of wolves circling excitedly around a big bowl of oatmeal, or a pride of lions stalking a sack of flour. While the decision to give any given pet grain-free food may be more complex than that, a key component of the grain-free philosophy is the idea that that cats’ and dogs’ distant evolutionary ancestors wouldn’t have eaten grains, which typically need human processing to be edible. In place of corn or wheat, grain-free foods normally have higher levels of meat-based protein, although dry foods still need some form of starch—often potatoes or other vegetables—to bind everything together. Because of the greater meat content, grain-free food tends to be more expensive, but pets also tend to need less of it to feel satisfied and stop asking for dessert.
Seeing the grandeur of the great carnivores in your pomeranian’s eyes isn’t the only reason to consider grain-free food. Like humans, pets can develop food allergies, which can manifest in symptoms such as licking or scratching; specific grains can be to blame. And premium foods in general typically use higher-quality ingredients of all kinds.
Recent studies have shown that, along their evolutionary path to our homes, almost all dogs have adapted to digest grains and other starches and use them for energy with ease. Cats are a little different. They’re stricter carnivores than dogs, and their metabolism is less adept at handling carbohydrates of all kinds. Studies also show that sedentary cats who consume too many carbs are more prone to diabetes and weight problems than cats on low-carb diets, so grain-free may be a natural way to go for many felines.