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Grain-free and other boutique diets, are there risks?

Pet dog with bowl of dry foodA good diet is a must for the health of our pets, and as pet owners, we want to do the best for our furry family members. There are many choices of pet foods on the market, but not all pet foods are the same.

Over the years, a lot of research has been done in pet nutrition. Premium pet food companies employ scientists and veterinarians to conduct continuing research to produce high quality, complete and balanced foods that are tasty, contain the right ingredients, in the correct proportions and properly processed, to support our healthy and sick pets.

Recently, there are reports out of the USA of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (a debilitating heart disease) possibly related to the newer boutique, grain-free or exotic ingredient diets. Veterinary heart specialists and veterinary nutritional specialists are looking further into this latest trend.

In our practice, we often hear clients changing from a perfectly good complete and balanced diet to a more novel grain free or other exotic diets, as they are under the impression this is the in the best interest of their furry family member.

It is important to know that grain is a very uncommon allergen in our pets’ diet, so if your dog or cat suffers from itchy skin or upset tummy, the best thing to do is to visit your vet to try to get to the bottom of it.

Newer exotic ingredients have not been proven to be more natural or healthier than the commonly used ingredients. As exotic ingredients are newer on the pet food market, there is less known about their actions and interactions with other nutrients in the diet.

Dr Linda Freeman, Veterinary Nutritionist Specialist of Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University has written two articles about the risk of heart disease in boutique or grain-free diets and exotic ingredients which provide further information on Dilated Cardiomyopathy. Read them here and here.

For any questions or concerns about your pet’s wellbeing or diet, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly staff at Cronulla Veterinary Clinic.

We wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!! ☺