What is the difference between grain and grain-free pet food?


Choosing what food to feed your pets can be quite a challenge, especially between grain-inclusive and grain-free products. If you’re wondering which to choose, here’s some of the differences between them!

Choosing what food to feed your pets can be quite a challenge, especially with so many choices and descriptions that may seem foreign to those not familiar with the ingredients.

One particular type of pet food would be grain-free products, with benefits that might be less known to first-time pet owners. Grain-free cat and dog food are available almost anywhere, but any and all pet owners will have to do more research to figure out if this particular food option is truly beneficial to your pet!


Photo by Felice Wölke on Unsplash.com.

What are grains?

Grains in pet food usually refer to the fruit of grass plants, such as:

  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Rye
  • Soy

Some pet food may also have grain by-products, which has a presence of grain, such as:

  • Gluten
  • Flour
  • Starch
  • Bran
  • Hull

Grain-free food does not contain these grain or grain by-products, and thus substitutes the carbohydrates usually found in grain with other ingredients such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and peas.


Photo by Kabo on Unsplash.com.

Why should you feed your pet grain-free food?

What are the benefits of a grain-free diet then? Well, though low-carb, high-protein meals have been quite a trend among humans nowadays, there have been no particular benefits indicated specifically for pets, apart from a higher proportion of meat that may be found in grain-free dog food.

In some cases, however, grain-free food might be recommended by veterinarians for pets who have food allergies. Those who might suspect their pets of needing to switch to a grain-free diet should thus consult with their vet about the decision.

Photo by Fernando Jorge on Unsplash.com.

However, there were recent concerns regarding a possible connection between grain-free food and heart disease in dogs, where the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that among the over 1,110 dogs with dilated cardiomyopathy studied , 90% of the products they were fed were labelled as grain-free.

There were no products recalled or withdrawn in the end, but pet owners should still check with their vets about their pets’ dietary needs and whether grain-free products are recommended.

Are grain-inclusive food still healthy for your pets?

There are also benefits to regular, grain-inclusive pet food, however. Grains in pet food are a cost-effective way to provide the much-needed vitamins and nutrition your beloved companion needs such as Vitamin B, iron, magnesium, and carbohydrates.

Very few pets are also found allergic to the grain in food, so these meals will have no ill effects on your fur friend’s daily lives.


Photo by Jornada Produtora on Unsplash.com.

In the end, whether or not to get into a grain-free diet should be a decision that you’ll have to research about beforehand, as well as a topic to bring up with your veterinarian. It is better to be safe and sorry, and any time spent on making sure your furry companion is healthy is time well spent!