In this episode of Chat With A Vet, we talk to Dr. Garner about Grain Free Food. Transcript of Chat With A Vet Episode 3 – Truth about grain free food is available below.
Chat With A Vet: Ok Dr. Gardner here’s a question for you.
Dr. Gardner: Alright.
Chat With A Vet: So when I got Hulk when he was a puppy, one of things that I famously, and I think every pet owner does this, they famously Google information rather than talking to their veterinarian which is why Ask.Vet was created. It was to put pet owners in contact with veterinarians so you can get questions answered and figure out if you need to visit the clinic or not. So, prior to the Ask.Vet world, I was googling what I should feed my dog and one of the things that kept coming up to the top of all of my nutritional searches was how grain-free food is really good for your dog. So, since I have been buying Hulk grain-free food. And it’s a little bit more expensive, there’s bit of a premium on it and I’ve always felt that it’s good for him. Now is that true? And not just limit this to dogs but cats as well. Should someone be feeding, or should I be feeding, my dog and my cat grain-free food?
Dr. Gardner: Well it’s kind of a myth that has been researched pretty extensively and the grain-free fat has been found to be false. While it doesn’t hurt your animal to be on a quote grain-free diet, being on a food that contains grains is not detrimental. Grains barely make up any component for food allergies in both dogs and cats, so grain is actually a good thing for your pets. We’ve known in school when we were taught, when we went through internal medicine rotations and dermatology rotations and we were looking at food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease. One thing we learned was that the number one allergen im both dogs and cats is beef. And at that time, we were taught that chicken is usually the second one but with recent studies coming out, I graduated almost 20 years ago, so with recent studies coming out they’re showing it’s actually that beef is still the most common and now the second one is dairy products so your cheeses. Sometimes you get like your dried milk powders that are added into food to increase protein content. So primarily animals are allergic to the protein source first, but they can have allergies to some grains but you would need to do an extensive allergen profile to determine that. For instance, boxers. I love boxers, I have boxers and man they’re nightmares. Boxers keep up us in business. My boxers all have food allergies and I saw a dermatologist with them and we ran a food panel and they were allergic to beef and chicken. They were also allergic to lamb, and then their top allergen was actually oat. So, they happen to have to stay away from oats as well. So, it can be you know a potential to help with food allergies so usually your grain-free diets are all bad.
Chat With A Vet: OK, so the grain-free diets are part of the fat, so dogs actually have a higher allergic reaction to beef. Am I hearing that right?
Dr. Gardner: Yeah, isn’t that incredible. Yes, they are actually the number one allergen reported in dogs. And this again are taken from your referral centres or from the companies that put out the allergen testing so they’ll collect all the data. And it has shown that the majority of dogs are at 95%, I believe it was over 90%, of dogs are typically allergic to beef.
Chat With A Vet: Wow.
Dr. Gardner: Yeah.
Chat With A Vet: So when you walk down the grocery store, you’ll see dog food that comes in cans and it’s all like beef, stew [laughs]. That’s actually rather interesting.
Dr. Gardner: Yeah. And reading the label. For instance, I know with my own dogs and this is going to sound wild but they were on a kangaroo diet. It was prescription food. But when I was researching different foods that are commercially available at most of your major chain pet stores, I would see one that specifically said for boxers, for skin and hair coats, for allergies, and they would label it is as like a salmon diet. I’m thinking oh great, they’re not allergic to fish. And then I’d flip the bag over and start reading the ingredients and sure the first ingredient listed was salmon. The second ingredient was always chicken or beef. So they cross-contaminate. I couldn’t use the food. So understanding the pet label is also important with that too. But yeah, no beef number one.
Chat With A Vet: Rather interesting. So OK, you broke up there for a part of your explanation.
Dr. Gardner: OK.
Chat With A Vet: So just to kind of reconfirm. Beef is in 95% of dogs, beef it the number one allergen.
Dr. Gardner: Yes. Yes, it was reported that roughly 95% of the allergy reported cases were allergic to beef and then dairy was responsible for the other portion of that.
Chat With A Vet: That’s just wild.
Dr. Gardner: Isn’t it?
Chat With A Vet: That’s just so wild.
Dr. Gardner: It is insane.
Chat With A Vet: And so that’s the hardest thing as a pet owner for me to decide what to feed my pets. Now Bill who adopted me, my cat who comes in, eats her food and leaves. Me and her have a different relationship. So, you know if I’m going to the 7/11 to buy a bottle of water or some snacks, I’ll pick her up food from the 7/11.
Dr. Gardner: [laughs]
Chat With A Vet: She doesn’t care. She’s been a stray her entire life so if I put any food in her plate, she’s going to put it in and then leave.
Dr. Gardner: Once you name it, they’re not a stray.
Chat With A Vet: That’s what people keep telling me. [laughs] So yes, I know there’s the Science Diet out there, there’s some really popular brand names out there. But let’s say you’re a pet owner on a budget. What typep of food can you give your pet because there are those… and the same grain-free food articles that I read and I really got scared that some of the food is very low-quality and it may actually be bad for your pet’s health. So it really scared me. So I’m trying the philosophy of OK, I’ll buy the most expensive brand that I can afford and hopefully he’s getting everything he needs. Bill whatever, but for Hulk I might. So how can a pet owner on a budget decide what type of food to get their pet.
Dr. Gardner: When you want to look at the bag, you’re right. There’s a huge array of foods out there ranging from 10 bucks for a 50-pound bag to $50 for a 10-pound bag. So one of the guidelines, you don’t necessarily have to look for what I call the gimmick. Grain-free or gluten-free. Because those are really just gimmicks to get you to purchase their food based really on what’s happening in human medicine. But the one thing I tell everybody to look for, not all bag foods or sorry dog foods will have this, but you could look for the statement that says it is labelled by AAFCO which is the Association of American Feed Control Officials. They govern what goes into food. So, any of those foods that are stamped with that label, it means those foods have been quality- control sampled so they are balanced. They are complete nutrition for your pet. They have a good quality protein source, they will have a carbohydrate source, fats as well as trace minerals and vitamins that every dog will need to sustain good health. So as long as you have that stamp on there, you know that’s a good quality food. So it might be $10 bag of food but as long as it has been quality control tested by them, you’re good.
Chat With A Vet: And this is quality control tested by AAFCO?
Dr. Gardner: Yes, AAFCO.
Chat With A Vet: Aaafco!
Dr. Gardner: Yeah, and usually it will say something like this food is complete and balanced on the label somewhere. And then it will have that little logo somewhere. Usually on the corner somewhere, on the top or the bottom of it.
Chat With A Vet: Interesting. OK great. I never even knew about the AAFCO label. I mean that’s great. I know that’s something I’m going to start looking for, I actually have to buy Hulk dog food today. So, what’s better for a pet? There’s 2 different types of food out there. There’s the wet food that comes in the can, and then there’s the dry kibble.
Dr. Gardner: Yeah.
Chat With A Vet: Kibble’s easier to manage. I think it smells less. So, I like giving Hulk lamb kibble. His only thing and princess has one problem with it, it can’t get stale so I have to buy him small bags at a time. I can never bulk buy and then store it and give it to him. He always figures out that this was part of a big bag. So what’s better for him? Should I be giving him the wet food that’s coming out of the can? Should I be giving him the small batches of kibble because he likes it that way?
Dr. Gardner: Personally, and as a veterinarian and from experience, we usually say dry food kibble is bed. It’s not as high in fat and carbs as your canned food is going to be. Also your dry kibble tends to actually last longer. When you open up a can of food they usually tell us that you need to use that within 36 hours. So when we look at feeding requirements with animals, as far as how many calories they should be taking in per day. If you’re doing one of the 16 ounce cans, most of your dogs will… and I’m talking a generalized dog at say 35 pounds, they’re only going to require for their calories in the entire day. They’re only going to require a third of that can. That’s per day. So you’re can feed more dry food so your pet. They actually feel full, they get that satisfaction of eating. Now, I do tell people. You can use the canned food as a treat, but a tablespoon here and there isn’t going to hurt them. And usually I tell people to allocate it in baggies, and you could store it in your freezer. That’s going to be the easiest way so it doesn’t go bad. And you could bring out a baggy at a time and feed them their treats throughout the week. So that’s kind of easier to do. You can kind of, especially if you’re on a budget, you can stretch it out and make it last and your pet can have a healthy treat on top of their food too.
Chat With A Vet: Excellent. OK, great. Well those are all the questions I had for this session of Chat with a Vet with Dr. Gardner. Thank you so much for hanging out with us again today.
Dr. Gardner: I appreciate it.
Chat With A Vet: And for anybody listening if you want to have a similar conversation but just via live chat with a veterinarian you can text PET to 67076 to get started with Ask.Vet. It’s only $9.99 a month for unlimited live chats with a veterinarian. Thank you, we’ll talk to you soon.