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Pet Food Ingredients
on April 10, 2017

Beyond grain free: sowing the seeds of change in dog and cat diets

It may be time to begin exploring diet options beyond the grain-free trend.

The grain-free movement has been going on now for well over a decade. Today, virtually all of the new products entering the market are “grain free.” Potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, chickpeas and tapioca have had a pretty good run. But, we are starting to see some pushback on these options. The market continues to seek new and different. Perhaps we need to look beyond grain free to the seeds of change. There may be some really interesting grains and pseudocereals that we should explore as the grain-free trend begins to plateau.

The rationale of the grain-free movement

The underlying justification (or myth) behind the grain-free movement has been the rationale that dogs and cats evolved to eat meat and not grain; that pet food producers were only adding grains to cheapen the foods and make a quick buck; and that grain somehow led to disease, skin disorders and other health issues. But that doesn’t quite hold water, because as we switched from grains to the legume seeds and tubers, we were merely switching starch sources. It was not a swap of grain for meat. Costs increased without meaningful increases in nutritional composition. Plus, our companion animals had been consuming incidental amounts of grains in their diets long before the commercial pet food industry came along, whether as scraps from our dinner plates or in the gut contents of their prey.

That grains should be vilified is without merit. Conversely, the idea of using legume seeds and tubers in pet food has…

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