A year after the FDA warned about "grain free" diets possibly being linked to serious canine health problems, they have gone a step further and have identified 16 brands to be associated with the alarming results. Many vets are suggesting to move away from grain free brands that don't meet nutritional standards.
With all this controversy, we wanted to share some facts that every pet owner should consider
Many brands that sell grain-free dog foods are replacing nutrient-dense meats with plant-based proteins like potatoes, which are an inadequate substitute for real meat. When you feed your dog grain free food, it usually ends up having more fats and more complex carbohydrates from those replacement ingredients like potatoes and lentils, which leads to your dog gaining weight over time.
The other issue at the heart of the grain-free debate is taurine, an amino acid found only in animal tissue, which plays a vital role in maintaining cardiac function in dogs. Since many grain-free dog foods are using these real meat alternatives, dogs aren't receiving the proper protein to produce the taurine they need. This isn't the case with fresh diets, where whole, quality meats are a sufficient source of taurine.
Along with causing weight gain, low quality grain free diets may actually contribute to dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and other types of heart disease. There are over 500 grain free dog food brands that are currently being investigated by the FDA for their effect on DCM in dogs, and the FDA has recently released their first list of brands to be directly linked to the disease. Brands on this list include Acana, Zignature, Taste of the Wild, 4Health and many more.
One of the scariest parts about DCM is that it won't show any notable symptoms until your dog is very sick. Because of this, you should take preventative measures by consulting with your vet about diet choices.
If you're looking for an alternative, fresh dog food subscription companies are a healthier, higher quality option for dog owners who want to feed their dogs fresh, homemade meals, grain-free or not. Recently, there have been a lot of new companies on the scene, and while the products they're selling are more expensive than traditional, dried dog food, a lot of people have made the switch. However, because there are so many more options now than there used to be, picking the right dog meal subscription isn't easy. While a lot of the products look the same, there are differences worth noting, so we've picked three of the best dog food companies to improve your dog's health: Ollie and The Farmer's Dog
Best overall: Ollie
Ollie is all about quality. While their headquarters are in New York, all of its cooking and packaging takes place in New Jersey, at a USDA certified facility. This means that the meals Ollie makes aren't only edible for dogs – they're edible for you, too. Ollie's dog food is custom formulated by veterinary nutritionists to include all of the proteins (all their recipes are 65+% meat), carbohydrates, and healthy fats your dog needs so they don't end up with any of the nutritional deficiencies that may be produced by lower quality grain free diets.
They offer a Turkey recipe which is 100% potato-free and just 5% of the recipe includes legumes. Meals are made fresh, and each batch is tested for quality by third party testers for taste, freshness, and quality. Additionally, Ollie makes portioning your dog's food easy, including portioning tools and instructions in every package.
Runner Up: Farmer's Dog
The Farmer's Dog is focused on not only making your dog's life better, but making the whole world better too. They only use recyclable, biodegradable, and compostable materials when packaging their meals. Before packaging, meals are designed by veterinary nutritionists to fit your pet's profile, and cooked using proteins, vegetables, starches, and fruits that are cooked at low heat. Every two weeks, the Farmer's Dog asks you to choose which two meals you'd like to have featured in your delivery for the next two weeks, then vacuum packs and sends your chosen recipes in fourteen meals delivered to your door.
Store-bought dog food isn't your only option, and it shouldn't be an option at all. They are human-grade dog food companies out there that are committed to leading the change. Currently, Ollie is offering 50% off your first box, but you can get 50% off through this link for a limited time only.
Update: The awesome team at Ollie is extending a special offer to our readers. Follow this link to get 50% OFF your first Ollie delivery!