By Kimberly Correnti
Trends that occur in people food coincidentally happen in the pet food industry (i.e. gluten free – grain free). However, carbohydrates either grain or grain-free is the pet food industry’s ingredient in which to bind kibble into a formed, whole piece. Without this starch the kibble would crumble apart into a powder. Dogs are designed to eat animal meat, organs and fat. When you grill steak or chicken for the family BBQ your dog begs you to the point of exhaustion. The corn-on-the-cob, potato salad and baked beans are unpopular to them. Remember, the fox didn’t raid the corn field, it raided the hen house.
Biologically, all carbohydrates are not easy on your dog’s digestive system, nor are they a necessary part of their diet. Whether feeding a grain or grain-free kibble the biggest thing to look out for is carb quality and how much is being used. Carbohydrates contribute to the “crude protein” number found on the guaranteed analysis. A manufacturer can decide to use carbohydrates or animal sources to achieve their desired protein number.
For example, if there are 2 or more types of rice in the ingredient panel, the manufacture is splitting what is really just rice. Too many carbs in your dog’s diet can lead to weight gain, voluminous stools and gas, making them uncomfortable, stinky and the joke of the party.
Continued difficulty in digestion can lead to more serious problems as the stress on internal organs and lack of utilization of food creates a disharmony in the body. So unless your dog has a particular health issue which requires a grain free food there is very little that makes a grain free carbohydrate any better than a high-quality whole grain. I highly recommend staying away from ingredients that contain corn, wheat and soy. These popular ingredients are a very cheap binder or filler that are often found to be the leading allergen to pets.
I would like to remind those who are storing dry food in a plastic bin to be careful that if you pour the food directly into the bin and discard the bag, remember to wash out your bin with hot soapy water every time. The oils or fats used in dry dog food can leave a residue on the bottom and bin walls. Over time these oils can oxidize (even if in a cool environment) and potentially go rancid. Each time you pour new food in, these rancid oils may mix with the new food. This can create enough pathogens which could lead to diarrhea or vomiting.
Pet expert Kimberly Correnti owns DogGone Natural shops in Ashburn and Leesburg.