Grain-free pet food: is it breaking our dogs’ hearts?

Dog lovers reading the news in recent days may have seen a story showing that vets in the USA have suggested that there could be a link between dogs developing heart disease and grain-free diets.

Well we want to put your mind at rest. Grain-free food is not bad for dogs if, like tails food, it is balanced and nutritionally complete. All of our blends are formulated to contain everything your dog needs to be at their happiest and healthiest, so there’s no need to worry.

If you’re interested to find out more, we’ve put together some FAQs below.

What’s sparked this?

The US Food and Drug Administration released a statement saying they’re investigating a potential link between dog food and a series of unusual cases of heart disease in dogs. A similarity uncovered during the investigation was that these dogs were all fed grain-free diets, using potatoes and legumes (beans, peas, lentils etc) as the main carbohydrate source.

Could diet cause heart disease?

Maybe, but not due to being grain-free if it’s nutritionally balanced and complete like

If a diet lacks taurine, an essential amino acid necessary for cardiac health, this could lead to a problem over time. Also, certain ingredients can block the body’s ability to digest and absorb essential nutrients. Legumes such as beans, and pulses like peas or lentils contain natural plant chemicals in their raw, uncooked form that can interfere with the digestion of certain other nutrients.

But when we cook these foods (for ourselves as well as our pets), we destroy these chemicals, making these ingredients digestible and nutritious. In most dry dog food, including tails, the process required to make the kibble itself renders these chemicals harmless.

Is grain-free food bad for dogs?

Grain-free food is not bad for dogs if it is balanced and nutritionally complete. When formulated by qualified animal nutritionists to contain everything an individual dog needs, then that dog should thrive on the diet in question.

Why would I feed my dog grain-free?

Most dogs don’t require grains to be excluded from their diet, as allergies or intolerances to grain are far less common in dogs than in humans. There are cases though where the exclusion of wheat is necessary, for example a small proportion of Irish Setters have a wheat allergy in the same way that coeliac disease occurs in humans.   

So grains are good for my dog?

Yes, they can be very nutritious as part of your dogs’ diet. Whole grains offer a range of important nutrients for dogs as part of a balanced diet in conjunction with high-quality animal protein sources. Grains provide an excellent source of complex carbohydrate for energy, essential amino acids from plant protein, B vitamins as well as fibre for intestinal health.

And are potatoes and legumes nutritious ingredients too?

They are useful and nutritious ingredients, but the importance of how all the ingredients in a diet interact with each other is often more important than a single ingredient. The overall nutritional composition of a pet food relies on all ingredients making up a balanced diet when mixed together. This can be achieved carefully with an ingredient mix containing meat, vegetables and grains just as much as a diet substituting grain for another carbohydrate source such as potatoes or legumes.

Do we use potatoes and legumes in our food?

We use a variety of vegetables in our foods for taste and health benefits, including legumes and potatoes. Vegetables are rich in insoluble fibre, vitamins and minerals and are a great source of protective antioxidants too.

We add peas to our food as they provide vitamin C and phytonutrients, whilst potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrate to keep dogs feeling full and give them energy. Sweet potato contains unique flavonoids that help with blood glucose control and can help support your dog’s immune system as they get older, whilst potato contains carotenoids (such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and violaxanthin) which are powerful antioxidants.

Should I change my dog’s food?

Not if you are feeding a complete and balanced food like All our blends are developed and formulated with vets and qualified animal nutritionists, and individually tailored to your dog’s needs.  

3 thoughts on “Grain-free pet food: is it breaking our dogs’ hearts?”

  1. The news re depriving dogs of grains sounds very plausible as grains are very strongly linked with heart health in humans – from top quality studies involving enormous cohorts.
    Surely you cannot strongly deny this – as inflicting food fads on dogs is not based on real science any more than self inflicted human fads.
    Dr Alice Nesl MBBS (London)


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