OK, I thought of starting a debate on the issue.
The following assumes good quality products. I'm not considering RAW/ BARF, since not everyone has time and/or knowledge to go that way.
Veterinary research proves the digestibility of rice and corn at 100%, and gluten and wheat aside (because of the allergy factor), personally I don't see where the grain problem lies. Grain tends to be seen as filler, but if it's digested fully, it can't be considered as such, in my opinion. Grain is mostly carbs, that if digested provide as much energy as protein. Even grain free has carbs in some form.
Then, quality additives like omega oils, vitamins, glucosamine for joint cartilage protection, L-carnitine and others, i think, help to make balanced foods.
And, of course, in the end it's all about how your pet reacts to a certain food/brand/formula.
Any opinions on this?
I know that when Moto ate food with grain in it his eyes oozed green goo. And grain makes pits much more vulnerable to bloat.
I would love to see the study in regards to digestibility. Although just because you can digest something in no way implies that you should or that it is good for you.
If you have a moment, read this...Orijens "White Paper"
IMO most grain is a filler, especially corn... Dog would not eat corn in the wild so why should they eat it in their kibble? A wild dog would eat very little grain and most would come from the stomachs of the prey they kill and eat and would be laced with the types of bacteria that they would need to break down the grain. In most kibble that contain grain they have very little probiotics to help the dogs breakdown the grain.
Also, there are numerous studies that show feeding a high protein diet to dogs helps them live longer more healthy lives. For a while it was thought that a high protein diet may have a negative impact on a dogs liver, but recent studies (one of which was published in the Whole Dog Journal) shows that higher protein diets have no negative effects on a dog liver and actually help them to age slower as well as battle some other diseases (tho I can't remember which ones).
Also, there is the allergy issues - which effects Japanese dogs often. For example, Kaia can not have corn, or most grains. She gets sick and itchy (even looses hair). Hilo has similar issues with grain.
Those are the reasons we feed grain free - oh and because we have seen amazing results from feeding high quality grain-free kibble and some RAW.
The issue is not a carb vs. no carb thing, its more a filler vs. no filler (or less filler) thing. A high-quality grain-free food will have the "quality additives like omega oils, vitamins, glucosamine for joint cartilage protection, L-carnitine and others" added to the food.
Having written all that - there are some good high-quality foods with grain in them.
Keep in mind that Akita Inu are notorious for not being able to properly synthesize and digest grain.
Here go the white papers on grain digestibility
As I concluded before, in the end it's all about how your dog reacts to a certain food. So, of course we should adapt what we give them to how they do on it.
I asked Silvia about the food she gives her Akitas, and she advised me on Purina ProPlan Salmon and Rice or NutroChoice. This, until I told her I was planning on giving Acana. All of these include grain, if I remember it correctly Nutro even includes corn. I'm not going to give corn, not because i think it will be harmful, but I see rice as a better choice. Even the people I know that feed raw meat, include cooked rice and fruit on their dog's diets.
On another note, high protein diets tend to put more stress on the kidneys (although dogs, as carnivours, are prepared to handle it) because of the nitrates that have to be processed out. There was a breed in Austrlia that was fed on kangaroo meat alone, and they didn't last long. If I'm not mistaken, lifespan was around 7 years. Carbs "burn" cleaner, and don't leave much behind. Although the "fuel" of choice for carnivores is fat, which has more than double the caloric charge of both protein and carbs. Of course, for a house pet, that won't go running and hunting or go starving for some days, fat makes less sense than in the wild.
Speaking of wild, Brad, in the wild a dog wouldn't get any carbs either, or at least very few, and still grain-free diets get potato in their foods. And if there is digestibility and (why not?) palatability, I don't think any ingredient can be considered filler. Filler, for me, would be something that not only wouldn't be digested, but would have no effect. Even fiber has it's purpose, although it can't be digested by either humans or dogs. And in the end, you mentioned something that was kind of my point. We shouldn't deem a food as bad just because it includes grain, because there are high-quality grain inclusive diets.
If you are going to feed foods with grain, make sure that the food contains whole grains, and not broken down glutens, or many different "parts" of corn.
There are a lot of good foods with grain out there made by Wellness, Solid Gold, Merrick, Fromms, Innova, etc. Nemo was on grains for years and did fine. I think he does a little better on non-grain foods. Maybe he just digests potatoes a bit better than rice and barley.
No matter what, go with high quality foods from good companies. A good place to start looking for brands is Whole Dog Journals lists. These foods might cost more to begin with, but I truly believe they will save on vet costs in the long run. Why would I want to feed my dog anything with "animal" fat in it. What animal? From what processing plant, from what year?
I read in the book "Home Prepared Diets for Dogs and Cats" by Strombeck that rice IS more digestable than potato, which is used a lot in grain free kibble formulas. But as Brad, Jessica and Rachael mentioned above, some dogs are simply allergic to rice, even if it's the most completely digested type of carb used in kibble formulas. Vegetables in dog foods and in general are considered carbs too. I would think using more meat in a food and upping its protein content through MEAT, not corn or wheat gluten or another grain as the source of protein, would be better because meat has all the amino acids that dogs need to survive, and I don't think grains do.
High protien diets don't put stress on normal functioning kidneys, dogs that already have diagnosed renal failure or decreased kidney functioning SHOULD NOT be fed high protein diets because they can't process the protein as efficiently as normal kidneys. Leonberger, the dog you mentioned eating only Kangaroo meat would of course not live very long, because that is not a balanced diet for dogs, no canine can only survive on meat only. Potato in kibble formulas are used to hold the kibble together, if it wasn't used, the kibble would fall apart. Same with tapioca in Nature's Variety foods, they have to use something to hold the kibble together. A dog in the wild would be eating carbs, they would be the grasses and digested veggies in their prey's stomachs. I also used to feed my dogs foods with grains in it, but they have more stamina, muscle tone, great thicks coats, and Kohji's dry skin and nails are healthy now that I switched to grain free foods.
High protein stresses kidney because of the nitrate residues that have to be expelled through urine. A normal kidney can handle this to a limit, in a way it's comparable to human kidneys. Being carnivores, it's probable that dog's have higher resistance to heavy protein waste, but it still has to be disposed of by the kidneys.
As for the whole grain, yes I'm planning t give food that at least refers grain to be whole and gluten free. I know some companies tend to break down their grain in various forms, in order to be able to disguise a major quantity of it. Some ingredient lists get simply ridiculous, with 4 or 5 corn byproducts in them. Of course, I will keep an eye out for how my dog is doing on this diet and change it, if I need to. But I'm not planning on feeding only the dry food, when I'm home i will do my best to feed as close to RAW as possible.
I would prefer grain free over grain. But I rather them have grain rather than go hungry. So as long as it's available, we could afford it and they'll eat it, my animals will get grain free.
I know that when Moto ate food with grain in it his eyes oozed green goo. And grain makes pits much more vulnerable to bloat
It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!