Many pet owners today base their dog’s or cats’ home-cooked diets on grains. Unfortunately, this can cause many health problems and isn’t the best base for a diet. Here are 5 reasons why grain-based diets are not healthy and can cause health problems for your pet.
Grain-based diets can cause mineral imbalances – they are mineral deficient
Grains lack the amino acid lysine, firstly which will make the diet unbalanced and incomplete. Our pets need lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid that both cats and dogs require in the diet. Without lysine, the diet will not only lack this amino acid it will cause your pet to become mineral deficient. This is because lysine is needed for the absorption of minerals and to carry minerals to cells within the body. These are minerals such as calcium for strong bones, zinc for healthy skin and coat, and selenium that protects the body from oxidative stress. There is another trace mineral called chromium that helps with glucose and sugar regulation.
Most grains contain polysaccharides also called poly-carbohydrates, especially wheat and rye. High amounts of non-starch polysaccharides in the diet may inhibit nutrient absorption, leaving your pet depleted in some minerals and vitamins.
To avoid mineral imbalances, you should consider raw meaty bones as a base diet instead.
Avoid having the diet as a grain-based diet at all costs. Always feed small proportions and feed a legume to balance them too.
Grains lack amino acids
There is one main amino acid that the majority of grains lack, and that is the amino acid lysine. lysine is not only needed to carry calcium to cells within the body and for the absorption of other minerals too. Lysine is an essential amino acid that helps protect the body from viruses and immune system dysfunction. It is a building block for protein and is needed for biosynthesis.
To balance out the amino acid levels it is essential to also feed a legume with the grain.
Legumes provide the grains with the missing amino acid lysine while the grains provide the legume with the missing amino acids methionine. As you can see grains lack what legumes provide and legumes provide what grains lack.
Without efficient amounts of the amino acid lysine, your pet is at risk for developing a depressed appetite that can affect their weight, mental state, skin, and coat and finally seize growth.
Lysine supplements can be given to help with the feline herpes virus and can be beneficial in reducing conjunctivitis – a symptom of the feline herpes virus.
Grains can cause skin issues and allergies
When a dog has been fed a diet high in grains for most of its life, they are lacking many nutrients that are required for healthy skin and coat. These nutrients consist of quality essential fatty acids, vitamin c, b vitamins, and zinc. They all make up collagen and assist to produce healthy functioning skin from the inside and out. Especially puppies, when puppies may have been weaned off their mother too early and this too can cause allergies down the track when they get older.
Another reason grains can cause skin issues is that grains are pro-inflammatory and can aggravate all kinds of different cells and systems.
Grains contain the fatty acid linoleic acid; this isn’t necessarily bad as linoleic acid is an essential omega 6 fatty acid that helps to protect the skin’s water barrier and without Linoleic acid, skin problems can happen. However, if the fatty acids are out of balance and the pet is receiving too much linoleic acid, linoleic acid will get converted into arachidonic acid and this is where the grains cause inflammation because arachidonic acid is pro-inflammatory.
Grains can cause diabetes in pets
Pets with diabetes often require to be on medication for the rest of their life. They need to have regular veterinary appointments and regular blood tests known as a glucose curve. This test is to test If the insulin amount is effective, as pets will need daily insulin injections.
Having a high-starch diet is not only a recipe for arthritis, skin conditions, and mineral deficiencies, but also a recipe for your pet to acquire sugar diabetes. There are a few reasons why this can happen.
Feeding the high carbohydrate starch reacts the same as if you were feeding pure sugar to them. Carbohydrates have a reaction in the stomach with acidity levels, this is carbohydrate is turned from starch to glucose. This amount of glucose is way too much for our pets and if there is not enough insulin the glucose levels can become high in the blood and create a condition called hyperglycemia.
Grains lack the amino acid lysine and contain phytates that bind to minerals such as chromium, they are not the ideal base for a diet that a cat or dog with diabetes. Chromium helps to activate several enzymes and is involved in fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism.
Chromium supplements are prescribed often to diabetic patients, this is because chromium helps to regulate blood glucose and sugar levels in their body.
Cats and dogs that have diabetes should not be given grains in their diets.
Grain can cause digestive issues
Over thousands and even millions of years wolves, wild dogs, and cats have gone out and scavenged for food and eaten wild prey. When dogs and cats become domesticated, they were mainly fed on a diet that was based on table scraps and raw meaty bones. Since the 1960’s humans have started to make their foods based on grains.
Us humans have been eating grains for over 10,000 plus years. Still to this day health professionals have warned us about the health effects of eating lots of grains. Even though we have had all those thousands of years to evolve for our digestive system to be able to handle grains, we supply have not been able to. Our bodies are still not inclined to do so.
Dogs and cats are no different, they have been eating grain-based diets for only around 55 – 125 years depending on where they live. Australian dogs and cats have been roughly eating grain-based/ commercial pet food since 1966 when big commercial brands put millions of dollars into advertising that this type of diet is what is best for your pets. It is unfortunately not the best choice and is harming our pets.
Since eating grain-based diets, pets are more probable to have digestive issues like diarrhea, pancreatitis, and vomiting. Grains are hard on the gastrointestinal tract and not to mention some grains such as rye contain a natural bioactive compound called alkylresorcinols. This bioactive compound can highly impact the digestive system by aggravating the intestinal tract and mucous membranes. This can also hinder growth if fed in substantial amounts.
Related: 4 seeds for dogs to enhance the diet
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