Petfood marketing can come at the expense of science and safety.

Many of us have been to the petfood store where pet diets are heavily marketed and promoted; however, consumers are starting to wise-up to marketing claims that have no scientific basis.

Grain-free dog foods have grown in popularity since the early 2000s and currently constitute approximately 20% of the total US market share. This trend is partially motivated by a pet owner’s desire to avoid ingredients that they perceive as ‘cheap carbohydrate fillers’ or ones often considered to be associated with the development of adverse food responses (i.e. allergies). Currently, there is no scientific data that supports the proclaimed health benefits of grain-free diets, as grains are no more likely to cause an adverse response or promote diabetes or cancer compared with other petfood ingredients. In fact, grains provide several essential nutrients, fiber, and other beneficial compounds.

On July 12, 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an announcement describing a potential association between certain canine diets, including those labeled as grain-free, and a type of heart disease called ‘dilated cardiomyopathy’ (DCM). Several of the reported cases were found to have low blood taurine concentrations, which is an amino acid. While not all dogs with diet-associated heart disease are low in taurine, it is one of the proposed mechanisms for this condition.

– Dr. Jonathan Stockman, Assistant Professor of Veterinary Nutrition