Vet said grain-free food is a waste?

VAMama

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My shelter rescue only wants dry kibble like they gave her at the shelter. I found some organic grain-free kibble that's high protein. I add a splash of water for the kibble to absorb, and she'll eat it that way. When I took her to the vet, they asked about her diet. The vet said I was wasting money on unnecessary food because all mammals need carbs so grains are good for cats. I was very confused. Has anyone else heard of this?
 

Kris107

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I have heard similar from my vet - just so you don't think anyone is too crazy. I fed my previous 2 cats on grain free their whole lives. In terms of overall health and longevity, I feel like genetics play a bigger role. I say feed what you'd like!
 

Alldara

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My shelter rescue only wants dry kibble like they gave her at the shelter. I found some organic grain-free kibble that's high protein. I add a splash of water for the kibble to absorb, and she'll eat it that way. When I took her to the vet, they asked about her diet. The vet said I was wasting money on unnecessary food because all mammals need carbs so grains are good for cats. I was very confused. Has anyone else heard of this?
Yes. This is pretty consistent with vet research as it currently stands. I expect the page will update once studies on the legumes and peas that they put in the grain free diets conclude. What's in My Cat's Food?: Designer Diets, Grain Free Diets | VCA | VCA Canada Animal Hospitals

Personally, I agree with you vet. I did the whole grain free thing. It didn't save me any cost (like the craze states it well -spend now save on vet bills?). The boutique brands caused Nobel some health issues as well, though not Lily.

The water is an excellent idea.
 

myrnafaye

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There is perhaps a connection in dogs between cardiomyopathy and a grain free diet. I realize cats and dogs are different, but perhaps a little grain is not a bad thing either.
 

Biomehanika

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There is perhaps a connection in dogs between cardiomyopathy and a grain free diet. I realize cats and dogs are different, but perhaps a little grain is not a bad thing either.
From my understanding, in regards to cardiomyopathy/heart issues, it isn’t the lack of grains that are causing them but is instead the presence of legumes (peas, lentils, beans) that have replaced them in many grain free foods. Research on cats is always sooo behind dogs, so that’s the main reason many of us here avoid legumes while still being typically OK with grain free foods that don’t contain them.
 

amethyst

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I just want to point out, grains are not the only source of carbohydrates. Most of the grain free foods I've seen have some sort of carbs in them, often from fruits, vegetables, and/or milk products. So even if the vet wants to argue that cats need carbs, removing grains doesn't remove carbs from their diet, in fact some grain free foods on the market are actually higher in carbs then other cat food.
 

Alldara

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Causation not yet being known and the issue being a total fabrication is a large stretch. There's a correlation, which veterinary community noted and it's under study. Updates will be available once the cause becomes known and as studies finish.

Here's the FDA's collected data thus far. Studies take years as they need to be done over a long time. FDA Investigates Potential Link Between Diet & Heart Disease in Dogs

We would be on year 8 if any longitudinal study DID have the funding to begin right away (unlikely). So we won't likely see any updates for at least a few more years. Until then, each person should discuss with their vet their pets specific needs.

Some short term studies have concluded and the results vary. Some have said short term use of peas is fine and some have said short term use causes damage.



Personally, I recommend feeding something in the financial bracket that allows you to take your pets to the vet regularly and save for medical emergencies. Unless your vet recommends that they need a particular diet for a condition they have.
 

iPappy

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If I were feeding commercial food regularly, I would stay away from any variety (big brand or BEG) that had legumes listed in the top 5 ingredients. "Grain free" wouldn't scare me. But "high legume" would.
I've been watching what my boarders are fed these past several years. I've seen dogs on Purina/Hills/etc. go into fast heart failure and pass away at a too-young age, and seen dogs on non-WSAVA diets live long and die from other things not cardiac related. I lost a dog to heart failure before this entire thing came out, and he did not eat grains. However, the breed he was is noted for cardiac problems, so I'm sure someone out there would finger point and say I killed my dog by feeding "grain free". I don't know. I feel there is much more to it than "Grain free = Bad, Grains = Good."
 

Alldara

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I feel there is much more to it than "Grain free = Bad, Grains = Good."
100%
Grain free can mean so many things that it can't all be grouped together. Same with grain content food.
 

maggie101

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Nothing is proven. It's all inconclusive research so I go by what my cats like, meat! And lots of it. I do agree with feeding minimal fish
True they don't eat veggies but it has the vitamins they need and no harm in it.
 

Jabzilla

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Exactly. My cats are raw fed and thus are both grain free and pea/legume free. Feeding them food that’s mainly, though imo entirely meat/organs/bones is what’s good for cats. I just wanted to share those study updates since I hadn’t seen them posted here and it seemed relevant to the thread.
 

iPappy

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Nothing is proven. It's all inconclusive research so I go by what my cats like, meat! And lots of it. I do agree with feeding minimal fish
True they don't eat veggies but it has the vitamins they need and no harm in it.
I just made some veggie mash for Livie yesterday. I always offer it to the cats on the side, and yesterday Sarah said "nope" and Lila said "more please." :)
 

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My cats eat a mix of wet and dry food, and I had to switch to a dry food that did not contain wheat or corn because one of them was causing him to have itchy skin. The current one has some barley, rice, and oats as binder.
 

Cat McCannon

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Grain free dry food still has carbs. I think dry food needs carbs to hold the kibble together. Cats cannot derive any nutrition from carbs and their bodies store carbs as body fat. A steady diet of carbs is unhealthy for cats.

Dogs are more omnivorous and need some veggies and such for a healthy diet.
 

Caspers Human

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I think that there is some nuance to what your vet said which is being missed.

I think that the vet meant to say that it isn't always necessary to feed a totally grain-free diet. Many cats can eat food that contains gains and the belief that ALL cat food MUST be grain-free isn't always true. Grain-free food is often more expensive and that's why I think the vet said grain-free is "a waste."

So, IMO, the vet was partially right and partially wrong. The real answer should be, "It depends on the cat."

If your cat is healthier when eating only grain-free food then that's what you should feed. If your cat does well on ordinary food then it would be cheaper and "less wasteful" than feeding the more expensive, grain-free variety.

Most humans can eat a wide range of different foods and still be perfectly healthy. Other people, whether they have major health conditions or not, can't eat certain foods. I can't eat a lot of foods that contain milk. Therefore, I avoid milk whenever I can. There's no reason to think that cats should be any different. Yes, cats need to eat a different kind of diet than humans but there is still a relatively wide range of food that they can eat and still be healthy.

There is a reason why stores offer so many different kinds of things for people and pets to eat... Everybody (and every pet) is different and likes to eat different things. We should try different foods, for ourselves and for our pets, to find out which foods we like better and which foods help us to be healthier. Stick to the foods we think are better and don't buy the ones that we don't.

The "waste" comes in where people think that they have to feed a certain food to their cat without doing some investigation, first.

I think your vet was just trying to be brief. I think he should have said, "Grain-free food is a waste if your cat doesn't need it."
 

GranolaLouise

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Healthy now? Eat grain additives and fillers regularly and it will be back and forth to the vet for gastro woes and disease later in life. $$$
 
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