We spend a lot of time researching pet food ingredients at our store. So when the FDA released a statement in July about a potential connection between grain-free dog foods and canine heart disease, we took careful note of what they said: “…certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients.”

This is a Big Story in the pet food world, and it’s received some worried-sounding news coverage. The bottom line is that it’s an investigation by a regulatory agency that doesn’t have many details to share.

Our Advice: Don’t panic.
Thankfully, this isn’t a recall. There are huge numbers of dogs living healthy lives on grain-free diets. These foods were formulated to remove troublesome (often itchy-scratchy) allergens such as corn and wheat.

The FDA is investigating why a very small group of dogs scattered across the country have developed a specific type of heart disease. Their theory is that it might be connected to grain-free diets. But it’s a puzzle and their research is ongoing. We look forward to the official findings plus whatever developments unfold for pet food makers. If you are looking for the pet food with finest natural ingredients, see the sale price on dog food at Petco or if you are looking for the best products for your pet, then check out Diamond Pup.

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering what to feed your dog in light of this news, especially before buying a purebred dog, we encourage you to look at “meaty” products with a high percentage of meat-based proteins. There are 3 main types: Raw, Freeze-Dried, and Cooked.

(1) Fresh-Frozen Raw Food
These nutritionally robust foods are in our freezer case. They’re easy to use with a regular defrosting routine. Based on enthusiastic customer feedback, plus the work of leading holistic veterinarians, our observation is that a lot of dogs positively thrive on raw food.

If you’re worried about food safety, raw pet products are carefully made and healthy for dogs to eat every day. Remember to use  appropriate raw meat handling practices in your own kitchen.

We carry Stella & Chewy’s frozen patties and morsels, Primal complete frozen formulas, Small Batch frozen patties and morsels, and Answers probiotic & fermented supplements including raw goat kefir. We can order Answers pasture-raised diets on request.

(2) Freeze Dried Raw Food
These convenient foods are packed with meaty nutrition. Simply add water before feeding. Plus, dogs that don’t adapt well to raw food are often able to digest freeze-dried products more easily.

We carry Stella & Chewy’s freeze dried patties and “Meal Mixers”, Primal freeze dried nuggets, Orijen freeze dried medallions, and Rawz freeze dried dinners.

(3) Cooked Foods
Some dogs do better with cooked food. These diets come frozen or canned. In our freezer we carry My Perfect Pet, a food that is gently cooked with human-grade, whole ingredients. Their Low Glycemic Blends are specifically free of grains, potatoes, and legumes.

Canned pet food, also called “wet food” due to its high moisture content, has a long tradition of delivering meaty ingredients. Nowadays, the quality of premium canned brands is unbelievably good, making it an excellent way to get more meat into your dog’s diet.

However, be sure to read canned food labels closely so you know what other ingredients are in the formula. Some grain-free recipes do contain potatoes or legumes, though in much smaller amounts than used in kibble.

Our most meaty and popular canned brands include: Merrick’s “Grain-Free 96%”; Evanger’s “Grain-Free Game Meats”; Lotus Foods “Just Juicy”; and Rawz “96% Meat” which is also free of thickening gums.

What About Cost?
Adding any meat-based food to your dog’s daily diet will obviously cost more than feeding plain kibble. What you’re paying for in a raw, freeze-dried, or canned food is a lot more meat protein. Since that meat isn’t rendered down into tiny bullets of kibble, it doesn’t have to be combined with starchy fillers like legumes or potatoes to hold its shape and sit in a bag for a year.

Kibble relies heavily on carbs and that’s why it’s so much cheaper. So if getting more meat protein in your dog’s diet is important to you, but seems like a budget challenge, we’ve got creative suggestions. Remember, we are pet owners too.

Our Meaty Feeding Tips:

  • Use a small amount of meaty food as a kibble topper to tilt the meat percentage in your dog’s favor and stretch your dollars, especially in a multi-pet household.
  • Feed a dedicated meaty meal a few times per week to increase the overall quality of your dog’s diet.
  • Serve a meaty meal in the morning, then offer a modest bowl of kibble in the evening. This is how Cynthia feeds her own dogs and she continues to be amazed at the results, especially for her senior dog, Garnet.

Basic decisions about what pet food to buy have become more confusing than ever for all of us who love our dogs (and cats too). We’re here to help you sort out the facts and make the best choices you can. Come see us with your questions and get some yummy free samples for your dog to try out. Woof!