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harmful for dogs with obesity or diabetic issues.” Goldstein, founder of Dr. Marty


The absence of grains isn’t a problem.


What’s substituted


for the missing grain is what can be the problem.


—Marty Goldstein, DVM, author of The Nature of Animal Healing


for some dogs, according to an alert issued last summer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It notes that taurine is an amino acid that’s lacking in dogs that develop dilated cardiomyop- athy (DCM). Te condition, which can lead to heart failure if leſt untreated, has long been associated with certain large and giant-sized dogs. Concerns about grain-free foods were raised when reports of DCM surfaced in breeds not typically predisposed to the disease. While the FDA investigates the poten-


tial link between taurine deficiency in some grain-free foods, dog owners and veteri- narians ponder the best ways to approach a healthy canine diet. Opinions are divided. Justin Shmalberg, DVM, a board-cer-


tified veterinary nutritionist based in Gainesville, Florida, and chief nutrition officer at the pet food company NomNom- Now, says there’s a longstanding debate about the necessity of carbohydrates for dogs. “Metabolically, a carb-free, meaty diet, including proteins for necessary blood sugar, works.” Still, dogs absorb many carbs just fine, he says. “Carbs are part of our dogs’ evolution. People eat carbs, and as dogs were domesticated, they adapted to eating more carbs.” Some food formulas substitute pota-


toes for grains, which are high in starch, says Gleicher. “Too much starch can raise blood sugar levels, which can be especially


Nature’s Blend freeze-dried pet food, headquartered in Woodland Hills, Cali- fornia, favors a predominantly meat diet for carnivorous dogs. “Te addition of a small amount of cooked, whole grains is okay, especially for a healthy dog. My golden, eating food that contained some brown rice, lived to 19-and-a-half, much longer than today’s life expectancy of 8 to 10 years.” In some cases, it may not be the grain


itself that’s creating the problem. “A chem- ical residue on the grain or a genetically modified variety might trigger an allergic reaction,” Gleicher says. Tere’s no denying that for some dogs,


removing grain has led to significant relief from allergy symptoms. If it helps, there’s no reason to panic over the latest contro- versy, say the experts. On the other hand, take care in jumping on the grain-free bandwagon without due diligence, careful consideration and consultation with a vet.


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“Te best diet is individualized,” says


Shmalberg. “Feed quality foods, rotate protein sources and ask where ingredients come from. Dogs are adaptable. Do what’s best for each of your dogs. Don’t just follow a trend.” Connect with Sandra Murphy at


StLouisFreelanceWriter@mindspring.com. No one is you


and that is your Superpower. —Alia K.


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