Senior Veterinarian @Purina
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Do pets need or benefit from eating grains?
Dogs are classified as omnivores. This means, that dogs are able to obtain all of their nutritional needs from either meat or plant ingredients. Cats are classified as obligate carnivores. This means that cats must have meat in their diets, but not only. Both dogs and cats can eat, enjoy and benefit from eating grains. Grains like corn, wheat and barley are an excellent source of essential and beneficial nutrients. They are one of the best ways to provide lasting energy to our pets as well as fibre, which aids digestive health.
We all love to see our cats and dogs healthy, happy and full of energy. Grains typically contain 75% to 85% of carbohydrates, and less than 2% of sugars. Moreover, these carbohydrates are digested much more slowly than simple sugars, giving your pet a gradual release of lasting energy, rather than just a short burst of energy provided by sugar. They also offer fibre, which helps to promote good intestinal bacteria and regulate bowel movements. In addition, they contain essential fatty acids, B vitamins, antioxidants, protein and trace minerals that contribute to a range of things like healthy eyesight and strong immunity.
Domestic dogs and cats are also well adapted to extracting energy from carbohydrates as a source of fuel for their bodies. In fact, domestic dogs have evolved so significantly from wolves that they have different genes to help them to digest carbohydrates. This is thought to have evolved when human settlers first started to farm the land about 10,000 years ago representing the last step in the 30,000 year domestication process. Interestingly and contrary to popular opinion, there is also a very low incidence of true grain/gluten allergies in dogs and cats.
So let your pet enjoy grains and reap their benefits!