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Veterinarians join nutrition experts in saying pets can reduce several health risks when their diet includes grains.  The very same health benefits can be seen in our beloved pets with consumption of grains as part of a healthy diet – such as reduced risks of kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and some cancers. 

Rice, like oats, are a good source of oligosaccharides or resistant starch. As the name suggests, resistant starch is not digested in the small intestine of the dog but passes through to the large intestine where it is fermented by bacteria to produce butyrate, a chemical that plays a key role in strengthening the gut wall. Butyrate plays a key role in defending the animal against bowel cancer.

A Grain of Truth

For those of you who have been reading and researching information on natural diets for dogs and cats, it is time to set the record straight on the issue of grains. There is conflicting information being published on the use of grains, as part of a natural diet. Some vets advocate no grain at all and believe a diet based on raw meaty bones is all a dog requires. Others recommend a small portion of grains in the diet.

So, What Is The Truth?

The basic controversy has arisen because of the very high cereal content used in processed pet foods. Many canned and dry dog foods can contain up to four times as much cereal content as meat. This cereal is cleverly flavoured with meat render (boiled offal and carcass remains) and is often disguised as “meaty chunks” using food dyes. The simple fact is that dogs and cats are not designed to eat such a high content of highly refined starch (cereals ground into flour). These cereal flours are used as cheap fillers, to bulk out the pet food, and increase profit. Cheap starch has little nutritional value, except for calories, and can result in a diet with too much-refined sugar. It is this fact that has led some vets and nutritionists to broaden the issue on cheap carbohydrates, to encompass grains in general. But this is not true. We agree that cheap carbohydrates used in commercial pet foods are not suitable for health, but this does not mean that dogs and cats do not eat grains.

We must remember that both dogs and cats do ingest grains whenever they catch and eat live prey. The natural source of prey for dogs and cats is generally herbivores….plant eaters. When a dog catches its prey, it will first eat the gut content of the prey animal, which is full of semi-digested plant and grain material. This can make up almost 30-40% of the weight of the prey animal. Next, the dog will eat the organs, and finally, the meat and bones. The order in which they consume the prey is a simple and clear indication that the grain/vegetable content of the diet is vital to their health.

Why Else Would They Eat It First?

Dogs are omnivores, not obligate carnivores (unlike cats). This means that they can survive on a diet that does not contain meat. The most basic indication here is that they can survive on a diet of plant-based material, grains, fruit, vegetable matter etc. It simply stands to reason that if an animal can survive like this, then their bodies must be fully equipped to digest and process these types of food groups. An important point to mention here is that dogs and cats cannot digest whole grains. They do not graze fields of barley and eat the grains. What they do is ingest the grain from the gut content of the prey animal. This grain has already been masticated (chewed), partially digested, and has been fermenting in the animal’s gut at 38.5’C. Presented like this, a dog or cat can now easily digest the grain material.

The same goes for plant material. Dogs and cats have a reduced ability to digest intact plant material (they lack the enzymes to digest the cellulose plant cell wall). When they eat plant material, it is either direct from the gut of the prey, pre-digested, or they scavenge old composting vegetable matter, which is auto-digesting (decaying). The same goes for fruit material. Dogs generally also eat fruit off the ground, not of the tree, where it has already ripened, and started to decay. The only time cats and dogs can digest fresh plant material, is when they eat very young shoots. If you watch them eat grass, for nutrition, not as a means of making themselves sick, they are very selective, eating only the very fresh green shoots, not the bigger, greener leaves.

This is because the new shoots have a thin cell wall that can be digested, whereas older plant cells develop a tough, indigestible, lignified cell wall.

Cats are true carnivores, which mean they must eat meat to survive. They are not scavengers like dogs, and will only eat fresh prey. They do eat the gut content of their prey (grains and all), like dogs, and do consume small amounts of fresh green plant material, but in general, their diet is much higher in fresh meat content. Grain material would make up only 5-10 % of their diet.

When Performadog was developed, we modelled it on the way dogs would naturally eat grain. The grains are crushed/cracked, the vegetable matter finely chopped or powdered. The mix is soaked just as it would be, in the gut of the prey. The carbohydrate in the grain is then readily digested by the dog or cat. The nutritional value of the grain is preserved, and not damaged by processing and bleaching, as is the case with cereal flours. The amount of grain to meat ratio has been carefully calculated to meet the energy and growth requirements of the animal, and its natural dietary intakes. The cat mix has only 10% grain/vegetable matter (dry weight), and the dog mixes vary from 15% (puppy) to 20-25% for adult and senior dogs. This is an accurate reflection of the normal carbohydrate intake of a wild dog and is presented to the dog in a state that it would naturally digest it. So, the final word on grains; they are ok, as long as they are unprocessed, cracked or crushed, pre-soaked, and make up a smaller portion of the diet than the meat content.

Another Source

Any animal lover will tell you that their pet’s nutrition is a priority – a healthy pet is a happy pet.  Animals, just like humans, are healthiest when they eat nutritious foods.  To that end, many pet owners prepare daily meals and special treats for their beloved creatures, while others might drive long distances to shop for the best pet foods.  But the question I had was, “Are grains as important for animals’ diets as they are for humans?”

Veterinarians join nutrition experts in saying pets can reduce several health risks when their diet includes grains.  The very same health benefits can be seen in our beloved pets with consumption of grains as part of a healthy diet – such as reduced risks of kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and some cancers. 

Our Guarantee

What you choose to feed your cherished pet is one of the most important decisions you can make. We are dedicated to upholding the highest standards of nutritional integrity and food safety, and it’s why we make every Performadog Premium Performance bag in Australia, using some of the best manufacturing systems in the world. To assure our quality, our factory, ingredients, processes and foods meet the strictest standards, and our ingredient suppliers are approved and audited by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.

Our Production and Quality Assurance Teams apply strict and rigorous standards.

At all stages of production and preparation, we utilise both Good Manufacturing Principals — a worldwide system for the control and management of manufacturing and quality testing of foods, and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Analysis (HACCP) — an internationally recognised and systematic preventive approach to food safety. Our fresh regional ingredients truly meet the AAFCO definition for ‘fresh” and standards.

Our quality management systems extend well beyond our factory going forward to our distributor partners and back to our ingredient suppliers, who we know and trust. All meat ingredients are approved by the Australia Government and produced exclusively from animals classified ‘fit for human consumption.’

Our fresh meats are produced within our region in dedicated, approved human grade facilities.

Our Promise Is Simple

To supply the very best dog and cat food, made with the highest standards to enhance health, longevity and the prevention of disease.

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