Nutritionist’s Words on Grain-free & DCM


From the perspective of the animal nutritionist, the modern lifestyle is a critical factor to formulate the pet food. After the human and dog have been living together for a long time, dogs have been evolving to have a similar pattern of dietary with human and changed their physiological function e.g. increased digestibility to starch. Dogs are like omnivores, particularly the family small-breed dogs are never going to hunt again. For dogs who mainly live in cities and spending most time indoor, they need holistic and balance source of diet and nutrition for their daily needs.

According to the medical nutrition therapy, holistic nutrition formula is much more important than a single claim “grain-free”. Specialized grain pet food can also provide high nutritional value. No matter the pet owners, consumers or pet shop, anyone who cares their pet should be given the correct and complete information to understand the functional benefits of every ingredient.

For instance, rice and oatmeal both contain highly nutritious fibers and they are part of the grain plant, they can provide sufficient ‘beta-glucan’ and has low allergen feature to support a dog’s intestinal tract health.


In mid 2019, Food and Drug Association of the US reported that, especially the grain-free dry dog food has a correlation with Canine DCM (Dilated cardiomyopathy). Although it still requires further research and examination, but it has already caused chaos among the pet owners and pet shops.


The major difference between the grain-free and grain pet food is that grain-free pet foods’ ingredient mostly include sweet potato, potato, legume including chickpeas and lentils, and it has been marketing to be healthier. This hyper trend came from the ancestral theory ‘ dogs are carnivore, not omnivore, they shouldn’t be giving grain based carbohydrates’. However ingredient such as potato and sweet potato...etc, root and stem based and bean based ingredients also contain carbohydrates. Grain-free food does not equal to high protein source, whereas grain dry food can also provide a good source of protein. A comprehensive care of holistic nutrition is far more important than a single claim of grain-free.

The another major concern is that all those grain-free pet foods investigated by the FDA, had extremely high percentage of the pet food contain significant amount of ‘legume’(including peas and/or lentils, appear before the first fat or multiple combination and with other legumes too). This may raise a hypothesis, “legumes are being used to increase the total protein contents and it lacks of necessary animal protein, meanwhile, legumes may contain certain anti-nutritional factor and/or antigen to interfere dog’s nutrition absorption from the foods.” Taruine deficiency is commonly recognized to have breed difference, and its symptom is DCM too. Thus, grain-free legume based dog food connection with canine DCM require further study to explore its correlation.

*Knowledge : Beet pulp (by-product) is known to interfere dogs to absorb taurine, so it should be avoided!

The common substitution of grain ingredients are potato, sweet potato, chickpea, lentils, they contain potential antigen and anti-nutrition factor, although they provide good protein source for human, but they are not a good choice for pets with sensitive digestion.


According to REAL POWER’s medical nutrition therapy, every ingredient has its pros and cons, so we refuse to use any ingredient that can lead to negative effect on health.

Disease and health problem have more factors should be considered, for example toxic, air and water pollution, overuse of drugs, vaccination and antibiotics, lack of exercise and malnutrition there are many more reasons can cause diseases. As the pets are increasingly facing a similar health concern as the human beings, REAL POWER as an animal nutritionist, we consider all these factor to carefully select our ingredient and nutrient into our formulation. With a growing concern on well-being, natural and holistic diet therapy is going to replace medication, which influenced us on how we treat our pet’s health.

In fact, when pet has been showing signs of health problem, a cat or dog’s diet habit is much more likely to represent where the problem is, but it is definitely not the external influence of marketing trend to change their dietary.

Functional pet food is aimed for preventive health care, every nutritional supplement is specifically used to benefit pet’s health condition.


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