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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

Grain Free - Is It Really The Answer?

Because gluten induced celiac disease is so common in humans, the pet owning public thinks the same is true in pets. And guess what? The pet food industry is more than willing to cater to the hysteria. The sadness is that this is one of the worst frivolities I have ever experienced in my veterinary career. Give grain a break.

The Facts on Food Ingredients

The gluten in grain provides quality protein to the pet diet. Although it is not as bioavailable (intestinally absorbable) as the egg (the gold standard), it rivals many meat and legume products. It is an inexpensive way of fortifying the protein in pet diets. It significantly reduces the meat protein in my homemade diets and helps reduce the cost of feeding homemade diets.

Gluten induced celiac disease in humans is a very painful and debilitating condition. Over 3 million Americans suffer this condition and it is suspected that the incidence is much greater. Fortunately, gluten-like celiac disease has only been proven in one genetic line of Irish Setters. There is presently no scientific evidence that this condition exists in any other dog or cat breed. Soft stool and diarrhea in pets can be caused by many things. To assume that it is gluten induced allergic celiac disease is an oversimplification of the complexity of gastrointestinal disease.

Pets consume many more things than just their food on a daily basis. Think about it. They lick their paws. How sick would you get if you licked the soles of your shoes on a daily basis? They lick their fur after exploring the yard. How would your gut react after you licked the plants in your yard? They catch critters. Do you think you might have vomiting or diarrhea after ingesting a stink bug?

Pet foods contain many low quality products. There are only quantity, and not quality standards for pet food. That is why carcasses in any stage of decomposition are acceptable for pet foods. Animals in any stage of dying (down, disabled, and dying for whatever reason) are acceptable. Tissue levels of any drug, including euthanasia solution, are acceptable for pet food. There are even acceptable limits for sawdust, nut shells, beaks, claws, scales, bones, rodent contamination, and plastic bag particles for pet food. So why quickly blame grain gluten for digestive problems?

Why do We See Better Results on Grain Free Food?

Pet owners often notice an improvement in their pet’s gastrointestinal health when changing to a grain free diet. These diets are generally premium foods that contain higher qualities of ingredients in general. Changing food also means changing formulations that include many different amounts of different ingredients. This means that not only has the amount of gluten changed, but the amounts of other ingredients that may have caused the problem have also changed. A responsive pet may actually be responding to the decrease in an allergen other than the grain gluten. But because the food is grain free, the obvious conclusion for owners is that it must be the gluten. This is not logical.

How to Really Find Out if a Pet is Sensitive to Gluten

Put your pet on a "grain free" diet. After it has stabilized, add small amounts of pasta to the food. If your pets do not experience gastrointestinal problems, they are not allergic to glutens. They were allergic to something else in the old diet, or the diet had nothing to do with their problem. Please do not embrace "pop" nutritional trends. The costs may not be necessary.

Dr. Ken Tudor

Image: Thomas Groberg / via Shutterstock

Note: The original published column misspelled celiac disease as iliac disease. The two conditions are very different from each other and this has been corrected.

Comments  104

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  • EEEuuuu
    08/09/2012 10:58am

    "There are even acceptable limits for sawdust, nut shells, beaks, claws, scales, bones, rodent contamination, and plastic bag particles for pet food."


    "Tissue levels of any drug, including euthanasia solution, are acceptable for pet food."

    Double eeeuuuuuu!

    I confess to being a little paranoid about wheat and corn gluten, but it's due to the massive recalls a couple of years ago. After reading the ingredients, I put a lot of food down the garbage disposal just in case it ended up being recalled.

    Hopefully the pet food manufacturers have learned their lessons about imported ingredients. (Why do I have doubts about that?)

    Great information.

  • Unbelievable shlock
    08/09/2012 11:36am

    Seriously, you think grain is a better source of protein for dogs and cats -- carnivores all -- than meat??? You've been duped by the Science Diet crazies who fund so much of veterinary "education", Dr. Tudor. See, e.g., "The insidious mind control over clueless veterinarians by Hill's Pet 'Nutrition'", http://cavalierhealth.org/editorial.htm#June_14,_2012

  • 08/09/2012 02:18pm

    Thank you for that great link.

    Our Vet specialist (ACVS) told us to feed Science Diet or Purina prescription diet for our dog with hip dysplasia. I refuse to feed that crap. One had corn as the first ingredient.

  • 11/04/2014 02:13am

    Good idea! Pay more attention to the random crazed blogger than your board certified physician.

  • 08/09/2012 05:15pm

    Way to go, Dr Tudor, for braving the fanatics of this world who don't care about factual information before putting pen to paper as it were.

    Corn gluten meal is not only as bioavailable as muscle meat meals, with almost equivalent amino acid content, INLCUDING the much needed sulphur amino acids needed by our obligate carnivores, BUT ALSO, Recent study releases are showing that leucine is what makes muscle over fat cells, and corn gluten meal contains nearly three times as much as muscle meat meals. And to prove what I state, see Table II at the following site:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1250243/pdf/cjvr69pg299.pdf One of the studies showing leucine to be so much better at providing muscle rather than fat is here: http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/9/1/67/abstract

    Those of you who are SO willing to blindly stick to the latest food fad for your pets,right or wrong, please prove what you say before maligning great posts like the ones Dr Tudor and others take the time to write. Your ignorance is showing big time when you can't back your statements with science, especially with these public sniper attacks.

  • 08/09/2012 06:10pm

    Maybe I can't but DogtorJ (John Symes, DVM) can.

  • 08/09/2012 08:04pm

    Who? So get the references from him and share with us if you are so confident about what he says.

  • 08/05/2014 06:08pm

    I wonder if you realized that the study you quoted was published in 2005? I understand I am 2 years late to this string but I feel the need to point out a few things.

    1) The information available for pets 5 years ago is not necessarily applicable to today; the same goes for older studies.
    2)Corn, Corn gluten meal etc are /usually/ only included in lower quality dry pet foods. They are usually full of GMOs and were never a large part of a dog or cats' ancestral food.

    Dogs and cats killed and ate meat, they knew when to consume grains and which grains to consume. When they needed grains that were harder to digest they consumed them from the stomach of their prey. Not all grains are bad for animals, some are even beneficial. Corn however is not; it is a cheap filler used to stretch kibble. Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining, or worse tell me it's good for my leg.

    Check out these sites...

  • 08/05/2014 09:30pm

    Dr Mercola is a commercial website selling products. Please provide the SCIENTIFIC DATA for that site, or stop wasting our time. tia.

  • 12/08/2014 05:26am

    The first study that you have referenced here is comparing Meat Meal, Chicken Meal and Corn Gluten Meal as a source of protein for cats. The study concludes that Meat Meal is best, Chicken Meal is next best and Corn Gluten Meal is the poorest source and the hardest for cats to digest.
    I would also like to point out that it was a 3 week study on 12 cats.
    In Japan, Meat Meal was banned from commercial pet food in 2001 so the purpose of the study is to find a suitable substitute. The results of the study conclude that Chicken Meal is superior to Corn Gluten Meal.
    What is it exactly that you think are "proving" here?
    The second study that you have referenced here is the effect of leucine on muscle in rats. Dogs and cats have a different digestive system to rats so again, it's difficult to accertain what you find yourself to be proving.
    I often find that people obsessed with science let their logic and common sense fall by the wayside.
    Scientific studies in general do not tend to "prove" but rather tend to "indicate" or "suggest". However I believe science has made it very clear that dogs and cats are carnivores and that carnivores should eat meat as a far superior source of protein than grains.

  • 03/28/2015 07:18am

    Can we be nicer in our retorts.

  • Grain free
    08/09/2012 11:44am

    Can this be re-printed?

  • 08/10/2012 05:32pm

    Hi Jan - It is fine for you to refer to this and quote from it in a post that you are writing for your blog site and to link to it for reference and attribution. If you want to use it in its entirety, such as for your group's newsletter or to print and hand out at your place of business, please write to [email protected] for specific permissions.

  • Absolutely!
    08/09/2012 11:50am

    Grain free is absolutely the answer for cats - especially if you have a diabetic cat. And if you have a diabetic cat, chances are the cat is diabetic because of the inferior food products that are pushed by unscrupulous pet food manufacturers.

    I am convinced that the best food for cats is a homemade raw diet. Second best is a grain free canned food using the highest quality ingredients.

    Even the prescription diabetic diets are full of grain (carbohydrates). It's ridiculous to think that a cat would want to eat anything other than meat. They are OBLIGATE carnivores.

    Dry food is also a completely species-inappropriate food for cats. Cats are descended from desert animals and get their water intake from their food. Dry cat food is obviously lacking in appropriate water content for cats. If your cat is throwing up, chances are they are eating dry food on a daily basis.

    From Cornell Feline Health Center:
    Obligate Carnivores' Nutritional Requirements

    "Cats are obligate carnivores and are very different from dogs-and people-in their nutritional needs. What does it mean to be an obligate carnivore? It means that cats are strict carnivores that rely on nutrients in animal tissue to meet their specific nutritional requirements

  • 08/09/2012 05:31pm

    Cornell isn't some sort of god, here. They are often way behind some of the really good science that is coming out in more recent years covering both ingredient bioavailability and the fact that our sedentary house cats have usually had gonadectomies.

    In particular, the corn gluten meal I mention in a post above is NOT the type of gluten that interferes with nutrient absorption as is shown in the study data provided by me in that post, and well known by celiacs who have no trouble with corn ingredients. Where is Cornell's reference material on this, and how old is it?

    Based upon corn gluten meal's high leucine content, I prefer seeing it on ingredient lists to any other "filler" you can find as it will promote muscle over fat which is what Dr Tudor specializes in with his practice focused on obesity. Amazing that responders to this article think they know more than an expert on obesity and diabetes, without a clue of reference material provided.

  • 08/09/2012 07:43pm

    Can you show me where I ever said that Cornell was god? Thanks! :)

  • 03/28/2015 02:04pm

    Wow. People have no manners on this site.

  • 08/09/2012 08:19pm

    I didn't have time to tackle the "diabetic cat" portion of the above post, because I had an appointment, but will do so now.

    First, before high protein foods were being manufactured for diabetic cats, "high fiber" foods were being used -- for a reason. Whether for humans, pets, or whatever has high glucose to control, you want to be feeding fiber as a filler or secondary nutrient by volume in foods. "Fiber" is like the stringy parts you may find in foods such as celery, and is not able to be broken down into simple carbs by the enzymes in the body. However, fermentable/soluble fibers are definitely also "carbs" just as simple sugars are "carbs". Anyone with training in glycmic control, as I have, will be able to tell you that seeing sources of fiber type carbs in the ingredient list is great.

    Clearly you are paying attention to very visible sources online who have absolutely nothing in the way of nutritional training, as can be seen by their credentials, such as focusing on legal degrees so they can't be sued for what they state online.

    My preference for diabetic cats, and all our cats love it, is the brand of feline diabetic food that includes ingredients also studied and proven to reduce the need for insulin, and hopefully, with our very easy to control diabetic cats, eventually heal the pancreas and remove any need for insulin to maintain the diabetic. Those ingredients may look like "grains" but anyone who knows what is actually in the ingredient will understand that it just can't be labelled that simply.

    IMHO this focus on "carbs" when discussing the feeding of diabetic cats is way off base because cats are the one species who don't react immediately to simple carbs in the diet, and therefore don't need to consider bolus shots, or meds. Please see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11714241 I have always been more worried about calories/fats that promote diabetes and cause insulin resistance.

  • 08/09/2012 08:48pm

    This is what I know...3 weeks on insulin and Royal Canin diabetic food got my cat nowhere...blood sugar levels in the 500-600 range. 1.5 weeks on a glargine insulin and a grain free food = no longer insulin dependent. He has been a diet controlled diabetic since (two years in October). I am not a vet or a scientist or a nutritionist, but I do know what works for my cats and it's not crappy dry food.

  • 08/09/2012 10:36pm

    Any professional will understand that you don't cure diabetes of any kind in "1.5 weeks". If that happened to your, I seriously doubt the validity of the original diagnosis.

    Diabetes is NOT something that is "cured". It is something that you and/or your cat has to manage for a lifetime, either with insulin, or once the pancreas recovers well enough, with good food.

    I wasn't suggesting "crappy" dry food. The prescription diets out there are designed based upon scientific evidence and they do work. It is something other than the change in food that would have caused your cat to go into remission, IF it had feline diabetes. If you had any understanding of nutrition you would know that even getting influence of an old food out of an animal's system takes several days. Veterinarians know, when treating food allergies, just how long a new food takes to have an effect upon the system, so I suggest you consult with your veterinarian on this before sniping with rude comments on an article that is presenting truth based upon science.

    Personally I am thrilled to see the new columns coming out on pet foods basing their content on reality rather than sensationalistic fads designed just to get attention or sell books. Dr Tudor is a breath of fresh air when most of those who have time to write on the net do so because their services aren't valuable elsewhere -- for good reason.

  • 08/09/2012 11:58pm

    Here's a copy of his spreadsheet:

    Here's a research paper for you:

    No one has attacked Dr. Tudor at all. Are we not allowed to give our opinions? At the end of his column, he actually invites opinions.

  • 08/10/2012 01:36am

    That paper you provided only shows that Glargine can EVENTUALLY cause remission, or good glycemic control WITH insulin. It mentions nothing relevent to your arguments.

  • 08/10/2012 12:22pm

    Actually, it did.

    "Diets low in carbohydrate result in lower postprandial
    blood glucose concentrations,12 and most
    diabetic cats have reduced exogenous insulin requirements
    when fed a low carbohydrate diet."

    Here is the link to the full text:

    You didn't mention if you believe now that my cat had diabetes?

  • 08/10/2012 04:48pm

    The operative word here being, "lower", not some miracle cure all of a sudden, especially within a week and a half. NOT possible for a true diabetic, so no, IMHO your cat had something other than diabetes. You haven't even told me what the fructosamine results were that confirmed your cat had diabetes as opposed to a possible undetected infection or other disease that would also raise glucose in a more transient manner.

    Because cats don't have the enzymes in their mouths to process SIMPLE sugars, any simple sugars,(carbs), they consume, if diabetic, will raise the whole glucose curve from beginning to end and a cat does need *more* insulin.

    There is another article out on PetMD today about how long it takes to resolve whether a food is or isn't causing an allergy, let alone would show having a nutritional influence the outcome of a diabetic cat: http://tinyurl.com/cxhcpbs The three weeks your cat was on the Royal Canin were more likely to have had some influence than the "1.5 weeks" your cat was off before going into remission. My statement is based upon nutritional science, not some miracle belief system you are trying to sell me.

    It is clear you have a very poor understanding of diabetes, feline or otherwise, and I don't have the time to educate you so I won't be responding further to your posts about this "miracle" cure.

  • 09/29/2012 07:09pm

    Why are high fiber diets not being recommended much anymore?

    Some helpful articles by a veterinary endocrinologist:





  • 09/29/2012 07:21pm

    The above were mostly concerning cats.

    And for dogs:

    ..."Other more recent studies fail to show a clear-cut clinical benefit of feeding a high-fiber diet over a typical adult maintenance diet with moderate-fiber content to diabetic dogs. In one study, no significant differences in insulin requirements or glycemic control were found in dogs fed a high-fiber, moderate-carbohydrate, moderate-fat diet versus an adult maintenance diet with moderate fiber, lower carbohydrate, and higher fat (5). As expected, weight loss occurred when the dogs were fed the high-fiber diet, whereas body weights were maintained with the moderate-fiber diet.

    For any dog food, the major potential influence on the postprandial glycemic response is the dietary carbohydrate source (6-8). Foods and snacks containing simple sugars which rapidly increased blood glucose should always be avoided, of course. Feeding carbohydrate sources that have a low glycemic index (e.g, sorghum and corn) are preferred for diabetic dogs. Carbohydrates with a higher glycemic index (e.g., rice) are best avoided (6).

    Because dogs are omnivores, they can tolerate higher amounts of carbohydrates better than do diabetic cats. Therefore, I recommend a diet that is moderately restricted in carbohydrate content — that is, a diet with <30% metabolizable energy (ME) as carbohydrates— for diabetic dogs to limit their post-prandial glucose load and help control hyperglycemia."


  • 09/29/2012 08:25pm

    IMHO, Dr Peterson's blogs are very short sighted and selective. Just take his following statement: "Salivary amylase is absent in cats, and they have greatly reduced levels of intestinal and pancreatic amylases – so carbohydrate digestion is much less efficient." from one of the URL's above. Common sense should interpret this to mean that carbs that are uncluded in cat foods are more likely to be excreted out the back end. Second step thinking should have allowed Dr Peterson to understand this.

    Also, I see that Dr Peterson is rather selective in his hearing or reading when discussing his experiences with Dr Zoran who often uses the term "plunged into menopause" when talking about our sedentary altered house cats that are the ones increasing in weight. Dr Peterson is still flogging the outdated "what they ate in the wild" comments that no longer apply to our **SEDENTARY ALTERED** house cats that Dr Zoran speaks of in her communications. Perhaps the fact that he has absolutely no accredited training in nutrition under his belt would explain his lack of understanding.

    I guess Dr Peterson had his "cats in the wild" filter on full when listening to Dr Zoran.

    Also, the writer above has limited reading skills as well or they would not need to continually knock corn gluten meal as a SECONDARY source of amino acids as science has recently proven, (and I referred to this in other postings), that leucine in corn gluten meal is much higher and is the primary amino acid in moving nutrients to MUSCLE rather that to fat.

    Perhaps the problem is that both parties above are not up to date with their research as Royal Canin is, when formulating their diabetic food.

  • 09/29/2012 08:40pm

    Perhaps you should contact Dr. Peterson to educate him and let him know he is very short sighted in his knowledge of feline nutrition (and endocrinology).

    I will always avoid corn meal gluten for my cats for numerous reasons. (GMOs being a new one). There are always better, more species appropriate ingredients. I don't have limited reading skills, but I do have limited time and I have basic common sense. I don't need to give my cats food with corn meal gluten as a secondary source of amino acids. It sounds as if you have training in veterinary nutrition and maybe you should be working with pet food companies to develop diets for cats.

    Again, my original question: Why are high fiber diets not recommended much anymore? You seem to keep talking about how beneficial they are. Is there evidence for this?

  • 08/09/2012 12:01pm

    I feed a grain-free diet to my dogs, but it's not because I think they are allergic to gluten. I think grain is not necessarily bad, but when I tried a grain-free diet, I found that one of my dogs had improved stool quality and muscle tone, without any other changes. Since she competes in agility, the improvement in muscle tone was particularly important to me.
    The food they were eating before was of very good quality, so I can only assume that the difference was the result of removing grain from the diet. Didn't matter with my other dogs, but it's easier to feed them all the same. I'm not obsessive about it, I'll let them have some grain products in occasional treats, but at this time, I choose to continue providing them primarily with a grain-free diet.

  • 08/09/2012 12:12pm

    Thank you for addressing this crazy food fad, which is largely a marketing ploy. True grain allergies are so rare, and lots of these grain-free diets are unbelievably high in fat and protein, not an ideal nutritional situation for most pets.

    Pet owners always look shocked when told that some plant proteins have a higher digestibility and similar amino acid profile compared to animal proteins!

  • 08/09/2012 02:50pm

    Those pet owners should be shocked, because they are being lied to.

  • 08/09/2012 01:06pm

    So what about cats? The argument for grain-free is that cats are obligate carnivores and that grain is an unnatural food source.

    I've only ever used a grain free food for cats because it was the best available option in terms of quality of ingredients overall. The grain-free status sounded nice but I was mostly looking for highest quality calories per bite (we have a little guy that was... nutritionally challenged, sounds better than half starved and scrawny).

  • 08/13/2012 06:52pm

    Just because cats are obligate carnivores doesn't mean that they never consume anything other than meat. Many cats love to eat all kinds of plants - catnip and cat grass (obviously), along with plenty of house or garden plants. Calling grain "unnatural" for cats is silly.

  • boxer gas
    08/09/2012 01:18pm

    I don't know anything about gluten, and all that "allowable" stuff sounds really disgusting, but as the owner of two boxers, and one before them, I can tell you that grains can make a big difference! At least the type of grains. Boxers are notorious for really, really bad gas - I mean the kind that can clear a room! My first boxer was so embarrasing when people came over! I thought I was feeding a good kibble (Iams) but when I had to switch after a huge recall, I tried a food without corn or soy (Diamond Naturals) and wow! The gas was gone! I proved it again when we recently adopted a boxer who had been eating cheaper food, and suddenly we were all groaning and holding our noses. After switching to Diamond, gas is gone. Diamond isn't grain-free, it's made with rice, but no corn or soy. Those seem to be the culprits. Now I know if my dogs have eaten something they shouldn't - the telltale noxiousness returns. But on their food, they are fine, and we can all breathe easy! It's definitely worth a few extra dollars a bag!

  • Dog fod=yuck!
    08/09/2012 05:18pm

    I personally don't agree with feeding anything that people call dog food. I feed my dogs raw. I don't have to worry about the meat quality because I know it's good. I don't have to worry about feeding my dogs something that wouldn't be a normal part of their diet. I don't have to worry about plastic, cheap by products, or chemicals used to kill animals in my dogs food because I make sure it isn't in there to start with. Dog food has been around less than 100 years. What do people think dogs ate before then? Oh and by the way my dogs are very healthy and my vet says she wishes more people would feed the way I do.

  • 08/13/2012 07:04pm

    What did dogs eat before then? Leftovers, food gone bad, roadkill, bones, and whatever else they could get! The dog evolved surviving on the (mostly) edible trash of humanity. There have been a lot of improvements in dogs' lives over the last 100 years that contribute to a much higher life expectancy, and modern food is a part of that mosaic.

  • Grain Sychophants
    08/09/2012 11:08pm

    The sychophants for Hill's Science Diet and Purina and that ilk seem to have two repetitive rants: (a) that raw diets are a "fad" and (b) that there is no "science" to support them.

    Feeding raw food is not a fad to sell books. We've been feeding our dogs raw meat and vegetables for decades, beginning back when the only book out there was Dr. Pitcairn's, bless him.

    The only reason there are few vet journal articles supporting raw diets is that the commercial pet food industry funds most all such research, while raw feeders are a grass roots group who look to healthful results instead of relying upon goal-directed "research".

    It's when these sychophants tout that grains are better protein sources than meat, THAT'S when you know they've been bought and paid for by the kibble peddlers.

  • 08/10/2012 01:32am

    My Dear Rod: Even Dr Pottenger showed that when the RIGHT ingredients are in a food, it doesn't matter if it is raw or cooked, it has to have the exact formula to work. It wasn't until after Dr Pottenger died that lack of taurine was discovered to be the culprit in cooked foods.

    I have audited a number of "raw food" groups that keep coming and going online. There have been just as many nutrition related diseases on those groups, such as diabetes, as on groups where cooked foods are promoted.

    On top of that, we can't possibly feed raw meats to our pets as they contain too much fat content for pets that have had gonadectomies with the resulting altered hormonal functions. I prefer to keep the weight off the pet rather than have to recover good health once a pet has gained too much with the high fat content found in both raw foods and the

    If I am a "sychophant" it is of scientific data, as that is what I read, assess, (did this as a job to get through university), and apply to my own nutritional training. What Dr Tudor rights corresponds with that scientific data.

    What does your raw feeding have to do with this topic? Don't you understand nutrition enough to know that beyond raw foods increasing weight, there is no relevence.

  • 08/10/2012 05:00pm

    Funny that I and several of my friends feed raw with no issues with our dogs being over weight. Some of these dogs compete in weight pull and PSA. Can't have a fat or unhealthy dog and be successful in either. One of the dogs is the only titled PSA1 Alapaha Bulldog. Teeny was fed raw from the time she was weaned. The Pug I rescued Looked terrible even after a month on a "diet" with dog food. Funny how now he is healthy being on raw. The vet loves how healthy he is now.

  • 08/13/2012 01:11am

    I went to grain free for my dog and 2 cats several years ago. I work as a registered veterinary technician, specializing in nutrition. I will not feed Hills nor do I reccommend except in the short term for certain Rx diets. Anyways, switching all my pets to grain free did wonders for all. They became more lean, had more energy generally looked great, better than on a grain ladden diet.
    Anyways, my female cat has always had a touch of allergies even on grain free.vthese are atopic not food allergies. I decided to switch to raw for all my pets as it is a more natural better and cheaper diet for all. Since doing that, my 12 and a half year old dog acts like a puppy. He is on no pain meds for arthritis, he runs and goes for hikes and walks everyday. His teeth are perfect, bloodwork is great and he is a perfect weight. My male cat has slimmed down even more, has no more dandruff and is the picture of health. Now my kitty that triggered the transition is doing superb. She is no longer itchy, is off megacolon meds and is silky soft and all her hair has grown back. I believe in grain free, but even more I believe in raw. It won't make them fat, quite the opposite, and the health benefits of feeding a biologically appropriate food is amazing. Even a cooked diet is better than most commercial dry foods,but just like anything it needs to be researched and done right because in the wrong hands it can do harm if not balanced appropriately.

  • You knew, right?
    08/10/2012 12:26am

    Dr. Tudor,

    You knew when you were writing this that it would spark a raging firestorm, right? ;-)

  • DogtorJ gluten
    08/10/2012 12:30am


  • 08/22/2012 08:45pm

    This man doesn't seem to have any appropriate credentials, sensationalizes what he wants to use to create a bias in your mind, and can't provide URL's that work for reference material to be checked.

  • DogtorJ corn
    08/10/2012 12:31am


  • 3Dogs1Cat
    08/10/2012 02:47am

    Thank you. Yes I knew this would spark controversy. That is why I wrote it. "Pop" crazes are reprehensible to a scientist. The cat people can relax because I hate feeding kibble to cats, unless they are addicted to kibble (my concern is pet well being and I would never discourage kibble to a cat if it refuses to eat canned). It makes no sense for an obligatory carnivore. Dogs are more omnivorous and other protein sources are acceptable. My next blog discusses the the advances in the life expectancy in dogs because of AAFCO requirements for pet food. To reflect the human condition on dogs without trying my method for proving gluten sensitivity is simply wishing to "prove your beliefs". As I said, when you change food you change more than just grain protein. You also change amounts and quality of ingredients. I wish the consuming public would be more rational about dietary change rather than jumping on every veterinary blog that confirms their expected beliefs, but I have no control over that and I wish them good luck. Thanks again for your insightful input.
    Dr. T

  • 08/12/2012 10:09pm

    Sorry, this is ridiculous!! Even with all your science you can not convince me the grains and corn in the amounts these so called scientific diets use are biologically appropriate for our dogs, who are starting to suffer more and more from auto-immune disorders, cancers, obesity etc..
    I will stick to Grain free and raw.. Not convincing article at all. I have 12 dogs, none overweight, all healthy, shiny coats good teeth without brushing. Looking forward to the ridiculousness of your next article and wondering how much they are paying you to bring back the imago of the so called science backed pet food companies!!

  • 09/20/2014 10:31pm

    We have recently takin in two Siamese cats, grandmother and granddaughter, who both turn their noses up at all canned foods, although the young granddaughter will spread the food around on the dish just to please me. The instructions they came with were "no canned foods."

    We weren't that happy with the coats on these two, particularly Grandma. Her fur was very bristly compared to our own cats. We did switch to a food that all cats seem to love here, which is the Royal Canin Diabetic food, introduced when we had a diabetic cat that was kept OFF insulin for over a decade with the food. Everyone has been commenting on how soft the girls' coats are now, and so far they have had two yearly checkups showing them to be in complete good health. So if you do have cats that won't eat canned, Dr Tudor, may I recommend the only food we will feed around here, which is specifically the RC Diabetic. I would not use any of their other foods, or offer any other dry foods to our cats.

  • Obligate Carnivores
    08/10/2012 12:13pm

    Dr. Ken Tudor, thank you for recognizing in your comments that cats are indeed obligate carnivores. And yes, to a degree I agree with you that not every dog/cat is sensative to grains in their diets.

    But, I think it might be wise in your efforts to "re-educate" the public, post the AVMA policy ruling, to also recognize that owners are trying to do what is best for their pets.

    It is hard to make some of your arguments as we have been made well aware of the processing habits of the big pet food companies, recent recalls of premium kibble brands, etc.

    In my case I do feed one of my cats a raw food unique protein source. We did this after working for 9 months with our vet trying to resolve his "IBD." After a few days on a raw unique protein, things seem to have resolved themselves. To this day though, he can't eat kibble or canned food...even if it is the same unique protein! So we know it is likely something in kibble or canning process that throws his system off, not that he is allergic to a particular protein (except chicken...that really still bugs his butt).

  • Cora Vanskar
    08/13/2012 01:47am

    I cannot address whatever bitterness that evoked your response and thanks to our Constitution you are entitled. You are welcome to your beliefs however misguided and feel free not to read my next blog as you have passed judgement prior to release. I receive no compensation from any food company and I formulate homemade diets for pets because I am passionate that is a better choice. But I would never force it on anybody because it is an expensive alternative and not everybody has that luxury. My goal is simply to point out the misguided belief that popular trends may not yield expected results and offer alternatives with no value judgements. If you wish to judge so be it. I will let the readers decide if it is justified because they are hungry for knowledge without preconception.

    Dr. T

  • 08/13/2012 02:50am

    Dr. Tudor writes: "My goal is simply to point out the misguided belief that popular trends may not be not [sic] yield expected results and offer alternatives with no value judgements."

    -- "Misguided belief", you write? "Popular trends", you write? Oh, no! No value judgments there!!!

    We who feed raw do not do so out of any "misguided belief". Feeding raw is not a "popular trend". Attempting to demean our choices with such "value judgments" is a bit ironical, if not sanctimonious.

  • 08/13/2012 04:11am

    The way I have been reading the responses, Dr Tudor hasn't been the one making confrontational judgemental statements, nor has he been twisting what is written by others on this page.

    The least you could do, Rod, if you disagree with what is written, is to quote back correctly rather than twist what was said, and provide subjective support for your reasoning.

    Clearly your objective is to create contention and I think Dr. Tudor has been extremely polite, considering your behavior.

    Can we ALL please get back to the topic which is about commercial "grain free" foods, not the promotion of raw feeding?

    Thank you.

  • 08/13/2012 12:51pm

    " You are welcome to your beliefs however misguided and feel free not to read my next blog as you have passed judgement prior to release."

    I guess this blurb at the bottom of your blog isn't quite true. "You are welcome to your beliefs however misguided and feel free not to read my next blog as you have passed judgement prior to release."

  • To my readers
    08/14/2012 03:20am

    It is interesting how the discourse of this subject has shifted to a perceived assault on raw diets. My thesis had nothing to do with raw but only to point out that blaming wheat gluten for dietary ills may be misguided without testing to ensure that gluten is the problem. Because commercial dog food preparations are so dramatically different from company to company and there are so many variables, it is difficult to blame one ingredient without specifically testing for that ingredient. I don't want people to fall prey to a popular trend that may not apply to their pet. Grain free products are typically more expensive than formulas containing grain. If a pet is not sensitive to grain than why feed a more expensive food? Moreover, why condemn a valuable food source because of internet hype? Pardon me, but I fail to see how this is an assault on those feeding raw food diets. That simply is not germane to the discussion.
    Dr. T

  • 08/14/2012 04:02am

    You ask: "If a pet is not sensitive to grain than why feed a more expensive food?" -- Because dogs and cats are carnivores, and grains are poor quality proteins compared to raw beef and other raw meats, and grains' protein value is destroyed when cooked at high temperatures; grains are the worst food we can feed our pets. Studies that may reach an opposite conclusion are not reliable because they have been sponsored by the commercial pet food manufacturers which peddle grain-based kibble. Today's grains, particularly wheat and corn, are so corrupted by hybridizations and genetic-designs, over-and-over-again, that they are not even healthful for humans, much less for carnivores.

    You ask: "Moreover, why condemn a valuable food source because of internet hype?" I don't know what "internet hype" you are referring to. I condemn grain as a pet food because my pets' holistic veterinarians tell me that grain is not valuable and it is unnatural for dogs and cats. The only reason grain is used as a protein source is because it is cheaper, not because it is better.

  • 08/14/2012 01:16pm

    This has been an interesting discussion, especially Westcoastsyrinx's info on corn gluten.

    Do you think you could do a post or series on what some of the more common ingredients in pet food actually are and the reasoning behind their inclusion? I think most of us get "fish" or "poultry by-products" (feathers), but when I think about corn or wheat gluten I imagine something like seitan, which I don't think is right.

  • 08/14/2012 01:19pm

    All of the so called testing done on pet diets is done by the very companies that produce the food they are trying to peddle. I see a huge conflict of interest. I don't think a dog has ever grown corn to eat or any other grain for that matter. They are descended from wolves and as such the primary source of food would be meat, bone, and guts. Just because an animal can be forced to survive on something other than it's natural diet doesn't mean it should. Just look at the teeth people. What are they designed to chew? Another thing to look at is the sharp increase in disease in dogs.

  • 08/14/2012 04:15pm

    Have you ever bothered to look at the distinguished names attached to some of those papers? The names on them are usually fairly recognizable and the same can be found on papers FINANCED by any number of different pet food companies.

    Who else is going to pay for research on pet foods other than the companies who work in the business, and who are the only entities who can deduct R&D off their taxes? Why would anyone who couldn't deduct R&D waste the money? Of course they are paid for by pet food companies. You are supposed to read the papers and assess the content, (data, criteria, etc.), and decide what is of value and what isn't. If there is a bias involved, you should be able to determine by assessing the documents presented.

    Anyone who doesn't understand that saying the companies are buying certain results is a manipulation of the facts is either trying to hide the truth to fit their own personal agenda, or is too lazy to find the facts for themselves.

    The only problem I have ever found is that the company usually supplies the foods and ingredient lists, which rules out true comparison with foods better than those put out by the specific financing company footing the bill. It doesn't take much to sort fact from fiction in the studies if you have any reasoning powers.

  • 08/14/2012 07:38pm

    Do you realize how much data can be skewed? I work in an immunology lab so yes I know how to read papers and scientific data. I happen to be friends with several Veterinarians who are really good at applying common sense. I trust their judgment and what I see with my own eyes.

  • 08/14/2012 09:23pm

    Tina, I worked my way through university as a research assistant for someone doing their doctorate, so yes, I do understand how to read any form of research.

    "Common sense" should include the ability to disseminate between facts and fiction when it comes to reading the material and knowing what biases can, or will, be applied to what one is reading. For instance, there are a lot of skewed biases showing up in the responses to Dr Tudor's post here, and it amazes me how many of the comments are not only rude without justification, but come from some pretty skewed fictional beliefs.

  • Wrong title
    08/14/2012 05:58pm

    Dear Dr. Tudor,

    Interesting article. but I think this wasn't titled quite correctly. It seems that you're focusing on gluten and GI problems here and not just the idea of "grain-free". I get what you're saying about that, but there are many other issues with grains in pet foods. Do you realize that all the corn and soy that goes into pet food (as "protein" in some instances) is genetically modified (unless it's organic corn and soy and I don't think so). Look into GMOs and then let us know if you think feeding GMO corn and soy is beneficial on a daily basis for years for pets. Also grains and starches
    are not a natural food for cats, maybe more acceptable for dogs, but not for cats. Insulin and pancreatic issues & diabetes, obesity and arthritis...and we really don't even know what all the issues may be with feeding a high starch and grain-based diet to cats. And actually my issue with the whole "grain-free" frenzy is that it's not that great because they just end up adding in more potato starch instead of some type of grain. Maybe a little less starch, but it's still a starchy, higher carb, highly processed and dehydrating food (grain-free dry food that is). Though I will say I think the grain-free foods do tend to be higher quality, but grain-free dry food is not the be all answer.

    P.S. I really liked your article on protein for geriatric pets.

  • 08/14/2012 09:12pm

    As I have a personal intolerance for milk protein, (casein), and have the training to do research, which I did, I don't view GM grains and soy as something I can't feed to myself, and/or my pets as a result. If any of the pets were to show signs of ingredient intolerance, I would change foods to those that don't cause the same reaction. So far that has not been found to be an issue.

    At this point in time there are major difficulties with the sources of ingredients all round the world, due to disasterous weather, so we are lucky if we are able to find the ingredients reasonably priced.

    For us, the fat content is a major factor. It causes insulin resistance and weight gain, and I would prefer to be eating foods that don't add weight, and that are likely to create muscle tissue rather than fat in the body.

  • 08/14/2012 10:08pm

    "So far that has not been found to be an issue"

    How do we know that Round-Up Ready corn and BT corn has not been found to be an issue? Or Round-Up Ready Soy? That is what most 'field' corn is now. There hasn't been research that has shown this hasn't been found to be an issue....For animals or people. It's hard to avoid GMOs at this point, but most people have no idea they are eating it, and feeding to animals everyday (if they're feeding corn and soy). It's just something we don't know that much about and since we don't why does the FDA allow it? GMOs have pretty much been banned in Europe and even China has labeling laws, but not in the US.

    Cats need a good deal of high quality animal fat in their diets; it's natural for them. My understanding is that in that overweight animals, obesity and fat cells can contribute to insulin resistance; but not consuming fat itself. Cats actually need a good amount of quality animal-based fat; quality fat, not junkie fat. Fat doesn't necessarily make cats (or people) fat. Lots of carbohydrate can do this and also puts too much stress on the pancreas and over time it creates glucose toxicity and contributes to diabetes.

  • 08/15/2012 12:18am

    Jennifer, you are saying "cats need" but not providing the science behind what you state. Our cats are all altered, and therefor their "need" is for what their changed hormonal balance decrees, not what someone insisting our cats are the same as their ancestors. Do research at Google Scholar using the terms "gonadectomies" and "cats" and show me where these altered cats do well on fat. Just not true!

    As for the GM ingredients, we have read your opinion and you are entitled to have it, just as we are entitled not to be interested as it wasn't really germaine to Dr Tudor's comments. All you did was attack in a very subjective manner.

  • 08/15/2012 12:52pm

    There have been studies done with both rats and hamsters fed GMO to show a few generations down the road and all sorts of lovely thing start happening to them.Severe problems with liver and kidney function and sterility for starters.

  • 08/15/2012 03:37pm

    This is just one link. Wont feed it to my pets or family.

  • 08/15/2012 04:00pm

    This is a page where it show the abstract for studies done on glyphosate-based herbicides. These are the pesticides used on GMO crops. This is on PubMed.gov.

  • 09/20/2012 03:20pm

    I know we got a little off topic and there was a small amount discussed about GMO food products. GMOs are in pet food (and human food) though most people don't know anything about it. What could it be doing to animals who are fed this daily for life?

    Here is a link to a very informative documentary about this very important issue. The documentary is free online this week and maybe longer.


    Where is the science behind saying "so far we have not found this to be a problem?"

  • 08/16/2012 12:56am

    If genetically modified life forms scare you, how do you manage to live with yourself......your body modifies genes all the time:

    Have you heard the "Chicken Little" story? It is a good idea to study and understand something before passing along inaccurate information. We are all genetically modified to be different from our siblings, just for starters, so this big scare around genetic modification just blows my mind.

  • 08/16/2012 12:18pm

    There is a huge difference between natural variance and putting something that does not belong in an organism. Just because something can be done doesn't mean it should. Are you aware that people are showing allergic reactions to foods that have been modified? Put a fish gene in something that isn't fish and there have been cases of reaction to it. Scientists can not know what the results are going to be. Things like this should not be foisted on the public without serious proof that it causes no harm. The fact that several countries have banned it should tell you something. You go ahead and continue swallowing the Kool-Aid.

  • 08/16/2012 03:19pm

    Yes, Tina, I was aware 55 years ago when my own serious intolerance of poultry emerged when chickens were being fed antibiotics to increase growth habits. Then there were the hormones.

    IF you had read the scientific article I provided above, you would hopefully have understood that genetic modification has been going on since the earth began, which is how we evolved into humans in the first place,(please don't start on that topic).

    I prefer not to see genetic manipulation, however, I do know enough about how it works not to be afraid of a tool that is providing food for very hungry people who are not as lucky as we are in where we live. You are going to see your food, and pet foods, increase a lot in price in the next couple of years because of the present drought issues we are experiencing and I expect the topic to die down in our society as this shortage emerges.

    I DON'T agree with farmers being sued because they happen to have stray GM seed in their organic farms, etc., but as genetic modification is basically the same as evolution of any other sort, I am not going to be silly enough to make a big deal out of what makes our pet foods reasonably priced. It is too bad more people don't have the logical intelligence enough to understand evolution on our planet.

  • 08/16/2012 03:31pm

    "It is too bad more people don't have the logical intelligence enough to understand evolution on our planet."

    I tend to rely more on evidence than you Darwinists do. I don't enough faith to believe that wheat and humans share the same pedigree.

  • 08/16/2012 05:59pm

    Clearly you are sensitive on this subject, Rod. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, however, most of us have stopped walking on all fours, and once we got on two feet we could see putting plant seeds in the ground to grow more food. From that point, the newly "evolved" farmers started cross polination. THAT is genetic manipulation and has been done for several thousand years.

    As I mentioned to Tina I am far more concerned about drugs and hormones being added to animal feed than I am about something I grew up with in orchards long long before "GMO's" became this sudden new menace for people without good education in genetics.

    I have stopped responding to Tina, and now I am deleting any responses that come from you on this topic.

  • 08/16/2012 03:42pm

    I understood gene modification and evolution long before you posted the article. I have to disagree with natural evolution and scientists combining unrelated organisms being basically the same. The second does not equate with nature improving with what is already there. The second takes things unrelated to try and make something work differently. Be it uptake and tolerance of toxic pesticides, which have increased significantly instead of decreasing as claimed or to increase growth speeds and sizes with no account for how it will damage the environment. The first is incredibly near sighted and incidentally yields are only slightly larger while causing massive damage to the soil and it's micro flora. The second does not account for impact on wild species. Once released into the environment how do you take that back? You can't. There are now super weeds. The corn in the fields dying due to drought is the very corn that was suppose to survive it. As to the Salmon that has been modified, if it were to get loose into the environment it has no rest period for feeding so is quite likely to deplete natural resources. I personally do not want my family or pets to be a science experiment for any of that.

  • 08/16/2012 04:05pm

    Seeing as you know so much more than the rest of us, Tina, perhaps you would like to explain the difference between "cross polination", genetic modification, and evolution?

    For me, this subject is now closed because some people are getting pretty silly trying so hard to be "right".

  • 08/16/2012 04:29pm

    Wow. So because I refuse to put my faith in companies that think they know what they are doing and don't want people to be informed enough to make their own choice I don't have the ability to make an intelligent informed decision? Like I said, have fun swallowing their Kool-Aid. I am not willing to risk it when so much points the other way.

  • fiction or ignorance?
    08/14/2012 10:28pm

    It amazes me -- although it should not by now -- how many people who are ignorant about certain facts assume therefore that those facts must be fiction -- or, "skewed fictional beliefs". Much like those who once labeled some DNA as "junk DNA" simply because they did not understand its purposes. They don't know what they don't know, and further, they tend to assume they know a lot more than they really know.

    As for "rude", that is in the minds of the beholders. For a blogger to refer to those who are skeptical of grain-as-protein diets as "misguided" and "followers of fads", well that is not just rude and condescending to his viewers, but also flat ignorant. Likewise for a commenter to use the term, "skewed fictional beliefs".

  • fiction or ignorance?
    08/14/2012 10:28pm

    It amazes me -- although it should not by now -- how many people who are ignorant about certain facts assume therefore that those facts must be fiction -- or, "skewed fictional beliefs". Much like those who once labeled some DNA as "junk DNA" simply because they did not understand its purposes. They don't know what they don't know, and further, they tend to assume they know a lot more than they really know.

    As for "rude", that is in the minds of the beholders. For a blogger to refer to those who are skeptical of grain-as-protein diets as "misguided" and "followers of fads", well that is not just rude and condescending to his viewers, but also flat ignorant. Likewise for a commenter to use the term, "skewed fictional beliefs".

  • 08/15/2012 12:21am

    And the sky is falling, Rod. I have heard that before, and choose to think for myself, thanks.

  • Gluten
    08/20/2012 02:57pm


  • You can't be serious
    08/20/2012 10:48pm

    If cats and dogs were left to fend for themselves, I don't see them eating hay or a loaf of bread! This post is similar to saying that good quality fast food is good for humans.

  • 08/21/2012 12:02am

    There are a number of posters here who would do well to take reading courses as they must have missed out when they were throwing chalk in school.

    Dr. Tudor hasn't been making claims he is accused of making by a number of detractors, here. If they can't actually read the posting correctly it does explain why they have very skewed ideas of small animal nutrition.

    The inaccurate interpretations abound, along with very subjective comments that have nothing to do with the "celiac" issue for humans that has brought the "no grains" fad to the fore. Anyone who can actually research for themselves and read scientific data, rather than knocking the results of studies, will know that such grains as "corn gluten meal" and "rice bran" have been proven to be both bioavailable and contributing to good health for our pets. They will also understand the physiological changes that have occured in our pets over the centuries, and especially since gonadectomies have been common practice.

    While Dr. Tudor isn't suggesting feeding "bread" to our pets, or McDonalds food, there are some extremely healthy grains used for bread making that are used by human celiacs, and in small amounts can make far better "fillers" for pet foods than fruits and veggies that alter urinary pH and promote disease. Again, for example, corn gluten meal has the same nutritional breakdown as a mouse, (60% protein), and at the same time contains far more leucine than meats do. Leucine promotes manufacture of muscle, rather than fat, so personally I am very happy to see corn gluten meal in the foods we feed. AND our pets never have nutrition related ailments - haven't done so for over 50 years of pet maintenance.

  • Basic physiology
    08/22/2012 01:09pm


  • 08/22/2012 09:03pm

    No reference material provided by the author.

    Just as an example of the flawed information, here, amylase is produced in the pancreas, not in saliva:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amylase and dogs do have and use this enzyme: http://ahdc.vet.cornell.edu/clinpath/modules/chem/amylase.htm The only animals who don't produce amylase are cats, which is why they don't register increases in glucose readings after ingestion of food: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11714241

    This person doesn't have enough education in nutrition to be a credible writer on the topic.

    The one thing I find very offensive about people who believe feeding raw to be a better way of feeding our dogs and cats is that they seem to be very willing to skew the facts to fit personal agendas. Anyone who compares raw cuts with cooked will find that quite often the cooked cut of meat is better because fats have been rendered off. Also, most of the online information promoting the use of raw feeding is very out of date, not taking into consideration the fact that our pets are basically dropped into menopausal type hormone activity once altered.

  • 08/22/2012 11:14pm

    Westcoastsyrinx wrote on 08/22/2012 05:03pm:

    "The one thing I find very offensive about people who believe feeding raw to be a better way of feeding our dogs and cats is that they seem to be very willing to skew the facts to fit personal agendas."

    What types of personal agendas do you have in mind, that so offend you, Westcoastsyrinx? What makes you think any of us pro-raw pet owners have "personal agendas"? I gather you mean agendas other than wanting to feed our dogs and cats the best possible diets for their health issues and prospective health issues. Other than that "personal agenda", I cannot imagine what they would be.

    I know that many anti-raw advocates have personal agendas that are directly contrary to feeding our pets the best possible diets. When these people, including those who call themselves "board certified veterinary nutritionists", slam feeding raw meats but promote corn starch and other grains and "by-products" in dry kibble form as providing superior proteins for dogs and cats than raw meat, they are, per se, espousing a personal agenda that is contrary to healthful diets for carnivore dogs and cats.

    And, Westcoastsyrinx also wrote on 08/22/2012 05:03pm:

    "Anyone who compares raw cuts with cooked will find that quite often the cooked cut of meat is better because fats have been rendered off. Also, most of the online information promoting the use of raw feeding is very out of date, not taking into consideration the fact that our pets are basically dropped into menopausal type hormone activity once altered."

    Westcoastsyrinx, what is your super-secret personal agenda for making such flagrantly inaccurate comments?

  • 08/23/2012 12:07pm

    There are several herbivores that do produce amylase in their saliva. The point is that starch eating animals produce it not a carnivore like a dog. Animals that are omnivores like bears have grinding molars in their mouth dogs do not. Evolution is a LONG process not an overnight one. Just because you can make an animal survive on something doesn't mean you should.

  • Dogtor J
    08/22/2012 02:45pm


    He has been busy writing a book.........

  • Loyal Readers
    08/23/2012 03:18am

    I am sorry for the personal abuse you have suffered in the discussion over the last 2 weeks. The discussion has gotten so far off topic that it is impossible to respond within the context of my postings. Also, as a medical professional, I am held to a higher standard of decorum and cannot engage the conversation at the present level of insult. It is unfortunate that all dialogue in the US, including political, is so divisive that key words spark vehemence when none is intended. I am merely a scientist trying to find the best answers by using the most objective, peer reviewed information I can find. Unfortunately, most internet accessible information, unless you use “google scholar”, is not peer reviewed and generally reflects a deeply felt opinion by the author that may be void of fact. There is no scientific Rosetta stone for nutritional information. The NRC and AAFCO (information in tomorrow’s post) are the best we presently have. We are all just trying to plug away one study at a time to achieve optimum nutrition for pets. If along the way we discover that conventional wisdom or desperate belief does not square with facts, we hope to inform, not insult. This is no different than human medicine where an association does not mean cause and effect and needs much more study. Scientific information is a process of discovery, not a dogma dictated by limited study. I posit possibilities subject to change by scientific information.
    Thank you all.
    Dr. T

  • 08/23/2012 12:30pm

    Dr. Ken Tudor on 08/22/2012 11:18pm wrote:

    "I am sorry for the personal abuse you have suffered in the discussion over the last 2 weeks. ... Also, as a medical professional, I am held to a higher standard of decorum and cannot engage the conversation at the present level of insult."

    Well, Dr. Tudor, allow me to repeat some verbal abuse of pet owners who disagree with you:

    "'Pop' crazes are reprehensible to a scientist."

    "I wish the consuming public would be more rational about dietary change rather than jumping on every veterinary blog that confirms their expected beliefs, but I have no control over that and I wish them good luck."

    "My goal is simply to point out the misguided belief that popular trends may not yield expected results and offer alternatives with no value judgements."

    These comments reflect an attitude of ivory-tower contempt for pet breeders who, wisely I think, refuse to rely upon grains as the main source of protein for their dogs and cats. They (and a few from a "loyal reader" or two, are what set me off in responding on this topic. I for one am not on a "pop craze", thank you, and I am not "jumping on every veterinary blog", nor do I have any more of a "misguided belief" than you do.

    I use Google Scholar everyday in my work, but you should know that we will not find peer-reviewed articles supporting such topics as the advisability of raw meat diets and the unadvisability of feeding grain as protein, simply because there is no one who will fund such research. Most all research in this area is non-objective, un-professional, goal-directed, and mainly unreliable. Many veterinary nutritionists have proven to be totally biased on the subject.

    I rely upon my holistic veterinarian to guide me in devising a raw diet that the best food for my dogs and cat. For our dogs, we sometimes include barley sparingly, but certainly not for any protein value.

  • 08/24/2012 04:37pm

    Barley and other celiac triggers are not ingredients I personally would choose for our pets:

    There are good grains and bad ones according to data collected for our pets. I have no problem with corn gluten meal, and rice bran, as they have shown to be beneficial to our pets. It is specifically the 'gliadin' type glutens are the issue, and I do try to avoid them. Specifically I prefer not to choose grains with "wheat" listed in the ingredient list:

    IF I thought there was a possible trigger in food that might be a normally 'safe' grain, such as some dogs having a corn intolerance, I would then go to the alternate single protein, single carb foods available and test the ingredients individually. However, in all the years I have been feeding companion animals and wildlife, I have yet to run into an issue with either corn or rice.

    How anyone else chooses to feed their pets is their business within their homes, but it does get offensive when pushed on topics not related to their agendas. The sniping attacks and labelling of people who don't agree with specific agendas is very childish, AND, a major act of bullying. I don't support grade school bullying of any kind, no matter where I find it.

  • 08/25/2012 02:02am

    Westcoastsyrinx on 08/24/2012 12:37pm wrote: "The sniping attacks and labelling of people who don't agree with specific agendas is very childish, AND, a major act of bullying. I don't support grade school bullying of any kind, no matter where I find it."

    I noticed that about you, Westcoastsyrinx. ;<) No grade school bullying by you, no ma'am. Mirror time, Westcoastsyrinx, mirror time.

  • 09/29/2012 09:04pm

    Um, your preferred Royal Canin Diabetic DS 44 has barley and it looks like quite a bit of it:

    ROYAL CANIN Veterinary Diet tm Feline Diabetic DS 44™
    Chicken meal, corn gluten meal, ground barley, soy protein isolate, ground corn, natural flavors, cellulose powder, chicken fat, brown rice, beet pulp, fish oil, vegetable oil,
    ground psyllium seed, potassium chloride, inulin, choline chloride, potassium citrate, taurine, green tea extract, sodium chloride, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol (source of vitamin
    E), L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), niacin, biotin, riboflavin (vitamin B2), D-calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), thiamine mononitrate
    (vitamin B1), vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid], L-carnitine, trace minerals [zinc oxide, zinc amino acid chelate, ferrous sulfate, copper
    sulfate, copper amino acid chelate, manganous oxide, manganese amino acid chelate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate], marigold extract, preserved with natural mixed tocopherols,
    rosemary extract, and citric acid.

  • 09/29/2012 11:11pm

    Look, Jennifer, I have just come in after a long hard day and I am not in the mood to tolerate any more of your sniper attacks.

    Barley is 32% to 35% fiber content: http://www.ingredients101.com/barleyg.htm From now on do your own research as I am screening out any further responses from you. It isn't my job to teach you about nutritional breakdown of foods -- take the RDA course! Clearly you should have plenty of time to do so if all you can do is snipe at people in an attempt to prove your belief system. Take it somewhere else!

  • 07/05/2014 06:41pm

    I know this is an old post but I am looking for any advice concerning dry cat food. I am convinced my cats are suffering from constipation because of their grain-free diet. I have steered from using anything with corn because of all the recent hoopla deeming it bad for animals. I had other cats that lived long healthly lives on store brand foods. Westcoastsyrinx, would you have any recommendations on specific brands that you would feed your own animals? I do feed at least 50% portion of wet. Both are finicky eaters and have been to the vet with a "feed more fiber" recommendation. Thank you.

  • 08/05/2014 06:24pm

    Without being able to see the ingredient list, and guaranteed analysis, I (or anyone) am not able to fully help you determine a better food.

    However if it is just fiber you need to increase try adding some pumpkin. 100% pure pumpkin with no spices or sugars added. You can buy it canned or puree it yourself. Just remember any can you open will only last 3 days in the fridge so be prepared to freeze it.

    I feed this to all my animals as needed, frozen it can also make a great summer treat. I will warn at first my animals snubbed their noses at it, so i mixed it with their food and after about a week while they still leave it till the end of the meal there is never any left in their bowls.

    Aids with constipation, diarrhea, anal gland issues etc.

  • To Our Readers
    08/24/2012 03:28pm

    As promised in our community rules, we have been monitoring the comments, making sure they don’t stray too far off course or became verbally abusive. It will be specified here that monitoring is done entirely by a group of content editors at petMD, and not by our veterinarian writers.

    This has been an enlightening discussion for us, as apparently it has been for many of our members here, and we appreciate the passion our community members feel over the health of their companion animals.

    While some members have clearly used our pages to further their views, most are not, in our opinion, abusive.

    We have observed that our involved community is well-educated and generally willing to consider other ideas. As long as the language does not get abusive, we allow you all to call each other out. With that in mind, if you feel that a member of the PetMD discussion community is being intentionally provocative, you have the right to ignore that person entirely, in addition to sending an abuse report to PetMD’s customer service.

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  • from Betternutrition.com
    08/25/2012 12:58am

    "Celiac disease has been definitively diagnosed in one breed of dog, the Irish setter. Gluten sensitivity that isn’t celiac disease is prevalent in other breeds, as evidenced by gastrointestinal problems, rashes, lack of energy, and other symptoms that often disappear when dogs and cats are placed on gluten-free diets.

    Thought for Food

    Gluten is only one of many foods that can provoke health problems in cats and dogs, says John Symes, DVM, known as “Dogtor J.” After researching the subject for more than a decade, Symes has concluded that both dogs and cats can benefit from a diet free of gluten, cow’s milk, soy, and corn—filler ingredients found in many commercial pet foods.

    According to Symes, these sticky substances act like glue in the intestine, causing malabsorption of nutrients, which leads to countless health problems. When these ingredients are eliminated from pets’ diets, “medical miracles” can often occur. Allergies abate, intestinal problems clear up, older pets become more active, and epileptic seizures often completely stop."

  • 09/20/2012 03:33pm

    Very important information in the documentary linked below concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs) which are found in any pet food that contains corn or soy, though you also can't completely avoid it since most conventionally raised livestock are fed corn and soy. 90% of all corn and 95% of all soy is now GMO. Organic, of course, means it's not GM, but very little pet food is organic.

    I know this is a little off topic, but sometimes it's good when discussions go off topic. Dr. Tudor, could you and/or a farm animal vet discuss this issue? And if you're in California there is a ballot initiative this November concerning the important issue of LABELING foods that contain GMOs.


    The movie is free for a period of time.

  • Peer study published
    09/20/2012 04:50pm

    This is a peer study published which I hadn't seen when posting previously.

  • I used fell for the grain
    06/20/2013 02:39am

    I totally fell for the grain free diet one year ago. My cats , all 5 of them loved it to death. I followed the feeding directions to a t......you wanna know what I ended up, 5 cats that gained weight. I am still in shock that the grain free was over 250 more calories per cup than their original maintenance. Now I have cats a freaking diet as a result of this crap. Never again. I listen to my vet and I trust my vet. I am still in shock that my one cat has a rise in his blood glucose level, going back for a recheck on that . The vet wanted the grain free out of his system first. His numbers are not high enough to worry but the increase is of concern. Thank you for writing this article . I have a better understanding now of why my vet is taking the approach he is. My vet stated if his numbers do NOT come down with the weight loss by July 15th we will look to put him on a different diet at that point. He is on a high fiber right now that is the right fiber.

  • 06/20/2013 05:11pm

    P.S. I also wanted to state that since changing my kitties off the grain free , we are at day 5 without grain free and my cats have more energy, they are all playing and not slugging around. If you are going to buy the grain free diets please please read the label and find out about the fat content and CALORIES. The grain free that has caused me all this trouble is a 19 percent fat and 576 calories per cup. That's insane. Lets look at this, a 5lb cat needs no more than 130 calories per day. Now if I fed a 5lb cat the recommended amount on the grain free ( 1/4 cup to 1/3) this would equate to being over the calorie intake......that would increase the weight of any cat over time...NOT GOOD....

  • 03/21/2014 07:38am

    To Cindy Williams: The grain-free bag that states that a 5lb cat is only to get 1/4-1/3 a cup is a DAY not per meal. You have to carefully read the instructions and break up into 2-3 smaller meals. I have to feed my cat a gluten-free diet because his Urinary Bladder is what vets call a "weak bladder". It means that the lining of his bladder is thin and is prone to infection unless treated. I treat this by a wheat, corn, and soy free diet (I chose Wellness Cat: Total Health: Adult Health after months of research and a poor kitty straining to pee), and a CranHealth tablet sold by Dr. Foster and Smith Company. The tablet has a lot of Cranberries and as well Glucosamine and d-Mannose. The two vitamins help first stabilize his bladder and second strength it as well as maintain a proper pH. I am not a vet, nor a animal nutritionist, no, but a college graduate w/ a very heavy study in animal health and biology.

    I researched the affects of grains on cats, and to all the comments out there, no one ever went past just the one symptom... Vomiting. In humans, there are 365 separate symptoms for Celiac Disease, so why should there not be for animals? How do I know this you ask? I am a Celiac myself. I have done extensive research on it for my own well-being. Yes, their digestive tract and the way that they digest food is very different. We have more time in our intestines to absorb nutrients and to develop waste, while they have only a few feet and hours. The whole fad of grain-free has great merit for cat owners, and so does the raw diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, they literally cannot survive without active proteins from other animals. They can't digest or convert certain proteins to the necessary ones for digestion and absorption. Dogs can survive on a plant-diet, as proven in certain studies in the past 5 years.

    Before rebutting Dr. Tudor, make sure you research your response instead of putting your opinion out there. Everyone has an opinion, but Vets put up articles for discussion of the subject, not to cause the internet equivalent to yelling at each other. I know this article is over a year old, but it never hurts to look back before looking forward. To the corn comment, cats can't digest it as well as dogs can, so I'm guessing it was geared towards dogs instead of cats. This is a tangent from the corn comment and about Celiac Disease in humans, as a celiac, Celiacs cannot digest any gluten derived from Wheat, such as unprocessed oats, barley and rye. Some Celiacs can eat processed oats, but most can't. Corn does just fine for Celiacs, and in fact it can be a staple for some, along with rice and potato.

    To Dr. Tudor, as a Celiac I was laughing a little bit at your comments, as well intended as they are, some are out-dated and wrong. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disease that is passed down from one generation to another. It isn't something that can be cured or just take a pill and its all fine. It isn't a debilitating diease at all, but an autoimmune disease of the small intestine where our white blood cells attack our own intestinal villa in the presence of wheat gluten proteins. It is a difficult disease to diagnose due to the vast number of symptoms it has. In fact, it took my grandmother 10 years to be diagnosed with Celiac's Disease. To say it isn't a possibility in animals at all except for one breed of dog is exsperating for me. To look at the big picture, Celiac's Disease developed in humans as a result as a heavy wheat diet induced in the past 75-100 years. Well, we have done the same thing in animal foods, so why should we dismiss it as irrelavant, or improbable? My cat just recently got into a wheat cat food that our other cat eats, and bam he went right back to before we changed his diet. That is enough evidence for me to conclude that he at least has a sensitivity to wheat gluten.

    I hope my comments are looked at and thought about. Thank you for reading them. :)

    09/20/2014 09:00pm

    The only people making these sort of statements that CORN IS GOOD is pet food companies and Vets...(paid by pet food companies). Its so people will buy this CRAPPY food. PetMD, you are pathetic for printing this article and whomever wrote it. There is no reason to comment further cause it isnt worth my time. Neither is your website. Unbelievable you would lower yourself to pet food company standards. WE arent stupid consumers..thats why you see all the negative comments. You are harming yourself by even saying otherwise. Adios PetMD!

  • 09/20/2014 10:14pm

    @zena3546, the reason pet food companies and veterinarians aren't as influenced by the pet food activism that has been happening of late as you are is because they clearly have more education in the area of pet food ingredients than you do.

    If you had bothered to read my post up near the top of the page, I actually furnished one of the scientific papers on how the much higher leucine content in corn is good in that it promotes muscle growth over fat. The detailed data that was posted on that paper also showed corn gluten meal, (the only recommended form of corn), also has the same proportions of amino acids as muscle meats, and that it was assimilated in similar quantities. No one is suggesting corn as a first ingredient in pet foods, but corn gluten meal is a great SECONDARY ingredient.

    If you have information that contradicts the paper I have quoted above, then please feel free to furnish it to the people reading this page as they are clearly interested in accurate information. If not, then what purpose does your rude commentary serve?

  • It's not the gluten
    03/04/2015 10:33pm

    The reason I feed my cat a grain free diet (which isn't exactly the same as gluten free) isn't because of gluten. It is because cats are obligate carnivores and it generally makes no sense for their diets to be high grain diets. Especially if a cat is diabetic. It isn't about some assumption that the cat is celiac. Besides, the food I give them smells more like human food than their old food. That is enough reason for me to feed it to them.

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