About Grains in Pet Food

Despite our name, ATG is NOT on an anti-grain campaign.  However, there are some very good dietary reasons why Against The Grain Pet Nutrition has chosen to offer products with minimal or no grain content.

Cats and dogs thrive on a meat-based diet. This is the way nature designed them. They have much shorter digestive tracts than humans do and the digestive juices in the stomach are much more acidic. There is also an enzyme in the dog's saliva that destroys harmful bacteria.

Before commercial pet food, dogs and cats ate table scraps or meat scraps from the butcher, then hunted and scavenged for anything else they could find. The small amount of grains they ingested consisted of the unavoidable, undigested contents in the stomach of their prey. 

Grain made its way into pet food in the 1940’s just as commercial kibble started becoming popular. Pet food manufacturers found that using grain fragments or leftovers from the human food industry (after most of the nutritious parts were gleaned) was a cost effective way of utilizing the scraps not fit for human consumption. 

Grains are carbohydrates and are not true essential nutrients for carnivores. What is essential is animal protein and animal fat. The starch in grain however, is needed to make the ingredients in kibble stick together. Low quality grains are also very inexpensive, plentiful and easy to obtain, therefore ideal for making pet food and profit.

Take note: Just because a dry pet food product states it is ‘grain-free’ that does not mean it is healthier. When grain is not used, kibble manufacturers must substitute more expensive products like potatoes or tapioca. These are even higher in carbohydrates and calories than grain. To date only one manufacturer has invented a process that makes kibble without using starch and that is Dr. Wysong. This first starch free pet food is Epigen. Read more about this one of a kind product at www.wysong.net

Quality Matters

There are several other reasons why Against The Grain prefers minimal or grain-free products. The quality of grain is contingent on where it is grown and how it is stored.  

Raising grain is not what it used to be. Corn and soybean - which are commonly found in dry pet foods - are two of the four main crops grown in North America from GMOs or Genetically Modified Organisms. It is reported some 80 percent of corn and corn products in the US are from GMOs. Controversy surrounds this type of new age farming, some citing benefits while others believe strongly that GMOs are harmful to consumers and the environment. The only way in absolutely avoiding genetically engineered grain is to eat no grain. What you may not know is that for several years now, GMO’s have been sold to us in grocery stores without our knowledge. GMO labeling is not a requirement by law. ATG’s philosophy is “why take a chance” when grain is not a true essential of natural pet nutrition. 

Insects, mites and molds… oh, my! Next is the storage issue. After grains are harvested, they must be stored and that is where the trouble begins. The longer the storage period is the greater the risk of contamination from insects, mites or molds. Grain mites are close relatives to dust mites and are proven as the most common cause of atopic dermatitis in pets. A recent study conducted at Wright State University has concluded, “storage mite sensitivity in dogs may be as important, if not more important, than dust mite sensitivity”. See Mike Sagman’s full article here:

Atopic dermatitis is actually a reaction to an allergen produced by the grain mite that causes chronic itching, hair loss, paw licking, yeasty ears and other symptoms. 

Maxx, one of Against The Grain’s taste testers has shown great improvement since switching to a kibble containing less grain.

aboutgrainsinpetfood.jpgGrain mites and insects can easily pick up and spread the tiny spores of the highly dangerous molds known as mycotoxins. One such mold, Aflatoxin, was the cause of many pet deaths in 2005 when Diamond Pet Food inadvertently distributed a very large batch of contaminated dog food. For a pet, ingesting even a small amount of aflatoxin is deadly. First, the more obvious, acute symptoms of the disease appear. Behind the scenes, however, aflatoxin is silently accumulating within the pet’s liver, even attaching itself to DNA strands. This eventually causes a fatal cancer. At this time, there is no antidote and no known cure.

For all of these reasons, ATG carefully chooses minimal or grain-free products made by ingredient conscious pet food companies who place your pet’s health ahead of profit. As it should be.

Against The Grain Pet Nutrition is a company that does things differently. We are a small business that is excited about offering pet owners better choices in pet nutrition. We believe that choosing appropriate pet food (be it commercial, raw or home prepared) is the most important factor in any pet's preventative health, convalescence and longevity.  Our name - Against The Grain - reflects our strong passion to provide pet owners with the knowledge to make healthy decisions about pet care even if we go ‘against the grain' of popular thinking.

To contact us:

1024 County Road 109
Montevallo, AL 35115

Phone: 205-665-9026
Fax: 205-665-5683
[email protected]