To Grain Or Not To Grain Part 2

Last week we discussed some current theories on grain free diets. As mentioned, some recent studies have been suggesting a link between taurine and grain free diets. In case you missed it, check it out here.

Autumn Boga · April 16, 2019

To Grain Or Not To Grain……
Is that the Question? Part Two

Last week we discussed some current theories on grain free diets. As mentioned, some recent studies have been suggesting a link between taurine and grain free diets. In case you missed it, check it out here.

Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN  explains, “DCM used to be one of the most common heart diseases in cats but in 1987, it was discovered that feline DCM was caused by insufficient taurine in the diet.  It was shown that DCM in cats could be reversed with taurine supplementation, and now all reputable commercial cat foods contain enough taurine to prevent the development of this lethal disease”. It’s a well documented fact that cats are obligate carnivores. Without taurine added to these commercial diets, they would die. But what is taurine exactly? Taurine is an amino acid found only in animal protein. In the past, it was believed cats could not provide enough taurine to sustain it’s own body. A cat needs to ingest more taurine. How? A species appropriate diet based on RAW meat has enough naturally occuring taurine, in most cases, to keep a cat’s heart functioning properly. Is it this simple for dogs? Unfortunately not.

The challenge is that Dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is caused from a variety of reasons, only one of which is a lack of taurine. Researchers have confirmed some breeds are sadly more predisposed to the condition. It is however most concerning when we see a specific breed showing a dramatic increase in occurrence. One such breed is the Golden Retriever. “I suspect that golden retrievers might have something in their genetic makeup that makes them less efficient at making taurine”, said Dr. Stern. “Couple that with certain diets, and you’ve given them a double hit. If you feed them a diet that has fewer building blocks for taurine or a food component that inhibits this synthesis, they pop up with DCM.” Is the lack of grain to blame? 

It’s important to note that neither of the studies referenced here make any mention of whether any of the test groups were fed a biologically appropriate raw diet specifically and then tested for taurine deficiency. We know that grains can indeed be a healthy protein resource. However, they are plant based proteins. Remember, taurine is found only in animal protein. Clearly more research will need to be done. So what now?

We must continue to be diligent pet owners. Do we have a dog that is on the list of predisposed breeds? Are we feeding a diet rich in naturally occurring taurine levels? Or are we instead feeding a low quality kibble that has next to no taurine which is why it has to be added back  into the cooked kibble diet.

Some raw is always better than no raw. If your budget won’t allow for feeding all raw, feed 50% raw and 50% high quality kibble. Look at the ingredients. If you see the word “meal” in the ingredients for that store bought pet food, remember that means it’s just made of the leftover bits and pieces of a carcass. If you are feeding a homemade raw diet, make sure you are including the correct ratios of fat, organ meat, muscle meat, calcium phosphorous, and other ingredients. I take exception to a few statements and suggestions in these studies (for instance to, “stop reading ingredients labels” or “food allergies are uncommon”). Just ask some of the many clients I speak to on a daily basis. Feed chicken to some of them instead of lamb and watch their dog’s fur fall out. Feed lamb instead of beef to a dog with digestion issues just one meal, and symptoms are triggered. Allergies are real. Ingredients matter!

At BARF® World we are well trained on making the proper diet suggestions depending on each pet’s overall health profile. Pet diets will continue to evolve based on solid, reputable, unbiased research, and I promise, BARF® World’s recipe will adapt as appropriate.  It seems, “To Grain or not to Grain” really isn’t the question. Rather, the answer is to make a well informed decision. Whatever you feed your pets, consider all of the factors, and look at all of the ingredients as a whole. You are the only voice for your pets.  

Referenced articles can be found at:

Raw Food Tip:

"Why is it so hard to accept the belief that an animal should eat a diet that is species specific? Our society has accepted the fast food mentality and it is now showing the signs of the trend. (Obesity, lethargy, reduced function, medical intervention, etc). Our current life style would give Alexander Graham Bell a brain hemorrhage. Our fast pace life style is now transferred to our pets and they will suffer as a result. A human has been given a choice regarding what and how to feed themselves. Our pets most generally, don’t have that luxury and expect to get fed as directed by their guardian. It is our responsibility to make the right diet choices for our pets because they will accept the right choice without hesitation. It is our responsibility to help, advise, and encourage our life generating philosophy to those that are unaware.  We join others that fight to persuade and influence their views and opinions upon others. In the end, all that matters is the outcome. If the outcome was favorable, then we gain the momentum to spread the word faster." 

- Robert Mueller Sr. 


Autumn Boga

Autumn Boga

Autumn's relationship with BARF World began in late 2015. She has been a lover of all animals, great and small, her entire life. She credits her parents with allowing her to have many pets growing up including rats, birds, fish, cats and dogs. Her zoo is currently at full capacity with four dogs, (one of which has a pet cat named Leonard), husband! A passionate believer in the benefits of the BARF World diet, Autumn tries to talk to as many people as possible. A recent convert to Pescetarianism, Autumn enjoys trying new eateries and has traveled over 25 countries.


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What is BARF?

"BARF®" is our acronym that means Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. It is a complete and carefully balanced blend of raw meat, fruits, vegetables and bone. Our formula mimics what nature has designed our pet's to thrive on in the wild. The result is a pet free of allergies, digestive problems, and full of life!