During my 3 hour appointment set this morning, I saw 3 cats and two dogs that all had two things in common: they were all obese and they were all fed diets whose brand had the word “Blue” in them. There are many variations of the “Blue” branded diets but I will keep it vague enough here that I will hopefully avoid cease and desist letters from their corporate attorneys. What these diets all have in common is that they are embracing the largely medically unsubstantiated grain free pet food craze that has taken over pet owning America, they have great marketing departments that show wild cats and wolves fading into domestic felines and dogs (respectively); but the biggest common thread among the Blue diets is that they cause rampant obesity in dogs and cats.
In fact, I have never in my career ever seen any line of diets that so consistently create obese canine and feline patients. It has come to the point that when I am presented with an obese canine or feline patient, I preemptively say, “Let me guess, you feed Fluffy Blue [something or other]. Incredibly, I seem to be right about 60% of the time (this morning, I was 5 for 5 on my guess, making me 100% on the day).
While the Blue diets may be grain free, they are absolutely loaded with simple carbohydrates. So while a pet owner may get convinced that grains are the devil, be prepared to feel safe and secure that one’s pet is never fed those terrible grains (add in sarcastic inflection) while one’s pet blows up like a balloon making him/her susceptible to joint disease, back injuries, diabetes, pancreatic disease, liver disease, gall bladder disease, and cancer. Hey, but at least the pet never ate grains!
I can go on about the grain free fallacy here, but I have begun to feel like I am merely beating a dead horse at this point. Many pet owners are inclined to believe what they read on the internet or hear from their breeder (don’t even get me started on this one!) or groomer and are going to insist on grain free no matter what I, the biochemist and licensed veterinarian, has to say about it. I mean, of course I am not going to tell them the truth about the evils of grains since I get showered with lavish vacations and kick backs from pet food companies (once again, enter sarcastic inflection).
Thus, for the purposes of this article, if a pet owner insists on feeding grain free no matter what, a great start is to avoid any diet with the name Blue in its brand. Next, consider a grain free option from one of the more reputable pet food companies like Hills or Royal Canin. While they may have very good reputations, Hills and Royal Canin are corporations after all, and see the writing on the wall: pet owning American for the foreseeable future will remain in the grip of the grain free pet food craze and may be indefinitely. You know how the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them; so each company has come up with grain free options of their own, only they are much more effectively nutritionally well balanced and less likely to fatten up your pets like prized pigs.
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.