Truth About “Grain Free” Label

by in Frontpage Article August 17, 2017

Are all grain-free pet foods alike?    Of course not.    That would be like saying that all cars with leather seats are of the same quality.    So while the big box stores and grocery stores are many times offering  a “grain free” pet food it may still be kind of junkie as far as your dog or cat is concerned.    Of course the first question is whether your pet needs a “grain” free food.     At Wholesome Pet Essentials we have no foods with corn or wheat or cheap by-products of the grain processing industry.   Many of our kibble(s) do contain brown rice and/or oatmeal.   These are gluten free grains and are used to provide some carbohydrate for your pet as well as helping to make the kibble ‘stick’ together.    Carbohydrates are a necessary part of your pet’s diet and these sources also provide fiber and other essential nutrients.    However, the main protein component in any of our foods is from MEAT and Meat meals.   None of our foods use corn and wheat or by-products to provide a protein component to the diet.   Many pets will do exceptionally well on these foods as they are formulated with high quality ingredients!   Fromm, Holistic Select, NutriSource, Lotus, and Earthborn Holistic all have formulations made utilizing some rice for example.   But the quality of these foods would be far superior to most grocery store ‘grain free’ formulations.

A true grain-free food contains no grains, whole grains or otherwise.   However, the recipe is still not entirely free of carbohydrates.   There are plenty of highly digestible carbohydrates that don’t come from grains.    The main benefit of a true grain-free food for your pet is that it may be easier from some pets to digest and it provides a lower risk of triggering food allergies and sensitivities.    Some of these more “pet friendly” carbohydrates  would be:

Beans, Chickpeas, green peas, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tapioca

But for the typical pet exhibiting intolerances or allergic reaction to their food there’s a very good chance it’s a meat based reaction rather than a reaction to rice or oatmeal.  (Unless they’ve been fed one of the products using corn, wheat or grain processing by-products) Allergic reactions are commonly reactions to proteins and thus we have many single source meat proteins to choose from! And thus another reason we need to use high quality ingredients.   Foods made with high-quality ingredients are going to be more expensive than foods made with low-quality ingredients regardless of whether they are labeled ‘grain free’.

Here’s an example of a very high quality food we carry….this one uses pearled barley, oatmeal and brown rice as a carbohydrate source:

Fromm Chicken








Because these are high quality ingredients this product although not labeled ‘grain free’ remains a much higher quality product than this ‘grain free’ Iams product:

Iams Grain Free



Note that there is more pea and pea starch in this diet than chicken meal.   Yes, it leads off with Chicken but that is on a wet matter basis just like the Fromm food.  When dried in a kibble that will fall far down the list.





Here is a ‘comparable’ Fromm Grain Free Food:

Fromm Chicken Grain Free




Notice that there is more chicken meal in this food than starch products!

Either of these Fromm products would be far preferable than the IAMS “Grain Free” Diet!  So simply being labeled “grain free” doesn’t assure you of anything.

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