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What are the benefits of whole grains in pet foods?

This A+ FRR Pet Nutrition FAQ discusses the benefits of whole grains in pet foods and explains why corn and corn products are used in Flint River Ranch cat foods but not in any of the dog food formulas.
Whole grains are an easy-to-digest source of complex carbohydrates, fiber and energy. Next to protein sources, whole grains or similar high-quality carbohydrates are one of the most important components of a pet's diet. A combination of grains, like a combination of meat, is better than just one source.

See also: Grain-Free vs. Grains in Pet Foods: Where Does Flint River Ranch Stand?

Whole wheat grains are frequently used in canine foods, as they are not only more digestible than corn but are also one of the most nutritionally balanced cereal grains. Rice is another nutritionally beneficial and highly digestible grain frequently used in pet foods. The rice used in Flint River Ranch formulas is a combination of brown rice and white rice — white rice for its digestibility and brown rice for its added nutritional value. (A diet that is 100% brown rice can be difficult for some animals to digest.)

After a high quality protein meat source, some form or combination of whole grains or similar high quality carbohydrate source should be the next ingredient listed on a dog food label (as an indication of their importance).

While pet food formula ingredient labels will list at least one variety of whole grain, processed grain or carbohydrate source, what the labels don't list is the source and quality of the grains. Flint River Ranch grains are purchased from major commercial suppliers like General Mills and the Pillsbury Company whose human quality food products are generally sold to bakers and other human food manufacturers.

The grains used in Flint River foods are tested and certified at the time of purchase and before shipping to the plant. They are tested again upon receipt and then go through a final test at the time they are separated to mix with a production batch. In addition to a number of tests for moisture and quality, all Flint River Ranch ingredients are tested for chemical residues.

It's a more extensive – and expensive – process, but it ensures the highest possible quality and prevents the possiblity of toxic molds being introduced into the pet foods. While grain is often cheaper when purchased from smaller or less reputable operations, the risk of toxic mold is greater.

Over the years, several national brand pet foods have been recalled due to toxic mold in the grains used to make the foods, with the recent Diamond Pet Food Recall the latest to show just how important it is to ensure high-quality, human-grade grains are used in the foods fed to your pets.

Corn in Pet Foods

Corn is another whole grain that is frequently found in cat food formulas. The feline digestive system can better utilize corn, and corn also delivers important dietary benefits to cats and kittens, which is why it is one of the primary ingredients in Flint River Ranch cat food formulas.

Corn is, however, more difficult to digest by dogs (as well as humans) and can cause allergic reactions in some dogs. In dog foods, corn (or corn meal) simply serves as a low-cost filler, albeit one that many manufacturers continue to use in order to save money. Corn passes right through a dog, providing little to no nutritional value. If a dog food lists corn as the first or second ingredient on its label, the customer can expect to pay for up to 25% filler in that food. Flint River Ranch does not use corn or corn byproducts as ingredients in its dog food formulas.

Corn is not the only low quality filler frequently found in dog foods. Examples of other fillers include wood fiber, corncobs, peanut fulls, cottonseed, straw, soybeans, and citrus pulp. While many inexpensive commercial pet food brands pack their foods with these unnecessary and often unhealthy fillers, they are NEVER used in Flint River Ranch wellness pet food formulas.

The presence of fillers tells you what the manufacturer thinks of their pet food.

FAQs: Pet Nutrition and Pet Food Ingredients

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