Grain vs. grain-free

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Susann
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Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Susann » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:47 pm

I would like to put this up here for us to discuss, because I would like to stick this thread into the FAQ section, but would like some more opinions and viewpoints on it, other than just mine, before I do.

I am including a slightly edited version of my answer on a different thread, to include how I feel about both the grain issue and also the meat by-product issue.

"I know many here, and on various Facebook pages, have taken to saying food must be grain-free; this is not the case. I myself prefer to feed grain-free, but that is not so much because there is anything about grains that is bad or unhealthy for skinks, as it is for the fact that pet food companies use them as cheap filler --hence, the cheaper grains are used to take the place of more expensive and more NUTRITIOUS ingredients.

For a simplified example, say you look at the list of ingredients and it says: Chicken, Beef, Carrots, Squash, Peas, Sweet potato, Blueberries, Barley, Kale, Oats, Vitamins, Minerals. That would be one heck of a quality can right there, and not one of those ingredients are bad for skinks. Why are you unlikely to find a can with those ingredients in that order? (For those of you who are not aware, ingredients are listed in order of greatest to least by volume.) Because most of us are not willing to pay the price that that can of food would cost.
So what do pet food companies do? First off they use meat by-products and by-product meal. Disgusting you say? Maybe so; I wouldn't want to eat it, but our dogs don't care and neither do our skinks. I know what many of you will say: "If you're not willing to eat it, then why would you feed it to your pets?!"
I'll tell you why. I don't like eating bones, giblets, or skin of animals, even if it is every bit as nutritious as the muscle-meat, but I see nothing wrong about feeding it to my dog. Not only is it often every bit as nutritious, many times it's MORE nutritious. And if the pet food company has already ground up the bones and chopped up the giblets and the chunks of skin for me, GREAT! Talk about whole prey food fed in the safest way possible (since neither my dog nor my skink can swallow a whole cow).
Personally I see absolutely nothing wrong with feeding my skinks meat by-products (or meal thereof).

The next thing pet food companies do to cut costs is ...TA-DAA!... add more of the cheaper ingredients. Like grains. And potatoes. (Nothing wrong with potatoes, and especially not sweet potatoes.) Which is why you're unlikely to find an ingredient list in the order of my example. Because the grains and potatoes are generally always listed much nearer the beginning of the list. Because they are generally in the food to begin with so that they can still fill up the can but put in less of the more expensive ingredients. Hence why they are referred to as FILLERS.

So. Why do I prefer to feed grain-free? Because, if there aren't any cheap grains in the can, the can has to be filled with other, hopefully nutritious, ingredients. Not because grains are bad at all, it's just that there are usually relatively MUCH of them when they are in the can.
Which leads us to the rice and potato. Nothing wrong with either, but many (if not most) pet food companies are banking on us not noticing that, when they say "Grain-FREE", many have instead got a different type of filler taking the grains' place: rice and/or potato. Yes, brown rice is slightly more nutritious than white rice, but it doesn't come anywhere near the nutrition of meat or even a carrot. And yes, sweet potatoes are quite a bit more nutritious than regular potatoes, but if half the can is sweet potato ...well, you get the picture."
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby TPceebee » Fri Mar 04, 2016 4:56 am

Fantastic post Susann. It does annoy me when I get called out for using dog food containing grain on these facebook sites (heck, they're even like that with the whole thought of using dog food in general). I am yet to come across a breeder that has noticed any ill-effects from using grain dog food. I have been wary about using puppy food cans, as they all seem to contain a lot of rice....

At the end of the day, it's up to the owner to make the best decision based on opinions and facts from other owners. And it's forums like these that allow people to view and share these opinions. :D
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Dakota » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:56 pm

For me, until there are studies to prove regular dog food is actually bad for the health of our lizards (which I'm likely not going to see), I will stick to feeding what I feed -- Pedigree. I go out of my way to buy this brand, and there are definitely cheaper brands to buy as opposed, but I know Pedigree works. For me, I live under the ideology of "don't fix it if it ain't broke". There is nothing wrong with people wanting to go the extra mile to feed grain free. I told everyone that bought my babies that is was advised, but they didn't need to feed it.

As an outsider looking in, there is a superiority complex revolving around the idea. At the end of the day, we are just feeding our animals what works. Nothing wrong with feeding grain free; nothing wrong with feeding regular dog food with grain. What gets to me is I see people actually put down people who don't go the extra mile to buy grain free. Personally, I was even told Riley was so small (18") because Pedigree stunted his growth. :heated: :lordy:

Let people choose what they want to feed. I know it is a rather unpopular opinion, but people can keep these animals on a budget. Yes, there should be money for the vets to be saved up, but they can still love their animals just as much as someone who pays $8 a can.

Moral of the story, there should not be a contest.
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby alichamp » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:52 pm

I wonder if it is worth broadening the FAQ thread to be about choosing to feed dog food in general and then about what type to feed (ie ingredients and grain vs grain free as Susann has written above)...?

EDIT: It may be coved in the Feeding your BTS FAQ thread, so if it is perhaps link to it in this new one.
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Lauriek » Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:27 pm

I have watched my blotchie Bliss eat grass seeds when she was out on the grass. She would eat a tiny bit of oatmeal (rolled oats).
I have also watched large wild easterns eat the dogfood when we fed the dogs outside where I used to live in the country.
That dogfood was a combination of tinned dogfood; fresh meat and vegetable left overs.
From my observations, blueys tend to be opportunistic in regard to food. The shinglebacks tend to be more vegetarian although mine will eat cooked chicken quite happily.
I think variety in their diet is important.
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby El Lobo » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:32 pm

And then there are others who have 8 year old Blotchies that have never been fed either dog or cat food. :wink:
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Richard.C » Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:00 pm

Yep dogfoods definatly not the only way to successfully feed them
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Susann » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:23 pm

El Lobo wrote:And then there are others who have 8 year old Blotchies that have never been fed either dog or cat food. :wink:

Richard.C wrote:Yep dogfoods definatly not the only way to successfully feed them

Absolutely. Dog food is not the only way to successfully keep healthy skinks; there are many people, El Lobo being one of the best among them, who choose to put a lot of time into preparing their pet food from scratch. This route does however take a lot of forethought and dietary knowledge in order to be successful.
I know this can easily turn into the often polarizing discussion of whether or not the dog food as a staple can be compared to feeding our skinks "fast food", and it may be time to have that discussion again; it's been a while. :wink:
alichamp wrote:perhaps link to it in this new one.

:thumbs:
As far as this thread goes, I wanted anyone with a different view than mine to have the opportunity to voice it, to have it included in the FAQ as well. I never want it to seem like my opinion is the only one allowed here; I really am all about hearing different views and opinions and learning from them. In my opinion, that's what this forum is all about.
Lauriek wrote:I think variety in their diet is important.

I agree 100%.
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby jesswebb93 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:19 am

I'll be honest, I've only ever fed grain-free blue buffalo dog food because I was worried that grains wouldn't be good for my Skinks. I thought that paying a little extra on a grain-free can would be worth it to be on the safe side. But after hearing what other BTS owners have said about this matter, I think I'm going to try feeding the occasional grain dog food as well. Several of you have made some excellent points, so I will give it a try and see how they like it. Thanks!
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby acanthurus » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:55 am

I initially made all my shinglebacks food from scratch using raw ingredients including kangaroo mince for the first few years. I have since changed to dog food that contains grain. The shingles seem just as healthy on either.

After watching wild shingles and what they eat, a large proportion of their diet is made up of wild grains and seeds, so I figure it can't do them any harm, and now make a conscious choice to buy the food with grain.I have also found a few eating carion (usually road kill), and they seem to go for the fatty intestines and other offal before lean muscle if they can get it. Of course I top up the diet with a wide array of fruit and vegetables.

Ironically I choose to feed my dog only raw foods (BARF formula). The difference to my dogs health has been obvious, which makes sense when you consider the fact that grains are not a natural part of their diet.

So to sum up: dog food - perfect for skinks, terrible for dogs!
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Susann » Wed Mar 09, 2016 12:41 pm

acanthurus wrote:dog food - perfect for skinks, terrible for dogs!
:lol:

If I'm not mistaken, Shingles are known for eating more plant matter, including grains and seeds, than the other species --who seem to view those as an "if NOTHING else is available and I'm starving" option. :wink:

Thanks for weighing in. :)
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Gao » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:23 am

Very informative post Susann :D
I noticed there was undigested rice in my skink's feces so I switched from a dog food that has only 3% of brown rice to a high quality dog food that is grain free and patato free. My skink is doing so much better now.
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Edward » Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:43 am

Susann wrote:As far as this thread goes, I wanted anyone with a different view than mine to have the opportunity to voice it, to have it included in the FAQ as well. I never want it to seem like my opinion is the only one allowed here; I really am all about hearing different views and opinions and learning from them. In my opinion, that's what this forum is all about.

Well, then, I guess my post is pointless, but still, I agree with what you wrote, Susann.

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Susann
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Re: Grain vs. grain-free

Postby Susann » Sat Mar 19, 2016 3:54 pm

Edward wrote:Well, then, I guess my post is pointless, but still, I agree with what you wrote, Susann.

...sorry, I can't remember your comment... Hope I didn't make you feel like whatever you wrote wasn't welcome...

I'm about to stick this up in the FAQ, so anyone else who has thoughts on the matter, post them now or forever hold your peace! ...just kidding... if anyone would like to add to it after it's put in the FAQ, feel free to post a new thread or just PM a moderator about adding a comment to the thread. :) :thumbs:
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