Vitamin E illustration

Vitamin E

Vitamin E protects against cell oxidisation.

Vitamin B illustration for the nutritional value of grains in cat and dog food

Vitamin B

Vitamin B provides a range of benefits for the nervous system, skin, hair and growth.

Linoleic acid illustration for the nutritional value of grains in cat and dog food

Linoleic acid

Linoleic acid is an important nutrient in maintaining a healthy skin and coat for cats and dogs.

One of the main nutritional benefits of cereals are the high-quality carbohydrates they provide. Carbohydrates are one of the three categories of macronutrients, alongside fats and protein, included in diets for animals and act as the main energy source for pets.2 Grains and cereals are also high in fibre, which is a beneficial nutrient in supporting healthy gastrointestinal functions in cats and dogs.

In fact, some grains, such as brown or white rice, may be recommended for dogs or cats experiencing gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhoea, as they are naturally easy for pets to digest.

Can cats and dogs digest grains and cereals?

Further to the nutrients that grains and cereals offer, it’s important to consider their digestibility for pets. Digestibility refers to how many nutrients a food item is able to provide. For example, an ingredient may be rich in nutrients but hard for a cat or dog to digest. This means that fewer nutrients are absorbed by the animal's intestines and consequently fewer will end in the bloodstream.

An ingredient that is highly digestible for pets can provide a much higher proportion of nutrients, and therefore a cat or dog may receive the same level of nutrition concentrated into smaller portions.

Cats and dogs are able to digest processed grains using the enzymes which are normally present in their digestive system: amylase for the starches and proteases for the proteins.

To expose the most nutritious, digestible elements of grains or cereals, the raw ingredient is ground and heated in the manufacturing process. This removes the less digestible outer shell and leaves the nutrients that cats and dogs need.

After this grinding and cooking process, some plant proteins can actually be more digestible than animal ones. This has been evidenced in a comparison of the digestibility of raw protein sources, with wheat gluten (99%) and soya isolate (95%) outscoring dehydrated pork (92%), poultry (88%) and lamb meal (88%).3

Digestibility Raw Protein 20% 0% Wheat Gluten Soya Insulate Pork Poultry Lamb 40% 60% 80% 100% 99% 95% 92% 88% 88%

Are grain free diets safe for cats and dogs?

Over the last few years, there has been a trend towards grain-free foods for cats and dogs (diets that are made with recipes containing no cereal), primarily due to concerns about food allergies or carbohydrate intake.

In reality, research has actually shown that food allergies are responsible for as little as 1-2% visits to the vet for cats and dogs.4 Instead, environmental allergies have been identified as a lot more common.

Grains can provide essential fatty acids, fibre, vitamins, and minerals – making them an important part of a complete and balanced diet. Switching your cat or dog to an all-meat diet without proper supplementation carries a considerable risk of nutritional excesses or deficiencies. In particular, all-meat diets may not provide your pet with the required carbohydrates necessary in a complete and balanced diet.

Before making any changes to your pet’s nutrition, you should consult your vet to ensure that the new diet is complete, balanced and entirely safe for your cat or dog.

Finding the right nutritional balance

At ROYAL CANIN, we’ve conducted extensive research for more than 50 years into these ingredients and found that when properly processed, grains can provide a great source of energy and essential nutrients for your cat or dog.

A healthy diet for cats and dogs provides nutrients from multiple sources - not only meats but carbohydrates like grains, wheat and corn too. The important point is ensuring that your pet receives a balanced and precise blend of over 40 key nutrients to support their ongoing health and wellbeing.

1 function/

2 European Pet Food Industry Federation (FEDIAF)

3 Royal Canin Research Centre

4 Verlinden et al. Food allergy in dogs and cats: a review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 2006; 46: 259-273

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Royal Canin’s approach to nutrition

At Royal Canin, we focus our efforts on understanding the unique needs of cats and dogs. Everything we do is designed to create precise nutritional formulas tailored to support their continued health and wellbeing. Find out more about our scientific approach to pet nutrition.

Our nutritional approach

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Each Royal Canin formula has been created to deliver nutrition tailored to your pet’s needs depending on their breed, age, lifestyle or sensitivities. Browse the full range products and discover how we can help your pet enjoy the best health possible.

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