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Here's Another Ingredient You Don't Want in Your Pet's Food

By Dr. Becker

A pet food industry journal article I read  not too long ago discussed the fact that rye isn’t found in many pet foods.

Now, you and I might feel grateful to know  at least one type of species-inappropriate grain isn’t widely used in  commercial pet diets. But the majority of pet food companies and their  suppliers are motivated to find ingredients that will help keep their products  affordable and their bottom line healthy.

The author of the article I read conducted  a survey of pet food labels and found only a few brands in which rye was listed  as an ingredient. Those foods were what he described as ultra-premium or very  high-end dry dog food. He was surprised not to find rye as an ingredient in any  cat food or canned food included in his informal survey.

Apparently rye is no more expensive than  other grains, so the author set out to discover if there was a problem with  availability, a technical factor, possible heath issues linked to rye in dog  and cat food, or some other reason for the lack of use of this particular grain  by the pet food industry.

Rye vs.  Other Cereal Grains

Rye isn’t as common a raw ingredient as wheat or rice. It ranks eighth  among cereal grains produced globally. It grows well in colder climates and in  marginal soil. It is a key crop in Poland,  Germany, Russia, Belarus  and the Ukraine  which produce about 75 percent of the world’s supply.

The only threat to rye crops is a type of  fungus that is only a problem under specific growing conditions, and screening  is an effective control measure.

The nutritional composition of rye is  comparable to wheat in terms of protein, crude fiber, ash, crude fat and  starch. However, when it comes to non-starch polysaccharides that are  indigestible in the stomach and small intestine, but fermentable in the colon,  rye contains a higher percentage than wheat.

These polysaccharides are agents in grain  that interfere with nutrient utilization.

Like other plants,  rye also contains substances that inhibit protein digestion and mineral  absorption. However, unlike other plants, rye also contains a compound (an  alkylresorcinol) that at high levels can irritate intestinal and mucous  membranes and retard growth.

The good news, at least for pet food  manufacturers, is that common pet food processing techniques like extrusion  eliminate many of the anti-nutrient compounds and convert the non-starch  polysaccharides to digestible sugars...

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