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What is a “Grain Friendly” Diet?

February 19, 2018

Recently, the FirstMate team introduced a new pet food category; our Grain Friendly line. As many of our customers know, while FirstMate diets are not medical formulas, they are often a solution for food-based sensitivities, which include food allergies and sensitive stomachs, or improving the health of your pet’s skin and coat.

Our Grain Friendly diets are ideal for pets that thrive on wholesome grains including brown rice and oats.  In some instances, dogs with sensitivities may not find a solution with Grain Free formulas or have sensitivities to ingredients commonly found within Grain Free diets, such as legumes or potatoes.  In these instances, our Limited Ingredient Grain Friendly line can be a great fit.

Grain Friendly Dog Formulas:

  • Single Meat Protein
  • Limited Ingredient Formulas
  • Wholesome Grains: Brown Rice and Oats
  • Gluten, Potato & Pea Free
  • Average of 495K/Cals Per Cup (so you are using less)

Grain Friendly Cat Formulas:

  • A Combination of Chicken & Fish for Enhanced Palatability and Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids
  • Limited Ingredient Formulas
  • Wholesome Grains: Brown Rice and Oats
  • Gluten, Potato & Pea Free
  • Indoor / Weight Control Option

Each of these options provides a high inclusion of protein from meat instead of vegetable sources. If you have a Large Breed Puppy, we recommend our Wild Caught Fish & Oats Formula which has an ideal calcium and phosphorous ratio to promote the growth of your large breed puppy.

Do not hesitate to email us or comment on this post with any questions.

20 responses to “What is a “Grain Friendly” Diet?”

  1. Mechelle Oldham says:

    I started using your dog food about a month ago to get away from the peas and stuff in his previous dog food ( earthborn grain free with bison meal ) which is a good dog food but wanted to get away from the peas for protein. I am currently using your cage free chicken with oats and brown rice . The only thing negative that I have seen in him is sometimes his ears get yeasty. He is a seizure dog so I have to watch out for things in his dog food like large amounts of salt, because he is on potassium bromide pills for his seizures. How much sodium do you put in your dog food ? Also I have to stay away from things like rosemary.

    • FirstMate says:

      Hi Michele,

      Thank you for your comments; we are sorry to hear about your dog’s challenges with seizures. Our Cage Free Chicken with Oats has 0.3% sodium on a dry matter basis. This works out to approximately 88 mg per 100 kcal. However, our formulas also contain a small amount of rosemary. We use a product called Dadex, which does contain rosemary extract with mixed tocopherols, to prevent rancidity of the food.

  2. Roberta Hambly says:

    I have been searching for a healthy dog food without the peas and lentils , I want to try the Cage free chicken grain friendly and have ordered 5 bags , But I am now concerned that I do not see any Omega’s in the nutritional information.. Omega’s are of vital importance to a dogs health.. And also the including of Ash content is not something I see on other brands of dog food.
    Do you consider this food a good source of Taurine?

  3. FirstMate says:

    Hello Roberta,

    Thank you for your support of our FirstMate pet food. As a privately owned and operated manufacturer we take a great deal of pride in the quality, safety and performance of our products, and enjoy assisting fellow pet owners on making informed decisions about the quality of food they are feeding their cats and/or dogs.

    Our Grain Friendly Chicken and Oats contains 0.32% omega 3 and 2.76% omega 6 fatty acids.

    With respect to ash, this is not an ingredient added to the pet food, but essentially represents what would be left if the food were incinerated. Therefore, this value represents the minerals in the pet food. Many of our customers request this information and therefore it is included in our nutritional information panel.

    This formula is a good source of taurine. Dogs do not have a specific dietary requirement for taurine because dogs can synthesize taurine from methionine and cysteine. Therefore, dog diets must contain either adequate amounts of methionine and cysteine, or taurine. From a nutritional perspective, taurine only needs to be added to dog diets if the diets do not contain sufficient amounts of methionine and cysteine.

    Methionine, cysteine and taurine are all present in meat. Diets with a relatively high meat inclusion, including all FirstMate and KASIKS diets, have adequate levels of methionine, cysteine and taurine. However, we also supplement our diets with some additional taurine and we have tested our diets to ensure they met or exceeded 0.1% taurine on a dry matter basis.
    I hope this helps to address your questions.

    Dr. Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
    Director of Research and Development

  4. Beth Looper says:

    I am interested in the grain friendly dog food fish flavor but I need to know the sodium levels first? I have two cushings Schnauzers that need a lower fat and lower sodium dog food.

    • FirstMate says:

      Hello Beth,

      Thank you for your interest in our FirstMate pet food for your Schnauzers. We are happy to provide this information for you.

      Our Grain Friendly Pacific Ocean Fish and Oats Formula has 0.6% sodium on a dry matter basis.
      Please keep in mind that because we do not manufacture medically specific formulas there will be some natural variation in the nutrient content of our formulas.  Although this variation is minimal, it is likely more than seen in medically formulated diets for pets.

      Don’t hesitate to contact us if you or your veterinarian require any further nutritional information to help you select a food that will support your dog’s health and well-being.


      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Director of Research and Development

  5. Tammara says:

    I recently purchased a bag of the cage free chicken and brown rice formula from my local holistic pet store. I have a 5 month old lab puppy, and I want to make sure this is an okay food for puppies or if she needs to be on a specific puppy food. Her vet pushes science diet and hills and I don’t want to do those.

    • FirstMate says:

      Hello Tammara,

      Thank you for your support of our FirstMate pet food for your puppy! We are happy to address your question for you.

      Our Grain Friendly Cage Free Chicken and Oats formula is not recommended for growth and development of large-breed puppies. For your lab puppy, we would recommend our Grain Friendly Pacific Ocean Fish and Oats. This formula has appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorous that will better support the growth of larger breed dogs.

      You may return your bag of food to your local pet store, even if it’s opened, and exchange it for a bag of the Pacific Ocean Fish and Oats.

      Best wishes to you and your puppy,

      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Director of Research and Development

  6. Toni says:

    I just started using grain friendly chicken meal for my 4 year old lab. I was told it was good corn dogs with food allergies. Is this food suitable for a large breed dog? Can you tell me what preservatives are in this food?

    • FirstMate says:

      Hello Toni,

      Thank you for your support of our FirstMate pet food for your dog. We are happy to address your questions for you.

      Our Grain Friendly Chicken and Oats formula is suitable for all life stages except growth of large breed puppies. Since your lab is fully grown, this formula would be appropriate for your dog.

      Our formulas contain Calcium Proprionate. This is used commonly in pet and human food as a mold inhibitor. We incorporate a small dose (0.1%) of this preservative into our dry kibble to ensure that no dangerous molds grow on the finished product, which could produce toxins with potentially serious health impacts. It is considered very safe to use for this purpose. We also use mixed tocopherols for the prevention of rancidity.

      We hope this addresses your questions.


      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Director of Research and Development

  7. Tova Taller says:

    Hello, I have a 5 month old cavalier king Charles spaniel. He eats Fromm Puppy but not too excited about it. Before we tried Taste of Wild and it was same. Store recommended I try first mate lamb n oats.
    I just put 1TBL of it on his Fromm kibble. That made him eat everything!
    I wonder if to keep it as a “meal topper” or transition completely. The kibble pieces are big for a puppy but he was ok with that. Any feedback is welcome, thanks!

    • FirstMate says:

      Hello Tova,

      Thank you for sharing your feedback.

      We are incredibly pleased to hear that your King Charles Spaniel is enjoying our product. If your puppy is continuing to produce solid stool and not displaying signs of stomach upset, we would expect you could transition to our diets. Typically, it is recommended that the transition takes place over 10 days with an increase in the new food of 10% while cutting back the previous food, at the end of 10 days you would be feeding 100% of the new diet. However, we often receive feedback from customers where they have successfully transitioned to FirstMate over 3 – 4 days.

      Please do not hesitate to share any additional feedback or ask questions.

      – FM

  8. MAG says:

    I just started my 7 month old Golden Retriever on this food, he seems to have very sensitive skin and I am trying to avoid chicken and corn in his diet. He is 57 pounds today, what is the appropriate amount of the Grain Friendly Pacific Fish and Oats to feed him. We also have a 6 year old Golden that we will be transitioning to this food as well. He is 79 pounds and should likely be closer to 75 pounds.

    Thank you!

    • FirstMate says:

      Hello, and thank you for your support of our FirstMate pet food for your dogs! We are happy to provide some feeding guidelines for you.

      A good place to start for both dogs would be approximately 2 cups of kibble per day (each dog would get 2 cups of kibble). As your puppy grows, you may need to increase the food amount slowly.

      Keep in mind that these are just guidelines and are meant to be adjusted in response to your dogs’ ideal and current weight, activity level, breed, age, etc… Your veterinarian would be a great resource to show you how to monitor for healthy weight.

      Best wishes,

      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Director of Research and Development

  9. Patricia says:

    Having just read the alarming article in the Seattle Times regarding new FDA links between grain-free dog food and Canine Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) heart disease, I would like to transition to your Grain Friendly dog food for our 2-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback. Should I also rotate your different protein sources (lamb, fish, chicken)?

    Thank you!

    • FirstMate says:

      Hello Patricia,

      Thank you for your support of our FirstMate pet food for your dog.

      We have been closely following the research on diet-associated dilated cardiomyopathy, and although there has not yet been a proven connection between grain-free diets and diet-associated DCM, we have many customers switching to our Grain Friendly line. We have an article on diet-associated DCM that you may be interested in reading, and we will be updating this article in light of the more recent data released by the FDA:

      Within our Grain Friendly line, each protein source is nutritionally balanced for your dog. Therefore, protein rotating would not be required from a nutritional perspective. However, if your dog does not have any sensitivities, we recommend rotating proteins to help minimize the chance of any protein sensitivities developing, and your dog would probably appreciate the variety as well.


      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Director of Research and Development

  10. Debbie Sacco says:

    My 5 year old golden retriever has been on Royal Canin Gastrointestinal diet as we thought this may help his loose stools. Now his skin is very dry and he still can have very loose stools. His labs are fine.
    I worry about DCM but also would like a food that would help his stools and skin. Which brand would be good for him? I have samples of you lamb and oats. Thank you. Debbie

    • FirstMate says:

      Hello Debbie,

      We are sorry to hear about the gastrointestinal challenges you’ve been having with your Golden Retriever, and we thank you for considering FirstMate as an option to support his health and well-being.

      Our diets are limited ingredient with a single protein source and, in the case of our Grain Friendly Lamb and Oats, only two carbohydrate sources (oats and rice). This formula does not contain any corn, wheat, soy, peas, or potatoes and frequently does help support the health of dogs that may have food sensitivities.

      We have been closely following the research around diet-related DCM. You may be interested in reading an article that we posted last year when the FDA first released their notice:

      You can also read a statement from our President and Founder that explains why we are confident in the quality and formulation of our pet food:

      As you transition to the new diet it will be important to do the transition slowly given your dog’s propensity for diarrhea. It will also be important to ensure that you don’t overfeed him; our kibble is nutritionally dense and it can be very easy to overfeed. Overfeeding can often be associated with diarrhea. Give the size of your dog, I would recommend starting with approximately 3 cups per day and adjusting as needed to maintain his optimal weight.

      Feel free to email me directly if you have any further questions.


      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Director of Research and Development

  11. Rick F says:

    How long does your grain friendly food last? It took 5-6 weeks for my dog to go through 25lbs. We keep it in the bag inside a sealed container but it just doesn’t seem as fresh towards the end and it’s already been several months since manufacturing. If we buy the 5lb bag we only get 15 lbs for the price of 25 lbs.
    Any chance you’ll be making a 15 pounder and split the price difference?
    I mean, he’s worth the higher price but…

    • Wendy Vandersteen says:

      Hi Rick, thank you for your support of our FirstMate grain friendly pet food! As long as the product is kept in the original packaging and rolled down tightly (using a package clip is recommended) it should keep well for about 30-45 days once you’ve opened it.  Refrigeration of the opened product can also help to prolong freshness. At this point we do not have plans for a 15lb bag, but I will pass along the request.

      Best wishes,

      Wendy Vandersteen, PhD
      Manager of Research and Development

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