Would You Feed Your Pet a Gluten-Free Diet?

Lots of pet owners would and do, according to a recent survey.

Pet pampering has officially gone beyond dog sweaters. Apparently, pets are now eating like their owners—if not better.

Pet food and supply brand PetFlow compiled data about how animal owners care for their dogs and cats, and found that roughly 33 percent of dog foods purchased and 21 percent of cat foods purchased qualify as “human grade.” Pet foods deemed human-grade fit criteria commonly applied to human diets, such as being gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, or low-glycemic index. Fancy Feast suddenly has a whole new meaning.

On top of that, PetFlow found that Bostonians are even more likely than people in other cities to splurge on Fido’s dinner. Local pet owners were 8 percent more likely to feed dogs human-grade food, and 5 percent more likely to feed cats human-grade food, than the national average. Our fair city’s residents also spent the most in the nation on pet toys, and a higher-than-average amount on treats.

Sure, you love your pup. But is gluten-free kibble really a necessary purchase?

Maureen Carroll, an internal medicine veterinarian at Angell Animal Medical Center, says most animals don’t need human-grade snacks. “I don’t think ‘fancy’ is necessary unless a medical issue warrants it,” she says. “If the diet is field trial-tested—and most commercial foods are—it should be okay.”

In some cases, feeding your pets in a way that seems all-natural can be dangerous. Carroll’s colleague Virginia Sinnott told Boston last year about the dangers of feeding pets raw meat, which some owners do to try to mimic how animals eat in the wild, and of concocting homemade pet foods.

“To me, ‘natural’ is a marketing claim,” Sinnott said. “Honestly, the most important thing is that you feed your dog or cat a food that is complete and balanced.”

Hear that, pet parents? Your dog or cat can probably handle his food just fine, low-glycemic index or not.