Pet Food Myths - 2

Unveiling the Truth: Dr. B’s Guide
to Pet Food Myths Revealed!

Welcome, pet parents, to Dr. B’s myth-busting blog on pet food! As we delve into June, dedicated to all things nutrition, I thought a good place to start was separating fact from fiction and shedding light on some common misconceptions surrounding what we feed our furry companions. Join me and the Pet Health team on this enlightening journey as we debunk the top five pet food myths, providing evidence-based insights to help you make informed decisions about your pet’s diet.

Myth #1: Dogs are Carnivores and Should be on a Raw Diet

While dogs share some characteristics with carnivores, their dietary classification is omnivores. This means they remain healthy in the wild on a diet consisting of plant and animal foods.

Besides the fact that wild canines can eat plants, several other important considerations must be made when choosing a raw diet.

Nutritional Deficiencies: Raw diets, if not carefully formulated, can lead to serious nutritional deficiencies, posing a risk to your dog’s health.

Bone Risks: Feeding bones in raw diets can pose risks of obstructions, constipation, and tooth fractures.

Bacterial Contamination: Raw food carries a significant risk of bacterial contamination, such as Salmonella and E. coli, which can harm pets and humans.

Lack of Scientific Evidence: It’s important to note that despite the claims, there is a significant lack of solid scientific evidence supporting the purported benefits of raw diets.

Myth #2: Corn is a Filler and a Major Cause of Pet Allergies

Contrary to popular belief, corn is not just a filler in pet food. Corn provides a highly available source of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, essential amino acids, and fiber. Corn can be highly digestible when adequately processed, ensuring that pets can absorb vital nutrients for optimal health.

Secondly, corn is not a common cause of pet food allergies. Documented allergies to corn are quite rare. The ingredients most frequently associated with adverse reactions in dogs include beef, dairy products, and wheat; in cats, beef, dairy products, and fish are top of the list. In fact, actual food allergies are estimated to be responsible for only 1% of pet skin disease cases.

Myth #3: Foods That Contain By-Products Should Be Avoided

By-products are simply the secondary products created during the manufacturing process of something else. Like cheese and butter are by-products of human milk production, pet food by-products can be an excellent source of nutrients for our furry friends.

Contrary to popular belief, many by-products, such as organ meats, provide exceptional nutritional value compared to non-by-product counterparts. These include parts like lungs, spleen, kidneys, brains, livers, stomachs, and intestines – all rich in essential amino acids, minerals, and vitamins crucial for pets’ well-being.

Not only are by-products nutrient-dense, but they’re also more palatable for pets than skeletal muscle meat. Many popular dog treats like bully sticks (this is a bull penis), pig ears, and tendons fall under the by-product category.

Myth #4: All Dogs Have Allergies to Chicken

Contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are allergic to chicken. Actual cases of pet food allergies are rare, affecting less than 1% of all skin disease cases and only 15% of confirmed food allergen cases—that’s one out of an estimated 750 dogs! Symptoms of food allergies can vary widely, from itchy skin to chronic ear infections and gastrointestinal issues like vomiting or diarrhea.

A comprehensive review of 297 dogs found that while chicken is a common allergen (reported in 15% of cases), other culprits include beef, dairy products, wheat, lamb, soy, corn, egg, pork, fish, and rice.

Have I seen improvement in pets with chicken eliminated from their diet? Absolutely! However, it’s essential to remember that your pet can have allergies to other proteins or even multiple proteins. The only way to pinpoint a food allergy is through a strict diet trial recommended by your Pet Health veterinarian. This trial typically lasts at least eight weeks and requires total commitment from the pet’s family.

Myth #5: A “Holistic” Pet Food is Better for My Pet

Many pet parents are led to believe that pet foods labeled as “holistic” contain only the most wholesome ingredients for their pets. However, here’s the catch: the term “holistic” is not defined by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). Pet food companies can slap the label on their packaging without meeting specific criteria.

In reality, using “holistic” in pet food marketing is more about selling than substance. There’s no solid evidence to prove that these diets offer superior benefits to pets. Instead, it’s a clever marketing tool to entice consumers to choose one brand over another.

As we wrap up our myth-busting adventure, remember that knowledge is power regarding your pet’s nutrition. Don’t be swayed by marketing tactics or trendy buzzwords. Instead, focus on evidence-based nutrition and consult your Pet Health veterinarian for personalized guidance. Stay tuned for more informative content throughout June, which is dedicated to helping you nourish your pet’s health and well-being!