Your dog’s diet affects everything: her coat, her energy and her health. So it’s no surprise that loving canine owners search far and wide for the Michelin-starred purveyor of pet food (or even make their own doggy treats). But just like wellness fads in the human world (jade eggs, anyone?), certain veterinary crazes might not actually be the best for your four-legged family member. To fill us in on the most common food myths, we talked to Dr. Katja Lang, DVM (aka @doctorkibble). Here’s what she told us.
5 Dog Food Myths That Aren’t True, According to a Vet
1. Myth: Grain-Free Diets Are Higher in Protein
“What becomes a fad diet with people often becomes a fad diet with people’s pets. Animals have very different nutrient requirements than humans. Humans are able to build certain proteins from smaller building blocks whereas animals cannot. This is the issue when it comes to grain-free meals. Instead of using grains, we replace them with peas, beans, potatoes and other starches, which can be less nutritious and lacking in necessary nutrients. The FDA is currently investigating the link between grain-free diets and a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), which is currently on the rise.”
2. Myth: Homemade Diets Are More Nutritious
“This may be true, but it’s usually not unless your dog’s diet is under the care of a veterinary nutritionist. Even adding a multivitamin with a variety of carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables doesn’t equate to a balanced diet.”
3. Myth: Larger Companies Make More Processed Food
“Consumers are attracted to boutique pet food companies because of their pretty packaging, quality of ingredients and promise for a better than ‘your average’ dog food. In some cases this might be true, but the smaller companies often lack the studies and data to make sure their diets are suited for long-term. They also don’t usually have the infrastructure built to implement extra safety checks to make sure your dog doesn’t get a bad batch.”
4. Myth: Raw Food Is Better for My Dog's Digestion
“The benefits of feeding raw food don’t always outweigh the risks. (From someone who closely follows the FDA recall list, it actually gives me the heebie-jeebies!) The majority of diets being recalled are raw and freeze-dried diets, for reasons including salmonella and listeria. These bacteria are not only a risk to your pet but to you, too...yep.”
5. Myth: Exotic Proteins Are Better Than Regular Proteins
“Kangaroo and crocodile might sound like a fantastic protein to feed your dog, but according to an article in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is a direct correlation between a kangaroo and chickpea diet and a reversible heart condition caused by deficiency in an amino acid called taurine. Exotic proteins have not been studied as extensively as the more common proteins used in dog food. If your pet needs a novel protein diet due to a food allergy, speak to your veterinarian about the safest options. Stick to what's been proven and what works rather than exploring the unknown—save that for your travel plans, not your animal’s diet.”
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