“You can’t always believe what you hear.” When it comes to the pet food industry, truer words were never spoken. In an effort to sell product, some conglomerates have made some pretty outlandish claims in their advertising. Then there are the rumors that circulate, becoming more like “fact” with each new generation that repeats them. So how do you know what to believe? You’ll have a pretty good idea after reading through the
Table scraps are bad for him
If it’s good for you, how can it be bad for him? Leftovers of lean meat, veggies, eggs, or a little cheese make great compliments to your animal’s diet, adding extra variety and nutrition. But do avoid cooked bones, rich gravies, sweets, and onions, grapes, raisins, spinach, Swiss chard, peppers, and eggplant.
Dry kibble and treats are good for her teeth
Isn’t that like saying a diet of croûtons will save you a trip to the dentist? Commercial dry diets and treats contain ingredients that can actually contribute to dental problems; as well, carnivores tend to break up these foods and swallow them in chunks, so they don’t really do much to help remove plaque.
Raw meat causes aggression
There is no evidence that raw meat makes dogs and cats more ornery or protective of their food. Food aggression is usually a behavioral issue, and not related to the type of diet.
Stick to one diet; it’s better for him
Feeding the same food or flavor day after day can lead to nutrient deficiencies or excesses, allergies and other problems. Variety is the spice of life, so rotate protein sources often!
If it’s at my vet clinic, it must be a top quality food
Prescription foods are usually made by large commercial pet food manufacturers that use questionable ingredients. They may be helpful short term for dealing with acute health issues, but not as a replacement for a more natural diet.
All bones are dangerous
It’s only cooking that makes bones brittle and prone to splintering. A suitably-sized raw meaty bone or raw chicken neck is perfectly safe.
Semi-moist food is more like meat
It only looks like meat. Sometimes referred to as the “junk food” of the pet food industry, semi-moist diets are filled with artificial colors and flavors to make them resemble hamburger or chicken, and preservatives to keep them soft.
Cats should have food 24/7
In the wild, cats don’t have constant access to food; like dogs, they only eat when they hunt. Free feeding is actually a major cause of obesity in domestic felines.
Cheap food saves money
It might seem like the most economical choice, but poor quality food often leads to health issues down the road, and that means costly vet bills.
Raw diets will make my animal sick
Dogs and cats have a shorter digestive tract than we do, so raw meat passes through their systems before it can cause parasitic illness. If you’re preparing your own raw diet, buy from a reputable source. If you use prepared frozen raw diets, remember to thaw them out in the fridge, keep thawed meat for a maximum of three days, and as you would when you prepare meat for yourself, thoroughly clean utensils, bowls, and counter tops after preparation.
Other great info from the 2007 Pet Food Report
• Some of the best fruits and vegetables for your pet include apples, avocados, bananas, blueberries, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, green beans, papayas, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, and cranberries. (Pp. 12–13, “Top 14 fruits & veggies for your animal”)
• Dry pet food loses its nutritional value as it ages. It’s important to never buy more than one month’s supply at a time. (P. 26, “Diet & disease–what’s the connection?”)
• Carnivorous animals have been eating a raw prey diet for 40 million years. (P. 33, “As fresh as it gets…”) Canned and kibble diets were only introduced between World Wars I and II. (P. 8, “The evolution of pet food”)
• Be informed about prescription diets. Most veterinarians don’t have any significant training in pet nutrition, and what training they receive often comes from textbooks and other materials written by researchers at companies such as Hill’s and Purina who write with a bias.
While the science behind the diets is valid, the ingredients often used in the diets (by-products, chemicals, etc.) will not improve the animal’s health and can even contribute to illness. (Pp. 20-21, “What do vets learn about nutrition?”)
• Even the very best and easiest-to-digest foods should have a daily multi-vitamin/mineral supplement added to help ensure that your pet is getting a more complete combination of nutrients to help fuel the body. Look for a supplement that contains vitamins A, C, E and B12, and the minerals selenium and chromium to help rid the body of toxins and stimulate the immune system. (P. 27, Diet & disease—what’s the connection?”)