Top 10 Pet Food Myths

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Top 10 Pet Food Myths

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 1. The best foods are those by veterinarians

     While large brands sold in veterinarian’s offices may be marketed as premium, top of the line foods, one look at the ingredients tells a different story. These formulas, made by large conglmorate food manufacturers, derive far more protein from grains or grain by-product sources such as corn gluten meal, brewer’s rice, and wheat, than from healthy meat sources.

        These brands, and so many like them found in grocery stores, also contain poultry by-product, which consists of the leftovers unfit for human consumption, like feet, beaks, undeveloped eggs, and intestines; everything BUT clean meat. It’s a cheap, low quality source of protein that is far less digestible than clean chicken meal. These ingredients are a tell-tale sign of poor quality food and are no different than discount brands at the grocery store. Although the formulas may contain a few specialized ingredients to position them as a special diet for health conditions such as joint support, urinary tract health, etc., a better way to treat these conditions is with a truly healthy food and one or more daily supplements.

      When looking for the best food, meat and a named meat meal, like chicken meal or lamb meal, should be listed before any grains. Our dogs and cats are designed by nature to eat protein from meat sources, not grains. The high grain content of many pet foods is a primary contributor to the growing obesity and allergy problems in pets (this does not mean that all grains are bad for dogs and cats; see myth #7). For more information on selecting a truly premium food for your companion.

2. Dry food cleans your dog’s and cat’s teeth

            This one is very common, even among some veterinarians, but it is most definitely not true. Dogs and cats have very pointed teeth; even their molars are sharp edged, not flat. These teeth are designed to bite, tear, and chew raw meat, so when a dog or cat eats kibble, they either swallow it whole or shatter it. Kibble does not scrape down onto the lower parts of the teeth or near the gums, which is where dental problems start. In fact, kibble can contribute to dental problems when the shattered bits lodge between the teeth, promoting bacterial growth. Just like with your diet, carbohydrate food debris breaks down into sugar, which dental bacteria feeds upon.

3. Pets need life stage appropriate diets, like puppy, kitten, and senior formulas

     Life stage diets were created as a marketing tool:the more formulas manufacturers develop, the more shelf space they command. While it is true that puppies and kittens need more food for their size than adults, they don’t need a specially formulated puppy or kitten diet. A high-quality, varied diet is the best option for your young pets.

4. Table scraps and other “people foods” are bad for your dog and cat

Most holistically trained veterinarians encourage the practice of feeding “people food” to our pets. Healthy leftovers are an excellent supplement to your companion’s regular fare.”There are only two rules with people food for pets:

1) It must be healthy for them: meat, steamed and finely chopped veggies & fruits, baked sweet potato, rice, oatmeal; no junk food; and2) If you give them some of what you are eating, remember to feed less of their own food so that they don’t put on extra pounds.”It’s important to note that not all healthy foods for us are healthy for our pets: onions, grapes and raisins can all be toxic to dogs and cats. If you’re not positive it’s safe, don’t feed it.

5. Your dog and cat should only eat food labeled as “complete and balanced.”

Pet food companies have a pretty big interest in perpetuating this myth. Is every meal you eat complete and balanced? Even the most health-conscious among us don’t worry about meeting the proper balance of nutrients at every meal. We know that over the course of the day or week our diet will be fairly complete, so we don’t have to worry about eating exactly what the food pyramid recommends on a daily basis. Many of us take vitamins and supplements to fill in any gaps because even eating a very healthy diet of whole foods may not provide all the vitamins and minerals our body needs to stay healthy.

6. Feeding raw food is dangerous due to the risk of Salmonella and E. Coli

    The digestive tracts of dogs and cats are very different than those of humans. The human digestive tract is approximately 25 to 28 feet long with a stomach acidity between 1.5 and 2.5, whereas dogs and cats have a much shorter digestive system at an average of 10 to 13 feet for dogs (shorter for cats) with an acidity of less than 1. This means that raw food moves through your pet’s system in less than half the time it would through a human’s system, and the high acidity kills most bacteria. Even if the food was contaminated, it is likely that the microbes would not enter the animal’s bloodstream. Commercially prepared raw food manufacturers take measures to control against the presence of unwanted organisms such as salmonella and e. coli, so if you’re concerned about contamination

7. High protein diets are hard on your pet’s kidneys, especially as they age

       This myth is a result of poor quality food manufacturers. The truth is that high plant protein diets are hard on your pet’s organs; high animal protein diets aren’t only healthy for your aging pets, but essential. Poor quality, mass produced pet foods are packed with protein from soy and corn. Unfortunately, your dog and cat are unable to properly digest and assimilate these sources of protein. It lets the food manufacturer boost the protein content of the food without actually offering your pet any substantial protein they can use. High plant protein diets can put added strain on your pets because their bodies aren’t designed to process those ingredients. As they try to assimilate protein from these sources, their organs need to start working overtime.

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8. Ash Content is an important guideline in choosing your cat’s food

     Concern about ash content in pet foods came about as veterinarians and cat guardians were looking for the cause of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD – formerly known as FUS). In the 70’’s & 80’s, veterinarians thought ash was a factor in causing crystals in urine. There are, however, a variety of causes and ash is no longer considered a factor in causing FLUTD. The main problem was the formulation of commercial pet foods: most pet foods were creating a more alkaline urine (higher pH) which leads to an increase in struvite crystals. Most dry kibble diets are formulated with a high vegetable and grain content which creates a more alkaline urine. An all meat diet such as a cat would eat in nature creates a more acidic urine.

9. Changing formulas or brands of pet foods is hard on your dog’s or cat’s digestion

      A healthy dog or cat can eat a different food at each meal without issue as long asthey are high-quality foods. Holistically minded guardians and veterinarians know that variety is important for several reasons, the most important being to avoid the development of sensitivities to any particular food or protein type. When the same food is fed for many months or years at a time, animals can develop allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients in the food. Plus, many holistic veterinarians believe that feeding the same food for many years is a contributing factor to inflammatory bowel disease.

     Variety provides a wider range of nutrition for your companion as well. Even though a food may be formulated to meet AAFCO standards, that does not mean it meets the standards of every dog or cat. As a matter of fact, many foods that meet AAFCO standards cannot be tolerated by our pets due to the heacy use of grains and grain by-products. A diverse diet will meet the nutritional needs of your companion over time, and, besides that, would you want to eat the same meal everyday? Remember, every meal dosn’t need to be perfectly balanced as long as the diet is balanced over the course of a week.

Whenever feeding any diet, it’s important to remember to include supplements.

10. It’s fine for dogs and cats to eat each others food

     While there are a few canned formulas available that meet the needs of both species, most foods are designed specifically for cats or dogs. Cats require a higher percentage of protein and fat than most dogs and they have specific requirements for additional taurine. Dogs that eat too much cat food are at risk of weight gain and even pancreatitis. Cats that eat dog food are at risk of weight gain when the food is high in carbohydrates, as well as more likely to develop deficiencies in important amino acids.

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