Pet Food Myths and Misconceptions

Pet Food Myths and Misconceptions

http://www.thebodyhealer.com/images/pets/commercial_food_bone.gif

Choosing the right food for your dog or cat can seem overwhelming at times. There are countless options, and every friend, pet store employee, and advertising mogul has a recommendation. How can you sort through these messages to make the best choice for your pet? The first place to start is to recognize common advertising fallacies about pet foods.

The following list includes some commonly stated “facts”

that are inaccurate or misleading.

Crossed out grain

1. Grain free diets are inherently more nutritious.

Despite the increasing popularity of “grain free” pet foods, there is nothing inherently harmful about feeding dogs or cats grains. Pet foods should contain the correct ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for that animal, have the appropriate vitamins and minerals, and be digestible and appealing to that pet. The exact source of these nutrients does not increase their value to your pet. Grains, including corn and wheat, can provide both protein and carbohydrates.

Proponents of grain free diets often claim that since wolves eat meat, dogs should be fed a meat only diet. However, wolves also ate the entire animal, including gastrointestinal contents, which often included plant matter. Even wild wolves are more accurately omnivores than carnivores. Additionally, our domestic dogs are genetically distinct from their lupine ancestors. Recent research has shown that domestic dogs have evolved to digest starch even more efficiently than their wild counterparts.

And while cats require a higher percent of protein in their diets than dogs, the source of that protein can include plant matter. As long as the protein source can be adequately digested, it can be part of a healthy and balanced cat food.

2. If your pet has food allergies, they are likely to the grain or starch source in their food.

Many pet owners are concerned about the role of grains, especially wheat or corn, in food allergies or sensitivities. Certainly, food allergies are a common problem in our canine and feline friends. http://fourmuddypaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Chihuahua-with-turkey1.jpg

Pet allergies can often be traced to beef or chicken.

Pets can be allergic to either the protein or the carbohydrate source in their food. More commonly, it is the animal protein source (chicken, beef, etc) that causes the problem. In order to accurately diagnose a food allergy, a strict multi week food trial of a brand-new protein and carbohydrate source must be conducted. Switching diets to a grain free food, unless it has been recommended by a veterinarian as an appropriate food trial diet, cannot confirm or treat food allergies. And unless your pet has a specific allergy to the grain in their diet (which is quite uncommon), a grain free diet offers no specific benefit.

3. If “byproducts” are on the ingredient list, the food is of lower quality.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials defines a byproduct as “secondary products produced in addition to the primary product.” In regards to meat processing, this generally refers to parts of the animal other than musc https://tse4.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.TSg0zFcjUu7CrKdJsTfSBwEsCo&pid=15.1&P=0&w=318&h=179 le meat–the feet, organs, etc. Many of these parts contain high quality and digestible nutrients. Typically, they lack a place in the human food market because of aesthetics or cultural preferences. Many parts of the animal that are not eaten by humans in the US (brains, for instance) are considered delicacies in other parts of the world. Their presence in pet foods indicates nothing about the overall quality of the product.

4. Raw diets are better for our pets.

https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.U2brN10dwJ2x0LTxfpfi3AEsDe&pid=15.1&P=0&w=232&h=173 Raw diets are another increasingly common trend in pet foods. Proponents claim that raw diets since raw diets are less processed, they are closer to what wild animals ate, and must therefore be healthier for our pets.

https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.UYtsNHkyarad1DUAp07VCAEzDK&pid=15.1&P=0&w=252&h=167 Again, wild wolves and tigers are not the same animals as our domestic dogs and cats. Their genes and gut flora are different, and their lifespans are dramatically shorter. More importantly, the same reasons that cause humans to cook our meat should apply to our pets. Raw meat and animal products can and often are contaminated with foodborne pathogens, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, E. coli, and Listeria. These can cause significant disease in both cats and dogs.

Wild animals differ from domestic animals in their ability to digest raw foods. Additionally, domestic animals fed a raw diet can become sub clinically infected with these organisms. Although they might not show clinical signs, they can be shedding infectious agents, and cause transmission to humans in their household. If your household include children, elderly persons, or immunocompromised individuals, it is especially important to refrain from feeding pets a raw diet.

5. You should look for “human grade” ingredients in your pet’s food.

https://tse3.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.HIRAOsKRoiM8NQJ1OPp4qADrDt&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300 There is no legal definition for “human grade” ingredients. An entire food product can be labeled as human grade only if all ingredients are edible by humans, and the food processing and packaging meet all federal regulations for human food manufacturing standards.

Almost no pet foods can meet these standards, as they would essentially need to be produced in a facility that also prepared human foods. So when a pet food claims that it is “made with human grade ingredients,” that phrase carries no legal connotation or guarantee of quality.

There is no legal definition for “human grade” ingredients.

6. You need to pay for premium pet foods to keep your pet healthy.

Perhaps the most detrimental misconception of all is that high quality pet food needs to be prohibitively expensive. Boutique pet food stores often market high end products based on the previous misleading statements, and claim that larger brands are harmful to our pets.

Quality pet foods are nutritionally balanced and appropriate for domestic animals.

https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.au3FlsYch02Xyr-L7PygoQEsEI&pid=15.1&P=0&w=181&h=160

Quality pet foods, as stated above, are nutritionally balanced for our pets. It is important that the company producing these foods has invested in appropriate research on the diet, and has procedures in place to guarantee quality control. Oftentimes, it is the larger pet food companies that have the funds for research, and the facilities to keep their food safe. While smaller pet food companies can produce excellent quality products as well, foods from large corporations can also be a great choice.

Finally, if you have any questions about choosing the right diet for your pet, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian.

References

Handl, S. (2016). Myths and Truths About Clinical Nutrition in Dogs and Cats. 26th ECVIM-CA Congress. Retrieved November 4, 2017, from www.vin.com.

Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets. (n.d.). Retrieved November 04, 2017, from https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Raw-or-Undercooked-Animal-Source-Protein-in-Cat-and-Dog-Diets.aspx

The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet.

Axelsson E, Ratnakumar A, Arendt ML, Maqbool K, Webster MT, Perloski M, Liberg O, Arnemo JM, Hedhammar A, Lindblad-Toh K.

Nature. 2013 Mar 21;495(7441):360-4. doi: 10.1038/nature11837. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

What is human grade dog food? (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2017, from https://www.purina.com/dogs/dog-articles/understanding-dog-food/what-is-human-grade-dog-food

http://www.thebodyhealer.com/images/pets/commercial_food_bone.gif

Choosing the right food for your dog or cat can seem overwhelming at times. There are countless options, and every friend, pet store employee, and advertising mogul has a recommendation. How can you sort through these messages to make the best choice for your pet? The first place to start is to recognize common advertising fallacies about pet foods.

The following list includes some commonly stated “facts”

that are inaccurate or misleading.

https://tse2.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.L9e4Cc-hH8co7JvjimYvoAEsC0&pid=15.1&P=0&w=251&h=152 1. Grain free diets are inherently more nutritious.

Despite the increasing popularity of “grain free” pet foods, there is nothing inherently harmful about feeding dogs or cats grains. Pet foods should contain the correct ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for that animal, have the appropriate vitamins and minerals, and be digestible and appealing to that pet. The exact source of these nutrients does not increase their value to your pet. Grains, including corn and wheat, can provide both protein and carbohydrates.

Grain Free diets

Proponents of grain free diets often claim that since wolves eat meat, dogs should be fed a meat only diet. However, wolves also ate the entire animal, including gastrointestinal contents, which often included plant matter. Even wild wolves are more accurately omnivores than carnivores. Additionally, our domestic dogs are genetically distinct from their lupine ancestors. Recent research has shown that domestic dogs have evolved to digest starch even more efficiently than their wild counterparts.

And while cats require a higher percent of protein in their diets than dogs, the source of that protein can include plant matter. As long as the protein source can be adequately digested, it can be part of a healthy and balanced cat food.

2. If your pet has food allergies, they are likely to the grain or starch source in their food.

Many pet owners are concerned about the role of grains, especially wheat or corn, in food allergies or sensitivities. Certainly, food allergies are a common problem in our canine and feline friends. http://fourmuddypaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Chihuahua-with-turkey1.jpg

Pet allergies can often be traced to beef or chicken.

Pets can be allergic to either the protein or the carbohydrate source in their food. More commonly, it is the animal protein source (chicken, beef, etc) that causes the problem. In order to accurately diagnose a food allergy, a strict multi week food trial of a brand-new protein and carbohydrate source must be conducted. Switching diets to a grain free food, unless it has been recommended by a veterinarian as an appropriate food trial diet, cannot confirm or treat food allergies. And unless your pet has a specific allergy to the grain in their diet (which is quite uncommon), a grain free diet offers no specific benefit.

3. If “byproducts” are on the ingredient list, the food is of lower quality.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials defines a byproduct as “secondary products produced in addition to the primary product.” In regards to meat processing, this generally refers to parts of the animal other than musc https://tse4.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.TSg0zFcjUu7CrKdJsTfSBwEsCo&pid=15.1&P=0&w=318&h=179 le meat–the feet, organs, etc. Many of these parts contain high quality and digestible nutrients. Typically, they lack a place in the human food market because of aesthetics or cultural preferences. Many parts of the animal that are not eaten by humans in the US (brains, for instance) are considered delicacies in other parts of the world. Their presence in pet foods indicates nothing about the overall quality of the product.

4. Raw diets are better for our pets.

https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.U2brN10dwJ2x0LTxfpfi3AEsDe&pid=15.1&P=0&w=232&h=173 Raw diets are another increasingly common trend in pet foods. Proponents claim that raw diets since raw diets are less processed, they are closer to what wild animals ate, and must therefore be healthier for our pets.

https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.UYtsNHkyarad1DUAp07VCAEzDK&pid=15.1&P=0&w=252&h=167 Again, wild wolves and tigers are not the same animals as our domestic dogs and cats. Their genes and gut flora are different, and their lifespans are dramatically shorter. More importantly, the same reasons that cause humans to cook our meat should apply to our pets. Raw meat and animal products can and often are contaminated with foodborne pathogens, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, E. coli, and Listeria. These can cause significant disease in both cats and dogs.

Wild animals differ from domestic animals in their ability to digest raw foods.

Additionally, domestic animals fed a raw diet can become sub clinically infected with these organisms.

Although they might not show clinical

signs, they can be shedding infectious agents, and cause transmission to humans in their household. If your household include children, elderly persons, or

immunocompromised individuals,

it is especially important to refrain from feeding pets a raw diet.

5. You should look for “human grade” ingredients in your pet’s food.

https://tse3.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.HIRAOsKRoiM8NQJ1OPp4qADrDt&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300 There is no legal definition for “human grade” ingredients. An entire food product can be labeled as human grade only if all ingredients are edible by humans, and the food processing and packaging meet all federal regulations for human food manufacturing standards.

Almost no pet foods can meet these standards, as they would essentially need to be produced in a facility that also prepared human foods. So when a pet food claims that it is “made with human grade ingredients,” that phrase carries no legal connotation or guarantee of quality.

There is no legal definition for “human grade” ingredients.

6. You need to pay for premium pet foods to keep your pet healthy.

Perhaps the most detrimental misconception of all is that high quality pet food needs to be prohibitively expensive. Boutique pet food stores often market high end products based on the previous misleading statements, and claim that larger brands are harmful to our pets.

Quality pet foods are nutritionally balanced and appropriate for domestic animals.

https://tse1.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.au3FlsYch02Xyr-L7PygoQEsEI&pid=15.1&P=0&w=181&h=160

Quality pet foods, as stated above, are nutritionally balanced for our pets. It is important that the company producing these foods has invested in appropriate research on the diet, and has procedures in place to guarantee quality control. Oftentimes, it is the larger pet food companies that have the funds for research, and the facilities to keep their food safe. While smaller pet food companies can produce excellent quality products as well, foods from large corporations can also be a great choice.

Finally, if you have any questions about choosing the right diet for your pet, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian.

References

Handl, S. (2016). Myths and Truths About Clinical Nutrition in Dogs and Cats. 26th ECVIM-CA Congress. Retrieved November 4, 2017, from www.vin.com.

Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets. (n.d.). Retrieved November 04, 2017, from https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Raw-or-Undercooked-Animal-Source-Protein-in-Cat-and-Dog-Diets.aspx

The genomic signature of dog domestication reveals adaptation to a starch-rich diet.

Axelsson E, Ratnakumar A, Arendt ML, Maqbool K, Webster MT, Perloski M, Liberg O, Arnemo JM, Hedhammar A, Lindblad-Toh K.

Nature. 2013 Mar 21;495(7441):360-4. doi: 10.1038/nature11837. Epub 2013 Jan 23.

What is human grade dog food? (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2017, from https://www.purina.com/dogs/dog-articles/understanding-dog-food/what-is-human-grade-dog-food