Hello everyone! My name is Krystle Ashley and I am one of the small animal technicians here at All West Veterinary. I am coming up on 5 years with the hospital and I have learned a lot through my years. When I started at All West I was given the task of ordering our dog and cat foods and this is where my interest in small animal nutrition started to blossom. I have done my share of research along with attending a seminar covering the facts and myths surrounding the food we feed our beloved pets. I would like to share with you today some of those myths and facts. Recently certain food trends have popped up including raw food diets, grain-free diets, no by-products, meat as the first ingredient and so on and so forth. But you should always keep in mind; when searching for a proper food to feed your pet it is always a good idea to discuss with your veterinarian what diet is best for your pet and try to stick to well known brands that have been around a long time.
Myth 1: Raw foods are great for your pet! They help them live longer and are closer to what they eat in the wild.
Fact: Feeding raw meat, eggs and bones can be dangerous for your pet because of the excessive levels of nutrients like protein, calcium and phosphorus. Raw diets also increase the risk of fractured teeth, gastrointestinal perforation and exposing your pet, yourself and your family to E. Coli and Salmonella. Also, many times raw diets are not balanced for your pet’s specific needs. Recent research shows that some of the changes in digestion between wolves and dogs were a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs. Wolves in the wild, which typically only live for a few years, eat foods that are not optimal for pets that we hope will live long and healthy lives.
Myth 2: By-products are bad, low quality ingredients.
Fact: Many by-products are excellent sources of nutrients for pets. With extremely rare exceptions, all pet foods contain by-products. A by-product is simply something produced in the making of something else. For example, Vitamin E is a by-product of soybeans. By-product meal includes highly nutritious organ meats, such as liver, kidney and heart. When you see a package saying by-product next to an ingredient, don’t just assume the worst.
Myth 3: Grain-free pet foods are better for all pets and corn is just a filler.
Fact: There is no nutritional foundation to support a grain-free diet, and foods that have grains are just as digestible as grain-free foods. The term “grain-free” is misleading, as all grain-free foods contain carbohydrates from other sources such as sweet potato which has more carbohydrates than corn. Corn is not a filler and is a nutritionally superior grain compared to others used in pet foods. Corn is also highly digestible when cooked. Many people are also turned off from corn with the concern that it is an allergen; however, most allergies are related to beef, dairy, wheat and fish.
Myth 4: Meat-first foods are better.
Fact: Healthy pets need nutrients and complete balance of amino acids from both meat and non-meat sources. Meat is not the only source of protein available, either. Other ingredients like corn can provide proteins as well. Just because the meat isn’t listed as the first ingredient doesn’t mean that it is not a large part of the makeup of that diet.