The internet is crowded with information regarding pet nutrition, but how do you know which resources to trust to provide the correct information? Our veterinary team can help you make the right choices about your pet’s diet, and we begin by debunking seven common myths.
Myth #1: Table scraps are acceptable for pets
The definition of table scraps varies, and some human food, such as steamed vegetables, rice, oatmeal, and pasta, can be safe for pets in moderation. Grapes, garlic, onions, chocolate, and nuts are toxic to pets, and you should seek immediate help from our veterinary team if your pet eats these items. Scraps or leftovers, such as fat trimmings, pizza, seasoned meat, sweets, or cooked bones, are also not safe for pets, and can cause digestive upset with vomiting and diarrhea, pancreatitis, or a dangerous gastrointestinal blockage.
Myth #2: Homemade diets are healthier for pets
Your pet’s diet is complicated, but much research has been conducted to increase the knowledge about what makes a balanced diet. The nutritional needs of cats and dogs should be based on their health, lifestyle, and age, and pet food companies manufacture food tailored to every need, whereas homemade diets, which can be expensive and time-consuming, are unlikely to include all the necessary nutrients. If you wish to make your pet’s food, we recommend you consult with our veterinary team, who may suggest supplements for your pet’s diet, depending on health condition and other needs. We also recommend consulting us before changing your pet’s diet.
Myth #3: Raw foods are better for your pet
Raw food has not been proven better for your pet and, in fact, can cause pets and human family members to become ill with food-borne illnesses, such as Salmonella and E. coli, or to become hosts to parasites present in uncooked meats. Cats and dogs need more than protein in their diet; essential nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Myth #4: Organic diets are the healthiest commercial diets
Pet food is labeled “organic” or “natural” inconsistently, because pet-food manufacturers define the terms differently. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates labeling, has not yet issued official definitions, and currently the ingredients in food with these labels need to be only 95% organic. They also are not required to include salt and minerals, despite regulations from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). If you are unsure which pet food is appropriate for your pet, our veterinary team can offer recommendations.
Myth #5: Pets can eat any pet food, regardless of age
As pets age and their lifestyle changes, their nutrition requirements will also change. A pet’s diet needs to match their health and activity level for optimal well-being. For example, kittens and puppies have more energy to burn and need food that fuels their hyperactivity. Working dogs need a special diet that supports hard work and endurance. Senior pets, who use less energy and burn fewer calories, benefit from a diet that reflects a more sedentary lifestyle, supports joints, and prevents weight gain.
Myth #6: Kibble or dry food improves pets’ oral health
Pets need continued oral-health maintenance, whether they eat soft or dry food, because no one type of food can keep their mouth healthy. Pets need an oral-care routine that consists of regular toothbrushing and dental cleanings, as well as a nutritionally balanced diet. Signs of poor oral health include bad breath, pawing at the mouth, and loss of appetite.
Myth #7: Grain-free diets are best for pets with allergies
Pets are seldom allergic to grains, and research is still being conducted on a connection between grain-free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (a form of heart disease) in dogs. If your pooch is scratching a lot, the source of the itchiness is more likely a seasonal allergy caused by pollen, grasses, or insects. Some pets have food allergies, but the source is usually a protein, such as chicken. Discovering the cause of a pet’s itchiness is challenging, and you should consult with our veterinary team—we may need to set up an elimination diet or other tests to make an accurate diagnosis. We recommend that you schedule an appointment so we can find the source of your pet’s discomfort before you switch diets.
Give us a call If you have questions about your pet’s diet, or need help choosing the appropriate pet food.