Thursday, November 15, 2012

Top 10 Lies/Myths About Pet Food

I’ve heard some pretty outlandish things about pet food since I got interested in the topic when my beloved Bernese Mountain Dog, Zephyr, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma--bone cancer.  A forward thinking vet at the time recommended I lay off the carbohydrate rich dry food and start feeding him raw, grain-free food, because cancers feed on carbohydrates.  Zephyr would eat anything that passed by his nose, so switching foods was no problems, and I am convinced it prolonged his life.  And it made me question all those bags of “prescription diet” I’d fed him over the years because of his sensitive stomach.  You know, the ones I paid top dollar for at the other vet?  It made me wonder what other lies I’d been told over the years about pet food and nutrition.

Then I ran across the 2007 Annual Pet Food Report from Animal Wellness Magazine which addressed that very topic.  I thought I’d share my top ten list of myths and lies.  See if any sound familiar to you.

1.  Dry kibble and treats are good for Fluffy’s teeth

I talked about this earlier when I talked about raw bones.  It’s like saying a diet of croutons would keep your own teeth shiny and white.  It is simply not true, and, in fact, commercial foods often have ingredients that contribute to plaque and tartar, ingredients like carbohydrates that break down into sugars.

2.  Feeding one food is better for Fluffy

I talked about this in my article on Rotational Feeding.  It’s like saying you could thrive on a diet of Cheerios or baloney sandwiches alone.  Like us, our dogs and cats need variety in their diets to truly thrive.  They rely on nutritional variety to maintain healthy immune systems and healthy digestive systems. 

3.  Table scraps are bad for Fluffy
If a food nourishes us, it will likely nourish our pets as well.  Giving your pet leftovers once in a while will add variety and interest to his diet.  Just avoid cooked bones, sweets, chocolate and the following veggies--onions, grapes, raisins, tomatoes, macadamia nuts, walnuts, avocados, excessive raw fish, chocolate, excessive cabbage or broccoli, excessive garlic, apple seeds, green tops of carrots, peppers and eggplant.

4.  If the vet sells it, it must be healthy and high quality

Please refer back to my introduction.  Prescription foods are made by the same large corporations that make grocery store foods, and have many, many questionable ingredients as well as questionable effects on your pet’s health.

5.  All bones are dangerous
Again, see my article on Feeding your Dog (And Cat) Raw Bones.  Only cooked bones are dangerous, as they can splinter.  But raw bones are beneficial in many ways, some surprising--dental health, nutrition, mental health.
6.  Raw meat causes aggression
There is no evidence that this is true.  If your pet is food protective, it is a behavioral issue unrelated to the type of food you feed.

7.  Cats should have access to food at all times                                                              

In fact, 24/7 access to foods leads to obesity and, if it’s dry food, urinary tract blockages.  Like wild canines, cats in the wild only eat when they hunt and only kill what they need to survive.

8.  Semi-moist food is like meat
No, no, no.  It is like dry food with extra chemicals, additives and preservatives in it to keep it moist.  How do they even get away with calling this “food”?  This is the junk food of the pet food industry.  These are the Twinkies and Pringles and never EVER should be considered part of a healthy diet.

9.  Cheap food saves money
I know it hurts sometimes to pay for raw beef and fresh veggies for your pet.  But I promise, cheap food costs more in the long run.  It costs more because your pet has to eat more to satisfy his nutritional needs. It costs more at the vet’s office--for treatment of skin problems, for teeth cleaning, for treatment of the chronic diseases associated with a poor diet.  I promise--if your pet survives, bags of cheap food will cost you over time.

10.  Raw food will make my animal or family sick
Dogs and cats digest food more quickly than humans, so the food passes out before they can develop any food-borne illnesses.  Plus, they have a very high concentration of hydrochloric acid in the stomachs which kills bacteria.  If you prepare your own raw diet, buy human grade meat and handle it the same way you handle the raw chicken or hamburger you prepare for your family.  If you buy prepared raw food diets, thaw it out in the fridge.  

Raw food is safe and biologically appropriate for your pets.  It will save money in the long run and will make for a happier, healthier Fluffy and Fido and Fifi.

RIP Zephyr 1997-2006.

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