10 Pet Food Myths
Myth 1. Chicken meal is made of by-products and is lower quality than chicken.
Truth: Chicken meal is the meat of the chicken with the water and fat removed so it’s a dehydrated and concentrated source of protein. It’s actually more digestible than the ingredient chicken and contains no by-products.
Myth 2. Corn is an allergen.
Truth: Forty percent of dermatitis cases are related to atopy, not food allergy. Only 12%-15% of dermatitis cases are due to food allergy. Therefore the likelihood of the pet having a food allergy is fairly small. It’s more likely a reaction to something in the environment. In another one of our blog articles is more information about pet allergies. There is nothing inherently allergenic in corn. Typically when a pet has a food allergy it is from the protein in the diet, not corn.
Myth 3. The best ingredients always come from the U.S.
Truth: The country of origin does not determine the quality of the ingredient. Quality is determined through testing, digestibility, and nutrient profile. Regardless of where the ingredient comes from it goes through the same testing by the food manufacturer as an ingredient from the U.S. Occasionally this mean going outside the U.S. For example, many companies obtain venison from New Zealand because the deer in the U.S. have been exposed to wasting disease which is similar to mad cow and not worth the risk.
Myth 4. Human grade products are safer and better quality.
Truth: There is no definition for “human grade” or “human quality” in pet food. Therefore it is not regulated and does not mean anything.
Myth 5. Grain free diets are better for pets.
Truth: There is nothing inherently bad about grains. In fact, in the grains used in iVet and Royal Canin there is protein that is often more digestible sources of protein than meat sources. Grains also offer GI support and vitamins i.e. pet getting grains from Royal Canin and iVet are getting the beneficial protein portion of the grain – all good! There are rare cases in which a grain free improved a pet, but the reason it improved the pet was because of the protein source change and fatty acids not the grain free status. There are better ways than grain free to get better outcomes in pet health.
Myth 6. Organic, natural, & holistic diets are better for pets
Truth: There are no studies that prove this to be true. Organic pet food is not well regulated and is not support currently by the National Organic Program. Many ingredients that could not be defined by AAFCO as natural are actually more beneficial for pets (i.e. hydrolyzed proteins, chelated minerals, PINCH (Patented skin barrier benefit)). Holistic has no definition in pet food so it holds no claims and means nothing. The majority of these diets will not have Royal Canin benefits such as size nutrition, fish oil, life state nutrition, life style nutrition, and therapeutic diets.
Myth 7. Pet food companies always tell you to feed your pets more than you should so they can make more profit.
Truth: Feeding recommendations are based on a calculation that results in the calories a pet of that size on average should eat. It’s a general feeding recommendation that doesn’t account for the activity, lifestyle or body condition of the pet. For example, a racing greyhound versus a couch potato. All pets should be fed according to the body condition score. However, Family Pet Veterinary Center can’t control an owner’s measuring and feeding practices but we have tools and a free weight loss program to help!
Myth 8. It’s okay to buy big bags of food to save money and just freeze the food to keep it fresh.
Truth: Royal Canin and iVet diets are naturally preserved and it is recommended to feed them within two months of opening the bag. Freezing the diet will cause the moisture in the kibble to move to the center of the kibble and can cause problems as it thaws with regards to palatability or even mold growth. Canned food should be covered and refrigerated, then used within five days.
Myth 9. It is recommended to restrict protein in healthy senior animals.
Truth: Protein restriction is not recommended unless the pet has kidney disease. In a healthy senior dog or cat the phosphorus should be restricted in an effort to maintain the health of the kidneys. Restricting the protein of a healthy pet can result in muscle wasting as the pet begins to break down its own muscle for protein.
Myth 10. There is no need to switch dogs or cats to a senior diet.
Truth: Kidney disease is the number three cause of death in older dogs and the number one in cats. Studies show improved survivability in pets with existing chronic kidney failure when the phosphorus is restricted to low levels such as in Rx veterinary diets for kidney disease. Given how common the disease is in older cats and dogs, it is suggested to reduce the phosphorus content (not as low as we would in a therapeutic diet) once they become a senior pet to help maintain kidney health. Older dogs need a reduction in their calorie content, increased antioxidants to slow cellular aging, dental hygiene support and joint support if they aren’t already receiving it. Older cats need an increase in their calorie content since their ability to digest nutrients decreases, an increase in the digestibility of the proteins, increased antioxidants, joint support if they aren’t already receiving it. Learn more about canine kidney disease or feline kidney disease in our other blog posts.