When it comes to dog food there are lots of myths which many people believe to be true. Some of it is spread around in publications and on the internet and some just by word of mouth. Some are just plain untruths and other old tales and some are utter lies by big businesses to influence what you buy. These are some of the biggest dog food myths which we hope to dispel.
1. Dogs Cannot Process Grains.
One belief that is often expressed about dogs and nutrition is that they are unable to process or digest grains and cereals. It is also said that this is because domestic dogs are descended from wild dogs and wolves eat only meat. None of this is true. It is true that their diet should be mostly meat protein but experiments have been carried out which prove beyond doubt that dogs can digest and process different starches.
That said, the gastrointestinal tract of a dog is not geared up to eat lots of grains and cereals so they should not be fed in quantities or as a large proportion of the dog’s diet. Some of the grains are more digestible than others and they are all more easily processed if they are cooked. Some even believe that grains are dangerous but this is not true.
2. Premium Dog Food Contains the Same Ingredients as Regular Dog Food.
This is not true. Generally premium dog food contains better ingredients, sometimes organic products are sourced and used in the recipes. Other brands may contain better quality human grade ingredients and these contribute to a better quality product.
Some Brands may also use different processing techniques which helps retain more of the nutrition. For example our Fifi Beaumont’s recipes are all cooked at much lower temperatures than regular dog food so that the proteins are better preserved and nutritional values are higher.
Better ingredients and cooking processes inevitably make the product more expensive to produce so the price tag will be higher.
3. Dogs are Carnivores.
The definition of the word carnivore is an animal that feeds off other animals, i.e. they eat meat. Dogs, of course do eat meat and in that sense they are carnivorous. However they do not eat only meat in their diet as the adjective “carnivore” would suggest. Dogs also eat fruits and vegetables so the correct term to describe them is an “omnivore”. As such their diet should be formulated accordingly.
4. The Well Known Brands are the Best.
This is absolutely not the case and this is one of the biggest dog food myths. A startling fact is that most of the dog food industry is owned and controlled by three large international conglomerates. It is even more shocking that these are corporations who have a track record of controversies including exploitation and child slavery. They spend vast sums on advertising and promoting their own products through veterinary practices that they own. Their brands are consequently household names that many know and trust. However the products are mostly inferior and are often nothing more than junk food for dogs.
5. Homemade Recipes are more Nutritious than Commercial Food.
It is not necessarily true that homemade recipes offer more nutrition than commercial food. Many people will just cook their dog the same meal that they would cook for themselves. Dogs have different nutritional requirements from people so to feed human food will not be enough in order to give the dog the nutrients required.
Homemade dog food must be made to a specific recipe to ensure that it has the correct nutrition a dog requires. Commercial, complete dog foods are formulated to have at least the minimum requirement of nutrients for a dog’s diet so that they eat all the protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals they need.
6. Dogs Cannot Eat Pork.
You may have heard this which is one of the biggest dog food myths and you may also have seen that pork is not included in many commercial recipes. You may have read on the internet that pork is an unsafe ingredient for dogs. You may even have heard rumours that the fat levels in Pork or so high that they can cause pancreatitis in dogs.
The fact is Pork does not contain high levels of fat and has less than half the fat that Beef has. The good news is that Pork is a nutritious protein and is perfectly safe for dogs to eat. Pork is a highly digestible, and a good source of amino acids, and is less likely to cause an allergic reaction that some dogs may have to other proteins. It should never be fed raw due to the possibility of trichinosis in uncooked pork. You should never feed ham as it could contain herbs and spices that may be toxic to dogs and you should never give dogs reformed or processed ham as it will have little nutritional value.
7. Prescription Food is the Only Option for Sick Dogs.
At some point in their lives some dogs may require special nutritional needs and the vet may recommend a prescription diet. This may be short term or it maybe due to long term chronic illnesses such as kidney disease. These prescription diets are expensive and the properties they have can often be found in other commercially available foods. For example, dogs diagnosed with pancreatitis will benefit from a low fat diet and will be recommended an appropriate branded prescription diet by your vet.
It is advisable to compare the analytical constituents with other non-prescription foods and you may find other brands which are at least are nutritionally as good if not better. One point to be aware of nowadays is that many vet practices are owned by one of the big companies that manufacture and sell pet foods. The large international company that makes a well known prescription food is the same company that publishes a prominent veterinary nutritional manual. Clearly there is a conflict of interests here and the opportunity for these companies to promote and prescribe their products without you even realising. The large international companies keep their names well hidden and we would recommend researching who owns your local vet practice, you may be shocked
8. Organic Food is 100% Organic.
This is one of the biggest dog food myths and is just not true. What manufacturers can claim on the label is governed by legislation and claims such as “Organic” have legal definitions which may differ from our own interpretation.
In short, dog foods that are labelled as being ‘organic’ only need to contain 85% organic ingredients by weight and this excludes salt and water content. Similarly you may have seen foods with ‘made with organic’ written on the label. The definition of this is that the food contains a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. Many organic ingredients are considered to be better quality and this is not a deception as such but consumers should be aware of the legal definitions of this terminology.
9. All Human Food is Bad for Dogs.
Some human food is actually good for dogs and offer the required nutrition your dog needs in his diet. However there is a long list of food that people eat which is toxic for dogs. For example grapes and onions are extremely toxic and dangerous to dogs. Chocolate is also toxic as are many other vegetables and fruits which you should make yourself familiar with so you can keep them away from your dog.
There are some fruits and vegetables that are extremely good for dogs such as blueberries and raspberries which are dense in nutrients. They should be fed in small quantities otherwise they may give your dog diarrhoea.
10. Dogs Cannot be Fed Raw Eggs.
There is a lot of overstatement when it comes to the danger of salmonella in raw eggs. Dog’s digestion is far more resistant to bacteria such as salmonella and. It is perfectly safe for healthy dogs to eat raw eggs as part of their diet.
The egg white contains avidin which destroys biotin present in the dog’s body. However, the yolk of the egg provides enough biotin to make up for that destroyed by the egg white. Egg yolk actually contains the highest amount of biotin of all foods available.
That said it is more advantageous to feed hard boiled eggs. This is because the boiling process does not destroy any of the nutrients and actually increases digestibility.Feeding wet food is healthier than feeding dry food.
11. Raw Food Gives Dogs Salmonella.
Although there is a truth in this myth, it is a little overstated. Dogs with a healthy immune system should be able to eat a healthy raw diet without any problems. The enzymes in their digestive tract is far more adept at killing harmful bacteria than humans’ digestive systems. However ther is a very small risk of dogs becoming ill with salmonella from eating raw foods. Your dog should be fit and healthy in order to receive such a diet.
Dogs with a compromised immunity should not be fed a raw diet.
12. Dogs Cannot Digest Dairy Products.
There is some truth in this myth but dogs are able to process dairy products in small quantities. Of course some dogs will be lactose intolerant just like some people and will not be able to take dairy products. In general dogs can take dairy products provided they are very minimal.
Dogs lack an enzyme named ‘lactase’ in their metabolism. Lactase is essential for the proper digestion of foods which contain lactose and this is in all dairy products. Some dairy products contain more lactose than others so it is best to feed dairy products with a lower lactose content than others.
13. Lamb is Hypoallergenic.
There is no reason why one meat will be essentially more or less allergenic than any other. However if a meat is not usually fed to dogs then it is less likely they will develop allergies to it. At one time Lamb was an unusual protein for dogs to eat and therefore they would be less likely to develop an allergic reaction. Lamb has now become a more mainstream ingredient so this is no longer the case and it is quite possible for dogs to have an allergic reaction.
There are newer sources of protein being used by dog food manufacturers such as duck, which are thought to be less likely to promote an allergic reaction.
14. Senior Dogs Require a Low Protein Diet.
It is often thought that protein is bad for senior dogs and dogs with kidney disease. This is a myth and there is no truth in it.
Older dogs that are healthy do not require low protein dog foods because of their age. Senior dogs actually require higher protein diets than younger adult dogs. However dogs with renal function and other kidney related illnesses should be placed on a low protein diet permanently. Many manufacturers provide age related recipes which are developed by dog nutritionists and Senior recipes contain plenty of protein and other essential nutrients.
15. Grain Free Food does not have Carbohydrates.
This is not true. Although all grains are carbohydrates, not all carbohydrates are grains. The grains that are excluded from grain-free dog foods are replaced with other ingredients which are alternative sources of carbohydrate.
Fruits, vegetables and beans are all sources of carbohydrates often included in commercial grain-free dog foods. It is not possible to find any commercial dog foods that do not contain any carbohydrates although some will have more than others.
16. Dogs Should be Fed the Same Food Every Day.
There is a belief that dogs do not like variety in their diet. It is true that dogs do not have so many taste buds as people and so do not have the same desires for different foods that we do. They therefore do not have the same need for variety in their diet as people do. However whilst they will not become bored with their diet, a variety of specific nutrients can be beneficial to their wellbeing. For example you can feed different proteins which have alternative properties and you could be feeding a chicken based complete food. You may wish to occasionally feed a salmon based complete food so that your dog can receive a boost of omega-3 from time to time.
Finally… our biggest dog food myths
Those are our biggest dog food myths. There are plenty more dog food myths so you should remember to question everything that you read in publications and don’t just believe everything you hear, do your own research.