5 dog food myths

5 Dog Food Myths That Need Busting

Your dog’s diet is key to strong health. But in an industry riddled with vague claims and false marketing statements it can be almost impossible to choose the right food for your pup. What’s true and what’s not true? Don’t worry, we got you covered!

In this week’s blog post, we’ll run you through 5 dog food myths that need busting:

1. Myth; “High protein diets can cause kidney failure in dogs.”

Many dog parents are convinced that their pups are at high risk of developing kidney problems if they feed them with a high protein diet. But don’t worry; In healthy dogs, a high protein diet is not a threat to health! Absorbed protein will be used for energy and unabsorbed excess protein will be excreted as by-products.

A source suggests that the myth can be a result of the high inclusions of plant products, like corn and wheat, in some pet foods. Plant products contain protein but don’t supply the amino acids dogs need. Typically, these poor protein sources can be difficult to digest and do more harm than good.

Therefore, it’s important to make sure that your pup gets his protein from a solid protein source.

too much protein in dog food

2. Myth; “A Grain-Free diet is always better for my dog”

Grain-Free diets have grown steadily in population over the past years. But are grain-free diets necessarily better for dogs, and is there any scientific backing to the claims?

Allergies are a hot topic when it comes to grain-free diets. It’s easy to come across articles and statements that claim that all types of grains are more likely to cause an allergic reaction. In general, dogs are allergic to certain foods only if they have a genetic predisposition for it. But note should be taken that some dog food companies formulate foods that contain more than 50 percent carbohydrates – may or may not be of low-quality sources – to boost the crude fibre percentages. This can trigger allergic reactions.

Grain-free – not carbohydrate-free

It’s also easy to associate grain-free to carbohydrate-free. Not to say that carbohydrates are bad but the problem arises when high quantities of carbohydrates are consumed by your dog. Large amounts of carbohydrates may be present in dog food produced by some pet food manufacturers, even in cases where the food is labelled grain-free (P.S.: Potato isn’t a grain).

Grain-free is often associated with a notion of being “premium”, and is often sold at a higher price than other foods. Some companies utilize this to boost margins by charging a higher price for products that are high in fillers such as tapioca or potato. These ingredients are technically grain-free but definitely not the best choice for dogs. Here you can learn about label tricks used to hide poor ingredients on labels.

Thus it’s more important to take note of the quality and amount of carbohydrates, rather than the type of carbs itself. A few examples are brown rice and oats. They are popular in home-cooked diets for dogs and supported by most vets and dietitians – although being under the grain-family.

Allergies & symptoms

A situation which could lead to the myth being bought by so many dog owners may be when a dog has a condition known as the leaky gut. Chronic gut inflammation erodes the layers of the lining in small intestines (where enzymes to digest glucose is produced). This leads to glucose not being absorbed and pulls water with it as it travels along the intestines, resulting in bacterial inflammation. Over time this increases, and eventually will also cause discomfort and diarrhoea. However, these ‘allergies’ will not remain permanent and a low-carbohydrate or grain-free diet, as well as consuming probiotics, could improve the situation; but the underlying problem remains to be in the gut.

3. Myth; “Older dogs need a diet low in protein”

It’s widely recognized that our nutritional needs change as we age – both for humans and dogs. However, there’s no universally nutritional requirement that applies to every single senior pup. Not all older dogs need a senior diet or a diet containing less protein – it depends on his or her body condition and health.

Studies show that some senior dogs can experience weight loss and a reduction in lean body mass – in this case, a protein-rich and calorie-dense diet may help.

On the other hand, studies also illustrate that it’s possible for older pups to more easily gain weight due to slow metabolism and less activity. Therefore, it’s a good idea to consult your vet before changing diet.

senior dog protein needs

4. Myth; “All bones are good for dogs.”

Inclusion of raw bones in a dog’s diet would be beneficial to them – in terms of improving oral health as well as providing optimal nutrition. However, not all bones are shown to be beneficial for dogs. Cooked bones, in fact, does more harm than good. Cooked bones are brittle, fragments of bones may be caught in the linings of oesophagus, stomach or intestines, which could lead to tearing of those linings and eventually peritonitis (inflammation of stomach lining).

Do be cautious when feeding raw bones to your dogs, and avoid raw bones that split easily. A good way to avoid hazards such as broken teeth, choking, tearing of internal linings, is to have the raw bones ground up before feeding.

Dog with tongue out
Raw bones are good for dogs’ oral health.
Image credit: Pet friendly house.

5. Myth; “Raw feeding gives your dogs salmonella.”

This is partially true, but many times exaggerated. Salmonella spp. is a group of bacteria which reside in the intestinal tract of human beings and warm-blooded animals and are capable of causing disease. The general precautions to avoid contamination of Salmonella infection still holds, which is to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw meat.

The popularity of BARF diet inevitably arises the public’s concern as well, regarding environmental contamination with Salmonella spp. from stools of dogs fed with BARF diet – but there are no published studies examining that aspect of this trend.

Salmonella spp. are usually eliminated in the process of drying meat, and the low moisture content in air-dried food restricts the growth of Salmonella spp. if any. 

Do you know any other dog food myths?

We hope that by busting these myths you’ll find it a little easier navigating in the pet food industry.

If you know any other dog food myths or want to know about something in specific, feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section down below.

You might like:

  1. The Consequences of High Temperatures in Pet Food
  2. 5 Misleading Label Tricks Pet Food Brands Use in 2019
  3. The Difference Between Kibble And Air-Dried Pet Food

Our blog posts are designed to help and inspire dog parents who wish a healthier every day for their dogs. If you’re curious about our air-dried raw, Malaysian, human-grade and super healthy dog food, check out: https://pledgecare.org/recipe/

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