Dog Food Facts and Fiction

We see all kinds of dog food at Pet Camp, from what is perceived as ultra high end to supermarket brands to raw diet to homemade. The mix of what we see changes and what is “in” can be as fickle as fashion. Gone are the days of simply asking if the protein source is chicken or lamb. Now it can be salmon, whitefish, buffalo, rabbit, kangaroo (yup-kangaroo) and the food might be grain free, wheat free, gluten free, freeze dried, flash frozen, or raw. But what does all this actually mean? The folks at DVM360 have tried to sort it out by encouraging you to think about a few basic dog food facts when selecting food for your canine companion.

1.  Know who made the food.
When looking at a dog food does it say who actually made the food or only who distributed the food or who the food was made for? Many foods are made by several different manufacturers and some manufacturers make several different types of food. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but only by knowing who actually made the food will you be able to ascertain how, where, and under what conditions the food was made. You can then ask if the manufacturer employs a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, if there is an American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) trial statement, and if there are Quality Control/Quality Assurance standards.

2.  Don’t Believe Everything You Read
DVM360 reports that a recent study showed that over a third of tested dog foods (20 out of 52) showed a discrepancy between what was on the label and what was actually in the food. Some of the foods had additional protein sources and some lacked protein sources they claimed – of course this is a big deal when you are trying to avoid potential allergens. In addition, terms like human grade, grain free, or veterinarian approved are not defined. According to DVM360 “veterinarian approved” is not even allowed on pet food labels.

3.  Fad Diets May be More Fad than Diet
With almost 18 years of feeding dogs under our belt, we’ve seen diets come and go. “Grain-free” is the current in diet, and we’re certainly not questioning if grain-free food is good or even better for a dog. But it is worth noting that there is no AAFCO definition of “grain-free.” So grain free can mean different things to different manufacturers. Also, according DVM360, while we think of dogs as being carnivores, their eating habits are omnivores so complex carbohydrates are necessary for normal digestion. Raw diets are also popular. Some pet parents may think that raw diets are more natural and more like what animals eat in the “wild.” But, of course, dogs are not in the wild and many raw diets are not intended to be the sole source of long term nutrition. DMV360 cites several studies showing that raw diets, both those commercially available and those made at home, had nutritional imbalances with either too much of one thing or not enough of another.  DVM 360 also notes that freezing does not destroy all pathogens in frozen or freeze dried raw diets.

So what do you feed your dog? Do think that the concerns raised by DVM360 are just part of the “establishment” protecting itself against newer trends in dog food or are the concerns legitimate? Do you have questions about any other dog food facts out there?

Thanks for reading!