Dog Food Myth-Busting – Whole Dog Journal

When you take into account the bitter disagreements amongst human vitamin consultants concerning the worth of or hurt from varied varieties of diets – vegan, vegetarian, uncooked, ketogenic, gluten-free, paleo, natural, you identify it! – it’s not stunning that there are such a lot of myths and misconceptions about what we should always feed our canines. Not stunning, however disappointing. At least people can select their very own diets; canines rely on us to kind out the wheat from the chaff, so to talk. So let’s bust some myths!

MYTH 1: All “complete and balanced” canine meals that meet the dietary ranges established by the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles supply the identical quantity of vitamin. 

TRUTH: This couldn’t be farther from the reality. Not solely are the quantities of macronutrients (protein, fats, fiber) in pet food wildly variable, the micronutrient ranges are, too! 

In this nation, the authorized definition of “complete and balanced” is established by a nongovernmental advisory group, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which publishes the necessities for full and balanced canine diets in   tables known as the “AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles.” AAFCO makes occasional changes to the nutrient ranges within the tables as persevering with research in animal vitamin are carried out. 

Unlike the “recommended daily allowance” (RDA) mannequin that guides human diets with goal nutrient ranges, the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles consist solely of minimal values for all of the vitamins required by canines and most values for just some vitamins that may be poisonous if consumed in extreme quantities. As lengthy as a meals meets the minimal nutrient values expressed within the profiles, and doesn’t exceed the utmost values, it may be labeled as full and balanced. 

That’s why it’s attainable to check two canine meals, each labeled as full and balanced, and uncover that Food A has twice as a lot fats or protein as Food B, or half as a lot iron or zinc.

The reality is, it will possibly take a little bit (or quite a bit) of trial and error to seek out meals that can totally assist your canine’s well being. 

MYTH 2: “AAFCO Feeding Trials” are the gold normal for proving a meals’s dietary high quality. 

TRUTH: Actually, it’s fairly attainable for meals which have handed an AAFCO feeding trial to comprise inadequate or extreme nutrient ranges; if a meals passes an AAFCO feeding trial, it doesn’t should meet the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles standards. 

Feeding trials set up whether or not a meals can maintain canines for six months (on the most), which implies the meals might fail to keep up a canine’s well being for years on finish. Also, nutrient ranges that depart dramatically from established minimal and/or most necessities for canines can take quite a bit longer than six months to have deleterious results on a canine’s well being. 

A true gold normal for proving the dietary adequacy of a pet food can be one thing that mixed each of the prevailing qualifiers. Doesn’t it appear to be a meals ought to have to satisfy the minimal and most nutrient ranges established by AAFCO and cross a feeding trial to make sure that the meals was palatable and digestible? Sigh. 

MYTH 3: The finest pet food is [insert the name of your favorite brand here]. 

TRUTH: We don’t care what model identify you insert in that delusion; you’re incorrect. There isn’t any “best” meals for all canines, any greater than there’s a finest meals for all people. 

All canines are people, similar to all people. While there are lots of of us people who can stay completely effectively on a weight-reduction plan of quick meals and extremely processed frozen and ready meals, a few of us would die on such a weight-reduction plan. Some folks can’t eat sure substances – or meals that comprise gluten or meals with excessive quantities of fats – with out struggling severe penalties. 

Well, it’s the identical with canines. Some can eat something with out in poor health results, whereas others have extremely delicate digestive tracts which are in fixed revolt. While we’re keen to tell you concerning the traits of better-quality diets from respected firms, our objective is to offer you good choices to select from. You have to seek out what works finest on your particular person canines. 

Myth 4: Once you discover a meals that fits your canine, you shouldn’t change. 

TRUTH: You know who advantages probably the most from this delusion? The pet meals firm who captured the cash you spent on meals if you first acquired your canine. 

It’s true that in the event you feed your canine the identical meals for months (or years) on finish and then you definitely change that meals, he’ll seemingly show some digestive upset. That doesn’t imply you shouldn’t change his meals; it means you must change his meals extra typically!

Dogs have developed with extraordinarily environment friendly and versatile digestive skills – and for the previous few thousand years, they’ve been consuming our leftovers, no matter that could be. They thrive on selection, similar to we do. And the extra selection there’s of their weight-reduction plan, the extra sturdy their digestion turns into. 

We strongly encourage homeowners to rotate amongst a minimum of three totally different merchandise from totally different pet meals firms all year long. And extra could also be higher! Why? Think again to Myth 1: No two meals comprise the identical macronutrient and micronutrient ranges, and who’s to say which of them have an excessive amount of of this or too little of that on your canine? 

Most pet meals firms use the identical vitamin/mineral premix for all of their dry canine meals, however the nutrient ranges within the premix utilized by one firm will undoubtedly be totally different than these within the premix utilized by different firms. If you feed just one meals, and even a number of merchandise from only one firm, you might be entrenching these nutrient ranges in your canine’s physique. Rotating amongst just a few merchandise (made by totally different firms) can provide dietary stability over time. 

The exception to this suggestion? Dogs who’ve confirmed to be illiberal of any change or allergic to quite a few substances. 

Myth 5: The extra the meals prices, the higher it’s. 

We don’t assume it’s a must to purchase the costliest meals within the retailer in an effort to correctly nourish your canine – however you undoubtedly shouldn’t purchase discount basement meals. The first 5 substances of the meals pictured listed here are: Corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fats, and soybean meal. Blech.

TRUTH: The inverse of this assertion is for positive true – the cheaper a meals, the decrease its high quality – however as a result of there are such a lot of components that have an effect on pricing, the unique assertion is fake. 

Some firms spend a lot more cash on advertising and marketing than different firms who make comparable meals. Gigantic firms have a bonus within the economic system of the size of their ingredient buying and manufacturing prices, however might spend a ton on analysis and improvement. There are simply too many components concerned to make a straight correlation between a excessive worth and high quality.

One factor you can do is to check the value per pound of merchandise with comparable substances and macronutrient ranges. There are relative bargains available amongst good meals. Just don’t go in search of bargain-basement meals; relaxation assured that they’ll not meet our choice standards.

Myth 6: You ought to ask your veterinarian what meals is finest. 

TRUTH: We want with all of our hearts that this delusion was true, however the harsh reality is, few veterinarians know that a lot about vitamin or are keen to debate any meals besides those they promote.

Don’t get us incorrect: We respect and admire veterinarians, and we’re not accusing them of a revenue motive right here. In most instances, we suspect it’s a matter of familiarity and a restricted quantity of accessible bandwidth. As you already are conscious, there are manner too many merchandise to select from. Once a busy practitioner is satisfied of the standard of explicit pet meals firm’s merchandise, whether or not due to a gifted salesperson or an informative seminar she attended, she’ll are inclined to suggest these meals and eschew dialogue of the remainder.

The lure of “prescription” diets which were developed to deal with medical circumstances can’t be overstated. If you had been a veterinarian who was already placing in 12-hour days and barely maintaining with the workload, would you reasonably have a 30-minute speak with a consumer about diets with decrease magnesium, sodium, calcium, phosphorus, and fats, that are purported to be helpful for her canine’s urinary tract well being, or simply suggest a prescription weight-reduction plan (conveniently carried by your clinic) that has these options?

Not all vets are that interested by or educated about meals. It’s at all times price asking them what meals they’d suggest on your canine and why. But if their solely suggestion is the meals offered within the clinic and there isn’t a compelling cause for that individual selection, with respect, we’d take the recommendation with a grain of salt.

Myth 7: Corn is poison for canines! No, wait! It’s wheat. And soy! 

A 27.5 pound bag of this prescription meals, beneficial by many veterinarians for canines who’re liable to any form of urinary downside, prices round $90. Its first 5 substances are: Corn, hen meal, pork fats, corn gluten meal, soybean mill run. (The authorized definition of that final ingredient is “soybean hulls and such bean meats that adhere to the hulls which result from normal milling operations in the production of dehulled soybean meal”.). That’s loopy!

Truth: If any one in all these meals substances had been one-tenth as dangerous for canines as folks say (allergenic! indigestible!), we’d have quite a bit fewer canines in the present day. All of these substances have been fed to canines for many years. 

Like most myths, although, there are wonderful grains of partial truths behind these allegations.

Corn, and to a lesser extent, wheat, rice, and millet are liable to Aspergillus fungal infections. Aspergillus produces a extremely harmful substance known as aflatoxin, which isn’t solely a carcinogen but additionally could cause lethal liver injury in canines. Pet meals producers that use these substances, particularly corn, should be scrupulous about testing these substances as they arrive into their manufacturing websites and after the pet meals is made.

Soy is denigrated as an ingredient in pet food for different causes. It’s been alleged to trigger allergic reactions, cut back the digestibility of protein, trigger fuel and diarrhea, and intervene with the absorption of minerals like calcium and iron. 

When utilized in pet meals in minor quantities – and with correct high quality management and ingredient testing – none of those or many different continuously impugned substances ought to be problematic for many canines. Half a century in the past, corn and wheat, specifically, had been utilized in such excessive concentrations in pet food that it was nearly inevitable that canines who lived their entire lifetimes on these meals can be inadequately nourished. (We’re approaching the same heavy utilization/overreliance on peas and different of legumes in pet meals in the present day.)

Remember: If you alter manufacturers and formulation continuously, none of them ought to have a possibility to trigger long-term hurt. 

Of course, in case your canine has an adversarial response to any meals, cease feeding it. Give him a special meals till his signs resolve, then attempt it as soon as extra. If the issue recurs, or if it causes the same response in a couple of of your canines, see in the event you can return it. Ask your retailer to report the problem to the producer, or contact the producer your self. Note the substances on a calendar or your canine’s well being journal so you possibly can attempt to determine a sample of issues which you can hyperlink to sure substances or manufacturers of meals. 

Nancy Kerns is the editor of WDJ. 

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