It seems like every week, a new ‘expert’ is on TV touting a new ‘miracle food’ for humans. A lot of the same type of marketing is used to promote pet food. We love our B(est) F(urry) F(riends) and marketing experts know that. Research can certainly improve the food we are feeding our dogs, but, as always, it is up to us to sift through all the marketing and figure out what is really important to our dogs and cats.
Most importantly, if your dog is doing well on a particular brand or type of dog food… Stick with it! No need to fix something that isn’t broken. All though there has been and will be a lot of valuable research done on dog food, we each know our personal dog or cat better than any dog food company or research technician. Many of the types of dog food, from raw to lower-cost kibble brands, are being fed every day to dogs and cats who are thriving. It is important for you to make a conscious decision about what kind of food it takes to keep your BFF the healthiest.
A common question we hear is ‘what do you know about the raw diet’? First of all, there is no one ‘raw diet’. Raw diets are more of a way of life than they are any one food. A raw diet can be a lot of work to do correctly. Dogs need a variety of food sources to provide the proper mixture of vitamins and minerals. It is up to you, the owner, to do the research to decide if the raw dog food you purchase or mix yourself is providing a comprehensive meal plan for your BFF. One comment, in particular, that we hear in regards to feeding a raw diet is that Wolves in the Wild eat nothing but raw meat. This may be true, but this comment is akin to drawing an analogy between what apes eat in the wild and what humans should be eating at home. Dogs and Wolves are two separate species. Dogs have evolved over thousands and thousands of years. Throughout much of the long relationship between mankind and canine companions, dogs worked for their food and shared the same meals as their masters. As a result, dogs have evolved different nutritional needs than the close cousin the wild wolf. And besides that, dogs live much longer lives compared to the wild wolf! All that being said, many owners tell us that their particular dog does much better on a raw diet than kibble and we always believe that you know your BFF better than anyone else!
Another trend in dog dieting is to feed Grain-Free kibble. Again, we are big believers in empirical evidence and if your dog is thriving on a Grain-Free diet then stick with it. One of the arguments we hear in favor of Grain-Free is that this diet solves food-allergy problems. This is possible, but the fact is that the vast majority of dog allergies are environmental and not food related. Of the small minority of canine allergies that are food related, the vast majority of those are due to the protein (meat) source and not the carbohydrate (grain). So, if you think your dog is having an allergic reaction to the dog food your best bet is to move from the more common protein sources, like chicken or beef, to a less common protein source such as lamb, rabbit or deer. If your dog is still having an allergic reaction to the protein source (extremely rare) you can move to a veterinarian diet that uses a synthetic protein. Just like we stated about the raw diet, if your dog is thriving on a Grain-Free diet, stick with it! Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken!
Our final theory for the day… Big dog food companies aren’t the bad guys that some people make them out to be. Going with a boutique company to provide your dog or cat nutrition can make all the sense in the world. However, one argument that does not make sense is that big dog food companies don’t care about providing a quality product. In fact, the FDA regulates the bigger companies much more stringently than the smaller companies. The largest companies affect the most number of people; therefore, the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) concentrates on regulating the companies that affect the most number of consumers. That means that the ingredients, nutrient levels and health claims are verified more stringently for bigger companies. Typically what you are paying for with more expensive food brands is the quality of the ingredient. We need to make our own decision on whether or not we believe the assertion of quality. For our part, we feed the Purina brand and buy their Pro Plan formulation for some of the dogs and the Purina ONE formulation for others. Of course, you are welcome to bring in whatever food works best for your dog!
As always, the above is our educated opinion based on fact, empirical evidence and a ton of experience!