When you need pet health advice, who do you ask? Veterinarians, breeders, friends and the Internet are all good sources of information. But sometimes inaccurate information taints the truth. In this article, two leading pet nutrition experts from the Nature’s Variety Pet Nutrition Council help dispel the top 5 myths about pet nutrition so you know the truth on how to keep your dog in optimal health.
1. MYTH: Pets should eat the same food every day to avoid digestive upset.
TRUTH: Actually, feeding the same food month after month may cause finicky eating habits and the development of allergies and intolerances over time. With the right diet, pets can and should enjoy a healthy variety of foods – without experiencing digestive upset! Dr. Shawn Messonnier, author of “The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats,” recommends introducing variety into your pet’s diet gradually. “Introduce 10-20% of the new food each week until your pet is accustomed to the new food,” he says. This will minimize digestive upset. Also, some pet foods are actually formulated to promote the concept of “variety feeding,” such as the Nature’s Variety Rotation Diet. Nature’s Variety foods are available in different flavors (duck, venison, salmon, etc.) and forms (raw, kibble, canned) that are all formulated for easy rotation – providing the variety pets need. Rotating with different varieties of food may help provide weight control, reduce the risk of allergies, and improve overall health and well-being.
2. MYTH: All pet foods are the same.
TRUTH: Not all pet foods are created equal. “Cheaper pet foods often use lower quality ingredients such as corn, wheat, soy, meat protein substitutes, generic meat sources, generic fat sources, chemical preservatives, and artificial additives,” says Dr. Messonnier. You get what you pay for in a pet’s food – feeding lower quality foods may result in more health problems and expensive vet visits in the long run. Instead, look for an all natural, holistic food made with real meat protein and other wholesome ingredients. Always read the ingredient panel on your pet’s food, and look for a specifically named (or single-source) meat protein as the first ingredient (e.g. “chicken meal” vs. “poultry meal” or “beef meal” vs. “meat meal”). It’s important to understand what ingredients are in your pet’s food and what benefit they provide. Visit the Nature’s Variety Ingredient Glossary to learn more about pet food ingredients.
3. MYTH: Crunchy kibble diets keep a pet’s teeth clean and healthy.
TRUTH: The crunchiness of kibble is not what leads to clean teeth or proper dental health. In actuality, the pet food quality and ingredients are the main determinants of dental health. It’s also important to include raw food as part of a pet’s diet, because the enzymes in raw meat and vegetables especially keep the teeth clean and healthy. Pets should also have their teeth brushed on a regular basis for ideal dental care. And remember – healthy teeth and gums typically leads to better breath!
4. MYTH: Homemade diets are always better than commercial pet foods.
TRUTH: Homemade diets may not provide complete nutrition, according to Certified Clinical Nutritionist Susan Blake Davis of Ask Ariel Consulting. “Without the advice from a veterinarian or certified pet nutritionist, diets created by pet owners at home are often not balanced nutritionally. Online pet food recipes are missing important vitamins, minerals and enzymes, including calcium, vitamin E, vitamin C and vitamin B,” she says. Making a nutritiously complete homemade diet requires a commitment of knowledge, time, and money. High quality commercial pet foods are thoroughly tested and contain the proper ingredients necessary for a healthy pet. Nature’s Variety provides all natural, premium pet food in a variety of flavors and forms to provide the high quality, variety and care of a home-prepared diet – but without the hassle or expense.
5. MYTH: Raw diets are expensive and inconvenient.
TRUTH: The premium quality of a complete and balanced raw diet actually makes caring for your pet more affordable in the long run. A raw diet provides pets with wholesome nutrition the way nature intended. “Nutritious raw meat, organ meat, bone and fat provide several health benefits, including fewer allergies, healthy skin, glossy coat, healthy teeth and gums, and increased energy,” says Davis. Also remember that feeding a premium food like a raw diet is actually more digestible, so pets eat less and you spend less. Convenient raw diets are available commercially as well. Nature’s Variety offers a complete and balanced raw diet in three convenient forms that are ready to serve – no mixing, no measuring and no supplementing. Raw frozen food can be rotated with kibble and cans to decrease the amount of raw needed and provide pets with a healthy variety of proteins and textures. To learn more about the quantity and cost of feeding raw, visit the Nature’s Variety Feeding Guide.
For more answers to other pet health questions and myths, check out the Common Questions section of the Nature’s Variety website at www.naturesvariety.com.