Garlic is toxic to dogs! Avocado will kill your dog!
Are Grapes fine for dog treats?
Is cooked chicken and rice all my dog needs to be healthy?
Is Grain free kibble is better for my dog because it’s Gluten Free?
Can my dog eat people food or should they only eat dog food?
Does any of this confuse you? Are you interested in finally answering these questions and many more you didn’t even know you needed to ask?
Let’s bust some dog food myths!
Every time I look at facebook there’s a new group of Dog Loving Pet Parents suggested in my feed. occasionally I have a Sneaky look ( literally with my hands over my eyes because these types of groups actually terrify me!) Hundreds of pet parents reaching out to someone, anyone who might have a “cure” or an answer to whatever question they have about a problem they are experiencing with their own animal.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for community support but 98% of the time the responses that are posted up in these types of groups from well-meaning pet owners are incorrect, incomplete, or just downright misinformed nonsense.
Pet nutrition is a topic of great importance for pet parents, but it’s also surrounded by numerous myths and misconceptions. To help ensure you’re making informed decisions about the food your pet eats, here are the top five myths about pet nutrition, debunked.
PET NUTRITION MYTH #1:
KIBBLE IS WIDELY AVAILABLE SO IT MUST BE THE BEST FOOD FOR MY PET
A first myth about pet nutrition is that because kibble is so widely available, it must be the best food for pets. Believe it or not, but since it was first introduced in the 1800s, pet food has remained largely unchanged. This means that modern companies are still using similar methods and processes to create kibble as they did over 100 years ago! This is likely a result of them believing that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that kibble is the best food for your pet – for instance:
Kibble uses chemically rendered meat meals and animal digest and artificial colours
Kibble (all Kibble no matter what brand or formulation!!) is made from predominately carbohydrates - dogs can not digest carbs!
Gluten Free Kibble is a Marketing ploy - Wheat and Corn (the biggest gluten offenders) are simply replaced with other carbohydrates like Beet Pulp or Rice - see the previous bullet point about carbohydrate digestion - or lack thereof!
Kibble uses hard-to-pronounce preservatives so it can stay on the store shelf for months, or in most cases years
Kibble is cooked at high temperatures that remove naturally occurring nutrients, which must be artificially replaced. Synthetic vitamins, minerals & oils are sprayed over the top of the finished product. Once the bag is opened and exposed to oxygen it begins the process of oxidisation. 6 weeks from opening the bag all of these 'nutrients' are rendered useless.
Kibble typically has around 10% moisture content - this dry diet is the leading cause of chronic health issues such as kidney disease - many Kibble fed cats suffer from Urinary Tract infections and Kidney stones because of this
Fortunately, pet parents today have more choices than ever before when it comes to choosing the best food for their pets. Homemade Cooked, Homemade Raw, Pre-made Raw, Pre-made Cooked are all options that offer superior nutrition over Kibble diets.
PET NUTRITION MYTH #2:
PETS DON’T HAVE A VERY STRONG SENSE OF TASTE, SO IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT’S IN THEIR FOOD
A second myth about pet nutrition is that because our pets don’t have a very strong sense of taste, it doesn’t really matter what’s in their food. Dogs may only have around 1,700 taste buds and cats a mere 473 – both of which are significantly less than the 9,000 humans have – this doesn't mean that they don’t care about what they eat.
Cats and dogs can detect sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes and they both have a sensitive sense of smell, which heavily influences their perception of food flavours.
Fresh ingredients: Fresh food comprising high-quality, whole-food ingredients that are minimally processed will retain their natural flavours and aromas, making the food more palatable, which can be especially beneficial for pets with reduced appetite or those who are picky eaters
Offer a variety of flavours & textures. It can be achieved using a range of meats, vegetables, fruits, & other ingredients which provide a diverse and enticing sensory experience for pets
Increased moisture content: Fresh food has a higher moisture content compared to dry kibble enhancing the food's texture & juiciness, making it more enjoyable to eat.
PET NUTRITION MYTH #3:
IF MY PET’S FOOD IS MADE WITH GOOD INGREDIENTS, IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW IT’S PREPARED
A fourth myth about pet nutrition is that as long as the food is made with good ingredients, it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared. Just like with human food, the cooking method used when making food for pets plays a big role in its overall nutritional levels. Kibble may start with fresh ingredients, but they’re cooked at such a high temperature that they lose all naturally occurring nutrients. These nutrients – as well as the naturally occurring flavour and aroma – must then be replaced with artificial substitutes.
Some dogs simply do better on Raw food, some dogs, particularly ill or older dogs, do better with a cooked diet as it can be easier to digest. feed your dog accordingly.
PET NUTRITION MYTH #4:
DOGS CAN EAT THE SAME FOOD THEIR ENTIRE LIFE
A fourth myth about pet nutrition is that dogs can eat the same food their entire life. While dogs may have a recipe that they get excited about at every meal, this doesn’t mean that they should eat it for their entire lives.
Imagine the excitement some of us have when sitting down to a bucket of KFC - it's delish but not good for us all the time! Puppies, adult dogs, & senior dogs have different nutritional needs at various stages of their lives, which means they need food that is tailored to their specific life stage.
Puppies: Puppies need a diet that is rich in essential nutrients like protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support their rapid growth. They also require specific nutrients like EPA and DHA for brain and eye development
Adult Dogs: For an adult dog in good health, it’s important to find a diet that is made with high-quality ingredients that will help them maintain it during their adult years. Each dog has their own preference, but it's vital to rotate the ingredients and offer a wide variety of foods to ensure all their nutrition needs are met
Senior Dogs: Senior dogs are more likely to have chronic diseases that require long-term management. They also need different nutritional needs compared to younger dogs, including higher levels of vitamins C, E as well as fiber, calcium, glucosamine & antioxidants
PET NUTRITION MYTH #5:
COOKED CHICKEN & RICE (WITH THE OCCASIONAL VEGETABLE ADDED) IS A GREAT DIET
A fifth myth about pet nutrition is that dogs can eat cooked chicken & rice and thrive on it as their vet said to feed them this. TOTALLY NOT TRUE!
This myth was born from a million vet visits all over the world - your dog is sick, he has been throwing up and has really bad diarrhoea so you go to the vet - help! fix this problem! So, the easy fix is a simple, bland meal for the next couple of days containing RICE. It will stop the vomits & runny poops. The rice is undigestible & insoluble. It literally clogs up the dog's system. Problem solved!
BUT It is a terrible long term diet as it is missing pretty much every conceivable macro & micronutrient, contains no calcium & very little iron. AND dog's CAN NOT digest Carbohydrates!
PET NUTRITION MYTH #6:
IS GRAIN FREE KIBBLE BETTER FOR MY DOG BECAUSE IT'S GLUTEN FREE?
A sixth, and final myth about pet nutrition is that Grain Free Kibble is better because it is Gluten Free & dog's can't deal with Gluten.
BUSTED! All Kibble, no matter if it is Grain Free or NOT is digested exactly the same same way in your dog's body. ALL Kibble brands, ALL Kibble formulations are based on predominately CARBOHYDRATE. The grains have been cleverly replaced with ingredients that behave the same way in the mixing & rendering process - producing those uniform, dry, crunchy bickies with a shelf life of a gazillion years.
Gluten is not even the issue - it's a magicians slight of hand - marketing at it's very finest. LOOK! NO GLUTEN! (with all the carbs hidden up his sleeve).
Foods that are NOT TOXIC to dogs but many people believe they are:
Avocados are natures powerhouse of quality fats, magnesium, B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate & potassium, B6, a nutrient that helps suppress inflammation and protect against oxidative damage. (inadequate B6 intake may negatively impact immune function & increase susceptibility to illness) And yet, the humble Avo has been given a terrible reputation - most people have continued the myth that it will kill your dog!
The SKIN and the PIP are TOXIC to dogs and will make humans ill as well. But the flesh is amazing for dogs! Include it in their diets once or twice a week.
Many pet parents mistake it as toxic for dogs, but that's a misconception - it's actually beneficial when fed in the right amounts. Garlic gets a bad rap in vet medicine for being in the onion family (highly toxic to dogs). But unlike its allium (onion) relatives, it's actually safe for dogs because it contains very little thiosulfate, compared to other members of the onion family.
Here are the recommended doses of fresh garlic per day, based on your dog's bodyweight:
4 to 7 kilos — 1/2 clove
9 to 18 kilos — 1 clove
20 to 30 pounds — 1 1/2 cloves
35 to 40 kilos — 2 cloves
45 pounds and over — 2 1/2 cloves
The humble mushy is simply misunderstood! Mushrooms are a natural powerhouse of nutrients - and they have long been associated with Eastern Medicine principles. They have many proven benefits when treating chronic disease like cancers.
Their nutritional benefits are better absorbed cooked rather than raw for your furry best friend. This myth has it's roots based on an obvious risk - you are walking through the bush, your dog is foraging through the brush and he eats a toxic toadstool. If we ate that toadstool or toxic species of fungi we'd be very sick as well!
Always feed your dog mushrooms grown for human consumption - & your dog's health will benefit (just like ours). Remove the risk & you will never have a problem!
Foods that are VERY TOXIC to dogs:
Never feed your dog any of these foods - if they accidentally eat any of them seek Veterinarian help immediately. Many of these are time critical - don't wait go straight to your vet!
Lollies (artificial colours, flavours, Xylitol, the actual wrappers)
Macadamia Nuts & Shells
Seeds from Apples, Plums, Apricots, Cherries, Mangoes
Corn on the Cob (the Corn Husks are a choking hazard)
ANY Cooked Bones they splinter & can puncture internally)
ANY Dehydrated Bones (Dehydrated bones are exactly the same as cooked bones & will splinter)
Avocado Skin and Pip (the flesh is very good for dogs, just not the skin or pip)
Green (unripe) Tomatoes
Any sort of Mouldy Food
Uncooked Bread Dough (yeast)
Caffeine (Coffee Beans or Tea)
Ham, Bacon & Deli Meats (High in Fats, Preservatives & Sodium)
Dairy Products (Lactose, also high in Fats & Sugars). Some dogs are able to handle dairy products in small quantities, however many are actually lactose intolerant and have difficulty digesting it. This applies to all cheeses, although tiny piece every now & then will not harm them).
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Any Human Medications