With the recent slew of buzzwords telling us that something is natural or healthy for our dogs, it’s getting increasingly difficult to discern a fad from the real thing. Also, it’s easy to fall for what’s promised on a bag of food, because it makes us feel good giving something seemingly superior to our furkids. Who can blame us? Choosing a packet of ordinary treats over one that’s labelled organic and natural makes us look like bad pawrents!
If you are facing the same problem, here are some food rules to take note of before you fork out extra money to purchase something just because it has buzzwoods splattered all over its packaging.
1. The term “natural” doesn’t tell you much.
According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), natural pet foods are simply foods that do not contain chemically synthesized ingredients, except vitamins. Hence, the word natural may not mean that the food is better or unprocessed - cyanide is considered natural! Always check the food label to verify that the ingredients are truly good for your pooch.
2. Dogs aren’t wolves, they’re dogs.
The esteemed journal, Nature, published a study comparing a wolf’s and a dog’s ability to digest starch. The findings showed that dogs have evolved in order to scrounge food from humans, and in doing so, changed both their anatomy and their digestive enzymes to digest carbs effectively. This leads us to the next point.
3. Most dogs don’t benefit from a low-carb diet.
The general consensus amongst canine nutritionists like Dr. Arleigh Reynolds is that performance dogs may benefit from the additional protein and/or fats in low-carb foods. But feeding a low-carb diet to help control an average dog’s weight may yield the opposite result if the carbs in the food are replaced with fats.
5. Most dogs don’t benefit from a grain-free diet either.
Some people assume grain-free diets are better just because marketers say so, and others believe that a grain-free diet equates to a low-carb diet. This is not necessarily true - Potatoes, a common grain-free source of carbs in commercial dog foods, have a higher glycemic index than brown rice.
For dog owners who believe their dog’s allergies are caused by grains, they should consult a vet or consider a clinical test to confirm their suspicions. Food allergies only comprise 10% of all allergies in dogs, and are commonly caused by five ingredients - beef, dairy, chicken, lamb, and fish. Grain allergies are possible but not wide-spread in dogs.
6. There is no one perfect dog food in the market.
There’s no such thing as a perfect dog food for pooch. Unless your dog has a specific medical condition you’re treating with diet, dog owners may find it beneficial to rotate dog food regularly and see what works best. Also, getting nutrients from different sources over time may be advantageous to fido’s long-term health and wellbeing.