April 20th, 2022
Misconceptions About Pet Diets
Corn is a filler and causes significant allergies in pets
This has been shown to be untrue. In a study of 297 dogs, only 4% had a corn allergy. In fact, dogs are most commonly allergic to (in descending order): beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb/mutton, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. In cats, the culprits are beef, dairy, fish, lamb, poultry and barley/wheat (in equal numbers), egg and rabbit (in equal numbers). It is completely dependent on your pet’s immune system.
Corn also is a source of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It also provides energy and helps with digestion.
“Grain-free” is better
By definition, this means that the pet food does not include rice, corn, or wheat. Instead, they contain peas, legumes, potatoes and/or lentils. We need to remember, however, that grains such as wheat and corn are very digestible sources of carbohydrates and protein.
We also need to bear in mind that, while people associate high carbohydrate diets with obesity, the situation with pets is different:
- People and pets have much different requirements for carbohydrate and proteins in their diets.
- Grain-free does not mean carbohydrate-free. The substitutes for rice, wheat and corn are often higher in carbohydrates.
Grain-free diets have recently been associated with a serious heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). As a result, we advise caution before deciding to use a grain-free diet.
Gluten is bad for my pet
Gluten is the protein in grain left over after all the starch is removed. Celiac disease is
an intolerance to gluten. Celiac disease in dogs is incredibly rare (as it is in people) and has not been documented in cats as of November 2019. Unless your dog has a known sensitivity to gluten, there is no need to avoid it in their diet.
“Real meat” should always be the first ingredient
Although ingredients in pet foods are listed in weight order, remember that much of the weight in meat is from water or moisture. On the other hand, grains have much less moisture content. This means, gram-for-gram, you get much more energy from corn as the protein source. And meat meal (the ground-up animal tissue minus the water) is a concentrated source of protein. As a result, a pet food labelled “corn, chicken by-product meal” might really be more nutritious than one labelled “chicken, corn.”
By-products are bad
Meat by-products are often considered to be substandard or bad for your pet. But look carefully at the definition of by-products:
“The non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hoofs.”
Remember that organ meats (such as the kidney or liver) are in fact more nutritious than the cuts of meat you eat. Simply by mincing and mixing together all the by-products you have the basis of a nutritious pet food.
“All-natural” and “organic” are better for my pet
Both of these are simply descriptions as to how a food is produced. “Organic” refers to how a food is grown and processed, while “natural” means the food is produced without added colouring, synthetic ingredients, and may mean the food has been minimally processed. Neither of these descriptions have an impact on the nutritive value of the food in question. You may choose these options based on things such as environmental concerns, but they are not requirements for choosing a healthy and nutritious food for your pet.