To keep your furry pal in tip-top shape, you naturally want to provide them with the best. From treats and toys to wellness care and nutrition, sourcing the highest quality products and services can make a world of difference to your pet’s health and happiness. 

When you search for the top, healthy-pet products, you can easily be overwhelmed with options and differing opinions. To help guide you in choosing a high quality diet for your four-legged friend, our Parker Center Animal Clinic team unravels common myths about pet nutrition.

Myth: Corn is a poorly digested filler ingredient in pet diets

Fact: Corn often gets a bad rap as a pet food ingredient, but it’s actually an excellent carbohydrate source of many essential nutrients. Some pets find uncooked corn difficult to digest, but adding processed corn offers a readily digestible energy source full of fiber, protein, and vitamin B6.

Myth: Animal byproducts indicate a low-quality pet food

Fact: Many people believe animal byproducts come from diseased or contaminated animal parts that are not fit for consumption by any living creature. They likely also believe that byproducts are an animal’s inedible parts, such as hooves, hair, or feathers. But, animal byproducts are generally organ meats and may include other edible tissues and bones that have been cooked to eliminate bacteria and water.

These byproducts, especially the organs, are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats that are not only incredibly nutritious but also easy to digest. Compared with muscle meat, byproducts contain more nutrients and more sustainable diets can be produced by using components that would be wasted otherwise.

Myth: Raw diets are healthier than cooked diets

Fact: While some advocate for raw meat diets, this trend must be approached with caution. Raw diets can be safe if they are properly stored and prepared, taking best hygiene measures, but they can put pets and pet owners at risk to harmful bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Avoid raw diets if your household includes young children, the elderly, or immunocompromised people, to prevent a debilitating infection.

Myth: Homemade diets are simple to make

Fact: Homemade diets that are carefully planned and nutritionally balanced can improve many health conditions, but a well-rounded homemade diet requires extensive knowledge about your individual pet’s nutritional requirements. Always consult with a veterinary nutritionist to avoid deficiencies or excesses.

Myth: Grains are the leading cause of food allergies in pets

Fact: The belief that grains are harmful to pets is a common misconception. In reality, grains can be a valuable energy and nutrient source and rarely cause food allergies. True food allergies are not common in pets, and grain allergies are rare. A pet’s food allergy is most likely caused by a protein source, such as:

  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Soy
  • Wheat

If you suspect your pet has allergies, switching to a grain-free diet is not the best management option. While the link between grain-free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs is still unclear, consumption of pulses (i.e., the category of plants that includes peas, lentils, chickpeas, and dry beans) appears implicated. Pulses and potatoes are often included in grain-free diets to replace the absent grain and are considered the most likely cause of cardiac issues associated with these diets. Rather than managing your pet’s allergies with a grain-free diet, discuss alternative treatment options with our veterinarian.

Myth: Dogs are carnivores and should eat only meat

Fact: While dogs’ wolf ancestors are considered carnivores, dogs are actually omnivores. Dogs and wolves derive nutrition from animal and plant sources, but dogs are better adapted to digesting grains and starches. So, your dog will thrive on a well-balanced diet that includes vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from a variety of sources. 

Cats, on the other hand, are obligate carnivores, meaning they rely on nutrients found only in animal products. When choosing your cat’s diet, the first several ingredients listed should be animal-based.

Separating fact from fiction is crucial when it comes to your pet’s nutrition. By dispelling these common myths, we hope we have empowered you to make informed decisions about your furry pal’s diet. If you still have questions about the best diet type for your pet, contact our Parker Center Animal Clinic team.