Just as with us humans, diet can greatly affect a pet’s health and quality of life. Read on to see some common myths about pet food.
1. What you feed your pet doesn’t really matter.
Let’s put it this way: if you ate the same cheap, low-quality food every single day for every meal, how would it affect your body? (Anyone seen “Super Size Me”?) Even if it didn’t seem detrimental, you most certainly wouldn’t be able to reach your physical and mental potential without quality fuel for your body. You might have fed your pet the same grocery store food their entire lives without noticing anything wrong, but we’ve seen pets go from “fine” to thriving when they’ve tried a high-quality diet. Skin conditions, odor problems, shedding, and sometimes even the need for medications are often reduced or disappear when food quality is improved. High-quality food especially helps senior pets have strong immune systems and healthier joints.
Disclaimer: some pets are super picky and will only eat one brand, no matter what you try. We aren’t going to judge you for the brands you feed your pets. 🙂
2. If it’s on the shelves, it must be good for your pet. Someone approved it…right?
Just because a pet food is on the shelves and has good marketing behind it doesn’t necessarily mean you should automatically trust that it’s healthy for your pet – pet food is a business, after all. Don’t buy into fear-mongering, but do your research. Even many prescription diets sold by vets are full of fillers and low-quality ingredients like by-products. Not all commercial pet foods are bad, however! There are many out there who put pets’ health first and have strict manufacturing procedures in place. Just be your pet’s health advocate first and foremost. Nowadays, you can choose from a holistic dry food (kibble), canned foods, freeze-dried or frozen raw, home-cooked raw, or a combination of all the above! High-quality grains might be fine for some pets, but some do better on a grain-free diet. We always recommend watching out for gluten and preservatives.
3. Free-feeding is fine.
Some pets do show restraint when it comes to their food intake…however, most pets will succumb to overeating if left to their own devices. Free-feeding might be easier for you, but in the long run it could lead to an overweight pet and a host of health issues, especially when pets eat from boredom or aren’t getting enough exercise to offset the amount of food they eat. Many people think because cats are thought to be independent that they should just be able to graze whenever they come and go, but cats get bored too. Many people do 2-3 scheduled (even loosely) feeding times each day for their pets.
4. Pets should never eat “people food.”
While offering bits directly from the table could encourage begging, dogs and cats can benefit from having certain foods added to their bowls with their existing commercial or raw diets. For tummy issues with dogs, canned 100% pumpkin (not pie filling) is great for adding fiber, plain yogurt aids with probiotics, and plain cooked white rice is gentle on an upset stomach. Sweet potatoes, certain baked or steamed veggies, and cottage cheese are other healthy options you can mix in or offer as treats. And we haven’t met a dog who doesn’t love peanut butter – just offset their normal feedings if needed to stave off excess weight.
Things to avoid include greasy/salty/sugary anything, onions, chocolate, grapes, and raisins. To check a food for safety, you can consult this list.
5. Dry food cleans pets’ teeth.
Sorry…this old myth has been debunked. Regular brushing is still considered the best way to keep your pets’ mouths in tip-top shape. There are various flavors of toothpastes that taste more like treats, several styles of brushes to choose from, and a host of tutorials online to aid you in getting your pet used to having her teeth brushed. There are also a variety of other products that can help with dental health, like water additives, treats, and rinses, but brushing still holds first place. (Note: never brush their teeth with toothpaste made for humans!) Simply eating crunchy stuff isn’t going to be enough to scrape gunk off your pets’ teeth any more than eating crackers would ours. 🙂
What are your thoughts on pet food types and practices? We’d love to hear, so comment below or drop us a line!