10 Dog Food Myths
Myth #1: Dry food is the best food for your dog.
Long considered the answer for canine nutrition, new information indicates dry foods may be a source of chronic health issues. Obesity, arthritis, early kidney disease, dental disease, skin disorders and even cancer are just a few of the problems now being associated with the highly processed and excessive levels of carbohydrates in dry food only diets. Water matters and is most bioavailable and beneficial in food. Moisture rich foods offer critical support to electrolyte and micronutrient balance, maintaining cellular integrity throughout the body. Premium canned foods and fresh foods offer higher meat protein, lower carbohydrates, proper moisture levels, and fewer highly processed ingredients.
Myth #2: All diets are complete and balanced for every dog.
Not all foods are created equal. The ideal diet for your dog depends on your dog’s needs—not whether the food is the most expensive or the latest brand. Protein, fat, and fiber levels vary widely, fatty acid ratios can be unbalanced, vitamins and minerals are added based on the “average” dog and therapeutic ingredients, such as fish oils, are often at levels too low to be of any benefit. Learn what foods will encourage your dog to thrive, not just survive.
Myth #3: Dry food is beneficial to dental care.
A dog’s mouth is designed for tearing, shredding, and chewing. Because of the size and texture, most dry foods are swallowed whole. Plus, chewing high carbohydrate foods produces a starchy film that can adhere to teeth creating a rich environment for dental-damaging bacteria. Healthy dental treats should include fresh meaty bones and sinewy chews from reliable and trusted sources.
Myth #4: A dog must be kept on the same food throughout its lifetime.
In the wild your canine will hunt and scavenge. So, why presume that switching foods is detrimental? In fact, a well-planned variety may prevent over-supplementation, nutritional imbalances, and the development of food sensitivities. Slow introductions of a variety of foods—even limited options— encourages better digestion and supports a healthier immune system.
Myth #5: Premium foods are just higher priced foods.
The adage – you get what you pay for, is never truer than with pet foods. Nutrition is not only about whether your dog likes the food, but how bio-available it is and how your dog can utilize it. Quality manufacturers go to great lengths to source better ingredients, cook at low temperature to preserve valuable nutrients, and use specially designed packaging to preserve the nutrients. Inexpensive foods should raise alarms. To make foods cheaply, corners were cut somewhere, whether in the ingredients, manufacturing, or labor.
Myth #6: People food is harmful to dogs.
A well-balanced, home-prepared diet using fresh organic ingredients you source yourself are the best diets available—offering you control over recipes, supplementation, and processing. Talk with your veterinarian or a pet food nutrition expert about recommended recipes and your dog’s nutritional requirements. Consider complementing your dog’s commercial foods with fresh, home-prepared foods to offer the best diets available within your budget.
Myth #7: Diet and “lite” foods offer better weight management.
Empty calories from additional fiber and select ingredients are the main components added to make many of the lite foods. These ingredients, along with the heavy burden of simple carbohydrates, can contribute to weight gain, trigger skin and coat disorders, and create food intolerances. A diet made with quality meat proteins, beneficial complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and balanced vitamins and minerals is key to helping your canine stay slim and trim.
Myth #8: Organic foods make superior diets.
While organic and free-range meats may be superior protein sources, they are often not the primary ingredients in organic pet foods. Because of costs, many dry and canned foods use higher levels of grains or plant proteins to meet nutritional requirements, increasing the carbohydrate load in your dog’s diet. Understanding your dog’s nutritional needs AND how to read labels will help you select the best foods for your carnivore.
Myth #9: Raw foods have the highest risk of bacterial contamination.
As an opportunistic carnivore, your dog evolved with a digestive tract designed to process and eliminate food quickly — short, acidic, and hostile to bacteria. While caution should be taken with dogs with weakened immune systems or in homes with humans with health challenges, precautions in place by leading manufacturers of raw diet pet foods offer safety and peace of mind.
Myth #10: Low protein diets must be given to aggressive dogs.
Behavior issues can arise more from the type and quality of protein—meat vs. plant, the level of processing, and the balance of micronutrients in the diet. Food sensitivities can also trigger behavior and health issues. Therefore, when working with aggression or other behavior issues, it’s imperative the diet is evaluated. Foods aren’t only about calories and energy; a species appropriate dog diet nourishes their body, brain, and every other organ system.
© Terri Symonds Grow 2017, Revised 2022
Terri Grow writes and speaks on pet health and welfare, working with veterinarians, trainers, shelters and manufacturers to empower canine and feline health through diets, herbal therapies, supplements and environmental adjustments.