The Good, the Bad, and the Trendy: Fad Diets for Dogs
With food of all kinds readily available, and new fad diets and ideas about eating that emerge every year (all claiming to be the healthiest), it’s easy to spend a lot of time thinking about what we eat. It’s no surprise that many pet owners are also focused on best options for their furry friend’s diet – after all, pets deserve to live long and healthy lives, too!
From raw diets to grain-free, the choices can seem overwhelming. This is why the team at Animal Family Veterinary Care Center is here to sift through the choices and spotlight some of the fad diets for dogs, so you can make an informed decision.
Fad Diets for Dogs
Food allergies are a big motivator for pet owners to opt for different types of diets for their dogs. But did you know that less than 10% of dogs have food allergies, and the culprit is usually not grain but protein such as poultry, beef, or dairy? Most dogs can digest grains without any issues at all, and symptoms such as gastrointestinal upset is more likely a reaction from overeating or eating something they shouldn’t have eaten than an ingredient.
The Rise of the Grain-Free Diet
Grain-free diets are not such a bad choice for dogs, but there are some considerations to be aware of. Over the past few years, the FDA has issued warnings to pet owners about a link between heart disease and certain grain-free brands. These brands contain ingredients that include peas, lentils, potatoes, and legumes, rather than grains.
There were several cases of canine dilated cardiomyopathy in certain breeds who primarily were given products labeled “grain-free”. There is still little evidence as to why these ingredients contribute to heart disease. It is thought that these diets may be missing an important amino acid, taurine, that is included in most commercial diets.
If you feed your dog a grain-free brand, speak to our team about whether it is a good choice for them and if there is any risk in doing so.
Raw Food Diet
This diet came into fashion because there is a belief that since dogs are the descendents of wolves, who eat their prey raw, there is a need for domestic canines to do the same. The fact is, while dogs were once great hunters, over the course of thousands of years they have adapted to eating a wide range of things, including grains, carbohydrates, and cooked foods.
Unfortunately an exclusive diet of raw meat doesn’t give the modern canine the right number of nutrients they need to thrive. In addition, your dog is not well adapted to eating raw meat because they don’t have the number of enzymes and healthy bacteria to avoid getting sick. Over 80% of raw diets that were examined had the presence of feces and salmonella – not exactly appealing for anyone, including your pup.
Other Popular Diets
There are several new diets that fall under the umbrella of “fad”. These include vegetarian or vegan diets as well as homemade diets. These diets, like the others, should be discussed with your veterinarian because your pet may not be getting everything they need to stay healthy. For example some dogs can be fine with a vegetarian diet, but they will need certain nutrients in the form of supplements each day.
DIY or homemade diets are a good choice for owners who want to control the quality of their pet’s food, but again, they must be careful to include the correct vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients for a complete dog diet.
If you are considering giving your dog a new type of diet, please contact us for a nutritional consultation. We can partner with you to ensure your pet is getting all that they need for optimal health.