Skip to content

Dog Nutrition: Fact or Myth

If you are a pet parent, then you are probably aware of all of the myths going around about dog food. One day you’ll hear about how a grain-free diet is the best thing for your pup, and then the next day, you’ll hear about how a grain-free diet can cause canine heart disease. It can be incredibly difficult to keep up with all of the information floating around out there and what is fact and what is fiction. 

Today, the experts at New Market Animal Hospital are going to discuss some of the most common myths, and some facts, that we hear from our patients — or rather — their parents. We understand that you just want to do what’s best for your dog, but in order to do that, you must have the correct information. Read on to learn more, and if your pup is in need of a check-up or any other veterinary care, schedule an appointment at New Market Animal Hospital today.

1.) Myth: Dogs are carnivores and should have a high-protein diet. 

This myth most likely got started because dogs fall under the order Carnivora. And, while most animals that are found in this order are indeed carnivores, not all of them are. Dogs are actually omnivores, meaning that they can eat and remain healthy while consuming both animals and plants. If you need more proof that being under the order Carnivora doesn’t mean that an animal is a carnivore — Pandas are also categorized in the same order and they are herbivores. 

2.) Myth: You should avoid dog food with corn listed as an ingredient.

Many people believe that corn is used as a cheap filler in dog food and means that the food is not properly balanced. This is probably due to some recent dog food commercials that claim their food is superior because it does not contain corn. In fact, some dog foods will advertise that their formula is corn-free right on the package. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a corn-free food is better for your dog. Corn is actually a well-rounded nutritional ingredient. It provides your pup with protein, antioxidants, fatty acids, and carbohydrates. While there has been some discussion of dogs having an allergy to corn, they are actually more likely to be allergic to wheat, dairy, egg, lamb, soy, or beef. 

3.) Myth: Dogs should eat raw diets. 

Raw food diets have become a recent trend in dog food. Many people believe that since dogs were once wild animals that a raw diet is more natural. However, this just isn’t true. Your dog can obtain the same nutritional value from a cooked meal as he or she can from a raw one. Raw diets can actually come with health risks caused by pathogens present in raw meat as well as sharp bone fragments. 

4.) Myth: Commercially processed dog foods should be avoided at all costs.

We tend to consider anything labeled as “processed” as unhealthy. This may be due to the fact that when we speak about processed foods for humans, we are usually referring to junk food. However, any product that is not in it’s raw and natural state is processed in some form. The word “processed” doesn’t mean unhealthy, it just means that the food has been prepared in some way. Almost all dog foods you will come across are processed. 

Commercially processed dog foods that come in a big bag at your local grocery store are not necessarily bad for your dog. These foods are designed to be nutritionally-complete for dogs, so they are still a decent choice for food. This myth may be due to the marketing from some premium dog food companies.  

5.) Fact: Grain-free diets may be linked to canine heart disease.

Some pet owners swear by feeding their dogs a grain-free diet. However, the FDA is currently investigating if there is a connection between dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), also known as canine heart disease, and a grain-free diet. While some breeds are genetically predispositioned to DCM, there has also been an increase in cases being reported in breeds who are not predispositioned and are being fed a grain-free diet. The relationship has not been proven as of yet, but considering there is a current investigation, we have to consider the possibility that there may be a connection.

6.) Myth: You should look for the word “natural” on your dog’s food.

Just like in human food, the word “natural” is not regulated when it comes to dog food. Dog food companies often put this on their food to indicate that the ingredients used in their food are natural and not overly processed, but that isn’t always the case. If you are concerned about the ingredients in your dog’s food, you are better off reading the ingredient list.  

7.) Fact: You should look for the word “organic” on your dog’s food. 

The word “organic” is not currently regulated by the FDA for pet products, although regulations are being developed. However, the National Organic Program (NOP) has dictated that pet foods should follow the same regulations when it comes to using the “organic” label as is required in human foods. This means that dog food that is labeled as “organic” must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. With those regulations, you should be able to trust that a dog food labeled “organic” is indeed made of mostly organic ingredients. 

8.) Myth: You should stay away from dog foods that contain by-products. 

A by-product, simply put, is something that is produced in the making of something else. Both pet foods and human foods often contain by-products. Although we often consider the word “by-product” a bad word, that isn’t necessarily true. For example, Vitamin E is a by-product of processing soybeans. Don’t let the word by-product scare you away. 

9.) Myth: Dry dog food will help clean your pet’s teeth.

This is a pretty commonly believed myth. It’s said that when dogs chew their dry food that it helps to remove tartar and plaque from their teeth, unfortunately, this just isn’t true. Dogs do not take the time to thoroughly chew their food so most dog food is swallowed whole or bit into once, which is not enough to clean their teeth or gums. 

10.) Fact: You should choose a well-balanced dog food and stick to it.

While humans enjoy variety when it comes to food, it is not the same with dogs. When you find a dog food that your dog enjoys that provides well-balanced nutrition, you should stick to it. Changing your dog’s food too often can upset their stomach. If you need to change your dog’s food, it’s recommended that you do so gradually. It’s important that when it comes to your dog’s food, you don’t choose what’s on sale this week or what you happen to have a coupon for. Choose a food that agrees with your dog and stick with it. 

11.) Myth: All human food is bad for dogs.

While feeding your dog a cheese curl, your pizza crust, or a bite of hot dog is certainly not healthy for them, that doesn’t mean that all human food should be avoided. Foods like turkey, chicken, and sweet potatoes can be healthy for your dog. In fact, many people are beginning to cook their own dog food from similar ingredients. All human food isn’t bad for your dog, as long as you ensure you are feeding them food that can contribute to a well-balanced doggie diet. 

12.) Fact: You should give your dog raw bones instead of cooked bones.

If you are going to give your dog bones to chew on, they should be raw. When bones are cooked, they become brittle, and if they break, the bone fragments can cause tears in the esophagus, stomach , and intestines, and may also cause choking. 

Learn More About Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs

We hope that you have a better understanding of what you should or shouldn’t believe when it comes to dog food myths. Some of these myths are caused by the spread of misinformation between pet owners, while others have come to surface as a result of dog food commercials that want you to think that their food is the best food. No matter where the myths have come from, it’s important that as pet owners, we educate ourselves and do what is best for our furry friends. 

Do you have more questions about your dog’s nutrition? Your local vet at New Market Animal Hospital can help. Contact our helpful staff today to learn more, and when your doggo is in need of a veterinarian visit, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment today.