The internet is full of opposing viewpoints on nutrition, diets, ingredients, and the pet-food brand or type you should be feeding your furry friend. With so many options and opinions, sifting through the chaff and separating fact from fiction is difficult. To help set the story straight for pet owners, we’ve compiled a list of eight common myths about pet nutrition.
#1: Spaying or neutering your pet does not contribute to obesity
Many people believe that spaying or neutering their pet will cause weight gain. While it’s true that many pets gain weight after surgery, it’s not a surgical side effect. Consider that most pets are sterilized when they reach puberty or physical maturity after an intense growth period. Growing puppies and kittens require much more food than their adult counterparts but, like people, their metabolism slows down when they reach physical maturity. It’s simply a coincidence that pets are spayed and neutered around the time they will start to gain weight if their calorie intake is not changed as they reach adulthood.
#2: Organic, all-natural, and holistic pet foods are unregulated
As human nutrition trends toward organic and natural foods, the same foods show up in the pet-food market. Knowing pet owners naturally want to offer their beloved companion the best, pet-food companies market to an owner’s emotions, slapping holistic, all-natural, and organic labels on their products, although these buzz words are not regulated and can be used at will.
#3: Corn is not a cheap filler for pet food
Corn is a powerhouse ingredient, packed full of high quality nutrition that gives your pet energy and is rich in carotene. Carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body, and supports your pet’s eyesight, skin health, reproduction, and bone and muscle development.
#4: Dogs can digest grains
Although dogs have wild ancestors, they have been domesticated for generations, which changed many physical features, from their skeletal shape to gastrointestinal function. While wolves may have thrived on meat and could not handle starches well, domestic dogs are able to digest grains. They may not subsist well on a grain-based diet, but corn, rice, barley, and other carbs provide an excellent energy source when combined with a meat-based diet.
#5: Grains are the least likely culprit for causing food allergies in pets
Grains have been given a bad rap in the pet-food world, but much of the ruckus is untrue. As gluten sensitivities in people became more common, a suspicion of grain filtered through to the pet-food industry. Allergies in pets are now more commonplace, and many pet owners believe they are caused by grain in their diets. While pets can be grain-allergic, it is incredibly rare, and they are much more likely to be allergic to the protein source, such as chicken or lamb.
#6: Feeding your pet the company-recommended food amount may be too much
When we see an overweight pet, we ask how much she is fed, and the owner often says she gives the amount recommended on the bag of food. While these recommendations are a great place to start, they are simply guidelines, not rules. Adjust your pet’s calorie intake to fit her needs. An energetic sporting dog will require more calories than a senior couch potato, so adjust the amount of food your pet needs to reach her ideal body condition.
#7: An overweight or obese pet is subject to many health problems
Chubby kitties may be adorable, but we know it’s not good for their health. That extra adipose tissue creates its own inflammatory molecules, leading to systemic inflammation, and causing many diseases, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, hypertension, liver disease, and some forms of cancer.
#8: Reducing calories may not decrease your pet’s weight
After struggling for months to reduce your pet’s weight by decreasing her calories and increasing exercise, you’re still not seeing any progress—nothing is more frustrating, when you’re doing everything you can to help your pet lead a healthy life. If your pet is still overweight despite your best efforts, she may have a metabolic imbalance. Endocrine disease, such as hypothyroidism, can thwart your weight-loss efforts by stalling your pet’s metabolism. If your furry friend can’t shed those extra pounds, call us to schedule a nutritional consultation.