What Should I Feed My Dog?
Dispelling the Dog Food Myths
Red meat, raw meat, no meat? What about carbs and fat? With all the opinions and debates going on, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the seemingly simple question of “What should I feed my dog?” The truth is, deciding what to feed your dog isn’t as complicated as many make it out to be — once you get the facts.
Myth: Dogs are carnivores
Reality: Dogs are omnivores, which means they can get their nutrition from both plants and animal sources. Yes, dogs do need protein in their diet. But that’s not all they need. Ideally, you should feed dogs a healthy balance of protein, vitamins and minerals, carbohydrates (yes carbs!) and fats.
Myth: What’s good for me is what’s good to feed my dog
Reality: Dogs have distinctly different nutritional needs and physiological processes than humans. To start, some foods that are okay for human consumption — like grapes and onions, for example — can be dangerous when fed to dogs. Also, feeding your dog the same meals you feed your human family members may not be giving him enough of the specific nutrients that his body needs.
Regardless of whether you make your dog’s food at home or buy commercial dog food at the store, make sure that the end result is a meal that is 100% complete and balanced for your dog’s specific life stage. For store-bought dog food, you can check for this statement on the product’s label. For dog food that you want to make at home, consult your veterinarian.
Reality: So much depends on what you are making for your dog at home and how you are making it. Feeding your dog table scraps is not considered homemade dog food — nor is it typically healthy for your dog. And for owners wanting to prepare nutritious and balanced meals at home for their dog, it comes with some risks.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs that are fed home-prepared diets have a greater prevalence of health problems than those fed commercially prepared diets. It is important to note that preparing foods with raw ingredients also presents a significant risk of bacterial contamination. Furthermore, as mentioned above, the nutritional needs of dogs vary significantly from the nutritional needs of humans. Thus, feeding your dog what you feed your human family members may not be giving your dog all of the nutrients he needs.
The nice thing about the store-bought or “commercial” dog foods that are 100% complete and balanced for your dog’s life stage is that they already have all the nutrients your dog needs right in the bag or can. Backed by decades of scientific research centered on canine nutrition, these commercial dog foods are also heavily regulated and require little to no preparation.
Laflamme, Dorothy P. DVM, PhD, DACVN; et. al.Pet Feeding Practices of Dog and Cat Owners in the United States and Australia. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. March 1, 2008, Vol. 232, No. 5, Pages 687-694