Dog Food: Ten Scary Truths

dog food ingredients

Dog health statistics are alarming. About half of all dogs are obese. 50% of dogs over 10 die of cancer. Heart disease, kidney and liver disease are epidemic. Like people, dogs are what they eat. So, you need to have the true facts about your dog’s food.

10 Scary Truths About Your Dog’s Food

Here are 10 important things you may not know about what your dog’s eating:

#1 Commercial Dog Food Is Fast Food

Heavily-processed fast foods (burgers, fries, tacos, etc) and packaged convenience foods can cause major health problems in people. Research shows that processed foods lead to obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic diseases like diabetes, cancer; irritable bowel syndrome, depression, and increase all-cause mortality rates. So how can fast food (commercial processed food like kibble) be good for dogs?

Only dog food manufacturers think this nonsense makes sense. Dogs and people share roughly 75% of their genetic makeup, and we have similar nutritional needs. What we’re doing to our own health with processed foods, we’re also doing to our dogs. And it’s happening to them faster.

RELATED: Why kibble isn’t a good option …

#2 People Food Is Good For Dogs

Despite what you’ve heard from friends, vets and pet food manufacturers, wholesome ”people food” is good for dogs. So-called people food or human food os really just “food” … and the only people it’s bad for are dog food makers. The same fresh, nutritious foods you eat can offer your dog the nutrition he needs and save you a mountain of vet bills. It just takes a little education to learn the small differences between human and canine nutritional needs. (Hint: No onions, grapes or raisins. Rinse off rich spices and sauces. Limit starchy carbs and avoid wheat and corn.)

RELATED: Read why animal nutritionist Richard Patton PhD says raw food is best …

#3 Prescription Diets Are Not Healthier

Veterinarians, like medical doctors, learn relatively little about nutrition in school. Much of what they do learn comes directly from pet food company vets, sales reps, articles, studies, and seminars.

If your vet hasn’t studied and experimented on her own with raw or homemade diets, it’s unlikely that she knows bad food from good. She may be acting on outdated or inaccurate information or even superstition. And if vets profit from selling one brand, and not another, they have a conflict of interest that may influence their opinions. (Some may even be prohibited by a manufacturer from selling more than one brand.)

RELATED: Learn why prescription diets are no better than other commercial dog foods … 

#4 The Quality Of Processed Commercial Foods Is Suspect

Dog food may legally contain “4-D” meat: meat from dead, dying, diseased and disabled animals. Add a little road kill, mill floor sweepings labeled as grain, and corn contaminated with high levels of pesticide (yes, really) … and you have a recipe for ill health. Starches and fillers are other common ingredients, along with artificial colors and preservatives, plus synthetic vitamins and minerals that don’t nourish your dog effectively. The cheaper the food, the cheaper the ingredients … and the worse the nutrition. 

Always read the ingredient list on the food label so you understand what you’re buying!

RELATED: Find out the tricks dog food manufacturers use to make food look “healthier” …

#5 Kibble Does Not Clean Teeth

Almost all dogs age 3 and over have dental disease. Most of these dogs eat kibble. That should tell you something.

Although a small study once suggested that dry dog food might clean teeth better than canned food, better still doesn’t mean effectively. Hoping to avoid brushing our dog’s teeth, we too willingly grasp at kibble’s unsubstantiated health benefits. But pretending that kibble or hard treats will keep teeth clean will only lead to huge vet bills, lost teeth and much canine suffering.

RELATED: Read what one veterinarian’s experiment showed about kibble vs raw for dogs’ dental health … 

#6 “Complete And Balanced” Does Not Mean “Optimum”

“Complete and balanced” means that a food meets minimal theoretical health requirements for the average dog. Manufacturers must state that their food meets the minimum requirements for all nutrients in the AAFCO nutrient profile for balanced diets. Or. they can conduct a feeding trial according to AAFCO’s standards. 

But AAFCO feeding trials don’t prove much. They only last 26 weeks, and they only include 8 dogs. All that’s required is for 6 of the 8 dogs to meet certain standards, measured by a vet exam and certain blood work parameters, at the beginning and end of the 6 months. Often they aren’t even formal trials, but just employees’ dogs who ate only. that food for the 6 months,   And manufacturers may only do the feeding trials for the lead product in their lines.

Of course, complete and balanced is better than incomplete and unbalanced … but again, better does not mean good.

RELATED: Read more about how manufacturers meet AAFCO nutritional standards … 

#7 Feeding The Same Food Day After Day Limits Nutrition

Imagine eating corn, rancid fat and chicken wings (without meat) every meal of your life, with the same mix of cheap vitamins and minerals added. It’s a lot like eating the same breakfast cereal for every day. Nutritionists urge people to eat a variety of foods, both for improved nutrition and also to prevent allergies. It’s no surprise that dogs need variety too. Ever wonder why your dog has a food allergy? Skin problems from allergies and food sensitivities in dogs are at epidemic levels.

But variety can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs, right?

Not really. In the short run, maybe that’s true. Nutritionally-deprived animals have sick guts. In fact, intestinal upset when switching foods is a sign your dog needs more variety. Once good nutrition has healed a dog’s gut, your dog can eat different foods every meal just as people do. Just switch foods gradually over several weeks while your dog’s gut heals.

RELATED: How to switch your dog to a raw diet … 

#8 Kibble Is Not Better Than Canned

Canned food (or wet food) is preserved by the process of canning but most kibble is preserved artificially. (Think about how much preservative must be required to slow spoilage of food left out all day!)

Kibble begins as a dry cooked meal while canned food is canned fresh. Kibble is exposed to more heat than canned (destroying nutrients). Worse yet, kibble is linked to bloat, a deadly problem, especially for large, broad-chested dogs. It’s also dehydrating. Of course, canned isn’t perfect either. Fresh is best, raw or cooked. Next best is frozen pre-made raw food,  and then freeze-dried raw, followed by dehydrated foods. These are all available at better pet stores.

RELATED: Read about the pros and cons of freeze-dried dog food … 

#9 Some Common Foods Can Be Risky For Dogs

Cooked bones and rawhide chews can cause major health problems requiring emergency surgery. Wheat-based treats can bring on allergies. Onionsgrapes, raisins, chocolate, the artificial sweetener Xylitol and other common foods can be toxic for dogs and must be avoided.

But, contrary to what many people say, garlic (in appropriate amounts) is a great health food for dogs. 

RELATED: Why garlic is good for your dog …

#10 Corn Kills

Most kibble is loaded with corn, a cheap filler. Unfortunately, the corn isn’t the luscious kind you and I eat. It’s feed corn (like cattle eat), or cheap feed corn remnants. Even corn meal dust counts as corn. The corn may even have been condemned for human consumption, since there’s no upper level of pesticide contamination for pet foods.

If that weren’t bad enough, corn (which gives us both high fructose corn syrup and corn oil) is fattening. Is it any wonder so many dogs are obese and suffer from diabetes? And most corn is genetically modified, meaning it’s also full of potentially cancer-causing glyphosate

RELATED: Learn about aflatoxins in corn that cause deadly liver disease … 

Improving your dog’s diet can add years to your dog’s life and save you a fortune. It doesn’t require a lot of work or expense. It just requires a little knowledge and the desire to give your dog the healthy body he deserves. Here are some raw recipes to help you get started making wholesome, healthy meals for your dog.

References

Elizabeth L, Machado P, Zinöcker M, Baker P, Lawrence M. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative ReviewNutrients. 2020 Jun 30;12(7):1955.

Schmidt M, Unterer S, Suchodolski JS, Honneffer JB, Guard BC, Lidbury JA, Steiner JM, Fritz J, Kölle P. The fecal microbiome and metabolome differs between dogs fed Bones and Raw Food (BARF) diets and dogs fed commercial diets. PLoS One. 2018 Aug 15;13(8):e0201279.

Maria Fredriksson-Ahomaa et al. Raw Meat-Based Diets In Dogs And CatsUniversity of Helsinki, 28 June 017. 

Stella M.Barrouin-Melo et al. Nutritional Factors And Neoplasia In Dogs: A Data Association Study On The Role Of Early Age DietUniversity of Helsinki. [Undated].

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