Let’s Talk Nutrition

Posted on March 02, 2022

by Becca Johnson, CFVA

Posted March 2, 2022

Are you confused about what to feed your dog or cat? Do you have questions about pet foods and which is best? If you are like most pet owners, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”.

Pet nutrition can be so important and we are always excited to see a pet on the appropriate diet. Just because a food is expensive, doesn’t make it a high quality one. The emphasis is more on the quality and not as much the price. It’s all about a healthy, high quality and appropriate balance of nutrients. We’re here to help debunk some common myths about pet nutrition. Let’s dig in.

Myth # 1 Corn is a filler and/or causes allergies:  Don’t be fooled, corn is a decent protein source! It is also a great source of carbohydrates for energy. Corn also contains amino & fatty acids for skin & coat, along with a variety of other nutrients. As for allergies, most food allergies are caused by animal proteins. Less than 3% of confirmed food allergies in pets involve corn.

Myth # 2 Byproducts are waste: Byproducts are also good as long as the quality is there. Byproducts include beet pulp and organ meat like Liver, which is a super important part of a pet’s diet and PACKED with nutrients! Quality pet food’s byproducts do not contain hair, horns, teeth or hooves. Unfortunately, a lot of myths about ingredients were put out there by other pet food companies. Including the Grain Free movement.

Myth # 3 Grain Free Diets are better: So, let’s talk about the grain free fad. It was carried over from human nutrition and there hasn’t been much evidence that removal of grains helps most animals.  

Grains provide energy that allows protein in the diet to be used for building muscles and tissues. Recent studies have in fact shown an increase in dilated cardiomyopathy (a heart condition in dogs) with grain free diets. This is due to the ingredients that many companies are replacing the grains with. The heart is the most important muscle and needs protein from multiple sources.  

In addition, there is no evidence that grains are a high source of allergies. As with corn, confirmed cases of grain allergies are very low in pets. If a grain allergy is suspected, over the counter grain free diets can still contain trace amounts of grains or other potential allergens, due to lack of cleaning between diets. Please consult a veterinarian for appropriate diet options if a food allergy is suspected.  

Myth # 4: Raw & Homemade diets are superior to kibble: RAW & homemade diets have not been proven better by any study out there. They can be dangerous if not done correctly. Balancing the nutrients specifically for your pet and the quality of the ingredients make it difficult. Would you feel comfortable eating raw meat & eggs? Raw diets carry a risk of E. coli and salmonella which can expose you & your pet to Gastrointestinal diseases. Balanceit.com & Petdiets.com are two different sites where a Veterinary Nutritionist can formulate the appropriate diet for your pet if a homemade diet is desired. Farmers Dog and PetPlate also have a Veterinary Nutritionist.

Myth # 5: All kibbles are formulated the same: Life stage is important! Food should always be labeled with an AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) statement. This tells you how the food was AAFCO approved and what life stage it is designed for. You want to feed the appropriate life stage food, not an “All Life Stage” food.  Calories, mineral requirements, etc. all change as cats and dogs age and so should their diet. This prevents their kidneys and liver from over working and helps them live longer.

Myth #6: Vets get a “kickback” from recommending certain foods: Let’s be honest. Veterinarians are not paid by Royal Canin, Hills or Purina. The reason we recommend these diets are due to the quality and testing they do. They will turn away ingredients that are not up to their standards. They do actual feeding trials with spoiled rotten dogs and cats that live awesome lives at their facilities. Seriously, I got to see the Hills dogs and cats in Topeka, Kansas and am super jealous of their set up. They are also formulated by Veterinary Nutritionists; these vets have dedicated their careers and have spent many hours of their professional time continuing their in-depth knowledge of nutrition.

We know how important “The Why” is when it comes to food. You don’t want to just know what food is best, you want to know WHY it is best. Your concerns are valid and we want you to be happy and confident with what you are feeding your furry family member. We are always happy to discuss nutrition and help you select the right diet for your kiddo.

There has been a major back-order on pet diets, just like everything else in our world. We are here to help as much as possible. We have alternative diets in mind and may even have the food you need in stock. Our online pharmacy, Vets First Choice, has many of these diets in stock and can be shipped right to your house as a one-time purchase or auto-ship! Let us know if you are having trouble getting your pets food.

Visit our online pharmacy by going to Ankenyvets.com and clicking “Online Pharmacy” or go directly to  Ankenyvets.vetsfirstchoice.com

By Becca Johnson, CFVA

My name is Becca but I go by any form of Rebecca (Becky, Bex, or Rebecky just to name a few). I have been with Ankeny Animal and Avian Clinic since 2016. I enjoy my many roles here which include, Nutrition Coach, CSR, Compliance Coach and a member of the Fear Free Committee. Outside of work, I enjoy playing Sims 4 and hanging out with my husband and "fur kids" which include two dogs (Goku & Asuna) and two cats (Kirito aka "Kitty Toes" & Natsu).
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