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3 Silliest Dog Food Myths on the Internet
veterinarians, raw food, premium foods


Chow Hounds: Why our dogs are getting fatter
Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter -A Vet's Plan to Save Their Lives

1. Veterinarians don't know anything about nutrition

Here's an actual post - spelling, grammar and punctuation unchanged - on an Internet forum:

“The only reason that vets don’t like the raw food diets is becuse they have almost no nutritiional training in vet school and the little that they do have is provided by hill’s science diet.”

Reality check - why do people become vets? Because they love animals! There are easier ways for people good in science and math to make more money. Vets have grown up with Lassie or Fluffy and want to make a career taking care of animals.

I checked the required courses in three of the top veterinary schools in the country:
Texas A&M, the University of Michigan and Cornell University. All three provide animal nutrition courses.

Once in practice, vets see hundreds, even thousands, of pets and one question that is always asked is 'what are you feeding him.' Vets also do blood and other tests and scientifically see the results of various feeding programs.

I don't know how this silly myth got started. Worse, I don't know why anyone would pay any attention to it. The people posting may never have taken a biochemistry class in their life or even be high school graduates.

At least your vet has a postgraduate degree, experience and a state license.

2. Raw food is better than commercial dog food

No one disputes the benefits of raw vegetables and fruits, at least those that are safe for dogs to eat. I give my own dogs raw baby carrots and bananas as treats.

The areas of contention are raw meats and bones. I've addressed the 10 reasons why the Food and Drug Administration recommends against feeding bones to dogs here:

There's a reason it's called BARF

Feeding raw meats to a dog is advocated by Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet and similar ones.

The problem with raw meats is that dogs are as susceptible to the bacteria and parasites in raw meat as humans are. It's amusing that proponents of raw meat diets herald how natural' this diet is as though 'natural' by definition is wonderful.

It was 'natural' for wild animals to sometimes die from salmonella poisoning. It was 'natural' for humans to die before their 40th birthday until the introduction of unnatural antibiotics.

Below are several scientific studies made on raw food diets.

This preliminary study found that 30% of stool samples from dogs fed homemade BARF diets contained various Salmonella serovars, whereas none of the samples from dogs fed commercial dry diets contained Salmonella spp. Source: Canadian Veterinary Journal. 2002 June; 43(6): 441–442.

This study looked at 25 commercially available raw food diets. Coliforms (such as E. Coli) were found in all of the diets. Salmonella was in 5 diets. Several other types of dangerous bacteria were found in the foods as well. Source: Canadian Veterinary Journal, 2005, 2005 June; 46(6): 513–516

This study concluded that it was not safe to feed raw food to dogs whose owners were immunocompromised as there was a risk of the owners being infected with bacteria.
Source: Zoonoses and Public Health, Volume 55, Issue 8-10, pages 470–480, October 2008

The Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine reported that commercially prepared raw meat diets carry an increased risk of bacterial contamination for the animals and their human handlers, and some potential risk of injury to the animal from shards of bones or other hard substances in the meat. The FDA has not seen any objective evidence to suggest that raw meat diets are better than other kinds of diets.
Source: FDA Veterinary Newsletter May/June 2004.

You can read lots of forum posts extolling the merits of a raw food diet, but I challenge anyone to provide a scientific study from a veterinary or medical journal on the good results of a raw food diet for dogs.

3. Only premium commercial dog foods should be used

At the same time, there's not necessarily a good reason to pay through the nose for fancy shmancy dog foods. 'Premium' has no scientific or legal meaning and usually standsfor 'overpriced.'

Here's a list of some premium dog foods that have been the source of an FDA recall (note: I did not include the 2007 Chinese melamine recalls since the manufacturers were victims of fraudulent exports).

Source: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/newpetfoodrecalls/#Dog

Blue Buffalo
Canine Caviar
Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance
Laura Lynn
Royal Canin
Taste of the Wild

Also keep in mind that many of the 'premium' dog food makers have never conducted a feed trial but ratheruse computer modeling to qualify as 'balanced and complete' under AAFCO rules. Take a look at the labels on some fancy shmancy brands the next time you're in Petco or PetsMart.
The older dog food companies including maligned Hills have conducted feeding trials in accordance with AAFCO rules.

For instance, a "maintenance” claim requires that 6 out of 8 healthy dogs or cats are kept alive for 26 weeks on the diet, without losing more than 10 percent of their body weight or having certain blood levels fall below specified levels, and passing an examination by a veterinarian at the trial’s beginning and conclusion.

Conducting AAFCO feeding trials are a sign that the company is serious about its products and is willing and able to invest in the foods it produces. Usually, that means a large manufacturer.

So what's a responsible dog owner to do? Feed your dog a commercial 'balanced and complete' dog food and let your dog 'tell' you if it's the right food for him. Is his coat and skin healthy? Does he have energy to play and take walks? Is he literally bright-eyed and bush-tailed? And, most visibly, is his poop coming out as brown, well-formed strands?

Meet all those feeding trials yourself and you have a good dog food.

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