Unfortunately there are many myths out there involving pet food. This becomes more apparent when you go shopping at a pet shop and ‘your’ normal brand is out so they sell you the best, newest equivalent. The problem is changing diets quickly is not advised and most of the time they are selling you the product that is the special for the month or, especially for the bigger pet shops, their own licensed product. So here are some myth busters.
Holistic has no definition when it comes to the pet food industry. It ‘s definition according to the dictionary relates to ‘the whole’ and it suggests that all parts of the body are interconnected. The use of holistic creates misrepresentation and misunderstanding with respect to pet food and its benefit on the animal.
Organic refers to the way ingredients are grown, harvested and processed. If a pet food complies with the human organic standard (95% contents are organic) then they can display the organic seal. Often pet food may contain one or two products that are organic and they market that in prominent positions on the packet, however be aware this does not reflect the whole product. There is no doubt that research suggests in the human field that organic is better. As far as I am aware the only organic pet food available is the RAW diet preparations.
Grain Free is a storm in a tea cup.
Grain Free is a marketing term that is at the expense of what we know scientifically to be best for our dogs. Some companies do it more than others, and the ‘scientific’ companies resisted the longest, but now even the hills company has brought out Ideal Balance a grain fee alternative. It seems that the craze has come from the human side where specific grain free, lactose free, meat free LSA free (did I miss any) diets have become the rage. If its ‘supposedly’ good for me then it must be good for my pet!!! People have become weary of feed grade ingredients and regard carbohydrate and grain ingredients as fillers despite their nutritional composition.
Whole grains, rather than being fillers, contribute valuable nutrients including vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and fiber to diets while helping to keep the fat and calories lower than if animal products were used in their place. Even refined grains such as white rice can have beneficial health implications depending on the type of diet and the pet. The vast majority of dogs (and cats!) are very efficient at digesting and utilizing nutrients from grains. While some dogs are allergic to specific grains, these allergies are no more common than allergies to animal proteins such as chicken, beef and dairy and tend to reflect the prevalence of the ingredient in commercial diets rather than enhanced antigenicity.
Grain-free diets are often substituting highly refined starches such as those from potatoes or tapioca (cassava) in place of grains. These ingredients often provide fewer nutrients and less fiber that whole grains, while costing more.