Years and years of marketing have perpetuated the greatest pet nutrition myth of all – the belief that it’s totally appropriate for a dog or cat to eat nothing but cooked, processed, preserved pellets day after day. But in reality, the first pet food was only created to profit from by-products and ingredients deemed not fit for human consumption. The resulting pellets are great for convenience sake, in that they require very little effort to feed. But kibble is far from being biologically-appropriate for a living, breathing animal that in reality thrives on fresh, REAL, homemade pet food.
To a certain extent, this myth was exposed with the recent pet food recalls, as huge numbers of pet owners became more health-conscious and began looking into home-prepared pet foods. Unfortunately the same slew of media attention directed toward the recalls gave birth to, and helped perpetuate, another slew of pet food myths. Many media reports, internet blogs, and chat room discussions about the recalls also included false warnings about feeding a homemade dog food or cat food diet. In celebration of this flood of false information, we present our list of the top 5 pet food myths that you’ll find out there. Remember, these five are absolutely unfounded and 100% false.
Myth #1: Garlic is toxic to dogs.
Lately many articles written in response to the pet food recall, have included ingredient warnings for people who are considering a homemade diet. These warnings are regarding foods that are supposedly toxic to dogs. And right there next to chocolate, they list garlic. The truth is, garlic is indeed toxic to dogs — IF YOU FEED 50 CLOVES OF GARLIC IN ONE SITTING! I would imagine garlic would be toxic to anyone if fed in that quantity. Heck, even water can be deadly if you drink too much of it. Obviously no one would ever feed that much garlic to their dog. Truth is, when fed in reasonable amounts, garlic is a fantastic ingredient to a homemade dog food diet. Not only is it a great natural flea repellent, but garlic is also a tremendous antioxident and detoxifying agent for dogs. For more information on the benefits of garlic, visit http://sojos.com/garlicarticle.html.
Myth #2: Dogs and cats cannot eat table scraps.
If this were true, we’d be out of business! I’m amazed every time I hear this one. Naturally, (for the record) when we refer to table scraps, we are referring to healthy leftovers, not pizza, chips, doughnuts, and French fries. With that said, yes, in some cases dogs do experience loose stool after eating healthy table scraps. But that typically happens to pets that have been limited to eating bland, processed pellets their entire lives, and their bodies are not accustomed to digesting a complex variety of nutrient-rich food. When an animal is properly transitioned to fresh, real food like humans eat, they can easily digest a variety of foods including, yes, table scraps.
Just like humans, dogs and cats absolutely thrive on fresh fruits and vegetables, in addition to the appropriate amount of meat. Some people maintain that fruits and vegetables must be ground up in order for pets to properly digest them. This can be true for some dogs with very sensitive digestive systems. But by-in-large most dogs and cats do very well on chunks of fruits and vegetables as well. Much like table scraps, it can take a little bit of a transition period when first introducing a new fruit or vegetable. But once they’re used to it, dogs and cats not only find great health benefits from fruits and vegetables – but they also are passionate for the taste! Fruits and vegetables to avoid would be raisins, grapes, onions and highly acidic fruits like like oranges, lemons, and tomatoes.
Myth #3: If dogs and cats eat meat, it must be cooked.
These days most people know this not to be true. But the more popular raw meat pet diets become, the more it seems the commercial pet food industry tries to convince the public otherwise. I guess we can expect more of the same until the big commercial pet food companies come out with their own raw pet foods.
In reality, raw meat is probably the best thing you can do for your pet. Much the same as wild animals and zoo animals, a pet’s digestive system was designed to handle raw meat. That is not to say it isn’t important to follow safe-handling guidelines, much like you would for yourself. And, of course, every pet is an individual, and some might prefer cooked meat or may have a compromised immune system and unable to handle raw meat. Typically, dangerous bacteria such as salmonella are fought off your pet’s highly acidic saliva. As an extra safe-guard, bacteria doesn’t have time to incubate when traveling through a dog or cat’s short digestive system. On a positive note, there’s a plethora of benefits that come hand-in-hand with the naturally-occurring nutrients and enzymes present in raw meat. We don’t twist anyone’s arm, and you can still cook the meat that you add to our foods (though we do recommend adding a general vitamin/mineral supplement in those cases to compensate for the nutrients lost in the cooking process). But in all the years we’ve been advocating raw meat for pets (since 1985), we’ve never heard of one case where it had a negative effect.
Myth #4: Dogs and cats should live on an all-meat diet.
Those that maintain that cats, and to a certain extent dogs, should live on meat alone typically site animals in the wild as their proof. While it is true that animals in the wild eat more meat than domesticated dogs and cats, a few things must be kept in mind. First of all, domesticated dogs and cats are not exposed to the same high level of environmental elements that wild animals are. Domestic dogs and cats spend much more time at rest (and on the couch), and as a result require less meat. In this way, feeding an all-meat diet is like putting rocket fuel in your car. Second, the first thing that animals in the wild eat when they kill their prey is the contents of the stomach, which namely consists of grains and plant-life. Plus wild animals do graze on grains and greens in between feeding on raw meat. Make no mistake, our pet food mixes have a high protein content – but we believe that variety in the form of grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and herbs – in addition to raw meat – is an essential part of any healthy dog or cat’s diet.
Myth #5: Dogs and cats cannot eat grains.
Grains have definitely gotten a bad rap over the years. Mostly because of the pet food companies that use low-quality “bottom of the barrel” grains as affordable fillers. Many feed-quality grains are leftovers from the human-grade grain production process. And the recent pet food recall, resulting from tainted wheat gluten, hasn’t helped the reputation of grains as pet food. But make no mistake, as long as you stick to whole grains from high-quality, “top-of-the-barrel,” human-grade sources, they’re an excellent food for dogs and cats. Grains are chock-full of naturally-occurring nutrients and can form a fantastic foundation for a healthy homemade pet food diet. Our original Sojos European-Style Pet Food Mix, which contains a variety of whole, human-quality grains, has been around since 1985 – and the results have always been consistently tremendous. For those with dogs that do have genuine allergies to grains, we offer our Europa Grain-Free Dog Food Mix.