Dog owners tend to fall into a few categories when it comes to feeding their pups. There are those who treat them as something of a garbage disposal, those who only allow them kibble, and those who will only purchase the best dog food possible. There are a lot of myths about our dogs that need to be dispelled if we’re trying to get them the best nutrition possible, however, so read on and we’ll help dispel some of the mythology surrounding dogs and what they eat.
1. Human Food is Always Bad
Where the bulk of this myth came from is hard to tell. After all, early dogs certainly didn’t have access to kibble while they were hanging out around primitive settlements.
The truth is that many of the foods we eat are just fine for our dogs. The problem arises from the fact that not everything we eat is good for them and some can even be downright dangerous.
The most common example of the latter is chocolate, for instance. Dogs aren’t able to process the alkaloids properly and a small amount can result in poisoning. Others are less obvious, such as garlic which can cause anemia in our canines.
On the other hand, meat, some grains, and even fruits and vegetables aren’t all that bad. They’re nutrient-rich and even something like watermelon can be perfectly fine to feed in moderation.
Do some research before you start handing down table scraps, and make sure you do it in moderation, but human foods mostly range from neutral to beneficial for our pets.
2. Dogs Are Strictly Carnivorous
Perhaps due to their association with wolves, many people are under the impression that dogs are strict carnivores in the wild.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Dogs are actually omnivores for the most part. Even their wild counterparts like coyote and wolves don’t only eat meat, ask any hunter how often they see berries in the scat of wild canines.
Indeed, the spectrum of herbivore-carnivore is much different than most people assume. While wild canines require more meat than our domestic friends they’ll also take the chance to eat whatever they can find. For a more shocking example, there are even video records of deer eating rodents and small birds.
The only animal family which is, as a rule, strictly carnivorous are felines. Everything else tends to eat on a spectrum, it’s just easier for humans to pigeonhole them into strict categories and assume the natural world works like that.
Domestic dogs actually benefit from a wide variety of nutrition. They’re certainly more carnivorous than humans but grains, vegetables, and fruits can all hold important places in their diet.
Speaking of grains…
3. Dogs Can’t Digest Grains
One of the big pushes in recent years has been towards grain-free dog foods. While these foods often contain more protein and fat, which are a dog’s primary fuel source, than others they may not be quite as super-healthy as they’re promoted to be.
Indeed, there are actually studies that show that a low proportion of grains may be healthy for dogs. Dogs fed on a strict no-grain diet had slightly higher incidences of heart problems. Of course, the grain needs to be cooked.
Dogs can digest grains, despite the push away from them.
Speaking of grains, many people find themselves worrying about allergies when it comes to feeding time. A dog is actually more likely to have an allergy to specific types of meat than most grains.
Keep an eye out for the skin and coat problems that can occur in allergic dogs but the incidence is low enough that most canines won’t have to worry about it.
4. Dogs Need Variety
Humans love variety in our food, apart from those few who think that chicken nuggets are the only thing they need to eat.
Because of that, we often assume that our dogs do as well. That’s not really the case, while dogs may like some foods more than others they’re not going to suffer from meal-time boredom and malaise because they’re consistently being fed the same diet.
And the truth is that dog’s taste buds are far less developed than those of humans.
Your job, as a dog’s human, is simply to make sure that they’re receiving a complete and balanced diet that serves all of their nutritional needs. Humans often do this by eating a wide variety of foods, but that’s just because the majority of us would go crazy eating those highly-engineered “complete” meals on a regular basis.
As long as everything is well-balanced there’s no need to switch things up. It really doesn’t matter to the dog, even if they do beg for the occasional slice of bacon.
5. Meat Meal is a Horrible Protein Source
If you’ve done any research on premium dog foods in the past then you’re probably aware of the fact that meat meal is often decried as being horrible for dogs. From tales of it being nothing but a mish-mash of ground-up hooves and hair to halfway decent analysis, it’s just bad.
Of course, that’s not quite the case. The ingredients which go into meat meal may not be the best stuff around, and it’s certainly not anything we’d want to eat, but there are regulations that surround its production.
These regulations make sure that it doesn’t contain inedible parts of the animals in question. While it’s not as high-quality as “real” meat it still has quite a bit of nutritional value. If it was really as bad as people say there’d be far more dogs suffering from malnutrition while eating regular kibble after all.
Don’t Buy the Hype, Just Buy the Right Food
There are a lot of myths surrounding what our dogs can and can’t eat. While some precautions are necessary when feeding our canine companions there’s no reason to get up in arms about the majority of myths. Just do your research and it’ll come out fine in the end.
Canine nutrition is still an emerging field and we’re likely to learn more as time goes on. On the same note, however, we’ve managed to keep dogs healthy and alongside our species for thousands of years so it may not be in your best interest to go against common knowledge. Just feed ‘em right!