Walking the pet food aisle in any popular store is a bit like Where’s Waldo in a gauntlet of bright colors, trendy buzz words and adorable pet pictures. Even with a veterinary degree, access to scientific research and a specific interest in pet dietary needs, I find the pet food aisle unwieldy. In the spirit of our summer forums and hot topics, let’s talk about some of the hottest pet food trends and how they fit in with our pets’ needs.
- “Grain-Free” – Grain-free diets have taken the pet food market by storm! Ironically, grain-free diets are heavily marketed as great for patients with allergies and food sensitivities, but the majority (not all) of pet food allergies are to the protein (beef, poultry etc.) not the grain in the food. Veterinarians have seen benefits for specific pets with grain-free associated with the rare grain allergy and in some cases, due to the low-carbohydrate content in grain-free diets. Some pets’ gastrointestinal tracts seem to benefit from a low carbohydrate/high protein content.
- “Breed Specific Diets” – Recently, we have seen the emergence of diets marketed for certain dog breeds. These diets are formulated with ingredients that can help prevent common health concerns with that breed and have the appropriate amount of nutrients.
- “Raw & Paleolithic Diets” – There are some “at-home” dietary trends with blogs, online followings and unfounded claims about animals needing the diet of their ancestors (eg. Your dog should eat like a wolf). Our canine and feline friends did evolve from their more-wild ancestors, but they have been through thousands of years of domestication and with that, their dietary needs have changed as well. Any at-home formulation carries tremendous risk of being deficient in bioavailable (absorbable and usable) vitamins, minerals, amino acids, etc. leaving your pet in a precarious position with health, and even, life. Raw diets also carry immense risk for food borne illnesses like Salmonalla, Shigella, Campylobacter etc.
Before taking a blog to heart or believing a google search, make sure you consult your veterinarian on your pets’ specific dietary needs!