Pet Food: 3 Things Your Veterinarian Probably Won’t Tell You

There are thousands of commercial pet foods out there. Standard kibble, organic, grain-free, canned, raw, dehydrated. Home cooking is also becoming more popular. Everyone from the pet store clerk to your veterinarian to your neighbor has a different opinion of what the best pet food is. Unfortunately, many pet owners are unable to ask their vet about alternative diets because they are afraid they’ll be berated for wanting to feed something other than kibble. This makes it super confusing when trying to find the right food for your pet. Here are three tips to use when considering a change in your pet’s diet:

Pet Food

1. It’s okay to feed an alternative diet:

Alternative diets include raw, freeze-dried, dehydrated and home cooked foods. There are now commercial raw and freeze-dried diets that are nutritionally balanced according to guidelines made by AAFCO (American Animal Feed ) These diets include ground bones as well as a small amount of fruits and veggies to mimic what your dog or cat would actually eat in the wild.

Once reason many veterinarians discourage raw diets is the possibility of contamination with bacteria such as e. coli and salmonella. Contamination does happen and can be a risk to you and your pet, but it also can occur with processed kibble diets. You just have to be aware of the risks and consult with a knowledgeable veterinarian about the right diet for your pet. One way to help reduce this risk but still feed the quality ingredients is to lightly cook the raw food.

2. If you want to feed a home cooked diet, there are sources to help you make sure it’s balanced:

It is very difficult to make a balanced diet for your pet without some professional assistance. But there are excellent online sources for optimizing their diet. and offer recipes and dietary consultations with trained veterinary nutritionists to help you put together your home-cooked pet food.

3. No one really knows what the best pet food is:

Standard kibble diets have been around for a long time and are completely balanced for dog and cat nutritional needs. Having said that, they are also highly processed and as people learn the benefits of unprocessed, whole foods for themselves, we naturally start thinking the same way about our pets’ nutrition. Each dog and cat may have different requirements depending on their age, activity level and any illness they may have. It is best to consult your veterinarian about your pet’s diet. And if you do want to feed an alternative diet, seek out a vet who does not condone these types of diets but rather works with you to ensure your pet is getting adequate nutrition. Sometimes it takes trying different types of foods to see what works best for your pet. Feeding a combination of different types or occasionally rotating foods can help ensure adequate nutrition. Here are three brands I like:

They can be found at most high-end pet shops and offer raw, kibble and canned formulations of high quality ingredients. It can take several trials of different types of foods to see what works best for your pet. Feeding a combination of different types or occasionally rotating foods can help ensure adequate nutrition. If you do switch your pet’s food, it’s a good idea to do it gradually. Phase in the new while phasing out the old. For best results, consult a veterinarian.

A Recent Study:

In November of 2016, published a study that took a look at over 2,000 different formulas from 115 brands.

Of the pet owners we surveyed, 70 percent admitted that they didn’t know all of the ingredients in their dog’s food — including the very ingredients at the heart of the Purina lawsuit. All dog foods claim to be “premium” and “all natural,” but with very few regulations on what it takes to meet these qualifications, many of these claims are little more than flashy marketing gimmicks and false advertising. So, we dug behind the label to sort out which ingredients make an excellent dog food and which ones should be avoided.

At the end of the work, we settled on 134 formulas across 29 approved brands.

Why 2,089 Dog Food Formulas Didn’t Make the Cut:

  • Products where the first ingredient is not a meat of any kind: 194 disqualified.
  • Products containing corn, soy, wheat, grain, or flour: 578 disqualified.
  • Products containing beet pulp or sugar: 146 disqualified.
  • Products that contained by-products or sauces: 44 disqualified.
  • We reviewed brands for recalls, ingredient sources, history, and customer satisfaction: 956 disqualified.
  • We reviewed the remaining formulas based on the best ratio of protein, fat, and carbs, as well as the source of protein: 171 disqualified.

Their Results? Here are the Top 10:

    1. Orijen
    2. ACANA
    3. Eagle Pack
    4. Fromm
    5. Nature’s Logic
    6. Stella and Chewy’s
    7. Wysong
    8. Pinnacle
    9. Primal
    10. Hi-Tek Naturals

About the Author:

Dr. Danielle Rope is the owner of Whole Pet Wellness Veterinary Services, offering in-home veterinary care for dogs and cats (mostly Metro Denver). We take a more holistic approach to western medicine, stressing healthy diet and lifestyle to keep pets healthy. Our service provides preventative care for healthy pets as well as diagnosing and treating sick pets. For more information visit our website at or call us at 720-583-4442.

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  1. Linda Prin says:

    I see how raw food could be a gamble so I stick with the dry stuff. I am happy to see that you have listed the best varieties you have tested in dog/pet food and will make sure it is a competitor to my current selection. I love my dogs, so thank you for sharing!

  2. We feed our cats a rotation of Nature’s Variety canned food, Primal freeze-dried, and Orijen Regional Red kibble. Aside from their absolute pickiness, they’re incredibly healthy! Raw food can be a gamble, but you have little to worry about when it comes to brands like Primal and Stella & Chewy’s, especially if you’re following the instructions and being safe when it comes to cleanup. Primal has great videos on how to handle its food on their site!

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