Pet food – Misleading marketing

There is a lot of info out there about pet food. The vast majority of it is coming from people trying to sell you something. Don’t buy the hype. There are a lot of myths out there so I am going to start with three of the most common.

Is corn the devil’s carbohydrate? – I hear lots of concerns about corn. Is corn digestible? Is corn filler? Is corn toxic? Corn is a source of carbohydrates. Pets need carbohydrates. Different medical conditions affect the amount and type of carbohydrate recommended but they still need some carbohydrates. Corn is no more toxic for pets than it is for humans.

A client once told me that corn was difficult to digest because when they ate it they saw it in their poop….well it’s not the corn’s fault if you don’t chew it. Corn in pet food is ground and not in whole form so chewing will not affect the digestion for dogs and cats.

Allergies to corn can happen…as they can happen with any foodstuff but they are rare.  Allergies to meats are much more common than allergies to any carbohydrate sources but you don’t hear anyone trying to convince you that meat is bad for dogs and cats.

Is gluten free the way to be? – Lots and lots of diets are advertising they are gluten free. Gluten is the protein component of wheat. That’s it…just a protein…not some scary mysterious compound. There are pets with gluten allergies and intolerances but they are rare. I have done food allergy testing for many a pet in my time and I have yet to diagnose an allergy to wheat…or any grain.

Animal by-products –should you fear mystery meat?  – Animal by- products don’t sound very appetizing, right? Ever been told by someone who works in a pet store that by-products consist of  hair, hooves, horn and other indigestible scraps scraped off the floor? Not true. The by-products used in our veterinary diets are organ meats such as liver, kidney and heart. Well why didn’t they just say that? There are specific laws regarding pet food labelling that restricts the listing of specific organ meats so they must all be under the unappetizing and mysterious label “by-product”. There is a reason why the brands of pet food responsible for the most scientific research in the veterinary nutrition industry will not stop using Animal By –products despite public concern.  It’s because by-products are actually great for you. They contain some of the most digestible and absorbable forms of vitamins and minerals. They have fallen out of favour in the North American diet but elsewhere in the world steak and kidney pie is enjoyed as part of traditional cuisine.

About the Author

Dr Elizabeth LaytonView all posts by Dr Elizabeth Layton
Dr Layton graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 2005 and began work in mixed animal practice. Dr. Layton’s special interest is dentistry but she enjoys a variety of internal medicine and surgical cases.


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