Seven Myths About Canine Nutrition

Zootoo busts common misconceptions about feeding your dog.

Do you wonder if your dog is getting all the nutrition he needs? Or if you are feeding your pet in the right way to give him a long, healthy life?

Thanks to a 14-year study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association, a handful of myths about canine nutrition have been busted. After following 48 pairs of Labrador Retriever litter mates, the results suggest that a 25 percent restriction of food intake -- or maintaining an ideal body condition throughout a dog's life -- increased the median life span of the dog by 1.8 years and delayed the onset of chronic disease symptoms.

A senior dog's nutritional health depends on receiving the correct amounts and proportions of nutrients from water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins, according to Mike Grant, PA, the nutritional science director for

"Commercial dog foods like Wellness Super5Mix, Holistic Select and Nutro Natural Choice are usually designed to meet these needs," said Grant, who also remarked that supplements like Chondro, Synovial-Flex products, Pure Essentials for Mature Dogs, and Essential Omegas for Dogs and Cats will help with age-related diseases, including arthritis, cognitive and cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

"Knowing what to feed and how much to feed are equally important," Grant said. "Your veterinarian is always the best way to get the correct information. They are up to date on all the new science."

In addition to checking with your vet on what foods and supplements your growing or aging pet might need, consider a few of the dog nutrition myths that have been disproven:

1. "A raw meat diet is the only one for canines." Many people continue to believe that dogs require a strict diet of raw meat to be healthy. The fact is, today's domesticated dog is no longer a true carnivore, and raw meat alone can no longer meet his nutritional requirements. Small amounts of grains, like rice, oatmeal, pasta, vegetables, and fruits, are a normal and desirable part of good dog nutrition.

2. "Raw eggs are an absolute no-no for dogs." This issue continues to spark debate, primarily because of the risk of salmonella poisoning. But dogs are far less susceptible to salmonella poisoning, and the occasional raw or boiled egg is an excellent source of protein for pooches.

3. "Dogs should never have any dairy products." Some dogs may not tolerate dairy products that contain high levels of lactose, but cottage cheese and yogurt are two options that do not contain high levels of lactose. Both are excellent sources of calcium and can be given to lactose-tolerant dogs safely.

4. "Fat only gives dogs empty calories." The fact is, fats are a main source of energy for dogs. Fat is also essential for the proper absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K, especially in low-saturated forms, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

5. "A dog is unable to digest grains." While there is some truth to this statement, starch and grains that have been converted by the cooking process are digestible, depending on the quality and type of grain used. For dogs, rice is a better option than wheat or corn.

6. "All commercial dog foods are bad." Products do vary from good to average, but research has shown that the quality of commercial dog foods is more than adequate to meet proper nutritional requirements in all breeds of dogs.

7. "A diet must be specifically tailored to a dog's age or breed." In most cases, a good diet for a dog is good for all dogs throughout their lives. However, puppies need more food than seniors, and older dogs may need supplements to replace vital nutrients that they have stopped making naturally due to the aging process.

Tell us what you think about these myths below! How do you approach feeding your pet?

Comments (8)

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5 years ago

I compete with my dogs and have all my life. I am a 52 year old fourth generation dog fancier showing in AKC conformation. The best my line has ever been in over 35 years since switching from Purina of the Seventies is eating a raw meat based diet. I like to have our dogs in the best condition possible and have found that all our vet bills today are going for health clearances requested by our national club (hips, eyes, thyroid, etc.) to be checked before breeding. No funds are going out as in the past for ailments (ear infections, upset stomachs, etc.).
A very good species-specific diet IS expensive to feed a dog or cat as the same is for humans. The better the ingredients, the more expensive. Don't fall for "human grade" as a guide in selection. Look for "human consumption quality." You have to either prepare a diet yourself or look to a smaller company with truly a good ethics and hope they are not sold once you locate them!
In S. Cal, we are fortunate to have the highest quality ingredients made in a cooked, prepared dog food called You can not fault this food but to only wish the Flaxseed oil was not in the ingredients of most of the products. But otherwise, do yourself a favor and drive over to this "plant." WOW! You only wish most restaurants kept their kitchens this clean and used such high quality ingredients. For raw, we like Stella & Chewy's and Primal.
To note, from my study, there is no such thing as a good kibble ~ AND if it says MEAL as one of the ingredients, well you can just be happy that you are too busy to trace back as to what went into that so it had to be sterilized and then vitamins added.
Study and study some more. Call the dog food manufacturer - ask the source of the ingredients - where do the vitamins come from. Oh, you may not get a reply from many.
Increasingly, top competitors at dog and cat shows feed real meat - not overly processed. Why? Because competitors love their animals and they also work very hard to have everything just right, "at the top of their game" for that moment in the show ring. Feeding the proper diet is a constant study of most who take rearing their animals seriously.
Remember - call the dog food companies - ask if their ingredients are from the US and processed here too - ask about those added vitamins and IF they are from US sources. Protect your pets - study and ask questions!

Good Point | Reply ›

Michele Z.

Michele Z.
5 years ago

I agree with the part about not overfeeding--which is true for cats, too. The problem, of course, is trying to keep the pets from becoming overweight...

Good Point | Reply ›

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