Top 6 myths about pet food ingredients

Nutrition is one area where such beliefs exist and are widely accepted. The reality is that our dogs, cats, etc. are adaptable and may survive on a range of pet foods. In most cases, nutrition is merely one of several elements influencing health in complex and subtle ways. The ideal diet for dogs and cats in general, or any specific animal, is unknown and unlikely to exist. Therefore, the pressure to find it can easily lead to excessive and harmful choices in pet food ingredients. In this post we are going to highlight and bust some common myths regarding pet food ingredients which we hear from pet food companies.

1.   Meat must be the main ingredient in pet foods

Ingredients on pet food labels are listed in descending order by weight, making it impossible to determine the exact volume or quality of any ingredient. We also don’t know how each ingredient is used to supply nutrients or how quickly those nutrients are absorbed.

Pet food companies can manipulate the pet food formula by allocating multiple ingredients of the same weight to make the product appear more tempting.

A packaging that specifies meat as the first ingredient may be deceptive since the meat may contain a lower amount of protein while weighing the same as the next five to ten items.

2.   Only high protein diets are good

Stores frequently sell pet foods with a higher amount of protein than what is allowed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). Excess protein, might induce flatulence or intermittent poor stool (stool that lacks the correct consistency). In certain dogs and cats you should be able to quickly pick up the stool without creating a mess or a damp spot). It’s the quality of protein in the pet food that matters, not the quantity.  Eating more low-quality protein is not better, and having more protein does not mean that it is digestible.

3.   More fruit and vegetable means better

Although it is believed that a big list of vegetable and fruit ingredients is healthier that is just a myth. Why? Because it does not show which nutrients those fruit and vegetables are giving and for what purpose.  Some substances are utilized as antioxidants to aid in food preservation. The truth is that adding fruits and veggies to pet food does not necessarily make it healthier. 

4.   Only buy organic and natural pet foods

Words like “natural,” “organic,” and “healthy” are popular right now, but are these foods genuinely healthier? Not necessarily.  There is no data to back up the claim that natural or organic foods contain more nutrients. Natural is defined by AAFCO as a product originating purely from plant, animal, or mineral sources and not produced through a chemically synthesized process. Because these must be synthetically created, the label must indicate “with additional vitamins and minerals. The fact is that no pet food can be completely natural.

5.   By-products are not worth it

Byproducts are usually thought to contain chemicals, roadkill, and other waste products. However, the truth is that by products are a highly digestible source of many nutrients that muscle meat lacks, and they do not include hair, teeth, horns, stomach, hooves, or intestinal contents, medications, or feathers. (Feathers may be present in hydrolyzed pet foods.)

Some byproducts (such as hog and beef liver, tripe, and spleen) are deemed human quality, and there are advantages to using as many parts of the animal as appropriate. This reduces land waste, nitrogen air pollutants, and the overall number of animals slaughtered.

6.   Grains and gluten are bad ingredients

Gluten-free and grain-free meals are becoming increasingly but are they really that bad? The answer is clearly no. The carbs and proteins offered by grains add nutritional value and structure to pet food and grains save protein by supplying energy. This allows the protein to be used to grow or maintain muscles and tissue. Also gluten intolerance is unusual in canines and has never been observed in cats.


At the end of the day regardless of myths and reality, it is up to ingredient suppliers and pet food manufacturers to effectively communicate, be transparent, honest, and most importantly correctly label pet food packages.

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