Last week we were invited by pet nutrition experts Purina to Sunbeam Studios in West London to learn more about pet nutrition, or more specifically, the ‘Bowl Truth’ about dog food. I’m always keen to understand more about what goes into dog food, especially from a brand like Purina who have over 125 years’ experience in pet nutrition. Although to be fair, Belinha is probably more interested in just eating the food. With both those goals in mind, off we went, and although I wasn’t sure what to expect, we came away with some dog food myths demystified so we’ll share those with you today.
I should add that I am by no means a dog food nutrition expert but did have the opportunity to discuss these dog food myths with vets at the event.
Here’s what we learnt…
Dog Food Myths Demystified
Dog Food Myths #1 | Grain-free diets are healthier
We are regularly told that low-carb diets are good for humans, so it’s no surprise that we’ve come to believe that grain-free diets are good for dogs and are less likely to cause allergies than dog foods that are not grain-free.
Turns out there are no proven benefits of a grain-free diet for dogs. In fact, grains that are correctly processed are highly digestible and a great source of nutrients. For example, grains are a valuable source of fibre and essential fatty acids which are needed for healthy skin and coats. Dogs being allergic to grains is also somewhat of a myth. Apparently, less than 1% of dogs have an allergy to grains with the true allergy culprits being more likely to be a specific animal protein that a dog can’t tolerate.
Dog Food Myths #2 | Animal by-products mean poor quality ingredients
No doubt you’ve seen the dog food labels that say ‘Meat and Animal Derivatives’? I don’t know about you, but for me that’s always been a signal to pick something else up as I (wrongly) believed it was likely to be a hotchpotch of low-quality ingredients. Contrary to perhaps popular belief, this is not the case (as verified on the Pet Food Manufacturers Association website).
This actually means it contains meat sourced from animals which is fit for human consumption but that is surplus to the requirements of the human food industry, e.g. liver, kidney or skeletal muscle, all with high nutritional value. Another reason for the generalisation is that the meat the product contains can often be a mix of whatever meat there is a surplus of at that particular time, e.g. chicken, lamb or beef.
It’s true that these products might suit more budgets than a product that lists out each individual ingredient, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a product that provides a balanced and nutritious diet for dogs.
We also had the opportunity to hear how Purina make their pet food, get a vet check from one of the Purina vets and a pet ‘pawtrait’ from renowned London pet photographer, Rachel Oates.
The whole event was really informative, and can I just say…I LOVE Belinha’s portraits!
Were you surprised by either of the dog food myths above? I had considered myself to be a well-informed dog owner but turns out, I too had some things to learn. The day was a valuable lesson for me in how a perception, reinforced whether intentionally or unintentionally by advertising, can quickly become a perceived fact.
The other thing that surprised me was how human health trends are spilling over into people’s beliefs about pet food.
However, it’s not necessarily the case that what’s healthy for us is healthy for our pets, so thank you Purina for sharing the ‘Bowl Truth’ with us!