Interview with Dr. Marty Becker – Debunking the Myths of Today’s Pet Food
Disclosure: This is a paid partnership. All opinions are mine alone.
If you follow along here or on my social media channels you know that we have a Golden Retriever, Rhody, who is a huge part of our family. He is an 80 pound ball of fluff who just wants to snuggle all day. We got him about a year after we lost our first Golden much too soon shortly before her fifth birthday. We knew we would get another Golden Retriever when the time is right as it was the perfect breed of dog for our growing family – and we are partial to the breed!
There is so much to consider when choosing a pet. Doing some research on the type of food you will feed your pet is a great start.
I had a great opportunity to sit in with a few other bloggers during a live Q & A with the one and only Dr. Marty Becker – America’s Veterinarian. It was SUPER informative!
With so much going on in the media with human and pet food, restrictive diets, organic and non-organic, GMO, and recalls, buying food for myself or my pet can be completely overwhelming. I want to be an informed consumer, but I don’t want to live in fear of purchasing goods for my family. I want to feed my family and my pet the very best at every meal – is this even a reality?
My husband and I researched a ton of brands of dog food before settling on the one we felt best suited Rhody. We found a pet food that he liked, was good for his stomach (he had a sensitive tummy as a pup) and that we felt good feeding him. We want Rhody to be the healthiest he can be and food is a huge part of the many factors that keep him feeling great!
Dr. Becker gave some great suggestions to the four myths circling around pet food and pet food ingredients…
Myth #1: By-Products are bad for my Pet
Truth: By-products are often mischaracterized as low-quality ingredients in pet food when in fact they are commonly used in both human and animal food, and provide valuable nutrients for pets such as protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. In the wild, cats and dogs instinctively eat organs first because they are nutrient-dense and highly palatable, so eating by-products is more natural than most people think. Additionally, by-products can provide more essential nutrients than regular muscle meat (which can be lacking in calcium and Vitamin A) but are naturally provided in by-products from the bones and liver. Many pet food manufacturers use high-quality by-products – such as beef, chicken or pork that may include hearts, livers, kidneys, lungs and spleens – and is considered a part of sustainable food sourcing.
Myth #2: I should avoid feeding my pet grains
Truth: Through decades of nutrition research, we’ve learned that grains produce positive outcomes in dogs and cats. Gram for gram, grains deliver more complete nutrition than the ingredients typically used to substitute for grains, such as potatoes. In addition, grains are an excellent source of energy-rich carbohydrates and contain protein and antioxidants, including Vitamin E, and fiber to promote digestibility. Many pet food products are formulated with grains because they provide needed natural nutrients as part of a complete and balanced diet.
Myth #3: I can feed my pet solely a raw diet
Truth: There are many trends and fads in pet food, such as raw diets. Some people believe pets should eat a raw food diet because it’s allegedly more like what they would eat in the wild. However, raw pet food may not provide all the nutrients a pet needs — and it can sometimes contain dangerous bacteria that is harmful to both the owner and pet when food safety regulations aren’t met. The FDA maintains a “zero-tolerance” policy for salmonella in pet food because it can pose risks to human health when people who are ‘at risk’ (children, the elderly and individuals with comprised immune systems) come into direct contact with the contaminated pet food so raw diet may not always be the best choice. It’s important to discuss the pros and cons of a raw diet with your veterinarian, and whether a solely raw diet is appropriate for your pet.
Myth #4: The quality of pet food solely depends on the type of ingredients in the food
Truth: The quality and safety of pet food are equally as important as the ingredients themselves. When determining which pet food to purchase pet owners should go directly to the manufacturer’s website to learn more about what safety and quality standards and best practices are being used. This includes learning about processes for conducting regular safety and quality checks; employing food scientists, pet nutritionists and other veterinary professionals to develop products; and understanding if the manufacturer is operating its own facilities and maintaining in-house testing laboratories. Pet owners should also look at the manufacturing and ingredient quality standards of the brand to make sure they meet or exceed FDA and AAFCO standards.
If you are a pet owner, what concerns do you have (if any) about choosing the food that you feed them? I hope these myths and truths help answer some of those questions and if not, please leave your questions in the comments below.