Dog Nutrition Myths

Proper dog nutrition isn't as complicated as many dog owners think. Many owners rely on dog nutrition "facts" that really aren't facts at all. Here are some of the most common myths about dog nutrition.

No Table Scraps, Raw Eggs or Dairy Products

Many owners feel it's unhealthy to feed their dogs table scraps, dairy products or eggs. While it's true that you shouldn't feed your dog junk food, like candy, cakes, cookies, potato chips and other foods that contain a lot of sugar, fat and artificial ingredients, feeding your dog table scraps won't make him fat, put him off his food or cause begging behavior. It's okay to feed your dog leftover meat or the trimmings from meat, grains like rice and oatmeal, pasta, vegetables and fruits.

It's also not true that raw eggs are dangerous for dogs. Many owners worry about the risk of salmonella, but dogs have a much shorter digestive tract than humans. They are far less susceptible to salmonella poisoning.

There's a belief that dairy products, like cheese and yogurt, are unsuitable for dogs. Some dogs are lactose intolerant and may not do well with dairy products that contain large amounts of lactose. However, not all dairy products contain high levels of lactose; cottage cheese and yogurt are two products that can be fed even to lactose intolerant dogs.

A Diet Tailored to Their Stage of Life

Dog food manufacturers make a lot of money marketing special foods for puppies, adult dogs and senior dogs. Many owners believe that dogs require different food formulas at different stages of life. However, foods formulated for dogs at all stages of life are appropriate for dogs no matter their age. The only thing that will change over time is the amount of food your dog needs. Puppies and pregnant or whelping bitches need to eat a lot more than adult dogs. Geriatric dogs will generately eat less as they become less active with age.

Raw Meat Diet

Many people believe that dogs are carnivores and, as such, require a diet of raw meat to be healthy. The truth is, dogs are not actually carnivores, nor are they omnivorous; they are carnivorous scavengers. This means that while a dog does need a meat-based diet, some amount of vegetable matter is also a normal and desirable part of dog nutrition. A diet of raw meat alone may not meet your dog's nutrient requirements.

While a dog's digestive tract is much shorter than that of an omnivore, and therefore less adept at digesting grains and carbohydrates, dogs are capable of digesting starch and carbs that have been cooked. The fiber available in grains, such as rice and barley, help keep your dog from overeating. They also protect against colon cancer.

It's also untrue that dogs can't digest cooked or processed protein. Dogs have no problem using the protein in cooked meat. However, they should receive dietary protein from multiple sources for optimum health.