What Should I Feed my Dog?

The topic of dog food is making headlines again.

Recently the FDA named 16 dog food brands that may be linked to an increased incidence of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.  The FDA has been looking into a potential link among certain pet foods and DCM in dogs for about a year now (that I know of).  The naming of dog food brands is huge, but I’m not yet 100% convinced on the data.

In case you’re wondering, here are the foods that were named in the report:

I am a dog lover and I want to do whatever is best for my dogs.  Where I get my information is key.  First and foremost, I never EVER rely on “Google.”  I always look for trusted sources, which include Universities with veterinary teaching hospitals that conduct regular research, trusted veterinary websites like AVMA and VIN, and most importantly I trust my veterinarian.

I’ve been in the small animal care field for over 25 years now and it still makes me cringe when I see the top answers for dog ear problems being ear mites.  Let me set the record straight.  Dogs do NOT get ear mites!!!  UNLESS they are in a house full of cats that have ear mites.  Even then, the ear mites will not survive in the dog (unless the dog is a tiny toy poodle with ear canals as small as a cat’s, OR it’s a cat hoarding situation with a dog in the midst).  The average dog owner should NOT get over-the-counter ear mite treatment to tend to their dog’s ears.  Seek professional advice.  You think a visit to the vet is expensive?  It’s more expensive when you treat via Dr. Google and we have to fix the greater problem you created by trusting something that knows NOTHING about animal health, husbandry or medicine.  This is just one instance of where Googling a pet problem can go wrong in a hurry.  End of that soapbox…

Back to the dog food debacle.  OK, so breeds that aren’t typically predisposed to DCM are now being diagnosed with it.  Is it the food?  Sure, there could be a link (this is why we ask you at every vet visit what you’re feeding your pet), but it could also be coincidence.  The Grain Free movement has exploded over the last 10 years so more pet owners are feeding grain free than ever before.  Am I for it?  Not one bit.  Do I understand it?  Sure.  And it all boils down to my previous soapbox.  

The average person will trust someone on the internet more than they will a trained and studied professional, all in the interest of what?  Money?  People are paying through the nose for the latest diet craze!  Trust?  How can you trust someone you don’t even know?  I don’t trust half of the people I do know, and definitely trust no one on the cyber web.  Lack of trust?  If you don’t trust your health care professional, find one you DO trust.  

And then there are those who will prefer their Breeder’s or Groomer’s advice over a veterinarian’s.  My analogy for this relationship in human terms would be like a hooker trusting her pimp more than her Doctor on how to treat an STD; or someone trusting their hairdresser more than their doctor on how to treat their depression.  Unless your Breeder or Groomer is a veterinarian, or a retired veterinarian, or a licensed veterinary technician, why on earth would you think they know more about animal health and wellness than your vet?  Did they study immunology and have a full understanding as to how the immune system works when it comes to vaccines or disease?  Why would a breeder treat all puppies with an antibiotic for protozoal parasites, increasing the future likelihood of antibiotic resistant parasites, if they were raising the animals in an ideal environment?  I could go on, but I hope you get my drift.

News Flash:  Veterinary health professionals care more about your pet than most human health care professionals care about YOU.  

Again, back to the dog food.  I wrote a post a while back about my opinion on dog food when Beneful was being blamed for everything.  You can read about that here.  My philosophy is the same as it was then.  If you find a dog food that your dog tolerates well, is readily available, and fits your budget, rock on with it.  If your dog doesn’t have a grain sensitivity or allergy, there’s no reason to go grain free.  

I truly believe those who pay attention to what they are feeding their dogs are the only ones reporting when something happens to their dogs.  I also feel those people are relying on sources other than their veterinary professionals about what is best to feed their dog.  They are researching unreliable sources on the interweb, taking advice from a friend or a breeder or a groomer, with all good intention.  Additionally, I think there are more cases of DCM going undiagnosed by those pet owners who don’t have or are unwilling to put forth the funds for a diagnosis.   It’s nothing scientific, but even from my experience as a veterinary professional, a lot of my clients don’t even remember what they’re feeding their dogs.  I often get the response, “oh, it’s one of those expensive, grain free diets.”  Expensive is relative, and grain free means nothing to me.  

Dog owners, pay attention to what exact food you are feeding your dog.  Is your dog doing well on it?  It’s eating well, not having any bowel issues, maintaining a healthy weight, skin and coat.  If your dog behaves abnormal in any way and you have to make a visit to the vet, take note of the exact diet your dog is being fed.  Diet often provides valuable information. 



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