Do you remember that stage in your child’s life when they asked “but why” or “how” to every questioned you answered for them. Remember how the chain would go on and on as they tried to process and categorize the information. In this age of information overload we can learn a lot from our children’s interrogation methods. This is especially true when it comes to fad dog food trends like dog lifestyle foods, dog breed specific foods and hypoallergenic dog foods.
It seems that commercial dog food makers, celebrities, internet websites and others are constantly blasting us with “must eat” foods to ensure the health of our dogs. But, why must they eat them? How are they miraculous? We need to put on our “child goggles” to evaluate these claims.
Why Do We Eat?
It is not food dogs need. It is what is in food that they need. That grain-free, age appropriate food and breed specific medical condition diet will never reach the intestines in whole form. Starting at the mouth then to the stomach and finally into the intestines, this healthy meal will be broken down into basic microscopic parts. Namely, amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, chains of fatty acids, simple sugars, vitamins, minerals and other chemicals.
Nothing is left whole. Only the molecules are absorbed through the intestinal walls and into the blood stream to be used by all of the body cells. Those molecules that the body doesn’t need will leave in the urine or poop. This process is what we need to keep in mind when we evaluate fad foods for our dogs. It is not a particular food that is important, only what particular stuff is in that food and what the body does with it.
How the “Child Goggles” Work
Now we know it is what is in food that is important, let’s put on our child goggles and look at age specific, breed specific and hypoallergenic diets. We are told that our dogs’ need this food because it is formulated for senior life changes and supports joint health. The breed specific diets tout more or less of certain ingredients that are important for specific medical conditions that certain breeds are prone too. And hypoallergenic dog food will help all dogs with skin problems. Is this sounding familiar? Let the child in you take over.
~Why do I need to feed my older dog differently?
~What exactly do senior dogs need that normal, younger dogs don’t need?
~How do I know my dog has a problem that these foods address?
~If my dog has a problem will this food make it better?
~What is in the food that helps joints?
~Are the amounts in the food at levels known to really help?
~Is there any proof that this stuff works?
~What does this breed specific food help?
~Does it prevent genetic diseases that the food was designed for?
~What if my dog does not have the breed specific disease?
~Why does he need less or more of these ingredients?
~Are the adjusted amounts in levels that really make a difference?
~What makes this diet hypoallergenic?
~Will it prevent allergies?
~Can it really prevent itching?
~How does it help?
~Why or why not?
We need to question just like a child and we need to let every question lead to another and another in order to evaluate our dog’s food. Just because it was said, and even said by a doctor, doesn’t make it so. Just ask any child.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN