|Some popular pet diet trends tend to cause serious health consequences. There’s a lot of information on the internet about alternative diets, but they are not based on scientific information / Photo by: belchonock via 123RF|
People are becoming more health-conscious. Diet trends circulate all over the internet to ensure we practice a clean and healthy lifestyle. But did you know that health-consciousness can also extend to their pets? According to Dr. Andrew Miller of the UK’s leading pet magazine and website Pet Business World, these health-conscious individuals want their food choices to reflect in their pet’s meals as well.
They try various diet trends such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and keto, but experts at the Ohio State University (OSU) argued that these trends are “mistakenly translated into diets for our pets,” wrote Cody Miller of Las Vegas news platform News3LV.
Just because it works for you doesn’t mean it will be beneficial for your pet.
Dr. Valerie Park of OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine and her colleagues reminded us that our pets have different nutritional needs than us. Some popular pet diet trends tend to cause serious health consequences. There’s a lot of information on the internet about alternative diets, but they are not based on scientific information, Dr. Park explained. “A veterinarian takes things like your pet’s breed, body weight, body composition, and medical conditions into account to determine the best diet for them,” she added. Here are the diet trends you should adopt for your pet:
1. Vegetarian or Vegan
Dogs and cats get their amino acids, vitamins, and minerals from meat. These are harder to acquire from plants. Cats need protein and just like dogs, their health will be compromised if their diets do not contain meat.
Reality check: A vegan or vegetarian diet is unsafe for your pets. There are no health benefits either, reported Tanya Edwards of Yahoo News Lifestyle, a source for beauty and wellness. Board-certified veterinary nutritionist and professor at Tufts University Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, noted, “There might be a small number of situations where we might use it in a dog with a medical condition, but otherwise there is no health benefit.”
Red meat has been linked to heart disease in humans, but owners are left wondering if cutting back on it will be beneficial to their pet’s heart too. In Freeman’s perspective, it’s not the case at all. She argued, “One of the reasons a person might eat a vegetarian diet is to reduce the risk for heart disease.” Note that cats and dogs do not get that disease. However, a vegetarian or vegan diet is more likely to “increase the risks of other heart diseases” in dogs and cats.
2. Gluten-Free and Grain-Free Diet
People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. Hence, a diet without wheat, rye, and barley can be life-changing. Some individuals may feel a surge of energy in their bodies once they remove gluten from their diet. It may be tempting to make your pet adapt a gluten-free diet too, but take note, their bodies are different.
Hyunmin Kim, DVM, a staff manager at the Community Medicine of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, asserted that animals “do not tend to have problems with gluten.” When animals have GI allergy, it mostly refers to its protein aspect. Hence, your pets may be more allergic to beef, chicken, and other protein sources in a dog or cat food rather than to its gluten aspect. Preventing your pet from consuming gluten or grain will lead to deficiencies in fiber and carbohydrates.
|It may be tempting to make your pet adapt a gluten-free diet too, but take note, their bodies are different / Photo by: Baiba Opule via 123RF|
3. Raw and Homemade Food
Don’t believe in commercials that say your dog’s diet should be like its ancestral wolves. On the contrary, raw meat poses risks to your dog, as a dog’s digestive tracts have evolved from wolves. Hence, it’s not advisable to feed your dog a “wolfish diet.” Further, you and your dog are also at risk of contracting bacterial infections from raw meat.
Alternatively, there are owners who choose to cook their pet’s food. Dr. Miller warns, “However, there are some concerns as to whether these home-prepared meals are nutritionally complete.” Therefore, raw diets need to be carefully formulated to meet your pet’s needs. He recommended owners to choose raw food from a reputable supplier or consult a professional for nutritional advice when preparing home-cooked meals.
|Don’t believe in commercials that say your dog’s diet should be like its ancestral wolves. On the contrary, raw meat poses risks to your dog, as a dog’s digestive tracts have evolved from wolves / Photo by: foodandmore via 123RF|
4. Paleolithic Diet
The Paleolithic diet consists of high-protein foods often including novel meats such as kangaroo or bison. This diet trend stemmed from “owners seeking what is perceived to be a more natural diet for their pets.” However, the sustainability of the Paleolithic diet for cats and dogs needs further consideration, Dr. Miller emphasized.
The Future of Pet Diet Trends
“Clean labeling” will be one of the next big trends in pet feeding, Dr. Miller hypothesized. In fact, owners are now looking for a list of easy-to-understand ingredients in the pet food they purchase. Don’t worry, owners, the pet food industry is doing a lot to achieve sustainability, as manufacturers remove human food products and “turn them into valuable pet foods.” As for pet nutritionists and pet food manufacturers, they need to stay ahead of the game and prepare to have a product’s formulation changed when new trends arise.