When educational material is just wrong

types of dog foodsRecently, I’ve seen some graphics and had some conversations in conventional vet clinics that have bothered me. So today, we’re going to talk about different types of dog foods.

Over the course of this summer, at one of the clinics where I regularly fill in, I’ve seen some posters pop up on the walls.

These posters are being put out by one of the major pet food companies.

In the graphic, they’re comparing various types of human foods (bacon, muffins, cheese, etc) as well as some dog products (dried pig ears, rawhide bones) to the equivalent of a human eating a certain number of donuts.

If the dog eats one pig ear, it’s the same as the human eating so many donuts, versus if they have a piece of cheese, it’s this many donuts.

I just have to say, this is one of the worst pieces of “educational material” I’ve seen in awhile.

Let’s discuss why.

Problem #1: Human food is NOT the problem!

If you’ve been following me awhile, you’ve heard me say this. Human food is not causing our animals to get sick. At least, not human foods in general.

Here’s the deal. Dogs really aren’t that much different from us. If you feed them healthy foods like the meats and vegetables that you’re eating yourself, it’s actually pretty good for them (assuming they’re used to it…. If they’re not, yes, it can cause upset stomachs but that’s a whole other issue that you can read more about here.)

If you’re feeding them donuts, as represented in this article? Yes, that’s bad for them! First of all, sugar! Tons and tons of sugar, which is just as bad for them as it is for us. Second of all, wheat. Dogs do not need to eat wheat, and in my years of helping dogs through their diets, I’ve seen wheat and sugar cause more problems than any other foods combined.

So, the first problem is that they’re equating human food to donuts without addressing the actual TYPES of human food, which brings us to the next problem.

Problem #2: Not all calories are created equal!

The graphic shows comparison between several types of human foods. It compares a dog eating a muffin, but then it also shows a dog eating tuna.

Here’s the thing. You can’t compare those types of calories.

Foods are primarily made up of 3 types of nutrients: fat, protein, and carbs (which on dog food labels is called fiber).

These are not digested the same way in our pets (or in us!).

Dogs do not need carbs. They do not need to be eating grains. Anytime I’m looking at diet as a way to help either my human clients or dog patients, the first thing I do is eliminate the grains.

Here’s the thing: for many of my patients/clients, that is literally ALL I have to do to help them get healthier!

We process protein and fat much more efficiently. So comparing a can of tuna, or even a piece of bacon (which are all fat and protein, and therefore easily digestible) to a donut (which is all sugar, unhealthy fats, and grains!) demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of how our bodies actually work.

Yes, the comparison of the muffin to the donuts is fairly accurate. Because they’re both unhealthy overall.

But you can’t compare donuts to meat products.

It just doesn’t take into account how our bodies process food, and the other negative side effects of things like sugar (you’ve heard that sugar is now being considered more addictive than cocaine, right?).

Here’s the moral of this story.

First of all, you can’t take everything that the big food companies say as truth. I find it especially ironic that a company that is selling foods FULL of wheat and grains and sugar is disparaging on meat products and comparing products to donuts. Um, pot, meet kettle.

Second of all, we have to take into account the type of food and the nutrients, even before we look at the amount. Something that is entirely protein and healthy fats (like meat) is a totally different ball game than something that is composed entirely of unhealthy fats, sugar, and grains.

The big food companies aren’t telling us this. They don’t even know it.

It’s up to us to pay attention to what we’re feeding our pets.

No one else can do it for us, and diet is the number one thing affecting our pets’ health and longevity.

Does this make sense? Any questions?

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