Grain-Free Dog Food May Not Be Worth It
Marketing is powerful, as it shapes a pet owner’s perception of consumables. Its sole purpose is to convince someone why he should purchase a product. Large companies spend billions of dollars studying human purchasing behavior, then use this data to shape pet owner purchasing habits.
From the packaging color to the placement of the item in the store to the music played—every detail is strategically reviewed to keep customers in stores longer, so they purchase more items.
With that said, dog food companies have certainly shaped pet owner purchasing habits over the last 20 years. One large dog food company successfully convinced pet owners that rice is a highly desirable grain because it’s digestible, which promotes smaller stools. Now, the pendulum has swung the other way. The new popular dog food is grain-free dog food. Have dogs’ digestive systems changed or is it marketing?
Dog Food Allergens
Food allergies are not very common in dogs regardless of what dog food companies or pet store associates are saying. It’s important to know that both flea allergies and environmental allergies are MUCH more common in pets than food allergies. However, flea, environmental and food allergies can all have similar symptoms (What every pet owner should know about food allergies, 2007). This is powerful information.
It’s extremely difficult to detect and diagnose food allergies in dogs too. To determine if your dog is allergic to a particular type of food, you’d have to put her on an elimination diet. But let’s face it: A true elimination diet is extremely difficult to follow for several months. Many factors can come into play during a several-month food elimination diet.
For example, a dog’s reaction to outdoor allergens may clear up due to a change in season or drop in pollen. While tiny, these changes may provide a false negative during a food trail. It’s confusing and frustrating, especially when a dog has chewed and scratched herself bloody.
What Should a Pet Owner Do?
Food matters, but it’s not a cure-all. To conquer chronic allergies, it’s best to use a combination or holistic (treating the whole dog) approach. Partner with your veterinarian to discuss a true elimination diet, but tackle environmental allergies too.
Bathe your dog weekly with a gentle or medicated dog shampoo to remove pollen. Remember, flea bites cause the same symptoms as dog food allergies, so tackle this aspect too. Given the warm winters over the last few years, fleas are rampant now and have become immune to certain pesticides. Spray your yard weekly, for at least three weeks, and discuss flea prevention with your vet. For a natural approach, cedar oil works great.
Choose a dog food that works best for your dog. Some dogs do extremely well on grain-free dog foods, which is a huge plus. Then, there are some dogs that don’t, so it’s important to find a food that your dog thrives on. By far, a balanced raw or cooked diet works best and many varieties contain whole grains, such as oatmeal.
Beware of marketing, and choose what works best for your dog!