By Connie Roller, Manager
People have a tendency to fear what they do not understand.
Many pets have never had a change in diet because the old myth of ‘you should never change your pet’s food’. “Why shouldn’t you switch it up?” is my question of the day.
It’s just plain old fear. And it’s not the dog or cat’s fear, it’s the human’s. It’s fear of diarrhea, fear of vomiting, fear of all kinds of unknown health issues. Not that these are not legitimate fears, but step back and think about it. If you go to the pet store looking for help with your dog’s chronic loose stools or your cat’s lifetime of throwing up, you are not going to find a magic pill or tool that will solve the problem.
In my store, the third question I always ask would be ‘what food is the dog on?’ The first 2 questions will always be what kind of dog and what is its age. If I find out that the food the pet is on is what I refer to as a ‘grocery store food’ I will usually recommend a nutritional upgrade. Obviously, if your pet is having chronic or lifetime health issues, food & nutrition would be an excellent place to start.
I, or anyone else here can help you with your fears about a change in nutrition, but you can help the process a lot by being open to learning. What you know about, you won’t tend to fear quite so much.
Another fear many people have about pet food is that they do not want to make any change in their pets diet, treats or supplements without their veterinarian’s approval.
What is not commonly known outside of the pet industry is that vet school education on nutrition is funded and taught by the 3 biggest pet food manufacturers; Hills (Science Diet), Royal Canin and Iams (Eukanuba). They are then taught and influenced to believe that these foods are ‘scientifically proven’ to be the best foods for pets, regardless of the ingredients listed on the label.
I am certainly no scientist, but I do allow my own common sense to have a say so in life. How corn gluten meal, whole ground corn and animal by products can be scientifically more nutritious than whole meat sources is outside my realm of believable. My dogs are omnivores, and my cats are carnivores, and I trust that their instinct for fresh meats and few grains in their diet is the correct way to go.
Veterinarians who go on their own for further education on nutrition have a tendency to look at a lot more of the natural and holistic types of foods, usually made by much smaller companies. At the very least, this type of vet keeps an open mind as to what some newer foods, brands or types of diets are acceptable.
By educating yourself a little bit about pet food ingredients, you will gradually eliminate your fear of a wrong decision. You can instead feel confident that you are making an informed decision. And if your veterinarian sees great improvements in your pet’s health, won’t you be proud to explain exactly why you made the decision that you did?