Natural foods appeal to an increasingly large number of people. Compared with processed and packaged foods, natural ingredients seem healthier and more appetizing. But is this true when we talk about dog food?
Some veterinarians argue that feeding dogs with natural food is a debatable choice. Susan Nelson, assistant professor of clinical services at Kansas State University, explains that vegetable based dog food is not on the whole unhealthy, but it is inadequate. While meals prepared from fruit and vegetables contain many good substances such as antioxidants, they lack the key ingredients necessary for a dog’s healthy functioning. This makes a strictly natural diet potentially harmful to dogs.
An alternative is to look for manufactured natural dog food enhanced with vitamins and minerals. Nelson recommends that before purchasing any product, dog owners become familiar with the product label. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, good dog food should comply with at least one of the two established standards: have the minimum nutrient requirements for dog food, and have successfully tested in clinical trials. To be certain, concerned dog owners should look for this label: “Natural with added vitamins, minerals and other trace nutrients.” Additionally, Nelson warns that owners should be critical of terms such as holistic or organic dog food. Those terms have no standard definition in reference to dog food. Thus, when the terms appear in the label of dog foods, they convey nothing.
The few owners who treat their dogs with vegetables should also be aware that particular vegetables and fruit may be potentially harmful. Bulb vegetables such as onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks contain a substance that damages red blood cells and may be fatal in dogs when in large doses. Highly toxic are oxalates containing vegetables such as rhubarb, potatoes, and tomato leaves and stem. These vegetables are noted to affect the dog urinary, digestive and nervous system. Avocado seems to cause diarrhea and vomiting, while mushrooms of different varieties are poisonous and should be avoided. On the other hand, some veterinarians agree that carrots and broccoli are excellent!
Kansas State University (2010, September 17). Veterinarian says natural foods not always best for pets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 5, 2010 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100917085624.htm
Leisure, Susan (6 November 2009). Are any vegetables bad for dogs? eHow. Retrieved November 5, 2010, from http://www.ehow.com/facts_5611950_vegetables-bad-dogs_.html