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Top 5 Myths and Misconceptions About Pet Nutrition

written by Ellie Walker

Pet nutrition is a topic of great importance for pet parents, but it’s also surrounded by numerous myths and misconceptions. To help ensure you’re making informed decisions about the food your pet eats, here are the top five myths about pet nutrition, debunked.

Pet nutrition myth #1: Home cooking is the only way to ensure the food my pet eats is fresh

One of the biggest myths about pet nutrition is that home cooking is the only way to ensure the food your pets eat is fresh. While it’s logical to think that this is the only way to ensure the freshness of food, it does have some potential drawbacks:

  • Nutritional imbalance: Both cats and dogs require a specific balance of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals which they can only get from their food. Without proper guidance from a veterinary nutritionist, home-cooked meals may lack – or even contain too much – of these elements, which can lead to health problems over time.

  • Time and effort: Preparing nutritionally balanced homemade meals for dogs requires time, research, and careful meal planning. Understandably, not all pet parents have the time in their day to calculate the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals as well as source all of the required ingredients.

Making the switch to prepared fresh food is a much easier option to provide a balanced and nutritionally complete diet. Each Freshpet recipe is formulated with the support of our Nutrition Council, a group of veterinarians who help to advise and direct the nutritional development of our fresh food to ensure they are as healthy as possible.

Pet nutrition myth #2: Kibble is widely available so it must be the best food for my pet

A second myth about pet nutrition is that because kibble is so widely available, it must be the best food for pets. Believe it or not, but since it was first introduced in the 1800s, pet food has remained largely unchanged. This means that modern companies are still using similar methods and processes to create kibble as they did over 100 years ago! This is likely a result of them believing that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that kibble is the best food for your pet – for instance:

  • Kibble uses powdered meat and artificial colors

  • Kibble uses hard-to-pronounce preservatives so it can stay on the store shelf for months on end

  • Kibble is cooked at high temperatures that remove naturally occurring nutrients, which must be artificially replaced

Until Freshpet was created in 2006, pet parents had little choice other than to feed their fur babies kibble unless they had the time and knowledge to craft homemade meals themself. Fortunately, pet parents today have more choices than ever before when it comes to choosing the best food for their pets.

Pet nutrition myth #3: Pets don’t have a very strong sense of taste, so it doesn’t matter what’s in their food

A third myth about pet nutrition is that because our pets don’t have a very strong sense of taste, it doesn’t really matter what’s in their food. Dogs may only have around 1,700 taste buds and cats a mere 473 – both of which are significantly less than the 9,000 humans have – this doesn't mean that they don’t care about what they eat.

Cats and dogs can detect sweet, sour, salty, and bitter tastes and they both have a sensitive sense of smell, which heavily influences their perception of food flavors. Fresh food, such as Freshpet, checks all the boxes when it comes to what pets enjoy in their food:

  • Fresh ingredients: Fresh food for pets typically utilizes high-quality, whole-food ingredients that are minimally processed. These ingredients often retain their natural flavors and aromas, making the food more palatable, which can be especially beneficial for pets with reduced appetite or those who are picky eaters.

  • Variety of flavors and textures: Fresh food for pets also allows for a wider variety of flavors and textures compared to kibble. It can be made using a range of meats, vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients which provide a diverse and enticing sensory experience for pets.

  • Increased moisture content: Fresh food for pets also has a higher moisture content compared to dry kibble. The added moisture can enhance the food's texture and juiciness, making it more enjoyable to eat.

For some pets, the format of their meal also plays a big role in their enjoyment. Fortunately, Freshpet offers recipes in a range of formats including ready-to-serve bagged meals and patties to suit a wider range of preferences

Pet nutrition myth #4: If my pet’s food is made with good ingredients, it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared

A fourth myth about pet nutrition is that as long as the food is made with good ingredients, it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared. Just like with human food, the cooking method used when making food for pets plays a big role in its overall nutritional levels. Kibble may start with fresh ingredients, but they’re cooked at such a high temperature that they lose all naturally occurring nutrients. These nutrients – as well as the naturally occurring flavor and aroma – must then be replaced with artificial substitutes.

Freshpet, on the other hand, has a special cooking process designed to lock in essential nutrients. Our gentle steam-cooking process helps maintain the quality and digestibility of the ingredients used in our recipes. If you want to know more about how our Freshpet recipes are made, you can read about it here.

Pet nutrition myth #5: Dogs can eat the same food their entire life

A fifth, and final, myth about pet nutrition is that dogs can eat the same food their entire life. While dogs may have a recipe that they get excited about at every meal, this doesn’t mean that they should eat it for their entire lives. Puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs have different nutritional needs at various stages of their lives, which means they need food that is tailored to their specific life stage.

  • Puppies: Puppies need a diet that is rich in essential nutrients like protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals to support their rapid growth. They also require specific nutrients like EPA and DHA for brain and eye development. Freshpet® Select puppy recipe is formulated to provide your pup with everything they need to grow up healthy and strong.

  • Adult Dogs: For an adult dog in good health, it’s important to find a diet that is made with high-quality ingredients that will help them maintain it during their adult years. Each dog has their own preference, so it can be helpful to try a few different Freshpet recipes to see which format your dog enjoys the most.

  • Senior Dogs: Senior dogs are more likely to have chronic diseases that require long-term management. They also need different nutritional needs compared to younger dogs, including higher levels of vitamins C and E as well as fiber. Freshpet® Select Fresh from the Kitchen Home Cooked Chicken recipe is a great choice of recipe for senior dogs, as it has a high moisture content, antioxidant-rich cranberries, and high-quality protein.

You can learn more about how your dog’s nutritional needs change throughout their life by reading this post from our Freshpet vet, Dr. Aziza.

Ensuring proper nutrition for our pets is essential to ensure they live a happy, tail-wagging life. By debunking some of the top myths about pet nutrition, we hope you have the information you need to make informed choices about your pet’s diet. If you have any further questions, schedule a call with your vet. They’ll be happy to help clear up any further misconceptions and help you put together a meal plan specifically for your pet.

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