New research from the University of Guelph in Ontario reveals that only 13% of dogs and a third of cats eat traditional pet food exclusively – a finding that could mean some pet owners are putting their pets’ health at risk.
While most pets — 79% of dogs and 90% of cats — were offered traditional pet foods, such as kibble, the vast majority were also given homemade, raw or vegan meals at least some of the time, according to the announcement. University of Guelph. . Few pets eat only conventional pet food.
“This was shocking to us, seeing that only 13% of dogs and a third of cats were fed exclusively conventional pet food,” said lead author Dr. Sarah Dodd, a veterinarian and doctoral candidate at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) who studies pet nutrition, “We didn’t expect that at all at all.”
Published in BMJ’s Vet Record, the study included an online survey of more than 3,600 pet owners in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The study — the first since 2008 to focus solely on pet feeding practices — found that the practice of feeding “non-traditional” foods, either as the sole source of nutrition or in conjunction with a traditional diet, is now more prevalent than previous studies have found, the ad said. .
There were also some geographical differences. For example, Australian respondents were more likely than others to be offered raw diets, while pet owners in New Zealand and Canada were more likely to feed their pets traditional pet foods.
Dodd said she suspects the growing trend toward feeding pets homemade, raw or vegan meals reflects the fact that today’s owners tend to see their pets as members of their family and want them to be given food as good as their own.
“I think a lot of this has to do with pet owners trying to reduce consumption of processed foods or switch to whole or plant-based foods. They are probably taking their own practices and applying them to their pets with the thought: ‘If it’s good for us, it must be good for them’.” , She said.
Alternatively, they may see eating food as dry or boring and wonder how that might be good for their pets, she said, adding, “What they don’t see are the nutrients in that food. They don’t see the decades of research behind it.”
Veterinarians like Dodd are concerned about nutrient deficiencies that can occur with homemade pet meals if they are not appropriately formulated. The most common are imbalances in the amounts and ratios of calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D, which Dodd said can lead to “amazing effects” in puppies and kittens.
We often see the effects of improper diets in our clinics. You see fractures or stunted growth or severe skeletal abnormalities that happen quickly because these animals grow so fast.”
“It’s devastating, because these aren’t pet owners trying to ‘get out on the cheap’. These are the people who think they go to great lengths and do what’s best for their pets, and it’s sad to see things go wrong and end up hurting their pets,’ Dodd said.
Adroni Verbruggi, professor of clinical nutrition for dogs and cats in the OVC Department of Clinical Studies, supervised the research and said it’s important for future research to investigate the long-term effect of feeding a plant-based or raw diet to dogs and cats. The increased prevalence of these diets, as reported in this study.
“These diets are growing in popularity, which is why we need to research safe and effective ways to feed complete, nutritionally balanced diets,” she said.
Dodd and co-authors note that there is nothing inherently wrong with homemade pet meals. In fact, a large percentage of the work that OVC’s Therapeutic Nutrition Service does involves formulating special, homemade diets for pets with health conditions. Problems usually start when pet owners do not seek proper guidance about the nutrients their animals need.
“What I always advise is to be open with your vet about what you are feeding them. Vets need to know what you are eating so they can help guide you, because at the end of the day, we are all trying to do what is best for your pet,” Dodd said.
This article originally appeared on Feedstuffs, a sister website to Supermarket News.