What’s hot in nutrition
Special pet diets are all the rage right now. To discern whether they’re worth the hype, we talked to Ed Carlson, CVT, VTS (nutrition), about the top three diet trends and what he thinks of each. Let’s dig in, shall we?
Trend No. 1: Grain-free
Grain-free pet food has been a trend for years now. Carlson recognizes the hype but doesn’t see the reasoning behind it. “There’s actually no research to show that grain-free is the superior diet,” he says. If your veterinary clients come in spouting references, politely ask them for their sources and start debunking from there.
On the subject of allergic aversions, Carlson also has reservations. “Pet owners often mistakenly assume their dog or cat is allergic to grains in pet food,” he says. In other words, because Barnaby is allergic to rice, that doesn’t mean he’s also allergic to other grains such as wheat or corn. It could also mean that Barnaby is allergic or reacting to something other than wheat, and the pet owner mistakenly assumed grains were the problem.
Trend No. 2: Raw-food diets
Raw-food diets are all about getting dogs back to their roots—as in, eating as they would if they were still in the wild. The concept makes sense to some, not so much to others—including Carlson. “This diet has become increasingly popular over the past several years, but there’s no evidence that this diet type is better than processed diets,” Carlson says.
One of the biggest reasons this diet is so controversial is because of sanitation. “Ingestion and improper handling of raw meat poses a health concern for pets and people alike. If you search recent recalls, you’ll find several are for raw-food diets.” If your clients insist on going the route of the raw-food diet, be sure to educate them on sanitary practices.
Trend No. 3: New renal diets
The up-and-coming contender for third trend is renal diets. These diets promote alkaline urine production and usually contain B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids—not to mention slowing renal disease in cats and dogs, preventing uremic episodes and doubling patient survival.
Renal diets might have seemed like a thing of the past. But with new-and-improved formulas and diet plans, Carlson thinks this trend is here to stay, and for good reason. “These newer renal diets include increased levels of high-quality, easily digestible protein than traditional renal diets,” he says.