Dry food isn't good for pets.
So you’ve read through those things and you know it’s not good for your pet but it’s just so convenient you don’t want to stop feeding it. And what about their teeth? There are still a lot of myths and excuses I hear that are keeping people from getting their pets off kibble and onto something better but we're going to go through those and why they’re just not true. Because one of the most important things we can do for our pet’s health and well-being is to stop feeding dry food.
Myth: Dry food is better for my pets teeth. Pretty sure the food companies made this one up and unfortunately unwitting vets have been perpetuating it. Dry food does not prevent dental disease in pets. If it did we wouldn't see it in pets that eat dry food right? And we definitely see lots of dental disease in pets that eat dry food. The whole theory of dry food somehow knocking tartar off the teeth (never mind that tartar is only one part of dental disease, but more on that in another post) doesn't even make sense. Does your dentist tell you not to bother brushing or flossing or coming in regularly for a cleaning because you can just “knock the tartar off” with some peanuts and crunchy food? Of course not! So why would we think that's how it works for pets?
Myth: It's bad for my pet to eat all wet food. Again pretty sure this was put out there by the food companies to get you to buy more dry food since they have way bigger profit margins on the dry food than on wet food. Now there are some foods like those “gravy” packets that are actually meant for only mixing in or feeding as a “snack” and they aren't nutritionally complete and balanced to provide all the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients your pet needs so it would be a problem to feed nothing but that all the time. These foods will says on them that they are not complete and balanced and are intended for supplemental feeding only.
Excuse: But my cat or dog doesn't like wet food. Dogs and cats are instinctively programmed to like food. Now they may like the dry food better. That's because dry food is like french fries and if I had a choice between french fries and a salad I'd take the french fries too. Cats and dogs love carbs. They're tasty and filling (briefly). So if they think they can just wait for their french fries they will. Some pets are what we call “dry food junkies” and they can be hard to transition but it's possible and if you want what's best for them it's what needs to happen. Tips and tricks can be found at www.catinfo.org. Most of the tips work just as well for dogs too.
Excuse: Wet food is expensive. Ok it is more expensive than dry food. But lets take a minute to think about our pet's budgets and our spending priorities. For a cat or small dog we're talking about $30 a month for an all wet food diet. That’s a $1 a day. I know you're thinking but I have a Lab, that must be way too expensive to do all wet food. For a 70 lb Lab it's about $100 for a month to feed all wet food. That’s $3.33 a day; pretty much the same as a cup of coffee. If wet food is too expensive homemade food is actually way cheaper (and is healthier since it’s not processed and you know for sure what’s in it). Check out BalanceIt.com or discuss it with your vet to create a complete and balance recipe for homemade food that includes all the necessary vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Using BalanceIt.com a recipe for a cat can cost less than $1 a day, for a 70 lb Lab, a recipe can cost less than $2 a day. Also dry food contributes to lots of health problems so by not feeding dry food we can reduce and prevent these expenses. Dry food is a major contributor to cats developing diabetes. Insulin for cats is about $300 a bottle. So while dry food may be cheaper in the short term the increased risk to your pet’s health isn’t worth it.
Excuse: Wet food makes my cat or dog vomit. See my blog posts on vomiting, hairballs and allergies. Basically this makes no sense. That's like if a person said stew makes them vomit. All stew no matter what was in it. If your cat or dog is vomiting there's an underlying problem with inflammation in the GI tract which needs to be addressed. Just because they happened to have food several hours or even minutes before vomiting doesn't mean that food has anything to do with it.
Excuse: My cat or dog leaves food out all day. This isn't normal and is an indication of nausea and GI inflammation. See the paragraph above.
Excuse: I go out of town and have an auto-feeder. They make wet food auto-feeders. Here’s a couple available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NZTg5N, https://amzn.to/302FczV, https://amzn.to/301DjU3. You can get a pet sitter. It doesn't even have to be a professional pet sitter; most of us have friends, family or even co-workers who like cats and would be willing to stop by and hang out with our cats for free. You can also freeze wet or homemade food and put it out frozen so it will be ready for them to eat the next day. Lots of good tips on www.catinfo.org too.
Excuse: I work long hours. It's normal and instinctual for cats and dogs to be hungry and want food all time. Out in the wild they never knew when (or if) the next meal was coming so they want to eat all the time to make sure they don't starve if they have to go without for a while. They haven't adapted to the lives of luxury they lead with us now. They are actually capable of fasting for several days without side effects (and in some neglect cases cats and dogs have recovered from weeks without food) although obviously I wouldn't recommend going days without feeding your pet. So even though your cat might think she's dying because she hasn't had food since you left in the morning she's actually just fine waiting to eat until you get home from work. If you're worried use an auto-feeder made for use with wet food.
Excuse: I had a pet that lived for a long time and ate dry food. That's great your pet lived a long time! There are plenty of people who live a long time and they smoked and drank and ate lots of fat and sugar their whole lives. Now that's great it worked out for them but that doesn't mean that smoking is the key to long life and we should all start doing that. Maybe your pet would have lived even longer on a better diet. Maybe they would have been healthier for their long life. Just because something doesn't kill you immediately doesn't mean it's the best thing for you.
It doesn't matter if it's the most fancy expensive brand, all dry food is bad for cats and dogs. Don't believe any of the myths from the pet food companies that dry food is better. Don't give in to the excuses. The best diet for your pet is one with no dry food ever.