RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Now that the New Year is upon us, many people want to get in shape and some folks think their pets ought to be getting in shape, too.
So they change their dog’s food to help make that happen.
But, you need be careful what you feed your dog because some experts warn not every dog food might be good for your animal.
For most of us, dog food all looks pretty much the same so, we go by ingredient labels to tell us what’s in the food.
Veterinarians say any dog food needs certain crucial things to keep our four footed friends happy.
“You’ll have to have a protein source, most commonly beef or chicken,” says Dr. Charles Livaudais of North Hills Animal Hospital.
But dog’s aren’t solely carnivores – they need carbohydrates as well.
“It might be grains, it might be tapioca, it might be potato but it has to be something and they need fats as well,” said Livaudais.
Dog owner Charles Dean worries about certain foods like those that are grain free.
“It’s not been tested enough,” he said. “There’s results coming out now that say it could lead to heart disease and what not.”
And Livaudais says dog owners need to be cautious.
“The most common fad is grain free foods,” he said. “We have to be careful, especially in dog foods, to distinguish fads from science and there’s a lot of both out there.”
The Food and Drug Administration is warning pet owners about a potential link between grain free dog foods and a fatal form of K-9 heart disease.
It warns dog owners to be wary of any grain free pet food that lists potatoes, peas, lentils and other legumes as the only ingredients.
The FDA thinks those foods are connected to a deficiency in Taurine, an amino acid critical to the health of a dog’s heart, but no one knows for sure.
The pet food industry says it believes the FDA warning is too hasty and focuses too much on ingredients.
“More research needs to be done on that,” says Livaudais. “We don’t want to scare people unnecessarily but at the same time…it might be better to make sure your dog is getting a food with grains in it until we know more.”
The Morris Animal Foundation has been looking at the issue for years and has an online lecture about the problem and says it appears researchers getting closer to understanding how dietary taurine affects heart disease in dogs.
Veterinarians also say to make sure your pet food comes coming from a reputable source.
This link will help you begin looking at ways you can source the ingredients in your dog’s food.