An edited transcript of the video is provided below:
This is our second in a three-part series regarding pet food, the biggest religious topic that we deal with on a day-to-day basis. People feel very, very strongly about it but there is such bad information out there and misinformation and terrible marketing that we’re here to dispel some of those myths. One of the biggest things you’re going to see and hear about is the “Grain-Free” fad. You can’t even pick up a treat or bag of food these days that doesn’t say it’s grain-free. The other villain in dog and cat food right now is byproducts. Many pet foods will say they don’t put any byproducts or meals in their diet, so I want to explain what those things are and maybe calm some people down because again, there are really passionate feelings about this. We want to provide another balanced viewpoint on it and calm down some of the internet furor over these otherwise ridiculous arguments.
So first up let’s talk about byproducts. This is one of my favorite things because everybody will talk to me about the food they chose and they’ll sound really proud, “We’re not feeding our dog any byproducts.” And it’s great because they think that they are doing the right thing. They are getting this marketing from these pet stores and from the internet, and they are trying to make a good choice. And I do applaud people for putting the thought and effort in to their decisions. The problem is that the information they are being fed isn’t necessarily all that useful. Personally, I am a big fan of byproducts. The problem with byproducts is that they just have a terrible name. Nobody has any idea what a byproduct is so it was really easy for some of these pet food companies (namely Blue Buffalo) to come in there and villainize ingredients because it was a really easy marketing thing. By claiming they weren’t going to put any grains or any byproducts in their food people assumed that was actually a better diet to have, to be byproduct-free and grain-free.
So what are byproducts? Here’s the definition of it by the pet food industry: “A byproduct is the nonrendered clean parts, other than meat, derived from mammals. It includes but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, partially fat and low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.” So basically byproducts are anything that’s not meat. If you think about it, it got its name because when we produce food animals, we’re producing them for meat. We like steaks, we like just pure meat. But then there are things that are not meat and so what do they do with them? That is what byproducts are. They’re byproducts of producing meat. All of that organ meat is actually really good nutrition. In our culture, we just don’t eat it as frequently as in other cultures around the world. But liver, lungs, kidneys, spleen all of those things actually have a lot of really great micronutrients. Animals can’t just eat meat by itself. It’s actually pretty nutrient deficient. Most foods that don’t include any byproducts just end up taking all those necessary nutrients and artificially adding them in one at a time to try to simulate what the liver naturally provides if you eat that. If you’re looking for a more natural diet, you actually want one with byproducts in it. So byproducts actually are a really good protein source, and a really good nutrient source, but it just has a really bad name. And that bad name made it a really easy target for some of these more unscrupulous marketing machines to capitalize on and make it appear like their pet food was better.
Then there’s the question of grains. This is another one that everybody is really proud of, “Oh, I don’t feed my dog any grains.” Well, it’s just like the gluten allergy phenomenon that’s going on where everybody seems to have a gluten allergy these days. Well, you don’t. The majority of people don’t have celiac disease. And the same is true for dogs. If you remember from our last video about raw diets, dogs actually evolved to eat grains along with people because they’re eating the waste from our agriculture. And so they have genes that encode for breaking down those sugars and those carbohydrates.
So dogs can do really well on grains. The reason why the pet food industry has tried to market their products as grain-free is that some dogs can have a grain allergy. But it’s actually a really low percentage. More often dogs will have allergies to beef, chicken, dairy, fish, lamb. Of the grains, a wheat allergy is the most common, but that is rarely included in dog food. It’s really rare for them to have a corn or a soy allergy so this whole phenomenon is really overblown. If you wanted to actually provide a diet that was less likely to cause an allergy, you wouldn’t feed them chicken or beef. But most of the food out there is still based on chicken and beef, so again, it’s just a marketing tool to try to differentiate themselves and make it seem like they’re putting some thought into their diet when really it’s just there to trick people. Some dogs might do better on a grain-free food, but it’s possible they are doing better from something other than the lack of grains.
And also grain-free doesn’t equal carb free. That’s the other part that people are trying to do – to get them on more high protein, more “natural wolf-like” diet. See our previous video on raw diets and why that doesn’t really matter. But just because it’s grain-free doesn’t mean that it’s carbohydrate-free. There can be other carbs in ingredients like potatoes.
So hopefully that clears things up on why we typically don’t care whether or not your food is grain-free or byproduct-free and why we actually prefer them to have some byproducts in them. And again, there will be passionate debate on this and that is fine. We’re just providing you with this information because there’s a lot of bad information on the internet and it’s hard to know what is real when you’re getting it directly from some of these websites.
If you have any questions, give us a call 760-633-2254. Visit us on the web at sdcoastalanimal.com