Over the last 25 years I've examined tens of thousands of healthy and sick pets.
Part of the exam process is to discuss the pet's diet. I often get an earful from clients who are super enthusiastic about some special diet that they have "discovered" that is so much superior than all the other diets. I also get quite a few quilty confessions about all the "human" foods, tablet scraps, treats, and snacks many dogs con their "masters" into getting.
There are now hundreds and hundreds of different pet food brands available. And each brand typically has ten or so different formulas such as "Original" "Light", "Active", "Indoor" (a euphemism for less active"), "Senior" and so forth.
Here are my general impressions about pet food diets after seeing so many pets:
- Those pets getting extra expensive "natural diets", "whole foods diets", diets with sea-salt, kelp, free range meats, soy free diets, and all the diets that claim to be super premium because of added anti-oxidants, omega fatty acids from salmon or sharks, or whatever: Yes; pets on these diets seem to do well and often have beautiful coats, healthy gums, and shiny eyes. These pets tend to be well loved and cared for as well.
- Those pets getting mid to high priced National "Name Brand" diets like Science Diet, Eukanuba, Iams, Purina premium priced diets, or any other premium priced major diet ... most have jumped on the band wagon of adding things that have proven to be helpful such as fish oils, and anti-oxidants as well ...:
Yes; pets on these diets seem to do well and often have beautiful coats, healthy gums, and shiny eyes. These pets too, tend to be well loved and cared for.
- Those pets getting mid priced National Name Brand diets like Purina Dog or Cat Chow, Gravy Train, Meow Mix, Kibbles & Bits, and hundreds of similar priced foods:
Yes; pets on these diets may eat a little more filler, fart a little more, poop a little more, and may shed a little more ... but other than that any difference in health compared to those pets on premium or super premium brands is not obvious.
- Those pets getting the very lowest priced generic diets OFTEN ...but not always... have noticable health problems, increased shedding, increased gas, other signs of bowel irritation, and skin problems that are improved when the the diet is upgraded.
Many pets getting the cheapest diets make noticable improvements in their general health, coats, skin ,and disease resistance when their diet is upgraded.
But it's a little hard to be sure because so many of the pets being fed the cheapest foods often belong to red necks that also use the cheapest... if any... parasite control. They frequently have more than 4 dogs and even more cats hanging around their place and "they're eat up with worms and fleas", and don't enjoy high standards of care.
Now; I'm implying that I haven't seen a lot of general health differences in dogs getting typical "National Brand" pet foods and those getting premium quality brands, regardless of whether they are being marketed as pet "health" food, "back to nature' foods, or just as being PREMIUM. I stand by that. I haven't.
But sometimes I do notice that some pets seem to thrive or do better when you move up to the premium brands. And I certainly have patients with various problems and diseases that are vastly improved with an appropriate diet change.
And for certain diseases, recommending a special diet is the most important part of the treatment. Examples include:
And for other problems and diseases, diet MAY NOT be the most important part of the treatment, but it can be a very helpful supplement to treatment. Examples include:
Pets with Liver Disease
"What To Expect When You Go To The Vet"
if your pet should have a problem with ...
To include Femoral Head Removal, Hip Dysplasia, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries, Panosteitis, Radiographic Demonstrations, Disc Disease, and Bone Surgery
Strokes, Vascular Diseases, Anemias, DVT, DIC, Blood Parasites, Rat Poison, & Bleeding disorders
Cardiology Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well. Dermatology: Skin problems including allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems Heart disease; Cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, & heartworms Hormone Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease Infectious Diseases Colds, Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis, Bruceellosis, Panleukopenia, Feline AIDS, Leukemia, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Ringworm, Rabies, FIP, Canine Herpes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, & More Intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas. Also pancreatitis, vomiting, esophagitis, colitis, parvo and other types of dysentery Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease Parasite Problems Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients Poisons Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery
Other Topics on This Site
Zoonotics: Diseases, worms, and parasites people get from pets.
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry
Includes information about feline and canine heat or estrus, breeding, C-Sections, pyometra or Infected Uterus, dystocia, no milk, mastitis, & brucellosis
Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration
WildLife Page: Taking care of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds. A very funny story about beavers, and other misc information Our Dog Page: a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases