Dr Prinsloo is a qualified veterinarian and attorney. In 2015, she started Legalvet services in order to provide legal advice to the animal and veterinary industries in South Africa – and now she’s teamed up with us to tell us more about nutrition trends for dogs.
While Dr Prinsloo is a qualified veterinarian, she cannot advise on unique nutritional needs remotely. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and should in no way be regarded as a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnoses, or diet plans.
dotsure.co.za is not responsible or liable for any advice or any other information provided herein. If you are concerned about your pet’s diet and nutrition, the best course of action is to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Can you remember what your dogs were fed when you grew up? Would you still feed your dogs the same way today? Most likely your answer will be “No!”. Pet food has come a long way in the last few decades, and it is still evolving.
As humans, we have become increasingly aware of what we eat and how we live. Not only because of the effect on our health, but also because of the consequences for our environment and the survival of our species and planet. We realised what we feed our pets greatly influences their health and longevity. On the other hand, we also realised that some practices in the food industry can be cruel, leading us to make less harmful choices. All these factors have contributed to the current trends in dog nutrition.
Different Processing Methods
- Raw food
Admittedly, raw dog foods have been around for a while, but it is still gaining popularity. I have always been anti-raw food but have recently changed my mind. We struggled with our own dog’s health for months and out of pure desperation decided to try raw food. The results are amazing!
However, I still want to warn dog owners about the dangers of raw food. There are very harmful bacteria that can be present in raw food, and the problem is that these bacteria are a greater danger for the humans in the household than for the dogs. Raw food is not always subject to strict quality control and may not be well-balanced. Please consult with your veterinarian before you switch over to raw food, and if there are any humans in the household with health problems, please consult your medical doctor too.
- Air-dried dog food
South Africans all know and love biltong! Air-drying has some advantages over raw food, while still preserving nutrients and keeping it tasty. Currently, in South Africa, this is mainly used for dog treats, but complete packaged diets are available and gaining popularity in other countries.
Improved Health and Causing Less Harm
Making less harmful choices means different things to different people. For some, the potential cruelty to the animals used as a source of food and the dogs used in the research by dog food companies are a major concern. For other people, the effect of livestock on the environment is the deciding factor, while some people just want what is best for their dog’s health.
- Plant-based (vegan) diets
Vegans and vegetarians no longer need to choose between their convictions and their love for their dogs. Balanced plant-based dog foods are now available commercially. Although I have been sceptical about this, there are research papers that have shown a well-balanced plant-based diet can fulfil all your dog’s needs.
- Game and other natural meat sources
The use of alternative protein sources such as ostrich, game, and fish have been around for a while, but are still gaining more support. These sources are mainly organic have a health advantage. Using available resources that are not dependant on the livestock industry can also mean a lesser impact on our environment.
- Grain-free dog foods
In recent years, we have become more aware of the potential negative effects of grain on human health. This naturally led to the question of the effect of grain on dog’s health and to the development of grain-free diets. These foods are generally more expensive, but if your dog has a grain allergy or intolerance, it will be worth the expense.
- Goat Milk
Goat milk has several advantages over cow milk, but it is not suitable for all dogs. Goat milk kefir is specifically said to be beneficial for gut health in dogs. It contains prebiotics that feeds the good gut bacteria, it has a negative effect on the growth of harmful bacteria, it is an immune system booster, and it reduces inflammation. Definitely worth remembering!
What about Water?
Not much attention has been given to dogs’ water in the past, but now it seems as if this topic might be trending too. Apparently, there are companies looking into flavours for dog water! If this is healthy remains to be seen.
While there are many new trends to consider when choosing your dog’s food, it is not always good to follow them just for the sake of doing something new. If your dog is healthy and happy, it is probably best to keep doing what you are doing. However, if you want to change your dog’s diet, please always consult with your veterinarian.