Our Mooresville vets understand that many pet parents who include integrative veterinary services into their dog's health care are also interested in serving their pooch a holistic diet. Today we share a little about holistic dog foods, and what integrative veterinary medicine involves.
Does integrative medicine include holistic pet food?
Many loving pet parents are keen to turn to a more holistic style of caring for their pets. That's why integrative veterinary services and the desire to include holistic food as part of your pet's healthy lifestyle can often go hand-in-hand. However, it's important to note that the two are not necessarily linked and that when you opt for holistic food for your dog, you may not be getting the quality you had hoped for.
What should I feed my pet?
Buying nutritious and balanced food for your pet can be a tricky business. You love your pup and want to be sure that you're feeding them the very best food. So, maybe you've been hearing great things about holistic or natural pet foods and think that maybe your dog should be eating a holistic diet. Well, before you hand over your hard-earned cash there are a few things you should know.
What's are 'natural' foods?
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes regulations for pet food and sets standards for nutrition. Let's start by examining how the term natural is defined by the AAFCO:
"a feed or feed ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur in good manufacturing practices."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not define natural in terms of pet foods and as such relies on the requirement that labels are not false or misleading.
How is the AAFCO definition of 'natural' applied to pet foods?
In states that have adopted the AAFCO regulations, any pet food company marketing their product as natural must comply with the above definition with the exception of added vitamins and minerals, however, this definition is not as all-encompassing as it may sound.
Pet parents shopping for the best natural food for their dog need to keep in mind that:
- Foods that include ingredients that adhere to the above definition are not necessarily safer than foods that include ingredients produced synthetically.
- The natural food or individual ingredients could have been processed during the manufacturing process and still be labeled as natural.
- Trace amounts of synthetic compounds may still be found in foods that are considered natural.
How is the term 'holistic' defined in terms of pet food?
It's important to understand that the term holistic when applied to medicine is different from when it is applied to pet food. So, what does it mean when you see the term holistic on a dog food label?
The term holistic has been around for a number of years in regards to foods for people, and many of us associate the word with things that are good for our total health. However, neither the AAFCO or the FDA offer us a definition for the word holistic when it comes to pet food.
That means that the word holistic is unregulated and may simply be a marketing tool for some dog food producers trying to give the impression that their food will benefit your pet's overall health more than food not labeled as holistic.
Can holistic foods be better for my dog?
Not all pet food companies marketing their dog foods as holistic are being misleading. If the term holistic is viewed as more of an approach to feeding our pets a less processed diet with high-quality ingredients, there are many nutritious holistic pet foods that offer balanced high-quality nutrition.
Some holistic pet food brands include additives or ingredients that are believed to promote overall wellness in dogs including probiotics, vitamins or minerals, or supplements that may help with conditions, such as skin health or joint care.
A number of holistic dog foods offer grain-free formulations that include legumes and vegetables rather than wheat, corn, and soy, while others add 'superfoods' to their formulations such as fruits and green veggies.
How do I choose the best holistic food for my dog?
When trying to decide on the food that's right for your dog there are a few steps to follow:
Consult Your Vet
Your veterinarian has a record of your pet's overall health and any health concerns that could be addressed through a change to a less processed diet. That puts your vet in the ideal position to offer you advice on which foods may be best for your dog. Take the time to explain to your vet exactly why you are considering holistic foods, and what your concerns are about conventional dogs foods. Ultimately the choice will be yours but your vet may be able to offer some valuable advice on the topic.
Do Your Research
Don't attempt to figure out which food is best for your dog while standing in front of a full isle of holistic foods. The labels will soon become overwhelming, even for the most educated consumer.
Take your time to research the brands you are considering. Check to see that the product has been approved by a veterinary or animal nutritionist, that it meets AAFCO requirements, and displays a statement that the food provides complete and balanced nutrition.
Also be sure to find out if there have been any recalls of the product due to contamination, incorrect labeling, or other safety or quality issues.
What is Integrated Veterinary Medicine?
Integrative Veterinary Medicine combines multiple aspects of pet care to treat health issues and promote optimal overall health.
The techniques used in integrative veterinary care blend western medicine with treatments that are often considered holistic pet medicine, alternative medicine for dogs, or holistic remedies for pets, such as acupuncture, therapeutic laser therapy, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and nutraceutical care.
Integrative Medicine for your dog may include changing your pet's food under the guidance of your vet, in order to help your pet overcome health issues and feel better.