10 Dog Food Myths Debunked

By Melissa Kauffman

What is optimal canine nutrition? This is the question even our trusted veterinarians can’t agree on, let alone dog parents who seek answers. 

Nutritional needs for a dog should be simple and straightforward, however, just as there are different approaches, trends and opinions, there’s also plenty of room for misinterpretation and myths.

We’ve collected 10 of the most popular misconceptions concerning dog food, eating habits and nutritional needs, as well as on-point explanations that will help you understand what’s actually true.

Photo by Tiffany Goerlich on Unsplash






Myth #1: Dogs are carnivores

First things first - let's debunk the worst myth of them all. Dogs are omnivores! This means they obtain their energy and nutritional needs not only from meat, but also from grains, vegetables, and even fruit. Apart from protein and its amino acids, which is the most important in dog development and growth, dogs also need vitamins, fiber, minerals, beta-carotene, good fats like Omega-3 oil, etc., which cannot all be found purely in meat. 

Myth #2: Non-grain food is linked to heart disease 

Consumers were warned last year by the FDA that there could be a potential link between particular dog food and dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM — which can weaken a dog’s heart and lead to cardiac failure. 

However, to date, no credible evidence has shown that grain-free diets are better for dogs, and no nutritional foundations support this claim. On the contrary, research has actually linked heart problems in dogs with completely grain-free diets, so definitely take this idea with a pinch of salt!  

As the nature of this potential link has not yet been determined, the FDA is continuing to encourage consumers to work closely with their veterinarians to select the best diet for their pets’ needs. Though pet parents may think a natural, carbohydrate-free diet is best for their dog, unless your dog has a grain allergy, grains are not harmful. PetMD advises that an adult dog needs at least 10% of its daily calories from protein and a minimum of 5.5% from fats. They go on to say that an adult dog’s diet can contain up to 50% carbohydrates, including 2.5% to 4.5% percent fiber.

Additionally, although there are proven links between dog allergies and grains, this doesn’t by any means equal a grain-free diet. Grains are a source of many beneficial nutrients, like protein, essential amino acids, fatty acids, linoleic acid, and other nutrients that replacement ingredients and supplements don’t contain.

Myth #3: All human food is bad for dogs

By simply relying on your common sense, it’s clear that this is certainly not true! Even though foods like processed sugar, beans and legumes can be dangerous for dogs, other human food (that is by the rules of nature also dog food) is perfectly fine.

Homemade dog food prepared from everyday kitchen ingredients you would use in your own cooking is becoming a popular trend. If done safely and properly, it can even be healthier than commercially produced dog food.

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Myth #4: An all-meat diet is the best for dogs

This goes along with the first myth, as many believe that even if dogs can eat other ingredients, a meat-based diet will be the most beneficial anyways. Wrong!

To avoid any nutrient deficiency, skin conditions and digestive problems, introduce variety into your dogs everyday feeding regimen. Luckily, good-quality and premium dog food (although a high-end choice) contain a balanced nutritional value, with everything your dog needs on a daily basis. If you check the ingredient chart on every kibble or canned dog food, you’ll see that none is purely based on meat. 

Myth #5: Real meat is always healthier than meat meal

Real meat just sounds more natural than meat meal, but this does not mean it’s better. In fact, if we talk about meat nutrients (beneficial nutrients in meat that your dog actually needs, like protein, amino acids, vitamin B12 and more), meat meal is just as nutritious as pure meat, but with water and fat subtracted. Simply put, a chicken meal would be a highly concentrated meat-nutrient source that is just lighter than real chicken meat due to the lack of water and fat.

Myth #6: High-protein diets cause kidney failure in dogs

Much as a purely meat-based diet is not the healthiest solution, there’s no scientific evidence to prove a direct correlation between renal issues being caused by protein-packed canine diets. What is not recommended by the vets is giving high-protein food to dogs who already suffer from kidney failure or disease. 

Ill-functioning kidneys cause the urea, a byproduct of protein metabolism, to build up in the blood, creating the renal illness. Decreasing dietary protein can control the levels of urea in blood. However, not ingesting protein at all will make the body look for the source of protein somewhere else (the muscle protein), which can trigger other health problems and even make things worse. 

If your pooch suffers from any sort of health issues, look for dog food options that are optimized to provide your dog with the ideal balance for his specific issues, as well as his age, weight, activity level and breed.

Myth #7: Raw food will give my dog Salmonella

Food poisoning by the Salmonella bacteria is real and definitely more probable with unprocessed meat, dairy or eggs.

Dogs, however, with a healthy immune system are able to eat raw meat due to the more acidic digestive tract, thus being more resistant to intestinal bacterial infections.

The safest option is dehydrated dog food, the commercially produced raw food which is safe and clean for everyday consumption.

Myth #8: Bones are by rule of thumb good for dogs

Yes, dogs eat bones. Not ALL bones, however, are good for dogs and those should by all means be avoided.

Chewing on raw bones that contain (fresh) bone marrow is very nutritious, it’s good for stimulation and jaw strengthening and teeth cleansing. Cooked bones, on the other hand, are brittle and can snap easily, leaving them sharp and dangerous for the dog’s oral cavity, as well as digestive organs, since it can cause tears and wounds. Small chicken bones can even cause choking.

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Myth #9: Kibble is good for oral hygiene

If you were consistently giving your dog dry kibble thinking it will keep your dog’s teeth nice and clean, stop it now. 

Dogs don’t ingest food by thoroughly chewing through it, but by crushing and gulping it before simply swallowing. This means there’s no way kibble could have an effect on the teeth even if it had any active ingredients (which it doesn’t).

Myth #10: Lamb is hypoallergenic

This myth came to life probably due to the fact that lamb was less frequently used as a dog food ingredient than chicken, beef or pork. Nevertheless, it’s far from the truth.

Some dogs do develop allergic reactions to lamb, but they also do so with other meat or ingredients. There’s no definite proof found in research that lamb immediately causes allergies in dogs. In fact, it’s a good source of protein and considered high-quality food. If you suspect your dog of having a food allergy or intolerance, it’s a good idea to put him on a limited ingredient dog food so you can try to rule out what he’s sensitive to.

Final thoughts

Don’t trust everything you hear and see others do, as some ideas circling around can cause damage to your dog’s health. The best you can do as a responsible dog owner is to get properly informed and rely on facts and sometimes just on common sense.

Comments (8)

Animal of All Types
Wed, Dec 22, 2021, 3:49 AM
Amazing post
Ayaan product
Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 6:14 AM
Very informative. Looking forward to some similar information about felines. Thank you for providing such a resource!
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Fri, Feb 19, 2021, 2:29 AM
Very Impressive blog!! I loved your blog commenting mistakes related article.. i am gonna share you on my social media audience
Sun, Jan 17, 2021, 9:19 PM
This is so true! I don’t know how domestic dogs will survive on a meat only diet and the myth that dogs are carnivore just doesn’t sound right.
Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 2:07 PM
I’m confused when people feed their dog a meat only diet.
GBAY Farms
Tue, Dec 15, 2020, 1:12 AM
I don't think I have seen this type of advisory post. This is a great source for us to increase knowledge about pets food myths. Keep sharing, Thank you.
Nancy DeBats
Thu, Aug 20, 2020, 11:10 AM
Thanks for sharing
Deborah Kraus
Sat, Jun 13, 2020, 2:00 PM
Very informative. Looking forward to some similar information about felines. Thank you for providing such a resource!

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