Is a breed-specific diet better for your dog?
An emerging trend seen in the commercial pet food industry in recent years is the development of breed-specific dog foods for various life stages. As a more holistic oriented veterinarian who does believe in more individualized diets for our pets–based on their symptom history, constitutional susceptibility and age–I do feel strongly that this is one of the most misunderstood and overrated trends in the commercial pet food industry, a trend that is based more on marketing and profit, rather than truly what is ideal for a given pet at a particular age.
While there are certainly different breeds from around the world that may require tweaking of their diets based on breed history, for the most part, I simply stress a minimally processed, preferably meat-based diet, without a lot of processed and refined carbohydrates, fillers, and artificial preservatives and byproducts. Although I personally feel that this is best done through feeding a properly prepared and balanced, fresh homemade diet, there are emerging pet food companies, such as Nature’s Variety, Taste of the Wild, Wysong and PetGuard, that do offer an acceptable alternative to a minimally processed, more fresh and natural diet.
Certainly as puppies and kittens, our pets will need increased level of protein and nutrients; however, on reaching sexual maturity between one and two years of age, most pets, regardless of size and/or breed, can be changed to an adult diet. It is only when pets start developing chronic diseases of the digestive tract, skin, and/or kidneys and urine that I will start to significantly change their diets, based on the severity of and length of these conditions.
For example, it is not until pets have moderate levels of kidney and/or liver disease, that I will actually recommend lower protein diets for pets; however, in most cases and breeds, I stress quality of diet and ingredients, over the quantity of protein and/or fat. I do feel, strongly, however, that most of the breed-marketed diets found in many pet stores and/or supermarkets are more about targeting certain clients, more for profit, rather than what is important for a particular dog or cat’s nutritional health and longevity.