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Dog Nutrition Myths

Updated: Mar 14

Uncovering the Tail Wagging Truth

An illustrated image of a dog in a detective outfit

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Nourishing Knowledge for Your Dog’s Diet

In the realm of canine care, nutrition sits at the heart of a vibrant and healthy life for our furry companions. Yet, navigating the vast sea of dietary advice can be as challenging as teaching an old dog new tricks. It’s crucial to discern fact from fiction in a world brimming with dog diet myths. At Pebbles Pure Bites, we’re dedicated to the well-being of your pets, offering treats crafted from nature’s best. With a keen focus on canine nutrition, we’re here to sift through the most prevalent misconceptions. From the buzz around grain-free foods to the debate on raw diets, we’re setting the record straight. Ready to discover the nutritional truths your dog deserves? Let’s delve into the science and facts that will keep your canine’s health on the right track.


Myth 1: Dogs Are Only Carnivores

This is a common misconception that stems from the fact that dogs are descended from wolves, which are primarily carnivorous. However, dogs have evolved over thousands of years to adapt to a variety of foods, including plant-based sources. Therefore, dogs are not only carnivores, but omnivores, meaning they can eat and digest both animal and plant matter.


According to the American Kennel Club, dogs need meat in their diets, but they also benefit from other sources of nutrition, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. These foods provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that support various aspects of canine health, such as digestion, immunity, skin, coat, eyes, and more.


Pumpkin and sweet potato are two examples of plant foods that are beneficial for dogs. They are both high in fiber, which helps regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation, diarrhea, and anal gland issues. They also contain beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which is essential for vision, skin, and reproduction. Additionally, they have other nutrients, such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and iron, that help boost the immune system, protect against heart disease and cancer, support bone growth, and regulate blood sugar.


However, it is important to note that pumpkin and sweet potato are not interchangeable, and they have some differences that may affect your dog’s preference and health. For instance, sweet potato has more calories, carbohydrates, and sugar than pumpkin, which may not be suitable for dogs with diabetes or obesity. Pumpkin, on the other hand, has more water and less starch than sweet potato, which makes it easier to digest and hydrate. Pumpkin also has some unique benefits, such as treating urinary incontinence and controlling parasites.


Therefore, when choosing between pumpkin and sweet potato for your dog, you should consider their individual needs, preferences, and health conditions. You should also consult your veterinarian before making any dietary changes, and always feed them in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Too much of any food can cause problems, such as nutrient deficiencies, allergies, or toxicity.


In conclusion, dogs are omnivores, not only carnivores, and they can benefit from a variety of foods, including pumpkin and sweet potato. However, these foods are not equal, and you should be aware of their differences and effects on your dog’s health. By feeding your dog a balanced and varied diet, you can support their health holistically and lovingly.

Happy dog over a table spread with healthy dog food ingredients

Myth 2 Grain-Free Diets Are Healthier for All Dogs

Grain-free diets have become popular in the pet food market, echoing human trends of reducing gluten and grains in the diet. This trend is beneficial for dogs with specific grain sensitivities or allergies, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. The assumption that grain-free is inherently healthier for all dogs is a misconception that overlooks the nutritional needs of the vast majority of canines.


Recent research, including studies from the FDA1, has indicated potential links between grain-free diets and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs. These findings have raised questions about the long-term health effects of grain-free diets for dogs that do not have a grain sensitivity.


DCM is a serious heart condition that affects the ability of the heart to pump blood effectively. It can lead to congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, and sudden death. While some breeds are genetically predisposed to DCM, such as Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes, the FDA has received reports of DCM in breeds that are not typically affected, such as Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers1.


The FDA’s investigation suggests that some grain-free diets may contain high levels of legumes, such as peas, lentils, and chickpeas, or potatoes, as main ingredients. These ingredients may interfere with the synthesis or absorption of taurine, an amino acid that is essential for heart health in dogs1. Taurine deficiency has been linked to DCM in some cases, but not all. The exact mechanism of how grain-free diets may cause or contribute to DCM is still unclear and requires further research1.

For dogs with genuine gluten or grain sensitivities, grain-free diets can lead to significant improvements in their health and well-being. Symptoms like itchy skin, digestive discomfort, and chronic ear infections can often be alleviated by switching to a grain-free diet under veterinary guidance. That said, it’s crucial to verify these sensitivities through proper testing rather than following a trend. Self-diagnosing a pet’s grain sensitivity can lead to overlooking other underlying health issues or nutritional deficiencies.


Gluten intolerance or sensitivity is a condition where the immune system reacts to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten intolerance can cause inflammation and damage to the intestinal lining, leading to malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhea, weight loss, and other symptoms2. Gluten intolerance is rare in dogs, affecting fewer than 1% of the canine population3. It is more common in certain breeds, such as Irish Setters.


Grain sensitivity or allergy is a condition where the immune system reacts to specific grains, such as corn, rice, or oats. Grain sensitivity can cause skin problems, such as itching, redness, and hair loss, as well as gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting, gas, and loose stools. Grain sensitivity is also uncommon in dogs, accounting for about 10% of all food allergies in canines3. It is more likely that dogs are allergic to the protein sources in their food, such as chicken, beef, or dairy3.

To diagnose gluten or grain sensitivity in dogs, a veterinarian may perform blood tests, skin tests, or elimination diets. An elimination diet involves feeding the dog a novel protein and carbohydrate source for several weeks, and then reintroducing the suspected allergen to see if the symptoms return. This process can help identify the specific ingredient that causes the adverse reaction. 


Myth 3 Raw Diets Are Superior to Cooked Meals

The debate between raw and cooked diets for dogs is a hot topic among pet owners, with strong advocates on both sides. Those in favor of raw diets argue that they’re more natural and closely mimic what dogs would eat in the wild. Proponents of cooked meals, however, point to the benefits of food safety and digestibility. So, what does science say?


Research on the efficacy of raw diets for dogs is mixed, with some studies suggesting potential health benefits like improved coat condition, better dental health, and more natural feeding behavior¹. However, these benefits must be weighed against the risks. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cautions against raw diets due to the risk of foodborne illness from pathogens like Salmonella and Listeria, both of which can affect animals and humans alike. Moreover, there’s a concern about the nutritional completeness of raw diets, as domesticated dogs have different nutritional requirements from their wild ancestors³⁴.


Cooked diets, on the other hand, can provide all the necessary nutrients in a safer, more digestible form. Cooking destroys harmful pathogens and can make certain nutrients more accessible to the body⁵. It also allows for a greater variety of ingredients, ensuring a more balanced diet.


It's critical to assess whether the”choice of a raw diet is made for the dog’s health or if it’s influenced by the trendiness of “going natural.” Like fashion trends that come and go, pet care fads can sometimes overshadow what’s genuinely beneficial for our dogs. Painting a dog’s toenails might be harmless, but when it comes to nutrition, the stakes are much higher.


Always consult with a veterinarian before transitioning to or starting a raw diet. They can provide guidance on how to balance the diet correctly and minimize risks. As the owner of Pebbles Pure Bites, I advocate for feeding practices that prioritize the health and well-being of dogs first and foremost, guided by professional advice and evidence-based research. Our commitment is to the nutritional welfare of pets, offering them the goodness of nature’s bounty in the safest, most beneficial manner.


Myth 4 Dogs Should Avoid All Human Foods

The term “human food” often conjures images of a dog eagerly awaiting a morsel from their owner’s plate. However, in the context of canine diets, “human food” simply refers to any food item that is not specifically manufactured for dogs. This includes a range of fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains that are part of the human diet and can often be shared safely and beneficially with our pets.

While our furry friends can benefit from many of the same wholesome foods we enjoy, it’s crucial to distinguish between what is safe and what can be harmful to them. Here’s a brief list to guide you:

Dog-Safe Human Foods:

Carrots - A crunchy, low-calorie treat rich in beta-carotene1.

Blueberries - Full of antioxidants and perfect for a snack1.

Cooked Chicken - A great source of protein when unseasoned1.

Rice - Plain, cooked rice can be a good filler in moderation1.

Apples - A sweet treat, but remember to remove the core and seeds1.

Pumpkin - Cooked pumpkin is great for digestive health1.

Green Beans - Full of fiber and low in calories1.

Peanut Butter - Unsweetened and without xylitol, it’s a favorite among dogs1.

Oatmeal - Cooked and plain, it’s good for older dogs with bowel irregularity issues2.

Sweet Potatoes - Cooked and skinless, they’re a fantastic source of vitamins2.

Toxic Foods for Dogs:

Chocolate - Contains theobromine, which can be lethal for dogs1.

Grapes & Raisins - Can cause acute kidney failure1.

Onions & Garlic - Can lead to anemia by destroying red blood cells1.

Avocado - Contains persin, which is toxic to dogs in large amounts1.

Alcohol - Even small amounts can cause intoxication and health issues1.

Macadamia Nuts - Can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors, and hyperthermia1.

Coffee & Caffeine - Contains substances similar to chocolate that are harmful1.

Xylitol - This sweetener found in many products can lead to liver failure1.

Yeast Dough - Can expand in the stomach, leading to pain and potential blockages1.

Bones - Cooked bones can splinter and cause internal damage or blockages1.

LIst Of Human Foods That are Safe or Toxic For Dogs

When incorporating human foods into your dog’s diet, always consult with a veterinarian to ensure they’re suitable for your dog’s health.

Now that we've explored some human foods that are safe and beneficial for our furry friends, let's put this knowledge into delicious practice. Check out these two mouth-watering biscuit recipes that your dog is sure to love and show how we debunk this aspect of dog nutrition myths. Both recipes use safe, healthy ingredients that we've just talked about.

For a savory treat that combines the digestive benefits of pumpkin with the irresistible taste of peanut butter, try:

Recipe Card for Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Biscuits

For the fruit-loving canines out there, check out our Blueberry Delight Biscuit Recipe. These treats are brimming with the goodness of antioxidant-packed blueberries, making them a flavorful and healthy choice.

Recipe Card for Blueberry Delight Treats

Myth 5: A Dog’s Dry Nose Indicates Illness

A common concern among dog owners is the condition of their pet’s nose. The myth that a dry nose signifies illness is widespread, but the reality is more nuanced. A dog’s nose can fluctuate between wet and dry multiple times throughout the day due to various harmless factors, including exposure to wind, sun, or even the indoor temperature.

A healthy dog’s nose might be dry if they’ve just woken up from a nap or if they’ve been lying in a sunny spot. However, it’s important to be vigilant about the context in which a dry nose occurs. If a dry nose is accompanied by other symptoms, such as lethargy, vomiting, excessive thirst, or changes in appetite or behavior, it could indicate a fever or other illness.

Additionally, look for changes in the nose’s texture and color. A nose that is persistently dry, cracked, or has a discharge could signal an underlying issue that requires veterinary attention. Similarly, a nose producing a thick, colored, or smelly discharge can be a sign of infection.

It’s crucial to view a dog’s dry nose as one potential clue in a larger puzzle. Rather than a definitive sign of illness on its own, it should prompt dog owners to look for other signs that indicate their pet’s overall health status.

By understanding the broader context of canine health, dog owners can better judge when to simply monitor their pet and when it’s time to consult the veterinarian1234.

Myth 6: Dogs Can Eat Anything Without Health Repercussions

It’s a myth that dogs have iron stomachs and can consume anything without ill effects. In reality, many common foods and household items can be dangerous for dogs. As responsible pet owners, it’s crucial to be aware of these potential hazards.

Beyond the toxic foods mentioned earlier, there are other items that should never be part of a dog’s diet. Foods high in fat, like bacon or fatty cuts of meat, can lead to pancreatitis1. Dairy products can cause digestive upset2. Certain nuts, including walnuts and pecans, are toxic3. And it goes without saying that any food with mold, no matter how small the amount, should be kept well away from curious snouts.

Non-food items are equally important to keep out of reach. Medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can be lethal to dogs4. Common household plants, like lilies or azaleas, can be toxic. And small objects that can be swallowed pose a risk of choking or causing intestinal blockages.

If your dog ingests something potentially toxic, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately. It can be helpful to keep the number for a pet poison helpline handy. If you know what your dog has eaten, bring this information to the vet, as it will guide the treatment plan.

For non-toxic but harmful items, such as bones or toys that could cause choking or blockages, watch for signs of distress like gagging, difficulty breathing, or attempts to vomit. If these occur, seek veterinary care right away.

Prevention is the best medicine, so keep harmful items out of reach and educate yourself on canine dietary health. Remember, a well-guarded dog is a well-guarded health. 


Conclusion: Nourishing Your Pup with Facts and Combating Dog Nutrition Myths

The journey to optimal pet care is paved with informed choices and a profound understanding of our dogs’ nutritional needs. As we’ve discovered today, myths are plentiful, but when armed with facts, we can make decisions that enhance the health and vitality of our cherished pets. The key takeaway is clear: knowledge is the most beneficial nourishment.

At Pebbles Pure Bites, we are committed to supporting this journey with our all-natural dog treats and cakes, designed to align with the highest standards of canine nutrition. Each product in our line is a testament to our dedication to quality, affordability, and innovation in pet care.

🐾 With heartfelt love, Melissa & Pebbles 🐾


If you've found this guide helpful and are passionate about ensuring a happy, healthy life for your pet, check out our other blog articles!


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