Does Pet Food Cause Disease in Dogs and Cats?

According to a recent report posted by Banfield Pet Hospitals, they have documented an increase of almost 80% in cases of diabetes in dogs and cats. Why the big jump? While pet food companies would like us to believe that the increased use of carbohydrates in pet food has nothing to do with this, I disagree. The fact that we can lower insulin usage and sometimes completely eliminate insulin dependency by changing to a high protein, low carbohydrate diet, lends credence to the proof that high carbohydrate diets are not appropriate for our pets.

These high carbohydrate diets may also be a huge contributing factor to the 1,587% increase in dental disease and tooth resorption in cats over the same ten year period. (Although Banfield reports the cause for the drastic increase is unknown.) The bottom line is that cats are carnivores and diets high in carbohydrates (which includes all dry kibble, including grain free kibble - peas, lentils, and potatoes are carbs!) are inappropriate for cats. Carbohydrates break down to sugars, which we all know, are bad for teeth.

Ear infections in dogs decreased, possibly due to the new buzz regarding "grain free diets". While these are still high in carbohydrates, fewer dogs seem to react to the peas and lentils in food as much as they used to react to the corn, wheat, soy, and rice. However, 1 in 4 Golden Retrievers and Labradors still commonly present with ear problems. I see VERY few cases of infected ears in raw fed dogs or dogs fed home made diets that have been individually designed.

I think it is very interesting to watch trends in pet disease and I think all the problems listed here are closely related to the poor diets being made by the big pet food companies and sold as "premium" diets to the unsuspecting pet owners. Feed your pets species-appropriate diets made with real foods to keep them healthy.

The State of Pet Health 2016 Report is available here.