Dog food manufacturers love to tout the benefits of their products, but do they really know what they’re talking about? As it turns out, not always—and some of their claims are downright misleading. Case in point: synthetic vitamins and minerals in dog food.
Synthetic vitamins and minerals are factory-made chemicals that have been designed to mimic the natural form of a nutrient. They’re usually cheaper than their natural counterparts, but they can be dangerous for dogs.
These products are often touted as a “complete” pet diet for your pup by adding nutrients that are missing from natural foods. But does this mean that synthetic supplements can improve an otherwise subpar diet? Not at all! In fact, there’s even evidence that these substances might be harmful because they don’t contain many nutrients naturally found in real food sources.
Why Are Synthetic Vitamins And Minerals Added To Dog Foods?
Why do synthetic vitamins and minerals need to be added to dog food, you may ask. Aren’t there vitamins and minerals in the ingredients? Simply put, commercial dog foods aren’t healthy enough. Meat, grains, vegetables, and fruits lose nutrients when cooked or heat-processed, and kibble is heated to extreme temperatures up to 6 times before the process of cooking is finished.
After heating once, most of the nutrients crucial to your dog’s health. Imagine throwing salmon in the oven six times. It started out healthy, but what’s left after cooking it thoroughly for long periods of time, six times? Not much if anything. However, there are still standards that need to be met in order to be in compliance with AAFCO‘s guidelines, so synthetic vitamins and minerals are added after the kibble has been cooked to meet those guidelines.
On that same token, the dog food industry is aware of the health risks, like the development of cancer, associated with the use of synthetic vitamins and minerals.
Why Use Synthetic Vitamins and Minerals
AAFCO-approved pet food is supposed to meet a feeding trial or vitamin/mineral requirements. Adding premeasured synthetic vitamins and minerals to a processed diet is the cheapest approach to meet this guideline.
Adding substantial quantities of healthy foods would supply enough nutrition despite processing, but expensive research or feeding studies would be needed to establish this. Most manufacturers add a vitamin-mineral blend. This combination can be added to canned, kibble, freeze-dried, and frozen raw diets. And, in our professional opinion, should be avoided whenever possible.
How Can You Recognize Vitamins And Minerals On The Ingredient Label?
The next time you’re at the store, go to the dog food aisle and take a look at the ingredients label. “Natural” usually means “with extra vitamins and minerals.” The vitamins and minerals are synthetic, hence AAFCO recommends this disclaimer. All ingredients are given in order of weight, so the group is normally listed middle to bottom. The easiest way to tell if synthetic ingredients are added is to look at the ingredients and if they sound overly scientific, it’s a large possibility they are chemically developed.
Unnatural vs Natural: Does It Matter?
You may be wondering: “What is the difference between synthetic vitamins and minerals, and natural ones?” The answer is simple. Natural vitamins and minerals are made from real food. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are not. They’re made in a lab by scientists with fancy equipment—and they don’t work as well as their natural counterparts.
Many dogs suffer from a condition called “food intolerance,” in which they’re allergic to one or more ingredients in their food. This is especially common with wheat and corn, which are used as fillers in many commercial brands. Synthetic vitamins and minerals can exacerbate this problem by making food even more allergenic than it already is.
Natural vitamins are more bioavailable than synthetic ones: they’re easier for the body to use, which means they’re more effective at delivering the nutrients your dog needs.
The Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Raw
Dogs are carnivores and have evolved to digest meat easily. This means that processed foods can be hard on their digestive tract and cause GI issues. Raw dog food is made from fresh ingredients and is easily digested, so there’s nothing standing between your pup and the nutrients they need.
Raw dog food is made from whole, unprocessed ingredients. When you prepare raw dog food at home, you can control the ingredients that go into your pet’s diet. You can use fresh meat and vegetables instead of canned or processed foods. You can also add nutritional supplements, such as probiotics, which are often added to commercial pet foods but are not required by law to be included in their formulas.
Raw dog food is more digestible than kibble or canned food because it contains more natural enzymes and fewer preservatives than other types of pet food. This makes it easier for your dog’s body to break down nutrients from his diet and absorb them into his system. He’ll also experience less bloating and gas because there are fewer artificial additives in raw dog food than in kibbles or canned products.
Feeding raw also provides your dog with the following benefits:
**It keeps their teeth clean because they have to chew the pieces of food into smaller pieces before swallowing them.
**It helps with digestion because the food isn’t cooked in any way, so there aren’t any harmful bacteria in the product itself (but there are plenty of good bacteria in there that help break down digestible material).
**The chewing action helps keep their gums healthy by removing plaque buildup and preventing gum disease from forming over time (which means fewer trips to the vet!).
To learn more about the dangers of kibble, check out the book below!
Big Kibble: The Hidden Dangers of the Pet Food Industry
The guidelines—or lack thereof—for pet food production are set by a private, non-profit organization that is heavily influenced by the corporations that sell it, allowing them to include ever-cheaper ingredients, and create ever-larger earnings. Therefore, legal ingredients that could be in kibble include poultry feces, saw dust, expired food, and diseased meat, among other horrors. So far, these corporations have been able to get away with it—until now.