First there was MyPlate, the federal government’s new symbol of a well-balanced dinner plate for the human species. Now our canine companions have their own version called – yep, you guessed it – MyBowl.
The interactive doggie nutrition tool was unveiled last week by its collaborators, petMD and Hill’s Science Diet.
With so many brands and varieties of dog food on the market, why would owners need help determining what’s best for their dog? Because it’s not that simple, say veterinary experts. “Canine nutrition is a complex topic, one that many owners, and frankly, many veterinarians don’t fully understand,” says Dr. Jennifer Coates, who writes the Nutrition Nuggets blog at the petMD online Dog Nutrition Center.
One longstanding myth is that dogs are carnivores and should only eat meat. Dogs actually are omnivores and need some carbohydrates for a well-balanced diet, along with protein, essential fats and oils, and plenty of fresh water, explained Dr. Coates.
When Hill’s and petMD conducted consumer surveys, one of the things they learned was that a majority of dog owners believe, incorrectly, that canine nutritional needs are the same as those of humans. They also learned that only about 1 in 10 owners actually knows the right proportion of nutrients their dog should receive, and that many dog owners would welcome more guidance on what to feed their dog.
So what should the well-balanced dog bowl contain? There should be two to three carbohydrates from whole-grain sources such as whole-grain wheat, brown rice, whole corn and potatoes. Protein, one of the building blocks for growth and energy, should be another main ingredient; chicken, beef, lamb, fish and eggs are examples of quality sources of protein. At least one source of fat or oil is necessary to support heart health, brain function and a healthier coat and skin. Quality sources of fats and oils include olive oil, soybean oil and pork fat. Finally, dogs should always have access to lots of fresh water to prevent dehydration.
One of the goals of MyBowl obviously is to sell Hill’s dog food. But you don’t have to buy the Hill’s brand to use the interactive tool and learn a little more about canine nutritional needs. For clarity, depth of information and visual appeal, I give MyBowl a rating of four paws up.
I have a question for the folks at Hill’s and petMD, though. When is there going to be a MyBowl for cats? Our household’s feline contingent wants to know.