Read the ingredients: Ingredients are listed by volume. The first ingredient is what makes up a good portion of the food followed in dissenting order, all the other ingredients. Dogs are mainly carnivores, and cats are pure carnivores. In the wild their cousins will make a kill and then eat some stomach contents, but will mainly eat muscle meat. Muscle meat is protein full of amino acids beneficial to your pet. You also want that protein to be a specific meat protein such as “Chicken” or “Lamb”. Be cautious of the non specific words like “meat” or “animal”.
“Meat Meal” refers to by products left over from the human food industry. Meat that is not fit for human consumption, tumors, beaks, feet, spleens, lungs, abscesses, etc. There are no regulations prohibiting a cancerous tumor from a cow being put into your pets’ food. Many animals used for feed have been given antibiotics, hormones, steroids, and wormer. All this goes into the render with the “meat” and ends up in your pets’ food. Signs of an inferior brand of food will list a vegetable protein as it’s main protein source such as “corn”or”soy”.
These protein sources are carbohydrate protein sources. They lack amino acids for good skin & coat, among other things. Carbohydrates turn to sugar. Many hyperactive dogs could be helped by just feeding a meat protein based diet. They are living on a constant sugar buzz! Obesity is a problem for dogs & cats. Carbs make us fat and they make our pets fat too! I have seen many dogs with horrible yeast infections throughout their bodies. Yeast feeds off of carbs turned to sugar and will continue to make the pet miserable until the diet is changed.
No wonder diabetes is near epidemic in our pets. Manufacturers are very clever. They will take an ingredient, lets say, corn, and disguise it in many different forms through the ingredient list. Do not be swayed by the fact that most veterinarians carry a brand of food that is corn based. Veterinarians are diagnosticians not nutritionists. They usually get an 8 hour course on nutrition sponsored by the company selling the food. They are then given incentives to sell their brand. Grains used in some foods can be just as problematic. It is not the healthy inner of the grain that is used but the waste of the grain being processed. Often times this contains mites & mold that can cause allergic reactions in our pets. Your pets may have even been forced to eat rendered euthanized dogs & cats from shelters, along with their collars, name tags, and the drugs used to euthanize them!
Beware of Preservatives & other additives: BHA & BHT and Ethoxiquinone are some chemical preservatives used today as preservatives in pet foods. They are known carcinogens! Manufacturers add dyes and plastics to make the food look more attractive to us ( ie: meat color and chewy texture). These are unnecessary and do harm to our pets. Salt & sugars are added to make the food more palatable to the pets. Many owners have told me that their pets “will not eat another brand of food”. This is because they become addicted to the salt & sugar and turn their nose up at foods that do not have it. The analogy I use a lot is that if you offer a child a “Happy Meal” or a salad, you know which he would choose, but which is better for him? Animals will not starve themselves. Given no other alternatives and a bit of tough love, they will learn to eat what is good for them.
What are the alternatives?
Pet food companies spend millions on advertising and sponsorships to convince the public that their food is the best for your pet. If they put the money into the food our pets would not be dying. They are many pet food companies out there doing the right thing. You will not always see them advertised on TV or as sponsors to a major dog show
or race cars.
Read the ingredients. Ask merchants about what they offer as a premium food. Get referrals from other pet owners, breeders, groomers. Do Internet searches on healthy, natural options for your pet. There has also been a trend in owners using a raw diet or home cooked diets. You can find a healthy alternative that fits your lifestyle and budget. Many books have been written on the subject and there is a plethora of information on the internet. All you have to do is look.
By making a change you can add years on to your pets life, avoid major veterinary expenses and most important increase your pets’ quality of life. Once a change has been made give it some time before you make a judgment on whether there has been an improvement in their health. Sometimes symptoms get worse before they get better because the body needs to release the toxins and junk the body has accumulated. With consistency and patience you should be rewarded with a glowing, healthy coat that sheds less, fresher breath, less gas, more vigor, and improved behaviour.
You will also save money on costly veterinarian expenses in spite of paying a bit more for the feed. To me it is a no brainer and I know from personal experience that feeding well has its rewards. None of my dogs have suffered from some of the diseases pets are plagued with today and they have lived extra long lives with health & vigor, dying of old age. Don’t you want the same for your best friend?