1. Pet food is NEVER mostly meat. Many ads suggest that it is... In order to list a meat source first on the bag label pet food companies resort to a variety of gimmicks. Here are a few to get you thinking. 1st Listing a "wet" ingredient in what ends up being an essentially dry finished product. Wet meat gets a lot lighter when the moisture is cooked out. All ingredients should be weighed and listed in dry weight equivalents for you to know truly how much of each makes up the ration. If the label lists, "chicken" it means chicken weighed when wet. Drop 75% of the value. If, on the other hand, it says, "chicken meal" they play fairly. If it says, "meat (any type) by-product meal" or "meat (any type) by-products" it was never meat to begin with. Find another food. Another gimmick is to "split carbohydrates" (grains) into multiple parts to get the "meat" to list first. Label ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. So, If you have 10 lbs. of chicken meal and 25 lbs. of rice, which should appear first on the label? Chicken of course! (if you want people to buy the stuff). Here's how it's done... 1st- CHICKEN MEAL, 2nd- GROUND RICE, 3rd- RICE BRAN, 4th- RICE GLUTEN. Pretty sneaky and obviously deceptive unless you know the trick. Rice Flour, Brewer's Rice and Rice ala Ronny could also have been listed if they really wanted to be fancy. A related tactic is to use a variety of grains with different names to get meat listed first. Grains cost a lot less than meat. Meat "by-products" cost a lot less than meat. Both also have considerably less food value. The last gimmick for now is the campaign to convince the public that meat by-products and meat are just about the same thing. Hmm... "Honey, I'm having a ribeye steak tonight and you're having a nice pile of by-products, ok?" "Would you like the chicken breast or the intestine-cartilage-beak medley with your rice, Bob?" By definition, by-products may contain anything from the specified animal except, (in the case of chicken), feathers and feces and, (in the case of beef), hoof, hide and feces. Meat and fat are separated out first because they are costlier and are therefore not present in any appreciable quantity. What's left is the bones, tendons, cartilage, beaks, feet and innards. Proudly displayed and masqueraded as meat. A pet food bag is not a place for dumping stuff of unknown nutritional value. Some foods even use the term , "SELECT by-products". This makes you think that you're getting more meat than you really are in your bag of pet food. After all, who'd pay $35 for a bushel of corn?!
2. The cooking process used in pet foods KILLS off a vital component: enzymes. In order to eliminate bacteria and make cutesy shapes that pets care nothing about, processing temperatures in excess of 160 degress F are used to extrude or bake your pet's food. This places the entire burden for digestion on your pet's pancreas to supply the enzymes necessary for breaking down nutrients for absorption. In nature, this is far from the case. Animals naturally follow the path of "least digestive resistance" in the wild. Consider the fox who catches a rabbit. First item on the menu is the contents of the gut. Let the rabbit do the digesting and enjoy! The rabbit spent hours nibbling grasses and grains readying them for the fox's easy absorption of carbohydrates. Quick and cheap fuel. Next the fox buries or hides the rest to stew a spell. What we call, "turning rancid" the fox calls, "just getting better". In a couple days, the live enzymes in the rabbit meat have broken it down into easily digested protein. Notice how no fire was used in this process? For dessert, a little bone gnawing for the marrow, the calcium, and the teeth cleaning, and it's naptime. In puppies and kittens, the pancreas is usually robust and up to the task of supplying sufficient digestive enzymes to make dead food somewhat useable and fulfill it's other vital functions. With age, however, pancreatic function is weakened and often can't keep up with this undue burden. If the pet food fed day in and day out is of low nutritional value to begin with, the taxing effect on the system will be all the greater and the pancreas will most likely give up that much sooner. The consequences to your pet's health are too broad in scope to cover here.
3. Giving "real food" aka "table scraps" is the RIGHT thing to do! Stepping on a lot of toes here to smash the myth that you should only feed the stuff from the bag and nothing else ever, PERIOD. What is it they are afraid of anyway? That your pet will learn to beg? Unlearn that. That your pet won't eat the chaff they call "food" after tasting the real deal? Probably. Or that it will throw the delicate balance of their finely tuned "nutrition" out of whack somehow? He He Hoo, hardly. Here's the scoop... Providing real food (not potato chips or other junk food) in its raw form counteracts some of the deficit that can be caused by only feeding commercially prepared pet food. It can provide the living enzymes to make digestion an easy rather than burdensome process. But, don't just go wild and throw everything in the feeding trough. Good bets for pets are raw carrots, broccoli, yogurt, cheese, garlic and meats. Cooked oatmeal, rice, corn, squash and the like are fine too. Don't feed raw grains, legumes, potatoes, onions, celery or chocolate which are either unusable or unhealthy. If you aren't comfortable with raw meat and fish, don't do it. Keep in mind, they aren't people and have an entirely different gastro-intestinal system than we do. Introduce new foods a little at a time about three times a week to start and give your pet's pancreas a much needed break.
4. Most "vet recommended" foods pay mightily for the "honor". Does it matter that the majority of vets know very little about pet nutrition? The public is told to, "Ask your vet". The vet is told by the pet food companies, "we'll send you to Hawaii for a week of golf if you sell and endorse XYZ brand pet food". In school, vets-to-be could ELECT to take an overview course in animal nutrition. Or not. There have been changes of late to make this required study. AS IT WELL SHOULD BE! You are miles ahead if you understand the pet food label yourself and take the time to learn some basic nutritional concepts. Find out for yourself, and ignore what people say who are getting paid to say it.
5. The #1 vet recommended brand is probably the #1 worst pet food value. Without mentioning any names, if it lists corn as the first ingredient on the label and gets blasted by the competition for it, you know the company. Read the label! Compare it to the cheapest stuff you can find. There isn't a dimes worth of difference in most cases. How much does it cost them to make a 40 lb. bag of this stuff you may wonder? Right? Sit down. How about less than $3 including the cost of the bag? How much does the duped public shell out for the bushel of corn and peanut shells most recommended by vets? About $35. "Have a nice flight to Maui, Dr. Cutter and thanks again for your support".
6. Nature didn't intend for pets to eat dry food devoid of enzymes. Convenience is paid for in reduced pet health. Where is it written that your pet's bowl has to be filled with chalk dry nuggets of quasi-nutritious ground up brown stuff? We've been sold on a bad idea. We bought it because it made life easier. Until the real bill comes, that is. But doesn't kibbled food make their teeth shiny and their breath fresh? Won't their teeth fall out if they eat soft stuff? Yeah, right. Ever watch your dog eat? Does it look like some kind of teeth cleaning exercise? How about the cat? Really getting the old gum line clean huh? The truth about teeth cleaning is this... sticks, rocks, yarn, bones, toys and saliva primarily accomplish this task, not food. Commercial pet food has to be flavor enhanced with digest and sprayed-on fat to be even remotely attractive to your pet. Without these palatability modifications, the old dry kibble would just sit there and get dusty. People get paid big money to invent coatings to make your pet dive headfirst into the food bowl. Because then you smile and feel like it must be healthy and that Fifi loves the food and you too so you'll buy it again. Right? Remember, the fox didn't go in search of a crunchy rabbit. It ate the soft one and it has a dazzling smile and a fully charged pancreas.
7. Some companies sneak sugar into pet food to hook your pet. Watch out for these guys! They call it other things of course... (cane molasses, corn syrup) but it absolutely does not belong in your pet's food bowl. Processed sugars are foreign to dogs and cats and over the long term can result in obesity, tooth decay and diabetes (along with other maladies). Pet food companies will tell you that the industry is tightly regulated and that your pet's health is being fastidiously protected. Do you buy that one? The FDA can't even keep up with human food and didn't lift a finger on behalf of the pet owners during the ethoxyquin debate. The regulating body for pet food ingredients is AAFCO. The American Association of Feed Control Officials. The rules and definitions they adopt are made by those with vested interests and are enforced through "voluntary compliance".
These are my opinions formed over a period of 15 years inside the pet food industry. If there are any errors in the above article, they are mine. Nobody paid me a penny to express any of this. It was written because it needed to be said to enlighten and alert the pet loving Public and to act as a minute counterbalance to the daily barrage of pet food hype foisted on us. Your pets depend on you to make the right choice when it comes to feeding them a nutritious diet. Their quality of life is at stake. Become a label reader! You might look into the B.A.R.F. movement that is growing rapidly. Not all currently available pet foods are totally rotten and not all companies engage in the above practices. Some are much better and more ethical than others. Now, you're the boss with the inside track on what to watch out for. Please take your pet's diet seriously.
A very good website on feeding info..... http://www.api4animals.org/facts.php?p=359&more=1
Rendering plants process decomposing animal carcasses, large roadkill and euthanised dogs and cats into a dry protein product that is sold to the pet food industry. One small plant in Quebec, Ontario, renders 10 tons (22,000 pounds) of dogs and cats per week. The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture states that "the fur is not removed from dogs and cats" and that "dead animals are cooked together with viscera, bones and fat at 115° C (235° F) for 20 minutes.
The US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is aware of the use of rendered dogs and cats in pet foods, but has stated: "CVM has not acted to specifically prohibit the rendering of pets
Each year, millions of dead American dogs and cats are processed along with billions of pounds of other animal materials by companies known as renderers. The finished product...tallow and meat meal...serve as raw materials for thousands of items that include cosmetics and pet food."
Pet food company executives made the usual denials. But federal and state agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, and medical groups, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), confirm that pets, on a routine basis, are rendered after they die in animal shelters or are disposed of by health authorities - and the end product frequently finds its way into pet food.
Here is the rest of this website if you want to read it......... http://www.nexusmagazine.com/articles/petfood1.html
Moist cat food why its better then dry
In the process of doing research for our own furry family and for WellBeings.com we have come to believe that dry cat food is not healthy enough for cats. Cats have evolved as true obligate carnivores. Their natural prey diet provides them with their daily water requirements and they have not evolved or adapted to drinking more water to replace the lack of moisture from a commercial dry kibble diet. Dry kibble is also full of carbohydrates and cats do not need ANY carbs.
So, even though as guardians we provide fresh drinking water for our cats, it is an unnatural act and our cats simply do not drink nearly enough supplemental water for good health. The result is that cats fed a dry food diet (which has less than 10% moisture) will over time, be in a constant state of dehydration.
Moreover, dry food diets have been identified with an increase risk of Chronic Renal Failure and Lower Urinary Disease. Additionally, a diet high in carbohydrates may result in obesity . Cats metabolize primarily protein and fat for energy and most of the carbohydrates in the diet are then stored as body fat. Obesity in animals can lead to the same devastating diseases that we see in obese humans, such as diabetes which is very difficult to control in cats and can take years off their lives.
Here is a list of some cat foods I like. Im sure there are plenty more out there and these are in no specific order. Rule of thumb. NO CORN, NO BY-PRODUCTS, NO WHEAT AND NO SOY. And these should be alternated with kibble, moist and real meat. No kibble actually is even better. Just remember cats (carnivours) like variety and cats like MEAT !!!! I give most of these foods in moist every morning and change brands every day. And do a variety of hard also.
Insinct or Raw Instinct (no grains)
Innova or Innova Evo (no grains)
Chicken soup for the cat lovers soul
Taste of the Wild
Authority (Petsmart only)
Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkins has great info on cat feeding , preventing and curing diseases for cats. All you have to do is a google search on her. Her book is called "Your Cat"