You have a vague idea that it should be meat-based, but do you REALLY know what's in your pet's food?
After doing some personal research, I have no problem saying that I am extremely picky about my pet's food. (Check out my Top 3 Commercial Dog Food Picks!)
It took some time on my part, but it is worth it to understand what your pets are eating. You wouldn't believe what big corporations are putting in those bags!
Here are just 5 pet food secrets corporations are happy to keep to themselves.
1. You wouldn't recognize most of the "meat" they claim is in their food.
Thinking breasts, legs, or even hamburger when you see "chicken", "beef" or "lamb" listed in the ingredients?
The "cuts" they count as meat is only meat by the loosest possible interpretation of the word. Meat can,and typically does, mean the heads, feet, throats, even diseased animals and their TUMORS.
Yes, even tumorous growths and animals so diseased they actually DIED prior to production are thrown into the mix!
And by-products - don't even get me started! Bones, blood, guts, horns and beaks are just a few of the parts that fall into this category.
2. Meat that is simply called "meat" COULD actually come from euthanized pets!!
You're looking down the list of ingredients and you see, chicken, beef and lamb listed. You even see "chicken by-products" (YUM!) Then farther down the list you see a mystery ingredient - just "Meat" or just "bone meal" or just "by-products."
"That's awfully... nondescript", you think.
"Where are they getting these ingredients? Why not just name the source?"
Well, probably because there's no nice word like "pork" for euthanized pets and road kill.
Yes, That's right.The AAFCO (Associate of American Feed Control Officers) president has admitted that dead and euthanized pets have been used in making pet food. Pet food companies that mass produce cheap and generic pet food save millions of dollars by using euthanized pets, expired store meat and road kill without disclosing exactly what they are using in their ingredients.
TIP: Listing only ingredients like "chicken" and "pork" allows pet food companies to charge a higher price for their product. Believe me - if they COULD name a source you'd want to read, they would. If you see ingredients listed simply as "meat", put the bag down and walk away!
3. Grains are for people, not for pets!
While many of us think of our pets as people, their nutritional needs are significantly different that ours.
Humans are built for an omnivorous diet and thrive on an abundance of whole grains, wheat and rice. Our cats and dogs on the other hand, are built for a carnivorous diet.
While grains like corn, wheat, soy and gluten look good (especially compared to ingredients like "animal digest" and "by-products!") they are actually detrimental to our pets.
They aren't selected for their benefits to cats and dogs. They offer little of the nutrients our pets really need as carnivores and in fact, dogs and cats lack an essential amino acid needed to break them down. As such, they can be very difficult for your pet to digest. Soy especially has been linked painful bloating and gas.
So WHY use them?
Because they are inexpensive and filling!
4. Grease sweetens the taste, but causes side effects.
How to convince dogs and cats to eat something so foul?
Add fat and salt!
Kitchen grease (from restaurants), lard, refined animal fat (house waste and supermarket trimmings from meat) and other oils that humans would not consume are used to entice our pets to eat their food. They actually spray this onto our pet's kibble.
Have you ever opened your pet's bag of food and became overwhelmed with it's strong, overpowering odor? Noticed your pet's breath is horrible?
Suspect lots of grease.
Unfortunate, because besides obviously being fattening without offering much nutrition, grease is known to cause a range of digestive problems including diarrhea, bloat and gas.
5. Who (not the corporations) knows best?
Where should you turn to find a good, high quality pet food?
Who will point you in the right direction?
HINT HINT: It's not those corporations!
When it comes to pet nutrition, turn to someone more interested in your pet's health than your money.
You can ask your vet for their recommendations. However, with this said, most veterinarians only acquire their knowledge about a pet's nutrition through elective classes in their school. Often the classes are taught by "pet food company" representative and the food the vet sales at their clinic is money back in their pocket.
You can use your vet's advice as a starting place, but it is important to take the time to do your own research or visit your local pet store and ask questions there too.
My personal guidelines?
Stay away from any pet food that labels "meal or bone meal," "by-products," "corn syrup," and or words you simply can't pronounce.
RUN from products listing "Meat."
Look for brands whose first 10 ingredients listed are simple and straightforward.
Visit your local pet store and ask a manager for guidance and recommendations. They are in the business of selling ALL types of brands and would be happy to help you find a high quality product.
I hope these secrets will encourage you to purchase the best food possible for your pets. Take the time needed to research. The most important thing you can do for your pets is to make an informed decision on your pet's food. While these foods may be more expensive than the generic brands, you'll save significantly if your pet never develops diabetes, cancer or other diseases as a result!
tonrulkens, amanda_ascani, aroid, lambchops, LoriHorwedel