The Don’ts and Do’s of Pet Food and Treats
Just because a pet food company sponsors dog shows or donates to pet adoption doesn’t guarantee they are selling high quality pet foods and treats. Here’s a list of Don’ts and Do’s (do ask) that every pet owner should consider before they purchase any pet food or treat.
The following list is the don’ts…don’t purchase a pet food with any of the following ingredients in it (and why!).
No by-products. By-products, by official AAFCO definition, are bits and pieces of slaughtered animals not suitable and/or not desirable for human consumption; by definition this ingredient is NOT MEAT. You can consider by-products garbage from the processing of human food. Do you really want to spend good money to purchase someone else’s garbage?
No by-product meal. By-product meal is slightly different than by-products because this ingredient can also include meat; however it would most likely be meat from an animal that was rejected for use as human food (because of disease, drugs, ect). Again, do you really want to spend good money for someone else’s garbage? (This ingredient in a pet food could make the food in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; which should make it prohibited for sale.)
No meat and bone meal. This pet food ingredient could contain any euthanized animal, expired grocery meat, used restaurant grease. The FDA determined this ingredient probable to contain pentobarbital; a lethal drug used to euthanize animals. (This ingredient in a pet food could make the food in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; which should make it prohibited for sale.)
No meat meal. This pet food ingredient could contain any euthanized animal, expired grocery meat, used restaurant grease. The FDA determined this ingredient probable to contain pentobarbital; a lethal drug used to euthanize animals. ‘Meat meal’ is a completely different ingredient than a meat specific meal such as ‘Chicken meal’ or ‘Turkey meal’. Specific meat meals (chicken meal as example) provide quality protein; un-specific meat meal provides protein, however the quality is highly questionable. (This ingredient in a pet food could make the food in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; which should make it prohibited for sale.) (More on meat specific meals below in Questions to Ask.)
No Animal Fat. In the cooking process (rendering) of either of the above ingredients, the fat that rises to the top during cooking becomes ‘animal fat’. The FDA determined this ingredient probable to contain pentobarbital; a lethal drug used to euthanize animals. Specific animal fats such as Chicken Fat are optimal. (This ingredient in a pet food could make the food in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; which should make it prohibited for sale.)
No animal digest. Similar to meat and bone meal. The FDA determined this ingredient probable to contain pentobarbital; a lethal drug used to euthanize animals. (This ingredient in a pet food could make the food in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act; which should make it prohibited for sale.)
No BHA. Chemical preservative linked to serious illness.
No BHT. Chemical preservative linked to serious illness.
No Ethoxyquin. Chemical preservative linked to serious illness. (More on this preservative in Questions to Ask below.)
No TBHQ. Chemical preservative linked to serious illness.
No dyes. Dyes are used in some pet food/treats ONLY to please the eye of the pet owners. Many dyes are questioned to be safe.
No corn, wheat, or soy (or any other) glutens. Glutens or vegetable proteins are frequently sourced from China. These vegetable proteins were the source of melamine contamination causing the deaths of thousands of pets in 2007. Vegetable glutens provide the pet little to no quality nutrition.
No corn, wheat or soy in any form. Chances are, any corn, wheat or soy ingredient (whole grain, flour, whatever form) is a genetically modified grain. Recent studies of three GM corn varieties fed to rats over only 90 days showed kidney and liver problems. Imagine what could happen to a pet eating a GM grain everyday for years?
No Menadione Sodium Bisulfite. This is a synthetic Vitamin K. German studies link this ingredient to serious side effects. Why use a synthetic Vitamin K when a natural source of Vitamin K is so easy to add?
No Sodium Selenite (dogs). Selenium is a necessary and required nutrient. Sodium Selenite is one form of providing selenium to a pets diet. Sodium Selenite is highly toxic in larger doses (should human error occur). Selenium yeast on the other hand is not considered toxic in larger doses (should human error occur). Selenium yeast has not been approved for use in cat foods, however some manufacturers still use this ingredient in cat food (understanding the safety concerns of sodium selenite). Look for selenium yeast in pet foods versus feeding a food with sodium selenite.
Can foods no carregeenan. Added to some canned pet foods and treats to bind ingredients; carregeenan is linked to cancer in recent studies.
Ok, now that you’ve avoided the pet foods/treats that contain risk ingredients, before you make that purchase you need a bit more information from the manufacturer. If they don’t answer your questions promptly and directly, don’t purchase their food.
(1) Are the meat ingredients in your pet food/treat the same quality (USDA approved) as the meat found in my grocery?
(Caution: Some shifty pet food manufacturers using by-products will answer this question “yes, our meats come from USDA approved facilities”. Do you see the trick answer? Animals rejected for use in human foods come from USDA approved facilities however rejected meat is not USDA approved meat. Don’t let them trick you.)
(2) Do all ingredients in your pet food/treat originate from the U.S.? Including vitamins and minerals?
(Caution: Many pet food manufacturers will respond yes if you don’t specifically ask about country of origin of vitamins and minerals. Many vitamins and minerals used in pet food/treats are sourced from China. Do you really want to take the chance with Chinese vitamins and minerals?)
Most all lamb and venison in pet food/treats is sourced from New Zealand. This is a safe country of origin.
(3) What is the shelf life of the cat food/dog food?
All pet foods have a ‘Best by’ date stamped on the packaging. However, every pet food manufacturer varies in how long the food is considered ‘best by’ or shelf life. As example, one food might have a shelf life of one year, another might have a shelf life of three years. When you look at the ‘Best by’ date on the packaging and it’s six months in the future, with one food that means the food was made six months ago, with the other food that means the food was made two and a half years ago. Fresher food provides your pet with higher quality nutrition. Learn the shelf life of the pet food to know exactly how fresh the food is you are purchasing.
(4) Who makes the foods/treats and where is the plant(s) located?
Some pet foods/treats are manufactured at another pet food company’s plant; the ‘making’ of the food is sort of sub-contracted. Other pet food manufacturers own their own manufacturing plants for dry and canned foods. A pet food company owning its own manufacturing plant does not make a pet food/treat better or worse; but, it is information you deserve to know.
If the pet food has a specific meat meal ingredient such as Chicken Meal…
(5) Does your Chicken Meal (or other meat meal ingredients) contain muscle meat only or does it contain internal organs and/or bone?
A recent study from EWG.org showed a link to high levels of fluoride to bone ingredients in pet foods. High levels of fluoride is linked to bone cancer. Meat meals using muscle meat only would have lower fluoride levels.
If the pet food has a fish meal or fish oil ingredient (not a fish ingredient, fish ‘meal’; and any fish meal variety or fish oil)…
(6) What does your fish meal and/or fish oil supplier use as a preservative? Is it ethoxyquin? If not, what preservative is used?
Here’s a perfect example of how tricky pet food can be. If the pet food manufacturer does not add a ingredient to the food, it does not have to list it on the label. So…if a fish meal supplier adds a preservative (required by law), the pet food manufacturer is not required to state that preservative on the pet food label; even though it’s in the food/treat. Some pet food companies insist on natural preservatives such as Naturox or mixed tocopherols, others use risky chemical preservatives such as ethoxyquin.
If the pet food is canned…
(7) Do your pet food cans contain a BPA lining?
BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical in plastic commonly used as a liner in canned foods. Recent studies have proven a link between consumption of BPA (chemical leeches into the food) and serious illness.
Don’t purchase a pet food/treat without knowing all the above information first.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
Is your dog or cat eating risk ingredients? Chinese imports? Petsumer Report tells the ‘rest of the story’ on over 2500 cat foods, dog foods, and pet treats. 30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee. www.PetsumerReport.com
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