Tips to Finding Healthy Pet Foods and Treats
So much of what I report to pet owners is negative; recalls, poor FDA oversight, misleading pet food regulations. The negative list goes on and on. I worry at times that pet owners feel hopeless at all this negative news. There are many good pet foods and treats out there; safe and even health promoting dog and cat foods, treats, and supplements that I feel confident about, and you can too. Here are a few suggestions to determine if a dog food or cat food (or treat) uses quality ingredients…
Look at the name and front of the bag or can. Information here can give you a little insight as to the integrity of the pet food manufacturer; comparing what the name of the food implies to the ingredients in the food. As an example, let’s say the dog food says “Natural Healthy Best Dog Food”. The name implies this dog food contains ‘natural’ ingredients and that it’s ‘healthy’. So quickly scanning the first five or so ingredients of this dog food, you read that it contains ingredients like ‘by-product meal’ and ‘animal fat’. Neither of these ingredients – by definition – would be considered healthy or natural. Thus, the pet food manufacturer is trying to pull one over on a pet owner; hoping that the front of the pet food bag or can will sell the food. This says a great deal of the integrity of the pet food manufacturer.
Flip the bag or can over and look for the ingredient list. The ingredients are listed in order of pre-cooking weight; heaviest to lightest. Thus, the first five to ten ingredients make up the majority of the food. Read the first ten ingredients, you want to see:
- A specific meat or specific meat meal as the first ingredient. Such as ‘Chicken’ or ‘Chicken Meal’. The difference between these two ingredients is moisture. All meat contains a huge amount of moisture – anywhere from 40% to 70%. The pet food ingredient ‘chicken’ (or similar) contains the moisture in the weight measurement. The pet food ingredient ‘chicken meal’ does not; thus the weight of this ingredient is all protein (not protein and moisture like ‘chicken’).
- A specific animal fat, such as ‘Chicken Fat’ or ‘Turkey Fat’.
- Three or more meats or meat meals (includes egg).
Scanning through the rest of the ingredients you want to see:
- Alfalfa, Flax Seed, and/or Kelp. These are health promoting ingredients; a bonus.
- Minerals to be chelated or proteinated. Minerals will read something similar to this: “iron proteinate”, or “chelated iron”, or “zinc proteinate”, or “chelated zinc”. Studies show that chelated or proteinated minerals have a 40%+ better absorption rate.
- Probiotics; friendly bacteria that science has proven to keep the intestinal system healthier. 90% of the immune system is located in the intestinal system. Keeping the ‘gut’ happy and healthy, promotes a stronger immune system. Probiotics are scientific sounding words like: “Dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation” and/or “Enterococcus faecium fermentation product”.
On the other side of the coin, within the first ten ingredients you do NOT want to see:
- By-products (in any variation). By-products can be left-over animal parts or animal tissue from 4-D (dead, diseased, drugged, or dying) animals rejected for use in human food.
- Animal Fat. ‘Animal Fat’ is the ingredient the FDA determined to be most likely to contain a euthanized animal and the drug used to euthanize them.
- BHA, BHT, TBHQ, and/or ethoxyquin. Chemical preservatives scientifically linked to tumors and cancer.
- Wheat, corn, rice, or soy glutens or any vegetable protein (such as rice protein). Glutens and vegetable proteins are often used to boost the protein analysis of a dog or cat food when insufficient meat protein is provided in the pet food.
- Meat and Bone Meal, Meat Meal, By-Product Meal, and Animal Digest. All of these ingredients can be from dead, diseased, dying, or disabled animals (ANY dead, diseased, dying, or disabled animal).
More ingredients you do NOT want to see in the entire ingredient list:
- Dyes or colors.
- Menadione Sodium Bisulfate. Linked to cancer and internal organ disease.
The next thing a pet owner needs to discover is quality of ingredients and country of origin. Unfortunately, you must call or email the manufacturer for this information. Ask them:
- Is the meat used in your pet food a human grade/quality or a pet grade/quality (USDA inspected and approved)? Pet grade meat can be from 4-D animals (dead, diseased, drugged or dying), human grade meat would be of the same quality you would purchase for your family.
- Do any of the ingredients in your pet foods originate in China? Warning: pet food manufacturers are getting wise to this question. Often times they will respond ‘all of our distributors are located in the US or Canada’. You do NOT want to know where distributors are located; you NEED to know where the ingredients originate.
- Does the lining of the pet food can contain BPA? BPA has been linked to cancer and neurological disorders.
- What is the shelf life of the dry food and/or canned food? Pet food is only required to state a ‘Best By’ date on the label, which is the date the food no longer offers optimal nutrition. Knowing the shelf life of the pet food, a pet owner can look at the best by date and know exactly how old this pet food is. Shelf life varies from 1 year to 2 years dry, 2 to 3 years canned.
Collecting all of the above information, you can have a great method to decide if this particular food or treat is right for your pet. It’s well worth the effort.
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
Have you read Buyer Beware? Click Here
Cooking for pets made easy, Dinner PAWsible
Are you subscribed to Truth About Pet Food Newsletter? Click Here to subscribe
Follow Truth about Pet Food on Twitter
Find Healthy Pet Foods in Your Area Click Here