When the fur flies and the fuzz bunnies are taking over control of the carpet, floors, furniture and clothes, you should ask yourself one simple question: Is shedding normal? The answer is NO. Which begs the question: Can I fix it?
It is not normal to shed and, yes, YOU can fix your furry nightmare with a few simple lifestyle changes – for both you and your four-legged family members.
Shedding is caused by inflammation in the body and the number one contributing factor of inflammation in our pets is poor nutrition. Until I conducted my own research into mass-produced pet food, I believed that having a multi-animal house meant I would have pet hair in my eggs and eyes for eternity.
When I began my journey to find the most nutritionally complete pet food, I had three dogs; and spent every evening sweeping up pet hair. My dogs had dry coats, flaky skin and allergies. Lady, my eight year-old terrier mix, was on prescription dry food specifically for allergies – which I thought was the best thing for her (although she still itched). When I discovered what I was doing, I changed my pets’ food and miraculously, they all stopped shedding. Even more alarming, in a matter of two days, Lady, the dog I always thought was aloof and distant, became friendly. In Two days. That’s all. And it was just from changing the food.
Now, I have a house full of dogs – don’t tell my husband – but the current count is 10 dogs and 11 cats. Would you believe there is less fur on the floor now than a year ago when I learned about pet food?
Had I been savvy to the ways and reasons behind the expensive ad campaigns we’ve all been conditioned to believe I would have started my questioning of nutrition back in my university days. Vet students learn about nutrition from pet food companies and at Purdue University, we were educated by Science Diet, Purina, Iams and Waltham. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry and frankly, quite a racket.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some high quality mass-produced foods out there, but you have to be pretty good at reading labels and you have to realize that every animal, like us humans, have certain triggers for allergies, weight gain and chronic illness. Not every food is a one-size-eats-all kind of fit. If Fluffy is shedding, the food does not agree with her; Fido’s recurrent ear infections are most likely due to a food allergy.
In a perfect world, each animal would have a tailored meal plan that took into account breed, conformation, purpose, predisposed health concerns and a companion owner who would take the time to ensure a perfect balance of food and supplements for their pets. But then, we should do that for ourselves as well.
Let’s be real: a lot of us educated two-legged mammals eat fast food and doughnuts daily – look what it does to us. The United States has an epidemic of overweight people, predisposed to diabetes; and allergies are growing at an alarming rate. Maybe our food is a problem; but, let’s get back to our beloved pets.
So what can you do as an informed, educated pet parent? Glad you asked. Let’s start with high quality ingredients – and that means avoid the Big Bad Three:
- Meat by-products
- Animal digest
Corn is a grain, not a vegetable, even here in the Midwest. Furthermore, the corn in pet food is unacceptable for humans to eat, thus, it can’t be any better for any dog or cat. What makes it unacceptable? Try cockroach legs, rodent droppings and mold; the causes of shedding.
If you want to truly feed veggies, try broccoli, green beans, asparagus and peas. Fresh is preferable, frozen is not too bad. On the other hand, canned vegetables are as processed as dog food and laden with salt, so not as healthy, for either humans or dogs or cats. We should eat more fresh foods and so should Fluffy and Fido.
The ingredient “meat by-products” is misleading as well. By law, by-product is defined as “up to 20% intestinal content”, or poop. Which as a multi-animal household, I don’t have to pay for poop, nor would I add said feces to the pet food bowl as filler.
Most mass-produced pet foods – the ones with the slick, pretty advertisements – are not made with human-grade ingredients. They are made from cockroach legs, intestinal products, floor sweepings and other discards from human food processing. Animal digest is ground up euthanized pets put back into the pet food. Not only is this a chemical assault – causing shedding – on our living pets, but very disrespectful to the lives of our lost friends.
If your chosen bag of pet kibble has any one of these ingredients – no matter where they are listed on the label – toss it. Or, if you bought the food from a legitimate retailer, return it and get your money back. High quality ingredients begin with this statement: Human Grade.
It’s not difficult in this day and age to feed a healthy, nutritionally-packed quality diet. With the aid and ease of the internet, great food is easily accessible.
Fix your food, stop the shedding. It’s sometimes just that simple.
Dr. Cathy Alinovi DVM
As a practicing veterinarian, Dr. Cathy treated 80% of what walked in the door — not with expensive prescriptions — but with adequate nutrition. Now retired from private practice, her commitment to pets hasn’t waned and she looks forward to impacting many more pet parents through her books, research, speaking and consulting work. Learn more at drcathyvet.com