Pet Adoption

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What you should know about choosing pet food. Part 1 - Fillers

Obesity in dogs and cats is no joke. :-(

Although I have been buying dog food and cat food for years as a animal guardian, I find that as a pet food retailer I am much more concerned about what I am selling than what I was buying for personal use. Seems strange to me that I went more by word of mouth than by READING labels. Let's face it, there is no joy in reading labels. I can't even see writing that small without a magnifying glass! Yet, I have now discovered that there is a ton of valuable information on what to serve your animals easily accessible on the internet.  So when it is slow at the store, I read read read...

Sure there seems to be a lot of mumbo jumbo on food labels of all processed foods including pet foods.  Multi-syllable words that require a computer to look them up isn't very practical when shopping. So, to save you some time, I will give you some information on pet food labeling, ingredients and websites where you can do more research on your own.  I'm actually surprised at who quickly I got up to speed and I think you will find the same.

Most of the people I meet who have pets really care about them as part of their family. They care about their food and well being. Yet, with all the love they have for their animals, they may choose to feed them food that is not the best for their well being and could even shorten their pet's life.  Not on purpose of course, but for lack of knowing what could be unhealthy.

For anyone who has suffered through pet loss, it is a very painful experience. So why wouldn't you feed your animals the best food you can afford to serve them? There really is no answer to that other than most people don't realize they can afford something better.

So what makes a food good quality and wholesome for your pet?  First, I would say it is best to buy food sourced either in the US or a country that maintains high standards on meat that is exported such as New Zealand.  I avoid anything manufactured in China since there have been multiple deaths related to pet foods made in China being sold in the US.  Just to be safe I stick to products manufactured here in the US.

A quick word on recalls. Just because a product is recalled doesn't mean that everything from that company is bad going forward. Often companies opt to recall even for things that wouldn't necessarily have ill effects, but the company is not willing to take a chance. You really should look at each recall individually before writing off a brand because of a recall.

Also keep in mind, there are not many manufacturing plants for pet food and big brands need big plants to make the food. Few companies can afford to have their own plant so many brands will share the manufacturing plant. Smaller exclusive brands can be made in smaller facilities since their batches are smaller and are usually more expensive to buy for that reason.

Okay, so back to the topic,  a BIG issue within the pet food right now are fillers in pet food.  Fillers would refer mainly to corn, soy and wheat in all shapes and forms, all foods that are not bad in themselves, but serve no real purpose in pet food.  Plus, it is true that some animals can have a sensitivity to these ingredients.

The question is, do dogs or cats need any of these ingredients in their diet and the answer is a resounding NO! Dogs are mainly carnivores and can eat some fruits and veggies but meat protein should be the mainstay of their diet.  Cats are even more strictly carnivores and do best with a grain-free diet.

Probably the most common filler in both dog and cat food is corn. Corn in itself isn't a horrible thing, but dogs and even more so, cats don't need corn in their food, period. It's called a filler primarily because it is not necessary to the animal's health. Corn may have some nutritional value but it would  also be the cheapest and least digestible source of these nutrients.  For corn to be digestible it needs to be processed, but that also causes it to be higher in sugar content.  Why corn then? In a word, CHEAP.

Cheap is key here, more money for the company and less nutrition for your pet.  Corn is a carb that can make your pet FAT too! Dogs and cats need Protein and Fat in their diet but very little to no carbs. Just like we humans, carbs can put on the pounds if you aren't super active. Weight is an important factor in maintaining pet health so why feed your loved one a steady diet of carbs when they don't really need it?

Here are some interesting articles (and websites) that talk about corn in dog and cat food. Enjoy!

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