by Katy Cable, TWR
A 3 min. Read
What you put in your dog's dish is the single most important thing you can do for their health and well-being It's a major deal. You're either promoting health and healing or destroying it every time you feed your pet. This is so important and such a hot topic I've decided to break things down into small "kibble-sized" pieces.
I became a pet blogger because I saw a HUGE need for quick, simple, easy, tips that would often save pet parents "a house payment in vet bills!" These blogs are based solely on MY experiences, research, observations and testimonials I have received. I want to help you be a better pet parent by knowing the real deal and not making the same costly mistakes I did.
Now, just like the song "Do-Re-Me" from the The Sound of Music says, "Let's start at the very beginning..." When it comes to pet food it starts and ends with knowing how to READ A PET FOOD LABEL. Don't be misled by commercials, displays, fancy marketing, famous celebrities and all the hype around a particular pet food. Many companies are putting far more dollars into the outside of the bag than what's going in. My recommendation is pretend all pet foods you are considering are in "brown paper packages tied up with strings...." (Another SOM reference)Then just read the ingredients on the labels and who manufactures the food.
While the ingredient list alone won't tell you about the food's true sourcing, neither will the slick bag. You need to do your homework and research these companies. Find out who owns them; How many lawsuits and recalls have they had; Where are their ingredients sourced; and what kind of reviews do they have. A lot of trickery goes into pet food marketing and people are often horrified to learn what's really hidden in their pet's food. For an in-depth look at this information visit: http://truthaboutpetfood.com/
If you want to truly understand how the pet food industry works I encourage you to watch the incredible documentary film: PET FOOLED (http://www.petfooled.com/) and read my other pet food blogs. In a nutshell, you will learn pet food has become a great opportunity for big companies to make billions on their waste that cannot be used or sold in their human products. In an effort to control costs and sell garbage, they've created brilliant marketing campaigns convincing everyone from vets to pet parents that a bag of dry kibble is ideal, sufficient life-long nutrition for their pets.
But it gets so, so, SO much worse. A compete lack of adequate regulation and safety practices allows many substitutions with ingredients. -Often resulting in deadly consequences. As long as the ratios and ingredients are listed properly, it's basically: ANYTHING GOES! When their negligence is met with lethal consequences, they typically get away with paying out a few bucks and some bad PR.
Such was the case with the huge pet food scandal in 2007, This disaster, which killed thousands and thousands of pets, saw companies scrambling to do damage control. Not long after, new marketing was in place and it was business as usual.
More recently, Hills Science Diet had serious problems with 44 of their regular and prescription formulas containing toxic vitamin D levels. Bad enough it happened ONCE, but these serious incidents have happened repeatedly since February 2018.
Fortunately, small companies wanting to do things better, have sprung up and started taking a bite out of these giant's market share. This has resulted in forcing these big corporate pet food companies to offer healthier options such as: "grain-free" , "No GMO's" "organic" and containing higher quality ingredients.
But are they? In many cases they've just created new packaging, marketing campaigns and switched up some ingredients. Or, these pet food giants gobble up some of these smaller competitors and keep the packaging the same so you never know.
One example of this is the brand Castor & Pollux which promotes organic, farm-raised fresh ingredients: Typically, pet parents purchasing this food are horrified to learn that as of 2015, this once top-of-the-line pet-food is now owned and operated by Purina. It's no accident you will not see that information on the bag.
If you shop for pet food at the grocery store or a big box pet store, or if you turn on a TV you will see all the well-known brands. Understand that most are owned by Mars: Royal Canine/Nutro/Greenies/Eukanuba. Nestle: Purina brands. Smuckers (Natural Balance) and General Mills (Blue Buffalo.)
I also stay away from celebrity brands. I love Rachel Ray and Paula Dean but I highly doubt they are formulating and cooking pet foods. They likely don’t even use.their own pet products. Rather, they are paid handsomely to lend their names to promote a line of food typically owned and operated by one of these huge conglomerates. Again, check out the ingredients and the manufacturer/parent company first.
I pay close attention to small brands in big stores. I also visit independent pet retailers and check out what brands they carry. Here's why: If a pet food has a major deadly recall, (and just this year there were many.) A big box company or grocer may feel a sting, but a local retailer could very well go out of business. Smaller independent retailers simply cannot afford to risk their livelihoods and reputations. ‘
As you pull those bags, or cans off the shelf, (bring those readers so you can see the fine print) keep in mind, ingredients are listed by weight PRIOR to cooking. So when you see a label saying, "Chicken is the #1 ingredient!" If you plop that chicken on a scale then cook off all the water and fat, it loses between 50-75% of it's weight. Therefore, while it's great to feature chicken as the #1 ingredient, more important are the #2 and #3 ingredients.
Another tip is: look for more specifics: DEBONED, chicken, verses MEAT or POULTRY (-WAYYYYY to vague!) Worse yet is beef/chicken FLAVOR. While our pets are scavenging omnivores that eat a variety of things that would turn our stomachs, "by-products" "remnants" or "rendered meats" are also things I run away from. I also stay clear of any fish ingredients unless I completely trust the company's sourcing. Fish in particular can have high levels of mercury and may be rancid or contaminated. It's far too dangerous.
More and more people are fooled by the "grain-free" hype. Corn, Brewer's rice, white rice and potatoes are often even higher in carbohydrates and can be just as irritating to a dog. The ratios of carbohydrates to animal/poultry/fish proteins and the quality of the ingredients is of utmost important. -Also disregard that “grain-free” causes DCM in dogs. Lack of key nutrients may play a role but GRAIN is not necessary in a cat or dog’s diet! -PERIOD!
I look for humanely, sustainably sourced foods with 2-3 animal/fish/poultry proteins before I see carbs. I also choose low-glycemic carbs such as sweet potatoes, peas, and lentils over white rice and potatoes.
To finish off, I want to list ingredients to avoid at all costs. If you see these "no-no's" on your pet food label it will clue you in to the quality and care going into the food in general.
AVOID PET FOODS THAT:
❌List potato, soy, corn, rice or any other grain as the first or second ingredient.
❌Use two different types of listings for the same grain or starch. (i.e: corn, corn-gluten meal/potato, potato-starch)
❌Use any by-products, renderings, or unidentified fish, poultry or animal products. (ie: animal meal, meats, meat meal, fish meal, poultry by-products, poultry remnants, poultry by-product meal, animal fat, poultry fat.)
❌Contains known carcinogens: BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin, dyes or flavors.
❌Sugars such as fructose, sucrose, dextrose, cellulose, tapioca, corn syrup, molasses.
I think many of you will be quite surprised to see that some well-known and pricey foods are comprised of nothing more than inexpensive fillers and poor quality meat protein. Hopefully, you will also find some great new foods that offer much more bang (and health) for your buck. If you have any questions, or want suggestions, feel free to message me.
Whatever you choose, you can stretch your dollar and GREATLY increase your pets health by incorporating your own fresh fruits, veggies, and meats to your pet's food.⚠️
Happy Shopping and "BONE" Appetite! 😜🐾
⚠️ALWAYS add new foods ONE-AT-A-TIME and very slowly (10% or less per day) making sure pets can tolerate.
☠️ Never feed dogs: ☠️
onions/garlic/chocolate/alcohol/fruits with pits/raisins/grapes/currants/macadamia nuts/foods with salt-sugar-sauces/sugarless candies-gum-peanut butter or foods containing Xylitol/
🐶Watch my PET FOOD SERIES anytime on YouTube. Segments run approx 10 min. Also Message me your ??’s 😜
🐾Katy Cable is a former actress appearing in “Back To The Future” and starring in the TV series: “Safe At Home” & “ Fired Up!” In addition to her dog health & lifestyle blog/vlog: The Weekly Runt, (https://www.weeklyrunt.com/) she’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including Thrive Global, & The Huffington Post. Cable lives at the beach with her husband, Rick and her rescue Pug, Olive.🐾