6 Unsettling Facts about Pet Food
Aside from college students, no group of living organisms eat more than pets do, not to mention at a very low cost. However, what most pet owners don’t know is that the cheap food being used to nourish their pets may very well contain some less than appetizing ingredients.
Although pet food companies are striving for excellence by offering new and improved foods serving a variety of niche purposes such as Sun Dancer Dog Food by Solid Gold (for pets with allergies), there are still a large number of pet food manufacturers that are producing foods of very poor quality. Being that the food's quality is lacking, it can often times cause digestive issues such as diarrhea...these issues are typically compensated for with the use of probiotics such as Canine Fortiflora, Feline Fortiflora, or Probios Dispersible Powder.
By taking a deeper look into what goes into pet food, pet owners can ensure that they are giving their pets the very best.
1. Animal Byproducts Are Not Meat
What is “meat?” Does anyone really know? Webster’s defines “meat” as “animal tissue considered especially as food.” Unfortunately, Webster’s is not a pet food company. Many pet foods, particularly those for dogs and cats, contain “meat byproducts.” This name makes it sound like meat, but is in reality a composite product made from all of the remaining non-meat parts of the animal. The bones, skin, organs, and hooves all get thrown into a grinder and turned into a meat byproduct. Sounds gross, right? Remember, Webster’s defines “by” as “in proximity to” or “near.” Therefore meat byproducts are just the products by the meat—not actually meat itself.
2. "MeatMeal" is Made of Disgusting Ingredients
Meat byproducts are pretty gross. However when compared to meat meal, they may just be filet mignon. Do you remember in 6th grade how everyone at the lunch table would take the thing they didn’t really feel like eating, mash it up onto a plate, mix it with some Sprite and dare Bobby Rogers to eat it? Well pretend the pieces of that lunch included diseased livestock, dead zoo animals, even road kill, and you have yourself some meat meal. What is even more terrifying is that it’s not illegal or even uncommon for companies to include dead dogs and cats in the meat meal that is fed to living dogs and cats.
3. Labels are Misleading
As my grandfather once told me, “Jake, remember… all bourbon is whiskey. But not all whiskey is bourbon.” I was only three then, but what he said really stuck, which is why I’m reminded of it when I take a look at some of the rules involving pet food names. For example, if the first word in a pet food is the name of a meat, say “Beef for Dogs,” then legally that product must be 95% beef. Now what happens if you would like to treat your dog to a dinner by giving her “Beef Dinner for Dogs?” Sounds delicious, right? Except pet food containing the “dinner” modifier can contain as little as 25% total beef, and I guarantee the remaining 75% of that can is not mashed potatoes and carrots. Now if the name of a food product comes last, and is prefaced by the word “with,” such as “Dog Food with Beef,” then buyers beware— that product contains as little as 3% beef, and therefore should not be consumed by anyone or anything.
4. Nutrition is Hard to Find
Many pet foods contain high amounts of rice and corn, which sounds delicious and nutritious. Who doesn’t love a big plate of chicken and rice? As it turns out, the answer to that question is animal’s metabolisms. Although humans get a lot of their energy from carbohydrates, animals thrive on meat protein. Trace it back to the wall: a dog is a domesticated wolf, whereas a cat is a domesticated tiger. Wolves and tigers don’t eat rice. They eat antelopes and deer. By feeding your pets foods high in carbohydrates, you are giving them an enormous amount of excess energy that they will have a difficult time burning off, which will in turn is stored as fat. Instead, just opt for the meaty proteins. Just because we can’t pull it off doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to keep our pets on the Atkin’s diet.
5. Gourmet Does Not Mean Healthy
We would all love to pamper our pets with the finest culinary experience available, but remember: dogs eat their own poop until they are two and cats eat bugs forever. While it may be the fastest way to get into the good graces with your pet, serving them food that is high on flavor but not high on nutrition is the worst thing you can do Dogs will be your friends no matter what and cats hate everything, so it is really in everyone’s best interest to just be the loving parent who puts their foot down and sits them at the table until they finish their vegetables. Some fish food companies add color to their flakes for seemingly no reason other than to amuse 5-year-olds as they sprinkle the food on the water. It is your responsibility to look past the flash and choose foods based on ingredients as opposed to a pretty label.
6. Only Your Vet Knows The Truth
Many mainstream pet food companies have taken great strides to eliminate the aforementioned practices in their production processes. However there are still many bargain, generic, or even offshoot brands that have no qualms about feeding your pet whatever they can scrap together. If in doubt, talk to your veterinarian. Many of them have preferred brands of food available for sale in their offices, and all of them are more up-to-date and well versed in the area of pet nutrition. Although there are some major do’s and don’ts involved in choosing the right pet food, the good news is this: if you choose the right food once, you never have to think about it again. By being a responsible owner and giving your pet the best nutrition possible, you ensure that your pet will stay healthy, live longer, and give you many more years of enjoyment and companionship.