More pet food recalls, contaminated ingredients, excessive levels of zinc. What does this mean to you? Do you understand what is in your pet food? Are you an educated and well informed pet food customer?
Once again we are reminded that we need to carefully look at what we are feeding our pets, what ingredients our pet food contains, where these ingredients are coming from and whether pet food supplies are operating under strict standards of hygiene and vendor agreements. To ensure the health and well being of your pet you should look for a pet food supplier who uses a manufacturing facility that is a USDA certified APHIS (Animal Plant Health Inspection Service) plant. APHIS certification allows the sale of a finished product to the International market, including the European market, which has extremely high standards on ingredient sources. Under APHIS certification, the plant and ingredient facilities are routinely inspected.
Why should you avoid serving your pet table scraps? Well a dog’s digestive system does not like it. A dog’s digestive system is designed to recognize and digest each particular type of food. It then produces a form of bacteria which helps it break down and digest that food. If you change your dog’s food constantly by giving it snacks and bits and pieces from your plate, then the digestive system will not have the bacteria necessary for proper digestion and your dog will have runny and/or smelly movements. If you feed your dog or your cat a superior quality food then you should not need to add bits and pieces from your plate.
Is there a need to change your dog’s diet? Here is a 9 point questionnaire modified from the original version published by John Fisher author of ThinkDog (2003):
1. Does your dog’s food contain any corn, wheat, chemicals or preservatives?
Cereal and Grains such as corn, wheat and soy are often labeled under several other names. When they are grouped together they increase the protein allocation in the Guaranteed Analysis. Yet cereals and grains contain allergens. Corn is #3 on the list of allergens affecting pets reported by pet owners and veterinarians. Chemical preservatives are used to maintain pet food for extended periods, chemicals that can cause cancer such as BHA and BHT known carcinogens
- Does your dog have flatulence?
The food you are using may be difficult to digest
- Are his or her stools inconsistent in quality, sometimes loose and sometimes firm?
This is a sign that food is undigested and is not absorbing water in the digestive process
- Is the stool volume quite large and invariably quite smelly?
This is a direct result of undigested fermented food
- Does your dog have allergic problems or regular allergic reactions to fleas, grass, corn or wheat?
If your dog’s body defense mechanism is constantly in action fighting allergens in the food and if your dog also suffers from grass or other allergies, the extra attack breaks the camel’s back. Remove the food allergen and the body can cope better with the seasonal allergies.
- Is your pet’s activity level unacceptable either way?
The nutritional balance of your dog’s food is a key factor not only to their health but also their energy levels. Too much protein can create hyperactivity. Energy calories also need to come from fats and complex carbohydrates.
- Does your dog’s hair or skin look unhealthy or does your dog suffer from hair loss?
The protein in your dog’s diet may not be the right quality or is being used for energy. A vitamin and mineral deprivation will also have the same effect.
- Is your dog always eating grass, shredding sticks or digging up roots in the garden?
This can indicate that your pet’s food is not being digested properly. It can also indicate a lack of minerals or that the digestive system needs more or a better quality fiber.
9. Is your dog eating paper, tissues or toilet paper?
Searching out and destroying fiber bases products can indicate a digestion problem. It may indicate a need for a more effective dietary fiber.
So How Can You Choose a Quality Premium, Holistic Dog or Cat Food?
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”
- Speak to somebody who understands pet nutrition
- Choose a food product that uses human grade ingredients
- Avoid preservatives and chemicals
- Don’t just read the guaranteed analysis, understand the quality and source of each ingredient
- Don’t avoid the premium foods because of initial cost, you save hundreds of dollars in veterinarian bills if your pet is healthy and your pet will most likely need less food because a quality product is more nutritionally dense.
- Make sure the food has antioxidants, minerals and vitamins
- Avoid corn and wheat - they are hard to digest and just a filler item.
- The food should contain fruits and vegetables
- Look for foods that contain Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Make an educational well informed decision about the pet food products you purchase. Remember veterinarians believe, with the correct nutrition, our pets could be living for years longer than the current national average and a side benefit will be less money spent on medical bills.