Ever stop to think why now, more than ever, more pets are suffering from an array of illnesses such as cancer, dental disease, arthritis, urinary tract diseases, hypothyroidism, and skin allergies? It is almost unheard of for pets to die naturally of old age. Unfortunately, many pet owners overlook the role nutrition plays in preventing such diseases that are very much related to malnutrition, among other factors such as breed, genetics, and lifestyle. If you are anywhere as close to ‘crazy dog lady’ status like me, chances are you would do anything to keep your pets healthy and happy for as long as you live. Read on to learn more about a better diet for your four-legged children!
What exactly is commercial pet food?
Introduced in the United States after World War I, commercial pet food is still a relatively new concept that has been around for a little over 100 years. But it has since flourished into a billion dollar industry. Commercial pet food is processed and made large-scale in factories, and include dry food (0ften called ‘kibble’) and wet food.
What are dogs and cats supposed to eat?
The ancestor of a domestic dog is the wild gray wolf. The genetic makeup of domesticated dogs and cats remains essentially the same as their wild ancestors. Their jaws move up and down and their teeth are sharp rather than flat which are designed to rip and tear flesh. They also have very short GI tracts compared to vegetarian animals, and the purpose is to kill pathogens and bacteria in the raw meat that consume. A species-appropriate diet for dogs and cats consists of meats, especially fresh, living and whole prey animals that are also moisture-rich. Contrary to popular belief, dogs and cats did not evolve to eat moisture-less, sterile, ‘dead’ foods which is essentially what commercial food is. Most importantly, carbohydrates are not meant to be in a carnivore’s diet because carbs metabolize into sugar which is harmful in their diet and leads to many diseases because cats have no salivary amylase to break down starches, and dogs have very low amylase secretion.
What is commercial pet food made out of?
Commercial pet food is essentially made out of waste from recycled rubbish, animal feed lots, euthanized animals, and industrial farms. The ‘meat’ that dogs and cats are supposed to eat comes from parts of dead, diseased, or disabled animals that are unfit for human consumption. Each batch of rendered product consists of GMO corn, soy, wheat, meat by-products, animal fat and digest, chemicals, preservatives, emulsifiers, artificial flavors and colors. The intense heat used to process them destroys almost all, if any, nutritional benefits of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes in the food. That is why processed pet foods require supplementation to replace lost nutrients.
How is the Pet Food Industry Responsible?
The Pet Food Industry is loosely regulated; it is not controlled by the USDA, FDA, OR AAFCO. Although pet food quality is governed by each state with varying codes, they do not pertain to the overall quality of the food. The labeling of ingredients at its minimum is according to its dominant animal source. While it may say ‘chicken,’ the consumer has no idea what part of the chicken is used, the condition of the animal, and the amount.
What are better alternatives to commercial dry food?
A feasible way to change yourpet’s diet is to incorporate whole foods into a dry food diet. Adding raw meats can add years toyour pet’s life. Another option is cooked foods- think of unenhanced and unseasoned human food boiled, baked, or lightly fried in coconut or fish oil. The best alternative is evidence-based nutrition consisting of fresh, whole, raw meats and bones. These are readily available in meat shops, farms, and online suppliers. Even if you cannot afford fresh foods foryour pets, opt for minimally-processed, grain-free, and high-quality ingredients in pet food brands and products.
What are the benefits to feeding real food?
Besides having control of exactly what you feed your pet, you will see tangible results – improvements in your pet’s appetite, energy, organ function, metabolism, digestion, skin, dental health, joints, allergies, and parasite prevention. This ultimately means less trips to the vet and less expenses for illnesses in the long-term.