When considering a new dog food, there are several items that should be on the list. Your dog’s food should be free of overly processed meats, high levels of plant protein, cheap vegetables, and cancer-causing preservatives. Unfortunately, a lot of the pet food industry is built around easy profits as a result of compromises in those four areas. In most cases, it isn’t a moral issue, but it is good to consider the company that you purchase your pet food from and what their philosophy is on the products that they make available for purchase.
First a lot of consideration should be used regarding the type of meat going into the product. If the meat is labeled as a “meal”on the side of the package (for example, “chicken meal”) a dog owner should be aware that this is not the kind of chicken that he would sit down to eat at the dinner table. Chicken meal is basically the remains of a chicken that has been parted out. The parts of the chicken that we are familiar with (the breast and the leg meat) tend to be mostly missing. What is left is a some chicken meat and skin. A lot of skin actually. The most disturbing part of a chicken meal though has to do with a significant portion of what else is thrown into the vat and cooked before it becomes the high-protein pellets known as chicken meal Hạt macca.
4-D animals could be a high percentage of the meat meal in the food you serve your pet. A 4-D animal, is an animal that was either dead, dying, diseased or disabled. Some feel that if dogs were left to their own devices in the wild, that 4-D animal matter is precisely the type of meat that they would consume. The answer is debatable. But the question remains, how much does the use of 4-D animals push the profit margins of corporate pet food companies up?
Whether pet owners know about meat meal or not, might be beside the point. The only real issue that I see here is the integrity of the pet food companies themselves. If 4-D meats can be purchased for significantly less than regular meat, then what is to stop a pet food company from using as much 4-D product as possible to keep their margins up? 4-D meats might very well be one of the most profit making aspects of pet food. In short, a pet owner should have a good comprehension of the philosophy behind the company that makes the pet foods that you buy.
While researching this article, I did in fact contact the FDA. After a bit of back and forth, I did receive confirmation of what is said in the above two paragraphs. The FDA zeroed in on the definition a bit more, citing that these foods shouldn’t be in a state of decomposition and should contain zero toxins or chemical substances. Most interesting was the argument that the FDA allows this usage of 4-D animals because they see a benefit in using the meat product, rather than wasting it.
There are a few pet food companies that make their pet foods with free-range, table-grade poultry, however. What does this mean? A big part of it (perhaps the biggest of all) is that the chickens are allowed to do what chickens do for the bulk of their lives until they are gathered for pet food. But this is reflected with the cost of the pet food. Obviously, if you care about your animal, the higher grade, possibly pricier pet foods shouldn’t be a deterrent. It seems obvious that in the long run, these foods are better for your pet anyway.
Another issue that should be considered when on the market for a new dog food is the carbohydrate ingredients that are included. This is where a lot of dog owners part ways with varied philosophies. Some feel that dogs are technically carnivores, and should have meals that are strictly meat-based, or extremely close to that of a carnivorous diet. Some pet food companies have focused on the protein aspect of this and use cheaper vegetable proteins (such as soy) in order to make the guaranteed analysis of their product look like there is much more meat protein than there really is. The label on the side of the dog food bag is crucial. Pet food companies have also made their extensive ingredient lists available online, all a potential customer has to do is use Google to find the company and the information. This is a good thing, and could be a key issue in the health of your dog.
Dog allergies have skyrocketed over recent years, and the inclusion of filler ingredients such as corn, soy and wheat coincides with all of the various grain allergies that dogs have come down with of late. If you take a cursory look at the ingredients in the pet foods at your local supermarket, you will find that some of these pet food companies are so blatant about their inclusion of these lesser grains that these grains are at times the first on the ingredients list! Mild allergies in your pet dog, while not life threatening, can make his life miserable. Some filler ingredients that pet food companies are notorious for adding corn, wheat and soy to their dog food products. While these ingredients aren’t bad in and of themselves as a regular part of your dog’s diet, they can prove to be problematic. Some of the more common allergic reactions to pet foods are nose congestion, hot spots and rashes, lots of unnecessary scratching and licking and general lethargic behavior.
The addition of inexpensive grains and vegetables to dog food isn’t the only culprit for dog allergies though. Artificial colors, artificial flavors and some preservatives can also add to the allergies of your dog. Pet foods have to use some sort of preservative agent in order to ensure that the product stays relatively fresh through transit and then on the shelf for a substantial amount of time. There are some pet food companies that recognize these artificial flavors, colors and preservatives as potential allergens and these companies use organic, even holistic alternatives (specifically with regards to preservatives) in order to make sure that their customer’s pets don’t have to deal with chemicals and potentially harmful ingredients.
The theory behind using unhealthy preservatives in pet food (allegedly) is that these chemicals won’t really affect the pet because of their limited quantity. It seems that for some companies, the fact that the food is preserved is much more important than the toxicity that the chemicals may possess. Some of the more dangerous chemicals that can be used as a preservative are BHA and BHT, which are potentially cancer-causing. BHA is known to cause cancer in humans. Furthermore, both preservatives are toxic to the liver and kidneys. Even if some of the preservatives aren’t outright cancer-causing agents, chemicals like ethoxyquin (another favored preservative) can be found in a pet’s liver and tissues months after consuming it. Ethoxyquin is technically a pesticide. There has been a general request by the FDA to reduce the amounts of ethoxyquin used in pet foods, but the fact that it still remains and is still indeed being used by some. Pet owners really should check the ingredients on the side of the bag of pet food that they feed their animal.
There are several natural preservatives that can be used in order to maintain a pet food’s freshness. Such botanicals as fennel, peppermint, fenugreek, vitamin E, and rosemary are used in pet foods that are steering away from chemicals and other man-made processes in order to preserve food.
Looking for a new dog food for your pet can be difficult, but with the right comprehension of the potential dangers that are being packaged, a diligent pet owner can make the right decisions. A thinking consumer will pay close attention to the meat product, plant protein, vegetables, and preservatives. Also, it is a good idea to research the company that you buy from. Sometimes independent companies are a lot better and wholesome than corporate companies.