Nutrition is the foundation for optimal health for pets as well as people. Pet food should be wholesome and nourishing. In order to be sure your pet is getting the proper nutrition, go beyond just looking at the front of the bag and take a look at the ingredients. Early warning side affects of improper nutrition are itchy red skin, excess shedding, dandruff, oily coat, runny eyes, chewing on paws, and red, sore ears.
Imagine eating the same diet day after day for your entire life . . . not very appetizing is it? Now, imagine that same diet lacking most of the vitamins and minerals needed for strong healthy bodies. Since we need good nutrition to stay healthy, it would not take long to become weak and sickly. As unhealthy as this sounds, this is what most of our pets experience their entire lives. As a result their immune systems are breaking down and they are getting sicker and sicker.
WHAT DO THEY REALLY PUT IN PET FOOD?
There is no mandatory federal inspection of ingredients used in pet food manufacturing, and in all but a few states, the law allows the use of dead, dying, disabled or diseased animals. In her book, Food Pets Die For, Ann N. Martin states, “dead animals are cooked together with viscera, bones and fats at 230 degrees Fahrenheit for twenty minutes; the fur, collars, tags, flea collars, and even the plastic bags in which the pets are wrapped are not removed.” Jack Eckhouse, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote an article on the rendering of companion animals in California. He reports that pet food companies deny that this is happening, yet a rendering industry employee confided that it was common practice. This employee stated that somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 pounds of dogs and cats a day are rendered out of a total of 250,000 to 500,000 pounds of cattle, poultry, butcher shop scraps, and other material. Rendering plants in the United States pick up one hundred million pounds of waste material every day, including an array of feet, heads, stomachs, intestines, hooves, spinal cords, tails, grease, feathers, and bones. The city of Los Angeles sends two hundred tons of euthanized cats and dogs to a nearby rendering plant every month. Ann Martin found that some pets and livestock are euthanized with sodium pentobarbital, after which the animals are rendered. Rendering does not break down sodium pentobarbital, and the chemical can be found in low-grade pet food and livestock feed.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients for a dog or cat. Pet food companies can use the term “meat industry by-products” on their labels, which can actually mean poultry feather meal, connective tissues, leather meal, fecal waste, and horse and cattle hair. Dog and cats do not have a carbohydrate requirement as carbohydrates are not a naturally significant portion of a dog or cat’s diet so keep them to a minimum. Be sure that if you feed carbohydrates, they are quality whole grains such as brown rice, oats, barley, or millet. Rather than using whole grain as a source of carbohydrates in pet food, sugar and corn syrup, or even leftover doughnuts have been used, as Dr. Pitcairn, author of “Natural Health for Pets” found in his investigation of pet food. Fat is an important energy source for dogs and cats so be cautious of low-fat diets. In many large commercial pet foods, fat comes from animal fat not fit for human consumption, which often can be rancid or toxic to the body. Fiber which is often used to firm stool (sometimes artificially) and prevent constipation should come from whole grains, fruits, or vegetables, but often times come from peanut hulls, hair, or even newspapers.
What is a concerned pet owner supposed to do? The first thing you can do is be wary of pet food that lists ingredients similar to those listed on the back of this sheet. Do your own research! Be sure you are feeding a wholesome diet, manufactured by a reputable company using only premium quality ingredients. A good healthy diet, plenty of exercise, and lots of attention and love is a good recipe for spending many wonderful years with your pet.