Pet food is manufactured for consumption by domestic animals. Typically sold at pet shops and groceries, it’s typically specific to the kind of animal, like cat food or dog food. Many commercial types of meat used in manufactured pet foods are byproducts of the animal food industry and aren’t regarded as ‘human grade’ even though they may contain traces of poultry or beef. And that’s why most veterinarians won’t prescribe it for their dogs and cats.
There’s no uniformity in pet food ingredient content. Pet food companies can use whatever they want to in their product, with few restrictions. But the problem is that many ‘approved’ brands actually use very few ingredients, and even less effective ingredients. So what does that leave you with?
To make pet food, pet owners are required to feed their dogs and cats primarily with byproducts such as corn, soybean meal, artificial flavors and coloring, and artificial sweeteners. Some pet food manufacturers are better than others, but all rely on the ‘meat’ or ‘peasant’ source for their byproducts. The typical commercial brand uses only one percent protein and five percent crude fat, providing very little in the way of nutrition. Compare that to beef which offers twenty percent protein and forty percent crude fat, plus the necessary vitamins and minerals. Chicken offers almost twice as much protein and only two percent crude fat. Even a very lean chicken, like the organic varieties, provides more protein than the cheapest available brand of pet food.
Even the best pet food companies sometimes have difficulty coming up with quality meat byproducts for their products. Soybean meal is notoriously inefficient as a meat ingredient, but it’s a cheap substitute. Corn, however, is an ideal source of carbohydrates but has virtually no nutritional value. Byproducts from the pet food manufacturing process are used as ingredients in junk foods, making them even more of a risk than they were in the past. Pet food recalls are increasing due to toxins found in recalled pet food, such as BHT (butylated hydrocarbons), PEG (petro-ethylene gel), and EAAs (ethylene glycol) which can cause kidney damage, liver failure, depression, and a variety of other health problems.
Even though the pet food industry has become a multi-billion dollar industry, the truth is that most dogs are not made very healthy. Many commercial brands offer large amounts of empty calories, fatty oils, sugars, and preservatives while decreasing dietary fiber and nutrients. Dry dog foods are especially high in dry carbohydrates and sugar. They lack the moisture and complex carbohydrates found in good old natural homemade pet foods such as rice, pasta, oats, fruits, and vegetables. Most veterinarians recommend a weight loss diet for dogs because most pet food diets do not provide adequate nutrition.
There are many sources of good dry foods, including whole-grain brands, low-sugar, or organic varieties. However, canned dog food is still the best for overall pet health. In addition to all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients found in natural foods, there is also the convenience of canned dog food. With less mess and less clean-up, you’ll enjoy better pet health and a longer, happier life!