What’s REALLY in Your Dog’s Food?
When you feed Rover his favorite brand of dog food, you can be sure he’s getting a nutritious meal of fresh, wholesome meat and healthy grains, right?
The $16.1 billion per year U.S. pet food industry has a dirty little secret… Most of the big players are “human” food industry giants – like Del Monte, MasterFoods and Proctor & Gamble. These corporate fat cats take the waste and by-products from the production of people food and turn it into a culinary delight for your pet.
Well, maybe “culinary delight” is not the right way to describe it. And here’s why…
When it comes to meat…
your dog is getting the nasty bits
When an animal is processed for food, 50% of it is not considered suitable for human consumption. That means… parts like heads, feet, blood, intestines, bones, lungs, livers, spleens, fat trimmings and unborn babies are available to be used in other products – such as pet food, fertilizer and soap.
On the dog food label, they’re called meat “by-products,” and they mostly come from cattle and pigs.
Even if the label lists specific meats, your dog is getting the leftover scraps – the pieces of meat stuck to the bone. And the quality isn’t necessarily great. Dead, dying, diseased and disabled animals – which were recently banned for human consumption – are legitimate ingredients for pet food.
But poor quality meat isn’t the only problem…
The real scoop on grains
Most dry dog goods contain a large amount of cereal grain or starchy vegetables to provide texture and a cheap source of “energy” – or calories.
Gluten meals – high-protein extracts from which most of the carbohydrate has been removed – are often used to boost protein percentages, because they’re less expensive than using animal-source ingredients.
Corn gluten meal is an industry favorite, but wheat gluten is also used to create shapes like chunks and flakes and thicken gravy.
Overall, these vegetable proteins are a poor source of nutrition for your dog. And pet foods containing potatoes, green peas and other starchy vegetables as grain substitutes aren’t much better. They tend to be very high in fat and can cause your pet to gain too much weight.
But the “empty” calories of vegetable grains are not the only thing to watch out for on the dog food label…
The skinny on animal fats
You know that unique, pungent odor that wafts out of a freshly opened bag of dog food? You’re most likely smelling rendered animal fat, or vegetable fats and oils that are not considered edible by humans.
Pet food manufacturers spray these fats directly onto kibbles and pellets to make them taste better. Otherwise, your dog wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole.
The fats also act as binding agents to which manufacturers add other flavor enhancers. Scientists know your dog loves the taste of these sprayed on fats. They’re the only way to get your pet to eat something as bland and disgusting as most of the dry dog food manufactured today
Although dog food is manufactured to appeal to your pet’s taste buds, there’s something important missing…
Dog food’s BIG nutrient deficit
Poor quality ingredients and harsh manufacturing practices – involving cooking and heating the ingredients multiple times – ensure that your dog’s food is pretty much devoid of nutrients.
Dog food makers compensate by adding vitamins and minerals. But they can’t do much about the way proteins react to heat.
You see… cooking proteins alters their composition and damages them – causing some pets to react to them with food allergies and digestive problems. This is a particular problem with dry food, which is cooked twice.
Now you probably don’t mind that manufacturers fortify your pet’s food with nutrients. But here’s something you won’t like…
Vitamins and minerals aren’t
the only things added to dog food
Many chemicals are added to commercial dog foods to improve the taste, appearance, stability and shelf life of the food.
This can include additives such as anticaking agents, petroleum derivatives, and lubricants. But that’s not all…
Because manufacturers need to ensure that dry dog food remains fresh for 12 months, the fats used in the food are treated with preservatives such as butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and propylene glycol (which is also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze).
Manufacturers are allowed to include potentially cancer-causing agents such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are at relatively low levels. But here’s the problem…
The use of these chemical preservatives in dog foods has not been thoroughly studied. There is shocking little information about their toxicity and interactions. So are they safe to feed to your pet on a daily basis? No one really knows.
But it’s not all bad news…
Some pet food makers are now using natural preservatives – such as Vitamin C (ascorbate), Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and some spices to preserve the fats in their products. The one catch is… shelf life is only about six months.
If you want to avoid preservatives, canned dog foods should be (mostly) preservative-free, since canning itself is a preserving process.
The bottom line is…
The poor quality ingredients… inadequate nutrients… and harmful additives and preservatives in dog food can hurt your beloved pet’s immune system – and eventually his health.
Feeding your dog wholesome pet food – without meat by-products, useless fillers, and dangerous chemical additives – can go a long way to help improve and maintain his health and vitality.