First, the good news.
Back in the late 1970s-early 1980s an undercover reporter exposed a secret practice used in the pet food industry. Unfortunately, the unsuspecting public including trusting pet owners were not in on the secret.
Have you ever wondered what ever happens to all the dead animals picked up from animal shelters, veterinarians, farms, and even roadkill?
I will spare you the gruesome details. If you want a real education, however, about what was commonly added to make pet food, there is plenty of information available about “rendering plants,” thanks to the Internet.
A well-known pet food company whose cat food is still found on supermarket shelves today was investigated by a grand jury in San Francisco. Not only did this company acknowledge they used “rendered” meat in their pet food, but they admitted all the other pet food companies followed the same practice.
A lot has changed over the decades as a result of that investigation and the public outcry, but consumers must be “forever vigilant”—one of my favorite lines from Spencer Tracy’s character in Inherit the Wind.
And that’s the bad news. There is so much information about pet food ingredients and what is good or bad that one needs a Ph.D. to understand it all. The pet food companies cleverly conceal harmful ingredients by renaming them. And forget about asking your vet. Unless he or she has specialized in Nutrition, the veterinary colleges spend 2 hours during the entire curriculum on nutrition, and most if not all of that comes by way of presentations from the pet food companies themselves. Talk about letting a fox into the hen house.
Dr. Karen Becker, a wholistic veterinarian featured on Mercola.com has done a lot—but not all–of the hard work for us. Every 5 years or so she lists all the categories of pet food from best to last. Her last list was updated in November, 2015. Sorry, no brand names are mentioned. The article in full is available at: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2015/11/08/best-to-worst-pet-food-types.aspx
I really encourage you to print out a copy of the article and study at your own pace the concepts about carnivores, processed diets, carbohydrates and the use of grains and “fillers.”
As you might suspect, the very best available pet food requires the most time to prepare, while the most convenient pet food and the cheapest are found at the bottom of the list.
Here is the short list of the best pet food categories:
- Nutritionally balanced raw homemade diet.
- Nutritionally balanced cooked homemade diet.
- Commercially available balanced raw food diet.
- Dehydrated or freeze-dried raw diet.
- Commercially available cooked or refrigerated food.
- Human-grade canned food.
If the food you are feeding your pets is not mentioned above, well, think about doing a 50-50 split, meaning one meal a day is fresh food, and the next day would be processed food. Not everyone is in a position to shop for fresh foods and prepare them for pet consumption. But you CAN educate yourself to read the ingredients and recognize the difference between real protein sources and meat-by-products. Begin to ask questions about where the meat comes from—does it come from a rendering plant or from China? And Dr. Becker warns NEVER wing it when it comes to preparing species-appropriate food. She has published a recipe book I highly recommend, Dr. Becker’s Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats: Simple Homemade Food, available from http://products.mercola.com/healthypets/real-food-for-healthy-dogs-and-cats-cookbook/
And always, always, always check with a medical professional before changing your pet’s diet if he or she has any medical issues.