If you're anything like most pet owners, chances are you've already got a list of trusted pet foods or brands that you buy on a regular basis. Who doesn’t love the convenience of manufactured food for cats and dogs? Just scoop out some kibbles or open a can, and voila! Dinner is served!
And given how your pet's food is advertised and endorsed, it's definitely not your fault if it's become a key component—meaning it comprises at least one-third—of his regular diet. Mind you, millions of dollars are spent on advertising and marketing campaigns by animal food companies.
But do these things really keep your fur baby healthy or provide him with the best nutrition that he deserves? Make sure you read on because we will get you in on some commonly overlooked details about pet food labels so you can make an informed decision the next time you're shopping for one.
The Truth About Dog Food (And Cat Food) You May Still Not Know About
You'll be surprised with the sheer amount of information to go through just by doing a simple online search for dog foods or cat edibles. Apart from the typical "meat meal" or feeding options that contain meats and meat by-products in their ingredient list, you'll also encounter grain-free varieties, raw diets and even new food offerings.
But the thing is that although buying food for our fur babies has turned into something rather mechanical these days, chances are the options you're going for may not have passed ideal pet food regulations or may have too much fat or shady ingredients.
The FDA website even recalled some cat and dog food brands some years back because they contained "unconventional" meats like those from road kill, diseased animals as well as unaccounted animal carcasses and other ingredients straight from rendering plants. Is this the healthy diet you'd want your animal companion to eat?
Have Pet Food Consumers Become Too Lazy to Care?
Interestingly, manufactured cat and dog food has somewhat revolutionized the way we take care of pets. We no longer have to set aside some human food to give our fur babies. You just open a can or a bag and you're good to go!
The commercials (and even some veterinary medicine practitioners and American Feed Control officials) say that these offer the best nutrients, which makes sense, right?
On the other hand, there are some experts who say otherwise. Vets like Dr. Karen Becker and Dr. Lisa Freeman are highlighting a possible link between animal diets without guaranteed analysis and health concerns.
Additionally, according to Pet consumer advocate, Susan Thixton, also stresses in the Petsumer Report that the "meat" on your favorite brand's label may not be the same as the ones specified by the FDA for consumption by humans.
The bottom line
If manufactured pet food is as safe as the commercials and ads claim, then why do we hear of at least one (1) pet food recall per year? And these recalls are just from the big players in the pet food industry. Can you imagine how things are for smaller pet food companies that may not have the strict protocols and safety measures that the big players have?
Really Getting to Know the Pet Food Industry is Essential
Have you ever wondered if the cat or dog food you're feeding your fur baby really gives him quality nutrition? There are just so many issues surrounding the truths about the pet food industry that we felt it is best to share them with you. We've also included some links to relevant articles that you will find useful.
So without further ado, let's go over the important things you should know about manufactured cat and dog foods. Chances are you'll never look at these "commercial diets" the same way ever again after browsing through this list:
#1. Manufactured Pet Food is Fat, Err, Fast Food for Pets
Most processed cat and dog foods available nowadays seem to have the same effect as fast food on humans. They're simply full of unhealthy fat and similar ingredients. Have you seen the rates of increased incidences of allergies, diabetes, kidney disease and other pet diseases lately?
We seriously doubt it’s the air they breathe or the water they drink. It's crucial to remember that the maxim "you are what you eat" also applies to our animal friends.
#2. The Hundreds of Brands of Pet Food Are Owned By Just a Few Companies
While there are a lot of brands you can choose from when it comes to cat or dog foods, did you know that the whole market is monopolized by only a handful of manufacturers? These companies often have respective low-shelf (cheaper) options and top-shelf (pricier) offerings, which are then squared off as competing brands.
The parent company would then launch marketing campaigns against the "rival" brand to heighten the competition. But the thing is that no matter what "competing" cat or dog foods you purchase, the company will still be making profit in the end.
#3. Manufactured Pet Food Is Loaded With Sugar
If you’re seeing a lot of ingredients that end in "–use" on your pet food’s label, it's highly likely that these are types of sugar. On top of that, grains and carbohydrates are also sources of sugar—a bit of protein here and there, but really mostly sugar!
Moreover, pet food can be full of GMO corn, which is still considered legally "okay" based on present-day FDA standards. Some so-called grain-free diets are also found to have these genetically-modified components. But here's the biggest question: are these GMO-laden varieties of cat and dog food really okay for your pets?
4. Plenty of Pet Food Manufacturers Use Waste Products As Ingredients
Just to emphasize, we agree that not all waste products should automatically be considered bad and must be thrown away. After all, whey is a waste product of making cheeses and that’s still a good source of protein.
The issue here is when you're told that cat and dog food manufacturers are using only the "finest quality ingredients." But it turns out that some of them are utilizing literal waste—for example long dead animals—which should already be considered as health risks!
Since these ingredients already don't fit for human consumption, why should these companies utilize them to manufacture cat and dog food? Additionally, unknown additives are also being deliberately omitted from the product label in some cases. We'll touch more on this as we go along.
#5. Manufactured Pet Foods Are Full of Non-Regulated Additives
Did you know that a European study revealed that 14 out 17 of the most popular wet cat and dog food varieties have been found to contain porn and chicken DNA? Sure this isn't that alarming at first, but here's the catch: neither ingredients were listed in the label.
Could this be what animal derivatives are? There is a very small chance that you could be feeding your pet with unknown animal parts. Isn't that a bit scary?
#6. A Lot of Manufactured Foods for Cats and Dogs Have Unclear Labeling and Information
For this part, let's differentiate animal derivatives from their counterparts sourced from plants. Animal derivatives can be any various body parts of dead animals, including hooves and hair. While it is true that animals in the wild tend to feed on these parts from their prey, they get a crack at the choice cuts first.
Alternatively, plant derivatives often include the waste products from manufacturing human food. They're typically used in producing paint, lubricants and cosmetics. Doesn't sound that appetizing even for dog standards, don't you think?
So why pay a steep price for a portion of "all-natural beef dinner" for your pets when you can simply get some real meat or protein for the same price, maybe cheaper?
#7. Manufactured Pet Foods Are Chock-Full of Fillers Like Cereals
The next time you’re shopping for cat or dog food, make sure you check out the first 3 or 5 ingredients. You can even use your present brand as an example for this one. You’d be surprised to find cereal (or grains) to be among them in most brands.
In reality, the ingredients are usually written in the order of percentage in the actual product, say from the highest concentration going to the lowest. This means that your cat or dog’s "beef" dinner may be mostly oats or corn and only have the barest minimum amount of beef.
#8. Plenty of Vets Who Recommend Certain Brands of Manufactured Pet Foods Receive A Huge Sales Commission
We really don’t want to get much into this truth, but if your vet has been pushing you to try some new cat or dog food, or to only use certain brands, or the same brands which just happen to be available at that vet’s clinic, or if your vet has a million posters of that brand, chances are he is playing sales guy!
Aren't we supposed to treat pets as consumers like they really are and not as test subjects? They deserve to have healthy diets full of nutrients and none of the mystery "meat." Just to reiterate, being thorough counts a lot when choosing cat or dog food.
#9. Manufactured Foods for Cats and Dogs Often Have Misleading Names
Chicken flavor– May contain no chicken whatsoever and yes, that’s legally okay.
With chicken (or made with real chicken) – contains no less than 3% chicken by weight is the legal requirement. Do you really want to know what the other 97% comprising the pet food formula is?
Chicken dinner/chicken meal/chicken nuggets– contains no less than 25% chicken by weight. So what is the other 75%?
Chicken and rice meal/chicken and rice dinner– contains no less than 25% combined chicken and rice by weight. The other 75% could be anything as long as it is "legal."
Chicken and rice pet food – contains no less than 70% chicken and rice (so the chicken can be as little as a measly 10%) if water is included in the calculation. This labeling is very deceptive.
Chicken pet food – contains no less than 70% chicken if water is factored in. This is the highest concentration of meat your pet will get, so why not just boil some real chicken breast?
Note: The underlined keywords are your clues regarding just how much of the good stuff your pet actually gets. And there are still a lot more of the to uncover, so it's really helps to be meticulous. Remember, it doesn’t hurt to know how to truly read your pet food labels!
#10. Claims About Manufactured Pet Food Being The Best Food Is Grossly Exaggerated
You’ve seen how pet foods are really labeled above, would you really be surprised that the words "best," "optimal," and "all-natural" are misused terms as well? This is one of the biggest reasons why a lot of dogs and other pets are suffering from allergies and poor digestion!
Though it is true (in our opinion) that most manufactured pet foods—whether wet or dry food— should not be fed to your fur babies, we also understand why plenty of pet parents are opting for that. We know that the first reason is convenience and the second one is being unfortunately misinformed. These are the reasons are why we wrote this article and really get the truth out.
We don’t mean to scare you by writing this article on the truth about your pet’s food. We believe in the power of making informed choices. We at Zumalka believe that the more knowledgeable we become as pet parents, the more we can safeguard the health and well-being of our beloved animal friends so that we can help our pets live longer and better lives.
As a final thought, what do you think will happen if our animal companions created their very own consumer association? Will they have only good things to say about their FDA-approved pet food or otherwise?
Make sure you stay tuned for our next articles! By the way, do you have anything to share about manufactured pet foods? Do get the conversation rolling below in the comments section.
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne is a certified Homeopath with over ten years of experience creating natural products for cats and dogs. She co-founded eCommerce brand, Zumalka in 2013 with her husband Matt and is on a mission to help thousands of animals naturally improve their quality of life and shares her experience on their popular YouTube show. Hence, she created a line of high-performance natural pet supplements to target the root cause of common health issues.
Suzie was influenced by her mother-in-law, who practiced homeopathy and made natural remedies from home. After being on prescriptions for many years for a skin issue without resolution, she wanted to try something new. Her problems were cleared up within a few months of dedication to a better diet supplemented by homeopathic remedies. That's when she knew that homeopathy worked! During this process, she wondered why there weren't better options for pets and soon created a popular line of natural remedies that have helped thousands of pets across the USA.
When she’s not traveling or reading the next personal development book, you can find Suzie snowboarding, working out, or enjoying a daily hike.
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