What is the Best Food for My Dog and Cat?
Pet Food and Nutrition for Dogs and Cats.
Now that my family includes a cat and a dog, I wanted to know what is the best food for my dog and cat. What should I feed them now? And, by the way, what’s really in pet food?
- What Food Should Dogs and Cats Eat?
- What Is the Best Pet Food for My Cats and Dogs?
- What Is the Best Commercial Pet Food?
- A Few Good Brands of Pet Food
- Which Is Better, Canned or Dry Pet Food for Dogs and Cats?
- What the Label Tells You About Commercial Pet Food for Cats and Dogs
- Should I Feed My Pet Raw Meat?
- What Foods Are Dangerous for Cats and Dogs?
- Should I Allow My Pets to Eat Grass?
- Why Was Commercial Pet Food Recalled
- Should I Stop Using Commercial Pet Food?
- How Is Commercial Dry Pet Food Made for Cats and Dogs?
- What Are Animal Byproducts in Commercial Pet Food for Dogs and Cats?
- What Additives Are Used In Commercial Pet Food for Your Dog and Cat?
- What Artificial Preservatives Are Used in Pet Food?
- Is Pet Food Production for Cats and Dogs Regulated and Supervised?
What Food Should Dogs and Cats Eat?
Cats and dogs are carnivores. They need meat protein and lots of it. Cats should have a diet of 75% animal protein. Cats also get most of their water from the food they eat. Dogs, descended from wild wolves, need a diet of 65% animal protein. Meat, poultry, dairy and eggs provide high quality protein. Rice, barley, wheat, rye and corn provide a lower quality vegetable protein. Pets cannot use vegetable protein unless it is cooked. The pet diet should also include fats, vitamins and minerals. It goes without saying that clean, fresh drinking water is important.
Cats and dogs need a variety of food in their diet, to prevent allergies and nutrient deficiencies. The idea that one pet food provides all the nutrition a companion animal will ever need for its entire life is a dangerous myth. Feeding your cat and dog a commercial grain-based, processed dry pet food diet, year-in and year-out, can result in serious health problems.
What Is the Best Pet Food for My Cats and Dogs?
The best food for cats and dogs is a good home-cooked meal. Pet food companies mislead us when say that pets should not be given “human” food. Those companies have a vested interest in selling commercial pet food to customers. Pet food marketing is intentionally misleading and full of gimmicks. In fact, dogs and cats have always been fed “human” food up until seventy years ago, when Ken-L-Ration began canning horsemeat as pet food. Now commercial pet food companies do $15 billion sales annually.
The best meal for your dog and cat will include lots of variety. This homemade diet even sounds healthy and delicious. Start with animal protein, 1/3 lb of cooked chicken, beef or eggs. Add two cups of cooked macaroni, potato, rice or rolled oats. Or else begin with a cup of vegetable protein, like cottage cheese, soybeans or lentils. Add 1 to 2 cups of brown rice, potato, macaroni, kidney beans, black-eyed peas or rolled oats. Add a cup of cooked vegetables like broccoli, carrots and squash to the mix, along with a tablespoon of olive oil or flax seed oil. Don’t forget a vitamin supplement and a probiotic for digestion. Clean, crushed eggshells will provide needed calcium.
When you cannot find the time for home-cooked pet meals, you can still add healthy table leftovers to supplement an organic meat-based pet food, for a healthy cat and dog food.
Remember to make a gradual changeover to healthy eating, to give your pet time to adjust.
Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
What Is the Best Commercial Pet Food?
- Avoid all commercially prepared dry pet food, because it is grain based, low in animal protein.
- It is important that your pet’s diet contains 65% to 75% animal protein.
- Commercial wet food is usually better than dry pet food.
- The better brands of pet food, such as many “super-premium,” “natural,” and “organic” varieties, do not use meat byproducts.
- On the label, you’ll see one or more named meats among the first few ingredients, such as “turkey” or “lamb.” These meats are still mainly leftover scraps.
- In the case of poultry, bones are allowed in pet food, so the “chicken” in commercial pet food consists mainly of backs, spine and ribs, minus their expensive meat.
A Few Good Brands of Pet Food
There are many brands of wholesome, nutritious pet food. These superior brands of pet food were not involved in any recall: Nature's Variety, Wellness, Castor & Pollux, Newman's Own Organics, Wysong, Innova, and EaglePack. Nature’s Logic and Flint River Ranch are especially recommended for quality.
Which Is Better, Canned or Dry Pet Food for Dogs and Cats?
Canned commercial pet food is better than dry food for your cat and dog. Here's why.
- Wet food is canned and does not undergo the rendering and processing that dry pet food does.
- Generally, there are fewer chemical preservatives in canned food, because canning is itself a preserving process.
- Wet foods usually contain much more protein, along with more water. And that's important.
What the Label Tells You About Commercial Pet Food for Cats and Dogs
Sometimes you want a commercial pet food for its convenience. To find the best one for cats and dogs, check the product label. Meat should be the first ingredient. But pet food labels can be deceiving.
- If a dry pet food says “Chicken Dinner” or "Chicken Recipe" or "Chicken Entrée" or "Chicken Platter," it contains at least 10% chicken by weight in the pet food.
- If a wet pet food label says “Chicken Dinner” or "Chicken Recipe" or "Chicken Entrée" or "Chicken Platter," it contains at least 25% chicken by weight.
- If the label says “With Chicken” or “With Lamb,” it might contain no more than 3% chicken or lamb by weight. That’s right, 3%.
- If the label says “Chicken Flavor,” the product might contain NO chicken at all.
- According to the AAFCO, commercial pet foods labeled for “older cats” and “older dogs” are generally no different from regular formulas. Older dogs and cats actually need more protein than younger ones. But they need a higher quality protein that is easier to digest.
Should I Feed My Pet Raw Meat?
Although raw meat is good for your pet, meat should be cooked because of the possible presence of Salmonella and e-coli bacteria.
What Foods Are Dangerous for Cats and Dogs?
Dogs and cats should not be given chocolate because it contains theobromine. In pets, theobromine leads to vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination and muscle tremors.
- Avoid onions and garlic, because they can cause anemia in dogs and cats.
- Avoid grapes and raisins. Animals have died from eating them, although no one knows why.
- Raw bones are nutritious, but cooked bones may become splintery and dangerous.
- Your pet might have trouble digesting milk and cheese. Adult cats lose the ability to digest the lactose in milk. If your pet can tolerate it, a small amount of milk or cheese is fine. And fermented milk products, like yogurt, kefir buttermilk and cottage cheese, are nutritious and usually well-digested by both cats and dogs.
Should I Allow My Pets to Eat Grass?
The nutrients in grass, weeds and dandelions are actually good for your pet. If your grass is chemically treated, or if the pet vomits after eating it, grass should be avoided.
Why Was Commercial Pet Food Recalled
After the major recall of pet food manufactured by Menu Foods, I became concerned about the safety and quality of all commercial pet foods. The pet food recall was significant for all pet owners, with either cats or dogs. Commercial pet foods were recalled because they contained a toxic ingredient, wheat gluten contaminated with melamine Melamine is a chemical used to make plastic cutlery and fertilizer. It’s been reported that over 3,000 pets died from the effects of tainted food, mostly due to kidney failure. Many others became ill. More than 100 brands of pet food were recalled, all made by Menu Foods, one of the three giant processors of commercial pet food. Menu's own lab animals, who were deliberately fed the tainted food, were the early victims. Tests began on February 27, 2007, after the first reports of trouble. Lab animals started to die from painful kidney failure a few days later.
There have been other major pet food recalls in 1995, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2006, and more recent years, that received less publicity. Recalled pet foods contained a variety of toxic substances: Salmonella bacteria, aflatoxin from moldy corn, unknown causes of liver disease, vomitoxin from a wheat fungus, metal tags in food and enamel coating from the can. And in the most recent recall, melamine plastic and cyanuric acid had been deliberately added to pet food, causing acute kidney failure in pets.
Should I Stop Using Commercial Pet Food?
If your are feeding your dog or cat a commercial pet food that has been recalled or may be contaminated, stop feeding it immediately, and consult your veterinarian. Unless it is an emergency, no pet diet should be changed suddenly. All changes should be phased in gradually, over a week or more.
How Is Commercial Dry Pet Food Made for Cats and Dogs?
It surprised me how commercial pet food for my cat and dog is made. What have I unknowingly fed my pets? Many ingredients used in commercial pet food are not fit for human consumption, and in many opinions, not fit for pet consumption. The protein in pet food comes from slaughterhouse waste, restaurant grease and garbage. Pet food processors regularly use dead, diseased, dying and disabled animals as ingredients. The ingredients are cooked in a vat to kill bacteria. Vat processing also kills the healthy enzymes in meat byproducts. Processing does not remove heavy chemicals, like sodium pentobarbital that is used to euthanize animals. The grain included in pet food is not whole grain, but grains not considered fit for human consumption, the sweepings from farm silos. It can include disinfectants, metals and fungus. Grains that have been condemned for human consumption by the USDA due to chemical residue may legally be used, without limitation, in pet food.
From the vat, the process of making food for my cat and dog moves on. Pet food is extruded into cute shapes. It is sprayed with the tallow fat from the vat for flavor and sprayed with toxic chemicals to prevent mold during its long shelf life. Without the tasty coating of sprayed fat, our dogs and cats would not touch the kibble we put into their food dishes.
Industry insiders admit that rendered cats and dogs and roadkill were used in pet food some years ago, but there is no evidence of that practice today.
Semi-moist foods and many treats for dogs and cats are also made with an extruder. To be appealing to consumers and to keep their texture, the food contains many additives, colorings, and preservatives. It is not a good choice for the primary diet of your dog and cat.
What Are Animal Byproducts in Commercial Pet Food for Dogs and Cats?
When an animal is slaughtered, the muscle tissue is reserved for human consumption. The remaining head, feet, bones, blood, intestines, lungs, spleen, liver, ligaments, fat trimmings, and anything unfit for human consumption, are called animal byproducts and are used in commercial pet food for your dog and cat.
What Additives Are Used In Commercial Pet Food for Your Dog and Cat?
Commercial pet food contains many additives for your dog and cat. The list of additives is amazing: Anticaking agents. Antigelling agents. Antimicrobial agents. Antioxidants. Color additives. Condiments. Curing agents. Drying agents. Emulsifiers. Essential oils. Flavor enhancers. Flavoring agents. Grinding agents. Humectants. Leavening agents. Lubricants. Palatants. Pelleting agents and binders. Petroleum derivatives. pH control agents. Preservatives. Seasonings. Spices. Stabilizers. Sweeteners. Texturizers. Thickeners.
What Artificial Preservatives Are Used in Pet Food?
Synthetic preservatives include butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze), and ethoxyquin. There is little information about the safety of these additives. Propylene glycol was banned in cat food because it causes anemia in cats, but it is still allowed in dog food.
Many pet food makers have responded to consumer concerns, and are now using “natural” preservatives such as Vitamin C (ascorbate), Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), and oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices, to preserve the fats in their products. The shelf life of the pet food is shorter, only about 6 months.
Is Pet Food Production for Cats and Dogs Regulated and Supervised?
To regulate pet food production for cats and dogs, the Food and Drug Administration is the federal arm responsible for safe and wholesome pet food, through its division the Center for Veterinary Medicine. However, almost no agency testing of pet food is conducted. A trade organization made up of pet food manufacturers, the Association of American Feed Control Officials, AAFCO, is in charge of product labeling and standards, but again it conducts no actual testing.
But the real “enforcers” are the feed control officials in each state. They are the ones who actually look at the food and, in many instances, run basic tests to make sure the food meets its Guaranteed Analysis, the chart on the label telling how much protein, fat, moisture, and fiber are present. Some states do no testing and enforcement.
No feeding trials are required to show that a pet food is a complete and balanced diet. However, pet food manufacturers use laboratory animals to test the food for palatability.
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