Our four-legged friends are more than just pets, they are part of our family. And as our family, we want the best for them. Despite our best efforts, sometimes giving your dog or cat a healthy, balanced and exciting diet can be challenging. Even if we are diligent in selecting the best food, extra supplementation can be necessary for joint problems, organ-related issues and/or skin and coat problems that can develop over time.
We know that what we eat directly determines the state of our health. Animals (especially cats) are carnivores, so whole foods are an important part of their diet. Whole-food nutritional supplements can be utilized to support even existing diseased conditions. Synthetic vitamins and other substances are added to commercial pet foods in an effort to compensate for the loss of nutrients during processing. Unfortunately, these additives create ongoing metabolic stresses that, coupled with the limited ingredient selection and processed foods, lead to situations in which cellular nutritional status can be compromised over time, causing tissue malnutrition.
During the traditional manufacturing process, pet food is cooked to temperatures that damage or denature the nutrients, so the addition of vitamins and minerals is common. These synthetic, isolated vitamins are usually chemically synthesized and, due to variations in the structure of synthetic vitamins, differ from vitamins that come from natural food sources and affect the body differently. Nutritional support is best provided with products that provide whole-food and whole-vitamin complexes derived from a variety of natural sources and appropriately match the requirements of that animal species. Standard Process Whole Food Supplements have a complete veterinary line of products designed specifically for dogs, cats and horses. These products help fill the nutritional gaps that commercial pet food is lacking in.
There are many choices out there when it comes to choosing your petʼs food. It can be confusing and misleading, so here are a few tips on reading pet food labels:
- If a pet food clearly states a type of meat, it is usually safe to assume that is what your pet will get. “Beef for Dogs” means it has to contain at least 95% beef.
- The exception to the 95% rule is when the meat name is combined with terms like ʻdinnerʼ, ʻplatterʼ, ʻentreeʼ, ʻnuggetsʼ, or ʻformula.ʼ When these words are added to the name, the meat may make up as little as 24% of the food.
- When a pet food uses the terms “flavor,” it means that the product just needs to taste like beef and is most likely beef by-products or beef meal. When the term “with” is used, as in “with real beef,” it only needs to include 3% of the meat by weight.
- The terms “premium,” “gourmet” and “super ultra premium” are not regulated, so they donʼt mean anything.
- The terms “natural” and “organic” are not the same. ʻNaturalʼ is not an official definition, so it can be used indiscriminately and basically means nothing. However, ʻOrganicʼ does have a strict legal definition and cannot be used unless the pet food meets the U.S. Dept of Agricultureʼs standards.
- Read the full ingredient list. This is key in figuring out how healthy the pet food actually is. The list contains all of the actual ingredients in descending order by weight.
- Dogs and cats are carnivores, so they do best with real meat. The best meat sources for dog and cat food are cows, pigs, goats or sheep. Make sure that a whole meat source is listed as one of the top 2 ingredients.
- Wet pet food is packaged in cans or pouches and tends to be fresher, have more protein and be of higher quality. Many dry foods are sprayed with fat for improved taste, however the fat can go rancid, especially in heat. (if your dog is not interested in eating, that may be why)
- Animal byproducts are not handled as safely as whole meat. The byproducts include lungs, spleen, bone, blood, stomachs and intestines. Poultry byproducts include necks and feet.
Any pet foods, especially dry food, should never be left in high heat (especially your car while shopping). Always store in a cool, dry place.
If you decide to give your furry friends a nutritional boost in their diet, consider the Standard Process line of whole food supplements. They offer a full selection of Canine, Feline and Equine support including adrenal, cardiac, dermal, enteric, hepatic, immune, thyroid, renal, musculoskeletal, whole body and more. See a Standard Process Wellness Consultant at any Peoples location for more details. Your pets will love you for it!
by Jackie Godfrey, Wellness Specialist.