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Nutrition

Nutrition

What you may not know about the food you’re feeding your pets . . .

‘Plump whole chickens, choice cuts of beef, fresh grains, and all the wholesome nutrition your dog or cat will ever need.’

These are the images pet food manufacturers send throughout the media and advertising companies. With the recent pet food recalls, consumers are educating themselves regarding the foods they’re feeding to their pets. What many consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse scraps or “offal”, grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit.

Nutrition plays a huge role in the overall health of your pet! The food your pet eats should provide all of the nutritional components which are necessary for all organs and systems of a healthy body to perform. A properly functioning body does an amazing job at preventing disease and healing itself, and to do this it requires a well-balanced diet filled with high-quality nutrients.

What exactly are “by-products”? The protein used in pet food comes from a variety of sources. When livestock are slaughtered, the choice cuts such as lean muscle tissue are trimmed away from the carcass for human consumption. Approximately 50% of every food-producing animal does not get used in human foods. Whatever remains of the carcass including bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, and almost all the other parts not generally consumed by humans is used in pet food, animal feed, and other products. These “other parts” are known as “by-products,” “meat-and-bone-meal,” or similar names on pet food labels.

Meat & Chicken Meal – What’s in these “meals”? Meat and chicken meals consist of ground feathers, nails, claws, cartilage, tendons, bones, blood and fecal wastes, all of which have a low biological and nutritive value. Other components include indigestible vegetable and grain fillers, such as shells, hulls and stalks. While they provide bulk and fiber, their nutritive value is low. Basically, the ingredients in these “meals” are the by-products from the human food-processing industry.

I want to feed my pet quality food, but how can I tell what is good quality and what isn’t? COST: Although the purchase price of pet food does not always determine whether a pet food is good or bad, the price is often a good indicator of quality. It would be impossible for a company that sells a generic brand of dog food at $9.95 for a 40-lb. bag to use quality protein and grain in its food. The cost of purchasing quality ingredients would be much higher than the selling price.

INGREDIENTS: The best indicator of a quality food is the breakdown of it’s ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order of their weight, so ideally a food will have 1 or 2 animal proteins in the first few ingredients. Again, stay away from those foods that list by-products &/or meat meals in the ingredient list.

CHEMICALS: We recommend against those foods that have artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.

Where can I find wholesome dog and cat foods? A good tip is to shop at quality pet stores or natural grocery stores. Pet Food Express here in Novato (next to RiteAid) carries a wide variety of high-quality dog and cat foods.

PLEASE NOTE: If you plan on switching your pet to a new diet, we recommend you transition SLOWLY. You don’t want to give your pet an upset tummy! The transition should be a gradual one – take out a bit of the old food and replace it with a bit of the new for a few weeks. If you see any signs of gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea or vomiting, switch back to the old diet. It may be that your pet has a sensitivity to one or more ingredients in the new food. Feel free to give us a call should you have any questions regarding your pet’s diet and health.

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