What Are We Really Feeding Our Pets?
By Kim Bloomer and Jeannie Thomason
The packaging looks great … The ingredients seem sound as far as we know … The kibble comes in cute little shapes and colors … But what are we really feeding our pets?
By understanding the nature of a dog and cat and what they need to not only survive but to thrive, you may be shocked to find out that the nice packaging is about the only thing that is good about commercial pet food.
Carnivores by nature
First, understand that cats and dogs are carnivores. Contrary to popular myth, dogs and cats have not somehow evolved into omnivores. That myth came about based on wild animals’ eating the stomachs and intestines of the domesticated, grain-fed animals they killed.
If a wild animal eats other wild animals, it won't be eating grains but rather digested grasses and various other things that prey animals eat. However, most wild dogs and wolves pick up the stomach or intestines and shake them out to rid them of these grasses and partially digested foods.
Everything a dog or cat needs to thrive is in the meat and bone, not grains. So it stands to reason that dogs and cats are not thriving — and in fact, are barely really surviving — on what is more and more commonly the primary ingredient in commercial foods: grains (and many more undesirable ingredients, which we'll discover in a minute).
Where the leftovers go
The pet food industry is related to the human food industry as a way to dispose of all the "leftovers" from the human food industry. While this article is far too short to really discuss the entire process here, we'll give you some basic information to help you be informed. First let's start with that funny word, byproducts. “Byproducts” is a nice pet food industry way of saying "junk off the slaughterhouse floor." Byproducts are what is left after the meat has all been stripped away from the bone — beaks, feathers, entrails, blood, brains, etc.
While these may not sound so bad to anyone reading this, thinking that dogs are scavengers, often the animals used or referred to here are one of the “4-Ds.” This is a classification used by the pet food industry for "dead, dying, diseased and down or disabled.” If that isn't enough to stand your hair (or fur!) on end, hopefully the following will be.
These 4-Ds are rendered down at very high temperatures and ground until they are a glob with all the fat floating at the top. This fat is skimmed off and then sold as "animal fats" — another ingredient in your packaged pet food.
Often these rendered dead animals were other dogs and cats that were euthanized or sick or even roadkill. Now even though they were cooked at very hot temperatures during the rendering process, all that does is kill any nutrients that might have been in there to begin with. However, the pharmaceuticals used to euthanize animals for example can withstand the heat, so your beloved dog or cat is eating this in the supposedly nutritious food.
To add insult to injury, the product is also often rancid — yes, rancid. Often these rendered dead animals and fats are left to stand in containers for days, becoming rancid with bad bacteria and thriving mold. This is all allowable in pet food.
More distasteful ingredients
Add to this yummy mixture food dyes, toxic preservatives such as ethoxiquin — which is used to stabilize the food, an herbicide that is only two chemical compounds away from Agent Orange that killed many soldiers during the Vietnam War — and our pets are being poisoned from the very food they eat daily. Ethoxiquin is used as a moisture preventive ingredient, so in our pets' intestines it causes dehydration, creating a toxic intestinal environment. Our pets can then no longer correctly assimilate their food, so they develop diseases such as cancer.
These foods also contain ingredients such as corn syrup, added to flavor this totally unappetizing food to convince our pets to eat it. So we're also adding diabetes to the mix by giving our dogs and cats lots of sugar their bodies don't need in their food. To ensure we think nutrients actually exist in this food, synthetic vitamins are sprayed on it so we can actually be duped into believing it is nutritious for our pets.
The problem with grains
If that wasn't enough, the food is primarily poor-quality grains that should really be thrown out as chaff. Why are cats and dogs — carnivores — being fed mostly grains? Grains are a very inexpensive ingredient and filler and a profitable way to dispose of this chaff.
Yet grains are also the primary cause of yeast infections in our dogs. Some of the symptoms include chronic ear infections, incessant licking of genitals and/or paws, licking granulomas on the legs, habitual scratching of the ears and torso and rashes. This overabundance of yeast travels up into the head, causing loss of hearing, eyesight, comprehension, intelligence and memory.
These yeast infections start in the digestive tract, thanks to the grains in the diet, then move into the body to wreak havoc on our pets' lives and health. These conditions are often treated with conventional medicine such as antibiotics and steroids that mask the allergy symptoms. Both of these types of pharmaceuticals only exacerbate the yeast problem by killing off any good bacteria in pets’ digestive tracts that might still be alive, leaving our pets defenseless against disease and the invading yeast.
A more natural solution
So what is the solution? Feed your dogs and cats what is natural to their species: raw meat and bones. Yes, raw! Raw bones are good for your dog; cooked are not. For a dog, feed him equal parts bone and meat, about 2-3% of his total body weight per day.
A good whole food supplement helps to get your pet back on his way to optimal health. Use natural remedies such as essential oils, herbs and homeopathy, in place of pharmaceuticals and preventive medicines, and stop overvaccinating. If you do, we're sure your pets will be on the road to thriving, not simply surviving.
© Kim Bloomer, Jeannie Thomason
Kim Bloomer is a natural pet care educator and co-author of Whole Health for the Happy Dog, to be published in Spring 2006. Read her blogs at http://www.Bark-N-Blog.com and http://www.ADogsView.com. Catch her internet radio show at http://www.AnimalTalkNaturally.com, and visit Kim on the web at http://www.aspenbloompetcare.com.
Jeannie Thomason is a natural pet care educator. Read her blog at http://www.wholedognews.com and see her on the web at http://www.thewholedogstore.com. Catch her internet radio show at http://www.AnimalTalkNaturally.com.