Last year turned out to be the worst in history for pet food recalls. While there is no way to be 100% certain that a pet food is not tainted or will be recalled, there are some red flags to look for when selecting your dog’s or cat’s food. Avoiding these common pet food ingredients can greatly improve your odds in purchasing a healthy, safe pet food.
Judging the safety or the nutritional value of a pet food starts by ignoring the advertising, the price of the pet food, and ignoring the front of the bag. The real signs to the safety of a dog food or cat food lie on the back or side of the bag or can in the ‘Ingredient Listing’. Regardless of what marketing terms (‘choice’, ‘premium’, and so on) are on the front of the bag or can of pet food, a pet owner cannot determine the quality or how safe the food is unless they look at the ingredients. With dry foods there can be 90 different ingredients (or more), with canned foods there can be 50 or more different ingredients. But don’t panic…you 貓腎病 don’t have to understand hundreds of different pet food ingredients! You just need to be aware of a few key ingredients…pet food ingredients that you do NOT want to see in a dog food or cat food (or treats).
‘Wheat Gluten’, ‘Corn Gluten’, or ‘Rice Gluten’. These three ingredients were the bad boy pet food ingredients of 2007. Tainted glutens were found to be the cause of thousands of dogs and cats becoming ill and dying. It is not that glutens themselves are toxic to pets – these ingredients have been used in pet foods for years. The problem was the source or manufacturer of the glutens – imported from countries with far less quality standards than in the US. (The majority of glutens used in the US pet foods are from imported sources.) These imported glutens contained added chemicals that caused crystals to form in the kidneys of dogs and cats.
Not only is it important to avoid dog foods and cat foods (and dog and cat treats) that contain glutens because of the possibility of dangerous added chemicals, it is important because they add no real quality nutrition to the food. Glutens are used as a thickener AND as a source of protein in pet food. Adult maintenance dog foods must provide a minimum of 18% protein, adult maintenance cat foods must provide a minimum of 26% protein. If the meat source of the pet food does not provide enough protein, glutens are often added to boost the protein level of the pet food. The best nutrition for your pet comes from a meat protein pet food not from a gluten protein. Avoid dog foods and cat foods (and treats) that contain ‘corn gluten’, ‘wheat gluten’, or ‘soy gluten’.
‘By Products’. By-products have never been the cause of a pet food recall, but they are definitely ingredients you want to avoid feeding your pet. To give you an understanding of by-products, I’d like to compare this pet food ingredient to pies – you know, the dessert! How many different types of pies you can think of? There are apple pies, cherry pies, chocolate pies, meringue pies, meat pies, mud pies, pie in math, cow pies (yuck!) – I think you get my point. Now imagine if you purchased yourself a prepared ravioli dinner at the grocery and you looked at the ingredients and you see ‘pie’ listed as the first ingredient in your dinner. Hmmm, pie in ravioli – what kind of pie? You wouldn’t know if it was apple pie or mud pie or even cow pie. All you would know is that your dinner contained ‘pie’. Considering ‘pie’ could be anything from apple pie to cow pie – my guess is that you wouldn’t be having ravioli for dinner. Same thing with by-products in pet food.