We are all probably familiar with the dog food commercial that ends with the statement “Feed ‘em like family.” That is oh so true of any pet food for your dog, cat, bird, hamster, skunk, Komodo dragon… well, you get the picture. Surely you wouldn’t haplessly throw food products into your shopping cart for your family without reading the contents on the label, and you should be as diligent about reading labels on your pet’s food as well.
Unfortunately, we live in a society where, without stringent laws governing what is safe for consumption, profits would take precedence over the health and wellbeing of most of us. Thank goodness the contents are required to be placed on the label in the order of amount contained. Reading labels is even more important for our pets because they can’t complain to us that “this stuff tastes like ****” when, without these laws that may very well be precisely what they’re eating!
For instance, when you see “animal fat” on the label you probably think chicken skin or red meat trimmings, but consumer beware! Regulations allow pet food manufacturers to use such “fats” as discarded restaurant grease and meat and poultry by-products as generic fat sources in both dry and wet foods. These low-cost fats are more likely to be mishandled and become rancid, causing diarrhea, liver failure, arthritis, heart problems and even cancer. Always look for the particular species used like chicken fat, duck fat, beef fat, etc.
Check out the preservatives. If the product contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, pass it by. Stick with products that contain natural preservatives like ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) tocopherols (forms of Vitamin E) or rosemary extract which are a lot healthier.
Don’t purchase products with added sugars or sweeteners like corn syrup or sorbitol. This is how manufacturers fake-out dogs into eating foods comprised of mostly grains and very little of the proteins that would be healthy for them.
Let’s not forget the artificial coloring. This is, of course, a con game aimed at humans. Our pets couldn’t care less what color their food is as long as it tastes good and there’s plenty of it. These chemicals may not be harmful, but they don’t do any good either. Besides that, why pay for a bunch of useless gunk?
I’m not going to mention any brand names here, but there is a brand of food on the market that lists contents as “with” chicken or “with” beef or “with” whitefish. Since I feed only cats, I don’t know if they label their canned dog food in the same manner. My point is that I would never feet my cats any food where the name of it begins with the word “WITH.” My analytical and rather paranoid mind asks “what with?” I conjure up all kinds of horrors like Road Kill and Chicken, Veterinary Medical Waste and Beef or Landfill Drainage Liquid and Turkey.
Those of the chicken finger and tater tot crowd won’t be too concerned about what’s in their pet’s food as long as it’s the cheapest. Funny thing about that . . . they could probably buy every can of pet food off the shelves of every supermarket in Broward County for the cost of the vet bill caused by feeding their pet junk food.
I reckon it’s just a matter of using common sense. Common Sense? Boy, there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one!!