As a kid, did you ever get in trouble with your Mom for giving your dog scraps from the table? I did all the time! Well it appears now that the broccoli I was serving under the table to my dog was EXACTLY what he should have been eating. See Mom!
There are three well known pet food types. Dry food, wet food, and table scraps or homemade food. The latter of the choices is becoming more popular as people stop and think about what their pets are chowing down on and how such large quantities of pet food can come at such a cheap price. With processed foods increasingly linked to cancer and other health problems in humans, it definitely makes sense that processed pet foods would have the same negative effects on our furry friends.
As science increasingly investigates processed foods (crackers, pasta, hot dogs, and cereals - YES, even those healthy organic cereals you love are processed), there has been a growing concern that links processed food consumption to brain tumors, stomach, kidney or even lung cancer. According to WHFoods, processed food consumers may also suffer from depression or early development of Alzheimer's disease. Even if you ignore these often fatal diseases, people who eat large quantities of processed foods often have problems keeping a healthy weight and suffer from highly weakened immune systems. So if these problems effect people who eat these foods, then why would we think that our pets are not effected just as we are? They are animals just like us with complicated dietary needs, yet people seem to ignore the fact that extremely processed pet or human foods will negatively effect their pets.
Recently, there has been an increase in cancer in dogs, especially golden retrievers, and many vets believe that it is linked to the processed dog food and even processed human food that is being fed to our beloved pets. Dogs are simply not meant to eat processed pieces of 'almost flavored meat clay' and definitely not fit for Hostess donuts. The fact is that your pet's diet should mimic their innately natural diet. This would includes fresh veggies and clean source meats with an absence of grains. Dogs immune and digestive systems actually function terribly with grains so they simply should not have them in their diet. Check the current dry or wet food you are feeding your dog to see if grains are one of the key ingredients.
So what should you feed your pets? Dogs are omnivores much like humans so they need a mix of vegetables and unprocessed, clean source meats. You can throw them in a blender and make your own wet food or just cut it up a bit and have Lassie go at it! Cats are carnivores and should be fed animal based proteins from clean meat sources with moderate levels of fat. Only 3-5% of a cat's diet should be calories from carbohydrates (NOTE: Most dry cat food contains 35-50% carbohydrates and come from cheaply processed plant based proteins).
(We highly recommend checking with your veterinarian before making dramatic changes to your pets food.)
Our research tells us that your pets will live a longer and happier life with the above changes in their diet. If they could speak, I am sure they would say "You are awesome and kick ass!". Okay maybe not the kicking ass part but you get the point. You should definitely see an increase in tail wagging.
Just for fun, take a look below at some examples of standard pet foods and what they consist of:
Dry Food: Dry food is a 200 million dollar a year business in the United States alone and is usually comprised of reject grains, offal, and small amounts of reject meats. It is obviously the most processed of food choices. The meats used in dry food can sometimes contain meat from animals that have had diseases (including cancer) or other rejected industrial meats that could not be used for human consumption. These concoctions are mixed in huge vats and pressure cooked in order to allow them to be preserved for long periods of time. The processing of these foods takes most of the nutritional value as well as taste out of the food. In order to make them palatable the factories often spray the dried food with left over animal fat and add artificial flavors.
Wet Food: Wet foods, also a multi-million dollar business, are almost always nutritionally better than dry foods because they have been less processed and are preserved through means of water and salt. Though they also tend to be industrial reject meat and the lower end brands tend to use more filler like grains, they still will be more beneficial to your furry friend and probably taste better too than dry food. The main draw-back is they tend to have very limited vitamins and minerals that you would find in fresher food. Just as with processed human food, the more processed a food is, the less nutritional value it provides to your pet. You can make your own wet dog food by cooking clean foods and putting them into a blender and presto, you have your very own healthy wet food for your pet.
Homemade Food: If you are eating a diet of naturally raised meats and vegetables, then your table scraps and homemade food will always be the best food for your pet. For those of you with limited time to cook, Dog Aware is a website that lists companies offering homemade style food for pets. If you are worried about spending too much money on food for your pets, then try combining your table scraps to clean source pet wet food and that will give them a much needed nutrient boost.
For more on how pet food is made and just what it means for your pet visit Commercial Pet Food Exposed.
By Cristian Luecke
Edited by Billy Polson