Recently Dr. Stanley give a live interactive lecture on pet nutrition on our Facebook page. Read the lecture below, or join us live next time to have all your pet health questions answered. Fan us on Facebook by clicking here to receive notification of our next event!
Dr. Stanley’s Lecture:
- I strongly believe that good nutrition is the cornerstone of health, and every day in practice I see tangible examples of the ramifications of good and poor nutrition.
- Of course, the question is, “what exactly is good nutrition?”
- There are many, many commercial pet foods out there, and all of them seem to claim to provide the highest quality nutrition in the tastiest package.
- Unfortunately, many pet foods are made with fairly low quality ingredients, heavily processed and then filled with preservatives.
- Low quality ingredients are not the only thing to be concerned about —cheap ingredients can also be adulterated (intentionally or unintentionally), as we saw with the chinese melamine contamination that sickened so many animals not that long ago.
- Many of the “lower tier” foods are enticingly marketed, and it can be difficult to tell which foods are better than others.
- For instance, a dog food called “Beneful” from Purina markets itself as being “Healthy Harvest” containing “real, wholesome ingredients.”
- The pictures on the bag are gorgeous, whole foods….
- But the ingredient list tells a different story….
- Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat
preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soy protein
concentrate, soy flour, water, rice flour, pearled barley, sugar,
tricalcium phosphate, propylene glycol, animal digest, dicalcium
phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (a preser…vative), calcium
carbonate, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, dried
spinach, dried apples, dried sweet potatoes, choline chloride, calcium
propionate (a preservative), added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2,
Yellow 6), Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate,
manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, Vitamin
B-12 supplement, DL-Methionine, calcium pantothenate, thiamine
mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin
supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium
bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin,
- So what we see here is that the first three ingredients are corn corn and wheat…. not exactly the best basis for food intended for a carnivore like a dog.
- The next ingredient is “animal fat.” Not “beef fat,” not “chicken fat,” not “lamb fat” —”animal fat.” What kind of animal? Well, let’s not get nit-picky, now…..
- As you may have guessed, animal fat is a wide open category. Any animal can qualify. It could be road kill remnants from the rendering plant. It could even be dog and cat remains.
- And on it goes —more grains, soy, sugar, and eventually some “animal digest” —again, you probably don’t want to know what that is, but trust me, it isn’t something that you want to feed to your beloved pet!
- I can’t tell you how many well-intentioned people I have met who feed this food to their pets, trusting the pictures and the large-print claims that it is made from wholesome ingredients.
- And those pets are by-and-large overweight, with horrible coats, skin problems, tumors, dental issues, and overall poor health.
- Not all commercial foods are this bad, but many aren’t much better.
- Fortunately, since the melamine scare, more and more people are paying closer attention to their pet foods, and some of the higher quality foods have become more widely available.
- More widely available foods made from higher quality ingredients and with much better recipes include: Prairie, Nature’s Variety, Merrick, Orijen (not available in Australia!), and Innova Evo (recently purchased by Proctor and Gamble, which may not bode well for their quality in the long term).
- These foods are primarily of the dry-and-canned varieties.
- In addition to these sorts of dry and canned foods, there are now fresh, unprocessed, frozen options.
- In California, common frozen options are: Stella and Chewies, Primal, Nature’s Variety, Bravo!, Steve’s Real Food (available at Whole Foods).
- These foods offer ingredients that are much higher quality and unprocessed, without the hassle of making the food yourself.
- Of course, as with any raw food, there is always some risk of bacterial contamination, as evidenced by a recent recall of Nature’s Variety Frozen Chicken dog food for Salmonella. But what you may not realize is that many processed dry dog foods are heavily contaminated with e coli and salmonella —the sad truth is that nobody checks.
- Well, food for thought, at any rate!
- I had intended to do a more general discussion of dog and cat nutritional requirements, but my 10-minutes were up about 50 minutes ago, so I’ll let this first talk be about the hazards of low quality commercial foods, and follow up with nutrition at a later point.