– Danielle LeFort, RVT
The first ingredient on a pet food label list is the heaviest, so if it says meat that means the food is mostly meat. While it is true that ingredients are listed by weight, we need to know if the meat was weighed before being dehydrated (which does not state on the bag). Compare a chicken breast with a dehydrated chicken jerky strip, and you’ll see that once the water is removed, there isn’t much chicken (by weight) left over ;) Dry ingredients will not change much in weight after being processed.
Corn is bad. Corn is a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are simple and complex sugars. Sugar is a form of short term energy. Fat is another form of short term energy. Protein is a form of long term energy. In the end, they are all forms of energy that the body can use to perform certain functions. Sometimes we need energy quickly (comes from sugars and fats) and sometimes we need longer acting energy (protein). Animals and people need them all in moderation.
Corn is not digestible. We have all know that if you eat corn on the cob, you’re going to see corn kernels in your feces the next day. We have been told that corn is not digestible because this is what we see in ourselves. However, what you’re not told is that the corn kernels you see in the feces are the ones that weren’t CHEWED. The shell of the corn is not very digestible, but once you break, chew or grind the corn, it’s just as digestible as any other carbohydrate.
Corn causes cancer. Cancer thrives on carbohydrates, corn is a carbohydrate. Corn will not CAUSE cancer. However, if your animal HAS cancer, the cancer will feed on any carb the body takes in, including corn. There are cancer diets that are specifically designed to be carbohydrate deficient while being prolific in fat and protein.
Dogs and cats are carnivores, they are designed to eat meat. Cats and dogs belong to the order “Carnivora”, but so does the Giant Panda who eats strictly bamboo. Humans belong to the order “Primate”, but that doesn’t make us monkeys, or does it ? Dogs are omnivores, cats are obligate carnivores. Dogs have a longer intestinal system than cats which is used to digest plant fibres. To compare, a rabbit has a longer intestinal system than a dog, and a cow has four stomachs. A more developed GI system is to be able to handle the increased length of time it takes to break down plant fibres. Dogs also have more molars than cats, and molars are the grinding teeth that are used to grind up plant material.
A pet that eats raw food has smaller and harder stool because more of the food is digested rather than excreted in the feces. A pet that eats raw food is eating meat that is up to 80% water (animal muscle and tissue are composed of up to 80% water, the same as our own muscle and tissue). The stool is small and hard because all the water went into the urine rather than staying in the feces.
My dog has allergies, it must be the food. Only 10-30% of allergies are food related. 70-90% of allergies are environmental. Changing the food will only be effective if you change to a food that addresses skin health and integrity AND uses a novel protein source. Even then, the allergies may persist or evolve over time and require regular medical intervention.
PET FOOD BASICS – Danielle LeFort, RVT
What food should I feed ?
Everyone has something to say about pet food. For every food that someone loves, someone else hates it. For every animal who does well on a food, another animal has diarrhea or itchy skin. Is there such a thing as a perfect pet food for our pets? The answer is YES, but it depends on your pet, not the food.
Why do some animals do well on Ol’ Roy while others need the most expensive, grain free antioxidant laden gourmet that needs to be imported from Belgium ?
My rule of thumb (and what I tell my veterinary assistant students) is that a food is good for a healthy animal if the following conditions are met:
* The animal is not too fat
* The animal is not too thin
* The animal is not vomiting or having diarrhea
* The animal is not losing excessive fur or has excessively itchy skin
It’s that simple. Feed your pet what THEY do well on, not what you think they should be on.
Now if your animal has a health condition: allergies, orthopedic, organ function decline, cancer, etc you need to feed a food tailored to that health condition. If your pet has more than 1 health issue, you feed to address the most serious health issue, which would be the one that most seriously affects the quality or length of their life.
Grocery Store, Pet Specialty Store or Veterinary Diets ?
Again, are they doing well ? I feed my adult dog grocery store brand, my adult cat pet specialty store brand and my geriatric cat a veterinary diet. They all have different needs that are satisfied by different foods. I would love to be able to purchase all my food in one place, but why pay more for veterinary diets that my pets don’t need or pay less for food that isn’t right for my geriatric kitty ?
Pay attention to the “AAFCO statement”. Look for a food that has been “AAFCO feeding trial FED” rather than “AAFCO formulated” – feeding trial fed food means it was fed to animals for a determined amount of time to ensure it met the nutritional levels before it was released into the market – formulated food may never have been fed to animal before hitting the market
If it says “complete and balanced” then it is nutritionally adequate – Complete means there are all the nutrients an animal needs in there and balanced means there are enough for a 24 hour feeding period. Some foods say “complete” but not “balanced”, which means all the nutrients are there but not in sufficient quantities for a 24 hour period.