Ingredients Matter

  • Dogs and Cats need meat:

    So we’ve had bunches of fun with this whole notion that ingredients don’t matter, and all you need is a food cooked up by an army of lab techs—perfect nutrition straight from a test tube.

    Why isn’t this true?

    Dogs are omnivores with serious carnivorous inclinations, and cats are entirely carnivorous. Thus it follows that their physiologies are designed around the consumption of meat. All the proof one needs is found in the endless supplements that must be added to processed pet foods to ‘enhance’ their nutritional content.

    As we discussed above, grain-based cat foods lacked the necessary taurine to sustain the health of these natural carnivores, and cats were dying; because these products lack the necessary taurine levels derived from whole food ingredients, taurine supplements are now standard in virtually all dry cat foods.

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  • The importance of reading labels:

    Obviously this means that pet owners need to pay attention to what goes into the foods they’re giving their dogs and cats.

    Generally, the less grains and starches, and the more quality sources of animal proteins, the better your pet’s health; of course, dry kibble needs to contain at least forty to fifty percent starch just to bind (or glue) the kibble together.

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  • "Do ingredient labels tell the whole story?"

    So now we know that you can’t just look at the front of a pet food package, or simply skim the percentages of “crude minimum guaranteed analyses”. You know that you had better read what those ingredients are.

    But will reading ingredient labels be enough to determine the quality of your pet’s food? Sadly, it won’t. Unfortunately major pet food makers, and the regulators they collude with, are engaging in just as much tomfoolery and otherwise naughty behavior with ingredient panels as they are with feeding trials and percentages.

    Here we’ll focus on the most predominant example: the order in which ingredients are listed. Pet foods are required to have their ingredients listed by weight; i.e. the heaviest ingredient is listed first, and the lightest at the end. However, there is one stipulation, and it’s a big one. They can be listed by their weight before processing. Some of you might say, so what?

    Well a lot of you are probably already reading ingredient labels, and trying to find foods that have more meat in them—and that’s good. But what if you didn’t take this ‘before processing’ rule into account? What does that mean for your pet’s food?

    If a package of pet food lists, e.g., chicken or ‘deboned chicken’ as its first ingredient, then that food is telling you that the heaviest (and therefore the most abundant) ingredient in our food is chicken. Sounds great, right? Not if you realize that fresh, uncooked chicken is 70% moisture. So, when this food gets processed, usually at very high heat via a method known as extrusion, the chicken ends up being far lighter than it was before.

    (As you continue reading through the various topics here in the Learning Center, you’ll discover how other issues with extrusion, processing, moisture in fresh meats, etc. all tie together in one form or another. Please read on for more on how all of these issues are connected, and we encourage you to do research outside of our site as well.)

    So now your fresh chicken that was supposed to be the main ingredient, or ‘#1 ingredient’ (as many pet food labels love to claim) has now become fourth or fifth based on its post-processed weight. And in what state is this food when your pet consumes it? The way it is before it’s processed, or after? We’re ignoring any mention of what else may have changed because of processing.

    Some of you might have wondered why we stated earlier in this section that dry kibble can only contain about forty to fifty percent meat, and that the rest needs to be some form of starch to bind it all together. How could we make that claim? Don’t many pet food labels claim to be sixty percent, or even 80 percent meat?

    Sure they do, and the ‘before processing’ loophole is the reason they’re able to do it.

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