Have you ever read the label on the back of a bag of food or treats? Can you even pronounce half the stuff listed?
It is scary to know what may be in it and how it is even made. Did you know the standards are lower for the production of dog and pet food than it is for human-grade food?
Did you know ultra-processed pet foods and treats top the list of products with the most recalls?
I recently read the book The Forever Dog by Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Shaw Becker. It opened my eyes and frankly scared the crap out of me. If you have the chance to read it, I highly recommend it.
I want to preface this blog by saying not all dog or pet foods are the same. There are many healthy ones out there. This blog is not directed at any specific brand.
My goal is to enlighten you to be an advocate for your pet. Also, to make you aware of how harmful ingredients and processes can be to a pet.
We love our pets like children and want them to live long healthy lives. I am fairly certain you would not feed your children or loved one's food with some of the ingredients found in dog food or even some of the processes used to make pet food.
How it is made
There is a difference between fresh and ultra-processed dog food. Ultra-processed dog food has undergone at least four high-heat processes.
These steps remove a large number of the nutrients dogs need. These nutrients are vital to helping your dog fight disease and aging.
Companies then add chemicals to the ingredients to help the food's shelf life. Other chemicals are added to increase the texture, color, smell,, and taste. Often these are the ingredients we can't pronounce.
Then they add filler.
For whatever reason, pet food companies will try to minimize costs, etc. and will use these grains to bulk up the food. In return, it decreases the nutrient value.
The filler used in some pet foods such as grains can harm the dog as well. These grains convert to sugars when digested.
The more of these fillers used in a product the more harmful. Think of it from a diabetic perspective, you wouldn't want to feed a pet pure sugar and think nothing will happen.
The bottom line, because of the process and additives in foods these ingredients will harm your pet more than help. Your pet will not receive the necessary nutrients to fight/prevent diseases, they may have increased inflammation and lack overall nutrients to keep their eyes, coat, and digestion healthy and in good working order.
Essentially, it is like feeding your dog cardboard with chemicals added to make the food smell and look appetizing.
What can you do?
I know fresh pet food is not feasible for everyone. Good news, there are steps you can take to help your pet today!
First, you can find food that is not processed as much. Or you can reduce the amount of your pet's current food and replace that portion with healthier alternatives such as vegetables or meal toppers.
Be careful and do research, not all fruits and vegetables are safe for pets. For example, onions are harmful to pets.
Here is a small sample of items you can add to their diets.
Great proteins for your dog includes sardines, eggs, organ meats, salmon, halibut, and much more.
Some super foods for dogs included the following: strawberries, kale, cauliflower, button mushrooms, and green beans.
If looking for a natural anti-inflammatory try pineapple, sardines, cranberries, or cucumbers.
If you are looking for a doggie detox, celery fennel, nori, and beetroot are excellent choices.
You can also replace your treats with healthy snacks like carrots, blueberries, and even sardines. You can even bake your own homemade treats.
Did you know?
In veterinary schools' nutrition is not given as much attention as other courses in microbiology, cardiology, etc. On top of it, courses that are taught are sometimes done so with instructors sponsored by large pet food companies.
Another interesting fact, sometimes veterinary clinics as sponsored by these large pet food companies.
I learned this the hard way.
Years ago, my dog was having some health issues and I wanted to switch to healthier food. I did what I thought was right and asked my veterinarian.
I switched my dog to this veterinarian-recommended brand. It wasn't until I was researching healthier options that I learned the food they recommended was in the top 10 worst dog food brands to buy.
To compound the situation, I learned this clinic was sponsored by this brand of pet food.
If we want our pets to live longer and have a healthier quality of life we need to be very aware of what they are eating.
Our pets depend on us to make wise decisions about their health. We owe it to them.
The information provided here is the very tip of the iceberg. You need to spend some time researching healthy alternatives. Then let your pet test new foods to see what they like.
Start looking at the labels of your pet's food and most importantly the treats. Learn what the ingredients are and how they impact your dog's health.
Find a veterinarian you trust, one who shares your same values of healthy eating with natural ingredients.
Your dog will thank you!
It’s an international circle!
Join the fun! This group of International Professional Pet Photographers brings you information on our weekly topics.
While we focus on one broad subject, we may each have a different spin on it or provide you with additional information from our world of pet photography.
Follow the next link to view how this amazing photographer tackles this week's challenge. Then click on the link at the end of each blog until you return to me and complete the blog circle.
Please head over to Syracuse photographer Nancy of Nancy Kieffer Photography. Nancy explains why she loves taking portraits in the pet's natural environment. Https://nancykiefferphotography.com/keeping-it-natural-with-pet-portraits