Man’s best friend? How come we don’t treat him like it? With so many pet foods available, it can be a real challenge to pick a good one.
Factors that guide your choices in choosing a pet food are:
PRICE, PACKAGING, ADVERTISING, AVAILABILITY, PACKAGE SIZE
………..so where do nutrition, palatability, and safe ingredients play a part? If you don’t consider your pet’s health, you are missing the boat. By investing in solid nutrition and health food choices, you will save more money in the long run. Consider a healthy pet versus one that needs multiple trips to the vet for digestive, joint, skin issues, allergies, etc.
Let’s face it, you get what you pay for. Artificial colors, added sweeteners, salt, unidentified ingredients, gluten, corn, meat or poultry by-products (parts of butchered animals not otherwise marketable). Check your pet’s food ingredient list!
Chemicals for preserving pet foods, i.e.: BHA, BHT (Butylatedhydroxylanisole/Butylatedhydroxytolulene), and ethoxyquine are dangerous. On the surface these items are listed as anti-oxidants which prevent the breakdown of fat (rancidification), but their metabolites (oxidants) have the opposite effect, damaging healthy cells. These chemically derived preservatives are known carcinogens and cause the formation of tumors. ..and if that is not enough, we are drenching our pets in dangerous pesticides in the form of flea collars, treatments, flea dips, baths, and shampoos, which are toxic to skin and liver and may cause the death of the animal your trying to protect. If WE are to wear gloves and avoid skin contact, why are we putting this stuff on the skins of our pets? A five minute Internet search will reveal that there are many natural flea control items available.
Some tips for pet nutrition:
- For optimal skin and heart health, add sardines (in water) to the diet two to three times a week. Start with half a can according to pet size. This will provide a perfect blend of omega #3’s and #6’s. Healthy skin gives rise to shiny coats, helps to repel fleas, and fortifies the pet’s natural ability to resist disease. A healthy heart will result in a longer and more active life.
- Protein sources should be identifiable. No mystery meat! The source should be from meat, and not byproducts (feet, lips, ears, etc.). A good quality food will list the specific source of protein, as well as state there are no byproducts, wheat, corn, soy, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
- Look for organically derived ingredients, which are safer than chemically manufactured. Also, look for foods preserved with tocopherols (derivative of vitamin E), vitamin C, and rosemary extract.
- For digestive health consider adding plain yogurt or pet probiotics to the diet on a regular basis. Please note that, if your pet is placed on antibiotics, probiotics will help to restore normal intestinal balance.
- During peak flea season, garlic and yeast supplements are highly recommended, usually available at pet supply stores.
- Consider a fish based protein diet (salmon, herring, whitefish) for your pet if it has a skin condition, coat problems, or arthritis.
- Observe your pet’s behavior and note it in a journal. Some significant things to watch for are: Licking and/or gnawing of paws, constant scratching or rolling, ear discharge and redness, dry, flaky skin, dull coat, lethargy, bad breath, runny eyes and noses, change in bowel habits and stool consistency. These could all be signs of allergic reactions to food. Of course, consult your veterinarian, but a change of diet may just do the trick.
- Also, beware of pet treats, as they are made from some of the same ingredients as the poor quality foods. They contain many of the harmful food colorants and preservatives that convey health problems to pets, and may add to obesity, as well.
- If you have a pet with joint problems, or an older pet, you may wish to consider adding glucosamine/chondroitin supplements, and switch to a lower protein content food.
- Lastly, be sure to provide plenty of fresh water and exercise for your pet on a daily basis, taking care not to overfeed.
A Word about Homeopathy:
Homeopathy is a great way to manage many conditions without toxic medications or side effects.
There are many sources, i.e.: Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs by Don Hamilton, DVM and Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard Pitcairn, DVM, to name a couple.
We are what we eat… so are our pets. I would not consciously eat bad food. Why then, would I feed it to my pets?….And I would not eat cereal every night for supper. Variety makes mealtime enjoyable. A good quality canned food together with a good quality dry food would be ideal, creative, and a welcome change for your 4-legged companion! Sometimes a warm broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable), will lend a new taste to an otherwise mundane, dry meal.
May you enjoy a long and healthy life with your pet(s). Have a good woof!
Diana Pengitore, ND, with Carl Fusco, ND, NMD