Pet Nutrition and Health – Continuous Learning!

When people moved from rural areas to more populated centers for job accessibility, cultural and entertainment purposes, the age old way of feeding a pet table scraps and allowing a free running pet to scrounge for food, changed. The concentration of people meant pets and people existed in a more confined environment. Individuals did less and less growing of their own food and more and more processed foods were purchased.

The resulting change of humans purchasing processed foods created the processed pet food industry to begin flourishing in the 50’s and 60’s. Somewhere I read an estimate that over 90% of all the food pets consumed is preprocessed. This accounts for a large portion of the $40 Billion pet owners spend on these furry friends yearly.

Recently the nutritional health of pets became of grave concern when the pet food recalls surfaced. The importance of quality and integrity in pet foods was on every pet owner’s mind. The pet food industry attempted to correct all the problems as fast as they could, but a lot of doubt still exists and increased nutrition education is paramount in the pet owner’s mind.

We would all like to have pet food products that are “natural” and “organic”, but must realize the major manufacturers are more inclined to cater to the “Bottom Line” which requires volume more than their dedication to nutritional quality which by government standards has only to meet the bare minimums. The words “natural” and “organic” are hard to verify in any product.

An important bit of information about pet foods is: The label does not tell the whole story. Consider this…the first listed ingredient is supposed to be of the greatest quantity, but since the ingredients are listed by weight what is the moisture content of the first item when processed into this food? Grains and meat can be 10%, 20%, 40% or? Additional items can be 5%…what is the true amount within.

What are meat bi-products? Are they the bone scrapings, cartilage, tallow and/or some unthinkable items? Why are preservatives used? Is it because such large production creates distribution problems and the pet food sacks can be in a hot warehouse or semi-trailer (parked in the hot sun) for extended periods of time (think 6 months or even a year) before being delivered or sold. Consider the processing, overheating and chemical processing destroys much that is necessary for proper nutrition.

Quality and integrity of pet foods cannot be totally determined by reading the label, it requires investigation and education found by comparing ingredients (particularly quality), asking and questioning experts in the field, veterinarians (except those well versed in nutrition) are not always the most reliable source of information.

There are good sources of information and products on the internet. Most sellers of commercial pet foods (veterinarians and store sales personnel) are coached by the manufacturers or distributors of these mass produced products. Read and read some more, then use that information to provide the best nutrition for your pet(s).