By Kim Boyle
Is convenience at the very top of your priority list when it comes to purchasing your dog or cat’s food? While it’s much easier to stroll down the pet aisle of your nearby grocery and toss a bag of kibble into your cart while you’re already there buying food for yourself you must ask… “is this really what’s best for your dog or cat and their well-being?”
Let’s talk about why convenience isn’t always king in the case of grocery store pet food…
Nearly everything you’re going to find in your local grocery store aisle is coming from a large corporation, like Purina or Friskies, both of which are owned by Nestle. Now, Nestle not only makes Purina and Friskies, but it also owns 2,000 other brands, including but not limited to Cheerios, Deer Park bottled water, Ovaltine, Dreyer’s ice cream, Gerber, and Lean Cuisine. With their hands in so many other varying pots, how are they supposed to fully commit themselves to making the best foods possible for your dog and cat?
They pump their money into marketing so that when you flip on the TV, you see bright colors, funny memes and happy pets in correlation to their foods. At the very least, they include in their foods what they promote on the commercials… and aren’t allowed to use unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous ingredients, right?
Dog and cat foods in America are regulated by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). According to PetMD, they are a voluntary membership association that establishes and defines feeding guidelines and labeling regulations for the pet feed industry. PetMD gives the example that AAFCO requires only a minimum of 18% protein in an adult dog food for it to be considered “complete and balanced,” but dogs actually tend to do better with a protein level closer to 25%. PetMD also mentions that AAFCO has no regulatory authority. In fact, according to Dogs Naturally Magazine, AAFCO is in part comprised of representatives from major feed manufacturers, including Nestle Purina (and others like Hills Science Diet and Nutro Products).
Wow, if that isn’t the wolf watching the hen house, then I don’t know what is! A $12 billion henhouse!
Let’s go back to that 18% protein figure that AAFCO requires. Dogs Naturally Magazine explains that the minimum requirement used to be 22%, until the pet food manufacturers who board AAFCO found “new scientific research” in 1995, which allowed them to lower it to 18%. Dogs Naturally Magazine also mentions that it’s important to note that protein is the most expensive ingredient on a pet food label. To off-set these expenses, AAFCO allows the use of by-products and “4-D” meats (dead, diseased, decaying or disabled) in pet foods. Low quality proteins, including ones derived from dead or diseased animals, can take quite a toll on your fur baby’s body, including being extremely taxing on their kidneys. Add this in with other poor quality ingredients, like corn and wheat, we’re talking lowered immune systems, over-worked kidneys, irregular bowel movements and itchy skin, just to name a few. While you may not see all of theses symptoms right away, these issues are taking a quiet toll on your pet’s body. It could be up to 8 years before you really start to see symptoms of the major damage that’s being done, and by then we’re usually talking about a full-blown health issue.
The moral of our story here to is to be mindful of the products you purchase for your dogs and cats, especially ones that they consume.
At Barkstown Road, our recommendation is to always do your homework. Flip the bag over and read the ingredient list. Wheat, soy and corn are always “no-nos” in our book, along with by-products and unnamed animal protein (you want to see something like “chicken meal” and not “fowl meal”). While avoiding the grocery store aisle altogether is a great place to start, it isn’t fool-proof. Some of the higher end products not offered in groceries have secretly (as in they don’t go out of their way to make it known to the public and their consumers) sold to larger corporations, like Eukanuba who is now owned and produced by Proctor & Gamble, along with Zuke’s treats who is now owned and produced by Purina. Our favorite foods are from smaller (and lesser known) companies, like Fromm, Nature’s Logic, Grandma Lucy’s and Answers.
For more information on nutrition and options for a diet that helps your fur baby thrive (not just survive!), visit us online at www.BarkstownRoad.com or stop in to see us at 2005 Bonnycastle Ave. in The Highlands. Check back here soon for more blog posts from us!