If you’re like most dog or cat owners, you buy your pet food at the local supermarket. You check the list of ingredients and you see terms like “fillers” and “by-products meal” which you don’t fully understand. But you still trust that what’s in the bag, box or can is good for your animal pal. After all, if it were unsafe, the store wouldn’t be selling it, right?
The reality is, however, that many commercial pet foods are full of ingredients that may actually do more harm than good. Following is a list of some of the things you’ll commonly see listed on packages of dog or cat chow and what they really mean:
- Lamb/ lamb meal – Any dry pet food listing lamb as the first ingredient may not have much at all. This is because lamb is weighed with its full moisture content which is about 80% water. By contrast, lamb meal is fresh lamb that’s been dehydrated prior to weighing. The result is seven times more of that ingredient.
- Poultry by-products meal – When pet food companies use poultry leftovers such as beaks, necks, feet, bones and feathers, they have to list them as poultry by-products. Poultry meal is the better choice.
- Fillers – These include grains such as corn and wheat. They are typically found in low-priced foods and require that pets eat much greater quantities of the food itself.
- Soybean – While this may be a good source of protein for omnivores like humans, they are difficult for carnivorous animals like cats and dogs to digest and may result in gas.
- Animal fat – This is an ingredient that could come from any source. Usually it’s from what’s cheapest rather than what’s healthiest. A better source of fat is poultry tallow which is both more digestible and more palatable.
- Meat and bone – This is another ingredient that could come from any source. It’s also a way for companies to hide the fact that what they’re putting in is mostly bone.
- BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin – These are preservatives used in many pet foods. Because cats and dogs typically eat the same product regularly, these chemicals build up in their system sometimes to toxic levels.
You may consider looking at the pet foods offered at your local natural foods store. These foods are made by companies that are generally more conscious of the ingredients they use. The DVMs (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) at the Austin Pet and Bird Clinic are happy to offer food and diet advice for your four-legged friend. Make an appointment to talk to us today: when you have questions, we have answers!