When feeding time comes around, does what your pet ingests really matter? The answer is a resounding YES!
Pet food recalls happen frequently. Salmonella, Listeria, Vitamin D, even poisons and meds like phenobarbital have made it into commercial dog and cat food. Whether the pet food is dry, canned, or raw, recalls take place frequently, and it seems to not matter if the brand is considered quality, recommended by veterinarians (ie, Hill’s Science Diet), or poorly manufactured – pet foods are susceptible to manufacturing problems and recalls.
Since my springer mix, Mary, was diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, I’ve been more conscious about what food I feed her. I alternate between giving her “people food,” such as chicken, turkey, and lean burger, a quality grain-free kibble (grains contain starches, and carbohydrates, such as potatoes and rice can cause cancer cells to grow), and grain-free FreshPet, a semi-cooked pet food that is refrigerated. FreshPet has never experienced a recall, and upon reading the ingredients found in the grain-free turkey roll, I discovered many of those ingredients (such as blueberries and spinach) are recommended in a cancer diet for pets. I’m fortunate that a pet supply store in my community carries this brand and this type of food in particular (FreshPet is found in many stores, but not necessarily the grain-free turkey food). If you look online, some people believe the product contributed to their pet’s death while others highly praise the product. Mary has been eating it off and on for the past few months, and she is doing fine.
Like any pet food product, one can find positive reviews and negative ones. Choosing a pet food is not necessarily easy.
Therefore, I highly encourage pet owners to conduct research; don’t just buy a food product because “that’s what we’ve always fed our animals.” Talk with other pet owners. Talk with your veterinarian. Do online research. Sites such as DogFoodAdvisor.com, Petful.com, and ConsumerSearch.com can help you find good food for your pets. Many sites also list pet food recalls, including the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Even if you feed your pet “human food,” such as chicken, beef, and turkey, spinach, blueberries, and kale, you should keep an eye open and an ear to the ground regarding recalls and alerts (remember the recent Romaine Lettuce problem?) These foods can also become contaminated with E. coli, Salmonella, and other bad things. I thoroughly wash vegetables and fruits and cook meats before feeding such things to my dog just as I do before eating these products myself.
Whether you feed your pet kibble, canned pet food, raw, or partially cooked human food, do your homework – research, investigate, discuss, and then choose what you think is best for your furry friend. Even if you pay more to feed your pet, a trip to the veterinarian and the potential (or actual) loss of your companion are much higher costs than providing the best healthy diet possible.
For more information as well as guides on buying pet food and discovering which foods have recalls, visit the following sites:
Does the quality of your pet’s food matter to you? It should. Just like what we put into our mouths and stomachs determine our overall health, the same is true of our pets. What we feed them matters. If people tried to live on potato chips, cookies, and cupcakes, our health would be negatively affected in many ways. What our pets digest can also negatively, or positively, impact their health.
Obesity and cancer are two major health concerns in both humans and pets. Therefore, both species need proper nutrition to combat these, and other, health issues. According to the Pet Nutrition Alliance, our pets “need over 30 essential nutrients including protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins and minerals.” Even though their needs are the same, dogs and cats have different nutrient requirements.
There are many and varied pet foods on the market. Some are less expensive but also possess the least amount of quality nutrition. Ingredients such as corn and wheat have become less acceptable due to several factors, including that, in the wild, canines and felines don’t eat such products. Coyotes, wolves, bobcats and cougars and carnivores; therefore, our dogs and cats require protein. Reading labels is an important way to know what’s in your pets’ food. For example, is the food comprised of meat or meat by-product? There’s a difference. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, meat is “the muscle tissue of the animal, but may include fat, gristle and other tissues normally accompanying the muscle, similar to what is sometimes seen in raw meat sold for human consumption,” and meat by-product is “the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially de-fatted low temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.”
How do you choose your pet’s food? If you don’t want to read hundreds of labels, or if you want a place to start, there are many online reviewing sites. One such site, PetFoodReviewer.com, started last year and doesn’t contain information on all dog and cat foods, but could be a good resource starting point. DogFoodAdvisor.com and DogFoodGuru.com are two other good sites to research. These sites also provide a listing of recalls. For cat food, check out Reviews.com, We’re All About Cats, and Catological. The American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) also maintains a list of pet food and treat recalls. Check their website to find out about any recalls: https://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/RecallsWithdrawals/default.htm.
Nearly all experts tell us to not feed human food/table scraps to our pets. However, some people prefer to make their own pet food at home. Although that’s a subject for another newsletter, with Christmas on the horizon, there may be plenty of leftovers you’re not sure what to do with. The folks at Personal Creations, who shared a post last month, created a guide on using leftovers to create pet treats; in that guide, they also have a list of foods that are good for pets (such as pumpkin and turkey) and foods to avoid giving to pets (mushrooms, turkey skin, and onions). If you didn't see that publication previously, you can find it by clicking here: https://www.personalcreations.com/blog/thanksgiving-pets.
As you shop for your pets and for pet lovers on your Christmas list, look for nutritious foods and treats to keep your beloved animals healthy!
In related news, PetCo recently announced it will stop selling pet food and treats which contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Read more here: http://www.petproductnews.com/News/Petco-Plans-to-Stop-Selling-Food-and-Treats-with-Artificial-Ingredients/
Your pet is your best friend, always giving you endless love and (sometimes slobbery) kisses. While your furry friend enjoys playing with toys and sleeping on a soft bed, there is one thing your pet loves as much as you: food! Although kibble is acceptable, it’s time to treat your best friend to something yummy and delicious.
With so many pet food and treat recalls during the past few years, many people are turning to, or considering using, homemade dog and cat food and treats. There are pluses and minuses: the major plus is that you know for sure what you’re feeding your pets; the minuses include time to prepare/cook and ensuring your furry one is receiving the proper nutrition it needs.
Barbara Laino, the author of "The Healthy Homemade Pet Food Cookbook" and owner of an organic farm in New York, teaches people how to make quality dog and cat food (she also teaches how to make better people food as well). She says the foundation for a good pet food diet is variety.
“I believe much of the recent food allergy problem has developed from feeding the same thing every day,” says Laino. “Yet, this is probably one of the most controversial parts of the homemade diet. Somehow it has reached the point that people are scared they can’t balance their dog’s food properly.”
Raw diet vs. cooked food is another debated concept. To this thought, Laino says, “I think people get hooked on the raw concept, but it’s not all about raw. Whatever you feel comfortable with, whether it’s boiling chicken breasts or grinding raw chicken necks … any time you’re preparing food using fresh ingredients, it’s going to be a thousand times better than what you’re getting from kibble.”
Budget and time can be a constraint for pet owners. Laino says there is a way to improve your pet’s health without going totally to homemade food.
“You can take a scoop of good kibble and combine it with carrots, honey or a whole egg,” she explains. “Another one is canned salmon, which is super-easy and convenient. If you do nothing else, add a little canned salmon to your dog’s kibble every day. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do.”
Keep in mind, however, that changing your pet’s diet shouldn’t be done abruptly. Introduce new foods slowly, whether that be raw, homemade cooked, or even a new brand of commercial bagged or wet food.
Learn more about creating homemade pet food at these websites:
Treats for pets are often seen on a recall list. The latest are rawhide chews for dogs. You can make pet treats at home, once again being sure of the ingredients in the goodies. Here are three websites to visit for homemade treat recipes:
For Dogs: http://www.personalcreations.com/blog/dog-treat-recipes
For Cats: https://iheartcats.com/5-easy-diy-cat-treat-recipes/
Ensure your pet isn’t eating the wrong things by cooking for your pet and controlling what ingredients go into your furry friend’s food and treats.
Additionally, keep track of recent pet food recalls by visiting this website periodically if you do continue to feed commercial kibble and wet food to your pet: https://www.avma.org/news/issues/recalls-alerts/pages/pet-food-safety-recalls-alerts.aspx
This site shows dog food and treat recalls: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-recalls/
This web page shows the cat food recalls as well as dog food recalls: http://www.petful.com/recall-lists/cat-food-recalls/
Our pets depend on us for nutrition, fun, and safety, so let us pet parents do our best to safeguard their health.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.