I get this question at least five times a day: “What food do you recommend for my pet, Doc?” I always respond with the same list of pet foods. They are:
•Pro-Plan by Purina
The reason I recommend these diets is simple: they are science based diets backed by trustworthy companies with excellent prescription food products.
Many times people then ask well what about this or that diet that does not contain fillers and lists meat as the first ingredient. At this point I begin to cringe, because I know that my explanation is far more in depth (and boring) than the slick slogan commercial that taught the client that “fillers” are bad and meat must be first on the ingredient list.
Let’s begin with the words used in the pet food industry and the facts about nutrition. By understanding the facts and science behind feeding your pet we can understand what and how to feed them.
Terms of Endangerment
We are inundated with pet food advertisements that use certain terminology to get the point across. Like a crafty politician, pet food company words are used specifically to create an emotional response in the viewer or listener. We know these words as “Buzz words”. In the pet food industry the main objective is to demonize some words and sanctify other words. For example, the words “meat first, holistic, No Fillers, Preservative free” are all used to denote a positive feeling in you. Whereas the words “Fillers, By-products, glutens” are used to make you feel think negatively against them.
By defining a few of the terms we can come to an understanding that the uses of the terms are often misrepresented.
Meat First: By placing meat first in the line of ingredients used the manufacturer is implying that it is a high quality meat used in great quantities in the pet food. This idea of placing the “most important” ingredient first stems from the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) guidelines for human food ingredient list in the back of products. There the list of ingredients list in descending order of predominance by weight. That means that the ingredient that weighs the most is listed first, and the ingredient that weighs the least is listed last. It has nothing to do with the quality or cut of meat. To me, meat can mean muscle tissue from the heart, intestine, stomach, or skeletal muscle. This is important when we look at the next definition.
By-Products: using the definition of By-Products from the Blue Buffalo web site: “Poultry [Chicken] By Product Meal consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines. These ingredients are considerably less costly than Chicken and poultry meals made from whole meat.” In most parts of the world all of these parts are used as protein sources by humans and even some of these ingredients are considered a delicacy. So are by products necessarily bad? The answer is no. They hold just as much nutritional value gram for gram as their whole muscle counterparts. Our perception as Americans is that they are somehow sub-human and now even sub-animal so we don’t think we should eat them or feed them to our pets. BTW, I love the show Bizarre Foods!
Glutens: Gluten is a protein from grains such as wheat,
rye and barley with elastic properties. The stringy stuff you see in your bowl of oatmeal as you pick up your spoon is gluten. Gluten is a nutritious ingredient that provides a concentrated source of protein in pet food. While gluten is now vilified by many pet food companies, there is only one breed (Irish Setter) who has been diagnosed with a gluten disease. Gluten-sensitive enteropathy is an intolerance to gluten that results in gastrointestinal signs, especially diarrhea and weight loss. Affected animals that have a sensitivity to dietary gluten, a protein in wheat and other cereals such as barley, rye, buckwheat, and oats. Prevalence of this disease in dogs and cats is unknown. Although it has been well documented as an inherited condition in Irish Setters, there is no evidence that it is inherited in other breeds.
Please visit http://www.purinaveterinarydiets.com/HealthAndNutrition/myths
for more about nutrition for your pet.
I hope this helps.