The Truth About Dog And Cat Food

Most pet owners are under the belief that dogs and cats are at their best if they only eat dog or cat food. The truth of the matter is dog and cat food were originally developed and marketed for one reason, to provide profits for the pet food companies.

If you think back far enough, the early makers of pet foods were cereal companies, the original convenience food for Moms'. When mom no longer had to fix us a "cooked" breakfast, there became a need for a companion product for our pets. (Up until then, Rover and Kitty shared our "people or real" food).

Few pet food companies are truly concerned with the optimal health of your pet. In addition, the competition for your pet food dollars has led to some much exaggerated claims.

To understand pet food, you must first understand your pet. Dogs and cats are carnivores, meat eaters, with a very different digestive system than ours.

Dry foods are full of indigestible stuff, no matter how high the price tag is, how reputable the seller may be, or how "premium" the ingredients sound. There is no such thing as a dry food that has "no fillers." By their very nature, kibbles (dry, processed dog and cat foods) are 60% or more grain. Ever try to bake a cookie or muffin that contains no flour, or oats? Grains lend cohesiveness to the formula, and help the processed, cooked food hold together in its cute little shapes. Grains are also very inexpensive, making pet food cheap to produce, with a large profit margin.

Grains are carbohydrates, for which a dog and a cat (carnivores) have no need. They do not digest well, and they do not provide energy the way they do for us humans. Instead, dogs and cats obtain their energy from fats.

The term "energy" is not referring to how feisty your kitten is, or how much get-up-and-go old Rover has. Humans and pets go about converting the foods they eat into this energy in different manners. It just so happens that dogs and cats are much more efficient at converting fats into energy, than carbohydrates. After all, they are carnivores.

The fats serve many other functions in the pets' diet. Our dogs and cats don't sweat like we do so replacing the much needed protective oil layer on the skin and coat requires higher levels of Omega Fatty Acids and oils than can be added to dry foods. If these were added to the packaged foods, they would quickly mold and turn rancid, making some of these toxic to your pet.

Grains also metabolize directly into glucose, which feeds cancer cells, contributing to a condition known as cachexia. Therefore, grains in the diet of a pet with cancer are deadly. This is why some people refer to a raw, grainless diet as a "cancer starving" diet. There is no such thing as an anti-cancer diet that is a kibble. It has been shown that pets with cancer do best on a high-fat, high-protein diet, with the fats and proteins provided in the form of raw meat.

The conversion for these carbohydrates into "sugar" also contributes to our pets becoming overweight and diabetic, as well as dental problems.

Dry foods are also full of preservatives. The three biggest names to avoid are BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin. Some "meat and fish meals" aren't required to list these preservatives. Don't be fooled by foods that claim to have no preservatives. They would have zero shelf life without preservation of some type. Check those "good through" dates on the bag, and think about it. How appealing is it that some of these foods will last 2 years on the shelf? There are at least some higher quality foods, which use "natural" preservatives, like vitamins. However, there is some controversy that high levels of these antioxidants used as preservatives can actually interfere with absorption of other nutrients. In addition, many are available in a wide variety of forms and qualities which can create there own problems.

The meat content of dry pet foods is quite limited by the processing equipment used to make kibble. The quality of the meat can very considerably. For instance, if the food lists chicken as it's' meat source, this can be nothing more than backs and necks, with little or no muscle meat. Chicken by-product meal is even better. By USDA standards, this is a pre-cooked formula of beaks, heads, toes, and guts. Fish meal is very similar in it's' contents.

No matter how "natural, organic, or human-grade" the ingredient list, by the time those ingredients are processed into kibble form, there is virtually nothing left in the way of useful nutrition. The processing necessary to convert the ingredients into kibble requires high heat and days of cooking, followed by the extrusion process. All of this literally kills the enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that lend their "living" qualities to raw foods. This is why you see a lengthy list of chemical-sounding names on the ingredient panel of all dry and most canned foods. The manufacturers must add back — in synthetic form — all the necessary vitamins and minerals which have been removed during the manufacturing processes. Synthetic versions of vitamins and minerals have been shown to be less effectively absorbed and utilized by the body than natural forms, found in real foods, in their raw state.

And finally, dry foods take 12-14 hours to pass through a pet's system. All of that time spent lingering in the digestive tract will many times lead to room-clearing clouds of gas (attributed to fermentation of indigestible grains in the gut), and is also thought to contribute to the formation of "allergies." The body sees these indigestible ingredients (grains, preservatives, denatured proteins, etc.) as foreign substances, to which it develops irritations, manifested as allergy symptoms. Translation: Bowser and Kitty are itchy, have flakey skin, gunky, infected ears, and bite and chew their paws.

It's the cereal grains, corn, wheat, rice, and oats, the poor quality and quantity of meat, and the cooking process that is "wrong" with even the "best" dry and many canned pet foods. Unless your food is mostly real meats, not "meat meals or with real…Beef, turkey, etc", look for a new food and give your pet the life they DESERVE!

This article by W.E. Piechocki and Dr. D.M. Sudduth, DVM is a summary of our research with our pets, those of our many clients over the past 35 years and the many articles on holistic and meat diets available today. Reprints and permission for use of this text is available by contacting us by email at

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