Smaller Dog Stools Mean Easier Pick-up and Better Nutrition

Tired of picking up massive dog poo pies?  A change in diet will minimize Fido’s stools, making clean-up easier for you and nutrients more accessible to him. Highly digestible foods are absorbed better by a canine microbiome, and they produce less waste, boost your dog’s immune system, and decrease the risk of obesity.

You’ll find ingredients listed on every dog food can or package.  The first item listed should be a specific meat, such as beef, lamb, or chicken, not “by-products,” which could be virtually any part of the animal from fat to guts to digestate. It should be honest-to-goodness meat.  Sure – when a dog hunts down a rabbit and eats everything consumable, he or she is eating what would amount to by-products.  If the prey is healthy, at least those by-products are fresh and somewhat nutritious. Processed by-products?  Not so much.

After meat, rice is one of the more digestible ingredient fillers dogs can eat. Always avoid foods containing corn, which doesn’t break down well in canines. Corn results in big appetites and big stools.  Some whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and herbs can be beneficial, but be suspicious if you see a laundry list of cheap fillers such as meat or bone meal, fat, flour, protein concentrate, gluten, or potatoes.  If you see a roll call of unpronounceable preservatives on the label, snub the item as you would when choosing your own food. Salt, sugars, flavoring, and coloring should have no part in pet foods.

The law requires pet food manufacturers to add back vitamins and minerals that aren’t found in the primary ingredients or have been destroyed through processing.  So be wary of long strings of supplements at the end of the list.  And keep in mind that the words “natural” and “premium” have no legal meaning or regulation guidelines.

High-quality commercial brands are more expensive, but require fewer feedings to satisfy carnivore needs.  With smarter nutritional choices, doggie dumps will be smaller and your dog will experience less uncomfortable urgency.  Preparing homemade foods for you dog is a satisfying labor of love that will result in a healthier, happier pet.  Foods can be concocted in batches and frozen a month at a time.  Many raw and cooked recipes, along with portion instructions, are available online.  Here’s an example of what might go into an easy pooch pleaser:

  • Two types of raw meat (one an organ meat)
  • One green vegetable
  • Hard boiled eggs with mashed shells
  • Several cooked whole grains (rice, oats, wheat…)
  • Veggies and fruits on hand

As the techno geeks say, garbage in, garbage out.  Kick the ersatz fillers to improve your dog’s well-being and, in the bargain, make pick-ups easier for you and all of your best friend’s stewards.

Further reading:



Five Tips to Keeping Your Furry Friend Healthy and Well Fed

(Corucopia – Linley Dixon, PhD) Pet food quality varies significantly and all too often includes dangerous chemical additives. In many cases CONSUMERS get what they pay for, but price doesn’t always indicate high quality. The good news is that discriminating shoppers will soon have a new tool helping them to weed through product labels and separate the good from the bad.

The Cornucopia Institute has completed a thorough analysis of the pet food industry and will release a detailed report this winter.

Our study reveals that many complete DIET products significantly sway from the natural, wild diets of cats and dogs in terms of protein, fat and carbohydrate percentages. The majority of both dog and CAT FOOD product formulations contain too many grains and starches, including corn, wheat, rice, oats, peas, and potatoes. In addition, many products contain questionable and/or unnecessary ingredients.

Meanwhile, among the most common causes of death for both cats and dogs are diseases affiliated with poor diet including obesity, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal diseases and cancer.

Cornucopia’s report examines specific ingredients to avoid and includes a web-based buyer’s guide that will help CONSUMERS find high quality and safe pet foods. In the meantime, the following tips will help you get started finding the best food for your cats and dogs.

1. Avoid carrageenan:

You may be unknowingly harming your pets by feeding them wet food, even from the most expensive “premium” brands—despite extra care taken to find formulations high in animal-based proteins, low in fat and carbohydrates, and even USDA certified organic. Our research found that greater than 70% of canned pet foods contain carrageenan, a non-nutritive food stabilizer extracted from red seaweed. Peer-reviewed and published research indicates that carrageenan is known to cause intestinal INFLAMMATION with the potential to lead to cancer, even in small doses.

Carrageenan is a non-nutritive thickener and emulsifier that can easily be replaced by safer alternatives in pet foods, including tomato paste, guar gum, potato starch, pea starch, tapioca, and garbanzo bean flour.

New independent research (published in 2014) at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, using both human and mouse epithelial cells, further demonstrates the mechanism by which inflammatory responses occur after carrageenan exposure using doses less than the anticipated average daily intake (50 mg/30 g mouse vs. 250 mg/60 kg person). This research demonstrates for the first time that carrageenan-induced INFLAMMATION occurs in both humans and mice, indicating that it is likely to cause a similar reaction in all mammals, including cats and dogs.

Pets that eat primarily wet food with carrageenan will consume daily doses of carrageenan in amounts known to cause INFLAMMATION. In fact, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in cats is the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea.

Unfortunately, policy changes are often years behind the latest scientific research due to corporate lobbying and industry-funded studies that conflict with independent research.

Some pet food brands are now advertising that they do not include carrageenan, such as Zignature dog food and Weruva CAT FOOD. Meanwhile, Hill’s Science DIET contains carrageenan, despite the label stating the brand is “veterinary recommended.”

2. Buy organic (but without carrageenan):

Many high-end “natural” pet foods contain carrageenan—and even Newman’s Own Organics wet cat food (which is not actually certified organic but, rather, “made with” organic ingredients) contains the ingredient. Organic foods should be a safe haven from chemical residues, ANTIBIOTICS and questionable synthetic ingredients. Sadly, in this case, pet owners need to pay extra attention.

There are two USDA Organic wet dog food brands that do not contain carrageenan: Organix and Cocolicious. However, there are no certified organic cat food brands that do not use carrageenan in at least one of their flavors. It is important to read each product label; Organix cat food shredded chicken flavors, for example, contain carrageenan although the majority of the brand’s flavors do not.

3. Don’t fall for non-GMO claims (unless you see the USDA Organic label):

Some pet food brands, such as Wellness, advertise that they are “made with naturally GMO-free ingredients.” This is likely an intentionally misleading claim. Without the USDA Organic label, you can assume that the feed given to the livestock used to produce these pet food products is almost certainly GMO.

Wellness brand products do not display the USDA Organic seal. Over 90% of the soybean and corn currently produced in the U.S. is GMO. Though pet foods can test to be GMO-free, this does not mean that the meat animals were fed GMO-free feed throughout their life.

The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service has only recently approved a non-GMO label for meat only if that producer can prove all the animal feed required to feed the number of animals owned is GMO-free. This label is currently missing from all pet food brands, despite non-GMO claims. Thus, only the presence of the USDA Organic label reliably ensures that meat animals were fed non-GMO grain.

4. Avoid these ingredients, too:

Pet food manufacturers don’t advertise the fact that pet food is composed primarily from food industry waste. Animal fat and animal meat and bone meal (MBM) are common pet food ingredients that are products of rendering (boiling waste products to sterilize them). Animal fat and MBM often come from a mix of different animal species, including expired grocery store meat, animals that died on the farm, and RESTAURANT scraps, including used grease from deep-fat fryers.

Animal fat and MBM are the ingredients in pet food most likely to correlate with the presence of sodium pentobarbital, the drug used by veterinarians and shelters for euthanasia. Needless to say, these are not ingredients you want your dog and cat to be eating.

Corn gluten meal should also be avoided. It is used primarily as a cheap substitute for meat since cats and dogs are carnivorous and should have diets primarily based on meat.

In addition, synthetic preservatives should be avoided, including BHABHT, and propyl gallate, since research has linked them to several health concerns, including cancer. Natural preservatives, such as ascorbic acid (VITAMIN C C), tocopherols (vitamin E), and plant-based oils (such as rosemary oil), are better alternatives.

5. Home-cook your pet’s food:

One way to ensure a HEALTHY DIET for your companion animals is to cook for them yourself. Many chronic problems such as allergies, vomiting, diarrhea, and skin problems can be solved with homemade meals. Cornucopia’s report provides veterinarian-approved recipes and advice for cooking at home for both cats and dogs.

In conclusion, the pet food industry is no different than leading MARKETERS of human food when it comes to cheap substitutes and false health claims. Take matters into your own hands by reading labels and choosing high quality ingredients. Cornucopia’s soon-to-be-released report can help you.




The Top 5 Worst Pet Food Ingredients

It should come as no surprise that the cheapest and most widely available pet foods are just as unhealthy as cheap, widely available human foods.  Unfortunately, most mainstream foods for cats and dogs are overly processed and don’t even meet animals’ basic nutritional needs.

When we assess pet food, we look for products that most closely mimic what the animal’s diet would be like in the wild.  Cats and dogs are both carnivores – in nature their daily diet is high on protein and low on carbohydrates.

Despite the fact that this is widely known, many of the most common pet foods feature recipes that are exactly the opposite – low in protein and high in carbs, chemicals, and preservatives, which are just as bad for your pets as they are for you.

No pet owners intentionally feed their pets unhealthy food; if a dog or cat’s diet is lacking in nutrition, it’s almost always because their owner is either uninformed or cannot afford to regularly buy healthier options.  Whichever the case, you should at least avoid buying foods with these 5 harmful ingredients.

Meat “Products”

 In a natural setting, your dogs and cats would be eating fresh prey, like rabbits and mice, which are unadulterated, high quality protein.  That’s why it’s such a shame that so many brands stuff their foods with extremely low quality meat “products.”  Meat by-product and meat and bone meal consist of ingredients that not legally allowed to be put into human food.  However, like most harmful ingredients, these products are much cheaper than the real thing.

Both meat by-product and meat/bone meal are made up of all animal parts, such as bones, lungs, feet, heads, intestines and blood.  The worst part is that these parts can be taken from any and all animals, including the 4 D’s:  dead, dying, diseased, or disabled at the time of slaughter.  This meat is almost entirely unregulated and can be contaminated or diseased.  No pet owner wants to be feeding their beloved pet such polluted food.

Animal Fat 

Animal fat is sometimes known as “tallow” and is derived in a pretty nasty process.  When an ingredient is just listed as “animal fat,” and not as a specific type of animal, it is often a generic mix of animal parts, grease from restaurants, or other oils that wouldn’t be allowed to be used in products for humans. The rendering process that results in this fat involves boiling any and all animal parts available along with used restaurant grease.  The top layer of fat is skimmed off and used in many pet foods.

Beef tallow is also a common ingredient – it’s used to make low-quality pet foods taste better, but offers no nutritional value.   You want to look for pet foods that include specific types of animal fats, such as chicken or poultry fat, which is derived and preserved in a healthy manner.

 Corn

 Corn and grains constitute large amounts of low-quality pet foods, despite the fact that dogs and cats would not be ingesting corn or grains in the wild.  These inexpensive ingredients are used as a cheap filler that helps add substance to the paltry amount of actual protein in the recipe.  The corn or grain products are high in calories, so they make dogs and cats feel full, but don’t give them what they need to stay healthy.  Given too many carbohydrates, dogs and cats can develop obesity and diabetes

There are many excellent brands on the market that don’t contain any corn or grain fillers.  Granted, they are a bit pricier, but that’s because they actually contain high-quality ingredients, which cost more.  These options are much easier on animals’ digestive systems and will not cause allergic reactions the way foods with fillers will.  Though it may be hard to find these at your standard grocery or convenient store, they’re readily available online or in specialty pet stores.

Sugar

 There is absolutely no reason for any type of sweetening agent to be included in your pet’s food.  The only reason it’s used at all is to mask the unpalatable quality of the other ingredients and provide empty, cheap calories.  Keep an eye out for any version of sugar:  cane molasses, corn syrup, sorbitol, fructose, glucose, or propylene glycol.  Be sure to avoid any product that lists sugar in the first several ingredients.

If the food has to include sweeteners, you should ask yourself why the food isn’t appetizing enough as is.  If it contains high-quality proteins, you won’t be able to keep your furry friends away from it.  Also, if pets are regularly fed high-sugar recipes, they can become dependent on sweet foods, making it difficult to transition them to healthier options.  Not to mention that excessive sweeteners can eventually cause serious medical problems such as obesity, hypoglycemia, arthritis, tooth decay, and allergic reactions.

Preservatives

Are you starting to see a pattern here?  Many of the qualities that make pet food unhealthy are the very same ones that make processed human food unhealthy.  Methods of producing food cheaply are very similar across the board, except pets have it even worse.  Most common, inexpensive pet foods on your grocery’s shelves feature chemical preservatives like propyl gallate, ethoxyquin, BHT, and BHA.  The last two, in fact, cannot legally be used in human products in many countries, but are still legal in the U.S.

All of these chemicals have been associated with dangerous illnesses such as cancer and liver disease.  Fortunately, there are some effective preservatives that don’t cause health problems.  Look for foods that include natural preservatives: rosemary oil, vitamin E (tocopherols) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

Navigating the pet food aisle can be just as challenging as making sense of the rest of the grocery store.  Organic?  All natural?  Low fat?  Fat free?  Translating food labels is not for the faint of heart.  But, you should invest a bit of time finding a high quality pet food that’s convenient and affordable for you to buy on a regular basis.

The best possible option is a BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) diet, which consists of raw meats, organs, bones and even raw eggs.  Following this diet takes some commitment but has a huge payoff:  your pets will have far fewer health problems and enjoy their food much more.  You can always start the transition by incorporating some raw foods into what you’re already feeding your pets.  Check out BARF World to learn more about getting started.

Given that your bet is a beloved member of your family, it only makes sense to take special care in deciding what goes in his little body so that he can stay healthy and happy for many years to come