Concerns About Commercial Pet FoodWhat are you really feeding your pet? by William Pollak, DVM What we would like to speak on is the importance of freshness, wholesomeness and the appropriateness of what is consumed. The information we provide is for those people seeking powerful yet simple suggestions for enhancing Wellness in their companion animals, as well as their own lives. Not all seekers are looking for this enhanced Wellness. Most people in fact are satisfied with their dog or cat "looking" normal on the current commercial food; they assume the animal is just fine. It is not our wish to tell them otherwise. A developing sense of and desire for greater Wellness is growing in the world and is giving rise to this information. It is our hope that this small change, switching your pet to a natural raw meat diet, will enhance the quality of life of not just your pet but your entire household. We have seen this time and time again.
Some concerns about Commercial Pet Food:• Pet labels mislead and distort nutritional facts. • Some animal byproducts make regularly consumed pet food poisonous and toxic. • Food additives, like coloring, are for the human purchaser, not the animal consumer. • Product deficiencies lead to overeating, the buying of more products and the creation of greater malnutrition. • Our companion animal?s life expectancies are growing shorter every generation. • Chronic allergic reactions are primarily food based; cause suffering; and require additional treatments that often exacerbate underlying disease. • Nutritional issues receive little publicity because the subject matter is technical and usually leads to the "naming of names". Pet food advertising revenue is huge and consequently, the advertisers are very powerful. Common editorial policy must balance "news-worthiness" with business; this usually results in avoiding negative references to advertisers? products. This situation is neither political nor, by contemporary standards, even sensational. It is however, something we deal with everyday. It is lack of information. Food manufacturers are silent; they sell pet food in a highly competitive market at prices that haven?t changed in many years. Have you ever asked yourself, why not? The raw materials these food manufacturers mix together to produce typical pet foods you find along the supermarket aisles come from highly questionable, and in some cases, unbelievable sources unfit for either person or beast. Compounding this situation is the fact that pet food labels give only vague ideas of a pet food?s content. The listed items are essentially "catch-all terms" for more specific, and often less desirable, substances. Protein, fat, carbohydrate and crude fiber are general food categories; they have no functional meaning in terms of nutritional source, quality or digestibility. Our biggest concern as consumers of commercially available pet foods is that this food: • Contains ingredients, chemicals, toxins and poisons that should not be consumed. • Lacks ingredients that should be part of our pet?s daily food diet. Package labeling is a necessary obligation the food manufacturers are required to provide by law. These laws however, perpetuate a classification system that has little to do with nutritional value. Manufacturers can and do use obscure and easily misunderstood terms. Why are these labels so obscure? The first and most important question to ask, for a better indication of the nutritional value of food we buy, is what percent of the food is digestible. A substance is a nutrient only when it is digestible, that is, absorbed and assimilated by an animal consuming the food product. Unassimilated food ingredients are at best, non-digestible roughage, and, at worst, deadly toxins or poisons. Nowhere on the pet food label does it state how much of the food can be digested. It is a fact that animals on "supermarket" or convenience diets are usually chronically malnourished due to excessive use of fillers, stale food, and chemicals coming out of a food can or pouch. This empty nutrition, non-vital state of health is the fertile ground for sub-standard biological activity and receptivity. Pet and baby foods are unlike any other products sold in a supermarket. Both items claim to be a complete, "Whole" nutritional package for the consumer; all other foods in the supermarket are part of an overall, individually tailored diet. Deficiencies in one food product are balanced by another food product if variety and wholesomeness is valued. The possibility of choosing what one wants to eat is available to humans. Our pets however, are denied this choice when given only commercial pet food as the sole source of nutrition. A pet owner must be satisfied in the belief the pet food is all the animal really needs to insure minimum nutritional needs. Rarely can one find a pet diet that provides more than minimum daily nutritional requirements; that seeks to provide, in fact, greater Wellness. It would be wise to seek out commercial pet foods that are, at best, acceptable supplements to a more natural, raw meat diet. The average pet owner feels satisfied upon leaving the store with a large bag of pet food purchased at a very affordable price (food at 15 cents a pound). At home, the pet "attacks" the food in its food bowl further confirming its owner?s conviction that a "smart" purchase in both value and quality has been made. The pet loves the food! It eats it immediately with great vigor. This "gusto" though is usually a sign of a pet?s lack of proper nutrition. It is the voracious overeating observed everyday at feeding time that indicates a lack in balanced nutrition along with a hyperactivity usually unnoticed until the animal is put on a more nutritious and wholesome diet. Overeating quickly empties a food bag; non-nutrient fillers and appetite stimulants (addictive agents such as sucrose, corn syrup, salt, and artificial flavoring exacerbate a pet?s already undernourished state When a pet overeats a food of low nutritional value, they must "digest" additional calories, protein, carbohydrates and waste products to derive a minimal benefit from the diet. Already low "vital energy" stores are further depleted. This borderline state of starvation, despite regular feedings, produces a responsive, though non-alert, living, though non-vital, animal. The end result a pet owner or pet professional observes is an overweight, doughy, dull-coated, undernourished pet that is marginally poisoned. This is the main reason life expectancies of our pets are growing shorter every year. Our companion animals just survive on convenience pet foods. From a holistic perspective, mere survival is not enough; organisms need to do more than just survive. By achieving a state of Wellness, a transcendent growth is secured. The most frequently asked question in my practice is: "Which commercial pet food do you recommend?" My standard answer is: "None." I am certain that pet-owners notice changes in their animals after using different batches of the same brand of pet food. Their pets may have diarrhea, increased flatulence, a dull hair coat, intermittent vomiting or prolonged scratching. These are common symptoms associated with commercial pet foods. In 1981, as Martin Zucker and I wrote How to Have a Healthier Dog, we discovered the full extent of negative effects that commercial pet food has on animals. In February 1990, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Eckhouse went even further with an expose entitled "How Dogs and Cats Get Recycled into Pet Food."