Seven Pet Food Ingredients to Avoid
Your pets are members of your family and you want to give them the best nutrition available. To do this, you need to know which foods are best for pets and which ones are problematic. Like humans, pets do best when they eat a varied natural diet comprised of foods that are fresh, unprocessed and free of the questionable or dangerous ingredients discussed below.
Byproducts, like chicken and beef byproducts, are clean animal parts that are not meat. While carnivores like cats and dogs do eat feathers, skin, blood, organs, bones and other parts of carcasses, these are secondary to the healthy mass of the prey animal. Byproducts in cat or dog food consist of the parts of slaughtered animals that have no other commercial value and because of this they are typically used in inappropriate ratios. Adding byproducts is a low-cost way for producers to boost the protein content of foods, but the protein contained in most batches of byproducts is not readily digestible.
Dyes in pet foods make these foods more attractive to people. They do not, however, benefit dogs or cats, so their presence does nothing but expose pets to unnecessary and potentially dangerous chemicals. Some common dyes used in pet foods include the following:
- Blue 2
- Yellow 5
- Yellow 6
- Titanium dioxide
- Red 40
Sweeteners and Artificial Flavours
Foods made with natural, high-quality ingredients taste good. Foods that are low-quality or highly processed are unappetizing, so many companies add flavourings to their products to make them appealing to dogs and cats. These flavourings often provide empty calories, and some of them are potentially dangerous to pets. Some common flavourings used in pet foods include the following:
- Corn syrup
- Glandular meal
- Phosphoric acid
Dog and cat foods should be high in protein and low in carbohydrates because dogs and cats are carnivores. Pet foods that are high in carbohydrates or contain any high-glycemic carbohydrates should be avoided. High-glycemic carbohydrates such as corn cause blood sugar to spike and are associated with obesity and diabetes.
The healthiest foods are fresh or preserved in a manner like freeze drying that allows them to retain their nutritional properties without the addition of unnecessary chemicals. Some common chemical preservatives used in pet foods include the following:
- Propyl gallate
- Sodium nitrate
- Sodium nitrite
Meat Not Fit for Human Consumption
Pet food companies can include processed meat that would not be suitable for humans in cat and dog diets. This meat can come from diseased and/or disabled animals, animals that died before slaughter, cancerous tissue, spoiled carcasses, euthanized animals, road kill and animal species not typically used as food. To avoid this type of meat, feed only pet foods from companies that use human-grade ingredients and have specific types of meat listed on their labels. The following ingredients are examples of products that contain meat and other animal products from questionable sources:
- Meat meal
- Poultry meal
- Blood meal
- Animal fat or meal without a named animal species listed
Other Additives and Fillers
In general, if you cannot pronounce it or need a chemistry book to figure out what it is, it should not be in your pet’s food. Many common chemicals used in foods are potentially dangerous to people and pets and have no nutritional value. Others are vitamin or mineral supplements that are added to foods because many commercial diets, unlike whole-prey diets, are unbalanced without supplementation. If you have any more questions about the ingredients in pet food, please give us a call or come by our shop. We’re happy to share our expertise with you.