Top Pet Food Ingredients to Avoid

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From by-products to soy to rendered fats, here are some ingredients to avoid when buying pet food for your dog or cat.

Learning about healthy eating for your dog and cat can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the best ways to start is to learn how to read pet food labels to avoid ingredients that are harmful to your pet’s health.

Good pet food is made with whole food ingredients, including named meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy herbs and oils. But most inexpensive commercial diets contain things your dog or cat shouldn’t eat, like by-products, corn, soy, no-name meat or grain meals, rendered fats, preservatives artificials and dyes. If you see any of these nasties in a pet food’s ingredient list, put the product back on the shelf.

To help you get started, here’s a look at some of the worst offenders.

1. By-products

By-products encompass waste products left over from the production of food animals, and in many cases may not contain much actual meat. The AAFCO defines no-name by-products as “clean, unrendered parts, other than meat, from slaughtered mammals. This includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bones, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.

At first glance, this doesn’t seem too bad, since wild carnivores consume the organs of their prey along with the muscle meat. The problem is that cheap pet food by-products often come from sick, dead, dying, or disabled animals, and it’s not healthy for your dog or cat.

2. Artificial preservatives, colors and flavors

In the preservative category, the top three culprits are BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin. They can cause or aggravate allergies and can even be carcinogenic. Look for natural preservatives like rosemary or vitamin E.

Many pet foods made from inexpensive ingredients contain artificial colors and flavors to improve their appearance, smell, and taste. Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellows 5 and 6 are examples of artificial colors. You can also sometimes tell by looking at the food if it has been artificially colored or not, especially when it comes to kibble. Unrealistic pinks and reds are a sign that the food contains artificial colors. Also, be sure to check labels for any artificial flavors.

Quality foods made from nutritious ingredients don’t need these additives because they are already naturally palatable!

3. Corn and soy

Corn and soy are often used as inexpensive protein substitutes in commercial pet foods. However, they are not an adequate source of protein for our carnivorous dogs and cats. Corn provides more carbs than anything else and can contribute to a range of health issues, such as diabetes, weight gain and allergies.

Soy is another common pet food allergen, and corn and soy are usually genetically modified – another attack on them. The presence of corn and/or soy ingredients in a pet food means it contains more carbohydrates than protein and is not a good choice for your dog or cat.

4. Rendered fats and meat meals

It sounds trivial, but rendered fat can contain a host of nasty substances. Rendering consists of converting waste animal tissue into “value added” materials. These tissues may include slaughterhouse waste such as fatty tissue and offal, restaurant grease, expired meat from grocery stores, meat from animals that have died on the farm or in transit, and others. questionable products. These materials are ground and cooked for long periods of time to separate the fat from the solids. This fat is then added to commercial pet foods to make them smell and taste better.

The solids left over from the rendering process become “meat meal” which is used as cheap protein sources in low-end pet foods. Unfortunately, meat-based meats are usually only about 50% protein – the rest is ash (which in itself isn’t good for your dog or cat), fat, and moisture.

5. Propylene glycol

Used to maintain moisture content and add flavor to poor quality dog ​​food, propylene glycol is the chemical also found in “pet-friendly” antifreeze. Although the FDA categorizes propylene glycol as GRAS (generally recognized as safe), it’s not something you want your pet to regularly consume in their food. The fact that it’s not even allowed in cat food because it can cause Heinz bodies to form in felines should be a red flag.

In dogs, propylene glycol poisoning would usually be caused by consuming a large amount of antifreeze. The amounts of this chemical in pet foods are not large enough to cause this level of toxicity, but long-term consumption of small amounts of propylene glycol over time can be harmful, so it is best to avoid it completely.

By becoming a savvy reader of pet food labels and avoiding these harmful, low-end ingredients, you are taking a big step towards protecting the health and longevity of your dog or cat.

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