Weekly Wag *What’s in Your Pet Food?*

Dogs and cats are carnivores, meat eaters. The first ingredient in pet food should not be corn. Many brands of pet food have corn as the main ingredient such as Pedigree. Corn is the cause of many pet allergies and is hard to digest. My little Shih Tzu is prone to allergies and does best with grain-free kibbles. Some vegetables and fruits are good in a dog’s diet. Many pet owners swear by a raw diet and say their pets are much healthier. I believe some raw food in a pet’s diet is beneficial.

I am not here to advocate a brand or raw diet. I am saying if you choose to go raw, do your research and pay attention to the ingredients in your dry or wet pet food! Price is a factor to pet owners when choosing pet food, especially in today’s economy (look for coupons & sales). The more organic and less grain the higher price the kibble/wet food is. I believe after much research diet is the number one cause of cancer in dogs and the cause of many allergies. Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs over the age of 10. If you cannot afford grain-free pet food at least purchase food that has meat as the main ingredient for your love one’s health.

There are special labeling requirements for pet food. AAFCO, The Association of American Feed Control Officials, does not regulate pet food, it does provide model regulations and standards that are followed by U.S. pet food makers. Although AAFCO has no regulatory authority, the Association provides a forum for the membership and industry representation to achieve three main goals:

  • Ensure consumer protection
  • Safeguarding the health of animals and humans
  • Providing a level playing field of orderly commerce for the animal feed industry.


The first ingredient is whats mostly in your pet food. Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight. About 50% of every food animal does not get used in human foods,the remains — heads, feet, bones, blood, intestines, lungs, spleens, livers, ligaments, fat trimmings, unborn babies, and other parts not generally consumed by humans — is used in pet food, animal feed and other products. These “other parts” are known as “by-products.” By-products are used in feed for poultry and livestock as well as in pet food. If the product has the words “dinner,” “entree,” “platter,” or “formula,” the ingredient named needs to be at least 25 percent of the product.

Compare your Pet Food

Chemicals vs. Natural Preservatives

Because dry foods need a long shelf life (typically 12 months), fats used in pet foods are preserved with either synthetic or “natural” preservatives. Synthetic preservatives include butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze), and ethoxyquin. For these antioxidants, there is little information documenting their toxicity, safety, interactions, or chronic use in pet foods that may be eaten every day for the life of the animal. Propylene glycol was banned in cat food because it causes anemia in cats, but it is still allowed in dog food.

Potentially cancer-causing agents such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are permitted at relatively low levels. The use of these chemicals in pet foods has not been thoroughly studied, and long-term build-up of these agents may ultimately be harmful. Ethoxyquin came under scrutiny in the 1990s after complaints of skin allergies, reproductive problems, cancer, and organ failure in some dogs given food with this preservative.

Some manufacturers no longer use ethoxyquin, BHA, or BHT, instead using natural preservatives such as vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and extracts of various plants, such as rosemary.

The bottom line is the more natural the pet food is, the better the food is going to be for your loved one to have a long healthy happy life!


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