A Pet Food Revolution

 A Pet Food Revolution

Where you buy your dog or cat food can be the difference between your pet surviving and thriving.

With a few exceptions, grocery stores have big name brands, and you might be swayed into saving a few dollars per bag. What these big names lack, however, is the quality nourishment that animal lovers advocate as necessary for long, energetic lives.  The money seemingly saved on cheaper pet foods in grocery store chains may surface as vet bills later, due to nutrition deficiencies and a host of other diet-related problems.

Actually, after a closer look at the pound-for-pound value between brands, health-conscious pet owners are saving money in the short term as well, feeding less scoops of nutritious kibbles than the indigestible, filler-heavy alternatives.

Flip the bag over

Eye-candy packaging and savvy marketing aside, many pet owners know the first three items on an ingredient list– positioned high or low by their percentage in the total food–will say a lot about the chow.  A nutritious choice puts emphasis on protein over carbohydrates.

Meat sources from specifically named animals (beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, bison, etc.) should take the top spot for a quality food, and ideally other forms of meat should rank high on the list as well.  Meat meal is just a dehydrated form of meat, and that’s also fine if it the animal of origin is specifically named.

Never buy a food that just lists “meat” or “fat” generically, because you never know what you’re getting. That also includes either named or unnamed by-products, which are the random re-purposed waste parts of slaughterhouse animals.

A healthy food contains nothing artificial, including flavoring, colors or preservatives.  What it should have is the complete array of essential vitamins and minerals to give your loved one the energy they need to sniff, lick, run and play out their days like they should.

Don’t Be Corny

Since about 1956, many pet foods marketed to the average American household use corn as their main filler. Not only does this cost-cutter have no nutritional value, it can cause allergies, making your special guy or girl miserable. Indigestible corn filler contains no exceptional nourishment, has a relatively high glycemic index and does not inspire energy.  Think of it as fast food for pets; it may taste good, but that’s about it.  Corn is one thing though.  It’s cheap.

Not only do companies save money by using it as a starchy base carbohydrate for kibble, they trick consumers into thinking that dog and cat food can be more affordable, when really it just makes their pets go to the bathroom more.  And that means more pockets stuffed with plastic bags during walks, more middle-of-the-night scratches at the door, more litter box changes and more “landmines” in the lawn.

Can a decent food contain corn in the list of ingredients?  Sure.  But relying on it as a fundamental part of the food doesn’t make sense for an animal’s welfare.

With 50 to 60 percent of cats and dogs in the US considered overweight or obese by veterinarians, it’s time for an overhaul of the way we think about feeding.

Live Long and Prosper

The name of the game is nutrition, and pet owners are waking up.

Just four companies own 80 percent of the pet food market, grossing in the neighborhood of $50 billion per year.  You guessed it, these companies own the brands that you’ll find on many grocery store shelves.  But do they put the well-being of your pets before their own profit margins?

As an empowered consumer, vote with your dollars and take your pet’s health into your own hands. You’ll reap the benefits of lower vet bills, less waste and a noticeable drop in allergies — plus, your domesticated friend will be at your side for a longer, more rewarding life.

Here’s to healthier, happier, more vivacious pets.