Just looking at the pet food ads on TV and in magazines, you’d get the impression that all commercial pet foods are healthy. All those fresh ingredients could tempt you to try these pet foods yourself! Unfortunately, the truth about most pet foods may be far from what artful ads would have us believe. If you’ve ever opened a pet food can that was marketed as healthy, and then found a glob of unrecognizable, grayish something-or-other, then you probably know what I mean.
Now, if you’re already aware that not all pet food commercials and ads live up to their promises, you should ask yourself a simple question: how can I tell if a particular pet food is healthy? The answer to this is often hidden in plain sight, on the pet food label, often in the midst of a bunch of unfamiliar terms. To do well for your pet, you need to be able to interpret pet food labels correctly.
First and foremost, healthy pet foods contain real food ingredients.
Healthy commercial pet foods are made from natural food ingredients that reflect the needs of the pet for which the foods are intended. Remember that ingredients are listed in the order of their relative quantity in the pet food. Healthy dog and cat foods should contain animal-derived products as their first ingredients. The quality of these ingredients is absolutely essential to the health of your pet. If you see terms like ‘chicken meal’, ‘fish meal,’ ‘animal by-products,’ or ‘animal fat,’ you should know that these ingredients are of extremely low quality. Better choices are products that list terms that precisely describe the ingredient, such as chicken, cod, or animal parts, such as chicken heart or beef liver. Finally, the addition of synthetic chemicals 貓免疫力 should be kept to a minimum, as most of the available pet food supplements added routinely to pet foods are of low or questionable quality and value.
Second, healthy pet foods are certified organic.
This is true quite simply because organic ingredients are both safer and healthier for your pet. Organic ingredients are safer because their production and processing precludes by regulation the use of toxic manufacturing and processing chemicals. These include agricultural pesticides, fertilizers such as sewage sludge, hormones and antibiotics used to raise livestock, and toxic chemicals used during manufacture, including among others, fumigants, pesticides, and corrosive sanitizers. As well, organic ingredients can never include genetically engineered foods (some of which have been implicated in a variety of health problems, such as allergies or reproductive disorders). Increasingly, studies have shown that organic ingredients are healthier than their conventional counterparts, not only because they are free of toxic residues and diligently processed, but also because they contain more nutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and critically important trace elements.
However, you should be aware that only USDA certified organic claims are regulated and enforced by Federal law; other non-certified organic claims cannot be verified by an unbiased third party.
Third, healthy pet foods are made of human-grade quality ingredients.
Although it doesn’t seem to make much sense, there are both USDA certified organic ingredients for human consumption and USDA certified organic ingredients for animals (examples are eggs, peas, etc). The latter are called ‘feed-grade’ ingredients, and are approved for the use solely in pet foods. Feed-grade ingredients are certainly of lower quality than human-grade ingredients. So, if you’re searching for a healthy pet food, look out for the descriptive word ‘human-grade’ on the pet food package! Never assume that pet food manufacturers are required to tell the consumer whether they use human-grade or feed-grade ingredients; they aren’t. But they most certainly will indicate if they use human-grade ingredients because these are of higher quality (a major selling point) and more expensive to produce (a justification for charging more for their product).