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technodoll May 31st, 2006 09:24 PM

10 Secrets Pet Food Companies Don't Want You to Know
1. Pet food is NEVER mostly meat.

Many ads suggest that it is... In order to list a meat source first on the bag label pet food companies resort to a variety of gimmicks. Here are a few to get you thinking.

1st Listing, a "wet" ingredient in what ends up being an essentially dry finished product. Wet meat gets a lot lighter when the moisture is cooked out. This labeling loophole is blatantly deceptive to the general public. All ingredients should be weighed and listed in dry weight equivalents for you to know truly how much of each makes up the ration. If the label lists, "chicken" it means chicken weighed when wet. Drop 75% of the value. If, on the other hand, it says, "chicken meal" they play fairly. If it says, "meat (any type) by-product meal" or "meat (any type) by-products" it was never meat to begin with. Find another food.

Another gimmick is to "split carbohydrates" (grains) into multiple parts to get the "meat" to list first. Label ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. So, If you have 10 lbs. of chicken meal and 25 lbs. of rice, which should appear first on the label? Chicken of course! (if you want people to buy the stuff).
Here's how it's done...


Pretty sneaky and obviously deceptive unless you know the trick.
Rice Flour, Brewer's Rice and Rice ala Ronny could also have been listed if they really wanted to be fancy. A related tactic is to use a variety of grains with different names to get meat listed first. This is slightly more valid since they have different amino acid profiles and are truly different ingredients. Grains cost a lot less than meat. Meat "by-products" cost a lot less than meat. Both also have considerably less food value. The last gimmick for now is the campaign to convince the public that meat by-products and meat are just about the same thing.
Hmm... "Honey, I'm having a ribeye steak tonight and you're having a nice pile of by-products, ok?" "Would you like the chicken breast or the intestine-cartilage-beak medley with your rice, Bob?" "Well gee Dear, doesn't really make any difference to me, they all sound equally delicious, nutritious and healthy!"

By definition, by-products may contain anything from the specified animal except, (in the case of chicken), feathers and feces and, (in the case of beef), hoof, hide and feces. Meat and fat are separated out first because they are costlier and are therefore not present in any appreciable quantity. What's left is the bones, tendons, cartilage, beaks, feet and innards. Proudly displayed and masqueraded as meat. A pet food bag is not a place for dumping stuff of unknown nutritional value. Some foods even use the term , "SELECT by-products". All these contortions serve one purpose; To make you think that you're getting more meat than you really are in your bag of pet food. After all, who'd pay $35 for a bushel of corn?! Well, keep reading!

2. The cooking process used in pet foods KILLS off a vital component: enzymes.

In order to eliminate bacteria and make cutesy shapes that pets care nothing about, processing temperatures in excess of 160 degress F are used to extrude or bake your pet's food.

So what? Well, glad you asked. This places the entire burden for digestion on your pet's pancreas to supply the enzymes necessary for breaking down nutrients for absorption. In nature, this is far from the case. Animals naturally follow the path of "least digestive resistance" in the wild. Consider the fox who catches a rabbit. First item on the menu is the contents of the gut. Let the rabbit do the digesting and enjoy! The rabbit spent hours nibbling grasses and grains readying them for the fox's easy absorption of carbohydrates. Quick and cheap fuel. Next the fox buries or hides the rest to stew a spell. What we call, "turning rancid" the fox calls, "just getting better". In a couple days, the live enzymes in the rabbit meat have broken it down into easily digested protein. Notice how no fire was used in this process? For dessert, a little bone gnawing for the marrow, the calcium, and the teeth cleaning, and it's naptime. Left for the lower animals in the hierarchy are most of the by-products and the hide.

Let's get back to your pet. In puppies and kittens, the pancreas is usually robust and up to the task of supplying sufficient digestive enzymes to make dead food somewhat useable and fulfill it's other vital functions. With age, however, pancreatic function is weakened and often can't keep up with this undue burden. If the pet food fed day in and day out is of low nutritional value to begin with, the taxing effect on the system will be all the greater and the pancreas will most likely give up that much sooner. The consequences to your pet's health are too broad in scope to cover here.

3. Giving "real food" aka "table scraps" is the RIGHT thing to do!

Stepping on a lot of toes here to smash the myth that you should only feed the stuff from the bag and nothing else ever, PERIOD. What is it they are afraid of anyway? That your pet will learn to beg? Unlearn that. That your pet won't eat the chaff they call "food" after tasting the real deal? Probably. Or that it will throw the delicate balance of their finely tuned "nutrition" out of whack somehow? He He Hoo, hardly.

Here's the scoop... Providing real food (not potato chips or other junk food) in its raw form counteracts some of the deficit that can be caused by only feeding commercially prepared pet food. It can provide the living enzymes to make digestion an easy rather than burdensome process. But, don't just go wild and throw everything in the feeding trough. Good bets for pets are raw carrots, broccoli, yogurt, cheese, garlic and meats. Cooked oatmeal, rice, corn, squash and the like are fine too. Don't feed raw grains, legumes, potatoes, onions, celery or chocolate which are either unusable or unhealthy. If you aren't comfortable with raw meat and fish, don't do it. Keep in mind, they aren't people and have an entirely different gastro-intestinal system than we do. Introduce new foods a little at a time about three times a week to start and give your pet's pancreas a much needed break.

4. Most "vet recommended" foods pay mightily for the "honor".

Does it matter that the majority of vets know very little about pet nutrition? The public is told to, "Ask your vet". The vet is told by the pet food companies, "we'll send you to Hawaii for a week of golf if you sell and endorse XYZ brand pet food". In school, vets-to-be could ELECT to take an overview course in animal nutrition. Or not. There have been changes of late to make this required study. AS IT WELL SHOULD BE!

You are miles ahead if you understand the pet food label yourself and take the time to learn some basic nutritional concepts. It's not that complicated! Find out for yourself, trust your own judgement and ignore what people say who are getting paid to say it.

5. The #1 vet recommended brand is probably the #1 worst pet food value.

Without mentioning any names, if it lists corn as the first ingredient on the label and gets blasted by the competition for it, you know the company. Read the label! Compare it to the cheapest stuff you can find. There isn't a dimes worth of difference in most cases.

How much does it cost them to make a 40 lb. bag of this stuff you may wonder? Right? Sit down.
How about less than $3 including the cost of the bag? How much does the duped public shell out for the bushel of corn and peanut shells most recommended by vets? About $35. "Have a nice flight to Maui, Dr. Cutter and thanks again for your support".

6. Feeding "Soft-Moist" diets will cut your pet's life expectancy in half.

Thankfully, these foods are on the steep decline but aren't gone yet. Perhaps killing your customers isn't a good way to develop long term brand loyalty. These toxic morsels are so loaded with chemicals to stay soft and prevent molding and so laden with sugar to cover the harsh chemical taste, they rip a pet's insides out. The sweetness is addictive and you'll hear owners say, "Fifi just won't eat anything else". Well, then better buy the small bag because who knows how long Fifi will be eating at all? Anybody feeding this garbage should stop at once and the manufacturers of it should be faced with a class action.

7. Many companies have "slithered" away from using ETHOXYQUIN.

The once popular, and staunchly defended as safe, preservative (antioxidant) called "Ethoxyquin" has been mostly abandoned because of "hushed" litigation and settlements with professional breeders. It formerly was championed by pet food manufacturers (and others) as an advanced and healthy inclusion in pet food in an attempt to hide the fact that it was never intended to be eaten, much less on a daily basis. It was originally formulated as a rubber stabilizer and a color retention agent. Tires stayed pliable and spices stayed red. Despite efforts to get it approved as a food stabilizing agent in people food, it is only allowed for extremely limited application with colored spices. The people who know the devastating truth about this ingredient when eaten daily by pets have been paid off and forced to never tell their stories. There are innumerable instances of stillbirth, sudden liver failure, kidney dysfunction, permanent pigment changes, tumors and death thought to be caused by the addition of this wonder substance to pet food starting in about 1987. Much of the talk about ethoxyquin has quieted since the major pet food companies jumped off the bandwagon and switched to safer (and less legally troublesome) preservatives like forms of vitamins C. If they want the trust of the public, they should own up to their mistakes and come clean. Fat chance. All you'll get is denial.

8. Nature didn't intend for pets to eat dry food devoid of enzymes.

Convenience is paid for in reduced pet health. Where is it written that your pet's bowl has to be filled with chalk dry nuggets of quasi-nutritious ground up brown stuff? We've been sold on a bad idea. We bought it because it made life easier. Until the real bill comes, that is. But doesn't kibbled food make their teeth shiny and their breath fresh? Won't their teeth fall out if they eat soft stuff? Yeah, right. Ever watch your dog eat? Does it look like some kind of teeth cleaning exercise? How about the cat? Really getting the old gum line clean huh? The truth about teeth cleaning is this... sticks, rocks, yarn, bones, toys and saliva primarily accomplish this task, not food. Commercial pet food has to be flavor enhanced with digest and sprayed-on fat to be even remotely attractive to your pet. Without these palatability modifications, the old dry kibble would just sit there and get dusty. People get paid big money to invent coatings to make your pet dive headfirst into the food bowl. Because then you smile and feel like it must be healthy and that Fifi loves the food and you too so you'll buy it again. Right? Remember, the fox didn't go in search of a crunchy rabbit. It ate the soft one and it has a dazzling smile and a fully charged pancreas.

9. Some companies sneak sugar into pet food to hook your pet.

Watch out for these guys! They call it other things of course... (cane molasses, corn syrup) but it absolutely does not belong in your pet's food bowl. Processed sugars are foreign to dogs and cats and over the long term can result in obesity, tooth decay and diabetes (along with other maladies). Until 2 years ago, propylene glycol was being used as a sweet tasting preservative by those who must have cared much more about shelf life than about pet health. Thankfully, it has finally been banned. Pet food companies will tell you that the industry is tightly regulated and that your pet's health is being fastidiously protected. Do you buy that one? The FDA can't even keep up with human food and didn't lift a finger on behalf of the pet owners during the ethoxyquin debate.

The regulating body for pet food ingredients is AAFCO. The American Association of Feed Control Officials. The rules and definitions they adopt are made by those with vested interests and are enforced through "voluntary compliance". The fox guards the rabbit hutch here.

10. Almost all manufacturers use stool hardening agents in pet food.

Convenience again triumphs over pet health. Stool modifiers make clean up easier and mask the effects of nutrient malabsorption. Who's going to buy a pet food if you've got to SCRAPE up after your dog? It's easier to just stack those little bricks into a pile or kick them elsewhere. Consider however the strain on your pet's innards. Would you put concrete mix in your pancake batter? How about sawdust? If you were dieting, would you mix ground peanut shells into your breakfast cereal? Well, they do all that and more for your beloved pet. See if any of these made it into your pet food bag: sodium bentonite, powdered cellulose, beet pulp, tomato (or any other) pomace, ground peanut shells? The explanation for including these usually is that they are fiber sources for your pet's well being. Maybe a little truth there but not the real reason they are added. Whole grains provide great fiber content. A bit of bran would do well too. The real goal is to make you buy the food again because clean up time is so easy and enjoyable with brand XYZ's designer stools. Before you do this to your pet, try it yourself for a few days. One question to ask a company representative is this, "Aren't there times when my pet needs to evacuate it's system rapidly such as when a toxin is ingested or when the kitty or doggy flu comes around? Is having a cork in there at all times really a good idea? You'll then likely hear mumbling about "Our research..." and "regulating intestinal transit time for optimal nutrient absorption". Do you buy that one? If the food is good and fed properly, stools will be fine without forcing your pet to work a brick through their digestive and excretory systems.


Prin June 1st, 2006 02:43 AM

Yep... That's all I have to say about that.;)

Puppyluv June 1st, 2006 03:05 AM

11- Kibble is no cheaper/easier than feeding raw. :D

A+ on the list Technodoll!

liloaties June 1st, 2006 05:10 AM

I've heard about a lot of what you said from a friend of mine! She only feeds her dogs chicken that she has raised every month and killed just for them.. Haha. And a variety of other things like fish and what not.. But never any kibble.

I asked her what was the next best thing to that if I were to still feed my dog kibble. She recommended a few and we ended up buying California Natural. My dog really likes it.. And I have studied a bit on what was in it, but do you know much about that brand specifically?

I'm definitely not willing to buy what the vets tell me if it's bad for my dog.. I know that raising chickens for my dog may be a bit excessive, but if it's tons better for her, then I might look into it.

Thanks for all of the info!

rainbow June 1st, 2006 12:39 PM

California Natural is not bad but there are better foods out there like Timberwolf Organics, Solid Gold, Canidae.

California Natural has chicken meal, brown rice, white rice, sunflower oil, natural flavours, taurine, flaxseed, vitamins and minerals. So that's one meat source and two grains before the fat. Also, Prin did a good post on sunflower oil: [url][/url]

Check out the other foods I mentioned:


Also check out alot of the previous threads on this food forum. There's alot of good information here. Prin is the dry food guru and technodoll the raw food guru. :D

technodoll June 1st, 2006 01:21 PM

[QUOTE]Prin is the dry food guru and technodoll the raw food guru[/QUOTE]

oh my gosh! i got "promoted", yayyy! :D :p :o (giggling yet flattered). glad you don't mind me sharing the stuff i'm still learning about as life trots along, sharing knowledge (giving & receiving) is such a thrill!

White Wolf June 1st, 2006 02:04 PM

Thread stuck.

Prin June 1st, 2006 02:10 PM

[QUOTE=rainbow]Check out the other foods I mentioned:

And these:
They've all been recommended by members here at some point.:)

liloaties June 1st, 2006 03:35 PM

[QUOTE]California Natural has chicken meal, brown rice, white rice, sunflower oil, natural flavours, taurine, flaxseed, vitamins and minerals. So that's one meat source and two grains before the fat.[/QUOTE]

I guess I'm confused because the stuff that we have for Schatzi isn't the chicken meal. It's a lamb & rice formula. We also found some Sweet Potato and some sort of fish formula too. She doesn't seem to do very well with chicken.. Is this any better?

liloaties June 1st, 2006 03:55 PM

[QUOTE=Prin]And these:
They've all been recommended by members here at some point.:)[/QUOTE]

I checked out those websites and it looked like there were only a few of these brands available in my area (Michigan):

Natural Balance, Old Mother Hubbard, and Canidae (sp?). Would it be beneficial to my dog to switch from California Natural to one of these brands? She seems to be doing ok now with the lamb but now with all of this talk about dog foods, I'm not sure anymore! I want to be feeding her the best that I can without spending tons of money and works just as good. Adding another dog into the mix brings up concerns about food now. Do people commonly switch between different formulas to give a better variety, or stick to one?

Sorry for all of the questions..

Prin June 1st, 2006 04:02 PM

California Natural isn't a bad food... Wait.. I can't get the full ingredient list from their site. Do they put menadione in there?

liloaties June 1st, 2006 04:09 PM

I found on their website the ingredients..

Lamb Meal
Ground Brown Rice
Ground White Rice
Sunflower Oil
Beta Carotene

I don't have the bag anymore, though. We have a container we put it all in so I couldn't look at the bag.. =(

rainbow June 1st, 2006 07:08 PM

California Natural does not use menadione sodium bisulfite.

Liloaties - Welcome to the dog food rollercoaster....we've all been there at one time or other. :D

Any of the foods listed by Prin and myself are good. Not all dogs do well on the same food so pick one that your dog does well on. Give a food at least three months to see results. When you switch foods do so gradually. If your dog has been eating a crappy food and you're switching to a holistic one, she may experience lots of poop and maybe loose stools. Don't be alarmed as she's just detoxifying herself. :D

Prin June 1st, 2006 11:13 PM

Yeah, I saw that list, but they don't actually list all the vitamins and minerals... But if Rainbow says they don't use menadione, it's all good.

It looks good, but if your dog starts to get chubby, it's likely to be from the lamb (some dogs gain weight quickly on lamb).

rainbow June 1st, 2006 11:38 PM

I know California Natural doesn't use menadione in their chicken and rice formula so I presume they don't use it in their lamb and rice formula. :D

The only way of knowing for sure is to check the bag or give them a call (1-800-532-7261)

Mocha's mum November 18th, 2006 10:51 AM

Doggie food dilemma
YIKES!!! I've been reading this thread for a half hour, looking at the websites, and......YIKES!!! How do you decipher the nutrient panel on the dog food? How do you know what is good for your dog?? I have a hard enough time trying to figure out what's good for me to eat, and reading labels on the food that I buy. :confused:

Prin November 18th, 2006 12:55 PM

Well, I think the feel of this forum is that the more natural it is (i.e. the more ingredients you recognize) the better.:shrug: (that's a very vague general description...;))

But as always, if you need help, just post a question and we'll all do our best.:)

greaterdane November 18th, 2006 01:35 PM

Are we allowed to crosspost this on another site?

Angies Man November 18th, 2006 02:05 PM

[QUOTE=Prin;249393]Yeah, I saw that list, but they don't actually list all the vitamins and minerals... But if Rainbow says they don't use menadione, it's all good.

It looks good, but if your dog starts to get chubby, it's likely to be from the lamb (some dogs gain weight quickly on lamb).[/QUOTE]

From their website:

Included in our foods are some of the following: Ascorbic Acid, Beta Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Iodate, Choline Chloride, Cobalt Carbonate, Cobalt Proteinate, Copper Proteinate, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Dicalcium Pantothenate, dl-Methionine, Folic Acid, Iron Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate, Niacin, Potassium Chloride, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin C Supplement (Sodium Ascorbate), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement (Alpha Tocopherol), Zinc Proteinate[/I]

I'm a little skeezy about them saying that their products include "[I]'some'[/I] of the following:" I wonder what that means?

technodoll November 18th, 2006 04:53 PM

[QUOTE]Are we allowed to crosspost this on another site?[/QUOTE]

of course! the more people know about it, the better! :highfive:

Daisy2943 December 17th, 2006 12:26 AM

What is some affordable dog food? Every where i turn some one is saying something different about dog food. My grandma feeds her dogs science diet, which has been recommended by her vet and the Ohio State Unjiversity veteniary clinic. My grandma does research on this stuff all the time. Others suggest Iams which i read the ingredients and compared it to what was shown in this thread and none of them are on it. Which is better Natural Choice, Iams, Science diet, or Eukanuba. My vet said eukanuba puppy food is bad for puppies. It has to much fat in it to fatten the puppy up that some dogs can't handle it and have nonstop dirahhea. I know my cocker spaniel had this problem.

Prin December 17th, 2006 12:33 AM

None of the above. :shrug: Unfortunately "good food" and "cheap" don't go together.

Prin December 17th, 2006 12:36 AM

Ok, I thought about it and I think the cheapest good food is Canidae... Kirkland lamb and rice is ok (from Costco), but it's not holistic or anything, and definitely not up there with the great foods, but it's cheap.

erykah1310 December 17th, 2006 12:48 AM

What bout wellness??? It doesnt seem so bad, and a reasonable price too:shrug:

Prin December 17th, 2006 12:49 AM

Yeah, it's ok too.:) There are a lot of foods in the $60-$70 range that are awesome.:)

erykah1310 December 17th, 2006 12:51 AM

Boooh ya! :D :crazy: I am finally semi sorta knowledgable enough to input my thoughts on dog food!:thumbs up lol:D

tjrm63 March 10th, 2007 08:38 PM

To all you dog food gurus out there, have you ever heard of DR. HARVEYS
all natural human quality ingredients, you add boiling water to it and add your own protein source. I was wondering if anyone has tried it or what they thought of the quality

Jellybean April 27th, 2007 06:07 PM

[QUOTE=erykah1310;337908]What bout wellness??? It doesnt seem so bad, and a reasonable price too:shrug:[/QUOTE]

Wellness is the dog food I recently changed to for my Boston Terrier. I like the ingredients. She prefers the dry kibbles, and I soften it a bit with water and then add either some boiled hamburger or chicken (whichever we are having!). I've seen such a difference in her activity level, and she runs to the bowl in anticipation of her meal, which, of course, I love to see! She had been eating Science Diet but really didn't like it; and it caused her to have very loose stools.

I'm thinking about getting a Siamese cat, and the breeder and I talked about dog and cat foods. She also feeds her cats Wellness - but only the dry because she feels the canned is not as good (perhaps "grainy", as Prin mentioned in another post). I'm going to give her the canned Wellness I bought so that she can give it to her chickens! (she says they [U]love[/U] it! ) :)

heidiho April 27th, 2007 07:21 PM

# 6 Are they talking about canned wet food(fancy feast) or what not?/And yipee i thought oatmeal would be ok for them,so dry food and oatmeal from now on for roxy..

mydogs May 6th, 2007 05:18 PM

just don't know
I have 5 bags of food that i just bought,don't know what to do.:finger i'm feeding my miki and maltese Natural balance dog food rolls does ANY BODY know if there any good:sad: I just bought solid gold,Origen,Exclusive,Wenaewa but they turned there braty little noses up I have to feed them tonight i'm afraid of Natural Balance now because they recalled a few of there foods HELP:fingerscr

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