Enhancing Commercial Diets

Commercial pet foods have been implicated in many diseases and health issues; including allergic skin disease, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ear infections, cystitis, kidney and bladder stones, certain heart disease, thyroid conditions, bloat, diabetes, hip dysplasia and gastrointestinal cancer. Just as easily as poor quality foods can cause disease, wholesome foods (especially homemade diets) can cure disease.

Commercially prepared canned and kibbled pet foods are processed at such high temperatures that most vital nutrients that may have been in an ingredient are lost during its processing. Many ingredients are stored for extended periods in less than ideal conditions, causing them to grow harmful molds and bacteria. The sourcing of ingredients for commercial pet foods is dubious at best. Current regulations governing pet food quality control standards have proven lethal for many pets. It seems the pet food industry is more often regulated by mandatory food recalls than any form of proactive quality control practices. That said, if you absolutely cannot provide homemade whole food meals, you must be very careful and selective about the commercial pet food you choose. Doing your homework and researching a company’s track record for recalls, ingredient sourcing, and if the processing plant is shared with other less reputable brands is just as important as reading and understanding pet food ingredient labels.

Ingredients to Avoid in Commercial Pet Foods

Any pet food label containing the word ‘meal’ (e.g. chicken meal) should be avoided because it contains rendered pieces of otherwise unusable animal parts. Pet food companies use meat meal for its high protein content and extremely low cost. Meat by-products (e.g. chicken by-product) consist of rendered animal parts that are deemed as “not fit for human consumption’. They often include feet, heads, feathers, fur, undeveloped eggs, tumors, diseased organs, processing plant run-off waste, and even euthanized dogs and cats sourced from vet clinics and shelters. If an ingredient is listed as ‘Meat’ instead of chicken, beef, lamb, etc. it means there’s a variety of dead animals that have been rendered together. Meat By-Product is by far the most harmful “protein source” and should always be avoided. Other ingredients that should be avoided include BHT, BHA, ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol.

While commercial pet foods can sustain the life of an animal, the quality of the animal’s life is compromised as it becomes increasingly susceptible to diseases and parasites.

Diet Transitioning

A common first step in transitioning pets from commercial pet foods is to begin adding healthy whole foods and supplements to the diet.  Some suggestions are listed below.

For (50lb) Dogs

  • 3 tbsp ground parsley, burdock root, zucchini or other greens (daily)
  • 1/2 tsp cod liver oil (3 x week) *Cod liver oil is excellent for cancer prevention.
  • 400 – 800 IU *non-synthetic vitamin E (dosage depends on age and size, so ask your vet about your dog’s specific needs)
  • Selenium (dose according to product label recommendation, or ask your vet)

For Cats

  • 1 tsp fresh minced parsley (an amazing kidney cleanser!)
  • 5 drops (50 IU) cod liver oil (3 x week)
  • 5 drops (50 IU) *Non-Synthetic Vitamin E (check with your vet about dose amount for your specific cat – too much can cause health issues in cats)
  • Selenium (dose according to product label recommendation, or ask your vet)

*Vitamin E is available in both natural and synthetic forms. Fully synthetic vitamins have the prefix “dl-” in their names, while all-natural products have the “d-” prefix. For example, “d-alpha-tocopherol” would be a natural form of vitamin E and “dl-tocopheryl acetate” would be a synthetic product.