DRY PET FOOD FICTION AND EXTRUSION DELUSION

This blog show you that what dogs and cats eat is absolutely not dry pet food fiction
This blog shows you that what dogs and cats eat is absolutely not dry pet food fiction

What better way to introduce today’s topic of dry pet food fiction than show you the first of two videos. This is because I believe in setting the stage so that pet parents can decide for themselves. It’s not an attempt to persuade. There is no marketing agenda. 

All pet caregivers are faced with the same decisions when it comes to choosing what to give their dogs and cats to eat. Being informed helps you decide what is best and what is affordable. Each family has its own unique circumstances. Nevertheless, I’m sure you all want your pets to be happy and healthy, and lead the kind of life they deserve.

THE REALITY BEHIND PET KIBBLE

What Are The Ingredients?

Let’s take a look at what actually goes into making pet kibble. The following list shows the main ingredients.

  • meat
  • meat by-products (parts not generally for human consumption, by-product meal either named or unidentified)
  • grains (corn, wheat, rice)
  • pulses (chickpeas, beans, lentils, soybeans)
  • potatoes
  • vegetables
  • synthetic vitamins
  • synthetic minerals

Please take note that this type of dry food is high in calories. As a result, it’s very easy for a pet to become overweight. This usually occurs if it free feeds (grazes) and doesn’t get measured quantities at specific meal times.

Exactly How Is Kibble Made?

After studying the manufacturing process in considerable detail, I have been calling the marketing and sale of these products dry pet food fiction. That’s because they have really low nutritional value and frequently contain ingredients that cause harmful health effects, both long term and short term. 

As you may have already realized, dry food for both dogs and cats is highly processed. That translates into a diet that does little to provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.

With the exception of a very small number of businesses that make commercial oven-baked dry food, around 95 percent of all kibble is manufactured by extrusion. Prepare yourself for what comes next! This is the reality behind pet kibble!

The Extrusion Delusion

In the extrusion process, the dry and wet ingredients are mixed together and pulverized to form a dough-like consistency. It is then fed into an expander for cooking and subjected to extreme pressure and high temperature.

In the next step, the dough is extruded (forced) through a specially shaped die, cut into pellets, and passed through a dryer. The pellets are then sprayed with fats, oils and synthetic additives such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. This step is aimed at replacing these natural substances which the food will have lost during the manufacturing process.

Finally, the finished product is packaged ready for shipping to stores. 

Why Is Dry Pet Food So Popular?

Despite the fact that kibble is not the best option out there, these are the main reasons why people choose to give it to their pets.

  • convenience…open the bag, scoop and serve
  • time-saving…no preparation required
  • relatively long shelf life before spoiling
  • can be used in automatic feeders
  • can usually be left out in the food bowl all day before it starts to go rancid
  • generally more economical than other food alternatives

To Sum Up

This article is just one of many more I intend to write on the topic of mealtime foods, snacks and treats. In a couple of weeks you’ll be able to read about a presentation I attended in Florida given by a nationally-respected advocate for pet food transparency. Her name…Susan Thixton. What she told us is life-changing!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

THE PET FOOD MEAT FACTS

The Carnivore, Herbivore, Omnivore Quiz

If you’re unsure what to feed your dog or cat, take a look at these pet food meat facts.

What’s The Difference

But, before I really get into this, it’s helpful to understand what comes naturally. And, what our pets need to eat to be strong and healthy and stay that way throughout their lifetime. So here’s a quick quiz.

What’s the difference between a carnivore, a herbivore, and an omnivore?

Carnivores, such as wolves, dogs and cats, eat meat.

Bobcats are carnivores, shown here hunting for prey. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service South East Region
Bobcats are carnivores, shown here hunting for prey. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service South East Region

Herbivores, such as deer, cows and sheep, eat plants.

Deer are herbivores, seen here eating a plant. Photo by lwctoys
Deer are herbivores, seen here eating a plant. Photo by lwctoys

Omnivores, such as whales, squirrels and humans, eat meat and plants.

Whales are omnivores, here a humpback feeding. Photo by Murray Foubister
Whales are omnivores, here a humpback feeding. Photo by Murray Foubister

Why is this so important? Because once you understand the basics, you may realize that what dogs and cats need to eat may not, in fact, be what you are giving them to eat. And the purpose of today’s blog is to help pet parents choose the most appropriate diet for their companion animals.

What Comes Naturally To Dogs And Cats

Dogs and cats are not vegetarians. They are carnivores. Consequently, I am laying out here why pet carnivores must eat meat. This is a characteristic that has been handed down from their wildlife ancestors. Their anatomy, including their digestive system, was created for that purpose. The fact is, they are ill-equipped to break down plant fiber. Simply said, they were not created to be either herbivores or omnivores.

So, when our dogs and cats eat high quality meat that comes from a reputable source it will contain the proteins, amino-acids and trace minerals that their bodies require. 

A Balanced Diet For Canines

The wolf is the ancestor of our domesticated canine
The wolf is the ancestor of our domesticated canine

The fundamental component of a well-balanced diet for our domesticated canines is meat, organ and muscle. And the source may be beef, bison, venison, elk, lamb, goat, duck, chicken, and turkey. These are, indeed, the facts about meat for all dog pet food.

No kibble for this stray because dogs are carnivores and must eat meat. Photo by Tiia Monto
No kibble for this stray because dogs are carnivores and must eat meat. Photo by Tiia Monto

Nutritionists also recommend including small amounts of antioxidant-rich, dark green vegetables, such as spinach, kale and broccoli. In addition, small portions of fruits like apple, pear and blueberry will enrich the nutritional value of the diet as well.

A Balanced Diet For Felines

This big cat keeps its prey, a gazelle, away from rival predators. Photo by Leyo
This big cat keeps its prey, a gazelle, away from rival predators. Photo by Leyo

It’s no secret. Cats are obligate carnivores, just like their canine counterparts. Their very existence depends on meat and animal organs. Have you ever watched an outdoor cat in the evening hours? Sooner or later, it will catch a mouse. Why? Because it can only get the fatty acids, minerals and vitamins it needs to thrive from animal tissue. Especially important are calcium, vitamin A and niacin, which plant tissue simply doesn’t have, either in the amount, form or ratio that cats need. So, it couldn’t be clearer. Our domesticated kitty carnivores must eat their meat.

The pet food meat facts show that outdoor cats hunt prey, focus on nutrient-rich organs. Photo by Fabian Köster
The pet food meat facts show that outdoor cats hunt prey, focus on nutrient-rich organs. Photo by Fabian Köster

Another point worth mentioning is that although cats lack the enzymes required to digest plant-based foods, small amounts can provide important benefits. Green, leafy vegetables help them detoxify the colon. In addition, they may also enable hairballs to get pushed through the digestive tract or provoke vomiting to expel them.

A Couple Of Great Supplements

Although I will be writing about food supplements at another time, here are some very brief comments about two of them.

Sardines are loaded with nutrients and both dogs and cats love them.
Sardines are loaded with nutrients and both dogs and cats love them.

Sardines. Fortunately, most dogs and cats love sardines. They are loaded with a whole range of highly concentrated nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins D and B12. This small, cold-water fish provides wide-ranging health benefits from bone support to cardiovascular performance to preventing certain allergies and slowing down memory loss.

Pumpkin is a natural stool-consistency regulator, ideal for our pet dogs and cats
Pumpkin is a natural stool-consistency regulator, ideal for our pet dogs and cats

Pumpkin. I always have a can of organic pumpkin handy in case a client of mine is out of town and their pet is in need of a stool-consistency regulator. Usually, dogs as well as cats like the taste and a small amount added to the food works in one of two ways. It either adds bulk to a loose stool, or it will soften a hard stool. 

To Sum Up

If you didn’t know this before, you now have the pet food meat facts at your fingertips. As a result, the domesticated cats and dogs that are part of your family will have a species appropriate diet. Truly nourishing food that will foster longevity by keeping them healthier, longer.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  


OLDER PETS NEED PROTEIN

Older pets need protein even more than when they were younger
Like this Mastiff, older pets need protein to help the aging process

Contrary to what was previously thought, older pets need protein even more than when they were younger. That’s right. Senior dogs and cats actually need more, not less, protein from a nutritious diet of meat and fish.

Their kidney, liver and immune functions need extra help during the aging process and they get that by eating quality protein that is easily digestible and has sufficient moisture content.

ANCESTRAL TIMES 

The focus today is on meat. Meat is protein. And carnivores, like domesticated dogs and cats, and their ancestors in the wild, eat meat. That said, let’s take a look at protein.

THE FACTS ABOUT PROTEIN 

A dog’s and cat’s body is made up almost entirely of protein which also plays a role in vital body functions such as digestion. In the digestive process, substances are either utilized or eliminated. 

Protein needs to be eaten daily because the body doesn’t store it for future use like it does fat. The body needs both sufficient protein as well as good quality protein to perform satisfactorily.

THE POWER OF LIVER 

This organ—not eaten nearly enough by humans, by the way—has enormous nutritional value. It is packed with protein and is rich in minerals such as iron, trace minerals, and amino acids, as well as vitamins A, D and all the Bs.

So now, hopefully, we can all agree on the benefits of feeding our canine and feline friends meat and why older pets need protein from this source. But, do we all agree on when older pets actually become senior pets? Let’s find out.

SENIORS – HOW VETERINARIANS AND GUARDIANS DISAGREE

It’s quite interesting to discover that veterinary professionals and pet parents have different ideas on the age that dogs and cats enter the “senior” category. A study shows that they do not agree. Veterinarians consider it starts earlier than pet parents do. Here’s the breakdown.

Dogs:

  • Most veterinarians and their staff say it is between 5 and 7 years old.
  • More than half of pet parents think it is between 7 and 9 years.

Cats:

  • Most veterinarian professionals say by age 9. 
  • Most pet parents think it is by age 11.

Are you surprised by the stats? I certainly was!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

SHARING A COMMENT 

After reading a teaser I had posted on LinkedIn about this topic, I received a brief comment from Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, Professor Emeritus at Tufts University, near Boston, Massachusetts, which I would like to share with you. “Unless they have renal insufficiency…”

UNETHICAL PET FOOD MARKETING

Ingredients + Labeling, Harmful + Worthless

Consumers are getting smarter. Many have had enough of today’s unethical pet food marketing hype and are turning their backs on manufacturers without morals. They now realize that the industry leaders have been seeking maximum profits at their—our—expense. But they are fighting back and expect to be told the truth.

Worthless Labeling Tricks

It’s just not right when caring pet guardians are confused by ambiguous wording in advertising slogans and product descriptions. When shopping for dog and cat supplies at the grocery store or specialty pet store, people see a word or phrase on a bag or can of food and think they know what it means. But do they really? Needless to say we all realize that some advertising claims can be misleading. Even so, I’m sad to say that pet food industry deception is also part of this problem. 

Harmful Ingredients Disguised

To give you some examples, here are the most common words you will read on a pet food label. In addition, this is our guide as to what they really mean and what the use of these words actually signifies.

This cat parent is wondering what "complete and balanced" really means since manufacturers use unethical pet food marketing like this to maximize profits
This cat parent is wondering what “complete and balanced” really means since manufacturers use unethical pet food marketing like this to maximize profits

Natural

The word natural leads us to believe that it is good, harmless, and something that has worth. However, what do these four letters actually tell us? Absolutely nothing. It’s that simple. 

Grain Free

When pet food is labeled grain free, that is good. The reason is that dogs and cats do not have a digestive system that enables them to process the cellulose found in plants. Nevertheless, there is a down side. Manufacturers replace these grains with other substances, such as soybeans and potatoes, to provide the required consistency. Unfortunately, such ingredients aren’t good either. However, they are considered acceptable if they are kept to a bare minimum. That said, other alternatives would be more costly which is why they are not part of the formula.

Protein

High quality meat and fish protein is beneficial, very beneficial, in fact. On the other hand, though, proteins that comes from sources that are potentially harmful to carnivorous pets, need to be avoided. 

No By-Products

On its own, this phrase is very misleading. That’s because liver is classified as a by-product yet it is highly nutritious. Road kill and euthanized animals also fall under this heading and continue to be used in the manufacture of pet food with deadly consequences. This should truly shock every single pet parent.

Scientifically Formulated

What? I would certainly hope that pet food companies rely on food scientists to formulate the products they sell and that this task is not done by some amateur in their home-based kitchen. So, is scientifically formulated supposed to convey that the nutritional benefits claimed by a company are scientifically supported by clinical studies? I guess we’d have to ask them to find out. So, this is just another instance of unethical pet food marketing hype.

Complete And Balanced

Really! According to whom? “Complete and balanced” in the eyes of the manufacturer? Or in the eyes of a nutritionist with a university degree? I hope all my readers can see through this nonsense since it’s a clear cut case of pet food industry deception aimed at driving sales.

Reliable Sources

It really is no wonder that most pet parents are confused. But, on top of that, some are downright angry. It takes effort and it can be time consuming to be properly informed. However, pet guardians have to do their research. They need to pick out reliable sources that are independent experts. These are definitely not people paid by powerful manufacturers who want to perpetuate their persuasive misinformation and profit-driven agenda.

To Sum Up

This article is just one of many more I intend to write on the topic of mealtime foods, snacks and treats. I’ll also orient you on where to go for unbiased publishing and news reporting. After all, a nutrition-rich diet will allow your dogs and cats to have the kind of lifestyle they deserve. So, please start today, if you haven’t already. See you soon!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!