Choosing Safer and Smarter Pet Food and Treats – The 5 Icon Rules
1. Be a pet label detective! TURN OVER THE BAG and READ ingredient lists with a critical eye! Don’t just look at the “pretty pictures” on package fronts! Identify chemical preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors and just say NO to glycerin, propylene glycol, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and other chemicals. Less is More: Find products with fewer ingredients. If the ingredient list overwhelms you with dozens of ingredients in unreadable fonts, look for better products that don’t HIDE what’s INSIDE!
2. Choose products with Prounounceable ingredients. Choose products with whole-food based ingredients that you KNOW and can PRONOUNCE. Not all unfamiliar ingredients are “bad,” but if you don’t understand an ingredient, look it up online and make sure it’s something you want your pet to consume every day. If not, don’t use the product. Avoid OVER-SUPPLEMENTATION! Be wary of treats, snacks, and food toppers that are full of synthetic nutrients. Every complete pet food is required by law to have a full daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals. Whole food ingredients can deliver many of the same benefits without risking overuse.
3. Choose Purposeful Products without Needless Fillers. Just because a product says its “ALL NATURAL” doesn’t mean that the ingredients serve a PURPOSE! Ingredients should not be in a product unless they are there to make your animal companions healthier and happier. This is the only honest PURPOSE of any ingredient in a pet food, treat, or chew. Ingredients that you don’t recognize and can’t pronounce may be FILLERS designed to generate a “healthier” profit margin instead of of making your pet healthier. Gluten meals, glycerin, grains and flours, tapioca, peas, and pea protein are just SOME common ingredients that, in excess, are simply “fillers” that contribute little or nothing to a dog or cat’s health and vitality. Seek out species-appropriate nutrition with high levels of digestible meat protein and low carbohydrate levels. Ingredients may claim to be “natural” or even be “Certified Organic,” but if they serve no defined purpose they too are fillers. It’s far better to have a high meat conventional diet than a cereal-filled “organic” diet.
4. DON’T BUY INTO “PET HUMANIZATION.” The big buzz word in the pet trade magazines is “humanization.” It’s thrown around constantly as a driver of increased spending on pets, and the message to manufacturers is, “make your products sound like people food and you’ll sell more.” But while there is nothing wrong with HEALTHY formulations using novel but purposeful ingredients, as a rule humanization of pet diets isn’t smart nutrition, it’s manipulative marketing. While it’s true that our companion animals have increasingly become four legged family members, they are NOT PEOPLE. Their evolutionary biology and DNA are obviously quite different from ours, so they need to eat different foods in different proportions than we do. “Human grade” ingredients are intuitively appealing; after all, why should we “punish” our pets by making them eat food that is inferior in quality to ours? But the crucial point is whether we are providing the right nutrients to keep dogs and cats healthy, from clean and pure sources, that are appealing to the animals based on their innate evolutionary diets. You may not want to chow down on hearts, livers, kidneys, lung, and other organ meats; but your dog or cat can thrive on these protein-rich nutrient powerhouses. As long as they are from clean, government inspected, and properly-handled meat sources, organ meats are winners for dog and cat diets. The main point is providing a significant percentage of caloric intake from digestible animal-based proteins like muscle and organ meats, eggs, or dairy. This provides the full spectrum of essential amino acids. Healthy fats and oils are second, and select vegetables, fruits, and legumes can provide plant based immune-boosting phytonutrients. Last AND least should be starches, grains, rice, potatoes, and other carbohydrate-heavy ingredients. These tend to be the worst culprits contributing to canine obesity. The bottom line is, feel free to spoil and pamper your pets like crazy; have them sleep in your bed, throw them big parties, and buy the priciest designer gear and duds. Or don’t! They will love you just the same if you love them. BUT don’t translate that “pampering” into food decisions and ruin your dog’s health by feeding the wrong foods or excessive amounts of any food. Don’t get hung up on “humanization!” Pet foods that are designed to sound like people food may be misleading you. Remember, our companion animals are NOT “little people!” As carnivores or carnivorous-leaning omnivores, cats and dogs have very different dietary needs than humans.
5. Get a “Pet Food Divorce” if your pet is not looking good and feeling GREAT! Don’t stay “married” to pet foods and treats that aren’t giving your pet these benefits. Healthy, soft coats- NO excessive shedding. Clear eyes and ears without “goopy” stuff; Good energy and playfulness- NOT constant hyperactivity. Don’t buy a product just because it’s constantly advertised! Sounds obvious, right? Why keep feeding a pet food or treats if you are seeing negative results? Here are the results that you SHOULD expect from a pet food, treat, chew, or food topper: A nice smelling pet, but NOT from overshampooing or perfumes; Healthy dogs and cats should NOT smell super-funky unless there is a good reason (like rolling in disgusting wild animal poop or garbage, for example- YUCK!). Good energy, playfulness, and age-appropriate vitality- NOT constant hyperactivity and uncontrollable behavior as can be caused by high levels of refined carbohydrates or chemicals in the diet. Don’t buy a product just because it’s constantly advertised on TV, radio, and online. Seek out artisan value brands by learning to read labels and choosing by QUALITY, not the best commercials! If a company spends too much on advertising and marketing ,how can they also buy the best ingredients? Therefore, the more you see a company on TV, the more mediocre their products may be. CONCLUSION: Make sure that you are getting the results that you and your pets DESERVE from your food and treat choices. Want more info? Read Is it Time for a Pet Food Divorce? in the educational “Founders Articles” section of the Clear Conscience Pet® website for a detailed article about when you should “break up” with your current pet food! Transparency Disclosure: Clear Conscience Pet DOES NOT sell dog food,so these tips are not a disguised food sales pitch! We want you to be honestly informed to make the best possible choices. BUT we DO proudly offer SuperGravy holistic instant dry gravy mix for dogs. It’s the Most Awarded Pet Food Topper in the industry (5 awards!) and also the best value (.40 per serving!) in the food topper category. We also have created a unique line of multi award-winning artisan crafted crunchy treats (Lamb Airy Bites and Airy Bark), naturally enhanced Beef and Lamb Trachey Chewz, and SLIDERS(R) brand tender meat treats.