Many people are unaware of the dangers in the products they are buying. Most products on the market contain potentially life threatening ingredients. Ingredients such as by-products, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of vitamin K activity) and soy products our known to cause severe health problems, even death. Most foods are also full of fillers with no nutritional value such as corn and wheat products. When feeding a carnivore, which both cats and dogs are, the ingredients should be high in meats and fish such as chicken, turkey, salmon, and buffalo.
All food labels have the ingredients listed by weight in descending order. When picking out a pet food you should look for at least the first ingredient to be a meat source either a meal or just the meat. Example: Chicken can be displayed as the following: chicken, chicken meal, or chicken by-product. The most abundant source of chicken would actually be the chicken meal because the water is removed whereas the chicken still has water added so it is going to weigh more but contains less meat. However chicken meal has already been cooked before adding it to the rest of the raw materials thus making it processed twice. Ideally you would want to see chicken followed by chicken meal or vice versa. You never want any kind of by-product in your pet’s food. By-products are parts of the animal that are not for human consumption and are usually from spoiled meat which could include euthanized cats or dogs, and road kill!
Another important factor to consider is distribution. Where the food is made and where the ingredients come from are very important. Many well known “high quality” foods are made from low quality ingredients from China. When a company chooses to outsource the production of its food to a mass distribution center the quality control is very low. Most of the recalls that have happened have come from foods made by mass distribution centers.
At Pack Tracks we take pride in only selecting the best and safest products available so you can shop with confidence! We do not carry products that are outsourced or have any ingredients from China.
Your pet may experience some digestive upset during the transition to the new food. This is what we refer to as detoxing, the body cleansing itself. This process usually takes one to five days but may continue longer. Mixing in canned pumpkin into the food can help firm the stool or using a supplement for digestive aid. This is only needed short term until your pet has completed the transition period.
Switching to a food with grains:
It is best to gradually mix the old food and new food together over a period of one week. On the first and second day of mixing feed ¾ the amount of old food and ¼ the amount of new food. On the third and fourth day feed ½ the amount of old food and ½ the amount of new food. On the fifth and sixth day feed ¼ the amount of old food and ¾ the amount of the new food. On the seventh day feed 100% new food! For example if your daily feeding is 1 cup per meal. Each meal would be as follows:
Day 1 and 2 ¾ cup old and ¼ cup new = 1 cup per meal
Day 3 and 4 ½ cup old and ½ cup new = 1 cup per meal
Day 5 and 6 ¼ cup old and ¾ cup new = 1 cup per meal
Day 7 1 cup new
Switching to a food without grains or raw food:
Dogs and cats are carnivores; therefore grains aren’t utilized very well. When switching off of grains detoxing is something your pet’s body will have to go through. Due to this you can’t gradually mix your old food in especially when switching to raw food. Using supplements or canned pumpkin can help ease the transition if your pet experiences digestive upset; most pets do very well with the change on their own. One helpful way to ease the transition is to stay on the same meat protein when first switching. For example if you are feeding lamb for a protein now, switch to a new food with lamb in it that way not everything has changed. Then the next time you can switch proteins to avoid a nutrition deficiency.
There are many different ways to store pet food, most of which are not safe. Most commonly used are trash cans or other plastic containers. Though these are convenient, they are not made out of food grade plastic. This means dangerous toxins are being released into your pet’s food. One of which is ethoxyquin (used to keep rubber from oxidizing). This toxic ingredient can cause medical problems, like liver deterioration as well as behavioral problems.
High quality pet foods make packaging with natural barriers to protect the food. When storing pet food you should always keep the food in its original packaging. Then place the package and its contents into an air tight food safe storage bin. Once the package is open the food begins to oxidize and break down the nutrients and its freshness. Similar to a bag of carrots, they start to rot and lose nutritional value.
High quality dry food should only be open for 1 month because they don’t contain high amounts of chemicals and preservatives that are found in low quality foods.
Canned food should only be open for 48 hours, covered and refrigerated. Once the air reaches the food bacteria begin to grow (keeping food refrigerated slows down this process).
Raw food must always be kept frozen until needed. Thawing should happen in the refrigerator. All unused portions should stay in the refrigerator for no longer than 72 hours.
I often time get the question, “if my pet is on a high quality food why do I have to give supplements?” The reason is even the best foods on the market are processed; when something is cooked it loses nutrients. Even if a bag claims to have probiotics, glucosamine, etc. most of it will be lost in the cooking process. This means more often than not our pets have nutritional deficiencies. We can offset this by adding supplements to their daily diets. If you are feeding a raw diet you are more likely to have a more complete diet but I always recommend supplementing.
If possible supplements should be given in a less processed liquid form. Liquid supplements are water soluble making it quickly available for the body to utilize. All pets should have a high quality multi-vitamin added daily. For dogs I prefer Fido Nutrients by Liquid Health and for cats I prefer Feline Complete by The Wholistic Pet. All pets can also benefit from having an immune boosting supplement such as Immuno DMG by U.S. Animal. Supplements which can help with weight gain, weight loss, coat shine, shedding, and everything else you can think of!
Of course when a pet has a certain ailment such as sensitive skin or diabetes you should supplement accordingly. Such as fish oil for the sensitive skin and kidney/bladder support for the diabetes. Supplementing has helped every ailment and can be used in conjunction with most traditional medicine. Many pets have seen relief and better health when using supplements.
Wendy Shaw, Nutrition Consultant