Dog food advertisements feature beautiful dogs with shiny eyes, lustrous coats and brimming vitality in an attempt to convince the consumer that their products will give their dogs equal health and vitality.
Sadly, as a general rule, nothing could be less true. There have been eleven dogfood recalls in the first two months of 2013 alone.
Many factors go into the quality of the food your dog eats. Ingredient source and freshness, safety protocols employed throughout the manufacturing process, the particular preservatives used and even shipping and storage practices significantly impact product quality. Equally important are the ingredients themselves. Many manufacturers cut corners to save costs. Dog food manufacturing lacks the stringent standards of human food production. Less expensive foods often list generic meat sources on their labels such as “meal meal” or “meat by-products”. This can mean that virtually anything from euthanized companion animals to sick or diseased cattle considered unfit for human consumption have been included as part of the protein source for the food. Another way manufacturers contain costs is by putting “fillers” into their foods, such as wheat, corn, soy beans and pea fiber – foods not intended as part of the canine diet. Following are some of the potential ingredients in dog food that represent the greatest cause for alarm.
Should dogs eat corn?
Dogs were created as carnivores. Their digestive tracts are not as long as human beings’ and they are not as able to digest grains as we are. They are able to digest approximately 54% of the available protein before in corn before it passes through whereas they’re able to process 78% of meat (beef). Corn is a “filler” that provides bulk to the food (fiber) which dogs do not need. It reduces the cost of food production for the kibble manufacturer. A dog requires less food when it is corn free and has the added benefit of smaller poops!
Wheat is the most common grain that causes canine allergies
Wheat is another inexpensive “filler” ingredient frequently found in dog food. It also happens to be the grain to which dogs are most likely to experience an allergic reaction. Common signs of a wheat allergy in canines include scratching, ear infections (shaking ears/head), gas, seizures, rubbing bottom along the ground or carpet, vomiting and diarrhea.
By the time you pay the vet’s bills, feeding a no wheat, no corn, no soy quality diet represents a substantial savings!
Ingredients: road kill and euthanized pets
As horrendous as it sounds (and I am NOT trying to sensationalize) there is truly nothing to refute the persistent reports that road kill and euthanized animals are commonly included in the ingredients of lower quality dog foods. Be particularly concerned when the ingredient list includes such “generic” ingredients as “meat meal” and “meat by-products.”
Dog food ingredients: chicken feathers?
As appalling as it sounds, one of the primary ways dog food manufacturers save money is by using chicken feathers as a source of protein in the foods they produce. Feathers are an inexpensive source of protein when compared to meat products; however they offer little benefit to your dog. When the ingredient label reads “chicken by-products or chicken meal,” feathers, beaks and feet are likely part of the ingredient formula.
Aflatoxins are produced as a by-product of particular molds known as aspergilla, which are often found in corn either while it is still in the field or after it’s been harvested and stored. It is particularly common in seasons of drought or times of high temperatures combined with high humidity. Aflatoxins can and do cause liver failure leading to death. Young, elderly, and ill animals are particularly at risk, as are those who consume a contaminated diet for a period of time. Animals who consume tainted grains sometimes produce contaminated eggs and milk. Most susceptible grains are corn, cotton seed, millet, rice, wheat and peanuts.