We always want the best for our furbabies, especially when it comes to their health and well-being. We tend to look on the internet to determine whether what we are feeding our pet is healthy, often to find conflicting recommendations on what ingredients are beneficial for our fur-besties. This sometimes leaves us with uncertainty and misconceptions around pet food ingredients.
Today we will bust some myths and misconceptions around pet food ingredients by looking at scientific research!
Misconception #1: Meat meals and by-products are bad
Meat by-products are non-rendered, clean parts of the carcass which includes a variety of organs. This does not include horns or hooves, hair or hide, intestinal contents, or feathers from poultry.
When people think of meat by-products, they think of a poor-quality product compared to skeletal meat.
But by-products may actually provide more essential nutrients. Bones and organ-meat, for example, can provide your fur-kid with calcium and vitamin A, nutrients not found in skeletal meats.
In fact, adding some by-products to your pet’s diet may actually be beneficial for them!
The rendering of by-products creates meat meal. Rendering is a cooking process that involves separating fat, and drying the remaining product to get a protein-rich powder.
Meat meal can be digestible and may actually be an excellent source of protein and essential amino acids.
However, how the by-products are sourced and rendered can affect the quality of protein meals produced and its protein digestibility.
Discuss with your vet about the digestibility of protein found in specific pet food, so as to determine the best options for your pet.
Opt for single-meat meal (e.g. Beef meal & Lamb meal) compared to meat meal. This is to ensure that you know exactly what you are feeding your pet (especially if your pet has allergies!).
Misconceptions #2: Carbohydrates are indigestible
It is true that dogs and cats lack the salivary enzyme responsible for beginning the process of digesting carbohydrates. However, both dogs and cats have sufficient intestinal disaccharidases and pancreatic amylase to digest efficiently processed carbohydrates.
But there are some things to consider before you start feeding your pet carbohydrates. To make the starches more digestible for them, carbohydrates should be cooked properly.
High amounts of poorly digestible carbohydrates and simple sugars (from not cooking carbohydrates properly) may cause adverse changes in intestinal metabolism.
The benefits of feeding your pets carbohydrates?
Feeding dogs and cats some carbohydrates can allow them to use the resulting glucose from post-absorption.
Glucose helps your pet meet their physiological needs. It is required by their red blood cells, brain and nervous tissues, mammary gland during lactation, pregnant uterus and renal medulla and testes!
Misconception #3: Preservatives and additives should be avoided completely
Pet food companies use preservatives on food to prevent it from becoming rancid and mouldy, maintain nutritional value and to inhibit bacteria growth. This is to extend the shelf-life of the food.
Preservatives can come in two forms: natural (Vitamin E or Mixed tocopherols) and synthetic.
Synthetic antioxidants can be considered safe when used in the right amount of doses. But there are some synthetic preservatives and additives that may have adverse effects to your pet’s health in high doses. This can be a problem as there is no requirement for pet food companies to label preservatives.
Sulphur dioxide and sodium and sulphite preservatives, for example, may cause thiamine deficiency and even be fatal. Try to avoid these preservatives when choosing the right pet food for your fur-kid. If you are uncertain, discuss with your vet about the best options for your pet.
At The Golden Bone Bakery, we maintain the quality of our products with one of the oldest and all-natural method of preservation – drying. Moisture is reduced to the point that can prevent food spoilage. This allows your furbaby to enjoy all-natural, preservative and additive-free treats and chews.
Misconceptions around pet food ingredients – Unlocked!
Laflamme, D., Izquierdo, O., Eirmann, L., & Binder, S. (2014). Myths and Misperceptions About Ingredients Used in Commercial Pet Foods. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 44(4), 689-698. doi:10.1016/j.cvsm.2014.03.002
Malik, R., & Sibraa, D. (2005). Thiamine deficiency due to sulphur dioxide preservative in ‘pet meat’ – a case of déjà vu. Australian Veterinary Journal, 83(7), 408-411. doi:10.1111/j.1751-0813.2005.tb13076.x