Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Study Finds Heavy Metals in Many Pet Foods

We all want to know what is in our pet’s food, especially in light of the frequent pet food recalls. The journal Spectroscopy recently published the article, Analysis of Toxic Trace Metals in Pet Foods…Part I.¹ Researchers tested 58 unidentified cat and dog foods, including canned and dry foods, with price ranging from budget to premium. They looked for 15 potentially harmful or toxic elements and found that many of the foods did contain elevated levels of these substances. Researchers pointed out possible sources of these toxins in some pet foods, including additives like synthetic Vitamin K, and minerals. Authors stated, “The essential minerals and other additives may contain significant concentrations of heavy metals.”

If a pet food claims to be “natural with added vitamins and minerals,” those vitamins and minerals are NOT natural. This statement is actually a disclaimer, required by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). It alerts pet owners that the product contains synthetic nutrients.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ingredients #1 Consideration When Selecting Pet Food

What are the top three things you consider when shopping for pet food? We put that question to our Facebook fans and heard back from people very passionate about caring for their pets. While our survey was not a controlled, scientific exercise, the results do shed some light on how shoppers are wading through all the pet food marketing, labeling, and packaging out there. Not surprisingly, pet food ingredients received the greatest scrutiny.

Pet owners want the products they feed to contain only high-quality ingredients. They look for high levels of protein, coming from quality meat and other animal sources, like

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why Cats Need Taurine & What to Look for in Cat Food

Recently the topic of taurine in a cat’s diet appeared in a pet health discussion group. Many of us who share our homes with feline companions have heard something about this amino acid, but don’t really know why we should care about it. Armed with some key information, cat parents can make sure their “masters” are getting enough.

What is Taurine?

Taurine is an amino acid, one of many that the body uses to build protein. Taurine contributes to a cat’s health in a number of ways, including supporting vision, digestion, and heart function. This essential amino acid gets particular attention in

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pet Food Ingredients: Beware of Overly Simple Advice on Reading Labels

Pet websites and blogs are filled with tips about how to understand pet food labels. A quick search on the internet yielded several articles with suggestions about what should and shouldn’t be in the first three, four, or five ingredients listed on your pet’s food. While such recommendations may be rough starting points to evaluating pet foods, advice to avoid products with “X” in the top few ingredients is too simplistic, given pet food labeling regulations and manufacturing practices. A few other considerations will help pet food shoppers get the best food for their animal companions.

Pet Food Labels

Consumers are increasingly aware that they cannot rely solely on the marketing of pet

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Saving Money with Premium Dog Food

By Paris Permenter and John Bigley

“You are what you eat” may be trite but it’s true for dogs as well as humans. Maintaining a healthy diet is key to good health. Premium dog food containing quality ingredients is an investment in your dog’s health that saves you money down the line.

Premium dog food means dog food made with premium ingredients, from specific meats (lamb, chicken, beef, not “animal by-products”) to whole fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Taking the time to read the labels on dog food and really examine the ingredients ensures that you’re spending money on food that will help your dog stay healthy and fit.

During a time when budgets are tight, some people think they’ll save money by

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Grain-Free Pet Food Trend: Are We Focusing on the Right Things?

Recently, Pet Business, a trade publication for the pet industry, published the article, TrendWatch 2011¹. In it they reported that the grain-free pet food trend will continue to create a big market for pet companies in 2011, citing digestibility, allergies, and obesity as reasons some seek grain-free foods for their dogs and cats. The article lacks some detail about pet food ingredients, leaving the impression that grain-free foods are needed to improve the health of pets. In reality, grain-free foods are just one of a larger group of pet diets formulated to be more carnivore-appropriate, and the grain-free label does not necessarily indicate overall quality nutrition.

Natural Diet for Carnivores

In the wild, dogs and cats are meat-eating predators. They get the majority of their nutrients from meat and poultry, including organ meat, bone, and animal fat. In addition, they obtain a small fraction of their nutrients from predigested fruits, vegetables and grains in the stomach of their prey, and from the little that they will