Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Consumer Reports is Dead Wrong about Pet Food

Recently Consumer Reports published Six Ways To Save On Your Pet.¹ The stated goal of the article was to help “pet owners to curb expenses and still provide the best of care.” Yet following their suggestions for pet food will most certainly not provide the best of care for dogs and cats. The oversimplified advice is misleading and irresponsible, based only on price with no consideration given to pet food ingredients, quality, or safety. 

Cheap Pet Food Will Keep Pets Alive, But They Won’t Thrive

Ever see the 2004 documentary, Super Size Me? In the film, for 30 days Morgan Spurlock eats nothing but what he can buy at McDonald’s. The work vividly displays the negative effects of a poor diet on one’s physical and
psychological well-being. He was alive at the end of the movie, but pretty much everyone would agree he wasn’t thriving.

The same is true for pets. Dogs and cats thrive on a diet high in protein from quality animal sources. A good diet helps them remaining active, healthy and happy much longer. Pets fed cheap food look and feel a bit like Morgan Spurlock did after 30 days of eating only fast food. But in Six Ways To Save On Your Pet¹, Consumer Reports suggests to “consider store and private–label brands,” and goes on to point out,  “among the least expensive pet foods CR found (on a unit-price basis) were Costco’s Kirkland Signature, PetSmart’s Grreat Choice, Safeway’s store brand, and Walmart’s Ol’ Roy.” Feeding your dog or cat cheap, low-quality food will keep them alive, but they certainly will not be receiving “the best of care.”

Premium Pet Foods Have More Protein and Better Ingredients

The Consumer Reports article points out that “a significant part of the national pet-food bill goes for so-called premium and super-premium varieties. But ‘premium’ has no legal definition in terms of nutritional quality.” It is true that pet food regulators set only minimal nutrition requirements manufacturers have to meet and thus the term “premium” is not defined. But to many readers of this piece, this section suggests that there is no difference between premium pet food and their less expensive alternatives. But there is a BIG difference…the ingredients.

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 forage in the wild. So the most natural diet for dogs and cats is one high in animal protein and low in carbohydrates. But guess what? Proteins cost more than carbohydrates. The most biologically-appropriate diet for pets will be one that is high in protein, not one filled with cheap fillers like corn.

The “premium” pet foods that Consumer Reports dismisses as not necessary also use high-quality proteins, instead of potentially dangerous ones like the melamine that killed so many pets in the 2007 pet food recall, when melamine was added to cheap pet foods to fake higher protein levels.² For example, the chicken used in some of Nature’s Logic’s foods comes from the same high-quality, human-processed chicken sold for humans in stores. However, it is the left-over wings, backs, quarters and rib cages that humans don’t want to eat.  We can’t call it “human grade” because it is processed in a pet food manufacturing facility. But the protein that goes into our foods are high-quality and safer for pets.

High-quality Pet Foods May Be Considered Preventative Health Care

Interestingly, after suggesting pet parents not be concerned at all about feeding poor quality pet food, the Six Ways To Save On Your Pet article then talks about how good preventative care can prevent costly health problems, noting how brushing a dog or cat’s teeth can prevent periodontal disease. Huh? Sure, that’s true, but what about feeding a healthy diet, safe from contaminants and well-suited to what your pet’s body needs?

Feeding high-quality pet food “is more cost effective than feeding ‘cheaper’ foods or even many homemade diets. High-quality pet foods support the immune system and metabolic processes resulting in fewer veterinary visits,” says Jereld Rice, DVM.³ He’s not the only one. A quick internet search pulled up discussions on how feeding a quality diet may prevent everything from chronic urinary tract infections to cancer. They totally missed that point.

What to Look for on Pet Food Labels

What Consumer Reports got right is that pet food regulators do not regulate the use of the word “premium.” Pet parents must educate themselves and read the labels carefully. Don’t fall for marketing used on the bag or commercials. Many pet nutrition experts agree on a few basic guidelines to help you select your pet’s food. Here are some things to look for when reading that label:

• Look for 30% or more protein in the guaranteed analysis section. These are levels ideal for natural carnivores, like dogs and cats.
• Check the ingredients section to see the source of that protein. It should come from animal sources, like meat, poultry or fish.
• Select a food lower in carbohydrate. Lower carb dry diets are those that have 30% or more guaranteed protein derived from animal protein ingredients and not from vegetarian sources, such as gluten and soy.
• Avoid products with corn, wheat, gluten or soy in the ingredient panel. These are common allergens in pets.

Nature’s Logic has formulated truly natural pet foods substantiated for all the life stages of dogs and cats. Our high-protein, low carbohydrate diets use natural ingredients and whole foods to provide pets with naturally-occurring nutrients. Nature’s Logic makes the only full-line of commercial pet foods with no chemically-synthesized vitamins, minerals or other nutrients. For more information about our products, visit http://www.natureslogic.com/.
 



What do you think of the article by Consumer Reports?

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