Pet Food Diets: The Truth Behind Raw Foods, Kibble, and Canned Foods

Guest Post: Elliot Harvey’s Natural Health Column:

Have you looked recently at the sheer number of available pet products found on supermarket shelves, pet supply stores; advertised in magazines and blasted on television?  Pet products now rival human products in number and in packaging gimmicks, discount price offers, catchy marketing phrases, adorable names, silly shapes, colorful appearance.  It’s a world of confusion for the consumer.  Searching the Internet for answers only serves to boost your bewilderment.  Where does a pet owner go for honest answers about pet products?  Can you trust your supermarket manager?  (No.)  Should you trust your pet retailer?  (Maybe.)  If you pay more, do you actually get better quality?  Most pet owners must become educated buyers, but how on earth can you achieve that goal?

In today’s economic uncertainty, we all must stretch our dollars as far as they can go and cutting back on quality food for your pet really does not make sense.  You end up spending more money at the veterinarian’s office.  Understandably, wasting your pet’s food dollars is easy because there are so many ingredients available in pet foods with such a wide array of nutritional positives and negatives.  Consumers can become overwhelmed and settle for a well-positioned national brand, or purchase a food promoted by a veterinarian who is paid to sell one of the truly inferior foods available.

You’ll notice that every veterinarian selling pet foods always sells the same two brands.  Why?  They are paid by the company to promote their food and well, let’s be honest, perfectly healthy pets do not require much veterinary care!

Don’t despair!  There are many available foods that pay attention to quality nutrients and incorporate high-grade ingredients. These quality foods are increasing in number, but keep in mind, they are not sold in big box stores, supermarkets or by veterinarians.  You’ll find the better foods available online and in pet supply stores, whether the food is a raw food diet, a freeze dried diet or a kibble.

Here are a few simple rules to give you an edge when evaluating pet foods:

Kibble: Kibble is the most common form of food used by pet owners.

The Positives:
a-     Convenient and easy to serve
b-    Available in a wide variety of flavors
c-     Comes with a different nutritional profile for various ages and health conditions
d-    Contains a wide assortment of fruits, berries and vegetables
e-     Beautiful packaging and marketing materials
f-     Shelf stability
g-    Cost effective

The Negatives:
a-     Synthetic vitamins and minerals that may not absorb properly
b-    Will include by-products and by-product meals, corn or wheat gluten meal, potatoes, ocean fish meal, all of which can cause health issues
c-    May have soy, peanut shells, mill run, colorings, flavorings, all are products that cause health issues
d-    Preservatives (BHA, BHT) that have been linked to cancer
e-     Retail cost factor with inferior ingredients- are they really inexpensive?
f-     Can have allergens
g-    Marketed with misleading information
h-     Nutritive values have been processed out

There are now some kibbles from companies with integrity that are superior in quality.  You should learn which ones are worth the taste test of presenting them to your pet. A good rule of thumb is to look for a kibble that utilizes an organic based pre-mix called Nutrition Plus coating. The coating envelopes the entire kibble making the nutrients bioactive and alive.

Raw Food Diets: Raw foods became the hallmark of nutritional excellence in pet foods, though not without its detractors.  Raw Food was touted as the closest to a natural diet available for a carnivore—your dog and cat.  However, many veterinarians fought the popularity of raw food diets, claiming it led to bacterial infections.  This was an inaccurate statement. The digestive system of your household carnivore is extremely short making it very unlikely that bacteria would adhere to the membranes lining the digestive tract. Dogs and cats are exposed to many pathogens simply by walking through fields and munching on grass, by playing with a ball which lands in the dirt.  The bacterial statements are out of proportion to facts.

The Positives:
a-     Highly nutritious
b-    Very active nutrients
c-     When well balanced, it is close to natural “in the wild feeding”
d-    Many ingredients are hypoallergenic
e-     Some companies use organic ingredients

The Negatives:
a-     Too many companies utilize inferior raw ingredients
b-    Many companies do not properly balance their menus
c-     Very expensive
d-    Large amount of freezer space is required which puts the stability of product in question
e-     Short storage life after thawed

Raw food feeding is extraordinarily beneficial for pets. You need to look for better quality products that are manufactured in USDA human plants, or organic facilities, and are nutritionally balanced without the use of synthetics. You must provide proper refrigeration.

Canned Foods: This is perhaps the easiest source of food with the least nutritive values requiring copious cans to meet any nutritional requirement.

The Positives:
a-    Inexpensive
b-    Flavorful

The Negatives:
a-    Nutritive values have been processed out
b-    Synthetic nutrients
c-    Flavored mush
d-    Many are lacking sufficient water after processing
e-    Can have harmful ingredients and strange by-products

Canned foods should not be used as the primary food for your pet but can be used as a flavoring agent to change the monotony of kibbles.

Freeze Dried Foods: The gem of pet foods but also the most underused area in the pet food industry. Extracting the water content allows a product to be lightweight, easy to store, easy to carry on vacations, and easy to use. All nutrients remain bioactive and alive; adding water to product allows rehydration of ingredients that results in an intensely flavored food. Fruits and vegetables equate to one pound of dehydrated food equals 10 pounds of regular produce.

The Positives:
a-    Easy to store and use.
b-    Very nutritious.
c-     Active and alive nutrients.
d-    Beneficial for animals.
e-     No preservatives needed.
f-     Easy to digest.

The Negatives:
a-     Limited products available.
b-    Cost factor.
c-     Has not been aggressively marketed.

Additional information can be found at www.doctorsfinest.com. If you have a question, please e-mail me directly at pethealer@gmail.com.

Did you find this article informative? Share it with your pet-loving friends!

This post was written by Elliot Harvey MH of www.doctorsfinest.com. (Pet Assure customers receive a 15% discount on products at doctorsfinest.com by entering coupon code PA-03.)  Author of “The Healthy Wholistic Dog,” Elliot has years of experience in animal health and wellness. Pet Assure is not affiliated with and does not endorse Great Life Performance Pet Products. Pet Assure is presenting this guest post for the benefit of its readers and retains no financial interest in any future transactions.

Elliot Harvey

About Elliot Harvey

Elliott Harvey MH is the author of the natural healing book "The Healthy Wholistic Dog." He founded Great Life Performance Pet Products in 1996 to provide quality pet products based on nutritional and field studies. Elliott is a contributing writer for Animal Wellness Magazine and a consultant to Pet Product News. He utilizes his experience in natural health and wellness to write for Pet Assure on a monthly basis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>