Trying to decipher what all those weird-sounding ingredients on the label of your pet’s food mean is hard enough… Without having to question the real meaning of words like meat meal, or poultry.
But, when it comes to commercial pet food, you have to triple-check ALL of the ingredients.
Even those that seem fairly straightforward.
If you’re wondering why should you waste your precious time on rechecking ingredients that FDA or AAFCO already approved, you might be surprised to hear that your idea of what’s acceptable for your pet to eat, and the one federal agencies have, is drastically different.
That’s presuming you don’t think is OK to give your pet food made of roadkill, feces, dehydrated garbage and even euthanized animals. Because that’s what is in your pet’s food.
Impossible, you think. It’s a vet-recommended, pre-approved, popular brand of pet food.
So were the pricey, popular foods that had to be recalled because they contained pentobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals. Wonder how that got into pet food?
If you’re not convinced, you can easily see if your pet’s food has any harmful ingredients. Granted, you might need to dig a little deeper to get to the real information (the recalled foods I mentioned were sold as beef and chicken flavor), but there is a number of health-damaging substances that are plainly displayed on the label.
These are the ingredients you should be avoiding at all costs:
Although deemed safe for pet use, these hazardous chemicals are directly responsible for many life-threating illnesses. And these are only the most dangerous ones. A number of different chemical substitutes for real vitamins and nutrients are added, and although they might not be outright hazardous, they certainly aren’t beneficial.
And now for the ingredient that’s hardest to decipher. Meat. You know, one of the few easily understandable ingredients listed on the label?
Well, it turns out that the word meat can mean a lot of things if you’re a commercial pet food manufacturer. Things like hooves, feathers, dead zoo animals, roadkill or euthanized shelter pets.
Of course, they won’t put THAT on the label.
So how do you find out which animal’s meat is your pet eating? Check for the way meat is labeled. It should be the first ingredient listed and precisely described (although even that doesn’t guarantee quality and safety). Here are some general guidelines:
If meat is listed simply as meat, or, even worse, meat meal or byproducts, the chances are it contains the worst ingredients imaginable. Since there is no species specified, everything is fair game to these manufacturers. Some horrifying ingredients listed as simply meat meal, meat and bone meal or byproducts can include diseased livestock, roadkill, dead zoo animals, and euthanized cats and dogs.
In nature, cats and dogs wouldn’t object to intestines or scraps like pig ears or chicken legs. But, in commercial pet food production, it indicates that the ingredients are unfit for human consumption, meaning that even ears, livers and kidneys are too good for your pet. Byproducts and meal include a wide range of ingredients such as spoiled meat, ground bones, deep fryer oil and more.
Why doesn’t it say chicken or duck? Probably because it’s a mix of everything that has feathers… With feathers being the main part of the “meat”.
Let’s say that the label states the food contains chicken meat. Species-specific is generally the safest bet. Does it mean your pet is eating chicken then? No. It’s still scraps and ingredients not fit for humans.
They say that ignorance is bliss, but not knowing what your pet eats can only have devastating consequences. Use this guide to help you find the best food for your precious pet.