Running Your Eyes Down This List of Healthy Pet Food Options

Listen to the following menu and try to believe if you can, that it doesn’t belong in a Michelin-rated restaurant: roast beef, sushi, meat pie made of pheasant, raspberry compote and strawberry and mango yogurt. If you ever needed proof that pets in America had it better than their human masters, this would have to be it. America is quickly abandoning its traditional 20 pound bag of healthy pet food ordered from the pet store in favor of something a teeny bit more special.

Have you ever set foot in a place called the Global Pet Expo? You’ve been to Disneyland with your kids, haven’t you? The Global Pet Expo would be the doggie equivalent. Take your pet here and prepare to believe how far entrepreneurs will go trying to help you spoil your dog rotten when there is $55 billion involved. You probably don’t get to eat as well as they wish to feed your dog here.

But you mustn’t think that high-priced healthy pet food is as far as the American pet industry is willing to go. You have the option of treating your pet at a pet psychiatrist, buying your pet a full fashion wardrobe every season, getting mouth freshener sprays to help keep your dog’s teeth and mouth healthy, and, thanks to a company called Neuricles, you even get fake testicles that make your neutered dog look whole again. And while no parent would be willing to do something like this to their child, the pet industry calls pet owners, pparents?

The thing is, pet owners, or pet parents, rather, aren’t usually very rich people that they would go to such extremes to pamper their pets. Quite often, they are lower middle class too and they struggle to make their car payments and their student loan payments like everyone else. They just cut into things they would buy for themselves and for their children to be able to pamper their pets like this. There are people who live on welfare who dote on their pets so much, they do without medicines themselves to be able to get blueberry pills for their pet (because, you know, the pills have antioxidants).

If you’ve been looking for an industry to invest in that could prove to be truly recession-resistant, the pet industry has to be your investment mecca. Certainly, during the recession, people did give up their pets at shelters when they could no longer afford them. And since homeownership went down, people no longer bought new pets as much as they did. But the pet industry did clearly go up during the recession – which is more than you can say for most industries. Did you ever wonder about how celebrities always go and put their name to a perfume and clothing line? That’s so 20th century now. Celebrities have their own pet lines these days.

Healthy pet food brands like Blue Buffalo have been flying off the shelves lately even if they cost four dollars a pound. Royal Canin costs about twice that. And these companies have seen their stocks soaring. Is your dog really better off for all this attention though? Well, that would be a completely different question. Pet owners do believe it.

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Keep Your Clear Of The Next Pet Food Recall – Here Are The ‘Red Flags’ Of Pet Food

Last year turned out to be the worst in history for pet food recalls. While there is no way to be 100% certain that a pet food is not tainted or will be recalled, there are some red flags to look for when selecting your dog’s or cat’s food. Avoiding these common pet food ingredients can greatly improve your odds in purchasing a healthy, safe pet food.

Judging the safety or the nutritional value of a pet food starts by ignoring the advertising, the price of the pet food, and ignoring the front of the bag. The real signs to the safety of a dog food or cat food lie on the back or side of the bag or can in the ‘Ingredient Listing’. Regardless of what marketing terms (‘choice’, ‘premium’, and so on) are on the front of the bag or can of pet food, a pet owner cannot determine the quality or how safe the food is unless they look at the ingredients. With dry foods there can be 90 different ingredients (or more), with canned foods there can be 50 or more different ingredients. But don’t panic…you don’t have to understand hundreds of different pet food ingredients! You just need to be aware of a few key ingredients…pet food ingredients that you do NOT want to see in a dog food or cat food (or treats).

‘Wheat Gluten’, ‘Corn Gluten’, or ‘Rice Gluten’. These three ingredients were the bad boy pet food ingredients of 2007. Tainted glutens were found to be the cause of thousands of dogs and cats becoming ill and dying. It is not that glutens themselves are toxic to pets – these ingredients have been used in pet foods for years. The problem was the source or manufacturer of the glutens – imported from countries with far less quality standards than in the US. (The majority of glutens used in the US pet foods are from imported sources.) These imported glutens contained added chemicals that caused crystals to form in the kidneys of dogs and cats.

Not only is it important to avoid dog foods and cat foods (and dog and cat treats) that contain glutens because of the possibility of dangerous added chemicals, it is important because they add no real quality nutrition to the food. Glutens are used as a thickener AND as a source of protein in pet food. Adult maintenance dog foods must provide a minimum of 18% protein, adult maintenance cat foods must provide a minimum of 26% protein. If the meat source of the pet food does not provide enough protein, glutens are often added to boost the protein level of the pet food. The best nutrition for your pet comes from a meat protein pet food not from a gluten protein. Avoid dog foods and cat foods (and treats) that contain ‘corn gluten’, ‘wheat gluten’, or ‘soy gluten’.

‘By Products’. By-products have never been the cause of a pet food recall, but they are definitely ingredients you want to avoid feeding your pet. To give you an understanding of by-products, I’d like to compare this pet food ingredient to pies – you know, the dessert! How many different types of pies you can think of? There are apple pies, cherry pies, chocolate pies, meringue pies, meat pies, mud pies, pie in math, cow pies (yuck!) – I think you get my point. Now imagine if you purchased yourself a prepared ravioli dinner at the grocery and you looked at the ingredients and you see ‘pie’ listed as the first ingredient in your dinner. Hmmm, pie in ravioli – what kind of pie? You wouldn’t know if it was apple pie or mud pie or even cow pie. All you would know is that your dinner contained ‘pie’. Considering ‘pie’ could be anything from apple pie to cow pie – my guess is that you wouldn’t be having ravioli for dinner. Same thing with by-products in pet food.

AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials – the organization responsible for all animal feed manufacturing rules and regulations) defines by-products as “meat by-products is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth, and hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears name descriptive of its kind, it must correspond thereto.”

So, with respect to pet food – a by-product is a catch-all ingredient name. All left over meat materials from the human food industry are clumped into one ingredient name – by-product. There is NO certainty of what you are feeding – one batch of pet food might be more intestine by-products while the next batch of pet food might be more liver or bone by-products. There is NO way of knowing what is actually contained in the pet food ingredient by-product (the pet food manufacturers themselves couldn’t tell you exactly). Avoid dog foods and cat foods (and treats) that contain By-products of any kind…Chicken By-Products, Beef By-Products, Chicken By-Product Meal, Beef By-Product Meal, and so forth.

‘Meat Meal’, ‘Meat and Bone Meal’, or ‘Animal Digest’. These three ingredients are similar to by-products. AAFCO defines Meat and Bone Meal as “the rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably to good processing practices.” Again, a catch all ingredient name for the left-over parts of animals used for human food. No consistency to what is contained in these ingredients (all three of these pet food ingredient definitions are similar) – no way of knowing what is actually in your pet’s food. Avoid dog foods, cat foods, and dog and cat treats that contain ‘meat meal’, ‘meat and bone meal’, or ‘animal digest’.

‘Animal Fat’. In 2002 the FDA tested many different brands of dog food (cat food was not tested) for the presence of the drug pentobarbital. Many brands of dog food tested positive to contain the drug. Pentobarbital is the drug used to euthanize dogs, cats, cattle, and horses.

How can the drug that is used to euthanize animals be found in pet food? The answer – euthanized animals are rendered (cooked) and the end ingredients are placed in pet food. It has long been rumored that euthanized dogs and cats (from animal shelters and veterinarian offices) is the major source of the pentobarbital in pet food. However no one has been able to prove or disprove this rumor to date. The FDA/CVM (Center for Veterinary Management) developed testing methods on two separate occasions to determine the species source of the drug. No results have ever been determined. The pet food manufacturers adamantly deny they use rendered dogs or cats – but NO clinical evidence has ever been released to confirm the pentobarbital is from euthanized cattle and horses in pet food as they claim.

However, the one thing the FDA/CVM has determined through their testing is the pet food ingredient ‘animal fat’ is the most common ingredient to contain pentobarbital. In other words, if you are feeding a dog food or cat food (or treats) with the ingredient ‘animal fat’ in the ingredient listing – you are (more than likely) feeding your pet euthanized animals. Not every batch of pet food tested that contained the ingredient ‘animal fat’ has proved to contain pentobarbital – but why would any pet owner want to take the chance? Avoid dog foods, cat foods, and dog and cat treats that contain the ingredient ‘animal fat’.

‘BHA’, ‘BHT’, ‘TBHQ’, and ‘Ethoxyquin’. These pet food ingredients are chemical preservatives and you might have to look through the entire ingredient list to find them. It is worth the look because there is plenty of clinical evidence to associate all four of these chemical preservatives with cancer and tumors (simply do a Google search on any one of these chemicals). All four of these chemical preservatives are rarely used to preserve human food and if so, are used in quantities far less than what is allowed in pet food. Avoid any dog food, cat food, or dog and cat treat that contains ‘BHA’, ‘BHT’, ‘TBHQ’, and ‘Ethoxyquin’ on the label.

‘Corn’, ‘Wheat’, ‘Soy’. While there is no scientific evidence that proves these ingredients are dangerous to pets – they are potentially dangerous ingredients associated with recalls in the past (1995, 1999, and 2005). These grains are highly prone to a deadly mold (aflatoxin). It is suggested (by AAFCO) that all pet food manufacturers test grains for the mold, but as recalls of the past have proven – that doesn’t always happen. I do not think these ingredients are as risky as others mentioned above, but they are ingredients I avoid for my own pets.

There is more to selecting a true healthy pet food for your dog or cat than avoiding the above mentioned ingredients. This is just a start – based on pet food history, AAFCO ingredient definitions, science and opinion of many pet food experts including myself. There are many quality pet foods available that do NOT use the above ingredients and that add health promoting ingredients to their foods and treats. Continue to learn as much as you can about what you are feeding your pet and ALWAYS read the labels!

How to Select Healthy Pet Food

You have got to be kidding me! Was this your verbal outburst or something similar to your first reaction when you looked at the shelves and shelves of pet food selections? Are you confused?

If I was a first time pet owner I would be very confused and would not know where to start. However, you can be reassured, it will not take long to learn about healthy pet food and how to select foods and supplements which are right for your pet.

Puppy care seems to be the easiest because your veterinarian can guide you as to the best nutritional foods for your four legged friend. If your puppy or dog has a severe medical problem,again, your vet will be a security blanket of information.

The confusion lies approximately one year or two years of age depending on the breed. It is now your concern as to the best food for your pet. A healthy active dog is a wonderful pet and keeping him healthy is an added bonus not only for him, but for your wallet.

How do you choose from a large selection?

Know the age and activity level of your dog
Read labels – the first five ingredients are seemingly the most important
Trust a well respected brand name product
Give significance to the Association of American Feed Control Officials product approval
The age and the activity intensity of your pet will determine which foods to buy. Some of the commercial products sub title their product ‘for active dogs’ to help you make a decision.

The absolute best way is to become familiar with the ingredients. The first five are important. The first item on the list is the most plentiful and critical ingredient. The amounts of the ingredients in the product become less as the list gets longer.

Some people are comfortable trusting the product brand name. The thinking is for the company to remain in business they would be very concerned about pet nutrition in order to have returning consumers.

There are pet owners who lend confidence to pet foods approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (‘AAFCO’) as this organization approves of products meeting minimum basic needs and containing complete and balanced nutrition.

After awhile you learn about ingredients as to their original source, how they are weighed, prepared, processed, and labeled. You watch your dog changing and or the cost of vet bills because of allergies, infections, and other health maladies your pet acquires.

In the home you control food preparation. We have all heard the expression we are what we eat and we can see our pet experiencing the results of those eating habits. People are very concerned and are looking for alternatives for healthy pet food.

Healthy Pet Food – The Best Way to Choose From All

Just looking at the pet food ads on TV and in magazines, you’d get the impression that all commercial pet foods are healthy. All those fresh ingredients could tempt you to try these pet foods yourself! Unfortunately, the truth about most pet foods may be far from what artful ads would have us believe. If you’ve ever opened a pet food can that was marketed as healthy, and then found a glob of unrecognizable, grayish something-or-other, then you probably know what I mean.

Now, if you’re already aware that not all pet food commercials and ads live up to their promises, you should ask yourself a simple question: how can I tell if a particular pet food is healthy? The answer to this is often hidden in plain sight, on the pet food label, often in the midst of a bunch of unfamiliar terms. To do well for your pet, you need to be able to interpret pet food labels correctly.

First and foremost, healthy pet foods contain real food ingredients.

Healthy commercial pet foods are made from natural food ingredients that reflect the needs of the pet for which the foods are intended. Remember that ingredients are listed in the order of their relative quantity in the pet food. Healthy dog and cat foods should contain animal-derived products as their first ingredients. The quality of these ingredients is absolutely essential to the health of your pet. If you see terms like ‘chicken meal’, ‘fish meal,’ ‘animal by-products,’ or ‘animal fat,’ you should know that these ingredients are of extremely low quality. Better choices are products that list terms that precisely describe the ingredient, such as chicken, cod, or animal parts, such as chicken heart or beef liver. Finally, the addition of synthetic chemicals should be kept to a minimum, as most of the available pet food supplements added routinely to pet foods are of low or questionable quality and value.

Second, healthy pet foods are certified organic.

This is true quite simply because organic ingredients are both safer and healthier for your pet. Organic ingredients are safer because their production and processing precludes by regulation the use of toxic manufacturing and processing chemicals. These include agricultural pesticides, fertilizers such as sewage sludge, hormones and antibiotics used to raise livestock, and toxic chemicals used during manufacture, including among others, fumigants, pesticides, and corrosive sanitizers. As well, organic ingredients can never include genetically engineered foods (some of which have been implicated in a variety of health problems, such as allergies or reproductive disorders). Increasingly, studies have shown that organic ingredients are healthier than their conventional counterparts, not only because they are free of toxic residues and diligently processed, but also because they contain more nutrients, including vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and critically important trace elements.

However, you should be aware that only USDA certified organic claims are regulated and enforced by Federal law; other non-certified organic claims cannot be verified by an unbiased third party.

Third, healthy pet foods are made of human-grade quality ingredients.

Although it doesn’t seem to make much sense, there are both USDA certified organic ingredients for human consumption and USDA certified organic ingredients for animals (examples are eggs, peas, etc). The latter are called ‘feed-grade’ ingredients, and are approved for the use solely in pet foods. Feed-grade ingredients are certainly of lower quality than human-grade ingredients. So, if you’re searching for a healthy pet food, look out for the descriptive word ‘human-grade’ on the pet food package! Never assume that pet food manufacturers are required to tell the consumer whether they use human-grade or feed-grade ingredients; they aren’t. But they most certainly will indicate if they use human-grade ingredients because these are of higher quality (a major selling point) and more expensive to produce (a justification for charging more for their product).

Fifth, healthy pet foods can be identified by the way they’re processed.

Even certified organic pet foods, containing all of the appropriate ingredients for a particular species of pet, are not necessarily healthy. Healthy pet foods must offer more than just organic certification and species appropriateness. They must also be processed in a manner that preserves the integrity and bio-availability of the nutrients in their ingredients. Heat-based processing, such as canning, baking or extruding food into nicely shaped kibble or biscuits, ruins the quality of many nutrients and can render even the best ingredients ‘lifeless’ and all but useless to your pet. Dehydration is a better way to process foods-but keep in mind that cats in particular don’t do well on dry food alone and that certain problems can even be associated with re-hydrated pet foods that were previously dehydrated. If fresh foods are unavailable, the best choices among commercial pet foods are products that have been fresh-frozen. Of course, freezing is less convenient and more expensive for the manufacturer to ship and store, and those costs get passed down to you, the consumer. Nevertheless, keep in mind that this additional expense will almost certainly ensure that your pet will stay healthy longer, and will also save you the pain and financial burden of caring for a sick animal.

Finally, a pet shouldn’t live on one prepared pet food alone, even if it is healthy and nutritious.

No plant or animal can thrive on just one combination of nutrients. Variety is a must for your pet’s health and well being, and you have the responsibility to provide this variety for your best friend. Just as you and your family would not live happily ever after on even the best quality ‘astronaut’ food (freeze-dried ice cream-blecchh!), your pet needs different foods to stay both healthy and happy! Since your pet has few choices of her own, it’s up to you to provide her with a variety of different safe and healthy USDA certified organic, human-grade, quality foods where ingredients have been processed in ways that are designed to preserve the endogenous nutrients. Your pet will thank you for your diligence and care!

Seven Secrets To Choosing A Safe, Healthy Pet Food

Do you choose canned food or dry food? What brand? There are so many different brands, all shapes and sizes of pet food to choose from and pet owners are provided with very little information to base your decisions on (other than advertising) – it can get so confusing! Well, buckle your seatbelt depending on how much you know of the pet food industry, this could be a bumpy ride! You are about to learn seven secrets – well kept secrets – of pet food. Sit back, brace yourself, and keep reading.

Beneful says it’s ‘Premium Dog Food for a Happy, Healthy Dog’ and sells for around $18.00 for a 31 lb. bag, Science Diet “promises” ‘precisely balanced nutrition through continuous research and the highest quality food backed by your Vets endorsement’ and sells for around $21.00 for only a 20 lb bag. Then there are numerous pet foods that make the very same statements – ‘Premium Dog Food, Highest Quality’ – that sell for $30.00 or more for a 20 lb bag. And the same holds true for cat owners…Do you choose Whiskas that states ‘Everything we do is about making cats happy!’ or do you choose one of those high end cat foods that make the very same claim of a happy, healthy cat but cost 3 times as much?

Now with the on-going pet food recall pet owners have questions such as ‘Has this food been recalled?’ or ‘Is this food the next one to be recalled?’…’Is my pet safe?’ Wow this is confusing! And scary too! What exactly is a pet owner to do? How about learning a few secrets! Equipped with the knowledge of a few secrets of pet food, it’s not nearly as confusing.

Secret #1…

All pet foods use descriptive words like choice and premium, though few of them actually use premium or choice ingredients in their food. The ‘secret’ is that per the rules of the pet food industry, no pet food can make any claims or references on their label or advertising as to the quality or grade of ingredients. You see, the word ‘premium’ when it’s related to pet food DOES NOT mean that the ingredients in the food are premium. With pet foods, premium does not (can not) describe the food nor does it (can it) describe the quality of the food. It is a marketing term and that is all. Per the pet food industries own rules and regulations, “There are no references to ingredient quality or grade” (regulation PF5 d 3). So, words like premium, or choice, or quality are just marketing or sales terms. They should not be interpreted as terms describing the quality of the food.

Now why wouldn’t a pet food label be allowed to tell a prospective customer the quality of their ingredients? Doesn’t a pet owner deserve to know what they are buying? This leads me to the next secret…

Secret#2…

If I can compare ‘people’ food to pet food for just a second, we all know there are different qualities of people food. There is White Castle (I’m guilty here, I love the little guys!) and there is Outback Steak House (another favorite). Both restaurants serve meat and potatoes. At White Castle for under $3.00 you can get a couple of hamburgers and an order of fries. While at Outback you can get a steak and baked potato for around $16.00. Both serve beef and potato – yet you already realize that there are huge nutritional differences between a fast food hamburger and a steak…right?

The problem in the pet food industry – is that most pet owners don’t think in the same terms when it comes to pet food. They don’t think in terms that there are fast food types of pet foods and there are sit down restaurant more nutritious types of pet foods. In fact, several years ago a young man tried this very experiment with his own diet – eating nothing but fast food for 30 days. In just one month of eating fast food three meals a day, he gained a great deal of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels sky-rocketed. Now, imagine your pet eating this type of food its’ entire lifetime.

OK, so back to our two meals…if a chemical analysis of your meal at White Castle was compared to a chemical analysis of your meal at Outback – both would analyze with a percentage of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Regardless whether you consider a steak at Outback a higher quality of protein than the burger – it would still analyze as protein. The analysis doesn’t measure quality of protein.

So here is the secret…All pet foods come with a Guaranteed Analysis stating the percentage of protein, fat, fiber and moisture in the food. The REAL secret lies in the quality of the percentages of protein, fat, and so on.

In a chemical analysis of a pet food – chicken feet would analyze as protein, although granted it provides very little nutrition. And as well, a cow that was euthanized (put to sleep) because of a disease that made it unfit for human consumption – would analyze as protein although that could be considered dangerous for consumption. Both of those things – chicken feet and a euthanized cow – are allowable ingredients and commonly used in pet food. You see the secret within the pet food industry is manufacturers have a WIDE OPEN door to where they obtain their ingredients. The only strict rule they must follow is an adult dog food must analyze with 18% protein and an adult cat food must analyze with 26% protein. Sources to acquire those particular percentages range from a ‘human grade’ meat, to chicken feet, to euthanized animals, to grain proteins, to even man made chemical proteins and many variations in between.

Pet food labels do not have to tell – are not allowed to tell – the sources they use to obtain that required 18% or 26% protein. And to make matters worse…quality minded pet food manufacturers – the companies that use 100% human grade ingredients – are not allowed to tell customers or potential customers that their products are quality, human grade ingredients.

So how can you know if your pet’s food uses chicken feet or euthanized cows or if it contains human grade ingredients?

Secret #3…

If the words premium and choice mean basically nothing with regards to the quality of pet food, and if some pet foods use chicken feet and euthanized animals in their food – how can a pet owner know what they are getting in their pets’ food?

This big secret is found in ingredient definitions. Unlike ‘people’ food where you can pretty much look at the food to determine the quality, pet food is far different. All ‘people’ food must meet particular USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines. The same is not true for pet food. Chicken feet and euthanized cows are NOT allowed in people food for obvious reasons – they have no nutritional value or they could be dangerous to consume. The same is NOT true for pet food. The only way to know if those chicken feet or euthanized cows are in your pet’s food is to know what ingredients they can be used in.

The common pet food ingredient ‘Meat and Bone Meal’ is basically a combination of many different discarded left-overs from the human food industry. Components of ‘meat and bone meal’ can be anything from cow heads, stomachs, and intestines, to (horrifying but true) euthanized animals including cows, horses and dogs and cats from veterinarian offices, animal shelters, and farms. And along with those euthanized animals the pet food also contains the drug pentabarbitol that was used to euthanize the animal. ‘Meat and bone meal’ can also contain left-over restaurant grease, and diseased (including cancerous) meat tissues cut away from slaughtered animals. In other words, this commonly used ingredient is a mix of highly inferior and potentially dangerous left-overs from the human food industry.

The pet food ingredient ‘Meat By-Product’ or ‘Meat By-Product Meal’ is pretty much the same thing as ‘meat and bone meal’. It is a highly inferior pet food ingredient containing literally who-knows-what.

Another similar ingredient to the above is ‘Animal Digest’.

As to the chicken feet I mentioned earlier – this item can be found in the ingredients ‘Chicken By-Product’ or ‘Poultry By-Product’ or ‘Chicken By-Product Meal’ or ‘Poultry By-Product Meal’. Any left-overs in the chicken or poultry division – including but not limited to chicken feet, skin including some feathers, chicken or poultry heads, and intestines are found in these ingredients. It does NOT matter as to the health of the bird – sick, healthy, dead, dying…all is included in these ingredients.

So here is what you need to do…BEFORE you purchase any pet food, flip the bag over and closely examine the list of ingredients. The above mentioned ingredients would be listed within the first five or ten ingredients. If you see ANY of those ingredients – it is my suggestion to NOT purchase that food. Remember – chicken feet and euthanized animals do analyze as protein. That is all that is required in pet food – just the correct analysis.

Another little trick some pet food manufacturers use in this category is using grains and chemical additives to grain products to boost the protein percentages. Which is exactly the cause of the pet food recall that began in March 2007 – chemical proteins. Two different chemical additives – that have NO nutritional value to pets, but that analyzed as protein – were added to a grain product (wheat gluten, corn gluten, or rice gluten) solely to provide a cheap protein. Thousands of pets died and countless others became ill because no one counted on the problem of the combination of these two chemicals would cause kidney and urinary blockage. Again, their secret is the product has to analyze as having a particular amount of protein – no one is required to provide a quality meat protein.

While you are looking at the ingredient listing – you should also take note of how many grains (corn, wheat, rice) and/or how many grain products (corn gluten, whole corn, ground corn, whole wheat, ground wheat, wheat gluten, rice, brown rice, brewers rice, soy, and on and on) are listed within the first five or so ingredients. If you find more than one grain listed in the first five ingredients – that is telling you this pet food is acquiring some of its protein from grains.

Why is protein obtained from grains important for you to know? Several reasons – first off science proves that cats and dogs alike require and thrive on a meat protein. If a pet food is obtaining protein from grain sources, the pet is not getting the meat that it needs to thrive. Second, if the grain products are a corn gluten, wheat gluten, or rice gluten you take the risk of chemicals such as melamime added to it used strictly to boost the protein analysis. By the way, melamime is one of the chemicals found to be the cause of the March 2007 pet food recall. And there is one more concern with grains – aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a deadly mold that is common to corn, wheat, and soy and it’s responsible for several other pet food recalls you probably never heard about. In December 2005, Diamond Pet Food contained moldy grains that killed over 100 pets before the product was recalled – all due to aflatoxin.

It is my recommendation to avoid any pet food that contains corn, wheat, or soy in ANY variation. The risk is simply too high.

Secret #4…

I’ve got more suggestions for you to look for in the ingredient listings…chemical preservatives. A very well kept secret of the pet food industry is their common use of chemical preservatives. BHA/BHT are very popular chemical preservatives used in pet food and science has linked them to tumors and cancer. Another common preservative is ethoxyquin which has known risks to cancer. Ethoxyquin is ONLY allowed in human food in some spices because of the very tiny proportions. However it is allowed in much higher proportions in pet food.

If you scan the ingredient listings, you will be looking for BHA/BHT and ethoxyquin listed anywhere. Commonly BHA/BHT is used to preserve the fat in the food which usually is found higher on the list. And also look for any of these chemicals towards the end of the ingredient listing. Personally, I wouldn’t touch a pet food that contained these chemical preservatives. You want a pet food that is preserved naturally – common natural preservatives are ‘natural mixed tocopherols’ or ‘vitamin E’.

Secret #5…

The very best food to provide to your pet is a well made food using human grade ingredients. That should be simple enough…How do you find that? You already know that pet food manufacturers are NOT allowed to make any statement as to quality or grade of ingredients, the only way you can find out the grade or quality of your pets’ food is to call the manufacturer and ask them.

Now, let’s say you call the ABC pet food company and ask the question “Is your Premium dog food and Premium cat food made using human grade ingredients?” It could be that you get the response yes, we use human grade ingredients – when actually only a couple of ingredients are human grade. Here’s the trick to asking…ask them if they are APHIS European certified.

Pet food manufacturers that are APHIS European certified assures you that ALL ingredients in their pet food are human grade. APHIS – Animal Plant Health Inspection Services – is a division of the USDA. APHIS European certification provides this pet food manufacturer with the opportunity to ship their foods/treats to Europe. When importing pet foods from the US, European countries demand that all ingredients are human grade and thus require this certification. Most pet food manufacturers that have APHIS European certification do not ship their products to Europe – they simply use this as a means to assure their customers to the higher quality of their ingredients.

Again, you WON’T see this listed on the label – it’s not allowed. You must call the manufacturer and ask. Often times the representative of the pet food won’t even know what you are talking about when you ask about APHIS certification – if that’s the case, you can assume they are not APHIS European certified. APHIS European certification is a bonus to pet owners – it is not required or even suggested that any pet food manufacturer go through the extra steps to obtain this. This is a special effort some pet foods go through to tell their customers they REALLY CARE about the quality of their products. Personally, I would NOT buy a pet food that doesn’t have it.

And by the way, if you can’t reach the pet food manufacturer, or they do not return your call within a short time frame, lose their number! Any company that does not place a priority on answering customers questions – doesn’t deserve your business!

Secret #6…

Minerals are a required ingredient in human diets as well as diets for our pets. Copper, Iron and Zinc are common minerals found in pet foods. Just as they are – copper, iron, and zinc are basically rocks, very difficult for anyone or any pet to utilize. Science has developed several ways to introduce minerals into the body (human and pet) for better absorption thus benefiting the individual far more. This scientific development is called chelating or proteinating and it’s been around for years. Through the chelating or proteinating process minerals are absorbed about 60% better than just the minerals alone.

This secret is spotting the minerals in your pet food to see if they are chelated or proteinated. Notice the minerals on your pet food label, way down on the list of ingredients. You are looking for minerals that read ‘copper proteinate’ or ‘chelated copper’. If you see just the mineral listed, your pet is sort of like Charlie Brown at Halloween saying ‘I got a rock’. If you want your pet to have the best, chelated or proteinated minerals are part of the best foods!

Secret #7…

This secret is called ‘friendly bacteria’. Although ‘friendly bacteria’ sounds a little scary, the reason for it lies in your pets’ intestinal system. A large portion of your pets’ immune system is found within the intestinal system. Keeping the immune system healthy helps to keep the animal itself healthy. This friendly bacteria is similar to what’s found in yogurt, however in pet food it is introduced in a fashion so that the cooking process doesn’t destroy it. Looking at the fine print on your pet food label, this time you are looking for lengthy, scientific words like Lactobacillus Acidophilus or Bifidobacterium Thermophilum. If you do NOT see these words or some very similar, that pet food is not addressing the care of your pets’ immune system. And again, if you want your pet to have the best, you want ‘friendly bacteria’ in their food.

There are your seven very secrets to help you find the absolute healthiest and best pet food for your four-legged friend. Armed with those secrets – you now have the knowledge to find your pet the best food possible! A pet food that can extend their life and prevent early aging and disease. If you don’t want to bother doing the homework involved, I urge you to subscribe to my monthly magazine Petsumer Report(TM). Through Petsumer Report(TM) I’ve done all the homework for you – each month I review and rate over 40 different pet foods, treats, toys, and various other pet supplies. It’s the ONLY publication of its’ kind providing pet owners with the information they need to know regarding their pet product purchases.

I want to share just a couple more things…

It’s best to feed an adult dog or adult cat two meals a day. The nutrition they consume with two meals is better utilized than with just one meal a day. If you are currently feeding your pet one meal a day, split that same amount into two meals and feed in the AM and PM.

You should know that all canned or moist pet foods are anywhere between 70% to 85% moisture. This means that 70% to 85% of that can or pouch of food is useless nutrition – its water. Granted our pets need water, cats especially tend not to drink enough water. But since all canned or moist foods are mostly water, they do not provide adequate nutrition to be fed strictly a canned or moist diet. Use a canned or moist product to supplement your pet’s diet – not as the only food.

The best pet foods are preserved naturally (secret #4) – but there is a concern with naturally preserved pet foods…freshness. Take notice of the expiration date on your pets food label – typically with naturally preserved dry pet foods (not as much of a concern with soft foods because of canning – very little need of preservatives) the expiration date is one year to 18 months from the date it was manufactured. Let’s say the pet food you are considering to purchase on July 1, 2007 has a ‘Best if Used by’ date of January 1, 2008. This would tell you that this particular bag of pet food is already 6 months old. While it is still ‘good’ a fresher food – a bag that is only 2 or 3 months old – is better. Naturally preserved pet foods lose nutritional potency with time. Always try to find a very fresh bag.

If you are considering changing your pets food, ALWAYS consult with your Veterinarian first. You should always keep your veterinarian advised of any changes you make with your pet. Don’t take chances. And if you do switch pet food, make the change over very slowly. I always recommend to pet owners ¼ new food to ¾ old food for 4 to 7 days, ½ to ½ for another 4 to 7 days, and so on. Switching food quickly can cause intestinal disorder! Its short term, but we don’t want intestinal disorder!!!

One last thing, as you are already aware dogs and cats have a far better sense of smell than humans. Their food bowl can be a wealth of smells – both good and bad. Some times a pet will refuse to eat simply because he or she smells a previous food in their bowl. Plastic food and water bowls retain odors the worst. And surprisingly so does stainless steel bowls. The best type of food and water bowl is a ceramic one. They retain odors the least.

Health Benefits of Having A Pet

Nothing beats the happiness of coming home to a loving four-legged companion after having a long, tough day and no one can understand this better than a pet parent. A furry ball jumping on you as soon as you walk through the door can make you forget about your worries and stress, isn’t it? Ah, and not just stress and worries, pets provide a myriad of other health benefits to humans. In this article, we will discuss about the health benefits of having a pet.

How Pets Can Improve Your Health

Most people are aware of the happiness and joys that pets bring into our lives, but not everyone is clear about their health benefits. Research has proved that owning a pet can work wonders for improving your physical as well as mental health.

Benefits Of Pets On Your Physical Health:

People who have pets are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure as pets help maintain the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Pets help lower the triglyceride and cholesterol levels and hence, prevent cardiac diseases.
Having a pet can reduce the chances of strokes and heart attacks.
Pets also encourage exercise and help you stay in shape to prevent obesity, hence preventing obesity-related disorders.
People who have a pet in their house are found to have stronger immunity than those who don’t have one.
Therapeutic pets help in pain management and aid in the recovery of critical patients in the hospital.
Owning a dog reduces one’s risk of premature death by up to 70%.
Most people are found to make better lifestyle changes after adopting a pet.
Benefits Of Pets On Your Mental Health:
Pets keep stress, anxiety and depression at bay.
Spending time with pets can elevate dopamine and serotonin transmitters, which are known to have calming and pleasurable properties.
According to research, interaction with dogs boosts a “love hormone” called oxytocin. Oxytocin is a “feel-good” hormone responsible for social bonding, which improves our psychological wellbeing as we become more social.
Humans have the basic need for touch and a pet can fulfill this need on a daily basis. Snuggling, hugging and touching your furry friend every day can make you feel needed and wanted.
Most large dogs require a good amount of exercise, and such active dogs keep you moving, as you have to take them out for walks, exercise and strolls. These workouts substantially boost your mood.
Having a pet encourages you to have a healthy lifestyle, which helps reduce the symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder and other mental disorders.
Therapy dogs can improve the mental wellbeing of people going through cancer therapies or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Having a pet at home can ease loneliness, especially if you live alone (and oh, they can also help you get dates!).
“All kinds of pets are equally advantageous for your health.”
Pets, especially dogs and cats, can help people live happier and healthier lives with their charming and loving personalities. But remember, any pet can be equally beneficial for your health. A rabbit could be an ideal pet for you if you have limited space, whereas birds can keep the environment of your house lively. Watching an aquarium full of fish can help you sharpen your concentration and lower your pulse rate, while horses, snakes, lizards and other exotic reptiles call for fancy pets.

Benefits of Pets for Senior Citizens

There is no second thought to the fact that growing older can bring along loneliness. Family and friends move out and the old-age problems start kicking in. It becomes difficult to go out often, and a sense of being cooped up in the house develops. This is when our guardian angels come to the rescue. Pets are the most reliable source of comfort and companionship and can benefit seniors in countless ways.

According to a survey, 65% of the elderly don’t feel depressed and lonely when they are with pets, as they provide a great deal of companionship.
Most senior citizens are reluctant to exercise and go out for walks due to their health problems, but having a pet encourages them to take their furry companions out, which ultimately helps them stay active.
Seniors love to take care of their children and grandchildren, but time flies quickly and eventually they end up being alone. Caring for a pet can be very satisfying and can help regain that sense of nurturance.
According to research, interacting with pets can lower cortisol, a stress hormone. Low cortisol levels are found to be associated with low blood pressure and may aid in stress relief.
Elders with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are found to suffer from less anxiety outbursts and reduced agitation and behavior issues when around pets.
Which pets are the best for senior citizens?
Although the pet that matches best with a senior’s personality is best for them, consider the following questions before getting a pet for an elderly person.

What is the living situation of the senior citizen? Independent or assisted living?
What are the financial conditions? Are there any financial limitations?
Is the senior active? Do their activity levels match with that of the pet?
Whatever type of pet a senior can accommodate and afford, the benefits to the owner’s physical and mental well-being are numerous and far transcend any effort required to care for them. Furthermore, if you are looking for a pet for an elderly person, do not overlook senior pets, as these pets have already left their hyperactive, destructive phase behind and are much calmer and laidback, making them the best option to consider.
Benefits of Pets for Children

Like adults, children also reap many benefits from having a pet. Children who grow up in a household that owns a pet grow up more secure, active and empathetic. According to research, parents who own a pet can raise emotionally intelligent children as compared to those parents who don’t have pets. Here are a few more reasons why you should bring a pet home for your child.

Kids that grow up with pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma.
Feeding and caring for a pet teaches responsibility to the kids.
Having a loyal and loving pet can make a child feel important and help them develop a positive image.
Children get emotionally attached to their pets, which helps them to build better relationships in the future.
Pets can help calm down aggressive and hyperactive children.
Kids with pets get to go out more often on a daily basis (for walks, runs). This ultimately renders many health benefits and keeps children fit.
Pets teach important life lessons to kids, including reproduction, birth, illnesses, accidents, death, and bereavement.
Having a pet at home can help children cope with separation anxiety, especially in the case of working parents.
Pets can benefit children with learning disabilities in learning how to manage tension and calm down, allowing them to better cope with the challenges of their disorder.
Kids with autism or other cognitive disabilities can do better off with pets as they communicate with non-verbal cues.
According to research, children whose mothers spent time around dogs during pregnancy are at a lower risk of developing eczema.
Which pets are the best for children?
While there are no golden rules when it comes to choosing a pet for your child, you should consider the following questions before you embark on bringing a new pet to your house.

Would you be able to spare enough time for your kid and the pet both?
What are your financial conditions?
Is your kid showing genuine interest in adopting a pet?
Pet ownership can be a chance for kids to learn responsibility, dependability, friendship, love and other valuable life lessons that are important to live a meaningful life.
Benefits of Pets for People with Disabilities

Assistance and service animals are a boon for people with disabilities. They can do much more help than you may have imagined. These service animals are extensively trained to help people with disabilities in living a better life.

Which pets are the best for people with disabilities?

Hearing Dogs

Dogs that have an acute sense of hearing can assist people who are dead or have hearing disabilities. Hearing dogs are well-trained to identify the sounds of family members, telephone rings, doorbells, smoke alarms, alarm clocks, etc. to guide their owners. They can even lead you to the source of the sounds.

Guide Animals

Guide animals are an excellent form of support for blind or partially blind people. They can navigate their handlers on their way to home or work, save them from potential hazards, and can safely help them go about their day-to-day activities.

Service Animals

Service animals can help people with autism, mental disorders, or other physical disabilities get through their routine lives. Such animals can assist them in everyday tasks like opening and closing doors or fetching medicines. They can even help their handlers by making sounds or informing others in case of emergencies like seizures or injury.

Adopting a Pet Is a Lifetime Commitment­-Check If You’re Really Up For It:

After walking through all the benefits our pets can offer, one can easily get wrapped up in the idea of owning one. However, it is imperative to understand that adopting a pet is a major commitment.

If you are not someone who likes pets, merely owning one will not miraculously cure your health issues. Having a pet will only be rewarding and reassuring to those who love and appreciate animals and can invest time, money and emotions to keep their pets happy and healthy.

And, even if you are a “pet-person”, it is essential to consider the responsibilities that entails. Consider the following things while you plan on adopting a pet.

Are you ready to spend enough money?
Owning a pet will cost you regular food bills, vet bills, vaccination costs, maintenance costs, licenses, grooming, pet care essentials and what not. If you have a limited income, these expenses might take a toll on you.
Can you spare adequate time and attention?
Pets require a lot of attention and care. You can’t just bring one home and leave it alone In order to keep pets calm, happy and healthy, it is essential to give them ample time and attention.
Is your accommodation stable?
Do you have any plans to shift to another state or country in a year or two? Or in the next five years? Would you be able to take your pet along with you? Owning a pet is a lifetime responsibility and hence, you must consider these questions before getting a pet.
Can you manage to care for a pet on a daily basis?
As mentioned earlier, you need to spare enough time in your day-to-day life to take proper care of a pet. If you are a working professional, it will be difficult for you to look after your pet’s feeding and exercise schedules. You should only own a pet if you or someone else can care for it, or unless the pet suffers from conditions such as depression or obesity.
Does its personality suit your lifestyle?
Your pet should match your personality and lifestyle. If you are an avid traveller and you spend most of your time hiking and travelling, a Chihuahua or a rabbit might not be able to accompany you. On the contrary, active and energetic dogs like Rottweiler or German shepherds won’t do well if you live in a small studio apartment.
Will you deal with your pet’s behavioral issues?
Every pet tends to have behavioral issues at some point in their lives, so it is crucial to consider whether you can deal with them. Your puppy may end up chewing your brand-new Gucci bag, or your cat may spoil your couch by peeing outside the litter box. Ask yourself if you can really let it go if your pet overwhelms you with his behavioral issues.
Before rushing into adoption, ask these questions to yourself. You will be ready to welcome a new furry friend into your house only when your answers are affirmative!

Not ready to own a pet yet? Here’s what you can do…

If you think you are not ready to commit to this lifelong responsibility, there are still ways you can enrich your life with pets and can reap their benefits to enhance your health and happiness.

If you really want to be around pets, you can spend a day in a shelter home every week, or volunteer with the animal rescue organizations. Most rescue homes welcome such volunteers to help them take care of the rescued animals. You can also enroll in volunteer work at the animal adoption events organized by them. Or, you can ask to walk your neighbour’s dog or to feed your friend’s cat once in a while.

Fostering a homeless pet until it finds its permanent home is also a good alternative to keeping a pet for few days without making any major commitments. Or, you can also be open to “pet-sitting” and looking after your friend’s pet when they’re out of town!

This way, you’ll not only get a chance to spend time with pets, but you’ll also be helping yourself by reaping its benefits!

The Pet Food Ingredient Game

About 25 years ago I began formulating pet foods at a time when the entire pet food industry seemed quagmire and focused on such things as protein and fat percentages without any real regard for ingredients. Since boot leather and soap could make a pet food with the “ideal” percentages, it was clear that analytical percentages do not end the story about pet food value. I was convinced then, as I am now, that a food can be no better than the ingredients of which it is composed. Since this ingredient idea has caught on in the pet food industry, it has taken on a commercial life that distorts and perverts the meaning of the underlying philosophy of food quality and proper feeding practices. Is health reducible to which ingredients a commercial product does or does not have? As contradictory as it may seem to what I have just said, no it is not. Here’s why.AAFCO ApprovalThe official Publication of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) gives wide latitude for ingredients that can be used in animal foods. As I have pointed out in my book, The Truth About Pet Foods, approved ingredients can include*:dehydrated garbageundried processed animal waste productspolyethylene roughage replacement (plastic)hydrolyzed poultry feathershydrolyzed hairhydrolyzed leather mealpoultry hatchery by-productmeat meal tankagepeanut hullsground almond shells(*Association of American Feed Control Officials, 1998 Official Publication)Simultaneously, this same regulatory agency prohibits the use of many proven beneficial natural ingredients that one can find readily available for human consumption such as bee pollen, glucosamine, L-carnitine, spirulina and many other nutraceuticals. It would be easy to conclude that reason does not rule when it comes to what officially can or cannot be used in pet foods.From the regulators’ standpoint, they operate from the simplistic nutritional idea that the value of food has to do with percentages and that there is no special merit to any particular ingredient. They deny the tens of thousands of scientific research articles proving that the kind of ingredient and its quality can make all the difference in terms of health. They also are silent about the damaging effect of food processing and the impact of time, light, heat, oxygen and packaging on nutritional and health value.The 100% Complete MythConsumers are increasingly becoming alert to the value of more natural foods. Everyone intuitively knows that the closer the diet is to real, fresh, wholesome foods, the better the chance that good health will result. Unfortunately, people do not apply this same common sense to pet foods. Instead they purchase “100% complete” processed foods, perhaps even going the extra mile and selecting “super premium” or “natural” brands, thinking they are doing the best that can be done. They surrender their mind to a commercial ploy (100% completeness) and do to their pets what they would never do to themselves or their family – eat the same packaged product at every meal, day in and day out. No processed food can be “100% complete” because there is not a person on the planet who has 100% knowledge of nutrition. The claim on its face is absurd. Understanding this simple principle is more important than any pet food formulation regardless of the merits of its ingredients. Everything that follows will begin with that premise, i.e., no food should be fed exclusively on a continuous basis no matter what the claims of completeness or ingredient quality.Genetics Is The KeyPets need the food they are biologically adapted to. It’s a matter of context. Just as a fish needs to be in water to stay healthy, a pet needs its natural food milieu to be healthy. All creatures must stay true to their design. What could be more obvious or simple? For a carnivore the correct genetic match is prey, carrion and incidental fresh plant material, and even some fur and feathers, as well as the occasional surprise of unmentionables found in decaying matter. It’s not a pretty picture to think that “FiFi” with her pink bow and polished toenails would stoop to such fare, but that is precisely the food she is designed to eat. Since that is her design, matching food to that design (minus the more disgusting and unnecessary elements) is also the key to her health.The Disease PriceWe may prefer to feed a packaged, sterile, steam- cleaned, dried, farinaceous chunk cleverly shaped like a pork chop, but let’s not kid ourselves, that is not the food a pet is designed for….regardless of the claims about ingredients on the label making one think it is five-star restaurant fare. Pets may tolerate such food for a time, but in the end nature calls to account. The price to be paid is lost health in the form of susceptibility to infections, dental disease, premature aging, obesity, heart and organ disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and other cruel and painful chronic degenerative diseases. Because our pets are not out in the rigors of nature where they would quickly succumb to such conditions and end their misery, they languish in our protected homes and under veterinary care that does not usually cure but merely treats symptoms and extends the time of suffering. That suffering begins with the way in which we are feeding our pets, not the ingredients in a supposed 100% complete pet food.The Perfect FoodWhat is the solution? It is simple and something I have been preaching for the past 25 years. Return pets to their environmental roots. They need – daily – interesting activity, fresh air, clean water, romps in nature, lots of love, and food as close to the form they would find in the wild as possible. Fresh, whole natural foods fit for a carnivore and fed in variety are as good as it can get. Anything less than that is a compromise. Compromise the least if health is the goal. (Same principle applies to you and your family.) To get a packaged food as close as possible to that goal requires the right starting philosophy of feeding (described above) and the expertise to design and manufacture such foods.Enter The ProfiteersElements of these principles (often distorted or misunderstood) have been taken up by an endless line of pet food entrepreneurs. The low fat craze led to low fat pet foods. The high fiber craze led to high fiber pet foods. The “no corn, wheat or soy” craze led to no corn, wheat or soy pet foods. The “omega- 3” craze led to pet foods with fish oil. The “variety” craze led to pet foods supposedly offering variety. The “four food groups” craze led to all four bundled into a package. The “raw” craze has led to raw frozen pet foods. The list is endless and the race for pet owner dollars is at a fever pitch.One can only feel sympathy for a concerned pet owner as they stroll along the huge array of pet food options in pet food aisles. Unfortunately, armed with only sound bites and lore they may have heard from a friend, breeder, veterinarian or on a commercial, they make choices that not only do not serve the health of their pet but may directly contribute to weakened immunity and disease.The first thing consumers should keep in mind is the ideal diet for pets as described above. No packaged product regardless of its wild claims is ever going to equal that. The next best thing is to home prepare fresh meals. (Contact Wysong for recipes and instruction.) If that is not always possible, then products should be selected that are as close to the ideal as possible. (More suggestions below.)Raw Frozen Pet Food DangersAt first glance, considering the perfect feeding model I have described – raw, natural, whole – the best food may seem to be one of the raw frozen pet foods now clamoring to capture the “raw” craze. I’m sorry to say that some of these purveyors even use my books and literature to convince pet owners that their frozen products are on track. They take bits and pieces of good information and distort it into something that pretty much misses the point and misleads consumers. Also, these exotic frozen mixtures of ingredients of unknown origin, manufacturing and freezing conditions are most certainly not economical nor the best choice. They may, because of the water content and raw state, be outright dangerous.Human GradeThen there are claims about “USDA approved” ingredients, “human grade” ingredients and ingredients purchased right out of the meat counter at the grocery store. Again, at first glance – and superficiality is what marketers like to deal with – it may seem that such foods would have merit over others. But such labels only create a perception of quality. People would not consider the food pets are designed for in the wild – whole, raw prey and carrion – “human grade” or “USDA approved.” Because something is not “human grade” does not mean it is not healthy or nutritious. For example, chicken viscera is not “human grade” but carries more nutritional value than a clean white chicken breast. Americans think that chicken feet would not be fit for human consumption but many far eastern countries relish them. On the other hand, “human grade” beef steaks fed to pets could cause serious nutritional imbalances and disease if fed exclusively. Pet foods that create the superficial perception of quality (USDA, human grade, etc.) with the intent of getting pet owners to feed a particular food exclusively is not what health is about.Pet Nutrition Is Serious Health SciencePet nutrition is not about marketing and who can make the most money quickly. Unfortunately an aspiring pet food mogul off the street can go to any number of private label manufacturers and have a new brand made. These manufacturers have many stock formulas that can be slightly modified to match the current market trend. Voilà! A new pet food wonder brand is created.Pet foods are about pet nutrition, and nutrition is a serious health matter. There is an implied ethic in going to market with products that can so seriously impact health. But the ethic is by and large absent in the pet food industry. Starting with the 100% claim and on to all the fad driven brands that glut the shelves, health is not being served. Nobody other than our organization is teaching people the principles I am discussing here. Instead, companies headed by people with no real technical, nutritional, food processing or health skills put themselves out to the public as serious about health … because that is what the public wants to hear and what sells. Never mind whether producers really understand or can implement healthy principles. The façade sells and selling is the game. Ingredients are important, true, but not less important than the expertise and principles of the producer who is choosing them, preparing, storing, processing and packaging them. Consumers place a lot of trust that nondescript processed nuggets are what consumers are being led to believe they are. Many a slip can occur between the cup and the lip. There are many slips that can occur between the cup of commercial claims and what ends up in the lips of the pet food bowl.Consumer BlameThe consumer is not without guilt in this unfortunate – steady diet of processed pet food – approach to pet feeding. They want everything easy and inexpensive. They don’t want to learn or have to expend too much effort, and they want something simple to base decisions on like: “corn, wheat and soy are evil,” or “USDA approved,” or “human grade” or “organic is good.” They also want something for nothing and think they can get it in a pet food. People want prime choice meats, organic and fresh foods all wrapped up tidy in an easy open, easy pour package, hopefully for 50 cents a pound. They may even pay $1 or a little more if the producer can convince them about how spectacular their product is or how much cancer their pet will get if they choose another brand.Are By-Products Evil?In the processing of human foods there are thousands of tons of by-products that cannot be readily sold to humans. Does that make them useless or even inferior? No. Such by-products could include trimmings, viscera, organs, bones, gristle and anything else that humans do not desire. Should these perfectly nutritious items be buried in a landfill? As I mentioned above, while Earth’s resources continue to decline and people starve around the globe, should we feed our pets only “human grade” foods and let perfectly edible – and sometimes even more nutritious – by-products go to waste? How is that conscionable or justifiable for either the consumer or the producer?Road Kill and Euthanized PetsThis shift to “human grade” for pet foods is partly due to a variety of myths that have gotten much stronger legs than they deserve. Lore has spread in the marketplace that road kill and euthanized pets are used in pet foods. I have never seen the proof for this outrageous claim and after twenty years surveying ingredient suppliers I have never found a supplier of such. However, fantastic myths easily get life and the more fantastic they are the more life they have. It’s the intellectually lazy way and what lies at the root of so much misery. Sloppy superficial thinking is what leads to racism, sexism, religious persecution and wars. People would like to think the world is sharply divided into right-wrong, good-evil, black-white. Marketers capitalize on this by trying to create such sharp distinctions for consumers to easily grab on to: human grade = good/all others = evil; organic = right/all others = wrong; rice = white/corn and wheat = black. Such simplistic and naïve distinctions are quick and simple for advertisers and salespeople to use to sway public opinion. But nobody stepping back and using common sense would ever think that something as complex as health could ever come from what is or is not in a processed bag of food. Reality is not black or white; it is in shades of gray. Grayness requires some knowledge, judgment and discernment before making choices. It’s a little more work but is what we all must do if the world is ever to be a better place and people and pet health are to improve.What To DoHow do concerned pet owners wanting to cut through all the marketing clutter negotiate a path? It is very simple if the basic principles I have discussed above are kept in mind. Here are tips on how to implement an intelligent health and feeding philosophy:1. Learn how to feed fresh food. Alternate these with honest processed foods fed in variety, and complement these foods with well- designed supplements.[How To Apologize To Your Pet]
http://www.wysong.net/PDFs/apology_pamphlet.pdfDon’t get all particular and paranoid about balancing nutrients and ingredient do’s and don’ts. Rotate, vary, mix it up and fast once in a while. Trust in nature, not some marketing hype. (Use the same principles for yourself and your family if you want optimal health as well.)2. If you must have human grade or organic foods for your pet, go buy the real thing at the grocery meat counter. Take it home, cut it up and feed it raw. Freeze the remainder into small meal portions and use them for subsequent meals. Don’t turn your brain off and go buy “organic” or “human grade” pet foods that for their cost could only contain hints of the real thing. Pet food manufacturers may be clever at marketing, but they are not magicians. One thing is certain; they do not buy ingredients and then sell them to you for less than what they buy them for.3. Use appropriately designed supplements such as Call Of The Wild™ and Wild Things™ to balance raw meals and help make them safe if you are not skilled at such meal preparation.4. The best raw, processed food alternative to fresh foods from the grocer is non-thermally processed dry foods – not raw frozen ones. (See Wysong Archetype™.) Use this food for alternate meals and as top dressing to heat processed foods.5. Check the credentials of the person making the decisions in the company whose products you buy. Don’t go to a plumber for brain surgery and don’t expect serious healthy products from business people.6. Steer away from brands that are pushing any particular hot buttons such as “natural,” “no by- products,” exotic ingredients (quail eggs, watermelon, persimmons, etc.), organic, omega-3, rice and the like. Although these features may bring some merit to a food (if they are put in at other than “pinch” levels), they are not an end in themselves and if the packaged food is fed exclusively can cause more harm than good.7. Steer away from brands that fear monger. For example, there is the no corn or wheat scam – “buy our brand; it has no corn or wheat.” (Just saying a product has “no” something is enough to scare the non-thinking public to the brand that doesn’t have the boogeyman ingredient. Profiteers know this and play it to the hilt in the pet food industry.) The truth is, grains are put in dried nugget foods because they contain the starch necessary for the extrusion process. Starch is pretty much starch regardless of whether it comes from corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, millet or whatever. Grains also help decrease the cost of pet foods. They contribute some nutrition but in a properly formulated meat-based pet food the majority of the nutritional value comes from the meat. It is true that animals may develop allergy to corn or wheat but that can happen with rice or any other grain or ingredient as well. Problems are prevented by varying the diet. That is why Wysong has developed the range of formulations it has and puts them in small portion packs so the foods can be rotated. Of all the Wysong formulations, the ones with corn are chosen on almost a 5:1 ratio over all others and are the diets we receive the thousands of raves about, even in those pets supposedly allergic to corn![Wysong Testimonials][http://www.wysong.net/testimonials.shtml]This is not to tout the merit of corn, or any grain in pet food for that matter. They are sort of a necessary evil in dried extruded foods and any of them can bring some benefit if rotated in the diet.8. Do not feed any product exclusively. Variety is the spice of nutrition and the road to good health.9. Features to look for in a packaged product would be those that bring the product close to the raw-whole-fresh-natural standard described above: active enzymes, probiotics cultures, natural preservation and protection against food-borne pathogens, proper packaging, intelligent formulation and balance, micronutrient dense, freshly produced, fresh ingredients – and the expertise to do all of this, not just say so on a package or brochure. (Some brands trying to get on the raw food bandwagon make outright false claims about “cold” processing.)10. The company should be able to intelligently explain what they are doing in terms of processing, packaging, product preservation and prevention of food-borne pathogens. It is one thing to simply put a certain ingredient into a food, quite another to protect it until it is consumed. For example, Wysong owns its own manufacturing facilities in order to go beyond industry standard techniques. Special portion pack, light- and oxygen- barrier bags, modified atmosphere flush and natural ingredients to prevent oxidation and food- borne pathogens are part of all Wysong products. (See technical monographs on Packaging, Antioxidants and Wyscin™.)11. Most important, learn. Support a company that helps you learn the truth and teaches you how to be at least somewhat independent of commercial products. Demand that producers provide proof for their claims in the form of good logic, evidence and science. Try to discern the company’s true motives, your pocketbook or your pet’s health. Learn how to go beyond The Pet Food Ingredient Game.Wysong R. L. (1993). Rationale for Animal Nutrition. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.Wysong, R. L. (2002, June 19). Why Modern Medicine is The Greatest Threat to Health. The Wysong e-Health letter. Wysong Institute, Midland, MI.[The Wysong e-Health letter]
[http://www.wysong.net/health/hl_884.shtml]Wysong, R. L. (2002). The Truth About Pet Foods. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.Wysong, R. L. (2004). Nutrition is a Serious Health Matter: The serious responsibility of manufacturing and selling. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.Wysong, R. L. (2004). The Thinking Person’s Master Key to Health (60 Minute CD Discussion) Wysong Institute, Midland, MI.Wysong, R. L. (2005). Comparing Pet Foods Based Upon What Matters: The First Study of its Kind in the Pet Food Industry. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.Wysong, R. L. & Savant, V. (2005). The Case AGAINST Raw Frozen Pet Foods. Midland, MI: Inquiry Press.For further reading, or for more information about, Dr Wysong and the Wysong Corporation please visit http://www.wysong.net or write to [email protected] For resources on healthier foods for people including snacks, and breakfast cereals please visit [http://www.cerealwysong.com].

Moving Guide: Moving with Pets

Americans and their loved pets move on average every seven years. If you have a pet or pets, remember that they also experience stress, particularly from moving. In many cases, moving can be even more stressful on pets, as the home is their habitat. Pets can also become very frightened when faced with unfamiliar situations. Careful organization and planning can make the moving process easier and less stressful for both you and your pet. Our guide offers tips and advice to help you and your pet through this process.Pet travel warningo Never move a sick pet – the move may aggravate his symptoms and be dangerous to his health.o The Animal Welfare Act makes it illegal to transport puppies and kittens less than eight weeks old by air.o Pets cannot be moved on a moving van with your household belongings.o Pets are generally not allowed on trains or buses, unless they’re guide-dogs accompanying blind or otherwise impaired persons.o Book a direct flight if you are traveling by plane. If your pet is traveling in freight he may be sitting outside with the freight for a long period of time between flights and as the freight is being moved from plane to plane. If the weather is either too hot or too cold your pet will suffer. An insulated crate will certainly help this situation if it cannot be avoided.Air TransportYou may transport your pet by air either accompanying you or as air freight. Some airlines provide counter-to-counter service so your pet will be carried on and off the plane by an airline employee. Remember, not all airlines accept pets for transportation, so be sure to inquire when you are making your travel arrangements. Also be sure to check about charges and insurance charges for transporting your pet.It is important that you book your air travel as early as possible. Airlines that accept pets for transportation will have specific regulations and guidelines regardless of whether the pets are accompanied or unaccompanied. For example, you may be required to be at the airport several hours in advance of the flight to check your pet in and your pet may need a special crate. The airline may be able to provide to you a crate for the trip, or you may have to purchase one from the airline.The airline will have guidelines on the crate types allowed and your local pet supply company will be able to sell you the required crate. You pet should be able to stand and turn around with ease and there should be adequate ventilation. The bottom of the crate should be padded with newspaper or other absorbent material. Add a favorite toy on move day to give a sense of security. Try to get your pet accustomed to the crate at home before the big day.On move day, feed and water your pet at least 5 hrs before the flight departure time and water again at least 2 hours before departure. Remember to administer any medication or veterinarian-recommended tranquilizers before departure. When you arrive at the airport, exercise your pet and check that you have provided all the necessary information to airline staff regarding your name, correct new address and alternate contact name in case of emergency.Some airlines allow passengers to bring pets into the cabin with them, provided they fall within a specific size range and stay in a carrier for the duration of the flight.By road – In a motor vehicleUnless you are planning a very short road trip, do not feed or water your pet for a couple of hours before leaving. You may decide to put your pet in a crate during the road trip, but be sure he is able to stand and turn around with ease and that there is adequate ventilation. The bottom of the crate should be padded with newspaper, towels or other absorbent and cushioning material. Adding a favorite toy will help give a sense of security. Exercise your pet regularly during the road trip, but always use a leash because your furry friend can easily get lost or hit by a car if he wanders off.Do not let your pet hang his head out the window while the car is moving. While many dogs love to do this, it can cause sore eyes, ears or throat. And, never let the windows down so far that your pet can jump out.WarningNever leave a pet in a hot car during the summer or in a cold car in the winter. Temperatures inside a car with closed windows escalate dramatically when it’s parked in the sun. Even if it’s pleasant outside, it takes only a few moments to reach over 100 degrees inside the car – which can be fatal for small occupants. If you absolutely have to leave your pet briefly, and the day is hot, park in the shade, lock the car doors and crack the windows open several inches to provide cross-ventilation. Check on him regularly. If the day is very hot, it is best not to leave your pet in the car at all.Pet’s travel bagDon’t forget to pack a travel bag for your pet! Following is a list of items you may wish to include;o Food and can openero Food and water disheso Any medication your pets needso Treatso Favorite toyso Leasho Grooming brusho Bags to clean up after your peto Newspaperso Cleaner and paper towelWhatever mode of transport you use for your pet, make sure you are in compliance with state and local regulations for animals in your destination city, along with current copies of.o ID tagso Health recordsPets ID tagsThe state where you are moving may have different laws regarding animals and their entry across state lines. It is important that you understand the requirements so that you can comply with them, so contact the state veterinarian for specific information. It is not uncommon for pets to need an entry permit in order to enter a new state. As well, in many towns and cities the number of pets per household may be limited. You will be required to obtain a local license for your pet within a certain deadline, such as 30 days, so find out what it is. You don’t want to pay a fine for not keeping your pet’s license current!HealthYou may need to obtain a health certificate for your pet from a licensed veterinarian and this can be used in the event it is required for entry to your new home state. The Department of Agriculture may request to see the health cert at your destination airport or could even be patrolling the highways if you are driving. A health cert is generally valid for 10 days, so be sure to have the inspection scheduled just before you move. The veterinarian will conduct a complete physical examination of your pet and check that he is current with all inoculations.DogsWhether traveling by air or by car, moving can be even more stressful for a dog than for a human, although some dogs adapt better than others. Hold off on packing your dog’s bedding and toys until the last moment so that he can be comforted by the presence of familiar things. If you’re traveling a long way, avoid feeding your dog for 12 hours before the journey in order to prevent travel sickness. If you know your dog suffers from travel sickness, ask your veterinary surgeon about medication.If you plan on flying to your new home, do your best to book a direct flight. If your dog has to be transported by freight and the flight is not direct he may have to sit out in the hot or cold weather as the freight is boarded to the new flight. Check with the airlines for details. If your dog is small enough, he may be able to travel in the passenger cabin with you. He will need a special pet carrier, which you can purchase at your local pet store. Ask the airline what crate specifications they require.If traveling by car, have your dog’s nails cut to avoid damage to the upholstery. Carry an adequate supply of plastic bags and use these to clean up after your pet at any rest stops you use. Never let your dog hang his head out the window of a car when it’ s moving. Even though most dogs love to do this, it can cause sore eyes, ears or throat.Never leave your pet alone in a car, especially in hot weather. The temperature inside the car can quickly rise to an unbearable level, even on what feels like a pleasant afternoon.Once you arrive at your destination, be sure to get your dog back in to his routine of eating and exercise. If you have moved to an apartment building and your pet dog was used to having a yard to play in, you’ll need to be extra considerate. Walk your dog more frequently, at least until he gets used to his new living situation. Be patient and make allowances for indoor “accidents.” Don’t punish your pooch, as this may make the problem worse. Clean the mess to remove the soil and smell. Once your dog has settled in, the accidents should stop. Use positive reinforcement to teach him where he needs to go. Always praise him when he relieves himself in the correct place.One way to help your dog settle in more quickly is to create a comfortable sleeping area for him. If your new home has a yard, check the fencing to make sure that it is secure, of sufficient height and ‘hole-free’ before letting your dog run loose. If your dog is able to escape, exercise him on a lead until you are able to make the necessary improvements.CatsIt’s commonly accepted that cats get very attached to places and typically hate to move. Cats get particularly comfortable with routine, and don’t like their environment to change. This can make moving especially difficult for humans and their cats.In the days leading up to your move, try to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible. It is best to crate your cat during the moving process, and it may be helpful to ask a friend or family member to keep an eye him.If you are traveling by air, you may need to purchase an airline-approved carrier for you cat. You airline should be able to provide you with all the details. If you are traveling by car you may also want to use a crate or carrier so your cat cannot roam about the car, or escape through an open window or door.Once you are in your new location, be careful to keep your cat indoors until he becomes comfortable in his new surroundings. Do not allow your cat outdoors, because he may try to return to you old home … and that’s obviously dangerous for him, especially if you’ve moved far away. Supervised outings are advised until your pet gets used to your new home. You can use a long leash on your cat and connect it to a stake in the ground, allowing your pet to wander the length of the leash for the first few days. Let your cat explore all the rooms of the house and be sure to check that outside doors and windows are closed before you begin.Birds and Small PetsOf all pets, birds are probably the most sensitive to changes in temperature and environment. Your pet bird can be moved in the cage in which it lives. When you are moving with your pet bird, be sure to use a cover for the cage. This can keep the bird calm and protect it from drafts. Place the cage in a shallow box to collect any gravel, feathers or droppings that may spill during transit. Remove any containers of food and water before moving the cage to avoid spills en route. Do feed and water your bird at its regular times, as birds, like all small animals, can become dehydrated very quickly in warm weather.Some states require a health cert for birds entering the state. The USDA may inspect this cert either at the airport or during routine roadway inspections. Have your pet bird inspected by your veterinarian prior to traveling. Some health certificates are valid for a brief period of time. Ten 10 days is a common window for a health certificate.HorsesThere are several ways to transport horses. Your horse can be transported by air freight, by towing a trailer or by hiring a specialized horse transporting company. The horse transport company can use either air or road to transport horses.By AirMany airlines accept horses as air freight. In general, they will only transport horses on direct flights. You will be required to have a stall constructed to the airline’s specifications, and you will need to ensure your horse has the necessary health checks completed prior to moving to your new home state. Remember that requirements vary by state, and airlines will request a health certificate. The USDA may also be at the destination airport conducting inspections and may request to see the health certificate.By RoadDepending on the distance you need to travel, towing your horse in a trailer behind your car or truck may be an option. If you do not own a trailer, you may consider renting one, but you’ll want to be sure you’re experienced enough to safely load and trailer your horse. You can also pack tack and feed in the trailer.If your trip requires overnight stays you will need to book stables en route for your horse. These stables will require a health certificates appropriate to horses only, and if they do not you probably don’t want to board your horse there. Your veterinarian should be aware of the applicable laws of the different states and will be able to provide you with the necessary health certificates. (Contact information regarding states entry requirements is at the end of this guide.)If you are unable to find a stable or lodgings for your horse in close proximity to your hotel, inquire whether the hotel will allow you to keep the trailer in the parking lot overnight. In inclement weather this is not advisable. Feed and water your horse per the normal routine and clean out the stall when you have an overnight stop.ReptilesMost states have strict government regulations regarding the entry of reptiles. See the states regulatory contact list at the end of this guide to find out what you need to do before moving your reptile from state to state.As a general rule, the carrier that a reptile is transported in needs to be kept moist. Place the reptile in a cloth bag and fasten the top of the bag, making sure to leave the reptile enough room to move about, then place the bag in the shipping container. Use foam peanuts for cushioning and place damp paper or cloth in the shipper to keep the environment moist. Make sure there are air holes in the shipper for ventilation. If you are traveling overnight with your reptile you may need to place him in the tub of your hotel room at night for a nice long soak. Check if the hotel allows pets first.Do not ship reptiles in excessively hot or cold weather, as their shipping container may be left outside for periods of time, leading to stress and possibly death.Snakes must be handled with extra care, especially if they are venomous. Most airlines require double crating for snakes, which means putting the snake in one crate and then placing this crate in another, larger crate. Adequate ventilation is a must. The airline may provide you with stickers to put on all sides of the crate and you will need to write the type of snake on this label. You should also write on the sticker whether the snake is venomous or not.**WarningRemember to keep the surroundings of all reptiles moist, but not wet. Placing a damp cloth inside the container is one of the best ways to keep your reptile’s environment appropriately moist during transit.FishFish are notoriously difficult to move safely from one location to another, but it can be done effectively and efficiently with some planning. It is advisable to sell or give away as many fish as you can before you move to help ease the burden. However if this is not an option, this guide will help you understand what you need to do.Depending on the size of your aquarium, and the number and type of fish you have, it may be easier to separate them into a several smaller tanks. If the aquarium is 5 gallons or less it may be just as easy to move the entire aquarium. Place some cellophane over the top of the aquarium and remove all heaters and aerators. Place the container in a cooler box or Styrofoam container to regulate the temperature and keep it constant for up to 48 hours. Be sure to open the cellophane every four to five hours to change and refresh the air. This option may be the best for tropical fish, which don’t do well in smaller containers with overcrowding or sudden changes in water and temperature.Never leave the container in the car overnight, as the temperature changes may be too drastic for the fish. If you plan to be traveling to your destination for a couple of days with your fish it is advisable to purchase a portable aerator to keep the water well oxygenated. Always pack your aquarium last in the moving truck so that you can unload it quickly at your destination.If you separate your fish into smaller containers or fish bags, you should try to use the aquarium water in order to keep the environment as constant as possible. In the event you do not have enough water for all the smaller containers, add fresh or saltwater appropriate to the type of fish. It is advisable to allow each container of water to settle for a few hours after filling. If you have only a small number of fish and are moving a short driving distance, you can move the fish to their new location by using plastic bags half-filled with water and half-filled with air. As a general guideline, each fish should have at least 1-2 gallons of water. To maintain the temperature, place the bags in an insulated container or Styrofoam container.Most fish can go without food for a couple of days without any problems, but it is important to add healing agents to the water, as the fish may become bruised en route. This is not uncommon and you can purchase healing agents at your local pet supply store.When you arrive at your destination set up the aquarium as quickly as possible. You may need to treat the water to neutralize any chemicals; your local pet store can advise you of any treatments the local water may need.Turn the aerator on for a while, and then add slowly and gently add the fish to the tank one at a time. Wait until the water settles, and feed them as usual.New CommunityPLEASE, PLEASE be responsible when you move and check beforehand with your new community to find out if pets are allowed. Some apartment and condominium complexes may not allow pets, and you certainly don’t want to find that out on moving day.Some of the most common reasons that people leave their pets with shelters are “we are moving “and “my landlord doesn’t allow pets.” Remember, pets do not know why their owners are leaving them behind, so do your homework beforehand to save all that heartbreak. Consider your options carefully, as pets should be considered a lifetime commitment. If you are absolutely unable to take your pet with you, you owe it to this creature to find him a good home.State and local regulationsYou need to make sure that your pet has some sort of easily read ID attached to its body. For dogs and cats this can be a collar, while a tag around the leg is appropriate for birds. The ID tag should have your pet’s name, destination address, your name and telephone number. It is also a good idea to have an alternate’s name and number on the tags in the event that somebody finds your lost pet and is unable to get in touch with you. You should also have rabies tags for your pet; depending on the state where you live this will most likely be a requirement. For air travel, your pet may be required to wear special travel tags, which the airline will provide.