As you become closer to your dog, you start to understand their wants and needs. You can tell when they are hungry or thirsty, when they want to go for a walk or when they want to go out.
However, internal problems aren’t always as clear…
There are a whole host of ingredients often found in popular dog foods that can cause problems in a dog’s digestive system.
Dogs have much stronger immune systems than humans, however they are still susceptible to allergens such as grains or dairy products.
Unfortunately, many popular dog food brands are packed with these ingredients that may be harmful to your pets.
The standard for dog food to be considered safe is only that the dog should be able to tolerate the feed. This means that minimum standard dog food should do no ‘immediate damage’ to dogs. However, it’s clear that the use of popular processed dog foods has had severe negative effects on the health of many dogs across the UK with symptoms such as internal bleeding, liver failure, vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss, all due to an unhealthy diet being very common.
1. Cheap Meat
Popular cheap dog food brands use unfavourable and processed ingredients simply because they are cheap.
When looking at the back of a bag of commercial dog food, you will likely find the words ‘meat meal’ or “meat derivatives’ to describe the type of meat that has gone into the dog food. The word meat is used to describe any animal that was once alive and meat derivatives means all the fleshy parts of slaughtered warm-blooded land animals, fresh or preserved by appropriate treatment, and all products and derivatives of the processing of the carcass or parts of the carcass of warm-blooded land animals.
Despite what it may say on the front of the packaging, i.e. beef or chicken, It’s likely that this meat meal is a mix of whatever meats happened to be on hand at the time, with only a small percentage (often only 2 - 4%) of the meat being identifiable. The rest of the ‘meat’ could be made up from leftovers.
Often they will use the cheapest pieces of meat that are available. It is even legal for dog food companies to use 4D meats, that is dead, dying, diseased and disabled animals.
This meat is usually rejected for human consumption and sold cheaply to dog food producers, despite the fact that it is far more likely to contain diseases, cancerous tissues, tumors, injection sites, and manure.
Not knowing what meats are going in to dog foods means that your pets are receiving proteins from multiple sources. If just one of those proteins is causing issues with your dogs it is impossible to identify what the culprit is and therefore cut it from your dog’s diet.
2. Use of Grain
Grains are used by many dog food companies as a cheap filler to bulk up the feed and as a source of protein. However, dogs would never eat gains while in the wild and have not evolved in order to do so. They do not have the enzymes necessary in their saliva to digest grains, nor to properly benefit from plant based proteins.
That means that these high plant based protein diets are hard on dog’s organs. Their bodies aren’t designed to digest these, which forces their organs to go into overdrive which creates an extreme strain on your poor pets’ kidneys and liver.
This is before you even consider where the grain comes from. Much like meat, the quality of grain that can be fed to dogs is of a much lower standard than what is considered suitable for human consumption. This means that pet foods are a great way for grain mills to create profit out of the waste grain that does not meet the standards for human consumption. This can include grain that contains a high level of pesticide or some other contaminate. It can even include the sweepings from the mill floor.
That means that the grain used in processed dog foods could potentially contain any number of unfavourable by-products that could be extremely detrimental to your dog’s heath, causing a whole host of issues with their digestive system.
3. Unnatural Preservatives
Much like ready meals and fast food for humans, many dog food brands have been using artificial preservatives as a cheap and reliable way to ensure those huge bags of dog food last as long as possible. However, some of these preservatives have been shown to be toxic to certain dogs.
Many other additives used in pet food, such as tartrazine, carmoisine and sunset yellow, are thought to cause hyperactivity in humans. There is no reason to believe that this would be any different for animals.
Processed dog foods are also sprayed with excess fat to make them more palatable to dogs. Much in the same way a piece of fried chicken might taste better than boiled, this certainly means your pets are more likely to wolf down their dinner, unfortunately it also means that they are more likely to put on weight and potentially even become obese. One in three household pets are overweight as a result of excess processed fat consumption and not enough exercise.
To avoid any nasty preservatives, the best option is to opt for fresh and naturally flavoured pet foods.
4. Vets May Be On Commission
Most vets are not typically nutritional experts when it comes to what the best dog foods are.
Often sales reps will convince vets to sell a certain brand of pet feed and this is the main source of information vets have on the different dog foods.
In selling one brand of dog food above all others, vets are able to get commission from the feed company and will likely be biased towards that certain brand.
Vets are trained to use treatments and practices that are backed up by evidence based data.
Unfortunately, much of the data on what kind of food dogs should be eating, has been funded by major processed food companies such as Iams parent company Proctor and Gamble.
This means that the current conventional veterinary industry is still leaning towards the side of feeding dogs a well-balanced kibble over alternative foods.
This isn’t to say that all vets are on commission, nor that you shouldn’t trust the opinion of your local vets. In fact, in recent years the trend of vets recommending processed dog foods has fallen considerably with most opting for fresher dog foods. It’s important to check the labels for yourself and ensure you know exactly what ingredients are going in to the dog food you feed your dogs and by extension your dog’s themselves.
4. What Can You Do To Help Pets?
It doesn’t require a lot of work to keep your dog fit and healthy. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are the two cornerstones of a healthy pup.
Look out for dog food brands that contain fresh meats and highly digestible ingredients, you can keep your dog fit and healthy without worrying about their health.