What is in your dog or cat’s food? Have you checked the label lately? If you have, you may have started to question what exactly you are feeding your furry canine or feline companion. Take a good hard look and you will see that many pet foods contain ingredients you would never want a member of your family to ingest. And your pet is a member of your family, so why expose her to the same things?
First off, the pet food industry has lots of money to spend on advertising. They can take great video of juicy chickens coming fresh out of the oven, beef chopped in rich chunks on the chopping block by a butcher, and fresh vegetables being run under water after being picked from the garden. All those images can lead you to believe that those foods are actually in your pet’s food. But don’t be fooled, because that is not what your pet is getting…unless you buy organic.
The organic pet food industry is the one place where you will find truth in advertising. They are required to be certified by organic certification boards, and they must adhere to the standards set by the organic industry. They are routinely visited by health inspectors and are graded by the USDA in many cases. The meat used in organic pet food is the same quality as that being processed for human consumption.
The unregulated pet food industry is a scary place. Pet foods may contain pesticides, steroids, chemicals, antibiotics, and other additives that lead to poor health in your pet. Pets are now, as a whole, getting more diseases and showing signs of adverse reactions to the chemicals in pet foods. An animal that has chronic dry patches that she itches into red blotches or whose coat is unhealthy may be suffering side effects from questionable pet food. There are other symptoms as well. Pets may develop allergies that result in watery eyes and sneezing. You may think it’s a normal allergy, but it could be due to the pet food.
Many pet foods are nothing less than bags of cardboard-like filler sprinkled with chemicals. Pet foods have been proven to contain steroids and drugs from animals who were sick at the time of their slaughter, pesticides from the foods the animals ate during grazing, and other unnatural and unhealthy substances. It’s enough to make you want to clear your cabinets of every piece of traditional dog or cat food.
An enlightened pet owner is able to make better choices. You may have seen the prices of organic pet food and though that you just couldn’t afford it even though you’d like to. But the truth is that you can’t afford not to feed your pet the best food money can buy. You’ll end up saving money in vet bills and see a pet that is thriving long into old age.
Making the switch to organic pet food doesn’t have to be a budget buster. Look for specials, internet deals, and other ways to save on organic foods. If you can, make your own pet food. When you’re cooking organic meat and vegetables, before you put any spices in, set some aside to grind up for your pet. Cats will eat meat as well as fish. Dogs will too.
It’s never too early or too late to start feeding your pet organic pet food that is free of pesticides, hormones, and steroids. Young animals will have the benefit of a full healthy life ahead of them. Older pets will live out their years in good health and be rid of some of the conditions that have plagued them during their toxic dog or cat food days.
While a poor diet is not the only reason pets get sick, unsafe and unhealthy pet food could be a culprit. Make sure you keep your pet at a healthy weight and be sure he gets enough exercise. Even the fattest tabby cat will want to chase a feather on a stick or run after a bouncy ball or laser light toy. Make it a habit to give your pet filtered water and plenty of it. If your dog is not drinking any water or too much, have him evaluated for a medical condition. And if you feed exclusively dry dog or cat food, be sure there’s extra water available throughout the day for him.
You love your pet and want to do what’s right for him. Make some small changes and you can afford organic foods for your pets as well as healthier organic choices for yourself. Cheap foods are usually processed, so try to select foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. Cook extra and freeze portions for your pet to eat during the week. It will save you from having to cook every night and he’ll love his new dinners.
Ever wonder why some people reach for the bag of expensive organic dog food or the cans of pricey organic cat foods when out shopping? It’s because they know the benefits of organic pet food. True, they are more expensive, and with food costing more than ever, you may not be able to swing it. But you can consider making some small life changes that will allow you to buy organic foods for your pet, which are far healthier and safer for your beloved pet.
Maybe you can work organic food into your budget by foregoing a few extra lunches out at work one week. Bring your own sandwich and, over the course of a few weeks, you will find enough extra in your budget to get kitty the best food available. Or skip the car wash and wash your own car, invest in a dry cleaning kit for your home dryer and skip the dry cleaner, or brew your coffee at home instead of getting that $5 latte. If you put your mind to it, you can find small sacrifices that are worth making for your pet.
So what is so great about organic pet food anyway? You know organic food is good for you, but it’s also good for your pet. Here are some of the main ways it will help your pet:
- Organic pet foods help your pet have more energy. Without the fillers and chemicals in many store brand dog foods, your pet gets pure nutrition which his body can put into action. He won’t be as sluggish and he won’t gain as much weight. Pets, just like people, suffer many ailments from being overweight, so you’re helping your pet live a pain-free life by keeping him at the right weight with a nutritious diet.
- Organic pet food does not contain steroids, hormones, fillers, antibiotics or other toxic or questionable ingredients. Because the food is regulated and purely organic, there are no “byproducts” or “bone meal.” You don’t even want to know what’s in bone meal.
- Organic pet foods help your pet remain allergy-free and help them grow and maintain a healthier coat. Dogs and cats that have flaky, itchy skin are usually allergic to some of the toxins in their foods. Unless you’re using chemical bath products on him (and if you are, switch to natural organic soaps), your pet is probably allergic to the food he is eating. Go organic and you will notice his skin is clearer and his eyes are brighter. His nose will probably stop running and you’ll all feel better.
- Does your dog have foul breath, stinky gas and a gurgling, bloated stomach? You may think it’s normal for dogs to have doggie breath, but it’s not. A healthy dog doesn’t have toxic breath and his belly should not be bloated. If your dog is experiencing bloat and diarrhea or other bowel issues, you may see quite an improvement if you switch to organic pet food. Many dogs and cats are allergic to the grain fillers in cheap pet food, but organic pet foods don’t contain any of those grains.
- Does your pet get sick a lot? Cats have been known to come down with respiratory viruses and dogs with kennel cough if their immune systems are out of whack. An organic diet will help your pet build up a healthy immune system and he won’t catch as many bugs. He will feel better and not have down days when he’s not feeling up to playing.
- Organic pet foods will also help your dog or cat live longer. It’s a fact that a healthy, organic diet will help your dog have fewer ailments, feel and look younger, and suffer less. Your pet does not have to succumb to joint pain or arthritis as he ages. Give him plenty of exercise, water, and organic food and see how young he acts in his older years. Your pet will healthier overall and he may even live well past any usual dog or cat age on record.
Organic pet foods are a good idea whether you skimp a little on the ice cream budget or whether you make your pet’s food yourself. You will be investing in a healthier and toxic free pet who will be part of the family long into the future. Providing organic food today will make for many happy, pain-free days for your animals later in life. It’s a wise move and doesn’t take that much extra effort.
Clean out your cabinets and go for fresh, healthy organic pet food alternatives. You will see the change in your pet right away and especially during meal time, you will notice he is happier and finishes every morsel. Finicky kitties will even lick their plates clean when organic is on the menu. Watch and see the good organic pet foods can do.
Is it important to give your pet organic food? You may be wondering what the difference is between organic and regular pet food. It can be confusing for consumers as many dog and cat food brands claim they are “natural” or “wholesome.” But what does that really mean?
In order to be labeled organic, dog and cat food must be made without any hormones, steroids, or pesticides. The packaging must show a symbol that it is organically certified, or else it’s not.
So what’s so bad about normal pet foods anyway? The problem with processed dog and cat foods is that they contain minimal traces of healthy meats and are packed with fillers. The amount of meat in lesser quality dog foods is questionable, and when there is meat, it is listed as “meat byproducts,” which doesn’t really count as meat. With this dog food, you really have no idea what your pet is getting.
Cheaper dog and cat foods can contain just about everything but real meats and healthy fats and other proteins. They can basically be a can full or undecipherable ingredients and can leave you questioning the health benefits of ingredients you can’t even pronounce. The best case scenario is that your dog or cat is getting lesser cuts of meat. The worst case scenario is that your pet is getting ground up “meat and bone meal” as you may find listed in the ingredients. This could be anything from ground up bones to more unsavory parts of the animal unfit for humans to consume.
If you wouldn’t eat something yourself, why would you feed it to your pet? Did you know that the often rancid odor that has come to be associated with dog and cat food is actually just that, old or rancid fats and grease that cannot be sold for human consumption? Often, it comes from restaurant grease. Restaurants are paid to save their left over frying oil in huge drums and then companies will come pick it up for use in dog and cat food. Who knows what that barrel of grease has been exposed to during its time in the restaurant? It could have sat for months in the heat or attracted wild animals that leave their droppings in it.
If all this has turned your stomach sour, it’s no wonder. The pet food industry has come under much scrutiny over the past years. That’s where the organic marketers have made their entrance. Consumers are now aware of the disagreeable contents of other mass produced pet foods and want to go organic for their pets. Marketers such as Newman’s Own, started by Paul Newman, and Wellness Pet Food are changing the way pet foods are made.
Organic pet foods contain ingredients in their purest forms. Companies like Only Natural Pet Food sell pet patties that are freeze dried and contain organic ingredients. The format is dried and is never cooked or heated before preserving. This means it’s more rich in vitamins and minerals and is free from any fillers. In fact, it contains USDA chicken and beef, fresh vegetables, and is free of grain, which pets, like people, can be allergic to.
The consistency of the food also allows the pet owner to crumble it into the pet’s dish even when on the road. It’s light and travels well. Some people even feed them to their pets as pet treats in the crumbly chunk state. What does all this cost? About $2.50 per day. That may seem like a lot when you consider a 40-lb bag of filler pet food can run you just $10. But would you rather pay less for food that has no nutritional value, or go for a bit more pocket change and get the good stuff?
Often times it is the pet owner’s wish to buy their pet wholesome, organic foods, but the cost is prohibitive. If that’s the case, consider other ways you can save in your budget. Eat out less or buy one less coffee drink a week at the expensive coffee shop. You’ll see that you can sneak in a few cases of organic cat food and not even feel the pinch in your budget.
Of course, another way to do it is to make all your pet’s food yourself. This can be as simple as bringing a grinder or food processor to the table and when you’re finished with your meal, grinding up the leftovers including fruits and vegetables for your pet. There are ways you can do it very cost-effectively as well by buying a little extra steak or a lesser cut of organic beef or chicken intended for your pet. Cook up a few days’ worth ahead of time and you will have enough for several days. Freeze batches in doggie or kitty sized portions and you won’t have to cook as often. You’ll be so happy when you see your pet licking the bottom of his dish, and you’ll know that he’s healthier too.
When you want to switch your dog or cat over to organic pet food, why not make your own? It costs less than store bought and is even fresher and tastier. It only takes a few ingredients and a little time.
Basically, dogs and cats can eat meats and vegetables just like you do, but there are a few precautions to take. Just be sure you never feed dogs bones that could get stuck in their throats if they splinter. Never give them chocolate or candy. You also want to stay away from onions or garlic for dogs or cats, as well as nuts and grapes or raisins.
Cook a batch of food on Sunday nights and freeze portions that your dog or cat can eat later in the week. Just defrost and serve when the time comes. Be sure the food does not sit out on the counter for longer than one hour and that you don’t serve hot food to a pet.
Here’s a recipe from eto.com (www.theguideto.com ) for basic burger patties for your dog:
Dog Hamburger Patty Recipe
- 1 cup of hamburger meat, stir fried in 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 chopped boiled eggs
- ½ cup of plain oatmeal, cooked
- 1 jar of baby food green beans
- 1 jar of baby food carrots
- 2 tablespoons of cottage cheese
Mix all the ingredients together and serve it to your dog at room temperature. You can add a good doggy food supplement or multivitamin to be sure that your pet is receiving the right amount of nutrients. Cover and store leftovers in the fridge and throw them out if they remain uneaten after three days.
Here is a recipe from a popular site, www.recipes4gourmetdogs.com for a turkey-based meal:
LADY AND LOLA’S FAVORITE EVERYDAY MEAL
- 7 cups of turkey ( or other lean protein choice )
- 5 cups brown rice ( or substitute 4 cups pasta, or try 6 cups of mashed potatoes )
- 4 cups cooked pureed veggies and fruits mixed together. (Pureed vegetables and fruits make them easier to digest) see below for combination ideas to try.
- 3 tbsp. canola oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- daily multivitamin/mineral supplement
You can also include a calcium supplement, which is an important ingredient in homemade dog food recipes.
- Remove fat, skin and drippings from the pan after cooking the meat.
- Cut the meat into small cubes and mix in the veggie/fruit puree and add the rice
- Make sure the meal is not hot – wait until it’s room temperature
- Cook the starch you are using a little longer than necessary to make it softer
- When the meal is ready add the salt and drizzle with the oil. Yummy!
The veggies and fruits should be cooked and pureed. Use any combination your dog prefers.
He/she will let you know quickly which they prefer.
Don’t introduce several at once.
Start with the basic carrot and apple combo. This adds sweetness to the food that most dogs love.
Use approximately 3/4 to 1/4 ration of veggies to fruit. For the recipes above, that would be 3 cups carrots and 1 cup apples, pureed and mixed together.
Many dogs like carrots, beans and peas mashed together so consider using 3 cups of this and add one cup of mixed fruit consisting of apple and pears (use canned pears without sugar).
You can also use blueberries in combination with the apple or pears. In the winter when fresh produce is not as available, you can use frozen fruits and veggies and cook them until they are soft enough for the food processor.
But what about kitty? What if you want to make your own cat food? It’s not as hard as you think. But just be mindful of the fact that there are foods that are no-no for cats. They include chocolate, coffee, raw fish, spices, raw eggs, alcohol or garlic. So be sure kitty stays away from those.
Homemade Cat Food Dinner (Courtesy of Suite101.com)
- 2/3 cup ground chicken or hamburger
- 1 jar of mixed vegetables baby food
- 1 cat vitamin crushed (optional)
- 1/3 cup of plain dry bread crumbs
In a small pan over medium heat, add your meat and a little water. Poach the meat until it is medium rare. (Poach means to cook in boiling or simmering water.) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the meat to cool. Next, pour the contents of the pan into a bowl. Add in the vegetables and vitamin if you choose. Mix these ingredients in the bowl and form into marble-sized balls. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs. You may serve it immediately or store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for three days.
Pet food used to all be the same. It all fell under the Alpo-type brand. Chunks of unidentifiable meat in a can or tidbits of dry crunchies of unknown origin. No one used to question what was in dog or cat food. But the standards have greatly changed today. Today’s pet owners demand to know what’s in their beloved pet’s food. And they’re right to ask.
It can be really scary reading some of the labels of pet foods out there. What are meat byproducts? Are some of those words you can’t pronounce really steroids or preservatives in disguise? If you can’t pronounce what’s in the food, you probably don’t want to feed it to your pet.
If your pet is finicky or refuses to eat what you put in front of him, you may be feeding him inferior quality pet food without knowing it. Animals can sense when something doesn’t taste right, and preservatives don’t taste anything like the meat they crave. It would be like giving meat flavored potato chips instead of a steak to your kids. You’d never do it. And now, you don’t have to serve imitation flavors to your pets either. There are lots of healthy, hearty pet foods on the market that are good for your pet. There’s even organic pet food, which not only benefits your furry companion, but is also good for the planet.
Organic dog foods will list ingredients like meat first on their ingredient list. They will be made without hormones, steroids, or chemical preservatives. The process of making and growing the other ingredients will not include pesticides or insecticides. There is a regulating body in the dog food world, so look for products that are stamped organically certified to be sure.
Don’t be fooled by names like “Goodness Harvest” or other vaguely healthy-sounding names that can’t back up their claims to natural or organic ingredients. Anyone can slap a name on a dog or cat food, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or nourishing, and it certainly doesn’t qualify it as organic.
Look for companies like Newman’s Own, which was started by Paul Newman and offers products for pets and humans that are organically grown and manufactured under the strictest guidelines. Bring home a small bag and see if your cat or dog doesn’t finish the whole bowl in one setting.
Yes, of course it’s cheaper to buy a huge bag of no name dry food or several cases of discount bargain canned food. But do you know what’s in it? It’s better to spend the money on a nutritionally rich food and not on the unhealthy fillers that the lesser products contain.
Ask your vet for recommendations on which pet foods are best. They will know and may often give you a sample of several types, but just beware that vets often are in partnership with the pet food companies. They sell their products at their offices and get a commission. That may not always be the case, but if you are in doubt, take the samples and then see if your dog or cat likes them before buying a large quantity.
There are companies like Science Diet and Eukanuba which are top names in dog and cat food. You can now find them at pet stores for a bit cheaper than they used to be, but they are still expensive compared to supermarket brands.
Pets are healthier, live longer, produce less waste, and have fewer skin conditions when eating organic pet foods. It’s not just a trumped up marketing claim. It is true that pets who eat organically produced foods are healthier. So, if you want your dog or cat to live out his full life with fewer maladies, provide him with a healthy diet.
You can also make your own pet food. There are many cook books and recipes online for making your own home-cooked foods for dogs and cats. If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for them. So, go ahead and give him mashed up carrots or peas. See what he’ll eat. Cats are a bit more choosy by nature, but they will eat healthy foods once they get used to them. It may be a big change in the smell of traditional cat foods to organic cat foods, so give your cat a chance to adjust before assuming she doesn’t like it.
Bake and cook for your pets using organic ingredients or buy the best organic foods you can find for your pets in the stores. You won’t have any trouble finding them, but you may have to slightly adjust your budget to make a switch from the cardboard fillers in cheaper pet foods to the wholesome foods with the heftier price tags. It’s worth it though for your pets and their well being.