Animals and Obesity

Humans are not the only creatures who are becoming increasingly obese and suffering from diabetes. If you look around us, our furry little friends are also suffering from weight and insulin related illnesses.

According to the U.S. Pet Obesity Prevention society, 53% of all adult dogs are overweight and 55% of all adult cats are overweight in the United States. Like in humans, obesity can trigger arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, certain types of cancers as well as heart and respiratory disease.

Now who do you think is to blame for this? Fido? Felix? Absolutely not! I am pretty certain we are to blame -the people who love them the most.

Have you ever thought of what is actually in that ped food you lovingly feed your animal? To be honest neither did I until recently. My husband is a qualified vet, and when we adopted two little kittens in Mexico, the quality of the food we bought was very important to him and he was determined he would only buy the best for our little babies! I shrugged it off, as a fatherly indulgence, but recently it has got me thinking!

If the food industry has absolutely no qualms about putting in all sort of additives, corn, sugar and other unnecessary rubbish into food for humans, what on earth are they putting into food for our animals? After a brief discussion with a friend of mine here in Brazil who works for the US Foreign Agricultural Services – my suspicions were confirmed. The worst of the worst left-overs goes into pet food!

Take a look at these two different cat food brands and their ingredients. The first is Friskies Sea Food Sensation (http://www.friskies.com/Cat-Food/Dry-Cat-Food/Seafood-Sensations):

Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, meat and bone meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soybean meal, animal liver flavor, ocean fish meal, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, salt, tuna meal, potassium chloride, choline chloride, salmon meal, crab meal, dehydrated seaweed meal, taurine, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, Yellow 5, DL-Methionine, Red 40, manganese sulfate, niacin, Yellow 6, Blue 2, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite. E-6003

Notice that the first two ingredients is corn, which means this is the main ingredient in the cat food! If you continue to read through the long list of ingredients, the only form of protein that you see  are types of ‘meals’ (Poultry by-product meal, meat and bone meal, ocean fish meal etc etc). In this context ‘meal’ is “dry, ground, rendered clean parts of the animal carcass (according to wikipedia). So there is no actual meat or muscle in this food.

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Now lets have a look at Eukanuba’s Lamb and Rice Cat food (http://www.eukanuba.com/cat-food/adult-cat-food/lamb-and-rice-cat-food):

Chicken, Chicken By-Product Meal, Corn Meal, Corn Grits, Lamb, Brewers Rice, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), Dried Beet Pulp, Dried Egg Product, Natural Flavor, Sodium Bisulfate, Potassium Chloride, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of Vitamin E), DL-Methionine, Fructooligosaccharides, Brewers Dried Yeast, Choline Chloride, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, Ascorbic Acid, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Thiamine Mononitrate (source of vitamin B1), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (source of vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement (source of vitamin B2), Inositol, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid), Calcium Carbonate, Minerals (Zinc Oxide, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Cobalt Carbonate), Salt, Rosemary Extract

At first glance it may not appear that much better – but there are a few distinct differences which I think are very important. Unlike Friskies the first two ingredients are chicken and chicken by-product meal. Although there is a lot of ‘meal’ ingredients in here as well, note however that chicken and lamb is actually stated as an ingredient. Which means, actual chicken meat was used in the making of this dry food!

I am no animal health expert, but it is my belief that like humans cats and dogs are not built to consume so much carbohydrates and process so much rubbish. Once I had a look at the ingredients of both cat foods, I became quite sad (we currently feed our cats Eukanuba)- is this really what we are feeding our best and most loyal friends?

Making my own cat food is something that has never crossed my mind, I may just give it a go now – however that is not an option for everyone. BUT, what is an option is to read the ingredient labels. Do your research, all pet food brands have their nutritional information online and try to buy the best quality pet food by looking for brands that list meat and protein as the 1st ingredient!

poultry-by-product-food-for-pets

Do any of you make your own pet food? If so, please do share your recipes and experiences, as I would love to know more about this topic!

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