Most of us wish to do the very best we can to help our animals feel and look healthy. We want for them the highest possible quality of life and longevity. When it comes to good nutrition and wellness for our animals, it is hard to know whom to trust these days- do we trust our peers? Do we trust the experts at the stores? Can we even trust our veterinarians?

It is important to seek out as much information as we can with respect to what we are feeding our beloved best friends. There is so much misinformation regarding what actually goes into cat/dog food, how/where it is processed, from where the ingredients originate and what the marketing companies aren’t telling us. Though it is a tall order to spend our days and nights researching every aspect of our cat/dog foods, below are five commonly used ingredients in cat/dog foods that might surprise- and disgust you.

  1. MEAT-Perhaps most questionable of all, when a cat/dog food label lists unspecified ‘meat’ as an ingredient, there is a cause for reservation. Certainly, there are many, many types of ‘meat’ that can be used as dog/cat food. Unfortunately, in this case, none of them are. When a cat/dog food label lists ‘meat’ as an ingredient, the meat is not composed of beef, pork, poultry or fish, no. Unspecified ‘meat’ is most often composed of euthanized pets, horses, dead, dying and diseased animals. Some lower and middle end dog food companies have been exposed in the media as using the above forms of ‘meat’ to promote a healthy, protein-rich food. If your dog/cat food label includes an unspecified form of ‘meat’ in its ingredients list, you are likely feeding your animal other people’s pets. Please do yourself and your animals a favour and only buy dog/cat food with specified forms of meat on the labels- preferably in their least processed form. (i.e. deboned chicken, deboned turkey, etc).
  2. FISH-Often, labels of ingredients list ‘fish’ or ‘ocean fish’ as one of the fist ingredients. While fish is an excellent choice for a protein source, a label that does not specify a type of fish may spell trouble for our animals. Much like the meat label listed above, the non-specification of the type of fish means that it is not one specific fish. Cat and dog food manufacturers have come up with yet another clever way to fool us. ‘Fish’ , or ‘ocean fish’ without specificity likely means that these are the fish that are caught that are too polluted for human consumption- so these manufacturers throw them into cat and dog food.
  3. CORN GLUTEN– In this day and age, corn gluten is an ingredient listen on many ingredient lists of brands who claim to be the healthiest. Further, most of these brands are actually recommended by your veterinarian. But what exactly is corn gluten? It may surprise you to know that corn gluten isn’t gluten at all. It is actually a product that was created to kill weeds. Yes, it is lawn fertilizer that kills weeds. Corn gluten is a by-product of the corn manufacturing process. While the machines turn field corn into store-bought corn, the waste materials from the process are gathered together and called ‘corn gluten’. While in the past it has been used as animal feed, corn gluten is a starchy material. Starches in animal food can cause great harm such as; yeast overgrowth, severe joint inflammation, early stage organ failure and some types of cancers. Would you feed your animal something that was created with the intention and high success rate of being a weed-killer?
  4. POWDERED CELLULOSE– Powdered cellulose is an unfortunately common ingredient in cat and dog food; even the higher quality brands. Powdered cellulose is just a fancy marketing name for sawdust! Derived from pine trees, bamboo and cotton, powdered cellulose is made into a pulp and then dried before it’s added to food. What is beyond questionable here is that pine and bamboo are toxic to cats and dogs! As you may imagine, there are at least several major health concerns that come along with our cats’ and dogs’ daily consumption of sawdust. One such concern is that the cellulose has a large quantity of insoluble fiber and can actually prevent your dog or cat from digesting and absorbing crucial ingredients such as proteins, vitamins and minerals. Additionally, powdered cellulose is a highly processed As we know, consuming processed foods on any level care dangerous for our animals. The more something is processed, the worse it is for our health. Processed foods can wreak havoc on our digestive systems, cause severe inflammation, bowel irregularities and more. Powdered cellulose is often found in dog and cat food that has a specifically targeted audience such as; hairball, weight control, dental and diabetes formulas. While a healthy amount of fibre is important in the diets of our dogs and cats, a diet with too much fibre can rapidly deplete their bodies of healthy and vital nutrients. A diet with too much fibre causes too much poop. This means that before the vital nutrients are able to be absorbed into the body, they evacuate.
  5. BY-PRODUCT– By definition, the term by-product means ‘the secondary product made in the manufacture of something else’. In dog and cat foods, by-products are the parts of the slaughtered animal that are leftover after the ones that are intended for human consumption have been removed. Often, on such cat and dog food labels that list “by-product (chicken, pork, beef, etc.), we will see pictures of whole foods in their healthy form. This is the ‘genius’ of marketing. When in fact these labels appear to advertise healthy food choices in by-product meats, what you’re actually feeding your cats and dogs may surprise you. What exactly is by-product? In cat and dog foods, by-product can consist of anything from chicken beaks and feet to out of date supermarket meat. Cat and dog food companies will claim that chicken beaks and feet are high in proteins. While technically this is true, this type of protein is called Keratin and is the protein found in hair, skin and nails. Protein is metabolized to create healthy skin, bones, muscles and brain function. Keratin, however, is insoluble and does not break down in the digestive system to be metabolized as proteins for the body. This type of protein goes straight through the digestive tract without any nutrients having been retained in the body. Other forms of by-products are; feathers, feet, brain, blood, bone, intestines and fatty tissues among others.

Whether or not any of the above information found yourself shocked and appalled, it is imperative to research all food labels for your animals and for yourself. If you type any of the above ingredients (or others) into a search engine you will find pages and pages of research and results. Awareness is a vital aspect of ensuring we and our animals live a long and healthy life!


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