Healthy Pet Food?
Aren’t They All?
by Will Falconer, DVM
Certified Veterinary Homeopath
Web site:

So, Spot and Puff are doing fine you say, why bother with healthy pet food? Well, for starters, long term health and disease prevention depend on good, healthy food, to allow the body to do all of it’s amazing work: getting energy from food and oxygen from the air, keeping the immune system on the alert against disease invaders, digesting food, eliminating waste, seeing, smelling, hearing, replacing worn out cells, raising young, playing, and being your best buddy! The smooth functioning of all the organs and cells of a healthy body depends on good nutrition.

And did you know what’s in most pet foods? Whether expensive, premium, or even veterinarian-sold, these foods often contain some pretty unhealthy ingredients! One common one is animal byproducts, which means everything from the world of meat unfit for humans to eat. Typical ingredients include the “4-D Meats.” This means animals arriving at slaughter Dead, Diseased, Dying, or Disabled! Rendering companies take these animals and turn them into feed ingredients that are then sold to pet food manufacturers. Animals that have been condemned for drug residues (hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, etc.) are part of this source. Byproducts can even include the dogs, cats, and horses that have been euthanized (put to sleep with a drug overdose). And, if you’re a good label detective, you’ll see these ingredients listed in the first few in a pet food. Why? This is the protein. How usable it is or how toxic it is doesn’t seem to matter as much as the bottom line: it’s cheap.

Another common unhealthy ingredient is the preservatives — ever wonder how a “complete” food could last on the shelf in a paper bag without going moldy for weeks to months? Ah, the wonders of modern chemistry! BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin are the usual ones used in pet foods. These are toxic, the last one actually classed chemically as a pesticide!

How about the greasy feel of most pet foods? Ever wonder about that? Well, once pet foods are cooked with these unsavory ingredients, they are not very tasty, so the manufacturers douse them with fats to increase palatability. Reflect for a moment on the huge byproduct known as “restaurant grease.” Now where do you suppose that ends up?

So, if you want a healthy, long-lived pet, you definitely don’t want to feed the usual toxic food.

And something is missing, as well. All of these foods are cooked to lifelessness, and guess what? Spot has close relatives in the wolf clan, and Puff in the lion pride. Genetically, we have not changed the pets’ digestive systems at all from that of their ancestors. So the missing ingredient is raw, fresh food, like the prey they would eat if they lived in the wild like their cousins.

What to do? Well, the first option is to make a raw food diet. I call this the A+ plan. You get a book or two so you’re not guessing about balance, and make healthy food at home. References I recommend are:

Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, Richard Ptcairn, DVM, PhD and Susan Pitcairn (Rodale Press, 1995).

Give Your Dog a Bone, Ian Billinghurst, BVSc, (self published)

These will get you feeding your pets the best possible food next to prey.

Hey, Dr. Falconer, I’ve got a life!

Too much work? Lucky to get a good meal on the table for you and the family regularly? Fear not, there’s an easier solution, called the B+ plan. You buy a prepared food that is made of high quality ingredients, preserved naturally, and, ideally, shipped fresh to your door. You add some of the missing “life”by adding some raw meat, eggs, or fresh vegies, and you’ve got an easy, healthy pet food! Do some label detective work or visit my web site for my recommendation.

Sound expensive? It’s not, considering you are buying Health Insurance by feeding high quality, super premium food. The money you spend on preventing disease is always less expensive that what you’d spend treating illness (ask any vet). And getting off the “expensive junk food”(as I call the usual “premium” fare available) will definitely save you money in the long run.

Will Spot or Puff like it? I’ve seen very few animals that will not happily choose one of these options over their usual fare if both are put in front of them at once. If there’s refusal at first, just go slowly and be persistent, especially if you have an older cat who’s trained you to worry when she won’t eat!

The Pay Off I often see positive changes in the first few weeks of feeding a healthier diet to my patients– eyes look clearer, skin smells better, breath improves, and they have more spring in their step. I find that a positive diet change often gets them on their way to improving their health even before I begin treatment. And to avoid the chronic diseases, this kind of prevention goes a long way. Just remember the wolf and the lynx is still there inside, and feed appropriately. Your companions will thank you for years to come.

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