The Pet Food Recall of 2007 has brought an enormous amount of attention to pet food. With tens of thousands of pets affected by the recall and with the death of several thousand pets from tainted food (refer to the PetConnection Database), it is not at all surprising that we have questions. The surprising thing is that it’s taken us all so long to ask these questions.
What have we been feeding our pets all these years? We’ve all, including Veterinarians like myself, trusted the pet food companies completely. We believed they have always held our pets – and our – best interests to heart. But in the case of the large multinational pet food companies, apparently not.
What we’ve been feeding has obviously not been what’s best for our pets. What we’re seen is shorter life spans, more disease, and more cancer – not healthier pets. While genetics do play a role, our pets are just like us. Garbage in… you know the result.
Pet food company ethics aside, the ultimate question that needs to be answered is this: what is the best food that we can feed our pets? Should we feed home diets, or are there companies that we can still trust? And what about raw food home diets?
The quick, simple answer, regardless of what you choose to do, is this: be informed. Be an informed, educated pet owner, and know what you are feeding your pet. You are your pet’s guardian. You know your pet better than anyone else, including your veterinarian. Your pet’s health is ultimately your responsibility – and that definitely includes what you feed your pet.
If you feed home diets, you’ll clearly know the ingredients, and can find the ultimate sources of the foods you buy. If you feed prepared food (kibble or canned), make sure you know what really goes in that food. Make sure you know the company very well – that they have trustworthy sources for their ingredients, and that they can prove it.
The other consideration, and I am hearing this quite a lot lately, is simplicity and convenience. The main reason prepared pet food became popular in the first place was because of convenience. Many of the dog and cat home diets you see tend to be quite complicated, and this scares many pet owners away.
I also hear many pet owners voicing concerns about home diets, wanting to ensure that they are ‘nutritionally balanced’. And while this is a consideration, the truth is that it’s not difficult to attain.
And again, what about raw food diets? Raw food and all of the apparent concerns (founded or unfounded) are definitely the subject of another article entirely, although it is definitely something I do recommend to some degree. So where does this leave us?
Ideally, I would recommend a switch to home diets, whether raw or cooked. You have the most control (again, in as much as we trust our own food sources) over the ingredients. You see, every day, exactly what you are feeding your pets.
However, the ideal is not always the most practical for many pet owners. There is also a consideration of the transition from completely packaged kibble to home food preparation. Many pet owners are unsure of how to prepare the foods properly, especially when dealing with raw food.
A great way to start, and this is what I am currently doing, is to feed a combination of home diets and packaged kibble. Again, make sure that you trust the company that produces the packaged food – do your own research! But I have found that this works well for most pet owners. Start with a home diet that you are comfortable with and feed it once or twice per week, and go from there. For my own pets, I feed one home cooked diet and one prepared, pre-frozen raw food diet. My dog and cat both love their new diets and are responding very well.
The other benefit of doing a combination is that you are providing a varied diet, something I definitely recommend now. There is not one food – packaged or otherwise – that is going to be perfect for all pets. By varying the diet you will make up for any nutritional imbalances your pet may experience from one particular diet or another.
For home diets, I have several available on my site, “Dr. Andrew Jones’ Inner Circle”, theonlinevet – please see the link in my bio. I’ve also prepared a list of pet food companies that I feel are trustworthy. In addition, I’m in the process of writing a book on pet food that will take on all of the subjects in this article, and provide many home diets and recommendations. Please visit my sites below to sign up for my newsletter if you would like to be notified when the book is available.
Being an informed pet owner includes not only diet, but health in general. I have an e-book and complete home study course on just that – visit Veterinary Secrets Revealed for more information.
To your pet’s good health…