all want to protect our pets by giving them a
nutritious, well-balanced diet that will help them
thrive. But even with our best intentions, itís
difficult to know what is the best food to feed our
we believe everything we read on a bag of pet food? And
even if itís true, what does it all mean in terms of
the health of our pets?
would need two degrees to be able to read and understand
a pet food label," said Richfield, Ohio,
veterinarian/dermatologist and allergist Alice Jeromin.
many of you, I have done online research and poured over
nutrition and ingredient labels for many years.
Personally, I have relied on the mantra of not feeding
my dogs any food I can buy in a grocery store. Instead,
I buy it online or at a pet store or a feed and grain
I do not feed my pets anything that comes from China ó
remember the melamine scare from years ago and more
recently, the chicken treat recall? And, while we are at
it, weíve been advised to stay away from wheat, corn
week, I learned everything I thought I knew about pet
food is wrong. But it seems the cards are stacked
against us from the start.
an allergist, Jeromin specializes in discovering the
reasons dogs and cats scratch themselves raw, cough and
wheeze, have skin problems, stomach issues or recurrent
ear infections. Sometimes, it is due to what they eat.
if a problem is due to a food allergy, it is caused by
the meat protein in your petís food, Jeromin said.
you canít blame all your animalís allergy issues on
wheat, soy and corn found in many pet foods.
bigger issue, said Jeromin, is the fact that some foods
contain large proteins that are difficult for animals to
break down when they are ingested, particularly beef and
an over-the-counter sample of four brands of dog food
labeled "venison," all the test product
contained beef and/or chicken, she said.
has a few tips for helping you find a food to serve your
canine and feline companions.
generic pet food." It has been shown to cause a
zinc deficiency and produced poor growth rates in
puppies, she said.
your research, Jeromin advises.
sure the pet food company employs a veterinary
nutritionist on their staff," she said. And make
sure all the manufacturing is done in one plant.
you are producing everything from one plant you have
better control of the product," she said, "a
lot of these pet food companies donít even have
quality control," she said.
advice is the same for cat and dog owners.
interesting is that fish is not a commonly eaten protein
in cats ó cats were originally derived from desert
areas, no fish there! ó but because itís cheap, it
was and is used in most cat foods. With cats, higher
protein and high fat is actually best for them,"
Association of American Feed Control Officials, a
voluntary nonprofit organization of local, state and
federal agencies charged by law to regulate the sale and
distribution of animal feed and drug remedies, is the
only official body that governs pet food.
with brands that have the AAFC seal of approval on the
package or can, Jeromin said.
itís not human-grade food, it canít say it on the
package," she said.
food manufacturer Honest Kitchen, headquartered in San
Diego, claims it produces the only pet food in the U.S.
with a statement of "no objection" from the
Federal Drug Administration to use the
"Human-grade" on its packaging.
Kitchen pet food, made from whole food ingredients,
which are sourced from the human food chain, comes to
the purchaser in a dehydrated form. The company requires
that all ingredients come from providers with a signed
pledge that they are free of genetically modified
organisms, do not originate from China, have not been
irradiated and have been screened in accordance with
human food standards, among other things.
proof, the company advertises its employees are
"taste testers," who, along with their dogs,
insure the productsí aroma and color as well as taste.
cited pet food manufacturers Purina, Iams and Hills as
producers of products that contain nutritionally sound
feeding, a method that has become popular within the
last decade, is another alternative. Pets are fed a diet
primarily of uncooked meat, edible bones, and organs.