Seven Secrets To Choosing A Safe, Healthy Pet Food

Do you choose canned food or dry food? What brand? There are so many different brands, all shapes and sizes of pet food to choose from and pet owners are provided with very little information to base your decisions on (other than advertising) – it can get so confusing! Well, buckle your seatbelt depending on how much you know of the pet food industry, this could be a bumpy ride! You are about to learn seven secrets – well kept secrets – of pet food. Sit back, brace yourself, and keep reading.

Beneful says it’s ‘Premium Dog Food for a Happy, Healthy Dog’ and sells for around $18.00 for a 31 lb. bag, Science Diet “promises” ‘precisely balanced nutrition through continuous research and the highest quality food backed by your Vets endorsement’ and sells for around $21.00 for only a 20 lb bag. Then there are numerous pet foods that make the very same statements – ‘Premium Dog Food, Highest Quality’ – that sell for $30.00 or more for a 20 lb bag. And the same holds true for cat owners…Do you choose Whiskas that states ‘Everything we do is about making cats happy!’ or do you choose one of those high end cat foods that make the very same claim of a happy, healthy cat but cost 3 times as much?

Now with the on-going pet food recall pet owners have questions such as ‘Has this food been recalled?’ or ‘Is this food the next one to be recalled?’…’Is my pet safe?’ Wow this is confusing! And scary too! What exactly is a pet owner to do? How about learning a few secrets! Equipped with the knowledge of a few secrets of pet food, it’s not nearly as confusing.

Secret #1…

All pet foods use descriptive words like choice and premium, though few of them actually use premium or choice ingredients in their food. The ‘secret’ is that per the rules of the pet food industry, no pet food can make any claims or references on their label or advertising as to the quality or grade of ingredients. You see, the word ‘premium’ when it’s related to pet food DOES NOT mean that the ingredients in the food are premium. With pet foods, premium does not (can not) describe the food nor does it (can it) describe the quality of the food. It is a marketing term and that is all. Per the pet food industries own rules and regulations, “There are no references to ingredient quality or grade” (regulation PF5 d 3). So, words like premium, or choice, or quality are just marketing or sales terms. They should not be interpreted as terms describing the quality of the food.

Now why wouldn’t a pet food label be allowed to tell a prospective customer the quality of their ingredients? Doesn’t a pet owner deserve to know what they are buying? This leads me to the next secret…


If I can compare ‘people’ food to pet food for just a second, we all know there are different qualities of people food. There is White Castle (I’m guilty here, I love the little guys!) and there is Outback Steak House (another favorite). Both restaurants serve meat and potatoes. At White Castle for under $3.00 you can get a couple of hamburgers and an order of fries. While at Outback you can get a steak and baked potato for around $16.00. Both serve beef and potato – yet you already realize that there are huge nutritional differences between a fast food hamburger and a steak…right?

The problem in the pet food industry – is that most pet owners don’t think in the same terms when it comes to pet food. They don’t think in terms that there are fast food types of pet foods and there are sit down restaurant more nutritious types of pet foods. In fact, several years ago a young man tried this very experiment with his own diet – eating nothing but fast food for 30 days. In just one month of eating fast food three meals a day, he gained a great deal of weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels sky-rocketed. Now, imagine your pet eating this type of food its’ entire lifetime.

OK, so back to our two meals…if a chemical analysis of your meal at White Castle was compared to a chemical analysis of your meal at Outback – both would analyze with a percentage of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Regardless whether you consider a steak at Outback a higher quality of protein than the burger – it would still analyze as protein. The analysis doesn’t measure quality of protein.

So here is the secret…All pet foods come with a Guaranteed Analysis stating the percentage of protein, fat, fiber and moisture in the food. The REAL secret lies in the quality of the percentages of protein, fat, and so on.

In a chemical analysis of a pet food – chicken feet would analyze as protein, although granted it provides very little nutrition. And as well, a cow that was euthanized (put to sleep) because of a disease that made it unfit for human consumption – would analyze as protein although that could be considered dangerous for consumption. Both of those things – chicken feet and a euthanized cow – are allowable ingredients and commonly used in pet food. You see the secret within the pet food industry is manufacturers have a WIDE OPEN door to where they obtain their ingredients. The only strict rule they must follow is an adult dog food must analyze with 18% protein and an adult cat food must analyze with 26% protein. Sources to acquire those particular percentages range from a ‘human grade’ meat, to chicken feet, to euthanized animals, to grain proteins, to even man made chemical proteins and many variations in between.

Pet food labels do not have to tell – are not allowed to tell – the sources they use to obtain that required 18% or 26% protein. And to make matters worse…quality minded pet food manufacturers – the companies that use 100% human grade ingredients – are not allowed to tell customers or potential customers that their products are quality, human grade ingredients.

So how can you know if your pet’s food uses chicken feet or euthanized cows or if it contains human grade ingredients?

Secret #3…

If the words premium and choice mean basically nothing with regards to the quality of pet food, and if some pet foods use chicken feet and euthanized animals in their food – how can a pet owner know what they are getting in their pets’ food?

This big secret is found in ingredient definitions. Unlike ‘people’ food where you can pretty much look at the food to determine the quality, pet food is far different. All ‘people’ food must meet particular USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) guidelines. The same is not true for pet food. Chicken feet and euthanized cows are NOT allowed in people food for obvious reasons – they have no nutritional value or they could be dangerous to consume. The same is NOT true for pet food. The only way to know if those chicken feet or euthanized cows are in your pet’s food is to know what ingredients they can be used in.

The common pet food ingredient ‘Meat and Bone Meal’ is basically a combination of many different discarded left-overs from the human food industry. Components of ‘meat and bone meal’ can be anything from cow heads, stomachs, and intestines, to (horrifying but true) euthanized animals including cows, horses and dogs and cats from veterinarian offices, animal shelters, and farms. And along with those euthanized animals the pet food also contains the drug pentabarbitol that was used to euthanize the animal. ‘Meat and bone meal’ can also contain left-over restaurant grease, and diseased (including cancerous) meat tissues cut away from slaughtered animals. In other words, this commonly used ingredient is a mix of highly inferior and potentially dangerous left-overs from the human food industry.

The pet food ingredient ‘Meat By-Product’ or ‘Meat By-Product Meal’ is pretty much the same thing as ‘meat and bone meal’. It is a highly inferior pet food ingredient containing literally who-knows-what.

Another similar ingredient to the above is ‘Animal Digest’.

As to the chicken feet I mentioned earlier – this item can be found in the ingredients ‘Chicken By-Product’ or ‘Poultry By-Product’ or ‘Chicken By-Product Meal’ or ‘Poultry By-Product Meal’. Any left-overs in the chicken or poultry division – including but not limited to chicken feet, skin including some feathers, chicken or poultry heads, and intestines are found in these ingredients. It does NOT matter as to the health of the bird – sick, healthy, dead, dying…all is included in these ingredients.

So here is what you need to do…BEFORE you purchase any pet food, flip the bag over and closely examine the list of ingredients. The above mentioned ingredients would be listed within the first five or ten ingredients. If you see ANY of those ingredients – it is my suggestion to NOT purchase that food. Remember – chicken feet and euthanized animals do analyze as protein. That is all that is required in pet food – just the correct analysis.

Another little trick some pet food manufacturers use in this category is using grains and chemical additives to grain products to boost the protein percentages. Which is exactly the cause of the pet food recall that began in March 2007 – chemical proteins. Two different chemical additives – that have NO nutritional value to pets, but that analyzed as protein – were added to a grain product (wheat gluten, corn gluten, or rice gluten) solely to provide a cheap protein. Thousands of pets died and countless others became ill because no one counted on the problem of the combination of these two chemicals would cause kidney and urinary blockage. Again, their secret is the product has to analyze as having a particular amount of protein – no one is required to provide a quality meat protein.

While you are looking at the ingredient listing – you should also take note of how many grains (corn, wheat, rice) and/or how many grain products (corn gluten, whole corn, ground corn, whole wheat, ground wheat, wheat gluten, rice, brown rice, brewers rice, soy, and on and on) are listed within the first five or so ingredients. If you find more than one grain listed in the first five ingredients – that is telling you this pet food is acquiring some of its protein from grains.

Why is protein obtained from grains important for you to know? Several reasons – first off science proves that cats and dogs alike require and thrive on a meat protein. If a pet food is obtaining protein from grain sources, the pet is not getting the meat that it needs to thrive. Second, if the grain products are a corn gluten, wheat gluten, or rice gluten you take the risk of chemicals such as melamime added to it used strictly to boost the protein analysis. By the way, melamime is one of the chemicals found to be the cause of the March 2007 pet food recall. And there is one more concern with grains – aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a deadly mold that is common to corn, wheat, and soy and it’s responsible for several other pet food recalls you probably never heard about. In December 2005, Diamond Pet Food contained moldy grains that killed over 100 pets before the product was recalled – all due to aflatoxin.

It is my recommendation to avoid any pet food that contains corn, wheat, or soy in ANY variation. The risk is simply too high.

Secret #4…

I’ve got more suggestions for you to look for in the ingredient listings…chemical preservatives. A very well kept secret of the pet food industry is their common use of chemical preservatives. BHA/BHT are very popular chemical preservatives used in pet food and science has linked them to tumors and cancer. Another common preservative is ethoxyquin which has known risks to cancer. Ethoxyquin is ONLY allowed in human food in some spices because of the very tiny proportions. However it is allowed in much higher proportions in pet food.

If you scan the ingredient listings, you will be looking for BHA/BHT and ethoxyquin listed anywhere. Commonly BHA/BHT is used to preserve the fat in the food which usually is found higher on the list. And also look for any of these chemicals towards the end of the ingredient listing. Personally, I wouldn’t touch a pet food that contained these chemical preservatives. You want a pet food that is preserved naturally – common natural preservatives are ‘natural mixed tocopherols’ or ‘vitamin E’.

Secret #5…

The very best food to provide to your pet is a well made food using human grade ingredients. That should be simple enough…How do you find that? You already know that pet food manufacturers are NOT allowed to make any statement as to quality or grade of ingredients, the only way you can find out the grade or quality of your pets’ food is to call the manufacturer and ask them.

Now, let’s say you call the ABC pet food company and ask the question “Is your Premium dog food and Premium cat food made using human grade ingredients?” It could be that you get the response yes, we use human grade ingredients – when actually only a couple of ingredients are human grade. Here’s the trick to asking…ask them if they are APHIS European certified.

Pet food manufacturers that are APHIS European certified assures you that ALL ingredients in their pet food are human grade. APHIS – Animal Plant Health Inspection Services – is a division of the USDA. APHIS European certification provides this pet food manufacturer with the opportunity to ship their foods/treats to Europe. When importing pet foods from the US, European countries demand that all ingredients are human grade and thus require this certification. Most pet food manufacturers that have APHIS European certification do not ship their products to Europe – they simply use this as a means to assure their customers to the higher quality of their ingredients.

Again, you WON’T see this listed on the label – it’s not allowed. You must call the manufacturer and ask. Often times the representative of the pet food won’t even know what you are talking about when you ask about APHIS certification – if that’s the case, you can assume they are not APHIS European certified. APHIS European certification is a bonus to pet owners – it is not required or even suggested that any pet food manufacturer go through the extra steps to obtain this. This is a special effort some pet foods go through to tell their customers they REALLY CARE about the quality of their products. Personally, I would NOT buy a pet food that doesn’t have it.

And by the way, if you can’t reach the pet food manufacturer, or they do not return your call within a short time frame, lose their number! Any company that does not place a priority on answering customers questions – doesn’t deserve your business!

Secret #6…

Minerals are a required ingredient in human diets as well as diets for our pets. Copper, Iron and Zinc are common minerals found in pet foods. Just as they are – copper, iron, and zinc are basically rocks, very difficult for anyone or any pet to utilize. Science has developed several ways to introduce minerals into the body (human and pet) for better absorption thus benefiting the individual far more. This scientific development is called chelating or proteinating and it’s been around for years. Through the chelating or proteinating process minerals are absorbed about 60% better than just the minerals alone.

This secret is spotting the minerals in your pet food to see if they are chelated or proteinated. Notice the minerals on your pet food label, way down on the list of ingredients. You are looking for minerals that read ‘copper proteinate’ or ‘chelated copper’. If you see just the mineral listed, your pet is sort of like Charlie Brown at Halloween saying ‘I got a rock’. If you want your pet to have the best, chelated or proteinated minerals are part of the best foods!

Secret #7…

This secret is called ‘friendly bacteria’. Although ‘friendly bacteria’ sounds a little scary, the reason for it lies in your pets’ intestinal system. A large portion of your pets’ immune system is found within the intestinal system. Keeping the immune system healthy helps to keep the animal itself healthy. This friendly bacteria is similar to what’s found in yogurt, however in pet food it is introduced in a fashion so that the cooking process doesn’t destroy it. Looking at the fine print on your pet food label, this time you are looking for lengthy, scientific words like Lactobacillus Acidophilus or Bifidobacterium Thermophilum. If you do NOT see these words or some very similar, that pet food is not addressing the care of your pets’ immune system. And again, if you want your pet to have the best, you want ‘friendly bacteria’ in their food.

There are your seven very secrets to help you find the absolute healthiest and best pet food for your four-legged friend. Armed with those secrets – you now have the knowledge to find your pet the best food possible! A pet food that can extend their life and prevent early aging and disease. If you don’t want to bother doing the homework involved, I urge you to subscribe to my monthly magazine Petsumer Report(TM). Through Petsumer Report(TM) I’ve done all the homework for you – each month I review and rate over 40 different pet foods, treats, toys, and various other pet supplies. It’s the ONLY publication of its’ kind providing pet owners with the information they need to know regarding their pet product purchases.

I want to share just a couple more things…

It’s best to feed an adult dog or adult cat two meals a day. The nutrition they consume with two meals is better utilized than with just one meal a day. If you are currently feeding your pet one meal a day, split that same amount into two meals and feed in the AM and PM.

You should know that all canned or moist pet foods are anywhere between 70% to 85% moisture. This means that 70% to 85% of that can or pouch of food is useless nutrition – its water. Granted our pets need water, cats especially tend not to drink enough water. But since all canned or moist foods are mostly water, they do not provide adequate nutrition to be fed strictly a canned or moist diet. Use a canned or moist product to supplement your pet’s diet – not as the only food.

The best pet foods are preserved naturally (secret #4) – but there is a concern with naturally preserved pet foods…freshness. Take notice of the expiration date on your pets food label – typically with naturally preserved dry pet foods (not as much of a concern with soft foods because of canning – very little need of preservatives) the expiration date is one year to 18 months from the date it was manufactured. Let’s say the pet food you are considering to purchase on July 1, 2007 has a ‘Best if Used by’ date of January 1, 2008. This would tell you that this particular bag of pet food is already 6 months old. While it is still ‘good’ a fresher food – a bag that is only 2 or 3 months old – is better. Naturally preserved pet foods lose nutritional potency with time. Always try to find a very fresh bag.

If you are considering changing your pets food, ALWAYS consult with your Veterinarian first. You should always keep your veterinarian advised of any changes you make with your pet. Don’t take chances. And if you do switch pet food, make the change over very slowly. I always recommend to pet owners ¼ new food to ¾ old food for 4 to 7 days, ½ to ½ for another 4 to 7 days, and so on. Switching food quickly can cause intestinal disorder! Its short term, but we don’t want intestinal disorder!!!

One last thing, as you are already aware dogs and cats have a far better sense of smell than humans. Their food bowl can be a wealth of smells – both good and bad. Some times a pet will refuse to eat simply because he or she smells a previous food in their bowl. Plastic food and water bowls retain odors the worst. And surprisingly so does stainless steel bowls. The best type of food and water bowl is a ceramic one. They retain odors the least.

Why Is Using Lipotropic Adjunct So Important in Maintaining a Healthy Heart and Blood Vessels?

The health of your heart and blood vessels is due to several reasons, the most of important off which is a proper, a diet that is not only high in fiber but also low in fat. Many of us under nourish ourselves by not eating foods that will provide us with the nutrients necessary for maximizing our cardiovascular system health. In fact most of us do not eat even the daily minimum requirement necessary for a healthy lifestyle. These nutrients include the lipotropic factors as well as the B-vitamins.

On one hand, even though lipotropic factors help to ensure that lipids (fats) emulsify in blood, they also are mobilized and utilized in the body where they are needed most. B-vitamins, on the other hand, assist with the proper metabolizing of homocysteine. Homocysteine is the normal metabolic by-product that has the ability to damage your arteries if it is allowed to accumulate. With the introduction of a new cutting-edge formula, Lipotropic Adjunct, the nutrients necessary for maintaining a healthy circulatory system are provided.

Included in Lipotropic Adjunct are the Lipotropic factors, choline and inositol, which help to keep lipids (fats) emulsified in the bloodstream as well as to reduce the accumulation of harmful fat in the liver. Folic acid, made up of B6 and B12 vitamins to enhance the proper metabolizing of homocysteine, which supports a healthy antioxidant response to LDL cholesterol, free and efficient flowing circulation and arterial wall health.

The mobilization and utilization of dietary fats are inherent with the use of a concentrated formula of lipotropic factors.

Lipotropic Adjunct Formula consists of choline, inositol, betaine, folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12 nutrients all of which assist the body in the synthesizing of lipotropic factors

Vitamin B12 enhances digestion.

It is quite evident that we need help in maintaining not only a healthy heart but also healthy blood vessels. That is why you may want to consider GNLD Lipotropic Adjunction, a Nutrition Supplement is effective in achieving both a healthy heart and healthy blood vessels.

NOTE: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

ADHD and Fish Oil Studies – Good News

Here is good news for those who have loved ones suffering from ADHD. Fish oil studies have indicated that there is now a natural alternative that may just provide ADHD patients with the ultimate in nutritional health.

Studies into both ADHD and fish oil have found what appears to be a link that connects the two together. There is promising finding that give hope that taking a fish oil capsule everyday might just help people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – both children and adults.

ADHD is the inability of a child or adult to concentrate on a certain situation or task for a prolonged period of time. Symptoms of ADHD include impulsive, disruptive behaviour along with hyperactivity. About 7% of children in the US, mostly boys, are believed to be inflicted with some form of ADHD, although some folks of the older generation say it is simply that kids will be kids.

Today, the best-known medication for ADHD sufferers is the drug called Ritalin. It is thought to be effective in alleviating ADHD symptoms. However, it has been found that this drug, like most drugs, has the potential for side effects and possible health risks in some individuals, especially in younger children who take drugs on a regular basis. Thus, any possible natural health food that might help ADHD would be well appreciated by these patients and their loved ones.

The link between omega 3 and ADHD

Studies conducted on ADHD sufferers have found that many ADHD patients have a few things in common – one of which is their extremely low levels of two omega 3 fatty acids, namely DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids have long been known to be important components in the fats found in the brain.

ADHD and fish oil studies have established this link

Many studies on fish oil for ADHD treatment have been performed in the past decade, and all these are adding to the mounting information that indicates fish oils may indeed be beneficial to people with ADHD. Omega 3 health foods are not a replacement for any medicine of course, but they are good nutrition “brain food” and your doctor will tell you that eating right and exercising are always important to your health.

One study conducted at the Inflammation Research Foundation on 9 subjects with ADHD found that at the end of 8 weeks of fish oil supplementation, the EPA and DHA levels in the children had increased significantly, along with a decrease in symptoms of ADHD. These are unique individual results and not typical or guaranteed, but what could it hurt to try this health food with the blessing of your doctor and see if it might help you too?

A separate study conducted at the University of Oxford in England has found that lack of these polyunsaturated fatty acids is believed to contribute to the development of ADHD and dyslexia. Clinical studies on schoolchildren found that giving them fish oil supplements rich in omega 3 fatty acids for three months showed significant improvements in their behaviour, as well as their reading and spelling skills. Individual results will vary with every individual but many doctors are now telling their patients to give fish oil a try too.

Children and adults with ADHD are seeking every possible means to help them live a normal, healthy life. Fish oil supplements are one of the most natural health foods that can potentially help with ADHD. Omega 3 fatty acids can help promote healthy brain function and improve behaviour in some individuals, without the scary side effects that some drugs may have.

Acai Berries – The “Super Foods” and Weight Loss

Acai (ah-sigh-ee), is a very common, tall, slender palm tree in this important palm family which grows 15 to 25 m in height. The average mature wild tree has 4-8 well-developed stems (10-15 cm in diameter) from a single seed and root system, berry tree which grows in and around the Amazon rainforests. Acai is actually a berry that is the fruit of the acai palm. An acai barry is about as big as a medium sized grape and usually is either dark red or deep purple in color. Acai is rich in fiber that can help you achieve better digestion. Your body waste would be taken out of your system.

Acai berries are a special food because they are so nutritionally complete. You can take tons of other supplements in order to get the same amount of nutrients from just one dose of this little fruit. Acai berries contain the mineral potassium which is a crucial mineral for the heart. Acai is particularly rich in fatty acids, feeling oily to the touch. It is also rich in high levels of monounsaturated fatty oleic acid (56.2% of total fats). It is a rich source of important nutrients for optimum health and vitality. These essential fatty acids help reduce cholesterol, improve your mood, and can help make you smarter, when combined with omega 3 fish oils help all your hormones, insulin receptors and neurotransmitters function more effectively. It also helps lower insulin levels and reduce inflammation.

Acai contains anthocyanins which are a family of antioxidants that fight and neutralize the effects free radicals can have on the body. Acai contains concentrated amounts of the antioxidants which providing an extra helping of the free radical fighting power. This is mainly thanks to the high antioxidant levels found within the berry’s pulp, which are natural remedies against the evils of free radicals. Since free radicals promote disease, cell destruction, aging, and similar effects, antioxidants provide a very important service by fighting against free radicals. Think of free radicals as individuals with too much energy and no where to put it, so they are extremely active and attack everything in their path. In our bodies, this translates to the damage of cells and genetic material. Acai has high ORAC (oxygen-radical absorbance capacity) value – twice that of blueberries. Acai could be considered the berry of choice for good health. * *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.

Acai is known to work on over 98% of the people who are trying it. Acai is also rich in iron and is a great help for people who suffer from digestive malfunctions. Acai barry has been classed as one of the worlds number one ‘super foods’, meaning that it falls into a category that only the most nutrition-filled fruit and vegetables reach. Acai is Load with Vitamins and Minerals, Proteins, Amino acids, essential Omegas, and fibers ascribed to it. It is a rich source of important nutrients for optimum health and vitality. Acai has 10 times the antioxidant power of red grapes and 100% more than that of blueberries.

Acai berry research also found that it increased the antioxidant power of human blood up to twenty five percent. According to the president of the Baseline of Health Foundation, Joe Barron who is a leader in the field of nutrition and health, Acai berry with it powerful antioxidants and anthocyanins, improves circulation, prevents atherosclerosis and blood clots and combats cancer.

Acai is all over the media. This little berry out of the Amazon rainforest is packed with benefits. Weight loss was the focus of Oprah’s discussion on this topic, and as we all know if there is anything that is close to the heart of most of the population in the western world, it is weight loss. Acai Berry Diet has innumerable benefits; the weight loss benefits of Acai Barry are just a nice side effect. Weight loss programs or weight loss pills make a huge amount of money, that’s why they constantly show up in the modern world. Everyone is conscious about the way they look and their weight.

Acai is widely used in energy drinks, ice cream, energy bars with granola, and now it is in it’s best form a powder extract and capsules that is more powerful and yet convenient to take. Acai is now becoming the berry of choice amongst the celeb elite! We cannot get the original berry in the United States because the berries break down nutrient content too quickly. In order to obtain a healthy Acai, the most important is the quickness in the time between the harvest and the processing.