Why High Quality Pet Food is Worth the Price

Just as people are becoming increasingly aware of how many preservatives, hormones, synthetic dyes and chemicals are present in many conventional food sources, and how detrimental they can be to human health, so are they realizing that synthetic chemicals are not good for their beloved pets, either. The health craze that has been sweeping the modern world, from fresh produce trucks to Whole Foods and Fresh’N’Easy stores, hasn’t stopped at human food. Your veterinary technician will agree: high quality pet food is worth the price, as you can find different food for cats, for example my cat likes to rub against my ankle every day when I come home if he’s hungry.

People need healthful, nutrient-rich food with plenty of vitamins and minerals and as few chemicals and “fillers” as possible for long life and an overall sense of well-being. So does your pet. High quality organic pet food usually costs a bit more because rather than using cheap, empty ingredients, quality pet food is packed with protein-rich nutrition from actual meat sources, with natural rather than chemical preservation. If you can afford it, buying high quality, varied types of pet food is altogether worth the money for the benefits to your pet’s health.

Some pet food facts that may come as a surprise: 

  • Most of the popular pet food brands, i.e. brands you see in commercials and advertisements, are made with abysmally poor quality food. Pet food companies are, in general, solely interested in the bottom line, and the standards for pet food are even lower than human food standards. This means that most popular pet food is made up of animal byproducts that were deemed unfit for human consumption. Mainstream pet food will most likely contain 4-D classified materials, which are by-products ranging anywhere from dead, diseased or dying animals to animals pumped full of hormones or drugs.
  • Both diabetes and cancer rates in dogs and cats has risen over the past two decades, and this is almost entirely because of the toxic chemicals and poor quality products used in pet food.
  • Eating the same food every day can become monotonous for anyone, human or animal, and if the food is filled with preservatives or meat byproducts, it can actually be detrimental to health. Contrary to popular belief, feeding your pet home-cooked foods like fresh meats, vegetables and high-glycemic index foods may actually be the healthiest diet. If you are feeding your pet mainly boxed or bagged food, it is recommended to alternate food sources and occasionally feed them real meat.

So, the higher price consumers will pay for more natural, less harmful pet food is worth it – if you know what to look for in order to make sure the price is right.

Signs of Low Quality Pet Food: 

  • Some key phrases on the nutritional information label may alert you to harmful byproducts in pet food: “poultry by-product,” “by-product,” “meat meal,” etc. Anything that sounds like the by-product of another animal is not good or nutritious. Examples of byproducts are the feet, hooves, hair and beaks of other animals, and these are indigestible by household pets.
  • Other key phrases that usually indicate poor quality food are mainstream advertising techniques like “meaty,” “moist,” “juicy,” “flavored,” “dinner” and “entrée.” There are certain rules that dictate how pet food can be named based on its ingredients. For instance, “turkey entrée” or “turkey dinner” must only contain 25% turkey, while “turkey cat food” must contain 95% turkey. Definitely avoid phrases like “cat food with turkey,” because “with turkey” products are only required to contain 3% of the actual meat.
  • Cheap pet food often uses “filler” sources that contain no protein value. These are often cornmeal, white rice, soy and wheat. These foods are also indigestible and “empty,” and provide no nutritional value. Wheat and soy are especially important to look out for because they are known allergens.
  • Just like when reading a label for human food, chemical names that are long and virtually unpronounceable are telltale signs of possibly toxic, synthetic materials that won’t be at all good for your pet. Artificial flavors or food coloring like MSG, corn syrup or propylene glycol are usually used to disguise poor quality food. Artificial preservatives like BHA and BHT, ethoxyquin, nitrate and sodium nitrate are actually very harmful, and are suspected of causing cancer.

Signs of High Quality Pet Food:

  • Pet food that contain more protein and nutrients and less additives will usually have dominant phrases that you recognize, like “duck,” “chicken,” “beef,” and “turkey,” rather than strange phrases attached to them like “beef by-product” or “cat dinner with chicken.”
  • Other good phrases to keep an eye out for are “all-natural,” “organic,” “human-grade,” “natural preservatives,” and “slow-baked” or “home-baked.” But you still want to be wary of products touted as “natural” or “premium” because these are trickily vague advertising phrases – you will still want to check the list of ingredients to get an idea of how accurate it is.
  • Natural pet food companies tend to be proud of their ingredients and their processing techniques, so it will usually be stated on the bag the natural methods they use for preservation rather than carcinogenic chemicals.
  • Good quality pet food will have an abundant amount of necessary minerals included on the package. Dogs need calcium, magnesium, sodium and phosphorous on a daily basis, and cats need taurine and magnesium for the best health possible.

Other tips: Buying pet food from major grocery retailers or large chains will almost always guarantee a lower to mid-range quality of food. Specialized pet stores, natural foods stores or online niche markets are the best places to get high quality pet food. And store employees at a natural foods store will probably be more knowledgeable about their products than typical Wal-Mart workers. Another good resource is your veterinary technician, because this person will be able to guide you to food based on specific dietary needs for your pet, based on size, breed or other health considerations. Feeding your pet right is tantamount to good health, and since they can’t shop for themselves, it’s up to the owner to use discretion when it comes down to dinner time.

Nancy Woo writes about various topics from art and music to health, media and technology.


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3 Responses to “Why High Quality Pet Food is Worth the Price”

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