Grain Free Pet Food: How to Make a Healthy Decision
When our cat died from kidney failure and a fusion of her intestines, my husband and I were puzzled. She was only a 6 year old cat. Not young in the cat world but not old either. I suppose her nine lives were just up.
Our veterinarian, a wonderful, compassionate man, went beyond all of our expectations to find the answer to our puzzle. She could have died from a virus. She could have died from old age. But, none of these answers seemed to quite fit what we knew about our pet.
What does my story have to do with grain free pet food? In our puzzlement, we became concerned about our other pets: a 4 year old cat, and two puppies. Our concern led us to the one source we never gave much thought. Their food.
Many pet food manufacturers use grain as a foundation in their pet food. Why? Because it's cheap. Also known as fillers, grain is an inexpensive way to fill a pet's tummy. When grain becomes the majority of ingredients in a dog's food, complications may arise: allergies, skin irritations, and weight-gain. Grain is not a major source of nutrition for carnivores, and different types of protein from different sources have their advantages. Dogs can not make all the amino acids they need; they must eat animal protein to gather essential amino acids to remain healthy. Keep in mind, canines in the wild do not seek out large amounts of grain for consumption, rather they consume them while eating small rodents and other prey.
How can a owner choose the right food for the health of their pets?
Read the Ingredients
Read the ingredient label on every package of pet food. What is the first ingredient on the list? It should be some sort of high quality protein like chicken, bison, turkey, or fish. What are the second and third ingredients? Any pet food that is based on a protein rich and limited grain recipe will be beneficial for cats and dogs.
My husband and I have gone through three different types of pet food since the death of our cat. We did our research on every type of food we bought. Compared the food we were using with a cheaper brand. And finally settled on a brand that we like. Try to find a food that has the first few ingredients as a rich source of protein (chicken, bison, or fish) then determine how much money is reasonable to spend on pet food. We were buying the best food possible for our dogs, but the price was a little steep. We checked out a similar brand that was cheaper but still healthy for our dogs.
Go to The Manufacturer's Website
I highly suggest going to check out the manufacturer's website. Many times the website will have information on the company's manufacturing process, in-depth nutritional information, and coupons. The coupons alone is reason enough to hop online.
Monitor Feeding Habits and Energy levels
How does the dog or cat feel after feeding time? Do they seem to have energy that lasts throughout the day? We never noticed how our pets were reacting when we were feeding them lower quality food. After we changed to protein based food, our cat seemed much more energetic than before and one of our dogs actually started to fart less. We would have never seen these differences if we were not actively engaging in our consumer habits.
Talk to other pet owners
Approach pet owners in public, if you're comfortable, that own a dog or cat similiar to size and breed of your own pet. Ask them what brand of food they feed their animals and why. If you're at a friend's house, a chit chat about pet food could be informative and casual. Everyone has different experiences with pet food, but keeping an open mind and asking questions will help make a good decision concerning healthy pet food.
My husband and I were in a pet store shopping for a better quality of cat food when another customer approached us. The friendly, fellow pet owner asked us about a brand of food we were considering. We casually discussed our cats and potential food choices for them. The conversation wasn't more than ten minutes, and never turned too personal. Sharing experiences with another pet owner and swapping information with someone at a pet store, a family reunion, a college class, or at a park is a wonderful way to meet new people and make a more informed decision about pet food.
There are several reasons to start buying healthier pet food. The cost is somewhat higher than the lower quality foods, but has benefits for spending the extra green. We noticed we seem to go through less bags of food per month. Our cat lost weight, he was way overweight before, and our puppies became more lean and muscular.
Losing our cat was tough, a lot like losing a family member. We are still not sure what caused her death, but we are sure that our other pets are eating healthier than ever before. Switching to a pet food that was grain free was the best thing for our peace of mind and for the health of our pets. Doing research into what is in pet food before giving it to a pet is smart, economical, and safe.