We know for sure we
are not going to pick corn as a
protein source since it contains only four of the ten essential
amino acids and contains no taurine, plus nutrition experts didn't
even include corn on the list of protein sources in pet foods. Corn
was on the carbohydrate list!
Canine and Feline Nutrition, on page 175, lists
substances that provide protein… beef, chicken, eggs, fish, lamb and
meat by-products. (Just so you know… the meat by-products in pet
foods as defined by the Association of American Feed Control
Officials do NOT contain hair, hide, hooves or feathers, but
actually refer to organ meats like liver, kidney, stomach, heart,
blood, spleen, etc.) Meat by-products are a great source of protein
for a meat eating animal.
Therefore, for our diet to contain a wide spectrum of amino
we will choose to have it contain the best source of protein for
mammals. . . eggs, or more precisely the egg whites. This substance
has a wide amino acid profile and is highly digestible. In fact,
egg white is considered a standard against which other protein
sources are measured. Other really good choices would be meat,
poultry or fish.
manufacturers know very well how to make a great diet just like the
one we put together. The problem is that it would be expensive to
produce, especially if eggs and beef and fish were in it. And to be
competitive with other pet food producers, the price of the food
dictates what the foundation (primary ingredients) of the diet will
So for dogs and cats... our custom diet will contain vitamins and
minerals, some grain for readily available energy, a proper amount
and ratio of fat sources, and as a foundation, a high quality MEAT
ENTER CORN... it's cheap, takes up lots of room in
the bag of food and in the pet's stomach so it will "fill ‘em up",
it's a good carbohydrate source so the pet will have some energy, it
has a few amino acids in it so the corn will contribute to the
protein totals on the guaranteed analysis list, and there's a
and steady supply of corn. So the pet food manufacturer makes a
corn diet, adds some "meat and bone meal" (which has been
cooked at least twice before it gets in the bag and may contain too
much calcium) to "complete the amino acid profile" and adds a few
other calculated substances so that COMPLETE AND BALANCED can be
stamped prominently on the pet food label.
The natural world was set up in such a way that, in reference to dog
and cat food, cheap ingredients based on plant
products and resulting in cheap pet foods always turn out to be a
poor choice when attempting to nourish a meat eater.
Conversely, expensive substances such as eggs, meat, poultry and
fish are far better choices when designing a good diet for meat
eaters. NOTE! “Expensive” and “costs” are human
terms and have no relationship to what Nature set up regarding what
constitutes an ideal diet for a meat eater.
Throughout each of the nutrition texts referred to in this article,
the authors repeatedly stress the importance of high quality,
nutrient dense, and highly digestible pet food products. Yes, these
products will cost the consumer more than the generic brands. We
animal caretakers have an obligation to our animals to strongly
favor good quality products and to stop choosing pet foods based
strictly upon price.
cats are livelier and healthier when meat, poultry,
lamb and fish are
the foundation of their diets. In other words, we
should choose to feed them as the meat eaters they are and denounce
the senseless practice of feeding them as if they were herbivores
simply because that would be cheaper to do. According to Case,
Carey and Hirakawa in Canine and Feline Nutrition,
"In general, high-quality animal source proteins provide superior
amino acid balances for companion animals, compared with the amino
acid balances that are supplied by grain proteins. The protein in
grains is not as balanced or available as the protein in
high-quality animal sources..."
high-quality they are referring to meat, poultry and fish products
that are derived mainly from muscle and organ tissue rather than
"meat and bone meals". Some types of animal-derived meals
are not considered to be high quality because of the processing they
undergo. A few individuals express concern regarding feeding
dogs and cats "high protein" diets. Blame is laid
on "high protein" levels for a spectrum of
disorders ranging from epilepsy to hyperactivity to kidney damage.
Attempts to find a level of protein at which a diet becomes "high"
in it are often met with a range of values; nutrition experts do not
all agree what level constitutes a “high” level of protein in a dog
or cat’s diet. Purina's labeling of one type of food as Hi Pro
(ostensibly conveying the image of an upper level of protein) is
very questionable. The data showing that excess protein causes
renal damage are imaginative extrapolations of results derived from
test animals that have renal deficits pre-existing and who are then
fed levels of protein that induce uremic poisoning. Early
studies that pronounced protein as harmful to dog kidneys were based
on studies done on RATS! They weren't even done on dogs,
and that research drove the pet food industry for years. As it
turns out, there are major differences in how the rat kidney (is a
rat a meat eater, anyway?) metabolizes protein contrasted to how the
canine kidney handles protein. ThePetCenter invites anyone to
produce even one scientific experiment on dogs or cats that proves
normal kidneys are harmed by feeding good quality,
balanced rations that contain high levels of protein.
The more one peers into this pet food universe, the more one is
impressed as to how much we have yet to learn. And
much of what one
learns is self-taught. Nutrition and pets. . . very interesting
topics and worthy of our sincere investigation.
How does the consumer know what to buy? All you
really have time for is to read the label, see the fancy packaging, and note that it says
"Complete and Balanced" and you will buy with a confidence instilled by the
advertising claims. To confuse things even more, some very reputable major pet food
companies make many different foods of varying quality and price levels.
Some products are high quality
and some barely meet the minimum requirements for dogs and cats. Plus...
economic principles drives the need to offer products in various price
ranges to meet the demands of pet owners.
Unfortunately for some pets the "pet food" they receive may be minimally