Why Is Choosing a Quality Pet Food So Hard?
Have you taken to the internet lately to research your pet's food? Have you then noticed an abundance of pet food ads on your social media after searching? 😬
If you've ever tried to research your pet's food online, regardless of the search channel you opt for, you'll notice you get pulled in a million different directions and typically end up feeling more confused than when you started your research! Not only do you end up down a hundred different rabbit holes, nobody can seem to agree on one best food, feeding type or brand! As pet parents who want only the best for their pets, it becomes a very daunting task trying to do your own research and find the best options for your pet!
There are a few reasons why it's so tough to research pet food and we thought we'd share the reasons you're getting pulled into all the rabbit holes as well as some things you can look for when doing your own research! 👇
📱 One of the first reasons you'll find totally different information than your best friend or even other members of your household is due search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine you use because each of these search engines have their own goals for what they want users to see and pursues them by using psychology against you. These search engine goals send every person down an individually curated rabbit hole based on previous information you've interacted with.
📱 Another reason you may see completely different information then someone doing the same search you are is based on content you've engaged with on your social platforms. Big pet food companies have deep pockets and have the ability to get their ads in front of millions of people! If you engage with their content, which can be as simple as watching a video or keeping an image on your screen for more than three seconds, some social platforms consider that engagement and will show you more content like what you've engaged with. This content then can also be reflected in your internet searches.
We all know "big brother" is watching our every move on our pocket computers and we're no longer surprised when after having a discussion about vacuums, or security systems, the next time we open our phones we're seeing ads for the best vacuum or security cameras! Pet food is no different! Having an innocent discussion with someone about the type of food we feed our pets can all of a sudden determine the type of content we'll see in our social feeds, internet searches and digital ads. 😳
This is what makes it so tough to complete our own unbiased research about what is the best choice for our furry family's diet! Additionally, you may have heard us refer to pet food as the new politics or religion! Pet food can be a very controversial subject as there are some very strong opinions and polarized groups with ideas of what our pets should and shouldn't eat. Depending on content you have engaged with online, you may find yourself receiving information from pet parents with some very strong opinions on what constitutes the best diet for our pets.
There are some things we know for sure which can help us to choose the best food for our pets! 👍
🐾 Dogs and cats are carnivores - dogs are facultative carnivores where kitties are obligate carnivores. The difference between these two types of carnivores is dogs are able to consume both meat and plant based foods, though they prefer meat, they don't require a completely meat-based diet to survive. Cats on the other hand, depend only on meat for survival. Their bodies cannot digest plants properly nor do plants provide enough nutrients for obligate carnivores like kitties.
Notice we discussed what our cats and dogs need to survive, we want our pets to thrive! To survive simply means to exist, to thrive means to grow and develop or in other words, live our best lives! So can dogs survive on plant-based protein, yes, but they will not thrive! Kitties will inevitably suffer a variety of health issues without a meat-based diet.
🐾 Only 20% of pet parents today serve a fresh, whole food diet. Though this number seems low, it is up from only 10% in 2017 and the great news is, the number is growing everyday! Not all pet parents are able or want to feed a completely raw or fresh diet, but more and more are adding fresh food to their pet's diet everyday!
🐾 37% of pet parents today serve only kibble and nothing else. Within that 37% is a subset of pet parents who strongly believe only an ultra-processed, scientifically tested pet food provides the required nutrition for their pet.
We already know from our own nutrition that we can improve our diet by reducing processed food and eating more fresh, whole foods. Our pets receive the same health benefits when we reduce their processed food and incorporate fresh, whole foods into their diets! Additionally, real food doesn't have to be scientifically tested to prove it's nutritious.
So when we look at both sides of the fence, there are a percentage of pet parents who only want to feed an ultra-processed diet, a percentage that only want to feed a raw diet and a big group in the middle who either want to feed a combination of food types or don't know what to feed! If you find yourself in the majority of pet parents who are looking for more information about what or how to feed your pet, these tips are for you! 👇
👍 The most important thing about your pet's food is knowing and trusting the manufacturer. Your pet's life depends on it! If you have questions about your food, your manufacturer should willingly answer any questions you have. Nothing should be "proprietary information". If they tell you it is, you can't trust them.
👍 We're feeding carnivores! Carnivores need meat as we learned above. You want to avoid mystery meats and you do not want to rely on plant-based proteins for a carnivore if you want your pet to thrive! Look for food with an identified protein source as the first ingredient! Mystery meats are easy to spot if you know what you're looking for! If an ingredient is listed as "animal meat", "animal meal", "meat meal" or any other type of animal protein where the source animal is NOT identified, the product contains mystery meat, better known in the industry as 4D meat. When the source animal is not identified, we have no idea where that "meat" came from or what we're serving our pets.
To learn more about 4D Meats and how to avoid them, watch our TikTok here! 👈
👍 Avoid foods with corn, wheat or rice, regardless of how the manufacturer dresses up their inflammatory grains to make them sound less grain-like. Grain filled foods are high in carbs. Our cats and dogs have no biological requirement for carbs. When they eat carbs, carbs turn to sugar and sugar is what feeds disease. We want to look for protein rich, nutrient dense, low carb foods regardless of the type of diet we're feeding.
👍 Avoid food or treats that use by-products of any kind. The biggest issue with by-products is they are nutritionally inconsistent. Because we don't know what's in them, we have no idea if or what type of nutrition they may provide. We do know by-products are a cheaply sourced form of "protein", however the amount of nutrition they provide is completely unknown, if they provide any at all. By-products are the left over scraps when all the useable meat, organ and bone have been removed from the carcass. They are the waste of the human food industry, considered inedible by humans but an opportunity for the pet industry to use recycled garbage. If we wouldn't eat it, why should our pets!
👍 Avoid artificial colours! Our pets really don't care what colour their food is! Pet food manufacturers who are adding colour to their products are doing that to appeal to our senses, not our pets! They're trying to make their product look more like "food" with a variety of colour. The problem is, the colour they add is literally paint! Be sure to look at the ingredient panel of all food and treats you serve to be sure there are no artificial colours added. You'll recognize them because they will list a colour like, red, blue or yellow with a number behind them or they will be identified with the word "colour".
These few tips will help you ensure you're choosing a better quality meal for your furry family. As always, we are happy to answer any questions you may have and help you choose the best option for your individual pet. If you are serving a food today and are not sure of its quality, you can always use our handy kibble grading tool found at the bottom of every page of our website, called What Grade is My Kibble. Use this tool to ensure you are always serving a Grade A kibble if your pet is eating a dry diet! Any grade lower than a Grade A kibble is a food that will not positively impact the health of your animal!