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Processed Food For Pets

By Dr. Cathy Alinovi DVM

Are you feeding your pet what’s convenient?

There are four reasons people feed their pets: to satisfy hunger, to provide nutrition, for convenience, and for personal satisfaction. Given our busy society and the rapid pace of each of our lives, convenience is often the reason that most pet owners purchase the foods they do. Mistakenly, the assumption is often made that this convenient, highly processed, long shelf life, “balanced” food fulfills the remaining food needs. While processed food may satisfy hunger and provide some degree of nutrition, the question remains whether pet owners and their pets experience personal satisfaction in feeding the food. The satisfaction level may decrease the more pet owners learn about the true identity of pet food ingredients and the health consequences of feeding such ingredients.

Processed foods are bad for you and your pet.

Processed foods are bad for you and your pet.

Consider a toaster pastry; after all, it is actually quite similar to processed pet food. The toaster pastry will satisfy hunger, provide nutrition of some sort (it is fortified with vitamins and minerals), and is very convenient. But the question remains about personal satisfaction – most would agree a toaster pastry is not meant to be eaten at every single meal. (Although, I’m sure the manufacturer wouldn’t mind if people ate their pastries at each meal.) Sadly, this toaster pastry is quite comparable to processed dry pet food. Kids love to eat these foods, regardless of their species; because their bellies are full, they experience satisfaction, at least briefly. However, we intuitively know it’s not healthy for humans to eat these foods for every meal, but many pet owners don’t seem to realize the same about their pets’ food. Sadly, once educated about the dangers of processed pet foods, owners lose their personal satisfaction with feeding processed foods.

Your pet could be suffering.

The dangers associated with feeding processed pet food at every meal are those of chronic inflammation: weight gain, greasy coat, shedding, energy peaks and valleys, and edginess are just a few of the initial results of processed food diets. Over time, the signs of inflammation travel deeper into the body causing illnesses such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease, and even cancer.

The proof that these foods are wreaking havoc on our pets’ lives lie in the statistics; almost 60% of dogs in the United States are overweight. There are 43 million overweight to obese dogs in the United States! (This phenomenon is not restricted to the US – almost 25% of Mexican dogs are overweight; the rest of the world is experiencing similar issues.) Furthermore, there is strong evidence that overweight dogs have shortened life expectancy by 2 1/2 years. The irony is the entire reason people feed their dogs is for the pleasure of doing so and the assumption is that the food will keep their pets with them longer. But when a diet of processed food leads to obesity, chronic disease, and reduced life expectancy, then there is no satisfaction with feeding processed food to our pet dogs and cats.

Pet owners who want to share the full food experience with their pets will sacrifice small amounts of convenience to feed the quality food that builds personal satisfaction, not just filling the hunger and nutrition needs. With practice, it stops being an inconvenience to avoid processed pet food diets.

Dr. Cathy Alinovi is from Indiana and now retired from her practice. Certified in Veterinary Food Therapy, Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, and Aromatherapy, Dr. Cathy’s approach is committed to the health of our pets and continues to educate pet parents with her writing, books and research in pet health. Learn more at drcathyvet.com

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