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Raw and Natural Dog Summit, 2019 – Order Your Tickets Here
“My cat got stomach cancer from eating red and yellow dyes in 9 lives. Poor thing. I assumed it was safe.” ~ Facebook User
I see stories like this on social media all the time. Pet parents are learning the dangers of the ingredients used in commercial pet food and treats the hard way.
Kibble Destroyed My Dog's Gut
I fed Rodrigo a kibble diet for three years until I finally accepted that kibble was the reason for all of his health issues – allergies, chronic ear infections, itchy paws, daily loose stool/diarrhea. I didn't know. The veterinarian told me that the food I was feeding my dog was healthy. Many veterinarians told me that “chicken allergies” weren't real; that it was just something people were saying to demonize kibble. And I put my dog through many rounds of antibiotics not understanding that I was just making his health issues worse, not better.
Why Kibble is Bad for My Dogs
I switched my dog to raw before I fully understood why he couldn't eat kibble. Today, nearly four years later, I have a clear understanding of why the food that I chose for my dog didn't work. Below are the ingredients in one of the foods I fed to Rodrigo:
Chicken, Chicken Meal (source of Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate), Brewers Rice, Rice Bran, Whole Brown Rice, Split Peas, Whole Grain Oatmeal, Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Soybean Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Dried Plain Beet Pulp, Pea Protein, Fish Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols), Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Salt, Zinc Sulfate, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement (Vitamin B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Iron Amino Acid Chelate, Copper Amino Acid Chelate, Selenium Yeast, Biotin, Manganese Amino Acid Chelate, Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Folic Acid, Rosemary Extract, Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract, Spearmint ExtractIngredients in a dry dog food I used to feed my dogs.
I bought this food because the package showed a whole chicken and vegetables and the first two ingredients are chicken. This is what I know now…
- A whole chicken is the first ingredient, the reason why it's first is that water is heavy. This ingredients list is misleading – there isn't a ton of chicken in this food, there's a ton of water in this food.
- The chicken meal would be an excellent ingredient because since it's listed as second, that means that there is a lot of chicken (without the water) in the meat. However, since the chicken meal is a source of glucosamine and chondroitin, I am left to wonder if this chicken meal made from chicken by-products (chicken necks are a source of glucosamine and chondroitin), not a whole chicken.
- This food is grain heavy: Brewer's Rice, Rice Bran, Whole Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oatmeal; dogs don't need grains in their diet. They can be tough on a dog's digestive system, especially if a dog has GI issues.
- Chicken fat means that the food will go fast quicker (2 weeks); once a bag is opened, the fat will begin to oxidize. I used to pour my dogs' kibble into a new container, making it go bad even faster.
- Soybean oil tends to come from genetically modified crops. Soybeans are linked to GI issues in dogs, seizures, and other health issues.
- Dried plain beet pulp is added for fiber, but many people think this ingredient is just a filler. And there are breeds that can't consume foods with dried beet pulp, like Great Pyrenees.
- Pea protein is added to beef up the protein content because the food cheats dogs of protein in the earlier ingredients by added whole chicken (with water), falsely giving you the impression that this is a high protein food.
- The fish oil in this food isn't enough for dogs to get the benefits of fish oil and, like with the chicken fat, once the food is opened, the fat will begin to oxidize and the food will go bad faster (in a couple of weeks).
- This food is using synthetic vitamins, which are harder to digest and although the food may be balanced by AAFCO standards, an ingredient that can't be digested easily and therefore absorbed isn't giving our dogs the vitamins they need.
I learned all of this by taking the Pet Food Nutrition certification course offered by Dogs Naturally Magazine. Although I've been doing research for years, what I learned in this course over a few weeks taught me what I was able to share in this post today.
Why You Should Become Certified
The Pet Food Nutrition Specialist certification is amazing. Dana Scott and Meg Smart put together a thorough program full of amazing information that has made me a smarter, more informed pet parent.
Here are a few reasons why you should take the Dogs Naturally Magazine course about pet food.
- You will understand the pet food industry and the roles of AAFCO, FDA, and other organizations. There are a lot of people involved in the pet food industry and not all of them are in the game to protect our pets. The AAFCO statement on bags of dog food doesn't hold weight for me anymore.
- You will understand what goes into pet food; from the grocery store to the “quality” pet food brands. A fellow pet blogger once told me that there is no such thing as quality cat food. I understand now what she means; cats shouldn't eat a diet of kibble. After taking this course, I now see that quality dog food isn't always quality either.
- If you have a dog (or cat) that struggles with commercial pet food, you'll now understand why. Rodrigo lived with GI issues for years on a kibble diet and I couldn't understand why the food didn't work for him. Now I have a better understanding of what the problem was and no longer blame myself for his health issues.
- You will be able to make better nutrition choices for your pet (this is for dogs and cats). My dogs are raw fed, but last year, I transitioned my cat from kibble to canned and freeze-dried raw, I now understand why this is a superior diet and I understand how to best feed my cat freeze-dried raw cat food.
- You will be able to educate your friends on pet food, speaking intelligently about ingredients and processes. I'm not the type of lecture friends about what they feed their dogs, but I do love answering questions when my friends approach me. Gaining my certification has helped me be able to intelligently show them why commercial dog and cat food may not be working for their pet. I no longer come across as a crazy raw feeder who hates kibble.
- If you're a pet blogger or work in a pet store, this certification will give you more credibility. I saved the certificate to my site (it's in the sidebar) and I changed my email signature to reflect that I'm certified as a Pet Food Nutrition Specialist. The difference was immediate. People take me more seriously.
- You'll be glad that you feed raw or home cooked; or ready to make the switch. As I was going through each module, I was thankful that I made the switch to raw when I did and I'm looking forward to the raw feeding certification. The pet food industry is like the Wild Wild West and the Sheriff is crooked. With recent stories of pentobarbital found in pet food and the recent news that a well known pet food brand was calling their canned food beef, when, in actuality, it was euthanized horse meat, I am beginning to wonder, “who can we trust?”
Although I earned my certification, I'm not a certified nutritionist or certified raw meal formulator. That is NOT what this course teaches us and, if you live in the United States, you cannot become a certified animal nutritionist unless you first attend veterinarian school. However, this course did push me to want to continue educating myself about my dogs' nutritional needs.
Thanks to this certification course by Dogs Naturally Magazine, I have a clear understanding of what goes into pet food, which helps me explain why a food isn't good rather than saying “because it's crap,” which, surprisingly, isn't that compelling or convincing for many people. The course was fun to take, my brain was bursting with information, and I'm thankful that I'm in a position to be able to make my dogs' food.
Raw and Natural Dog Summit
This post was originally published in February 2017. I'm republishing it to tell you about the Raw and Natural Dog Summit, October 4 – October 6, 2019. I attended this event last year and was blown away by the amount of information packed into a couple of days.
Hurry and get your tickets today! – Order Your Tickets Here
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