Are Processed Pet Foods Contributing to Pet Disease?
For years I have stated that I can heal or vastly improve the health of about 75% of my patients using diet therapy alone. By providing healthy, clean, whole food diets to our pets, we can change their lives for the better. Just as it is better for people to eat diets made with fresh, local, organic ingredients, the same premise holds true for our pets. Processed foods that have been cooked many times, rendered into a pile of dust ("meal"), chemically treated and enzymatically degraded simply do not provide good nutrition for anyone.
Studies performed in Brazil showed the existence of significant poor-health associations between ultra-processed food consumption and metabolic syndrome in adolescents, abnormal fat metabolism in children, and obesity in all age groups. Reducing ultra-processed food consumption is a natural way to promote healthy eating in Brazil. While many people in third world countries suffer from malnutrition, the solution does not lie in supplying high fat, high sugar, low fiber processed food. Teaching people to farm and raise local crops will provide superior nutrition.
The same problem is found in pets eating highly processed foods. Many pet foods are very high in sugar and salt, as these are used as "natural" preservatives. Unnatural preservatives may include propylene glycol, ethoxyquin, BHA, and BHT, all of which have been incriminated as causing cancer.
Apparently, others active in veterinary medicine and the pet food industry feel the same:
”Nutrition is serious health business. The public is not well served by exclusively feeding products from companies without any real commitment to health… or knowledge of how to even achieve that. Recent studies have shown processed foods to be a factor in increasing numbers of pets suffering from cancer, arthritis, obesity, dental disease and heart disease”. Dr. Randy Wysong, DVM
“The sad truth is that prepared pet foods help provide patients for vets.” Dr. Ian Billinghurst, B.V.Sc.(Hons), BSc.Agr., Dip.Ed.
Dr. William Pollak, DVM, performed a clinical trial with his patients that underscores my thoughts exactly. The results of his trial suggest that 74.7% of common diseases in dogs and 63% of common diseases in cats can be eliminated without medical intervention over a period of one year with proper diet modifications. He states "The commercial food we are feeding is the disease we are treating."
It is possible to improve the health of your pet by feeding species-appropriate, fresh, whole diets. Food should actually look like food, not something that has been highly processed. Don't believe the photos on the label - actually look at the food. Just because there is a picture of steak and fresh vegetables, that does not represent the actual ingredients in all cases. Read the ingredient label; avoid foods with added salt, sugar, and preservatives. Look at the expiration date. Call the manufacturer and ask if the ingredients were locally sourced. Don't trust your pet's health to a big pet food company with little interest in your pet's well-being.
Alternatively, cook meals for your pets using locally sourced ingredients.