Feeding our Pets for Health

We are often asked what we feed our sanctuary dogs and cats. After researching commercial pet food for over 20 years, I have chosen a homemade meal for our dogs and a combination of canned, kibble, and homemade for the cats.

Ideally cats should be fed a high moisture diet. It is difficult for them to stay hydrated eating only dry kibble. The majority of the cats who come to us have been eating kibble and are not interested in trying anything new. Unlike dogs who can fast without compromising their health, cats are at risk of Hepatic Lipidosis (Fatty Liver Syndrome) if they stop eating. As I’m sure many of you with feline friends have experienced, they will go without eating before trying the new “scary looking” stuff in their bowl. So, we provide a little smorgasbord for them to choose from hoping they will eventually try something other than kibble. They are offered kibble and canned food that pass our criteria (detailed below), and lightly cooked meat daily. Sardines with bones and packed in water are fed once per week, and for an occasional treat they receive a small serving of canned salmon. We limit the amount of canned salmon because of the sodium content.

When choosing a processed pet food, I avoid the following ingredients:

Animal byproduct mealA rendered (cooked prior to manufacturing) pet food ingredient. The AAFCO/FDA definition allows slaughtered or non-slaughtered whole animal carcasses or any part of the animal including horn, hoof, hide and intestines (definition allows feces to be included). Any animal species is allowed in this ingredient. *

Meat byproductsDefined as non-meat, can include lungs, stomach, and intestines (required to be freed of feces) from slaughtered mammal. The AAFCO/FDA definition of this ingredient allows it to be sourced from inspected and passed animals OR diseased and condemned animals. *

Poultry byproductsCan include poultry heads, feet, internal organs, intestines, feathers, or whole carcasses. The AAFCO/FDA definition does not require Poultry By-Products to be sourced from slaughtered poultry or sourced from USDA inspected and passed animals. *

Animal digestMaterial sourced from any species of animal carcass or animal part that has been partially processed through chemicals and water – hydrolysis. Animal digest does not include hair, horn, hoofs. The AAFCO/FDA definition of this ingredient allows it to be sourced from inspected and passed animals or diseased and condemned animals. *

CarrageenanUsed as a thickening agent in canned pet food and in people food including cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk substitutes. Studies have linked carrageenan to inflammation, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, glucose intolerance, colon cancer, and food allergies. Carrageenan is actually used to induce inflammation in lab animals to test anti-inflammatory drugs. From the International Journal of Inflammation website, “Anti-inflammatory activity was measured using carrageenan-induced rat paw edema assay [20, 21]. Edema was induced by subplantar injection of 100 μL of 1% freshly prepared solution of carrageenan.” (The cruel abuse of animals for lab tests will be the subject of a future newsletter.)

*Source: TruthAboutPetFood.com

Our dogs are fed a homemade meal using Dr. Harvey’s base combined with fresh, whole food for the protein. The protein is varied throughout the week using poultry, beef, eggs, and fish. A small amount of organ meat is added to each meal and for dogs under 18 months we add cottage cheese and plain yogurt. For the oil needed to round out their diet we rotate between grass fed ghee, organic virgin coconut oil, and fish oil.

Because dogs are omnivores by nature, we have chosen to feed meat. For those who, understandably, choose not to purchase meat, Dr. Harvey’s can be combined with lentils, tofu, nut butter (in moderation), and free-range eggs purchased from family farms where chickens are humanely raised.

A note about nut butter. Be sure to read the ingredient label and buy only products with ground nut as the single ingredient. Salt, sugar, corn syrup, Xylitol and thickening agents can be found in some brands. Xylitol, which is also added to a number of products such as chewing gum and toothpaste, is highly toxic to dogs. A small amount may lead to severe hypoglycemia and liver failure.

Dr. Harvey’s has two formulas: Veg-To-Bowl, a grain-free formula, and Canine Health made with organic grains.
Canine Health is a blend of 6 organic grains and 9 dehydrated vegetables. When researching this food, the organic grains were extremely important. Grains are often sprayed with the pesticide glyphosate immediately before harvest to dry them out. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup and is associated with an elevated risk of cancer. In a recent set of tests, the Environmental Working Group found alarming amounts of glyphosate in oat based products – including children’s cereal.

Veg-To-Bowl is a blend of potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, broccoli, peas, celery, and beets, made without chemicals or dyes.

As an added bonus Dr. Harvey (yes there really is a Dr. Harvey!) is available to discuss your dog’s unique needs. Our sweet Anjo arrived with numerous health issues and had many challenges to overcome. I called the Dr. Harvey’s company for feeding advice expecting to speak to an associate. Dr. Harvey personally called my back. This is a great company to deal with.

Wishing you serenity & peace,
Jo Bighouse, Founder

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