The benefits of a higher quality diet:
Although high quality food is generally more expensive per bag, since less food is required per serving it is often more cost effective in the long run.
As a result of feeding smaller portions, as well as increased digestibility, there is a much lower stool volume.
Ingredients make a difference! Higher meat content and high quality oils (such as salmon or herring oil) will lead to improved skin and coat quality.
By reducing the common grain fillers the improvement in the skin and coat will also lead to less shedding.
The digestive tract of our four legged friends is better equipped to digest meat. By having more meat protein in the food, you should see a more consistent energy level.
By reducing common dietary allergens such as corn, wheat, soy and beef, dogs with allergies often see an improved quality of life.
A note on Ear Infections: According to Dr. John Gordon, board-certified veterinary dermatologist at MedVet, and a leading veterinarian specializing in allergies, chronic ear infections are nearly always allergy related. A change in diet will improve the symptoms in at least 30% of the allergy patients he evaluates.
It is easy to see the above “outside” benefits. What you can’t as easily see is the “inside” benefits. We know pets will thrive on a more nutritious diet. In the end, we believe this will add up to a longer and healthier life for the four legged family members who share your life.
How we evaluate pet food:
What makes a great food great?
What goes into the food (and what does not go into the food) is the most important factor in determining if a food is a great food. If you are buying a prepared pet food, all ingredients are always listed on the package. As long as you know what to look for, this is the most important tool in finding an appropriate food to meet your needs.
High quality foods will have higher levels of control in the manufacturing process. This results in better consistency in the food from one batch to the next.
We are benefiting from tremendous improvements in the research being done by many pet food manufacturers. Our industry is changing so rapidly. Instead of being an outlet for waste (or by-products) from the human food processing industry, great pet food today is being produced using “human-grade” ingredients.
Know what to look for.
PetPeople believes that not all protein sources are created equal! We like to see named meat sources such as “chicken” versus the more generic term “poultry”. We prefer meat based proteins over grain fractions as protein sources. We value the use of “human-grade” meats instead of meat by-products whenever possible.
The Good Proteins:
Chicken - The clean combination of flesh and skin, with or without the accompanying bone, derived from the part of whole carcasses of chicken, or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails. (Definition according to AAFCO)
Chicken contains about 75% moisture. A food that lists chicken as the first ingredient followed by a number of grains, does not necessarily have a desirable amount of high quality meat protein. We prefer to see a food that lists chicken and chicken meal in the first few ingredients.
Chicken meal - The dehydrated product of the above defined chicken. Chicken meal has most of the water removed which gives it greater nutrient density than chicken. Chicken meal is a very high quality ingredient that is easier to digest, more palatable and provides more essential nutrients than many low cost options for protein.
Alternative meat proteins - While chicken is the most widely used meat protein in pet food, there are many great “alternative” meat formulas available. These may be listed as meat or the dehydrated meat meal version. We like all of these alternative proteins if they are listed by name (duck, lamb, venison, salmon) in either the original form (with water) and/or as a meal. As with chicken, if you see the first ingredient is salmon, we would prefer to see the second ingredient on the panel be salmon meal in order to ensure the food is a good, meat based diet.
The “Not so Good” Proteins:
Meat Meal/ Meat & Bone Meal - The rendered products from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in food processing practices. (Definition according to AAFCO)
Why don’t we like it: “Meat” can be beef, pig, rabbit, goat, or horse, to name a few. It can be any part of various mammals, and is generally the parts of the animals that have been rejected for human consumption. There is no way to know what is really in the food. Only in July of 2008 did AAFCO finally state that “4-D” animals (dead, dying, diseased, or disabled) would no longer be allowed in pet food.
Chicken by-product meal - Consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of slaughtered chickens, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines, exclusive of feathers except in such amounts that may occur unavoidably in good rendering practices. (Definition according to AAFCO)
Why don’t we like it: As the name implies, it is the by-product (leftovers) from chicken. The human consumable part of the chicken is often removed prior to making the meal, so this ingredient does not include the most nutritious part of the fowl.
Poultry and poultry by-product meal - Definitions as above except instead of a named source, ingredient could be any combination of unspecified fowl.
Corn Gluten Meal - The dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by a process employed in wet milling manufacture of corn starch and syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. (Definition according to AAFCO)
Why we don’t like it: It provides the protein to raise the overall protein percentage in the food, but it is not a meat protein and does not have the nutritional value that a meat protein has.
As the AAFCO definition implies, corn gluten meal is a highly processed ingredient whereby the protein is extracted from the whole grain. This process is done with various grains including wheat, soy, and rice in order to increase the perceived protein levels in food.
PetPeople believes that not all carbohydrate sources are created equal! When grains are used we prefer to see whole grains rather than flours, brans, and other grain fractions. Whole grains are a better source of vitamins and nutrients than their highly processed counterparts. The more an ingredient is processed the lower its nutrient value, and the higher the risk of contamination due to increased handling during processing.
The Good Carbs
Whole grains - Listed as: Brown Rice, Ground Rice, Oatmeal, Potato, Barley, Millet, Pea.
As the names imply, these ingredients are the whole grain and are not highly processed prior to being included in high quality pet foods.
The “Not So Good” Carbs
Wheat Flour- Consists principally of wheat flour (soft, finely ground, sifted meal obtained from the milling of wheat, containing essentially the starch and gluten of the endosperm) together with fine particles of wheat bran, wheat germ, and the waste-leftovers from the mill. (Definition according to AAFCO)
Why we don’t like it: Wheat Flour, along with other grain fractions, such as Rice Flour, Wheat Mill Run, Middlings, and the like, are highly processed. Nearly all of the vitamins have been removed prior to the ingredients being added to the food. These items are largely the by-product, or leftovers, of the human consumable portions of these grains.
Fats and Oils
PetPeople believes the use of named fats such as chicken fat is preferred to the use of the more generic “poultry” fat or “animal” fat. There are also several high quality oils that AAFCO has yet to define, such as olive oil and different fish oils.
Dogs and Cats can use fats and oils for energy, and fats are also important for many metabolic functions. In pet foods they are also important for skin and coat health and joint care.
Fats and oils can come from both plant and animal sources. A good high quality ingredient will provide more essential fatty acids. Providing both omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids is important to improved health and well-being.
PetPeople believes that natural preservatives are best! Although chemical preservatives are less expensive and can be effective, we believe the possible risks greatly outweigh the benefits.
Natural preservatives are effective at preventing oxidation, but have a shorter shelf life than chemical preservatives. They are generally better tolerated and have few, if any, side effects. These natural preservatives prevent rancidity and bacteria growth, and stabilize the ingredients’ color, taste and flavor, and are readily metabolized and eliminated from the body.
Vitamin C - Absorbic Acid
Vitamin E - Alpha Tocopherol, usually used in conjunction with vitamin C and labeled as “mixed tocopherols”
Citric Acid - Colorless, translucent, acid generally from lemon, lime, or pineapple.
Rosemary - A derivative of the rosemary plant, an evergreen shrub which has antioxidant properties.
PetPeople does not support the use of chemical preservatives in pet food.
Vitamins and Minerals
PetPeople believes that the sources of vitamins and minerals used in foods are very important. A pet will better utilize the vitamins and minerals in foods that use high quality whole food ingredients than a food that uses by-products and fraction ingredients and adds synthetic vitamins. For example, eating a high quality diet of whole foods is healthier than eating fast food and taking a multivitamin every day!
How to read a food label
The Ingredient Panel
Ingredients are listed in descending order based on weight prior to processing. Thus, the first ingredient is the most prevalent, etc. A good rule of thumb is that the top five ingredients make up the majority of the food.
PetPeople believes it is important to have a named meat listed as the first ingredient, if not also the second and third. If a fresh meat is listed first, it is important to also have a meat meal high on the ingredient panel to ensure that it is a meat based diet.
There are two ways a food company can make a food sound better than it really is:
1. Companies may list a fresh meat followed by several grains. Since chicken (for example) contains 75% moisture, as with any fresh ingredient, the water weight prior to processing will be reduced after processing, thus decreasing the actual amount of the ingredient.
This may look something like....
Ingredients: Chicken, Brewers Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-product Meal
A food that has “chicken meal” listed as the first ingredient will actually contain more meat than a food that only has “chicken” listed first followed by several grains.
2. Companies may also split ingredients to make their ingredient panels look better. This is called product splitting. Rather than list a whole grain first, they can list a meat meal first followed by several grain fractions. It looks like the food contains mostly meat, but if you add up the grain fractions the food is actually a grain-based, not a meat-based food.
This may look something like....
Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Ground Rice, Rice Flour, Rice Bran, Poultry Fat, Soybean Oil
If an ingredient panel lists chicken meal, ground rice, rice flour, rice bran….chances are, there is much more total rice than chicken in this food.
Every food will have a guaranteed analysis on the package. The guaranteed analysis chart represents the food’s minimum/ maximum crude percentage of protein, fat, fiber, and moisture.
While the guaranteed analysis may look like a scientific statement of product effectiveness, it makes no statement as to whether or not the pet can absorb and use the nutrients provided.
It is necessary to look critically at the ingredients to determine the quality and digestibility of the food. If the food is made with lower quality ingredients such as by-products, grain fractions, and chemical preservatives, it will be less digestible and therefore excreted as waste in the form of higher stool volume and excess gas.
The advancements in the formulations of our pet’s food, the improvement in the quality of the ingredients being used, and the options that are available on the market are all changing rapidly and FOR THE BETTER! Just in the past 15 years have smaller, independent pet food companies started utilizing human quality ingredients rather than commercial by-products to create healthier pet foods than were previously available.
We are committed to carrying foods WE BELIEVE IN! We study and research new products and will not bring a food in if it does not meet our standards. You may not have heard of some of the foods we carry. We are committed to the ingredients in the food, not the marketing and advertising of the food.
PetPeople is very excited to be on the leading edge of the industry shift towards “healthy pet food”. The health and well being of your four legged family member is at the core of our beliefs.
Your Neighborhood Store for Pets
At PetPeople we are a group of dedicated and passionate pet people. We are so enthusiastic to engage our customers, exchange information, and work together to solve common pet problems. We hope you will continue to come to us with questions, problems or situations regarding your pets’ care. It is our goal to be a partner with you and your veterinarian in the health and well-being of your pet.
While we are happy to advise you and share our knowledge with you, we would never propose that our recommendations be used instead of consulting with your veterinarian about any concerns or issues. You know your pet better than anyone, and should always use your best judgement regarding obtaining the best care for your pet. ©2015 PetPeople Enterprises, LLC
PetPeople is committed to carrying the finest natural and high quality pet foods on the market. We won’t bring a new food into our stores if it does not meet our basic tenets regarding what makes a food healthy and wholesome!
We are committed to training our associates so that they are comfortable conversing about ingredients, reading labels and have an understanding about the good and “not so good” ingredients manufacturers use in many popular pet foods.
Why We Sell What we sell:
We are passionate about high quality, natural, wholesome and nutritious pet foods and treats. We believe these products improve the well being of our pets.
Who we ARE feeding:
Like their wolf ancestors, dogs are opportunistic carnivores. In an ideal setting, meat is the primary source of nutrition and calories.
Although dogs can survive on a grain based diet, they will thrive on a meat based diet.
Like all cats in the wild, our cats are obligate carnivores. By its genetic make up, a cat must get most of its nutrients from meat based protein to survive.
Cats require certain nutrients from meat that cannot be obtained in sufficient amounts from plant foods.
The most important of these is taurine, which when deficient in the diet has been shown to cause blindness and heart problems.