Tag Archive for dry food

Canning Raw Pet Food – Why Do It?

There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.
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OK, I can hear you raw feeders out there all the way over here. Why on earth would I want to can my raw food, you are asking. There are actually a few reasons why canning raw pet food is not a bad idea. I’m not suggesting you can all the raw food you make, but to have some canned on hand for emergencies is actually a good idea.

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.Last September, when the Butte fire broke out, I was just getting ready to make a batch of raw when the power went out. We got our generators set up and I was going to make it the next day but, before I could, we were evacuated. I’m bad about waiting until the last minute to make the next batch and I had NONE in the freezer.

I had the cats’ things all ready to go except for food! I couldn’t even buy more at our local store because their power was out too and they were closed. In all the chaos, I didn’t think about stopping to buy some when we were down the hill evacuating the horses. Thankfully, (I think the cats were more thankful than I was) I had a big bag of treats and that’s what they had for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.

That second day, I was able to go down the hill to the pet store in Jackson to buy food. Oh my gosh. I read and agonized over labels for what seemed like hours. I started feeding raw because Christy has chronic diarrhea on canned commercial cat food and I hadn’t really looked at labels in years. I am still looking for a commercial food she can eat for times like this but it hasn’t happened yet.

My friend Kelly’s relatives were kind enough to offer us a place to stay while we were evacuated but they had dogs and there was not a good place for the cats. I have an SUV and decided the best place for them was in the car. I really didn’t want Christy to have an issue with diarrhea in my car so it was especially difficult to decide what to feed them.

As much as I am against feeding dry food to cats, I decided she would be less likely to get diarrhea from it and I hoped it would only be for a short time. So, I settled on what seemed to be a high-quality dry food and that is what they ate for the next few days. If I had a supply of canned raw food on hand, it would have been easy to grab and put in their go boxes and I would have been much less stressed.

Recently, I went to a pet blogging conference and took Christy with me. I knew taking frozen raw food on the trip would be very impractical so I decided to try canning some of her food to take along. I made it a couple of weeks ahead of time to have time to try it out on her. I wanted to be sure she would eat it and she loved it!

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food

  • You know exactly what is in it
  • It is the same food your pets are used to eating
  • It’s convenient to have on hand
  • It is safe for human consumption in a pinch

Canning Raw Pet Food - Should you do it? There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.If you want to try this, check out my instructions for canning raw pet food coming next week.


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How to Prevent Cat Hairballs

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If you have had a cat for any length of time, you have most likely experienced it. You are sound asleep when you are jolted awake by the sound of your cat hacking, gagging and retching. You know when you turn on the light you will be greeted by the sight of a hairball.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Close up of cat's tongue licking paw

The tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach

Hairballs are the by-product of your cat doing what it does naturally – grooming. When cats groom, the tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach. Most of the hair passes undigested through the digestive tract in the feces, but some stays behind in the stomach and eventually forms a hairball.

An occasional hairball, once every week or two, is nothing to worry about. If your cat is refusing to eat, lethargic or has repeated episodes of unproductive retching, you should consult your veterinarian as these could be signs of something more serious.

Hairballs, a by-product of what your cat does naturally. When they groom, they ingest loose hair. Click To Tweet
Ocean grooming Echo

Some cats, like Ocean, feel the need to groom every cat in the house, making them even more susceptible to hairballs

The Best Ways to Prevent or Reduce Hairballs in Cats

Make Sure Your Cat is Getting Enough Moisture

If your cat is eating an all-dry diet, she is not getting enough water. Since cats get most of their water from their food, your cat is living in a constant state of dehydration and her digestive system is working harder than it should to process all that dry stuff. Her GI tract is less able to move the fur and other debris through than a well-hydrated cat. Consider feeding your cat a more species appropriate diet.

Add Omega-3s to Your Cat’s Diet

Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s, is a commonly seen nutritional deficiency in cats. Commercial pet food often provides more omega-6 than they need and not enough omega-3. A healty balance of fatty acids will not only improve your cat’s coat and skin, but it will help her digestive system deal with the hair and other debris she swallows. Krill oil is the optimum source of omega-3.

Brush Your Cats OftenHairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Removing the hair before it is ingested is the best prevention of hairballs. Brush your cats at least once a week and more during shedding season, even daily. The more you brush the less time it will take each time making it more tolerable for your cat. Some cats are not fond of brushing. As with most things, the younger you start brushing your cat the better. If you have a long-haired cat, tangles can be an issue but if you brush often, these should be eliminated.

I have three cats and each takes to brushing differently. Ocean tolerates it but swishes his tail the entire time. Christy enjoys it and lays patiently while I maneuver her around to get the best angles. Echo, when he sees me brushing one of the others, comes and begs me to brush him and tries to take over the grooming spot.

The added benefit of brushing, besides preventing hairballs, is that you will have less hair floating around your house to vacuum up. Speaking of vacuuming, be sure to keep string, thread, and other materials off the floor that could become dangerous if swallowed and entwined in a hairball. I have to be especially careful of this with Echo — he is a string chewer.

Choosing a Brush or Comb

There are many types of brushes and combs on the market. You should use whatever works best for you and your cat. Some prefer one over the other. Combing is more efficient at removing loose hair but brushing is usually more soothing. When you are finished brushing or combing, rub a damp paper towel over your cat to pick up any remaining loose hair.

What I Use

When I discovered FURminator deShedding Tools a few years ago, I got rid of all my other combs and brushes. I had heard how great they were but the price kept me from getting one for a long time. I wondered if they were really worth it. I finally got one on sale and haven’t used anything else since.

FURminator claims to reduce shedding by 90% and I believe it. Your cat ingests less hair, reducing the chance of hairballs significantly. It also stimulates your pet’s natural oil production, which protects the skin and promotes healthy, shiny coats. And less loose hair means a reduction in airborne allergens.

National Hairball Awareness DayTo celebrate Hairball Awareness Day on April 29th, I’m hosting a giveaway for a FURminator. I have not been compensated for this post in any way. I just love FURminator and want to share one with one of my readers. The FURminator in the giveaway is designated for long hair; however, I have both long and short-haired cats and use the long-haired version on both. It works great!

The giveaway will end May 2, 2016 at 12:00 am. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only who are 18+ years old. The winner will be contacted by email to confirm shipping address. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you can’t wait to see if you win, you can purchase a FURminator now!


 

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The 2 Most Dangerous Things About Dry Food

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Tabby cat - 2 most dangerous things about dry foodIf you feed your cats dry food, the best thing you can do for their health is to STOP. I know it is convenient. I know it is less expensive. I know your cat loves it. But it is not good for your cat. Here are, in my opinion, the two most dangerous things about dry food.

Too Little Moisture

The ancestors of our domestic house cats were desert-dwelling wild cats of the Middle East. These ancestors passed down to our pets super-efficient kidneys designed to extract the maximum amount of water possible from their prey. Cats have a low thirst drive and usually don’t drink until they are about 3% dehydrated. This may not sound that bad but it is a level at which many veterinarians would consider giving supplemental fluids.

A cat’s natural prey, the mouse, is about 65-75% water. Dry food is less than 10% water. When all sources of fluid intake are added together, what’s in their food and what they drink, cats eating a dry food diet consume less than half the water of a cat on a canned or raw diet. On a dry food diet, minerals from the kibble and metabolism build up in the bladder because of the reduced frequency of urination, producing hyper-concentrated, over-saturated urine leading finally to blockage. In addition to urinary crystals and stones, this chronic dehydration is responsible for or contributes to many other health issues including bladder infections, constipation, and kidney disease.

Too Many Carbohydrates

Dry foods, no matter how premium or even prescription, are mostly grain-based (or now, other inappropriate carbohydrate sources like potato and pea flour) and contain about 25 to 50% carbohydrates. Cats have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates and feeding them a diet high in carbohydrates is detrimental to their health.

Pet manufacturers may tell you their pet food contains carbohydrates for energy. Humans use carbohydrates for energy but cats use protein and fat and have little ability to digest carbohydrates. When cats process carbohydrates, they are turned directly to fat which promotes obesity. Obesity leads to many other health issues like high blood pressure, pancreatitis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and so much more.

Carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels higher and faster than other nutrients and trigger the release of insulin. When cats have dry food available all the time, they nibble multiple times a day causing multiple sharp swings in blood sugar and the release of insulin. Over secretion of insulin causes cells to become insulin resistant. That’s just one reason dry food is a major contributor to feline diabetes.

Give Your Cat the Gift of Health

So, no matter how healthy your cat may seem on a dry food diet, consider what it may doing in the long term. If your cat is a dry food addict, there are many articles on the internet to help you transition your cat to a wet or raw food diet. It might take a good amount of time but don’t give up. Your cat’s health depends on it.

 

Additional reading:

Live Science: House Cats’ Wild Ancestor Found

Little Big Cat: 10 Reasons Why Dry Food is Bad for Cats & Dogs

Feline Nutrition Foundation: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat’s Pee

 

Keep your pets hydrated and active!

This post contains Amazon Associate links which means we receive a small commission if you click from our site and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!


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Dangers of Dry Food – Part 2 – How It’s Made

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In Part 1 of Dangers of Dry Food, I told you about some of the main ingredients in dry food — the “meals.” They might be a named meat meal like chicken or turkey, a by-product meal or the hodge-podge of ingredients in meat and bone meal, each one less desirable than the one before.

In addition to the meat meals, there are various grain and soybean meals used in making dry food. Generally speaking, the lower the price of the finished product the more likely it is that it is high in grain products and lower quality meat meals. Although price is not a guarantee, you can see that a manufacturer could not afford to sell a product for a low price and make it with a high-quality, more expensive protein.

The most common process for making dry cat and dog food is through extrusion. The machines used for this were adapted from machines originally used to make puffed breakfast cereal.

The manufacturers “recipe,” which usually contains a mixture of meat and grain meals as well as antioxidants (preservatives), is made into a wet dough. It is pre-heated then goes into the extruder where it is cooked at extreme heat and pressure. At the open end of the extruder, the dough passes through a shaping die and is cut off by a knife into small pieces. These pieces rapidly expand into kibble once they are exposed to normal air pressure.

Kibble is then dried in an oven until its moisture content is low Dangers of Dry Food - Part 2 - How It's Made - Kibbleenough to make it shelf stable. Once dry and cool, the kibble goes into a drum where it is sprayed with fats and a “flavor enhancer,” without which, your pet would probably not touch the kibble. This enhancer is “animal digest,” another rendered product. Due to these additives, kibble only has a shelf life of 10-12 months, even less if the manufacturer used natural preservatives like vitamin E and C. These enhancers can easily become contaminated with salmonella as many recalls and human illnesses have proven.

To make pet food nutritious, manufacturers must “fortify” it with vitamins and minerals because the quality of the ingredients they are using are often extremely variable and the harsh manufacturing processes destroy many of the nutrients the food had in the first place.

Proteins are especially vulnerable to heat, and become damaged, or “denatured,” when cooked. Because dry foods ingredients are cooked twice — first during rendering and again in the extruder — problems are much more common than with canned or homemade foods. Altered proteins may contribute to food intolerances, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.¹

Enzymes are special proteins that aid in thousands of chemical reactions in the body. They are especially fragile to heat and are destroyed at even relatively low temperatures. The normal food enzymes that would help digest the food are destroyed by the heat processing that dry food undergoes. This forces the pancreas to make up for those lost enzymes. Over time, the pancreas can become stressed and enlarged, and even get pushed into life-threatening pancreatitis.²

Dangers of Dry Food - Part 2 - How It's Made - pet food label - Do you think this is a low or high-quality dry food?

Do you think this is a low or high-quality dry food?

What You Can Do

  1. Read your labels carefully
  2. If you must feed dry, be sure to use it before the expiration date
  3. Practice safe food handling
  4. Try feeding canned, homemade or raw

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Dangers of Dry Food – Part 1 – Ingredients

Dangers of Dry Food - Part 1 - Ingredients - Savvy Pet Care
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As a cat parent and animal lover who wants the best for all pets, I am passionate about sharing the importance of a species appropriate diet. Dogs and cats are both carnivores and require high amounts of protein in their diets. Dogs can eat some vegetables and fruits in their diets but cats lack the enzyme required to properly digest and use carbohydrates.

I feed my cats raw but realize this is not practical for everyone. Even for me, this sometimes presents a challenge, so I am always looking for substitutes for my homemade raw food, meaning raw meat suppliers, packaged raw food and high-quality canned food for emergencies. I’ll let you know about these in the future.

I hope with this series on the Dangers of Dry Food I can at least convince you to stop feeding your cats dry food even if you don’t move all the way to raw. Although this article is aimed at cats, the ingredients information applies to dry dog food as well.

Rendered Ingredients

Take a look at the ingredients label on your favorite bag of dry food. Does it contain chicken meal, poultry byproduct meal, or meat and bone meal (MBM)? Chances are good that it contains at least one. Do you know what this means or how it becomes “meal?”

These meals are rendered ingredients that are made by first putting animal-source proteins through a large grinder to chunk them up. These chunks are boiled until they turn to mush. After the fat is skimmed off, the remainder is dried to a powder. These meals are used as a cheap source of animal protein.

Chicken meal is potentially the least contaminated as it is made in a plant that is usually associated with a slaughterhouse that processes only chickens. Chicken meal, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), is the dry rendered product from a combination of clean chicken flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from whole carcasses of chicken, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet and entrails.

By definition, chicken by-product meal is made from grinding clean, rendered parts of chicken carcasses and can contain bones, offal and undeveloped eggs, but only contains feathers that are unavoidable in the processing of the poultry parts. FDA regulations for rendering plants are fairly loose, using phrases like “as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.”

At the far end of the spectrum is MBM — meat and bone meal. The raw ingredients in this “dumping ground” may include:

  • non-meat parts of cattle, sheep, swine and poultry that are not suitable for human consumption (including diseased parts)
  • restaurant waste and out of date supermarket meat (including the packaging!)
  • animals that died on the farm, in zoos, roadkill, were euthenized, etc and may be decaying
  • animals too sick to walk into the slaughterhouse

Ann Martin, in her book Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food says,The most objectionable source of protein for pet food is euthanized cats and dogs. It is a common practice for thousands of euthanized dogs and cats to be delivered to rendering plants, daily, and thrown into rendering vats–along with pet collars, I.D. tags, and plastic bags–to become part of an ingredient called ‘meat meal.’ If you see the term ‘meat meal’ listed as an ingredient, there is no guarantee that the pet food does not contain euthanized cats and dogs.” The drug used to euthanize animals does not degrade with rendering!

MBM is no longer allowed to be fed to cattle (ruminants). It is believed to be the cause of the spread of mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the 90s. Cattle can get the disease by eating less than one gram of diseased meat and bone meal fed to them as a protein source, yet this meal is allowed in our pet food in the US.

Most inexpensive dry foods contain poultry by-product meal or meat and bone meal. Even these are sometimes too expensive for manufacturers to make the necessary profit so they use vegetable proteins such as corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and plant protein concentrates to get the protein up to minimum acceptable levels.

Dangers of Dry Food - Part 1 - Ingredients - Savvy Pet Care
Dangers of Dry Food - Part 1 - Ingredients - Savvy Pet Care
Dangers of Dry Food - Part 1 - Ingredients - Savvy Pet Care
Dangers of Dry Food - Part 1 - Ingredients - Savvy Pet Care

Click on the photos to enlarge so you can read the ingredients.

Carbohydrates

A cat’s natural prey is about 9-10% carbohydrates, mostly from the liver and some from the undigested contents of the prey’s stomach. There is a wide range of carbohydrates in dry cat food, but they average about 30%. Often, when carbohydrate levels are lower, they have been replaced by fat rather than protein.

Carbohydrates in pet food come from grains or starchy vegetables. The simplest form of carbohydrates is sugar and all carbohydrates are a configuration of sugar. Carbohydrates equal calories.

Pet food manufacturers will tell you they add carbohydrates to food for energy. Cats use protein and fat for energy, and although they can digest and absorb carbohydrates, most of them are turned to fat and stored. Carbs do not satisfy a cat’s need for protein so they do not get the “signal” to stop eating. Dry food is a leading cause of obesity in cats.

The high carbohydrate levels cause spikes in blood sugar in the bloodstream. This continual stress on the metabolic system is a major contributor to feline diabetes.

Preservatives

Canned food is preserved by the act of canning and is sealed, but dry foods need preservatives (antioxidants) to ensure a long shelf life. Preservatives can be “natural” or synthetic. Commonly used natural antioxidants include tocopherols (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid, and rosemary. Synthetic preservatives include butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze), and ethoxyquin.

There is a lot of controversy over the safety of synthetic preservatives. BHA and BHT have been suspected of being carcinogens and ethoxyquin has been associated with a myriad of medical problems in dogs. Further investigation is needed to determine the full health impact of these preservatives.

Keep in mind, if you purchase dry food with natural preservatives, they don’t have as long a shelf life as foods preserved with synthetics.

What it doesn’t contain – Moisture

Cats are engineered to derive their fluids from their prey. They don’t have a big thirst drive and, in fact, don’t usually start drinking water until they are about 3% dehydrated. This contributes to many serious health issues.

Choices

When you go to a pet store that carries a wide variety of pet food, the choices are almost overwhelming. If a cat only needs meat, do they really need a different formula for every breed or scenario, like hairball, indoor, etc? The answer, of course, is no. The truth is that the more formulas a brand has, the more shelf space it gets.

Dangers of Dry Food - Part 1 - Ingredients - Savvy Pet Care
Dangers of Dry Food - Part 1 - Ingredients - Savvy Pet Care

And, oh my, reading all those labels! My suggestion, obviously, is to stop feeding dry, then you won’t have to read them. I truly believe that the cheapest wet food is better than the most expensive dry food.

Have I convinced you of the dangers of dry food and to stop feeding dry food to your cats?

If this post hasn’t convinced you to stop feeding dry, come back for future posts on the Dangers of Dry Food. In the meantime, if you must feed dry, please be sure your dry food meets these minimum standards:

  • Uses named meat protein sources such as chicken, turkey, lamb, beef — not vague descriptions like poultry or meat
  • Contains no by-products
  • Contains no fillers such as corn, wheat or soy
  • Contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives

Protein is the most expensive ingredient in dry food and carbohydrates are the cheapest, but don’t let the price of your food fool you. A higher price does not guarantee better quality. Check the ingredients.

Be sure your cat has access to fresh water at all times.

Further reading:


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