Nutrition what do you need to know

Cats need strong immune systems to prevent and survive conditions such as upper respiratory infections, ear infections, gastrointestinal disorders as well as general infections and many other conditions. If you are treating a cat for any of these things, remember, without a strong immune system, the condition will appear chronic and untreatable! No antibiotic will work if the animal has an immune system that has been weakened by a diet lacking in essential nutrients, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and a high percentage of protein (at least 35%). An antibiotic regimen must be accompanied by a diet that provides what the immune system needs to respond. Some veterinarians will repeatedly give pets injections of steroids (Prednisone, Dexamethasone) and antibiotics without discussing the diet with you. We did a food elimination study on cats that had recurring skin infections and that were previously treated with steroids and antibiotics. We switched to foods that are adequate in nutrients and the omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, high in protein, lacking fillers and artificial anything and of course are grain-free, we saw amazing improvements in just 1 week.

It has been said that we are what we eat. Checking the ingredients in the food you feed your cat or dog is so very important. Keep in mind that dogs are omnivores and cats are strict carnivores. Carnivores rely on nutrients in animal tissue to meet their specific and unique nutritional requirements, they do not need carbs.  There is a huge difference in nutritional needs of carnivores vs that of omnivores.

Some high- end foods have advertised well and are expensive but contain harmful ingredients and lack essential nutrients. Two of those foods are Iam’s and Science Diet. Many ingredients can cause serious health problems. If a label says it contains animal meat, it can contain any animal meat even lab animals, road kill etc. Some foods contain animal digest and or animal meal. This means it was obtained from a slaughterhouse and was not usable for human consumption. If the label states the food contains chicken or beef then you know it is chicken or beef. Corn is not good for pets and is used as a filler in most pet foods. In many cases salt content is too high. Many foods contain preservatives and dyes that are harmful.  There are numerous reviews on-line that can guide you in your choice of pet food. Reading and understanding labels can be complicated  and has already been done for you for some brands and is available at Petfoodratings
On the site, numerous pet foods are rated for nutritional value as well as price. For those who choose to read the labels yourself, we have included here, with help from the above mentioned site, a list of definitions of things that are in pet foods. We recommend foods that contain the good things your pet needs to be healthy and omit the bad things that can cause health problems. You should always check your cats litter box, that is the easiest way to know if some thing bad happened with your cat. When you feed your pet a high-end food, he or she will eat less and defecate less because of adequate nutrition. Remember when you spend a few dollars more, you will also be buying less and have fewer vet bills, not to mention for cat owners, you will buy less litter. Check availability as some are difficult to find.
This is a list of foods we recommend:

Halo ( sometimes hard to find, price higher than average but probably one of the best food available).
Wellness and Wellness Core (easy to find, price a little above average)
Solid Gold (“Indigo Moon” for felines and “Bark at the Moon” for canines) (hard to find, price slightly above average).
Taste of the Wild (“Rocky Mountain Feline”; easy to find, price reasonable) ( Canine formulas; “Wetlands”, “High Prairie” and   “Pacific Stream”,easy to find, price reasonable)   Although the domestic cat is from Egypt and has no genetic connection to the
                        North American Bob-Cat, this food is still nutritious and complete with necessary nutrients.
Orijen (easy to find, price average) It really is fresh chicken, they raise their own.
Blue Spa Select   Company ” Blue Buffolo”( sometimes hard to find, price average)
Chicken Soup for the Cat (or Dog) Lovers Soul ( easy to find, price average )  (This product is made by “Diamond Pet Foods” and although a good food, Diamond is a company with a history of recalls and has been slow in reporting problems with their products causing unnecessary pet death. If you use their products, monitor recalls closely.
What you should know about what’s in your pets food

Animal By-Products : This entails anything that humans would not eat and would not give to their pet. Examples are; beaks, feet, random organs, feathers, blood etc. If the label says chicken by-products you can identify the animal but if it says “meat by-products”, you cannot even identify the animal so they may not want you to know what animal it is. It has been documented that road-kill and pests like rats are used in some cheap foods.There is also documentation that the chemical used to put animals down by vets has been found in some foods. (If you have to put your pet down, don’t leave the body. Take it for burial).

Animal Digest: This is a broth made from various things that can include the by-products as described above, and also skin and contents of an animals stomach after it was slaughtered.

Barley: There are grains in most cheaper pet foods. Barley is a quality grain that is not a main source of allergies and is easily digestible.

Beef Tallow: A very cheap fat source that is the white fat found on beef. This is not a good thing to eat. Please no! What about heart health with this one! Imagine taking a big bite out of beef fat.

Brewers rice or brewers yeast: Leftovers from the alcohol making process that have no nutritional value. It is a filler.

Canola Oil:  A good fat source but not the best. The best is fish oil or sunflower oil.

Corn Gluten Meal: This is what is left after the best part of the corn has been removed. Another filler and one of the worst ingredients that can be included because it has no nutritional value and is difficult to digest.

Eggs:  Eggs are one of the best protein sources.The best is “whole eggs” but “dried eggs” or “egg product” is a failry good protein source.

Fish Oil:  This includes salmon oil which is very rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids which are excellent for heart health.

Flaxseed Oil:  Another good fat source with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids for heart health. Cheap foods will almost never have this.

Fruits: Excellent sources of fiber and vitamins. Some you will see in foods include blueberies, cranberries and apples. Fruits are expensive and usually are not included in cheaper foods.

Meats (chicken, turkey, beef, duck etc.):  If the meat source is named on the label its a good thing as long as the word by-product isn’t there.
If the word meal is not behind it, they are weighing it before it is dehydrated giving it a false ranking of what proportion of it is really in the food.

Meat “meals” (chicken meal, turkey meal, fish meal etc.): One of the best ingredients you can get in pet food, this means that the meat is of a decent quality and it was weighed after it was dehydrated. This means the proteins are more condensed. Seeing these toward the top of the ingredient list is a great thing.

Meat and Bone Meal: One of lowest quality meat products used.  The origin of the meat is suspect, as it isn’t named. If the manufacturers wanted you to know what the source was, they would name it. It’s probably not good because it’s just listed as “meat”. In addition, the lowest-quality parts of the animal are generally used as well. As the name suggests, ground bone is included. This isn’t good.

Natural Flavors: There are varying reports about this.The more expensive companies state that they are just using broth created when the animals are being cooked, but there are reports of not so good methods of getting these flavors with bargain manufacturers.

Oatmeal:  This another pretty good grain, much like barley and rice.

Potatoes (or sweet potatoes):  This is the single best carb source in pet foods, and is a good ingredient to use.

Rice (whole grain rice):  This is not the best grain that can be put into pet food. Rice “bran” or “flour” is not the same, as nutritional quality is diminished with the processes used on the rice. Although not the best grain that can be put in pet food, rice is easily digestible, and a good source of fiber for animals.

Salt:  Excess salt is not good for pets!  If it is in your pet food, it’s probably missing something else.

Soybeans:  A low-quality grain, and source of food allergies. It’s a cheap ingredient typically used by cheap companies with little benefit to the animals.

Sugar (or corn syrup):  A bad ingredient used by companies to make food taste better because the ingredients themselves aren’t enough to make the dog or cat want to eat it.  If you have to buy a food with grain, barley, rice and oatmeal are the least of grain evils.

Wheat:  A useless ingredient in pet food and a leading cause of food allergies in dogs.”Wheat middlings” are especially bad, since they are considered to be the sweepings off the floor. Avoid this ingredient if at all possible! If you have to buy a food with grain, barley, rice and oatmeal would be the least of evils.