There’s been a shift in ingredient awareness in many aspects of our lives. That’s not a complaint by any means. In fact, I love it because I avoid chemicals in my cleaners, skin care and food as much as possible. I purged my home of chemical cleaners years ago, and I noticed a difference in my skin and my breathing. Recently, I was working in a pet resort as a dog bather. After about a month of working there, I started to notice that I coughed all day long while at work. I realized that the chemical cleaners that are used in that facility were affecting me. Once I realized this, I knew I couldn’t work there long-term. It also made me think about all of the dogs in the facility. Not only are they breathing in from those chemicals, but I started to think about chemicals that are found in pet foods.
My cat, Simon, had multiple upper respiratory infections and lungworms as a baby when I first rescued him seven years ago. It was around that time that I became aware of chemicals found in our home. Admittedly, I fed Simon dry food at the time because I wasn’t as educated about animal nutrition. As time went on, I graduated to canned foods to provide him with the proper amount of moisture his body needs. By age three or four, I learned about raw feeding.
It’s National Raw Feeding Week, so I want to discuss a few chemicals that are found in the different types of pet foods, and why I feed raw.
The first, and probably most well-known chemical, that I want to talk about is bisphenol A. or BPA. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It has been found to disrupt the endocrine system. In other words, BPA can imitate hormones, causing the body to become imbalanced due to improper production of hormones. It has also been linked to effecting brain functions and behavior, as well as cancer development. One study found that on average, infants born in the United States today have been found to have over 25 chemicals in their little bodies at birth. BPA is found in plastic products, like water bottles and packaging of pet foods. Then how is BPA getting into canned pet foods and bagged dry pet foods? Metal cans are often lined with plastic, which can contain BPA, and the ink used on bags of dry food can contain BPA, which can leak into the food. Recently, Rodney Habib presented results found from and independent, non-profit laboratory after testing common dry pet foods. In this study, they test for all of the chemicals discussed here. It is an ongoing series with multiple brands, so feel free to check out his Facebook videos to keep up with that study.
Glyphosate is the next chemical worth talking about. If you’re not familiar with it, glyphosate is commonly known as RoundUp. It’s sprayed on crops and gardens to prevent pests and weeds from destroying the plants. If you are feeding a plant-based or pet food that contains plants, be aware of the sourcing for that brand. Glyphosate is linked to causing cancer. What’s even more scary is that there are no studies that give limits to acceptable levels of glyphosates for dogs, and there are high amounts found in pet foods.
In addition to these two chemicals found in pet foods, there’s also cause for concern about high levels of lead and vitamin D. The FDA and AAFCO do not have any standards set in place to regulate the amount of heavy metals in pet foods. The same study that Rodney Habib discusses, found that the first two popular dry pet food brands tested had high levels of lead. A recent pet food recall has been going on with Hill’s dry food and their dangerously high levels of vitamin D, causing mass illness and death amongst dogs and cats. From my understanding, Hill’s pet foods has sourced their synthetic vitamins and minerals from China. Many brands source vitamins from China, and then produce their base mixes in Europe, so they advertise that the not do not use ingredients from China.
If you keep up with pet care news, you may notice that a lot of attention has been
directed toward the “dangers” of feeding raw. In my research, I’ve found two many concerns for feeding raw food to pets. The first and most popular issue, is bacteria, which is harmless for the most part. I’m going to be honest with you, we are surrounded by bacteria. It’s everywhere. We need good bacteria for digestion, and that good bacteria helps our immune system if we are exposed to bad bacteria. If you completely sterilize your life, then you could possibly throw off your immune system and bacteria biome that exists. Rodney Habib tested his home door knob for bacteria, and you’d be surprised at how much was found! Of course there is going to be bacteria found in raw pet food. The only time I am concerned is if they are pathogenic bacteria, which could cause diseases.
Many brands use a process called high pressure processing, or HPP, as a way to kill bad bacteria from the raw food. HPP is a cold pasteurization technique that places the food at high levels of pressure using water, and kills off any bad bacteria. Unfortunately, it can also deteriorate nutrients in the food. Besides nutrient loss, my other concern with HPP is that it is usually performed in individually packed food, so any chemicals found in the plastic packaging could be transferred into the food. Primarily, melamine derived plastics can transfer this chemical into the food through HPP. Melamine has not been declared acutely toxic to animals. However, I would be interested in long term studies into Melamine. As a side note, BPA is not a concern with HPP because there is no heat involved, that would activate that chemical. Furthermore, a high quality raw diet for pets would not have any unnecessary grains or fillers in their ingredients. Dogs and cats are carnivores and their bodies are designed to digest and absorb nutrients from raw foods more efficiently than processed dry and canned founds. Many health issues have been shown to improve from eating raw as well. The only time I don’t recommend raw diets, is when an animal has been diagnosed with cancer. Then, gently cooked has been found to assist the body with the digestion process. With that exception, I believe raw is the most natural way to feed your pets.
Given the facts, I prefer to feed raw food to Simon. His health has improved greatly, including the texture of his coat. He’s so soft with clean ears and eyes. The myth that dry food is good for teeth makes me giggle every time I check Simon’s teeth. I’ve brushed them maybe ten times in his life, and at seven years old, they are in almost perfect condition. His teeth are designed to tear through meat and muscle. This is what keeps them clean and prevents any tartar or plaque build up. If you feed dry or canned food to your pets, but are interested in trying raw (especially during National Raw Feedingweek) you have many options. Primal pet foods and Answers pet foods have great raw goats milk that can add benefits to their food, like naturally occurring taurine and probiotics. Giving your pets raw organ meats is also a wonderful addition or treat containing high moisture, taurine, protein, and vitamins to your pet’s diet. I don’t recommend feeding raw food and dry food together, because they process both in different intervals and can cause tummy upsets. Wait a few hours inbetween or dry for breakfast and raw for dinner is another option! Simon is more than happy to be a spokescat for raw feeding, and this week is a great way to do your research and watch millions of people come together through social media to share their experience with raw feeding.
I was once an uneducated pet owner, but now that I’ve witnessed how well pets thrive from raw foods, I want to spread the word. Let’s give our fur babies species appropriate diets! And, as always, if you think your pet is showing symptoms of a food or environmental intolerances, our hair analysis tests may be the answer to your questions! Contact 5Strands Affordable Testing for your human or pet testing options.
Written by Laura Boisson