Romeo is a 9 year old standard poodle, and he is my girlfriend Brittany’s family dog. Brittany and her family got Romeo when Brittany was in high school. Since then, a lot has changed – Brittany moved on to college in Philadelphia, her family and Romeo moved from Maryland to Virginia, and now, Brittany and I live together in the Philadelphia area. Throughout all those years, one thing has remained constant, and that is Brittany’s love and adoration of Romeo. When we visit her family, nothing makes her more excited than seeing her pup. Sorry Mom and Dad, you’ll have to wait until the kisses are finished.
About six weeks ago, we received an evening phone call from Brittany’s parents. Recently, Romeo had been acting strangely. He had been walking with a slight limp and licking his hind end, which was unusual behavior for him. They took him to the local vet, and a small tumor was found in his colon. Further investigation found he had adenocarcinoma of the colon. Because this is a fairly aggressive form of cancer, decisions had to be made quickly. Her family lives semi-locally to Virginia Tech, which lucky has a top-notch veterinary medicine department that quickly scheduled surgery and removed the tumor. While the initial findings are good and the tumor has been removed, because this is an aggressive form of cancer, lifelong oral chemotherapy treatment has been recommended to help prevent the cancer from recurring.
I am a huge proponent of disease prevention through diet. Yes, genetics play a role in health and longevity. Yes, there are countless environmental factors we can’t control – air quality, water quality, solar radiation, high voltage transmission lines, cellular radio waves, AM/FM radio waves, satellite beams – you cannot eliminate all these variables that influence your longterm health. However, I believe the #1 contributor to disease over the longterm is a poor diet, and that really is something we can greatly control. Now that Romeo is on chemotherapy, nutrition becomes more important than ever. His body has been compromised, so it is going to be more susceptible to environmental and dietary toxins – especially since chemotherapy itself is a toxin, and it is taxing enough to fight through that. I am very well-researched in the “human food” market, but I’ve never really put any work into the pet food market. Needless to say, it has been a struggle.
The Quality of Mainstream Pet Food Is Horrendous
Let’s get something straight: dogs are carnivores. Yes, their digestive systems are just long enough that they can get by on a somewhat omnivorous diet. That does not mean they thrive on an omnivorous diet. While some plant matter may be acceptable, even beneficial in small enough quantities dependent on the source, the diet needs to be overwhelmingly animal-based in nutrition.
Mainstream pet food is overwhelmingly grain-based.
Grain is the absolute worst plant matter you can feed a dog. Human beings are natural omnivores, and we struggle to digest grain. The grain-based food pyramid Americans have become accustomed to is a primary driver of all sorts of autoimmune diseases and obesity in this country. Even ruminents like cows, with their legendary four stomachs, can’t digest corn. Cows, force-fed a grain-heavy diet instead of their natural diet of grass in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) are given antibiotics to help suppress the e-coli that forms in their digestive tract due to their inability to digest the stuff. Cows can’t do it with 4 stomachs, you can’t do it with 30+ feet of intestine, do you really think your almost entirely carnivorous pup has a chance?
I found out Romeo has been eating Hill’s Science Diet Adult Large Blend. These are the ingredients off their website:
Chicken, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Whole Grain Sorghum, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Chicken Meal, Chicken Liver Flavor, Pork Fat, Dried Beet Pulp, Soybean Oil, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Oat Fiber, Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, Beta-Carotene, Dried Apples, Dried Broccoli, Dried Carrots, Dried Cranberries, Dried Peas
Chicken bound with multiple different kinds of highly allergenic, difficult to digest grains, fortified with highly processed industrial oil and synthetic metal dust masquerading as “vitamins.” Humans can’t digest this garbage. Dogs don’t stand a chance. (Cats would be even worse since they are purely carnivorous, the quality of cat food is even more troublesome). And this is probably one of the better mainstream dog foods.
I did a little more digging to read the ingredients lists on other common, mainstream pet foods.
Chicken, brewer’s rice, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, whole grain corn, soybean meal, oat meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, glycerin, animal digest, calcium phosphate, fish oil (source of DHA), calcium carbonate, salt, caramel color, potassium chloride, Vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, sulfur, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.
Purina’s website went the extra mile to do everything it could do bury the ingredients lists for their products, but propaganda is everywhere.
Pedigree’s website is a little less obnoxious, but their quality is even worse yet.
GROUND WHOLE GRAIN CORN, MEAT AND BONE MEAL (SOURCE OF CALCIUM), CORN GLUTEN MEAL, ANIMAL FAT (SOURCE OF OMEGA 6 [PRESERVED WITH BHA & CITRIC ACID]), SOYBEAN MEAL, NATURAL FLAVOR (SOURCE OF MEATIER FLAVOR), CHICKEN BY-PRODUCT MEAL, DRIED PLAIN BEET PULP, GROUND WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT, SALT, BREWERS RICE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, DRIED PEAS, VITAMIN E SUPPLEMENT, ZINC SULFATE, CHOLINE CHLORIDE, NIACIN [VITAMIN B3], BIOTIN, DRIED CARROTS, BHA & CITRIC ACID (A PRESERVATIVE), BLUE 2, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, d-CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE [SOURCE OF VITAMIN B5], RIBOFLAVIN SUPPLEMENT [VITAMIN B2], RED 40, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE [VITAMIN B6], COPPER SULFATE, POTASSIUM IODIDE, VITAMIN A SUPPLEMENT, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], VITAMIN D3 SUPPLEMENT, VITAMIN B12 SUPPLEMENT
I searched companies high and low trying to find something acceptable. From what I’ve seen over at Consumer Affairs, many others share my sentiment for the quality of pet food. The only brand that seems to be reviewed positively is Canidae. I did some research on their products, and I did find two “flavors” with good ingredients lists.
Lamb, turkey meal, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, peas, chicken fat, menhaden fish meal, potatoes, suncured alfalfa, natural flavor, minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, mixed tocopherols (a natural source of
Duck, duck meal, turkey meal, sweet potatoes, peas, chicken fat, potatoes, suncured alfalfa, natural flavor, minerals (iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin, vitamin D3 supplement, folic acid), choline chloride, dried enterococcus faecium fermentation product, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product, dried lactobacillus plantarum fermentation product, dried trichoderma longibrachiatum fermentation extract, mixed tocopherols (a natural source of vitamin E)
I did not like any of the other “flavors” because they contained canola oil, a(n almost always) highly refined, rancid and toxic oil that must be degummed and deodorized to mask its rancidity and is loaded with trans fats thanks to the highly volatile refining process exposing the oils to various chemicals and temperatures as high as 500 degrees. It is also almost entirely GMO, which certainly doesn’t help in my mind. And let’s not forget, dogs are not seeds, whose oils are generally highly unsaturated to stay liquid at cold temperatures so they can germinate in cold late winter/early spring temperatures. Dogs are warm-blooded animals with high body temperatures and fast metabolisms that require significant saturated fats in their diet – saturated fats do not spoil easily, unlike polyunsaturated fats found in seeds that turn rancid with minimal exposure to light and heat. Canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and all the other ubiquitous, cheap, highly refined vegetable oils manufactured by massive congolomerates do not belong in our own diets, let alone our dog’s diets. Meat eating animals should get most of their fats from animal-based products, humans and dogs alike, but I digress.
I stumbled across another pretty good looking brand in my search.
Chicken, chicken meal, sweet potatoes, peas, garbanzo beans, potatoes, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), tomato pomace, natural flavor, fish meal, flaxseed, salt, choline chloride, dried chicory root, yucca schidigera extract, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium lactis, Lactobacillus reuteri, vitamin E supplement, iron proteinate, zinc proteinate, copper proteinate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, copper sulfate, potassium iodide, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, ascorbic acid, vitamin A supplement, biotin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, manganese sulfate, sodium selenite, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), vitamin B12 supplement, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D supplement, folic acid.
Again, I didn’t like their other “flavors.” Nasty vegetable oils like canola oil everywhere.
I am trying to convince her parents to switch over his food ASAP to maximize his chances at recovery. They are very receptive and I’m really thankful for that. The boy deserves the best chance he can get.
What do you all feed your pets? Do you check what’s in your pet’s food?
Disclaimer: I am not promoting any of the brands of pet food listed in this article. I do not currently own a pet of any kind, I have not purchased any kind of pet food in years and I am not receiving any compensation for promoting any of these items.All information found herein, including any ideas, opinions, views, predictions, commentaries, forecasts, suggestions or stock picks, expressed or implied, are for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as personal investment advice. I am not a licensed investment adviser.