Undesirable Pet Dog and Cat Food Ingredients

Animal Digest
Related to meat by-products, being the dry or liquid by-product of the meat rendering process, and not fit for human consumption. The origin of the ingredients is unknown and can include zoo animals, road kill, what's often referred to as 4-D livestock (dead, diseased, disabled, dying) and even euthanized dogs and cats. This is a low-cost ingredient with little nutritional value and is not very digestible, usually being added to pet food as a palatability enhancer.

Artificial Colors
Added to food to make it more attractive to consumers. Generally, carnivores do not care about the color of their food (though it does play a role in human and bird behavior) because the flavor of food is largely determined by two senses, olfactory (odor) and gustatory (taste). Can be linked with liver and kidney problems, digestive disorders, aggravating behavioral disorders as well as increasing the risks of various cancers and tumors. Ex. FD&C Blue No. 1 and FD&C Red No. 40.

Artificial Flavors
A substance developed in a laboratory by a flavor chemist that mimics a natural flavor. These substances can often be quite powerful and are often designed to encourage over-eating or the consumption of items that would not be eaten under normal circumstances. Can be linked with liver and kidney problems, digestive disorders, aggravating behavioral disorders as well as increasing the risks of various cancers and tumors. Ex. Anything that gets carnivores to eat a corn or grain-based diet with a white powder of synthetic vitamins and think they are eating food.

By-Products
Consist mainly of animal parts that are the waste or by-products of the human food industry and are therefore not fit for human consumption; includes bones, organs, blood, fatty tissue and intestines. In the case of meat by-products this could include zoo animals, road kill, what's often referred to as 4-D livestock (dead, diseased, disabled, dying) and even euthanized dogs and cats. Some by-products that identify the species, such as chicken by-products, may come from adequate sources, but it's simply too hard to know what exactly is included in by-products, especially since these unwanted animal parts may contain unhealthy bacteria or even parts from cancerous animals.

Chemical Preservatives
Such as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin and propylene glycol, which can be linked with liver and kidney problems, digestive disorders, aggravating behavioral disorders as well as increasing the risks of various cancers and tumors.

Fillers
Fillers are ingredients that have little to no nutritional benefit. These ingredients are added to provide bulk to the kibble, replace meat as a low-cost protein source or for other reasons such as adding bulk to form a firm stool. Fillers include ingredients such as peanut and soy hulls, brewers rice, cellulose, wheat or soy gluten, dried beet pulp, grains and glutens.

Grain Fractions
These are parts of the grain, usually after the healthy or useful stuff has been taken out for use in the human food chain. May include floor sweepings and other byproducts of the human food industry and are considered nutritionally inferior to whole grains because parts such as the germ, that is rich in fatty acids and essential nutrients that can go rancid quickly, has been removed. Ex. Wheat flour, wheat bran and brewers rice.

Grain Splitting
Listing two or more grain ingredients from the same source separately. Primarily done to allow meat ingredients to be placed higher on the ingredient panel leading consumers to believe there are more meat ingredients than grain. Ex. ground yellow corn and corn gluten meal instead of just corn.

Low or Poor Quality Protein
Carnivores require their protein to come from high-quality meat sources. This includes species specified sources such as chicken or high protein species specified sources such as chicken meal (although the quality of meal sources is very important; less expensive foods will generally have poorer sources). If the first ingredient is listed as a meat source (manufacturers are learning to do this to influence consumers) followed by several grains, this generally means that the bulk of the protein is being derived from grains and is not optimal for the health of your dog, cat or ferret. For healthy lean muscle development and maintenance as well as recovery from injury and proper immune system function, we like to see protein, from primarily or entirely meat sources, of 30% in kibble foods and 8% in canned foods (because of canned foods higher moisture content this would work out to a 36% dry matter protein level in the average canned food).

Not Human-Grade
If it isn’t specifically listed anywhere you can rest assured the ingredients in the bag are not fit for human consumption and that means they can be almost anything! This can include rendered meats from road kill, dead zoo animals, euthanized pets (yes, the drug sodium pentobarbital has been found in pet foods), spoiled meat from the supermarket (styrofoam wrap and all), the “4-D’s” of cattle (dead, dying, diseased and disabled), rancid restaurant grease (yes, those drums you see sitting outside restaurants) and byproducts of the human food industry such as chicken heads, feet, feathers and intestines, cow brains, tongues, esophagi, fetal tissue dangerously high in hormones, diseased and cancerous meat and even feces. Grains that are used have usually been deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, contaminants, poor quality or poor handling practices and this can be made more obvious by the fact that many pet food recalls are the result of toxic grain products such as wheat or corn. In addition, many of these foods can include undesirable chemical preservatives used to preserve fats and rendering products and are not required to be listed on the label because the manufacturer themselves have not added them.

Non-Species Specified Fats
Usually comes from rancid restaurant grease. This grease sits in the back of restaurants sometimes for weeks and is then stabilized with powerful chemical antioxidants to prevent further spoilage. These fats are then often sprayed directly onto kibble to make an otherwise distasteful product more palatable to your carnivore. Concerns include the belief that these rancid fats become extremely carcinogenic and are extremely difficult for animals to digest, which can lead to a host of health problems for your companion such as diarrhea, gas, bad breath and other digestive problems. Ex. animal fat.

Non-Species Specified Ingredients
When the species of an ingredient is not specified you can be pretty sure that it is not fit for human consumption and you can never really be sure of the source. May include the rendered remains of zoo animals, road kill, what's often referred to as 4-D livestock (dead, diseased, disabled, dying) and even euthanized dogs and cats. Ingredients in which the sources are named, such as chicken meal, chicken fat or salmon oil, are generally going to be of a higher quality although sources vary, as do manufactures and copackers! Ex. meat meal, bone meal, fish oil and animal fat.

Too Many Grains
Grains are typically used as low cost fillers, low cost, inferior protein sources, fiber sources, sweeteners and binders. Carnivores such as canines, felines and ferrets need very little to no grains in their diet. Think of their evolutionary and natural eating patterns. They may get some grain, predigested, from the stomach of their prey. That’s it! Not only do grains very often cause digestive and food sensitivity problems, in addition, carnivores cannot derive adequate protein from plant sources such as grains.