Concerns about commercial pet food have led to the rise of specialty stores focusing on pet nutrition needs and featuring natural foods, vitamins, and other supplies. The commercial pet food industry began as a way to dispose of food unfit for human consumption. It is now the largest consumer of waste products discarded by the human food industry.
Most people assume that if a pet food is labeled “100% complete and balanced” that means it’s nutritious and healthy. “Let the buyer beware”, that’s often not the case. Many commercial pet foods contain everything from road-kill to animal protein sources that can consist of dead and diseased, dying and disabled animals, contaminated with hormones and the drugs used to treat or kill them. Animal byproducts can include hooves, horns, hair, feet, feathers, claws and beaks. Corn, wheat, and soybean meal—frequently used fillers in pet food—happen to be the three most common foods that dogs may be allergic to. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the average pet lifespan has decreased by 18% since 1950 and that many pets today suffer from allergies, weakened immune systems and other numerous diseases
So what are pet owners to do to ensure that their pets are eating a good quality food? Read the labels—but remember that ingredients are listed in the descending order by weight. The first three or four, which make up the bulk of the food, should consist of good meat sources and digestible grain sources, such as brown rice, oats, or barley. Also, look for good quality fats, such as chicken fat or flaxseed oil. Avoid foods with by-products, chemical additives, flavorings, and preservatives.
Fortunately, there are many nutritious pet foods available that use only USDA-approved meats and ingredients fit for human consumption. There are also specialty businesses focusing on your pet’s nutrition, bringing you natural, safe and highly digestible pet food. In No.VA. some of these include Pro Feed, Just for Pets, Paws and Play, and Doggone Natural. One popular and unique business is Nature’s Select, which provides free home delivery of natural, safe pet food at less than super Pet Store prices.
Randy Stone, a local distributor for Nature’s Select, says they are able to offer super premium foods with free delivery because they bring it to your door straight from the mill, alleviating the retail stores mark up, thereby passing on the savings to you.
Although there are natural pet foods commercially available; labeling laws do not allow them to state these facts on the label—so it’s up to the consumer to do the research. Also, remember that price isn’t a guarantee of quality either. You can spend your time reading labels or you can feel comfortable knowing that the work has been done for you by purchasing your pets food from one of the businesses dedicated to providing your pet with safe, all natural foods, all of the time