What To Do
How do concerned pet owners wanting to cut through all the marketing clutter negotiate a path? It is very simple if the basic principles I have discussed above are kept in mind. Here are tips on how to implement an intelligent health and feeding philosophy:
1. Learn how to feed fresh food. Alternate these with honest processed foods fed in variety, and complement these foods with well- designed supplements. (See the Wysong brochure, How To Apologize To Your Pet.) Don't get all particular and paranoid about balancing nutrients and ingredient do's and don'ts. Rotate, vary, mix it up and fast once in a while. Trust in nature, not some marketing hype. (Use the same principles for yourself and your family if you want optimal health as well.)
2. If you must have human grade or organic foods for your pet, go buy the real thing at the grocery meat counter. Take it home, cut it up and feed it raw. Freeze the remainder into small meal portions and use them for subsequent meals. Don't turn your brain off and go buy "organic" or "human grade" pet foods that for their cost could only contain hints of the real thing. Pet food manufacturers may be clever at marketing, but they are not magicians. One thing is certain; they do not buy ingredients and then sell them to you for less than what they buy them for.
3. Use appropriately designed supplements such as Call Of The Wild™ and Wild Things™ to balance raw meals and help make them safe if you are not skilled at such meal preparation.
4. The best raw, processed food alternative to fresh foods from the grocer is non-thermally processed dry foods - not raw frozen ones. (See Wysong Archetype™.) Use this food for alternate meals and as top dressing to heat processed foods.
5. Check the credentials of the person making the decisions in the company whose products you buy. Don't go to a plumber for brain surgery and don't expect serious healthy products from business people.
6. Steer away from brands that are pushing any particular hot buttons such as "natural," "no by- products," exotic ingredients (quail eggs, watermelon, persimmons, etc.), organic, omega-3, rice and the like. Although these features may bring some merit to a food (if they are put in at other than "pinch" levels), they are not an end in themselves and if the packaged food is fed exclusively can cause more harm than good.
7. Steer away from brands that fear monger. For example, there is the no corn or wheat scam - "buy our brand; it has no corn or wheat." (Just saying a product has "no" something is enough to scare the non-thinking public to the brand that doesn't have the boogeyman ingredient. Profiteers know this and play it to the hilt in the pet food industry.) The truth is, grains are put in dried nugget foods because they contain the starch necessary for the extrusion process. Starch is pretty much starch regardless of whether it comes from corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, millet or whatever. Grains also help decrease the cost of pet foods. They contribute some nutrition but in a properly formulated meat-based pet food the majority of the nutritional value comes from the meat. It is true that animals may develop allergy to corn or wheat but that can happen with rice or any other grain or ingredient as well. Problems are prevented by varying the diet. That is why Wysong has developed the range of formulations it has and puts them in small portion packs so the foods can be rotated. Of all the Wysong formulations, the ones with corn are chosen on almost a 5:1 ratio over all others and are the diets we receive the thousands of raves about, even in those pets supposedly allergic to corn! (See Wysong Testimonials: http://www.wysong.net/testimonials.shtml
.) This is not to tout the merit of corn, or any grain in pet food for that matter. They are sort of a necessary evil in dried extruded foods and any of them can bring some benefit if rotated in the diet.
8. Do not feed any product exclusively. Variety is the spice of nutrition and the road to good health.
9. Features to look for in a packaged product would be those that bring the product close to the raw-whole-fresh-natural standard described above: active enzymes, probiotics cultures, natural preservation and protection against food-borne pathogens, proper packaging, intelligent formulation and balance, micronutrient dense, freshly produced, fresh ingredients - and the expertise to do all of this, not just say so on a package or brochure. (Some brands trying to get on the raw food bandwagon make outright false claims about "cold" processing.)
10. The company should be able to intelligently explain what they are doing in terms of processing, packaging, product preservation and prevention of food-borne pathogens. It is one thing to simply put a certain ingredient into a food, quite another to protect it until it is consumed. For example, Wysong owns its own manufacturing facilities in order to go beyond industry standard techniques. Special portion pack, light- and oxygen- barrier bags, modified atmosphere flush and natural ingredients to prevent oxidation and food- borne pathogens are part of all Wysong products. (See technical monographs on Packaging, Antioxidants and Wyscin™.)
11. Most important, learn. Support a company that helps you learn the truth and teaches you how to be at least somewhat independent of commercial products. Demand that producers provide proof for their claims in the form of good logic, evidence and science. Try to discern the company's true motives, your pocketbook or your pet's health. Learn how to go beyond The Pet Food Ingredient Game.