Living and taking care of a dog with Canine Cancer, or any health issue is a difficult task in many respects. Making sure to cover all bases including treatment, good Veterinary care, supplements but most importantly proper diet is almost a full time job. But your pet is a part of your family and well worth all the effort and research. Regardless of any diagnosis and treatment, the research on proper diet is staggering in that most retail pet foods are so unhealthy and improper for good nutrition that it simply creates disbelief that this industry can get away with such practices.
Most consumers who take the industry for granted that the products are healthy and follow sanitary guidlines are misguided and misinformed. TV commercials try to convince you that the most economical pet foods are wonderful for your happy pets and you see images of healthy playful animals gobbling up what is best described as pet junk food.
If you are anything like most typical pet parents, your pet is your baby and you would do anything to give them the best there is to be had. For a dog with cancer or any health concern, diet is the number one most important change to make. Cancer feeds off sugars and sugars come from carbohydrates, so avoiding any carbs is a must when treating canine cancer and diabetes. A high protein diet and good grain free food is a sure way to keep cancer cells in check and allow treatments like chemotherapy or diabetic meds to work in their best possible environment. Here are some things to consider when purchasing pet food.
First the bad news. Most pet foods, whether dry or wet and canned contain suspect ingredients and like any label of ingredients the first one listed is the one that this product contains the most of. Per AAFCO rules, all dog food labels must list the dog food ingredients by weight, before any processing, in descending order. Some pet food manufacturers create interesting loopholes to get costs down, using wet protiens like lamb, and splitting various versions of dry ingredients like corn meal, corn flour etc to bulk up the weight and percentage. Here are the ten worst ingredients in commercial pet foods to look for:
1. Wheat: Wheat is the number one allergy in dogs and because of its high carbohydrate content, is a contributing factor in canine obesity. The label may refer to wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat mill run, middlings or mid.
2. Corn: Corn is the number two allergy in dogs and another source of heavy carbohydrates because of its high sugar content. While corn can be source of certain nutrients, the corn used in commercial dog food contains the entire corn plant, including the root to the stems.
3. Soy: The number three allergy-provoking food for dogs, soybean meal or soy flour is a highly processed form of soybeans that are void of the essential fats, antioxidants and minerals naturally found in the soybean.
4. By-Product Meal: In reference to meat, poultry, or beef, by-products refers to any part of the animal other than the muscle tissue. By-product refers to the head, feet or feathers parts of the animal.
5. Digest: Referred to as “poultry digest” or “meat digest,” this term actually refers to roadkill animals and euthanized pets. This is the most frightening on the list by far and should be avoided like the plague.
6. Ethoxyquin: This deadly preservative is banned for use in human foods but is commonly added in commercial dog foods.
7. Egg Product: While whole eggs are extremely nutritious for dogs, “egg product” refers to egg shells, eggs that have gone rancid or those that have spoiled.
8. Brewer’s Rice: Refers to rice sections that have been discarded from the rice kernel. Brewer’s rice is broken shells of rice that lack nutrients and have been discarded. They are either going to get swept off from the floor and tossed into the garbage or added into the dog food mixer.
9. Preservatives: Additives like BHA are meant to prolong the shelf-life of the dog food or improve the food’s appearance, but they offer no nutritional value to your dog’s food and may actually harm your pet.
10. Cellulose: This pulp left over from fibrous plants is just another name for sawdust.
The good news is that now that you know what to look for and AVOID, you can be a smart shopper and find good healthy choices for your pet. The best foods are the ones that say the protein FIRST and the grain second, like “Lamb and Rice”. This means that the lamb is 95% of the food. If the label says Lamb Dinner, it contains about 25% lamb and the rest is filler. Anything that says something like “Pet Food WITH Lamb”, well that is about 3% lamb, and anything with “Lamb Flavor”, you are lucky to get any lamb in there at all.
Carnivores in the wild do not eat corn, wheat or preservatives. You can do the best for your pet by being a choosy shopper and purchasing high protien low carbohydrate foods that will do many beneficial things for your pet including keeping their weight in check, allowing them better digestion and easier absorbtion of nutrients. Stay away from the highly commercialized brands and read labels. Go to a pet store and not a grocery store to shop for their food. The same goes for treats as well, making sure to read lables and be a smart consumer. There are wonderful brands of pet jerky that are available in most pet stores, just be sure to read the label and avoid any grains or sugars and preservatives, The cost is a bit higher but it is worth it. It is a small thing to choose one bag of food over another in the pet store, but a huge benefit for the life of your pet. They will love you for it!