There is not a single kibble on the market today that is"healthy" to feed your dog or cat.
No, I haven't evaluated every single kibble out there. But such a task is completely unnecessary in order to state that none of them offer optimal nutrition. It's the way in which kibble is made that is the big problem. Even if you start with the most nutritious ingredients - the kibble that you end up with is not providing the nourishment needed for your pet to thrive.
The first problem is that kibble cannot be made without including a high amount of starch. It won't form into pellets without starch. Of course "grain free" pet foods have become very popular because pet owners realize that their dogs and cats A do not require carbs and B they are being used as cheap fillers so the pet food companies can make more profits. Dogs and cats gain no benefits by eating carbs, quite the contrary actually.
No inappropriate grains, more meat, and still convenient. Sound good?
Let’s take a closer look. Grain free kibble came about once consumers realized that the high amounts of corn, wheat and soy in pet foods weren’t really appropriate for their pets and were being used as cheap fillers. Pet owners began purchasing kibble or other foods that contained fewer grains. Trying to keep hold of their market share, many pet food companies came out with grain free products. This type of kibble is often marketed as a biologically appropriate and a comparable alternative to a raw diet. But is that the truth or just marketing hype?
Instead of corn, wheat, barley, oats and rice now we have the option of “grain free” kibble with potato, peas, and tapioca but these are all still carbohydrates, they just aren’t derived from grains. When processing kibble, carbohydrates are needed in order to get the ingredients to stick together into a pellet. Carbohydrates in one form or another is here to stay in kibble foods.
Early in September of 2012 the American Veterinary Medical Association announced a policy about raw/undercooked animal source protien diets for companion animals (aka a raw diet). In this policy the AVMA discourages feeding raw animal products because of "the risk of illness to cats and dogs as well as humans".
The policy names several pathogenic organisms that can be found on raw animal-source protien: Salmonella, Campylobacter, Clostridium, E. coli, etc. However, the policy fails to mention some other key information. Both cats and dogs have an enzyme present in their saliva called lysozyme which neutralizes bacteria and pathogens that is found on raw meat. The digestive tract is also highly acidic taking care of any pathogens that manage to make it that far.
What about the recent outbreak of Salmonella due to contaminated dry pet food? 49 people across North America were reported as becoming ill from exposure to their pet's packaged dry kibble. I don't recall every hearing about any humans being affected by salmonella due to feeding their pet raw food. Common sense would indicate using safe cleaning procedures when preparing raw food for pets, similar to handling raw meat in preparation for our own meals.
The AVMA mission as stated on its website "is to improve animal and human health and advance the veterinary medical profession". How does this policy support their mission statement when they do not include the risks associated with dry pet foods? Recall after recall continues to be issued for kibble. Does the AVMA truly have the best interests of animals in mind or is it a case of wanting to maintain the funding that comes to them by way of the corporate pet food companies?
All in all this policy will have little impact on pet owners who are feeding their pets raw food.
It does appear that the AVMA is compromising the integrity and value of their organization for the continued support of their coprorate sponsorships. Not a move that is going to gain them any credibility with consumers.
Author - Jennifer Lee
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