Pet Food and Pet Health

The pet food debate continues to rage on. Are commercial foods in the store healthy for our pets and what is the relation between nutrition and pet diseases? The saying “you are what you eat”, applies to both pets and humans and deficiencies or surpluses in diet will have an effect on health. Certain pet diseases can be directly associated with what and how your pet is or isn’t eating.Allergies or intolerance to ingredients will result in diarrhea, vomiting, ear infections, hair loss, excessive scratching, hot spots, and skin infections. Less than 1% of pets actually suffer from food allergies (see digestive problems.) The main food groups in order associated with allergies, in order of occurrence are beef, dairy products, chicken, wheat, chicken eggs, corn, and soy. Allergies diagnosis is difficult and can be done through food trials that may last up to 3 months, or blood tests on which there is still debate on their conclusiveness.Bloating occurs when there is a buildup of gas in the stomach. This condition is mostly in canines, especially large ones. Studies have shown that bloat occurred in all types of diets that had been fed to dogs. The only definite known cause of bloating is swallowing of air. Bloating can be life threatening, as it can result in the stomach flipping over resulting in closure on both ends. This in turn cuts of circulation to the heart resulting in shock and death (Gastric Torsion). Bloating prevention techniques include several smaller meals in a day and elevation of dog bowls to head level to reduce the tendency to suck food and air into the mouth.Dental disease occurs in pets just as in humans, due to poor oral hygiene. This is one of the most ignored aspects of pet health by pet owners. Very often there is the misconception that a pets bad breath is standard. In addition some mistakenly believe that bones or dry foods are good for the teeth.You wouldn’t chew on a chop or crackers to clean your teeth and neither should your pet. It is currently recommended that pets should have their teeth brushed daily. There are pet brushes and pastes available for both cats and dogs.Digestive problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation or inflammation are common in pets. These are often adverse food reactions and should not be confused with allergies. They are often manifested when there is a change of diet. Prolonged symptoms necessitate a pet visit. For pet food ingredients that might cause these symptoms visit the source page.Heart disease in both cats and dogs is often a result of taurine deficiency, an amino acid. This also causes blindness in cats. It is now an AAFCO requirement that all pet foods contain 0.1% taurine. The deficiency was caused by low levels of animal protein, and low levels of high grade animal protein in commercial foods.Obesity is a problem that plagues an estimated 30% of cats and dogs with 40% being overweight. Dry foods are high carb high calorie and are a causative factor. Feeding labeling on commercial foods have been known to be inflated. Overweight pets are prone to arthritis, heart conditions and diabetes. Dry cat food is considered a major contributor to diabetes in cats. Remedial actions include exercise and high protein, low carb diets. A word of caution, dieting too fast can lead to a condition called hepatic lipsidosis in cats.
Urinary tract and kidney diseases are often a result of dry food diets. These diets cause dehydration and due to their ingredients, highly concentrated urine. This leads to crystals and stones in both cats and dogs.The history of commercial pet food is marked with an increase in nutrition related diseases in pets. Supplemental ingredients had to be added as they were lacking. Reactions to additives, drugs, bacterias and fungi have also occurred. The numerous recalls and contaminations should also be noted.There is currently a trend towards more natural pet foods and home, organic and raw diets.