Level 1

Awesome Foods: Level 1 foods contain no common food allergens and are highly digestible. Typically, they contain added probiotics, though this feature is not a requirement.

Probiotics are beneficial living bacteria (as in yogurt), which are added after the cooking process too aid in digestion. They provide the meat carnivores need without the Byproducts commonly found in other commercial foods. PET DEPOT retail establishments are committed to providing customers with a variety of Level 1 food brands. (For a complete listing of Level 1 foods, go to www.whole-dog-journal.com)

Level 2

Good Foods: Level 2 foods contain no common food allergens or byproducts, but they are not as digestible as a Level 1 foods. This May contain extra grain sources but will not include brewers rice. We have a great selection of Level 2 foods at value pricing.

Level 3

OK Foods: Level 3 foods contain one or two possible food allergens, but they are still moderately digestible.

Level 4

Bad Foods: Level 4 foods should be avoided! They may contain by-products, a substantial amount of potential food allergens, and preservatives, which may contain artificial binding agents that harden stools.

Level 5

Terrible Foods: Level 5 foods should be permanently avoided, at all costs! These foods can cause long-term harm to animals and may reduce your pet’s life span. Also, these foods meet minimum AAFCO requirements. Lookout for the packaging of these brands; often, it is flashy and subtly misleading. Level 5 foods generally use ultra-poor protein sources (e.g. dead, dying, diseased, disabled), contain many food allergens, use preservatives, and may add unnecessary amounts of sugar, salt and artificial colors. Additionally, Level 5 foods may contain Meat Meal/ Bone Meal and make use of Propylene glycol.

What’s in my pet’s food?

Many people read the ingredients on the foods they buy for themselves, but some may not read what is in their pet’s food. Here are some important things to consider when purchasing your next bag of pet food.

Ingredients to look out for!
Item Description
Common Food Allergens Include but are not limited to: Soy, corn, wheat, and sorghum
By-Products Consists of the ground rendered, clean parts of slaughtered animals, such as necks, feet, beaks, tails, eyeballs, and organs
Chicken, Turkey, and Lamb Meal Dry and 50%-60% meat protein! During processing, these meals do not shrink below the grain weight, producing a true meat based formula for your carnivores
Animal Digest Materials which result from chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and non-decomposed animals.
Meat Meal/Bone Meal Parts from mammals that are rejected for human consumption. To prevent the condemned meat from being used for human consumption, government regulations require that meat must be sent to a rendering facility. Carcasses are denatured using toxic chemicals such as carbolic acid or creosote. According to federal meat inspection regulations, fuel oil, kerosene, crude carbolic acid and citronella are the approved denaturing materials. Rendering facilities are not government controlled. Any animal carcasses can be rendered for the pet food industry including those of cats and dogs.
Preservatives The most common are BHT and BHA. Animal tests have shown adverse kidney, liver, reproductive, brain, behavioral, and allergic reactions to these chemicals. Most commercial pet diets use chemical preservatives. Two of the most used are BHA and BHT for the preservation of fat. These two compounds can cause liver and kidney damage, yet for years these products were incorporated into baby foods. Many countries have banned their use and importation. BHA and BHT used to be on the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list because there were no known negative effects to the body for humans and animals. In 1991 these two chemicals were removed from the GRAS list, but some pet food companies are still using them in their products. Some European countries ban the use of these preservatives.
Propylene Glycol (First cousin to antifreeze ethylene glycol) Mostly in canned dog food allow cans to be preserved almost indefinitely. Inhibit bacteria including growth of friendly flora in the digestive tract which aids in the assimilation of nutrients. Helps produce small hard dry stools we love by pulling moisture from the digestive tract. A non-normal stool shows that waste products (toxins) are not being properly eliminated. Kills red blood cells.
Salt Heavily used to help increase palatability can cause hypertension, kidney stress, colon irritation. A balance is vital, and excessive amounts can hurt your pet.
Ascorbic Acid A source of vitamin C. This is an acid and can cause an allergic skin reaction.

What is the best diet for my pet?

The raw diet, of course! There are many anatomical and physical differences between humans and their pets. A dog or cat has a much higher ability to tolerate, neutralize and digest raw meat than humans do. Bacteria that would make humans deathly ill do not have the same effect on pets. As carnivores, dog and cat bodies are designed to eat and process raw meat. Carnivores also produce digestive enzymes in their stomachs, which are highly acidic and give them the ability to digest raw meat and even bones. The real danger comes from commercial pet food. Some common symptoms include diarrhea, increased flatulence, dull hair coat, intermittent vomiting or dry scratchy skin.

What is rendering or denaturing?

Rendering and denaturing are processes used to prepare meat/bone meals. To prevent condemned meat from being used for human consumption, government regulations require meat to be denatured, before removal to the slaughter house. The denatured carcasses and other waste can then be sent to a rendering facility.

The two mixtures most frequently used to denature meat are Carbolic acid (a phenol and potentially corrosive disinfectant) and Creosotes (used to preserve wood or as a disinfectant). Phenols are derived from the distillation of coal tar, while Creosotes are derived from the distillation of wood. Both substances are very toxic.

Creosotes were used for many years as a preservative for wood power poles. Its effect on the environment proved to be so negative that it is no longer used for that purpose. According to federal meat inspection regulations, fuel oil, kerosene, crude carbolic acid, and citronella are the approved denaturing materials.

While some may argue denaturing and rendering effectively sterilize condemned meat, it is important to note that harmful chemicals can survive the rendering process. Sodium pentobarbital, used by vets to put animals to sleep, was discovered to survive rendering without undergoing degradation, in a University of Minnesota experimental study. Although the study concluded that the residue amount of the chemical would be too small to cause problems, studies documenting the cumulative effect of the residue over a certain period of time are virtually non-existent. You are providing a chemical feast to your pet when you feed him/her meat/bone meal. DO NOT feed your pet anything you would not eat yourself.

How do I cope with my pet’s allergies?

The most common condition to treat in pets is skin allergies. The professional approach to these problems is to treat the symptoms: the persistent scratching, inflamed skin, loss of hair, etc. To accomplish this end, the vet will administer steroids, antibiotics, tranquilizers, and antihistamines. The administration of these drugs will usually give temporary relief, but prolonged use can create other more serious problems such as Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, liver and kidney disease. More over, these methods do not address the causes of allergies. There is a long list of possible causes for skin allergies in both dogs and cats; however, upon examination of pet diets, one may find that there is a significant correlation between diet and allergies.

According to veterinary allergists, animal protein can be an allergen. One of the most common protein allergen problems is caused by beef consumption. The animal protein dogs seem to do well on is lamb, venison, duck and trout. To determine the substances to which our pets are allergic, a series of allergy tests can be administered. Some patients, when tested will test positive for nearly every substance tested for. This is an indication that these animals are immunologically deficient, which means these animals have no defense against those specific agents or allergens.

What is an easy way to boost my pet’s health?

The easiest way to boost your pet’s health is to give him/her a multi-vitamin! Similar to humans, a daily multi-vitamin is very helpful for dogs and cats. Antioxidants, Vitamins E and A, and Selenium, in appropriate proportions will aid in the prevention of adrenal gland cell oxidation and help to regenerate new ones. These vitamins and minerals assist in the production of vital hormones.