(NaturalNews) Pet owners must realize just how important nutrition is to the health of their pets, and they are beginning to pay more attention to what they are feeding their cats and dogs. To keep your pet healthy, extend your pet's life and save on vet bills, it's just as important for your pet to eat healthy as it is for you. A perceptive owner is aware that a healthy pet has clear bright eyes, brilliant coat sheen, clean teeth, good breath, and a playful happy attitude. Unfortunately, many pets are unhealthy, attributed to their diet, and suffer from health problems, such as allergies, diabetes, cancer, ear infections, irritable bowel, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, scratching and skin and coat issues.
Holistic vets believe that the harmful ingredients in most pet foods are factors that lead to various illnesses and chronic problems in the lives of pets and they advise pet owners to provide natural dog and cat food. Many well-known large commercial pet food companies advertise that their food is natural and healthy and contains fresh vegetables and lean cuts of meat. But a look at the ingredients is a different story. Questionable potentially harmful ingredients are: animal by-products, artificial colors and flavors and chemical preservatives like BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin, a cancer-causing preservative. Many pet medical conditions are believed to be directly linked to diet since pet foods contain wheat, corn and soy---- the top three allergy-causing grains; in addition, by-products, partial grains and unidentified meat sources are problem-causing also.
Dr. Sandra Sargent, vet dermatologist at Pittsburgh Vet Specialty and Emergency Center in Ohio Township says, "The vast majority of food allergies in pets are sensitivities to beef, dairy, wheat, corn, soy, chicken, turkey and eggs. A smaller percentage is to preservatives and dyes." She also states that if your pet is sensitive to chicken, then any diet containing chicken will cause problems. Only 10-15 percent of skin conditions are pure food allergies. A higher percentage is thought to be a combination of food and environmental allergies (pollen, dust, mold etc.).
Dr. Doug Knueven of Beaver Animal Clinic, near Pittsburgh, one of the few holistic vets in the area, recommends supplementing processed pet food with a small amount of people food (meats and vegetables, not pizza or fatty table scraps.) Dr. Knueven recommends switching foods every month to avoid nutritional deficiencies or toxicities.
Why is all-natural pet food so healthy? It contains no rendered by-products such as intestines, heads, feet or feathers, no harmful fillers and no chemical additives, and it only contains human-grade ingredients. Healthy natural food has quality ingredients, nutritional adequacy and no harmful chemicals. It has meat amino acids and basic building blocks for muscle, skin, coat, bone, blood and immune system. In addition, it contains essential fatty acids, all natural preservatives and a combination of mixed tocopherols (Vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).
Pet food companies are self-regulated and food from reliable companies is tested voluntarily on pets of all ages. Various aspects of the animals' overall health are monitored including age, weight, activity level, stool and urine, allergy sensitivity, and hair and skin conditions.
According to the National Pet Owners Survey in 2005-06, 63 percent of all U.S. households owned pets----73 million dogs and 90 million cats. The pet industry is big business. In 2008 $41 billion was spent on pet food, shelter, healthcare and luxuries, double what was spent just ten years ago. If you are into healthy eating, why not do the same for your pet? Check the ingredients in your pet's food and see if it is healthy. Your pet's health is your choice.
Alice E. Marson is a natural health published author and researcher. She is a retired teacher and writes for Mature Living and ActiveAmericans.com mainly on health topics. As a breast cancer survivor she is a strong believer in natural and alternative medicine and avoiding prescription drugs. Alice has given public and TV presentations on toxic products in the home.