Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Are By-Products and Corn Bad?

Despite current pet food advertising campaign claims, the majority of by-products and corn in pet foods are a cost effective means to provide very good nutrition to pets.  Remember that advertisers want to sell their product.  Pet food companies know that pet owners are willing to pay a premium if they perceive that a pet food provides better nutrition for their pet.  Therefore, pet food is marketed towards those perceptions and not towards nutrition facts.  Many pet foods are now made to look like food that their owners eat or touted to be the same as what your pet would eat in the wild.  But, is feeding your pet the same as you or a wolf really the best nutrition for your pet?  Let’s take a look at by-product and corn facts.

A by-product is any ingredient that is produced or left over when some other product is made.  Broths and gelatin are examples of by-products.  In pet foods, by-products come from “clean” animal parts such as liver, kidneys and other organs which, although not aesthetically pleasing for we humans to eat, may provide superior nutrition compared to “traditional“ animal parts.  Muscle meat is deficient in many nutrients, including calcium and other vitamins and minerals.  These nutrients are abundant in meat by-products and boost the nutrient value of a pet food.  Using these other animal parts allows the whole animal to be utilized thus decreasing waste.  While we in western cultures may not choose to eat those parts, your pet would definitely eat those nutritious parts if hunting their food.

Corn provides an inexpensive, good source of carbohydrates, protein and essential fatty acids in the diets of dogs and cats.   Although cats, which are true carnivores, may do better with a primarily protein diet, decades of dog domestication have created dogs that are omnivores, digesting both protein and carbohydrates well.   Corn gluten meal contains 60-70% protein with many essential amino acids.  Corn gluten meal is easy to digest, making its nutrients readily available to your pet.  When combined with other protein sources, corn meal can contribute to a highly digestible and nutritious diet.  There are 5 grades of corn quality, of which human food traditionally uses grades 1 and 2.  Quality pet nutrition companies also use grade 1 and 2 for their pet foods.  Incorporating some corn allows companies to provide good nutrition while keeping their price reasonable. 

When it comes to pet food, advertising may be misleading.  We’ll continue to discuss the nutrition “facts” in coming articles.