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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Old Mother Hubbard, What’s in Your Cupboard? Healthy Food for Pets


As people are becoming more conscious of food and nutrition, they are also concerned about what their pets are eating. Understanding pet food labels is key in establishing a healthy diet for your furry companions.

Simply put, dogs and cats are not grain eaters. Yet most commercial premium-grade food is loaded with corn, wheat and soy products. While most leading dog and cat food brands spend huge amounts of money to market meat as a key ingredient, in actuality they often contain by-products that are leftovers and not fit for human consumption. These popular foods are missing the essential meat, vegetable and fruit components that represent a balanced, natural diet. It is common to find that these same foods are often chemically preserved.

How to evaluate pet food ingredient labels

Human grade, natural ingredients are the key. Just looking for the terms ‘all natural’ on the bag is not indicative that it actually is an all-natural product. Often you will see ‘holistic’ or ‘super-premium’ or ‘ultra premium’ listed on the product. These are the ones you want to flip over and read the ingredient label. Most of these foods will not be found in large pet chain stores and can be found in smaller boutique retail spots.

The first ingredient is the most important because there is more of that ingredient then any other Like in human foods, all pet foods must list the ingredients of their food in order of weight before cooking. In super-premium diets, meat will always be the first ingredient, often followed with a specific meat meal (such as chicken meal which is simply dehydrated chicken).

The top 10 ingredients make up about 80% or more of the dry pet food’s formula These ingredients will give you much insight on the overall quality of the food. Many times the front of the bag will use marketing words leading you to think the foods are chalked full of wholesome things – you should see them in the top ten ingredients!

Many foods are preserved chemically!

The most common synthetic preservatives are BHT, BHA and ethoxyquin. BHT and BHA are also used to stabilize rubber products, like tires, to keep them supple, and as herbicides. These are also effective preservatives and keep kibble and treats from spoiling almost indefinitely. BHT and BHA are known carcinogens, however the FDA allows them to be frequently used in human and pet foods because they state that they are generally known as safe in small amounts.

No Corn, Wheat or Soy! Corn, wheat and soy (either whole grains or by-products of them) are not digestible to our pets. Cats are true carnivores and cannot process these effectively and though dogs are omnivores, they are mainly carnivores, the same is true for them. Corn and wheat have been linked to many pet allergies. Soy is a cheap protein filler for pet food.

What do you look for in super-premium pet foods?

Look for real meat, whole grains, veggies and fruit, and natural preservatives such as vitamin E, which is often listed as ‘mixed tocopherols’ or vitamin C often listed as ‘ascorbic acid.’ Carefully reviewing ingredients might be the difference in a healthier lifestyle for your pet.

Molly Nye owns Southern Accents PetCare, a business that delivers natural, wholesome pet food suited to your pet’s needs for optimum health and uncompromised nutrition. She can be reached at 704-849-9008 or




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