PART I, PRESERVATIVE, EMULSIFER, OR VITAMIN?: WHAT’S THAT IN MY PET’S FOOD?
Hello pet parents, pet “aunties” and “uncles”, pet lovers, and well, pets!
Welcome back to the Calvin & Susie Blog!
You may have noticed that Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger went on a bit of a hiatus, but fear not, the Blogger is back, and chattier than ever!
In the time that I was away, the store has continued to thrive and change — you may even recognize some new faces behind the register! Our family is growing everyday.
But grow and change as we may, the one thing that always remains the same is our commitment to all things pet food. Some of our favorite brands have altered and improved many of the recipes for their dog and cat foods in the past year, and we want to make sure you’re up to speed.
More and more of our attentive, label reading (yay! you know how I love it when you guys read labels!) are asking us about certain ingredients in the foods we carry. Beyond “chicken”, “beef”, or “grain free”, customers are questioning the reason for having certain less “pronounceable” ingredients in their cat’s or dog’s food.
So to help you further decode those pet food labels, here is a quick reference of some of the more common “lesser known” ingredients in pet food. I call this “Part 1” because there are so many, so as not to overwhelm you, I am splitting it between two posts.
Healthy treats, happy dogs!
Brewer’s yeast: Not to be confused with the yeast that you bake with (that can make your dog sick), or nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast is what’s left over after brewing alcohol. Brewer’s yeast is an antioxidant, a good source of B-Complex vitamins, and it improves the palatability of your dog’s food.
However, if your dog has suffered from yeast issues in the past (exhibited in ears, skin, odor, etc.) it might be a good choice to stay away from it.
Carrageenan: Sourced from seaweed, carrageenan is found in both dog and cat foods as a thickener and emulsifier. There is some controversy connected to the inclusion of carrageenan in pet food. Many pet food companies are now phasing the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) “undegraded” food grade carrageenan from their recipes, as there is suspicion that even the food grade carrageenan is not entirely pure and may contain some cancer causing agents found in “degraded” carrageenan or poligeenan.
Many of our foods are phasing out or have phased out carrageenan, ask our staff which foods do not currently contain carrageenan.
Choline chloride: A beneficial organic compound to both pets and humans. Ensures proper fat metabolism and nerve function/nerve impulse transmission. It can be synthesized in your pets body, but supplementation in food is needed to maintain proper levels. It is also known to promote acid and water balance.
Guar gum: A thickener and emulsifier in pet food sourced from the guar bean. Guar gum is one of the most common thickening agents in pet food, and generally seems to be well tolerated by healthy dogs and cats. However, if your pet is suffering from existing GI problems, guar gum may be an ingredient to avoid.
Inulin: A prebiotic that is plant derived. As you may remember from our post on prebiotics and probiotics, prebiotics essentially feed probiotics, the beneficial bacteria for digestion in the gut. It is polysaccharide that adds a sweetness to food that can be pleasing to dogs.
Lecithin: A fatty acid found in plants, commonly soy, used as an emulsifier. Lecithin helps the body break down fats and maintain cell membrane integrity. Can aid in digestion and improve skin and coat.
Potassium chloride: A naturally occurring substance that looks and tastes like table salt. Very important for cell membrane function and permeability.
Potassium iodide: A bioavailable source of iodine. Iodine is essential is thyroid health. It is important in cell function as well as bone, blood, and muscle health. Cat owners note, if your cat suffers from hyperthyroidism (not to be confused with HYPOthyroidism which is more common in dogs), then you should consult your vet in how much iodine your cat should be consuming. In some cases, iodine restriction can aid in hyperthyroidism.
(NOTE: If your cat or dog is suffering from a thyroid condition, or you suspect they are suffering from a thyroid condition, please consult your vet. Here are the symptoms for hyperthyroidism in cats. Here are the symptoms for hypothyroidism in dogs. Uncared for, a thyroid condition can be life threatening.)
“Where do you think you’re going?” I’d better come home with food that is both good AND good for her!
And there is part one. Hope this “demystifies” some of the ingredients in your pet’s food. This is just a starting point. If you have concerns with anything your pet is eating, we highly recommend you do your own research and talk to your vet.
Of course, you can always ask us questions. We don’t know everything, but we’re always happy to put in some work to help you find the answers you’re looking for.
Give your pet a treat for us, and see you at the store (where we’ll probably want to give them a treat too)!
Your Loyal Calvin & Susie Blogger
As always, check with your vet before making any changes to your pet’s diet or body care. The Calvin & Susie Blogger always researches to the best of her ability, but she is not a vet. This blog is not in any way meant to replace veterinary advice or care. When in doubt always ask a vet.