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Understanding Pet Food Lables
Food Additives, Antioxidants and Preservatives.
The following is a description of food additives/preservatives found in pet food. They are not always named on the food. Sometimes the label may say 'contains EU approved antioxidant' or 'contains EEC permitted preservatives'.
Propyl Gallate (E310)
Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
Feingold (1975) found that antioxidants BHA and BHT contributed to learning difficulties and hyperactivity in humans.
In Dr. Pitcairn's (DVM, PhD) Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, he looks at some of the artificial colourings in pet foods. He states that similar dyes where banned from human foods in the 1970's. The example given is Red No.2 and Violet No.1, which appeared to be linked to cancer, birth defects and skin lesions respectively.
The Asthma and Allergy Research Centre on the Isle of Wight looked at the effects of food additives and colourings and behaviour. In children significant changes in behaviour were seen when the additives (E102, E110,E122, E124 and E211) were removed from the diet for as little as 2 weeks. Does your pet food contain brightly coloured pieces?!
Brown rice, oats, barley as unprocessed whole grains are high in nutrients and easily digested.
Wheat is much harder to digest than rice. Many dogs seem to be intolerant to wheat gluten. Because of this many pet foods are now wheat gluten free.
By-products or derivatives. Many people believe that this includes beaks, feathers, hair and faeces, however, this is not necessarily true. They can include: brain, spleen, lungs, liver, blood and intestines. Poultry by-product may include feet and heads.
Chicken meal, Lamb meal etc. fresh clean meat which has been cooked, dried and ground.
Dairy products are hard to digest. Lactose is the sugar present in milk. After weaning, dogs and cats have decreasing amounts of lactase (the enzyme needed to digest lactose). Therefore, ingestion of dairy products may cause diarrhoea and/or flatulence as the body has difficulty breaking down the dairy product. Dogs and cats should not be fed milk and cheese!
Yoghurt is sometimes used for therapy of chronic diarrhoea in the mistaken belief that the bacteria contained in yoghurt (Lactobacillus acidophilius or Lactobacillus bulgaricus) will colonise the bowel and displace unfavourable bacteria.
Yoghurt has bacteriocidal properties in vitro (test tube) but not in vivo (in the body). Orally administered bacteria in yoghurt does not displace resident or pathogenic bacterial populations in normal or diseased intestines of any animal. The bacteria in yoghurt are generally acid labile (destroyed by the stomach acid), limiting the numbers surviving passage through the stomach. (Research originally published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice Vol. 35).
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