Commercial Pet Foods

I am often asked to explain what exactly is wrong with the “normal” pet foods. Even when it is obvious from the health of the pet, it may be difficult to say what it is about the food which makes it unsuitable. Unlike for human food the law allows ingredient listing on pet food to be generic.

The ingredient list may read something like this “Cereals, animal derivatives, vegetable derivatives…” so it is impossible to know what is in it.

Why are manufacturers so vague? There are two reasons that come to mind.

Firstly, if you knew precisely what you were feeding your pet you would not buy the product.

The second reason is that this vague wording allows the manufacturer to change the ingredients without having to change the labelling. Why would a manufacturer want to change the recipe?

Because large manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for cheap ingredients and it is more profitable to purchase whatever happens to be available than to stick to the same recipe regardless of cost.

As explained in the section on dietary intolerance many health problems are caused by adverse reaction to pet food ingredients. One needs to know what is in the food and that the recipe will not change if food intolerance is to be avoided.

The title of a food can be misleading. A food may be called “Chicken and Rice” but a manufacturer need only put 4% chicken and 4% rice into the formulation in order to be able to do this. In Burns foods the brown rice and meat make up over 80% of the total.

In general the price of the food gives a clue as to the quality; good quality ingredients cost more than poor quality ingredients. Protein from soya is a lot cheaper than protein from fish or venison. Sometimes it is obvious from its appearance that a food contains artificial colours.

In theory it ought to be possible to tell from the condition of the pet whether its diet is right for it. But this is fraught with difficulties. To the unpractised eye it may appear that the pet is perfectly healthy but to the expert there may be many signs that a problem is present

For example I encounter many dogs which have a “doggy” smell, the coat may feel greasy or unpleasant to the touch, the dog may be constantly moulding or is somewhat itchy, or have tooth tartar. Owners may not notice these symptoms or may assume that they are normal. Or they do not realise that diet is responsible for the condition. Toy breeds often have runny eyes where the tears stain the hair on the face; it took me years to realise that this can be corrected by proper feeding.

In our client surveys we find that many pet owners tell us that before putting the dog or cat on Burns they thought their pet was healthy but saw substantial improvements after feeding Burns.