YES! Our pets health food is the most important aspect in providing optimum health for your pet! VITAL to their quality of life is providing them with high quality nutrition and detoxifying their body as needed.


diarrhea... constipation...incontinence
urinary tract infections... diabetes...
intestinal parasites... fleas... 
liver and kidney problems... valley fever... 
stool eating... dog odor... skin rash...
vitamin and mineral deficiencies... 
allergies... arthritis... 
excessively scratching... paw licking...

as well as many degenerative diseases...more than I can list.

Keep in mind, without proper nutrition your pet's body will struggle and weaken. What they eat every day is either helping to maintain their health and wellness or slowly breaking down their body.

(For the long version, scroll down a little further)

The following will get you in the ballpark of good quality products, and hopefully take the mystery out of feeding your pet.

A home prepared diet for your pet is the best, however, that's a long shot for many of us. So....

1) Pass up the mainstream commercial pet foods. Its unlikely you will find quality pet food at your local grocery store. Pass up the sophisticated packaging. What's in the pet food bag and what's on the outside packaging is seldom the whole story. The cute pictures and the wholesome looking food well, if you saw the movie SUPERSIZE ME, you get my drift!

2) Must contain USDA Grade A or B animal protein sources, raised without hormones or antibiotics

3) Purchase animal protein that says "beef, beef meal, lamb, lamb meal, lamb fat, chicken, chicken fats, turkey, or ostrich," etc. Animal protein should be the first ingredient listed. ***Absolutely no by-products*** No vague terms like "meats," "mammal," or "animal fats" or "meat meal"

4) Grains - "whole grains only" barley, brown rice, potato, rice bran, oatmeal, oat bran are great *NO grain by-products*

5) Vegetables like peas and carrots and maybe some fruit are good sources of fiber *No salt, sugar or yeast*

6) Fats - quality fish oil as in canola, flaxseed oil, fish meal

**CATS** it is essential they have the amino acid Taurine added as a supplement.

One more note: Watch for expiration dates. Sometimes pet food has just been shipped in from the stores warehouse complete with expiration dates.

A grain free pet food brand we recommend is Taste of the Wild. Their pet food is completely grain-free for animals allergic or sensitive to grains. They use antibiotic and hormone free meats. Their food does contain quite a bit of starch so rotating with raw or home cooked food is a good idea. Their food can be found in most feed and supply stores. Click here for more info on Taste of the Wild

"When we adopted our cat from the humane society he was sneezing constantly. Two weeks later it had progressed into bloody discharge every time he sneezed, which was every couple of minutes, constant teary eyes, and he started having bloody diarrhea. We tried the eye and nose drops and antibiotics but nothing helped. We didn't want to give our cat steroids so we took him to a holistic vet to see if there was an alternative. She immediately discovered it was a food allergy and told us to switch him to a grain-free, all natural, raw food diet. He was previously eating Science Diet, the traditional veterinarian recommended it. After we switched him to an all natural, raw food diet within 24 hrs the sneezing was dramatically reduced. Within a week he was no longer sneezing, his stools were normal and he was playing. We have had him for 5 years now and have been able to add some grains back into his diet but he still enjoys a mostly raw food blend. He has had no allergy or illness since, not even a single sneeze!!"

- Alexandra Stead, cat owner.


Just this week, I went to the local grocery store to check out pet food. Aaahhh! and their treats…aaahhh! I had not done this in many years. Nothing has changed much. Some packaging said "improved" on the label. I don't know how you can improve by-products! I guess the "hairball control formulas" in the pet food are supposed to entice us? One product did list "lamb" as the first ingredient. However, they did not list a guaranteed analysis or say they used Grade A or B protein sources.

High quality pets health food costs more? Or does it?

When I took that trip to the local grocery store, I also estimated the price difference between mainstream and high quality food. Prices for the same products varies from store to store. I found the cost to be approximately .9 to .10 cents per oz for the mainstream commercial product, which contained the least favorable ingredients and approximately .11 to .14 cents per ounce for the high quality pet food, which cannot be found at the big chain stores, or your local grocery store.

However, keep in mind, since the high quality pet food ingredients have less filler you will be feeding your pet smaller portions. Remember when you are feeding your companion friend superior food, there are no by-products (remember what they are?… fillers, slaughterhouse wastes etc). Obviously, it costs more to produce the ingredients in the high quality product, Yet, does it cost us more?

This brings up the next train of thought. The price is a little higher, the serving sizes are smaller because there is much less filler (which is helpful for our pets digestive tract), but when I add in the lower vet bills over months and years, (my pet will not need all those prescriptions etc.) the cost is lower and his body is unlikely to be struggling with all of those health issues. Most important of all, I will have a healthier companion friend both physically and emotionally!

THE LONG VERSION - Pets health food - What to look for?

Purchase food that has the largest amount of whole, top quality ingredients and zero of those questionable ingredients. I've listed here "what to look for" and "what to avoid" to make it easier for you to become a label reader. This way, you can print, and highlight the specific ingredients you want to be aware of and take it with you to your local health food store or natural animal care store… or give them a call first.

The following information on what to look for and what to avoid is excerpted from The Natural Dog and The Natural Cat books written by Lisa Newman N.D., Ph.D. She is an intelligent and kind soul who has dedicated her life to helping you and your pet live a long and healthy life.   

"A healthy diet for dogs and cats includes: Fresh ingredients with no unpleasant odor (indicating rancidity); Whole foods such as whole-ground grains, not "flours," "mill runs," or "by-products"; Concentrated protein sources known as "meal" (as in "lamb meal" or "beef meal") are preferred over whole meats (listed only as "lamb"). This not to be confused with "by-product meal"

DOGS and CATS ~ Look for these ingredients on your pets health food label:

* Identifiable, digestible animal protein or fat sources such as beef, beef meal, lamb, lamb meal, lamb fat, chicken, chicken meal or chicken fats, turkey, ostrich, etc., not vague terms like "meats," "mammal," or animal fats"… or "meat meal"

* USDA Grade A or B animal protein sources, preferably raised without growth hormones or recently given antibiotics

* USDA Grade 1 or 2 whole grains, preferably free of chemical pesticides or herbicides. Organic grains are not cost-effective in commercial pet foods. If the label on the food you are feeding your pet says "organic", demand written certification, and check that it is not organic by-products.  However, "pesticide-free" is available, or "washed" grains are possible. For home-cooking, go for the best ingredients you can afford!

* Balanced, combined ingredients of proteins and grain sources seems to suit most pets better than a single ingredient, contrary to popular belief.

* Vegetable and fruit fiber should be present (for example, alfalfa, carrots and apples) for proper digestion, natural flavoring, and trace nutrients. Fiber in general is very limportant to proper elimination. Moreover, fiber (additionally provided in whole grains) is full of vital nutrients.


Dogs - Quality sources of fat (necessary for energy and good coats) such as vegetable or fish oils should be used, rather than animal fats. This hold true even for high-energy dogs.
Cats - Quality sources of fat and fatty acids (necessary for energy and good coats) such as vegetable or fish oil should be used, in addition to animal fats. Unlike dogs, who do not digest animal fats well, cats need the energy only found in sufficient quantities in animal fats. These animal fats must be from a high-quality, fresh source.

* CATS - Ample levels of Taurine, an amino acid that is essential for cats, are needed to trigger several biochemical processes. Taurine aids in the deactivation of toxins in the liver and helps maintain proper heart rhythm. Deficient levels of Taurine can lead to neurological problems including seizures, and degeneration of the retina, eventually leading to blindness. Cats cannot synthesize Taurine, so pet food companies must now supplement feline formulas with Taurine. If it is suspected that a cat is not assimilating Taurine properly, supplement with 50mg to 100mg of Taurine(available at nature pet food stores). Always check with your vet first.

* Remember that you generally get what you pay for! If you pay $10 for a 40-pound bag of pet food, and the cost of making and marketing the product is as follows: paper bag 85 cents, shipping $1, advertising and handling 75 cents, yielding a $2.50 profit for the manufacturer, $1.25 for the wholesaler, and $2.25 for the retailer-how much do you think the manufacturer actually spent on the ingredients?

* Take into consideration how much of the cheaper food you will need to sustain your pet. Often, the cheaper foods will prove to be more expensive, due to the fact that you have to use so much more food than you would with a better quality diet, which contains less filler.

* Products should be fresh when purchased. If you bought fresh-baked bread, it would still be wonderful to eat the next day, but would you still be eating it two weeks later? Be sure to check the date the food was packed. Never use food (especially naturally preserved diets) that is older than six months, unless it is packaged in a completely sealed, airtight, barrier bag. Stale food has not only lost its flavor, but also most of its nutritional value through oxidation.

These are the ingredients to avoid in a healthy diet:

* Chemical preservatives: Ethoxyquin, BHA and/or BHT, Propylene Glycol, Nitrates

* Aritfical flavors or colors

* Foul-smelling ingredients must be avoided. If the food smells like traditional pet food (you know that smell, even if it is a fresh bag and it smells rancid) throw it out.

* Greasy food, that leaves smelly oil on the bag or a sheen on canned formulas, indicates that it is heavy in animal fats or tallow (rendered carcasses and recycled cooking grease from restaurants). These are difficult to digest and are most often rancid prior to manufacturing. This accounts for that rancid "dog food" smell, even in "fresh" bags.

* Animal by-products such as "beef by-products," "lamb by-products," chicken by-product" (a mixture of the whole carcass including feces, cancerous tumors, hide, hooves, beaks, feathers, and fur).Also avoid their mysterious cousins "meat" or "meat-by products (a mixture of whatever mammals, including road kill, rats, and other dogs and cats that got ground up together), "fish by-products," and "poultry by-products" (a mixture of whatever feathered animals got ground up together, including pigeons)—Need I say more?

* Grain by-products ("mill runs," "flours," middlings," "husks" "parts") should be avoided at all costs. Not only have they had all their nutritionally rich parts removed, they may irritate the digestive and eliminatory tracts. These grain by-products are cheap fillers used as a protein source (although they cannot be digested and therefore cannot be assimilated) to increase the finished product's weight and mass.

* Soybeans—dogs cannot digest them. Canine digestion lacks an amino acid necessary to digest soybeans. Because tofu and soybean oil are already processed, they can be tolerated by many dogs. However most pet foods contain soybeans, which can trigger bloat, an often fatal digestive reaction.

* Fillers such as powdered "cellulose," or "cellulose fiber," can include recycled newspaper, sawdust, and cardboard. "Plant cellulose" usually means ground peanut hulls, which are very damaging to sensitive colon tissues. Beet pulp or grain by-products have no nutritional value, but do add bulk and weight to the finished product.

* Yeast is a cheap source of B Vitamins, amino acids, and some nutrients. It also adds natural flavor and color. It is touted for flea control and a shiny coat, but it can contribute to symptoms by burdening the liver and interfering in proper digestion.

* Sugar is added to most commercial diets and treats. It is labeled as "sucrose," "beet pulp," "molasses," "cane syrup," "fruit solids," and of course "sugar." It is a very cheap, heavy filler which is addictive to dogs. Additional sugar in the diet is the primary trigger of weight problems, diabetic conditions, and behavioral problems in pets today.

Often our pets digestive tracts are not able to fully digest and assimilate what they are eating. The nutritional value of food has dropped over the years and there are nutrients missing from our food chain, so it is helpful to supplement your pets diet with a daily vitamin and mineral product, once again, from a high quality source."

I discovered once I became a label reader, I knew too much and could never turn back!

Proper nutrition is a balanced natural diet, that provides the nutrients your pet needs, which are easy to assimilate and digest. With this information, and some experimenting on your own, you can make an informed decision about what is best for your pet family!

www.whole-dog-journal.com has great articles you'll love with straight forward information on natural dog care. They do not accept any commercial advertising, their income comes from subscriptions only. They report on everything from pet food and different diets to flea control, neuturing and pet shelters. I wish you and your pet a happy life together. 

May you and your companion friends health runneth over.

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~ Quotes from veterinarians ~

"When the moist foods came out, we figured they must have a very strong preservative because they needed no refrigeration. Many of them do have a very strong preservative – formalin. Formalin is such a good preservative, in fact, that undertakers use quite a lot of it." 
Thomas A. Newland, DVM

"Do you know what is in meat meal, the major constituent of dry dog food? Urine, fecal matter, hair, pus, meat (from animals, afflicted) with cancer and T.B., etc." 
Wendall O. Belfield, DVM

"Most people believe feeding wet food to your pet causes tooth decay. I have found more tooth decay in animals that eat a commercial dry food diet because the starch and sugar in dry food sticks to their teeth causing plaque build up, like if you ate a cracker you notice how it sticks to your teeth. Animals that eat a natural raw diet with some bones don't usually have gum disease or tooth decay." - A Holistic DVM in Tucson, AZ.

The Pet Alternative is not intended to substitute for medical advice or treatment. It is recommended that you consult your holistic physician, MD, ND…or a holistic veterinarian for your pets. The information and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or medical problems. This information is provided for education purposes only. 

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