Common Pet Food Ingredients

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There are varying opinions about the best food for your dog or cat. Your vet may say one thing and you may read another on the internet. In today’s vast landscape of pet nutrition, one thing is certain—it is imperative to read the labels and understand the ingredients—for the best health of your dog and cat. This article contains descriptions of some of the common pet food ingredients and tips for making pet food choices.

Corn and rice are inexpensive carbohydrates that are commonly referred to as “fillers” or as containing “empty calories”. Corn and rice may raise blood sugar levels rapidly and create hormonal signals that may have negative long term effects on metabolism and weight gain.  Additionally corn and rice-based diets may contribute to signs of maldigestion—gas, bloating or diarrhea. Empty calories are often described as having the same energy content of any other calorie, but these calories lack accompanying beneficial nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber and/or antioxidants.

Halo’s uses whole grains such as barley and oats and vegetables like sweet potatoes.  These carbohydrates are nutrient dense because they supply energy as well as high levels of fiber for digestive health and high levels of vitamins and minerals for overall health.

"Meat Meal", for example, “chicken meal”. Chicken meal is the dry rendered (cooked) product from a combination of clean flesh and skin with or without accompanying bone, derived from whole or partial chicken carcasses. It does not include feathers, heads, feet and entrails. After cooking, the dried solids are added as "chicken meal" to pet food. Meal is often major ingredients in pet foods as they do provide a concentrated source of protein.

Halo chooses to use whole meat as the sole source of meat protein. Other high quality protein sources (such as eggs and peas) are used in place of meat meal to provide a very highly digestible and natural source of protein.

By-products, for example, "chicken by-products" or "beef by-products". This refers to clean "parts", other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals.  It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, blood, bone, fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.  This is a cheap way to keep the protein levels high while keeping food production costs low.

Halo uses whole meats and liver as the sources of meat protein and other high quality protein sources (such as eggs and peas) contribute other highly digestible sources of protein.

Food additives and preservatives. Corn syrup, sugar, molasses, propylene glycol and MSG are examples of artificial additive frequently used in pet food manufacturing to flavor food or give dampness and flexibility to semi-moist foods and treats.  These are often additional sources of "empty" or non-nutritious calories that may contribute to pet obesity.

Halo uses high quality natural ingredients and does not enhance the flavor of the food with these additives.

Preservatives. Many preservatives—such as BHA, BHT, sodium nitrite and nitrate—are known to be potentially harmful in humans; yet they are often used in the production of pet food to limit the growth of bacteria or inhibit oxidation of food. 

Natural alternatives for preserving food includes a mixture of varying forms of vitamin E called mixed tocopherols, rosemary extract and even the process of freeze-drying. Halo uses all of these forms of natural food preservation.

Artificial colorings/dyes. FD&C Blue No. 1, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5 are common examples. These artificial colorings are used in many pet products to entice owners into a purchase; however, they have no known nutritional value and may be responsible for certain adverse or allergic reactions. 

Natural alternatives are simple—no dyes! Halo uses deeply pigmented vegetables which give a natural hue to food.

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