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Understanding Your Pet's Food Label 101: What are fillers?

Another important insight into understanding what's in your four-legged family member's food is to know how to recognize a "filler". Fillers in the pet food industry are an inexpensive way to increase plant based protein and add bulk and fiber to your pet's food. The question is: are they good for your pet?

Let's first start with Fiber. Fiber is a good and necessary part of a healthy diet, both in humans and our pets. Fiber helps to form consistent and healthy stools, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces/eliminates toxins, and protects overall colon health. However, the source of fiber is an important factor. If the source of fiber is derived from corn, wheat or soy (all of which are known to be common allergens/ irritants to your dog's digestive system) it has the potential to do more harm than good. Other products like feathers, cottonseed hulls, corncobs, peanut hulls, straw, and cereal by-product (corn, wheat and soy by products) are often included as inexpensive fillers or low-grade fiber content and have little or no nutritional value.

Now let's look at fillers used to bump the protein levels in pet food. Dogs and cats are carnivorous creatures. Cats are strictly carnivores and although dogs are omnivores by nature (they eat both meat and plant based foods for a well balanced diet) they thrive from a meat based protein source. That's why we don't see wolves and coyotes hunting down corn stalks and wheat sheaves for prey! Here is a list of common fillers to avoid.

  • Gluten and hard to digest grain products, such as corn and wheat: These serve as a source of sugar and, as dogs are carnivores, they are of little nutritional value. Often, a grain product will leave the body just as it entered as it will not be broken down or absorbed.
  • Soy: This filler is responsible for a huge portion of pet allergies that can result in sneezing, itching, swelling, anaphylactic shock, and death.
  • Seed hulls: Cottonseed and peanut hulls
  • Animal by-products: These are the "left-overs" once an animal has been prepared for human consumption. This may include intestines, chicken heads, lungs, livers, kidneys, duckbills, chicken and turkey feet, feathers and bone. Ingredients listed as chicken, beef, poultry, and animal by-products are not required to include actual meat. Animal digest, animal fat, meat by-products, and chicken by-products are all animal by-products and are described in better detail below.
  • Animal digest: Produced by chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis of an undecomposed animal. This has also been described as "manure" and "a cooked-down broth, which can be made from unspecified parts of unspecified animals. The animals used can be obtained from almost any source and no control is in place over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: "4-D animals" (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying), goats, pigs, horses, rats, animals euthanized at shelters, restaurant and supermarket refuse and so on."
  • Animal fat: Obtained from the tissues of animals during rendering or extracting and generally comes from an unknown origin. BHA, an artificial preservative suspected of causing cancer, may be used to preserve the animal fat.
  • Meat by-products: These are the non-rendered parts, other than the meat, and are derived from slaughter animals. This includes, but is not limited to, the spleen, kidneys, livers, brain, lungs, blood, bone, stomachs, and intestines.
  • Chicken by-product meal: Ground and rendered chicken products, including necks, feet, intestines, and undeveloped eggs.

At Nature's Select Pet Food we only use meat as the protein source and primary energy source for our pet food because we understand that is what is healthiest for our furry best friends. We do not use fillers or by-products in our food. We were among the few pet foods awarded the seal of approval in 2017 from Whole Dog Journal for proving our food is made from wholesome top of the line ingredients as well as being complete and balanced diet for your beloved pet.

If you are interested in giving our food a try please use the coupon code First10 to get $10 off of your first order. We also offer FREE shipping on all of your orders over $25.

Thanks for joining us for another educational blog.

Dr. Jena Kittle