Pet Care and Nutrition – Are we doing it right?

Pet Care and Nutrition – Are we doing it right?

Ever wondered about the effect that processed foods can have on your pet’s longevity?

We, humans, are always told to eat plenty of fresh foods, while on the other hand, most of our pet companions are fed processed commercial foods throughout their lifespan. People often face difficulty in accessing companion-animal nutrition information that is not sponsored by the pet food industry – a billion dollar sector that generates the bulk of consumer information. Several pet parents are now taking the extra step – going beyond regular grooming and visits to the Dog Wash.

Arguably, while the pet food industry’s goals are in the best interests of safe and wholesome nutrition, there is an increasing demand for unbiased information on the subject. This is in addition to supporting research and education in veterinary nutrition. Scientific research is the need of the hour to identify healthy, optimal or the best, nutrition for our companion animals. There is an increasing number of queries from people who are interested in feeding their pet dogs and cats the best possible diet, food items that can sustain longer, healthier lives. And naturally, this goes beyond regular visits to the neighborhood self-serve pet wash.

While heat processing results in increased availability of nutrients, food safety, and shelf life, it can also cause the Maillard reaction, with the chemical reaction between amino acids in proteins and sugars that give cooked food its distinctive flavor. Similar Maillard reactions can occur in body tissues, especially with age, and result in the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGE). Food items high in Maillard Reaction Products (MRP) have shown increased levels of AGEs in the body.

Studies have revealed that increased levels of AGEs in body tissues are related to several age-related ailments, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, cataracts, vascular diseases, and atherosclerosis. The absorption of MRP from the diet and the resultant accumulation in the body’s AGE pool can be a way in which age-related diseases in both humans and animals evolve.

However, the role of MRPs in the diet of dogs and cats in relation to their health and any disease is unknown. Studies measuring MRPs in dry and canned pet food show that the intake of MRPs is estimated to be as much as 38 times higher in cats and 122 times higher in dogs than in an adult human based on a body-weight ratio. No amount of grooming and visits to the self-serve dog wash tubs can be a remedy for this. The effects of a more homemade or a whole food variety with lower levels of MRPs can help in unraveling any adverse effects on our pets’ lives.

At present, most commercial dog food is highly processed and is made up of byproducts from dead, dying, diseased or drugged (the 4 D’s) animals. Even the popular raw diets are no exception to this. Conventional pet food may also contain toxins and cancer-causing agents. It’s best to change your pet’s diet to a fresh or lightly cooked, whole-food recipe. Those willing to try out preparing meals themselves can follow the recipes on several dog wash and grooming websites or purchase organic/natural items online.

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