Antibiotic-Free, Hormone-Free, Organic Pet Food | Does it Matter?

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The Quality of Ingredients Matter

Healthy Pet Food
Healthy Pet Food

 

One of my biggest soap boxes is for people to read the entire ingredient panel on products. It doesn’t matter what the product is: pet food, dog treats, pet shampoo, our shampoo, or even the menu from a fast food restaurant. Knowing all the ingredients inside a product is the first step in determining if that product is healthy or something you want to consume, feed your pet, or use on your pet or yourself. If the ingredient panel checks out, the next step is the quality of those ingredients, and they can vary greatly.

For an example, let’s look at a fictitious dog treat ingredient panel. Ingredients: Beef liver, apples and carrots. At first glance, this would be a treat I would feel comfortable giving Dexter. There are only three ingredients, those ingredients are named ie. BEEF liver, not ‘liver’ or ‘meat/animal.’ But I need to do a little more investigating to determine if this is going to be a healthy dog treat I would actually purchase. I will take my thought process one ingredient at a time.

Beef Liver. Again, it’s a named meat and part of the meat. It’s from a cow and it is the liver of a cow. This is good: no by-products or mystery meats. I know exactly what it is; I can visualize it. But I want to know HOW that cow was raised. Was this cow given growth hormones or antibiotics?

Did you know that it is estimated that 80 percent of all US cows are injected with growth hormones? Not to mention that large factory farm operations are injecting Monsanto’s genetically altered hormone rBGH or rBST. And the kicker? We are moving towards less and less required product labeling, which means as a consumer, we really have to get good at digging and finding the truth if we want to avoid hormones, antibiotics, or GMO ingredients.

Just say no to hormones. What makes growth hormones so bad? Added hormones have been linked to things such as developmental disabilities, reproductive issues, and breast and colon cancer, just to name a few. Not to mention that the hormone residue is leaking into our environment and contaminating our earth.

What about the use of antibiotics in the meat? Are you ready for this quote? “In 2011, drug manufacturers sold 29.9 million pounds of antibiotics for use on industrial farms, the highest amount ever reported and four times the amount sold to treat sick people.” One of the biggest concerns is that when an animal is given antibiotics, when we, or our pets, eat that animal, we are also ingesting those drugs. The more we have, the more we are developing resistance to that drug, and in turn, creating super bugs because a typical antibiotic will no longer “cure” us.

The other thing to consider when choosing a healthy meat is what that animal ate. Did that cow graze on pesticide or eat GMO corn? Or was he 100% free-range from start to finish? These are all things that I take into account when choosing a treat, food, or chew for Dexter The Dog and Nutter The Cat.

Now, what about those apples and carrots? I also want to know how they were grown. Were they genetically modified? Were they grown in a soil with pesticides or artificial fertilizers, and hit with radiation to kill bacteria? Once again, we are looking at an increase in cancer and birth defects with the use of pesticides and the like. Not to mention, that not using them increases the nutritional value of foods! For me, that means 100% organic fruits and vegetables are preferred for Dexter’s treats and necessary for Dexter’s food.

If a manufacturer is not required to label how their ingredients were raised or manufactured, how the heck can we know what we are feeding? I know, it’s tough. However, if a company is providing a product they know is superior, and those that are not using hormones, antibiotics or chemicals are making a conscious effort; they likely will promote it. Their label will probably say: hormone-free, antibiotic-free, organic, etc. If the label does not say that, you can hop over to their website to look, call, or email. But, I would venture to guess, if they don’t say hormone-free, they probably are using hormones. If the ingredient doesn’t say “organic apples” they are probably not organic.

Healthy Pet Food Matters
Healthy Pet Food Matters

You may be thinking to yourself this is overkill, but I don’t agree. The health of my pets is a top priority and I take my job as their MOM seriously. When it comes time for me to give my pets a healthy pet treat, I look for organic and antibiotic- and hormone-free whenever possible. When I am feeding my pets and making a home-cooked meal, I always use antibiotic- and hormone-free meats, and get organic whenever possible. I am not going to risk their health by adding unnecessary and damaging meat that contains hormones or antibiotics. I want to provide them with the healthiest and safest food I possibly can. I try to eliminate as many unnecessary chemicals and preservatives as I possibly can. Their lives are too short as it is, and as the saying goes, you are what you eat.

By the way, I think it’s important for us to look at this for our own food products, too, not just the ones we are feeding our pets. We are what we eat, too!

Science News (January 2002) Hormones: Here’s The Beef

The Food Revolution Network (March 2014) Bovine Growth Hormone : Is rBST the same as rBGH?

Black, Jane: Prevention (February 2014) Why Are There Still So Many Antibiotics In America’s Meat?


Do you cook for your dogs?  Tell me in the comments.

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41 thoughts on “Antibiotic-Free, Hormone-Free, Organic Pet Food | Does it Matter?

  1. I hear a lot of folks say my pet is surviving and is healthy because they had a great check up at their vet. Plus my vet recommended this food so it must be good enough for them. We cannot leave this up to our vets..don’t trust what they say, you have to do your own research. You are your pets voice and advocate. Just because they seem ok today does not mean years down the road all the junk ingredients won’t take their toll on their health. I am really angry that these companies are not required to use proper labeling on the food they manufacture. I can’t comprehend how these laws ever get passed. Thanks Tonya for another great article!

    1. Thanks, Barbara. Yes, we have to be our pet’s advocate with everything. I wouldn’t make a broad stroke on all vets since we learned so much from our holistic vet on food. 🙂

  2. What a great post! Pet parents definitely need to read ingredient lists. I’ll admit that I used to just feed what was available at the store to buy. Now I am more careful with the foods I provide my pets.

  3. Great post! I’m a big reader of labels, and am careful about what I feed my dogs. You brought up some excellent points about digging even deeper into the ingredients, particularly when it comes to antibiotic and other drug use on factory farms. I often hear people say their pets are fine being fed any supermarket brand, but being alive and being healthy are two different things. I’m sure this information will help your readers make better choices when when buying pet food.

    1. Thanks, Hindy. Sometimes it is so hard to really understand and even find the information when we are looking! Yes, alive and thrive are very different. 🙂

    1. Very true! As long as the meals are balanced, fresh is always best! And it comes from the heart, so I think a little love never hurts.

  4. Buy beef or milk raised in Canada. Growth hormones are illegal. I’m on the fence about GMOs, sounds like something we shouldn’t do for bigger reasons but a lot of credible sources say its ok to consume. Organic is suspect because there’s no regulation as to how and if.

  5. It is important to read what is on the label whenever you can. Sometimes a dog lover on a budget might be compelled to eat what you might call ‘cheap’ dog food, and this got me thinking. Yes, I want cats and dogs to eat well, but I think a loved dog is a loved dog even if he gets cheap food. Having good food for a pet is something I know every pet lover will aspire to so reading your post will be a huge help to many – searching online for healthy pet food people need to find posts like yours not manufacturers web sites with a lot of ‘scientific’ nonsense on them.

    1. Thanks, Dash Kittens. Yes, we can only do what we can. That said, I think we need to be educated, then we make our choices. Healthy food leads to a healthier life, less vet bills, meds, so that’s always something to consider too when you are determining the bottom line.

    1. Yes, size does matter. I do love that people are starting to be more aware and buy because prices are dropping all the time now! We also shop local farms, co-ops etc., well 1 hour away, for better prices on whole ingredients.

    1. Everyone gets to choose what makes sense for them and their pets. When I think of “natural” for me that also means that pesticides and chemicals are not used in the process of the seed to table.

  6. I don’t cook for my dogs, but I try to get them the best food options I can. I wish that manufacturers would be required to give all the information on the labels. It is disappointing how tricky some of them are.

    1. I know, very sneaky. There are a small handful of dog and cat food manufacturers that actually do use hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats along with organic veggies and fruits.

  7. I’ve become so much more aware of ingredients in food every since I started taking care of my 2 year old grandson. (I’ve had him since he was 2 months old.) I’m careful of what I feed him, and this has led me to be more aware of what I’m feeding my animals too. There are so many products that are so bad for us and our pets. It’s crazy. Thank you so much for this informative article. Take care!

    1. Thanks, Jeanne. It’s awful. You grab a product you think looks healthy, and you flip over, read the label and it has so much garbage inside. Scary, especially when those products are geared towards children and pets.

  8. I give my dogs dry food from Magnusson and some raw meat! I decided on Magnusson because they don’t use meat from rendering. It’s a Swedish brand, so there are very strict rules regarding antibiotics or meat from sick/dying animals! Most people look over the labels and trust the company’s marketing campaign! It’s great that you raise awareness on this topic! Our best friends deserve nothing but the best!

    1. Unfortunately, the US is far behind in our and our pet’s welfare. And some issues are actually getting worse. A shame, really.

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