Hypoallergenic diets for dogs and cats are gaining popularity and do offer some health benefits, but some marketing can mislead pet owners because petfood allergies are entirely specific to the individual pet, according to The Honest Kitchen. There are lots of different theories about how and why petfood allergies occur. Pets don't actually develop allergies as a result of exposure to allergens but because they have suddenly become susceptible or vulnerable in some way.
Bad-quality food in itself may deplete the immune system over time because it can be laden with toxins and other substances that place unnecessary burden on the body or because it lacks important nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes.
Petfood allergies are defined as immune system or inflammatory responses triggered by certain foods. Other pets may not have true allergies but are still sensitive to certain ingredients on a less severe level. For many pets, the most common culprits are wheat, corn, soy, rice and sugar beet pulp-as well as various preservatives.
Allergen-free: the way to be!
A pet's diet has a tremendous impact on its skin, digestion and overall metabolism. Pets with sensitive systems can be highly allergic to less expensive, lower-quality petfood ingredients, such as protein fillers, or even premium ingredients. That's why California Natural dog and cat food's mission is to "refuse to use allergens" in its production, according to the company.
For California Natural Pet Food, a Natura brand, it's what's missing that matters. With its lines of natural dog food, cat food, puppy food and dog treats, you'll never find fillers, by-products or artificial preservatives that can cause allergic reactions or stomach issues in pets, claims company literature.
California Natural also says it has the shortest ingredients list of any dry petfood but is still able to offer a variety of flavors in a complete and balanced diet. The list of ingredients used includes:
- Essential fatty acids , including omega-6 and omega-3, are provided in optimal proportions to assure healthy and lustrous skin and coat and provide efficient sources of energy to support exercise and endurance and a strong immune system;
- Sunflower oil is added as a high-quality source of omega-6 fatty acid to help animals that may be prone to itchy skin; and
- Single carbohydrate sources come from rice (whole, ground brown and/or white) and whole sweet potatoes.
Perhaps what is more important is what is NOT listed in the California Natural dog food and cat food ingredients. The company produces nothing with wheat, corn, soy, artificial preservatives, artificial flavoring, added coloring and/or by-products.
The California Natural line includes:
- Lamb Meal & Rice Adult Dry Dog Food;
- Chicken Meal & Rice Adult Dry Dog Food;
- Herring & Sweet Potato Adult Dry Dog Food;
- HealthBarsLarge or Small Dog Treats;
- Dog and Cat Skin & Coat Supplement;
- Chicken & Brown Rice Dry Cat and Kitten Food;
- Venison & Brown Rice Canned Cat and Kitten Food;
- Deep Water Fish & Brown Rice Canned Cat; and
- Salmon & Sweet Potato Canned Cat and Kitten Food.
Pulse fractions: ideal ingredients for dog food?
Imagine a food ingredient that is healthy, gluten-free, nutritious and good for the environment. Think pulses. Pulses-beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas-are "super foods" that, according to some research, prevent diseases and contribute to overall good health. According to the same research, pulses can help manage weight-related health problems, such as type II diabetes and heart disease, and have shown great promise in addressing certain cancers.
Peas are the predominant pulse crop and are grown in very large volumes, so supply can readily be established for petfoods and treats.
There are a number of processing plants that separate the components of peas so purchasers can get the whole pea or pea fractions as ingredients. The primary components are the starch, fiber and protein. The protein fraction of peas contains over 50% crude protein, making it comparable to other protein concentrates.
To explore the potential to use pulses in dog food formulations, a two-fold research project was recently completed with the cooperation of Petfood Ingredients Inc., Wenger Manufacturing, Forte Consulting and Kennelwood Inc. For more on this study, read it online at www.petfoodindustry.com/PeaPulses.aspx .
Hypoallergenic treats for pets
Several petfood companies are entering the hypoallergenic market with treats for cats and dogs. Hill's Prescription Diet Hypoallergenic Treats are designed for pets with allergies and sensitive skin. According to the company, the treats, available in canine and feline formulas, help eliminate the potential for adverse reactions to foods, as they contain hydrolyzed proteins.
Additionally, the canine treats support skin barrier function and nourish the skin and coat with antioxidants and omega fatty acids. The canine and feline treats are sold exclusively through veterinarians.
Aunt Jeni's Home Made offers Dogitos dehydrated natural dog treats in three varieties: beef, lamb and goat. The crispy "chiplike" pieces are hypoallergenic, holistic and organic, according to the company. Aunt Jeni's also claims the treats contain no preservatives, yeast, soy, chemicals, salt, sugar or grains.
Fishin' Chips from Aunt Jeni's Home Made are holistic cat treats with a crisp texture. The Seafood Medley variety contains fish, baby shrimp, clams, beef, lamb and/or goat lung "chips." According to the company, Fishin' Chips are hypoallergenic and all-natural.