Selenium is an essential trace mineral for dogs and cats. Due to wide variation in selenium content among ingredients used to make petfoods, most manufacturers will include a supplemental source in their trace mineral premix. The predominant form used in petfood is sodium selenite, which has been used for decades without much issue.
In the past several months, a recurring question from manufacturers of treats and semi-moist petfoods has come up: “Can we use ‘natural’ glycerin in our foods?” The quick answer is yes, but why are they asking this? There seems to be confusion creeping into the market; maybe some sort of controversy is brewing about glycerin.
To the couch potato, the word “plasma” likely conjures up thoughts of a new television; to Trekkies, it’s the high-energy gaseous field the USS Enterprise has to traverse periodically. In other words, the term by itself doesn’t necessarily conjure up a yuck factor.
Niacin was the third B vitamin to be identified as a dietary essential for its role in treating the deficiency disease “black tongue” in dogs and a disease with a similar etiology, pellagra, in humans. The discovery was tied to pets and humans consuming diets nearly monopolized by grains and deficient in quality proteins.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is one of those vitamins we don’t hear much about in petfood production. Unlike with several other vitamins, the requirement for dogs and cats has been relatively well researched, it hasn’t been implicated in unfounded controversy and petfood manufacturers fortify foods to the necessary level with relative ease.
In human foods, bones have long been a staple for making ingredients like soup stock and gelatin; however, people don’t often eat bones directly. Rather, any bone that lands on our plates as a function of eating a steak, drumstick or chop often ends up being discarded or shared with the family pets.
In the production of petfoods—no different than human foods—there are a number of compounds that make their way into the food that aren’t a part of the formula/recipe or stated on the ingredient listing. This is nothing underhanded or disingenuous, merely a function of the process, package and regulations.
Guar gum is a common, but nearly invisible, ingredient in petfoods. It is found in almost every brand of wet petfood, whether marketed at a farm-and-fleet, grocery, big-box, indie or boutique store. However, you won’t find this ingredient on the shelf by itself at your local grocery, and it has low recognition with consumers.
In the search for more novel ingredients to use in petfood, a new starch source, tapioca, has begun to find its way into some specialty foods. This ingredient has become especially prevalent in no-grain and “elimination” diets.