Pet Gazette March 2019 - Page 29

SOAPBOX | PET GAZETTE | 29 THE IMPORTANCE OF A HEALTHY DIET There’s no doubt that we’re a nation of pet lovers, but recent research paints a stark picture when it comes to owners’ knowledge of their pets’ nutritional needs. Ashley Burdock, commercial manager at SARVAL, UK-based supplier of protein ingredients to the pet food market, discusses the importance of pet nutrition and the health dangers posed by an incorrect diet SETTING THE SCENE According to a study commissioned by OnePoll and Lily’s Kitchen, one in fi ve cat owners don’t know their pet is a carnivore. Alarmingly, the insight also revealed that pets’ diets were commonly supplemented with raw vegetables and salad, while common treats included plate scrapings, takeaways, cheese and even chocolate! It’s no surprise that eating the wrong food can be detrimental to pets. One in fi ve owners admit their pet has been diagnosed with medical conditions, such as skin problems and diabetes, due to a poor diet. A further 20% have had to make a trip to the vets after their pet ate something that disagreed with it. Feeding human food and treats to pets is never going to be the best way to meet their nutritional needs, but it may come as a surprise to many that one of the biggest dangers to a pet’s health is actually poor quality, mass produced pet food. QUALITY VS. PRICE When ingredients don’t supply ideal levels of nutrients, a pet can become chronically deprived of what it needs. Sometimes the issue is fairly specifi c, for instance, zinc defi cient diets have been linked to the development of skin lesions. At other times, poor overall ingredient quality can cause increased shedding, gassiness, chronically loose stools, intermittent vomiting, or even obesity. Being sure to purchase pet food products from trusted manufacturers and reputable sources is obviously one way to help ensure that a pet is receiving the nutrients it needs to thrive. A 2007 scandal in China reported cowboy pet food manufacturers adding melamine and cyanuric acid to raw ingredients to make the ingredients appear to contain more protein than they actually did. These acids caused destructive crystals to form in pets’ kidneys and a subsequent lawsuit estimated that over 13,000 pets died as a direct result of March 2019