I recently started searching for a new brand of food for my family pets. And even after almost 12 years in the pet food industry, there is still more to learn.

I have gone through several companies’ websites looking at ingredients and comparing. One that I have found quite useful is www.EVOpet.com. Under its Tools & Resources section it has an Ingredient Definitions List that has not only the ingredients that the company uses, but almost every one that has ever been used in the pet food industry.

I have found it quick and handy to use while I’m running through ingredient lists. I am still up in the air about whether or not I am going to change brands, but the search has been eye opening.

I discovered that the list of artificial/chemical preservatives is longer than I originally thought. I knew about Ethoxiquin, what I didn’t realize is that it is not approved for human use. Artificial aside, personally I will not feed my animals something that I cannot eat myself.

Other artificial preservatives are Propyl Gallate, Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT). The last two have been banned in many countries while in the US they are still permitted in processed human and pet foods.

This brings me to a discovery I just have to share: according to the US Code, federal regulations and the US Coast Guard mandate, all fish meal must be preserved with Ethoxyquin in order for it to be shipped.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw it in writing on the US CFR’s webpage. It’s a long, drawn-out search to find it but, if you are interested in seeing it for yourself, e-mail me and I will give you the step-by-step instructions to find it.

Now, taking a deep breath and moving on, I have seen a lot of dyes listed on pet food labels. Why we allow chemical colouring in anything edible is beyond me. As far as I’m concerned, if there is dye in a food then the company is trying to hide something.

I’m not going to even get started on what I think of chemicals in general.

Grapes are apparently toxic to dogs, something I didn’t know until recently and yet I have also seen it added to dog foods.

Not to be confused with dried whole eggs, dried egg product apparently consists of the unused leftovers of human production, but can also include undeveloped eggs, shells and other tissues unfit for human consumption.

I was not expecting such an adventure when I decided to look for a new food. But it has made me realize that we cannot become complacent in what we feed to our animals if we want them to live long healthy lives.

There is constantly new research being done on ways to feed our pets and it is up to us to keep up to speed on it.

Contact Jaime Hanna with your questions at crittertalk101@hotmail.com.