What makes Animal Lovers' Choice Food Products different?
A brief history of commercial pet food
Food is a necessity for humans and animals alike – no food, no life! Over the centuries, human eating habits have evolved with invention. The discovery of fire brought the first cooked meals, the invention of ovens (well, holes below a fire actually), the first bread.
Preservation also evolved. From once using only natural ingredients such as salt, honey and spices to preserve food, humans began to dehydrate, vacuum-pack and can. Ice-houses and refrigerators began to keep meat and perishables fresh, processed food edible, and beer cold, for longer.
The evolution did not stop there however. Next synthetic preservatives were used to keep food edible almost indefinitely. These preservatives, teamed with convenience packaging, were embraced by the global food processing industry. They ensured incredible growth rates and paved the way to almost unlimited expansion (including outer-space) because they deliver the required result – where there is food, there is life!
We humans now have our food reserves and convenience foods, and our pets and livestock continue to happily, though unwittingly, tag along.
One of these conveniences, extended by the human race to the pet population, was the invention of kibble (pellets) in the 60s in America. It allowed people to buy food for their pets with the same long-lasting, easy-to-serve convenience they so cherished for themselves.
It was also the invention of a money-making machine of gigantic proportions – basically the modern version of alchemy. Instead of creating gold from lead however, the creation was making whole meals for animals from the waste products of the human food industry.
Meat- and poultry-waste, and bone meal from slaughterhouses and processing plants, were combined with non-human grade waste from the grain and corn industry, peanut hulls, beet pulp and cellulose. Formed, dried and sprayed with the correct synthetic aromas and vitamins and one had a guaranteed winner, thus giving a whole new meaning to the saying ‘making something out of nothing’.
The concept worked well and the choices became wider, the marketing strategies more global and the packets (and the promises) more colourful. The global food conglomerates began to offer special foods for dogs with allergies, dogs with skin problems and dogs with stomach and digestion problems. They began to offer solutions for hyperactive dogs, depressed dogs, overweight dogs and picky eaters.
When the ‘Internet Age’ arrived, people started talking with each other from all corners of the world. They did research on topics not accessible to them before. They read the research papers nobody had ever seen and not paid any attention to.
For the first time, people realised the yummy looking meat chunks in canned food were actually protein gel and had very little to do with real meat. They came across the meaning of the 4D animals used in pet food – diseased, dying, dead or disabled from unknown causes. They read about astounding increases in allergies and cancer epidemics in dogs and cats. They learned about the effects of wheat, corn and synthetic preservatives on their furry friends. And they finally realised what their pets can and can’t digest, and all of a sudden, the astronomical vet bills, which were so disproportionate to the monthly food bills, started to make sense.
So what do we do differently?
Today, human-grade, organic, bio and biologically appropriate foods for pets increase their market shares substantially each year, mainly in the northern hemisphere. But, the south is waking up.
The Doggeesnaxx Team has actually gone one step further and has moved away from the conventional pet food production methods of extrusion and pelleting. We have found a way to adapt the process to our fresh ingredients (not the ingredients to the process) through drying, grinding and rendering.
The SofDry production process allows fresh meat, fruit and vegetables to be processed raw, through one brief heating process and an equally brief dehydration stage. Other than a small amount of tapioca and, in two cases rolled oats for nutrition purposes, no fillers or empty carbs are involved in the process. What you see is what you get!
Dogs are omnivores and cats are carnivores. But in both cases, its the protein that makes our animals thrive. There is plant-based protein of course, but even for our dogs, who's digestive tract has developed to process more than meat and bones, the goodness of fresh muscle meat, offal, cartilage and bones can't be beaten by anything.
For years, the pet-food industry bought dried meat or bone meal from the slaughter industry. It had high protein levels, was cheap, easy to handle and lasted 'forever'. The problem was that these meals contained a lot of things, but proper meat was almost never one of them. It turned out that absolutely anything that could not be used for the human food industry ended up in these meals – hooves, feathers, intestines, the infamous 4D animals. In fact, absolutely any slaughter waste imaginable.
When these facts started to make the rounds, the producers that were concerned about their reputation started looking at alternatives. However, it turned out that there were none – other than the expensive human food options which killed their margins because they needed them dried.
And that is what makes us different. Doggeesnaxx's SofDry does not need any dehydrated components. Therefore, we have the luxury to use fresh human food grade meat and fish.
We use beef fores from Australia and India only and complete beef pieces together with beef heart (fresh) and beef liver from Australia and South Africa.
It has been approved for human consumption by the Mauritian department of Agro Industry and is stored in the same cold storage as all other meat that will be delivered for human consumption.
The chicken in Animal Lovers' Choice products comes from two sources. Local whole chicken as well as chicken heart and liver produced by Innodis and Panagora - both ISO 22000 certified chicken breeders - as well as mechanically derived chicken meat from the Netherlands. This meat is 100% human-food grade and is mostly being used for chicken sausage in the EU.
Our Fish comes solely from local catch which is 90% yellow fin tuna. We use the entire fish excluding the intestines and bones. Yellow Fin in not on the endangered species list and we support small local fishermen that use sustainable catching methods.
Carbohydrates are a common source of energy in living organisms; however, no empty carbohydrate is an essential nutrient for humans or pets. In extruded commercial pet food you basically have no choice as a manufacturer, no matter how good your intentions are. This is firstly because the process demands a dough-like base of the product for production, which can only be achieved when floury substances are a substantial part of the mix, usually above 50%. They don't have to be wheat or maize; rice and potato is also an option, albeit a much pricier one.Secondly, due to the high protein content in dried meat granules, when balanced with the correct amount of dried vegetables, fruit and herbs, the portion may be too small to satisfy your pet’s expectation - as well as your ‘human-portion’ trained eye.
After lengthy research and a lot of soul searching, we decided on tapioca, sweet potato and oats. Although we are not fans of any grain in pet food, we included oats as the benefits just can't be denied.
Tapioca is made from the cassava plant; a root vegetable that is completely gluten free. It is considered a healthy carbohydrate and contains a significant amount of dietary fibre in its natural form. In many countries, it serves as a main dish because of its high starch content, yet is considered a healthy starch because it is low in cholesterol and unhealthy fats. The roots are rich in calcium and vitamin C and contain a nutritionally significant quantity of thiamine, riboflavin and nicotinic acid. Tapioca contains 70% amylopectin and 20% amylose and has a digestibility of over 75%.
Sweet potatoes are one of nature's nearly perfect foods. They are so healthy they can be fed to our dogs daily.
Their benefits include:
Vitamins A, C and B6
Manganese, copper, and iron
A source of dietary fibre
They are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients and are classified as an “anti-diabetic” food - a title bestowed as studies have found that sweet potatoes help stabilise blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance.
We decided to add a small amount (about 5%) of rolled oats to the mix for numerous reasons. Firstly, oats contain a high amount of protein. According to the World Health Organization, oat protein is equivalent in quality to soy protein, and therefore equal to meat, milk and egg protein. Secondly, the soluble fibre they contain helps keep cholesterol levels low. And lastly, oats have high levels of iron, manganese, zinc, and B vitamins (pantothenic acid, B5, and folate, B9).
And to top it all off, oats are gluten free.
Fruits and Vegetables
Carrots are one of the most nutrient rich vegetables available to dogs today. Packed with Vitamins A, K and C, carrots add healthy antioxidants to your dog’s diet. They also are an excellent source of insoluble and soluble fibre, which can promote intestinal health. Additionally, they help a dog's vision, heart and blood sugar levels. Vitamin A and antioxidants protect the dog’s coat and keep it shiny, as well as also assisting the liver in flushing out toxins from the dog’s body and reducing bile and fat in the liver. The fibres present in carrots help clean out the colon and hasten waste movement. Brilliant!
Virgin coconut oil, when added to a dog’s daily diet in small quantities, has many beneficial qualities. It reduces the risk of cancers, improves digestion, addresses digestive disorders, promotes normal thyroid function, prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, helps balance metabolism for healthy weight, relieves arthritis and supports a healthy skin and coat! By gently raising the metabolism of the animal, it is used as an immediate source of energy, and aids in weight loss, both for overweight dogs and those suffering from thyroid problems.
Papayas contain potassium, folate, fibre and vitamins A, C, E and K. They protect against heart disease, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and help the body from developing macular degeneration. They also help lower cholesterol and promote lung health, and the antioxidants they carry assist the general immune system.
Holistic vets recommend the regular ingestion of enzymes found in papaya to keep your pet’s digestive system strong and healthy. And better digestion means better use of the nutrition in the foods - along with other many other benefits.
Besides their uniquely smooth texture and sweet taste, bananas also boast loads of amino acids, electrolytes, minerals, vitamins B6 and C, potassium, fibre and manganese.
They contain almost no fat, are very low in sodium and loaded with potassium.
They also provide vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese and folate; all necessary in promoting the health of your pet. Bananas are an energy food because of the soluble carbohydrates they contain.
The leaves, pods and roots of the tree are a nutritional powerhouse that provide a great range and amount of essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
It is a rich source of essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. It also contains a significant amount of vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, folate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The mineral wealth includes calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It contains a very low amount of fats and offers no harmful cholesterol.
Herbs & Seeds
Olive Leaf Extract
Olive leaf extract is derived from the leaves of the olive tree (Olea europaea) and contains compounds, specifically oleuropein, that have demonstrated potent antioxidant and immune-enhancing properties, as well as antibacterial and antifungal effects.
Kelp is truly a miracle plant because of its many therapeutic properties. It's rich in a variety of minerals, vitamins and trace nutrients, such as essential amino acid Taurine, which aids in healthy eye function.
It is scientifically proven for its anti-cancerous properties and ability to break down plaque & tartar build up. Kelp is also rich in iodine, which stimulates the thyroid, and zinc, which promotes healthy skin and reduces dryness and itchiness. It aids in digestion, has numerous anti-inflammatory properties, contains an anti-rheumatic and boosts the immune system.
Parsley is high in fibre and rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals that help fight cancer and enhance the functioning of all organs. It also fights bad breath and helps the body pass toxins.
Basil & Basil Seeds
Basil is rich in essential vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, electrolytes and oils that are essential for optimal health. It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant, and is well known for its multiple disease-preventing and health-promoting properties.
Basil seeds swell up to form a gelatinous outer layer. This mucilage helps line the digestive tract, soothing it and aiding digestion due to its fibre content.They are renowned for their anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties and are rich in protein and iron.
In addition to omega fatty acids, flaxseed contains alpha-linoleic acid, which offers benefits to your dog's immune system.
Alpha-linoleic acid also has
an anti-inflammatory effect, so may aid your dog if he shows signs of arthritis or other joint problems.
Lignans in flaxseed contain antioxidants.
Sesame seeds contain up to 55% oil and 20% protein, making them a high source of both essential fatty acids and certain amino acids.
The health benefits of sesame seeds are due to their nutritional content, including vitamins, minerals, natural oils, and organic compounds which consist of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, zinc, fibre, thiamine, vitamin B6, folate, protein and tryptophan.
Sunflower oil contains more Vitamin E than any other vegetable oil. Vegetable and plant-based oils are cholesterol-free, low in saturated fats and rich in polyunsaturated fats.
Sunflower oil promotes heart health as it contains phytochemicals such as choline and phenolic acid, which studies have found to be beneficial for the heart. It also provides energy, lowers cholesterol, improves digestion and strengthens the immune system.
The benefits of fish oil for dogs and cats are far-reaching. It supports the health of the skin, coat, joint, kidneys, heart and immune system.
Fish oil contains both EPA and DHA (or eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid). Both are omega-3 fatty acids that can only be made in a limited capacity in dogs and are even more poorly synthesized in cats.
Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats and can prevent, the effects of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It contains oleic acid and some compounds (squalene and terpenoids) that are believed to be effective in preventing cancer – and cancer kills a staggering 50% of dogs over the age of 10!
With high levels of antioxidants, including polyphenols, vitamin E, chlorophyll and carotenoids, olive oil is very effective at arming the body's immune system to efficiently fight off disease.
In our modern world of convenience food and packaging, some form of preservation is a must and there is no way round it. A lot of synthetic preservatives used in today’s pet food production have been scientifically proven to be detrimental for our pets’ health. That is why we use natural preservatives that have been used for thousands of years.
Vinegar is a dilute solution of acetic (ethanoic) acid in water and, because of its acidic content and low pH, is an effective preservative. In fact, it has been used as a pickling agent to preserve foods for thousands of years. It works by making the food more acidic, which deactivates its enzymes and kills any bacteria in the food that may cause spoilage.
Honey is physically designed to preserve, with 95% sugar solids absorbing bacteria through osmosis. The bees themselves add an enzyme to the nectar before it morphs into honey, which develops the hydrogen peroxide that aids preservation.
Honey has a PH of around 3.9, similar to mild vinegar, another reason for edging out the breakdown of foods. In addition, honey is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from its environment and holds on to it like a sweet sponge. This contributes to its moist longevity and preserving abilities.
Vitamin C and E
Vitamin C is used as a preservative as it contains ascorbic acid. Other than often being added to fruit juices to add a citrus flavour, ascorbic acid also acts as a preservative by making the food more acidic and hence a more unpleasant medium for bacteria to grow on.
Vitamin E, which is normally in oil form, is not actually a preservative. However, it is an antioxidant. This means that when it is added to oils, or oil-based foods, it helps to prolong the shelf life of the product, by preventing oxidisation.