The Best Dog Food – How to Choose the Right Commercial Diet For Your Pet | Pets

The pet food recalls of 2007, although horrific, did have a positive side effect; it shook many of us out of our comfortable belief that higher end brands like Science Diet and Iams were the best option for our pets.  We also started hearing words like glutens and meat-by-products and it prompted us to investigate these terms and find out how they affect our pets.  The end result was a consumer that is more educated and aware of the “commercialism” behind the pet food industry.It also prompted many of us to do better for our pets.  Many concerned pet lovers are now making home prepared meals for their dogs and cats.  Home prepared meals allow total control over the ingredients, but preparation can be time consuming.  So what is a good compromise to home cooked meals?Choosing higher quality commercial pet foods is the best alternative to a totally home cooked diet.   When selecting a commercial diet there are some specific guidelines you should follow: 
Avoid meat-by-products and meat meals.
Watch out for glutens.
Keep grains to a minimum – especially corn and wheat.
Choose canned varieties over dry.
Avoid artificial colors and additives. 

Avoid meat-by-products and meat meals.Contrary to what the pet food industry would have you believe, the plump chickens and nice cuts of beef pictured on labels and in advertising seldom make it into our pet’s food.  Instead most pet foods contain “meat by-products” or “meat meals”.Meat-by-products are the discards from slaughter that are not considered fit for human consumption and in reality contain little or no meat.  At first glance it doesn’t seem so bad.  “So what if my dog eats the spleen or other discarded part of an animal that humans would not eat? Isn’t that what they would eat in the wild?”  Yes and no.  In the wild, dogs do feast on internal organs, but their main stay is muscle meat.According to Ann Martin’s book, Food Pets Die For, “Under AAFCO guidelines, acceptable meat by-products can include animal lungs, spleens, kidneys, brains, livers, blood, bones, low-temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents.”  Sick and diseased animals often end up in dog food too.  If an animal is declared not fit for human consumption, the carcass is considered acceptable as pet food.Possibly even worse than meat-by-products, are the “meat meals”.  These products result of rendering, the process of boiling down meat-by-products and other unsavory ingredients and then drying the end result to achieve a “meal” or powdery consistency.  These are usually added to dry pet foods.Rendering plants do not fall under the jurisdiction of federal meat inspectors.  No one is controlling what goes into the mix and assuring it is appropriate for your pet.  The FDA and medical groups such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association, confirm that pets, on a routine basis, are rendered after they die in animal shelters or are disposed of by health authorities, and the end product frequently finds its way into pet food.Watch out for glutens.Glutens from wheat, corn and rice are often used by pet food companies to increase the protein content of pet food.  These glutens are potentially lethal because they can be contaminated with dangerous molds called aflatoxins.  One such contamination caused a pet food recall in 2005 and many dogs died after digesting the tainted food.  And of course, no one has to be reminded of the widespread recall of pet food in 2007 that resulted in hundreds of pet deaths – again as a result of tainted glutens, this time from a chemical additive. Keep grains to a minimum – especially corn and wheat. Grains make up a very small part of a dog’s diet in the wild, yet they are often used as inexpensive fillers by pet food manufacturers.  They are promoted as being beneficial carbohydrates, but in reality, dogs benefit far better from the complex carbohydrates found in vegetables. It is important to note that ingredients like wheat, corn and soy (present in large amounts in dry dog food) tend to increase inflammation and aggravate conditions like arthritis, ear infections and skin disorders.  In addition, many veterinarians believe that consistently feeding pets grains (especially wheat and corn) leads to digestive problems like food intolerances and inflammatory bowel disease.  CONSUMER TIP:  The ingredients on the can or bag are listed in descending order of weight (from the most to the least).  So the first ingredient indicates the most prevalent ingredient in the food.  Keeping this in mind, the first few ingredients should be a high quality source of protein like chicken, beef, turkey, liver, etc.  If grains appear at or near the top of the list – beware!Choose canned varieties over dry. Some of the top veterinarians believe you should not feed your dog or cat an all dry diet.  And it makes sense.  When our pets are fed dry food only, it eliminates an essential source of hydration (the moisture normally found in their prey) and can lead to poor urinary tract health.  Complications include bladder infections, urine crystallization and possible kidney damage. Most people feed a dry diet either out of convenience or because they believe a dry diet combats dental plaque.  The truth is that dry foods are ineffective at removing tartar from the gum line, which is where most dental problems start.Dry foods also tend to have higher grain content, so some wet food to your dog’s diet is a good idea.  Remember, if your pet is accustomed to an all dry diet, add canned or homemade food gradually to avoid stomach upset.Avoid artificial colors and additives. Coloring is added to pet foods purely for marketing to humans.  Pets don’t see the pretty colors as appetizing and they are potentially harmful, so it is best to avoid them.  Dry kibble has a shorter shelf life than canned foods, so most manufacturers add chemical preservatives to extend their viability.  Several of these chemicals are believed to be harmful to humans and pets.  The worst of the lot are BHA, BHT, ethoxyquine and propylene glycol.With a little diligence you can choose a commercial diet that will nourish your pet.  Specialty stores like Whole Foods and other organic markets often carry a greater selection of high quality brands – but never make assumptions – always read the label.  Remember that adding some of your own home cooked ingredients can help boost the quality of any meal and when you use the commercial diet as the base, it makes it super easy to do the best for your dog.To learn more about how a pet’s diet can affect disease conditions like allergies in dogs and canine cancer, visit the authors website. 

How to Read a Fashion Magazine | Fashion

When I recently advised a client to study a few fashion magazines to glean some ideas for the
upcoming season, she flatly refused.”I HATE those things!” she told me vehemently. “Skinny girls, expensive clothes – what does that have to do with my life? Nothing!”Now since this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this argument, I realized that she was missing
the point of the exercise – much like the women who tell me that VOGUE or W are “their bibles.” In this corner, we have someone who’s way too caught up in her own reality; in the other, we have someone who’s much too caught up in someone else’s. Let’s all move a bit more to the center and learn how to read these things properly, shall we? We’ll all dress a lot better for it.Let’s start with a little dissection first, then move on to the “how to” part of the lesson.THE MODELSOverall, fashion magazines tend to show young, thin, attractive people in their pages for the
exact same reason that grocers tend to polish their apples and car dealers tend to have you
test drive clean cars: because it sells more. It’s as simple as that. Fashion Marketing 101.
Whether you agree with it or not is beside the point; it works — VERY well.So well, in fact, that somewhere along the line, many women went from trying to determine whether the clothing being shown would work well on their bodies to bemoaning the fact that their bodies don’t look like the mannequins. Let me let you in on a secret: those girls don’t look like that every day, either. They have an army of people to get the hair, makeup, clothes, and lighting just right. If that doesn’t work, they airbrush the photos to get the right look. And if the model packs on a few pounds or starts to show signs of ageing, she’s replaced. Nothing like being a “has been” by the age of 30, eh?What a shame that so many teenage girls and women have allowed the slick marketing to muddle their thinking and impact their self esteem. Don’t be one of them. Look at the clothes and the mood that the picture evokes; don’t compare yourselves to the mannequins.THE SETTINGSIn fashion magazines, you’ll often see a beautiful girl in gorgeous clothes in an enviable
setting surrounded by handsome men. If only, right? Well, that’s part of the marketing. It’s
called projecting, and if you’ve ever envisioned yourself swapping places with the gal in the
picture, the marketers have done their job. It’s a set up. A complete fabrication. A ruse.
Remember that the next time you see a shot that makes you want to rush right out and buy the
clothes you see so you can be just like the girl in the picture.THE ADSEver wonder why you see so many high end designers advertising in fashion magazines and
why the fashion magazines, in turn, show so many of those same designers in their editorial photo spreads? It’s no coincidence. Those one-page ads are VERY expensive, often costing tens of thousands (or more), depending on the magazine’s circulation. So the fashion houses don’t spend all their advertising dollars in one place. Oh, no.They’ll put a portion of their budget into ads, a portion into lending clothes to magazines for
photo shoots, and a portion into creating clothes for celebrities for red carpet and other media events. That way, they spread the name recognition around. It’s clever – and expensive.
But it works. If you love labels and see a look you like in a couple of fashion magazines and on a favorite celebrity, wouldn’t you be more inclined to buy it if you had the money? Many
are. A look through the society pages will tell you as much.THE LESSONSo now that we’ve addressed the models, ads, and editorial spreads, here’s what you SHOULD be
looking for when you read a fashion magazine (and yes, it’s okay to rip out pages and put them in a file for future reference – but only if you own the magazine!):1. The TrendsFashion magazines will call them “must have” items, but look at trends skeptically to see
whether they fit your body, clothing personality, and lifestyle. Don’t worry about the price. If you find something you like and want to wear, look for an inexpensive version of the trend at your favorite discount or outlet store. Buy cheap, wear often, and discard when then trend is over.2. The Updated ClassicsMost women recognize that classic styles are a good value, and fashion magazines know this. So
they’ll show trendy new ways to wear classic styles and give you plenty of ideas in the
process. All you have to do is take a moment to break it down to see how you can apply this to
your own closet.3. The DesignersIf you have a “thing” for designer labels, high end fashion magazines (Vogue, W, Marie Claire,
Town and Country) are a great place to learn about the different fashion house philosophies.
Even if you can’t afford those brand names, don’t fret. If you find a look you really like, you’ll probably be able to find it a little later in the season in a budget-friendly copy-cat version.4. Styling IdeasStyling refers to the way the clothing and accessories are presented in a picture. Look at
how the clothes are layered, draped, or wrapped. Look at how the jewelry is worn. See what they did with the bag and shoes. Look at the hair and other accessories. If you see something you like, try creating a similar look with pieces from your own closet. You’ll be surprised how you can breathe new life into your old standbys just by wearing them a different way.5. Hair and MakeupAre you in a hair and makeup rut? Peruse a few fashion magazines to see what’s hot for the
season. Not only will you glean some new looks, you may discover that a new ‘do may be all you
need to look “au currant” this year.Fashion magazines are a great way to learn all about what’s happening in fashion AS LONG AS you
remember that they’re created to sell clothes and accessories. Forget about the models and the
price tags and focus instead on the clothes, trends, and styling ideas that might work for
you. Then copy or adapt them to your own budget and lifestyle. Before you know it, you may look like you stepped out of a fashion magazine – whatever your age, shape, size, or budget.