Depending on the processing methods employed to produce them, commercial pet foods fall into one or the other of the following two categories: heat-treated and raw.
So-called ‘heat-treated’ pet foods are processed using all-too-often excessive levels of heat. These foods are baked, cooked (canned), extruded, or heat-dried (often the case with kibble- or pellet-type pet foods). Diets based on such heat-treated pet foods are probably the least desirable in terms of maintaining the health and general well being of most animals.
Heat processing of food destroys all enzymes, many vitamins and antioxidants, and changes the molecular structure of proteins and even fibers. Attempts to replace nutrients that have been destroyed by heat with supplementary-and predominantly synthetic-nutrients can never compare nutritionally with the benefits and quality of natural, minimally treated nutrients. At present, there is no way to replace structurally altered fibers or denatured proteins. These alterations make heat-processed foods and their constituent nutrients less bio-available or beneficial, and certainly less effective in maintaining health, preventing disease, and helping the healing processes that normally follow injury. Structurally altered pet foods may actually contribute to health problems (e.g., food allergies or inflammation).
Mineral and vitamin supplementation is often used to comply with the American Feed Control official standards for balanced or complete diets. However, these standards can’t possibly reflect the actual nutritional requirements of every domestic animal species. Accordingly, Dr. Junger believes that animals should eat a variety of foods that provide a broad spectrum of natural nutrients. If animals are fed a variety of quality foods to begin with, supplementation with select high quality products can then be used to support good health at different life stages, to prevent age-related deficiencies, or to promote healing after injuries.
Today, with the availability of raw pet food options, consumers and their pets have good diet options. The best raw pet foods are fresh, consisting of raw animal products, plant material, or a combination of the two. Frozen raw pet foods are often a more convenient choice. If fresh or frozen raw foods aren’t available, dehydrated raw foods are a good second choice. The advantage of these dehydrated foods is that they can be stored easily for longer periods of time with little mess and no worry about short-term spoilage.
In terms of nutritional quality, not all dehydrated raw pet food products are the same. Apart from the ingredients used, the quality of this variety of raw pet food depends largely on the temperatures to which their ingredients were exposed during the dehydration process. Dr. Junger’s company, Onesta Organics, uses a truly gentle and slow dehydration process that preserves overall nutritional quality.
As with all pet food products, an important determinant of quality is the choice of ingredients used by manufacturers. Onesta Organics uses only human grade ingredients that are certified organic by a USDA-accredited organic certifying agency. This assures that the ingredients used are verifiably organic. USDA organic certification also ensures that Onesta Organics products are free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones, and antibiotics, and that no potentially toxic or otherwise unhealthy synthetics are added to your pet’s food.
It also means that all ingredients used are traceable back to their original source. Such sourcing is impossible in the case of conventional pet food manufacturers. Unlike the products of companies which state that their pet food is organic-and, in some cases, might even claim GMO-, hormone-, and antibiotic-free status-only USDA certified organic pet foods are inspected and scrutinized by an independent third party, which assures that all claims made are indeed true. Aside from the fact that Onesta Organics uses healthful, certified organic ingredients in their raw pet foods, unlike other pet food manufacturers, this company sees no point in adding ingredients that are known to be highly allergenic to its pet food products.
The folks at Onesta Organics believe that USDA certified organic, raw pet foods are among the healthiest choices for your pet. Moreover, it’s critically important for pet owners to provide their animals with a wide variety of food choices. In most cases, such a broad-spectrum feeding approach will minimize, or perhaps even negate, the possibility of the kinds of nutritional deficiencies and chronic diseases in pets we hear about all too often these days.