In a recent issue of our favorite Dogs Naturally Magazine, pet nutrition expert Rodney Habib wrote an eye-opening article on the use of soy in the pet food industry, Soy In Pet Foods: The Unwholesome Truth. In this article, Rodney explains why this cheap, genetically modified crop is commonly used in pet foods and why it really shouldn’t be. Although it has long been touted as a health food, in reality, there is a clear link between soy and many health issues in both humans and animals.
The Carna4 take home message from this article is that it’s important for owners to learn about pet food manufacturing and ingredients and become more savvy consumers. With a better understanding, you will be able to identify misleading labels that conceal undesirable ingredients, and find the type of product you actually want. For example, Rodney highlights some of the many ‘aliases’ of the soybean (vegetable protein, lecithin, etc.) that may appear on pet food ingredient lists and can allow soy to slip unnoticed into your pet’s bowl.
Soy Hides in Places You Wouldn’t Think to Look
We wondered if a well-known allergen as soy could be concealed among food ingredients, could it perhaps have also infiltrated the ‘nutrient’ pre-mixes (aka vitamin-mineral supplements) added to most pet foods? With a little research into how supplements are made, it is clear that in fact it has. Below is a short description of just one of the ways soy is used in nutrient supplements.
Science Vs Nature
By themselves, inorganic minerals can be difficult for the body to absorb, making them not much use in supplements. In nature, inorganic minerals come from the soil and are naturally absorbed by plants. Plants detoxify them and change them into organic forms that animals can absorb. So, animals and humans are supposed to get minerals by eating whole plants or plant-eating animals. You may have heard of this, it’s called the food chain!
Nutrient supplements are made in a lab and chemically combined with organic molecules to improve absorption. This process of attaching an inorganic mineral with an organic compound is known as chelation. In pet foods, chelated minerals are bound to ‘organic’ protein molecules to make proteinates. Essentially, inorganic minerals are combined with proteins to mimic what naturally happens in the food chain. What is the source of the protein in these proteinates?
Several reviews of supplements in pet foods found that most supplements use hydrolyzed soy protein to make proteinates. This shouldn’t be surprising as soy has become the cheapest source of protein available to food manufacturers and it is obviously much cheaper than using whole foods.
What Does This Mean & Why We Should Care
So if you thought vitamin-mineral premix contained simply vitamins and minerals, think again. They are not natural minerals at all and they cannot be considered truly hypoallergenic because they contain residual allergenic soy protein.
If you are a concerned pet owner trying to be vigilant in avoiding soy in your pet’s food you may not even realize you could be feeding it in the nutrient pre-mixes your pet’s food contains.
The bottom line is we don’t know exactly what’s in a nutrient premix and we don’t know exactly how our pets will react to it. These unknowns are why people may try several kibble brands without improving their pet’s health. They may have changed the food ingredients (avoiding one food ingredient after another), but they have overlooked the allergens that exist in the nutrient pre-mix.
The BEST option is to choose whole foods that offer authentic nutrition your dog’s body knows how to use. You may even discover that your dog wasn’t allergic to a particular food all along. He was reacting to one of the unknown additives lurking in the nutrient mix. This is why quality raw diets and other synthetic-free diets work so well. These diets are clean, and clearly label what they contain.