Lately, I’ve noticed unfamiliar ingredients in both dog and cat food, and I wondered about the purpose of some of those. Tapioca and sorghum have both been used in human food but only in the last couple years have I seen it more frequently in pet food. I was surprised to find that marigold is also used in some foods. In fact, there are a number of unusual ingredients that I didn’t expect to find, and manufacturers are researching constantly to find alternatives to more expensive options that serve the same purpose. Read on to learn about a few of them.
Tapioca is now found in some grain-free dog food. I remember my Mother serving tapioca pudding for dessert but in some parts of the world, this starch that comes from a root plant is a staple, much like we think of potatoes. It is also known as the cassava plant.
In pet food, we see tapioca in flour form, as well as the pure product. It is used in place of grains and as a carbohydrate source. Studies have shown that tapioca is utilized well by cats and dogs with no digestive issues.
Sorghum is another ingredient that we didn’t used to see in pet food. It is a cousin to millet and sugar cane and is used now as a carbohydrate in pet food. Research has shown that sorghum is considered to be like other grains, such as corn or rice.
Sorghum originated in Northeast Africa and in Asia. It has a protein count a bit higher than corn. However, some experts say that it isn’t as easily digestible as corn. Sorghum is fairly high in antioxidants and may eventually become more popular in pet foods.
Necleotides derive from a naturally-derived strain of nutritional yeast. According to http://www.pets4homes.co, nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Pet food companies use them to enhance metabolic function. “Animals who are suffering from metabolic stress will reap the greatest benefits from nucleotide supplementation be this as a result of illness, psychological stress (e.g. behavioural problems) or strenuous exercise.”
Cranberries are used as an aid to maintain urinary tract health and is effective against certain bacteria that attaches to the bladder wall. Petmedmd.com doesn’t believe it is effective in guarding urinary health but has no objection to its inclusion in pet food as long as it doesn’t replace treatments that have a proven track record.
Some companies are using marigold in pet foods as a natural source of lutein esters. Lutein is found as a color pigment in the retina of healthy eyes, acting as a shield protecting the eyes from sun damage due to ultraviolet radiation. Lutein is considered a carotenoid vitamin related to beta carotene and Vitamin A.