All posts by Jennie Richards

Pet Fooled – How Commercial Pet Food is Making Our Pets Sick

“I don’t trust companies anymore. They don’t care about me or my pets, they only care about my money. That’s a terrible thing.”

“Once you start digging the evidence becomes overwhelming that the industry has significant issues.”

Domestic cats and dogs in the U.S. are experiencing an epidemic of health problems at levels that have never been seen before. Increasingly, our pets are more diseased than ever, getting chronic illnesses very similar to those in people. The rates of cancer, kidney and liver disease, arthritis, chronic degenerative diseases, auto-immune diseases, allergies, pancreatic disease, Inflammatory bowel disease and intestinal lymphoma, and diabetes—have all skyrocketed in recent decades, and all of them are linked to diet say veterinarians. Pet obesity is at epidemic levels. Yet, Americans have never spent more on their pets and on pet food. So why is this happening?

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says that cancer in pets now accounts for almost 50% of all deaths of cats and dogs over 10 years of age in the U.S.

Consumers may think the pet food industry is heavily regulated with strong federal oversight. But that could not be further from the truth. The FDA, the federal regulating body with oversight for the industry, allows harmful standards of toxic and carcinogenic ingredients set by the Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) and created by the pet food manufacturers themselves, for pet food in the U.S. That’s where the problems start. They end with sick pets being diagnosed with chronic health problems requiring long-term medical care because of the unhealthy commercial pet food they are eating.

Pet Fooled is a wake up call for today’s pet guardians. With interviews by leading veterinarians and prominent pet food experts, the film examines the highly unregulated pet food industry and the negative and deadly impact it is having on the health of dogs and cats in the U.S. today. Our cats and dogs are slowly and progressively getting sick and dying from commercial pet food. They are at risk of dying prematurely because pet food manufacturers are feeding them harmful, toxic, carcinogenic, and poisonous ingredients, and there is little to no oversight and accountability. Pet food companies are getting away with using toxic and poison-laden foods containing bio-chemicals, deadly preservatives, rendered animals (from road-kill, euthanized animals from vets, and dead farm animals), pesticides, industrial chemicals, drug residues, contaminated animals, along with foods lacking in the essential nutrients that our dogs and cats really need. The pet food industry is badly broken and the government is looking the other way and allowing it. Watch Pet Fooled to find out why.

Film Length: 1 hour / 10 minutes

Film Release: 2016

“Dogs and cats are nutritionally much more resilient than other species, what that means is we can nutritionally abuse them. They don’t die immediately, but they decline over time, they have overall vitality decline and an increase in health problems.”

Watch the Film on These Pay-For-Play Services

Amazon, Netflix, Google Play, You Tube, iTunes and Vudu

Don’t Buy Pet Food With These Harmful Ingredients

  • Corn, corn meal, corn gluten meal (causes severe allergies, health problems, and unnecessary carbohydrate)
  • Wheat or soy (causes severe allergies, health problems and unnecessary carbohydrate)
  • Soybean or soybean meal
  • BHA (Toxic Preservative)
  • BHT (Toxic Preservative)
  • Ethoxyquin (Preservative)
  • Vitamin K3 (Menadione) – the synthetic version of K1 is toxic to kidneys, lungs, and liver
  • Sodium Nitrite
  • Caramel Color or coloring
  • “Meat Meal” and “Rendered fat” and “Ocean Fish”- Rendered animals not explicitly identified
  • Meat By-Product – Rendered animals; what’s left over after an animal has been slaughtered, and any edible food is removed
  • Brewers Rice, brown rice, millet, oats, potatoes, peas – Good for a goat, but bad for cats and dogs – no carbohydrates
  • Carrageenan / Carrageenan Gum
  • Gluten
  • Garlic
  • Sugar
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Legumes 

Important Pet Food Information

Is Dry Food or Kibble Healthy For Cats and Dogs?

Dry pet food is a highly processed food that is basically void of moisture. When your animal eats dry food, they are put into a permanent state of dehydration. The manufacturing process to make the dry food “shelf stable” for long periods of time means that it is cooked at extremely high temperatures. This process creates two potent carcinogens (according to the EPA and the World Health Organization) – Acrylamides and Heterocyclic Amines. These carcinogens result from cooking meat and fish at high temperatures. Dry food is also full of Aflatoxins that come from grains, including corn, wheat, and rice, as well as nuts and legumes that can be contaminated with molds that grow into carcinogens. Also, many commercial dry foods contain PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), a chemical used as a flame retardant, and is often found present in commercial pet foods today

“Cats are obligate carnivores ands have to consume meat to survive. They have a high protein requirement and a high moisture requirement. They don’t consume grain or carbohydrates.”

Rendered Animal Protein Found in Pet Foods

Rendered meat or protein can come from diseased animals, euthanized animals, road kill, or processed human food waste. The commercial pet food companies aren’t required to put this on the label. If it is listed as an ingredient, it is called “rendered animal protein,” where renderers collect dead animal bodies and the waste of dead animals, and sell it to commercial cat and dog food companies. Here is the list of acceptable “rendered animals” for protein in commercial pet food by FDA and AAFCO standards:

  • Euthanized animals from veterinary offices
  • Leftovers from slaughterhouses (whatever is not used for food)
  • Dead farm animals that die on farms, or their leftovers
  • Road kill – all animals
  • Euthanized animals from farms
  • Diseased animals from factory farms, slaughterhouses, or farms
  • Processed human food waste

How Regulated is the Pet Food Industry?

The pet food industry is very loosely regulated, see why:

  • There is no pre-market approval of these pet food products before hitting the market
  • There are no regular inspections of manufacturing plants that make the products
  • Only 30% of pet food facilities are inspected 1 or 2 times over 3.5 years
  • There is no government authority to recall a contaminated product
  • There are no mandatory state inspection standards across all 50 states in the U.S.
  • The claims on the label are not close to those of human food, nor have to be
  • A company that produces a contaminated pet food product is not required to notify the FDA and pet stores in a timely manner or within a specific time period, if cats and dogs are getting sick and dying from the food

Why Are So Many Harmful Ingredients in Pet Food Today?

The Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) and the pet food companies themselves have colluded together to determine what the acceptable ingredients and ingredient levels are that can go into commercial pet foods. The ingredients that can go into pet food is heavily influenced by the pet food corporations. The AAFCO basically accepts the standards that are set by the commercial pet food corporations.

The FDA is the federal government regulatory agency that is tasked with the oversight of the pet food industry, but in actuality, the FDA conducts very little oversight of the industry. The FDA’s primary role is not regulating quality production, the sourcing of ingredients, or ensuring safe food for pets, which it should do—but instead, the FDA is only regulating what the AAFCO has set as standards for pet food, and making sure that these standards are met. They ensure that what is stated on the pet food label is actually what is on the label. But the FDA has nothing to do with what goes into the food itself, or the harm it can cause.

Dr. Karen Becker, DVM says, “This is not the government overseeing safe and adequate food sources for cats and dogs, this is a self-regulated industry setting their own requirements, creating their own regulations, and then the dog and cat food manufacturers can meet these very low standards set by the AAFCO and the FDA that have been put into place for the benefit of the cat and dog food companies.”

What the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Policy Permits in Commercial Cat and Dog Food

  • Contamination by pesticides
  • Contamination by industrial chemicals
  • Contamination by natural toxicants or toxics
  • Contamination by filth
  • Contamination by microbiological contaminants
  • Contamination by unpermitted drug residues
  • The compliance policy by the FDA says that we won’t enforce the law

What Does “Natural” Mean to the FDA?

To the FDA the word “natural” for pet food means: “A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process ….” This is really the antithesis of natural to most people. There is absolutely nothing natural about rendered products or the heavy processing of food that can cause it to become unnatural and harmful.

What does “Organic” mean to the FDA? The FDA defines organic for pet foods as containing only 3% organic matter, not more! So next time you reach for organic, check the label to see the percentage of organic food is actually in the can.

Veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker’s Best Food Advice

“Feed your pet the very best quality food you can afford. It’s best to feed your pet an organic, all-raw, biologically appropriate food. The second best would be feeding a dehydrated raw food. The third best is a premium canned food. Last and worst is feeding your pet dry food. Only feed them dry food unless you cannot afford to feed any better quality food. Beware that there are better quality dry foods and there are terrible quality dry foods.”

Updated List of Best and Worst Pet Foods, by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM

13 Pet Foods Ranked From Great to Disastrous, by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM

2007 Recall of Pet Food Poisoned With Melamine

Starting in March 2007, tens of thousands of pets in the U.S. started to become violently ill or died from eating commercial pet food. Consumers unknowingly were buying pet food that contained wheat flour that was laced with melamine and cyanuric acid causing acute renal failure associated with the ingestion of certain brands of pet food.

Canadian-based Menu Foods, a pet food manufacturer that was responsible for making hundreds of pet food brands, was at the heart of the problem because nearly 100 of their brands that were made in a single plant in China, were contaminated with the poison. But Menu Foods completely ignored that pets were dying and refused to recall the brands for several weeks, even after knowing their food was poisoning pets. Instead, canned and dry pet food continued to sit on store shelves to further harm and kill more animals.

Menu Foods failed to notify the FDA for over 3-4 weeks after they knew their pet food was tainted. Then they refused to testify in Congress staying silent, and to add insult to injury, were never fined or penalized by the U.S. government for knowingly allowing the food to continue to be sold.

After several weeks, a recall effort was finally launched and over 100 brands of tainted cat and dog food were recalled containing wheat gluten laced with the thickening agent melamine, done in an effort by the Chinese to save money and increase profits. Further investigations revealed the presence of a second toxic contaminant, cyanuric acid, that also fatally poisoned animals. One little piece of irony, is that melamine is actually legal to use in human food, according to the FDA. Welcome to our unsafe food system in the U.S.

Menu Foods Brand Recall 2007 List for Cat Food (67 Brands)

http://www.menufoods.com/recall/product_cat.html

Menu Foods Brand Recall 2007 List for Dog Food (64 Brands)

http://web.archive.org/web/20090426084709/http://www.menufoods.com/recall/product_dog.html

Film Credits

Film Writer & Director: Kohn Harrington

Producer: Michael Fossat

Cinematography: Josh Gibson

Experts in the Film

  • Barbara Royal, DMV – Veterinarian
  • Karen Shaw Becker, DVM – Veterinarian
  • Barbara Royal, DVM – Veterinarian
  • Dan McChesney, FDA Representative
  • Susan Thixton, Founding Partner of “Truth About Pet Food” and author of Buyer Beware

 

** Note: This post was originally published in another one of my websites, Humane Decisions. Please visit HumaneDecisions.com to learn more about how you can help animals and support animal rights.

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Preventing and Treating Fleas in Cats – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Summer is a favorite season for picnics in the park, enjoying the seashore, and dining al fresco—but with warm summer temperatures also come the fleas! Fleas can wreak havoc on cats causing discomfort, severe skin conditions, allergic reactions, parasites (tape worms), anemia and even death in the worst cases, if left untreated. So it’s important to protect your cat from fleas, but it’s also important to know the dangers of some flea control products on the market today. In this article, you’ll become knowledgeable about the different flea treatment options, some of the health consequences associated with them, and you’ll learn ways to provide your cat with the safest possible flea treatments and precautions available. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly on preventing and treating fleas in cats.

Does Your Cat Have Fleas?

To check whether your cat has fleas, you can run a flea comb through your cat’s fur pressing along the skin to check for adult fleas or flea feces and eggs. These will look like little specks of salt and pepper or tiny black and white grains in the fur. The white grains are flea eggs, and the black grains are flea feces. If you have found and removed some grains on your flea comb, rub the grains onto a piece of white paper and if the grains turn a reddish-brown color, you know you have a flea problem.

Continue reading Preventing and Treating Fleas in Cats – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe On July 4th

Tips For Keeping Your Cat Safe On July 4th
Keep cats inside on July 4th!

The July 4th holiday may be a fun time for us humans, but it’s a stressful, terrifying time for cats. The sound of fireworks can frighten cats and send them running for cover or bolting out the door. Explosions – even miles away – can cause cats to panic. Every year, animal shelters around the country are suddenly flooded with scared, lost cats and dogs that could have been prevented with some simple precautions.

You can make the July 4th holiday less stressful for your cat by thinking ahead and following some simple tips to protect them and keep them as comfortable as possible.

Continue reading Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe On July 4th

Safety and Protection Checklist for Cats

Cats are curious animals, and because of it, they can get themselves into trouble at times. This list of dos and don’ts will help you be a more responsible guardian of your cat, and help to keep your cat safe from harm; free from unnecessary injury and accidents; free from unnecessary disease and suffering; and keep your cat as healthy and happy as possible!

Some Don’ts

DON’T leave your cat unattended in your car. NEVER leave a cat inside a car on a warm or hot day, not even for one minute.

DON’T let your cat roam free in the neighborhood.

DON’T re-home or give your cat away. Always try to keep your cat even when life requires making unexpected changes or facing unexpected challenges. If you must re-home your cat, be sure to screen and interview the potential adopters in person for their experience and history with cats; learn everything about them and meet all family members that live in the home; check their work/landlord/school/personal references; and visit their home in advance to make sure the cat will have a safe and loving environment to live. Here is a list of tips for preparing to adopt a cat.

Continue reading Safety and Protection Checklist for Cats

Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Your cat’s body is made up of 70-80% water or three-quarters of your cat’s body weight is water, so it’s critical that your cat gets enough fluids daily to maintain good health and prevent dehydration. Water is essential for cat’s urinary and kidney health, circulation, digestion, and waste removal. With hot summer days now upon us, it’s even more important that your cat has access to and drinks enough water, as dehydration can lead to a number of serious medical problems and even death. Here are the signs of dehydration in cats and why it’s so important to treat dehydration immediately.

Why Hydration is So Important

Dehydration happens when your cat loses body fluids faster than he can replace them, and it can happen when your cat is either not drinking enough water or is losing too many fluids. Fluids lost through daily urination, elimination and respiration all need to be replaced to normal levels everyday. But if your cat hasn’t been drinking enough water; has been vomiting or has diarrhea; or has been ill or had a fever; or your cat is old, then rehydration is even more critical as all of these can leave your cat severely dehydrated.

Continue reading Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Cats Need Clean Water Daily to Maintain Their Health

Cats are made up of about 70% water, so they need clean, fresh, cool water daily to maintain their health. If you feed your cats dry food, then water is even more critical as dry food has a very low water content (about only 10%), so they will need an additional supply of water.

It’s critical to always provide your cat plenty of fresh water in various places of your home. Make sure that the bowls are large enough and be sure to clean, wash, and refresh the water bowls at least every other day.

Just because you have larger bowls doesn’t mean you should wash them less. Be sure to wash bowls with soap and water. Bacteria and germs develop quickly when water sits still after a couple of days.

Cats Need Clean Water Daily to Maintain Their Health
Pyrex Glass Bowls for Cats Water

Consider using only glass, stainless steel, or ceramic bowls for water—avoid using plastic for water or food. Plastic can leach out chemicals and can hold bacteria.

The more cats you have the more water bowls you need. We have several in each area of our house and refresh them daily. I like and recommend using large Pyrex glass bowls, they’re very inexpensive, strong, ample, and safe for cats to drink from them.

Most Toxic Plants for Cats, Lilies and More

With Easter right around the corner and springtime here, it’s time to highlight the list of the most poisonous and toxic plants for cats.

Most Toxic Plants for Cats
The Lily is Extremely Toxic and Deadly for Cats

Many people give and receive lilies for Easter, but know that lilies are considered highly toxic and poisonous to cats—they are so severely poisonous they are in fact deadly.

The reported mortality rate for lilies is as high as 100% if left untreated later than 18 hours after ingestion.

For cats that even ingest a small amount of most types of lilies, severe kidney failure can occur within 36 hours. Just the yellow-orange pollen that falls off the stamen onto your table or counter is lethally poisonous to cats. Since cats groom, if the pollen gets onto your cat’s fur, be sure to wash it off with water or a wet towel, and make sure there are no traces left. Continue reading Most Toxic Plants for Cats, Lilies and More

How to Afford the Cost of Veterinary Care

When you adopt a cat, you aren’t thinking about the day when your cat may become ill, or get injured, or need emergency care. But cats do get sick and sometimes do require expensive diagnostic tests and emergency care. You may be faced with veterinary expenses far beyond what you can afford, or need unexpected medical care that you didn’t anticipate and don’t know how you’re going to pay for it. Of course, you want to make the best decision for your cat, regardless of the cost, but how to pay for it? Here’s how to afford the cost of veterinary care.

I have been in this situation countless times with our many rescue cats. So often, I have needed to pony up and pay for complicated dental care, full-mouth extractions, multi-day emergency hospitalizations, or treating kidney failure to the tune of thousands of dollars—and I had no idea how we were going to pay for it.

Continue reading How to Afford the Cost of Veterinary Care

How to Protect Your Pet With a Pet Trust, Will and Pet Protection Agreement

Have you thought about what will happen to your cat if you become ill, or incapacitated and must move into a care facility, or you unexpectedly die? Have you made permanent arrangements for your cat after you’re gone?

More than 500,000 pets that were loved and cared for are euthanized every year in U.S. animal shelters because their caregivers became incapacitated or died and they made no prior arrangements for the ongoing care of their pet. This is tragic, but it doesn’t have to happen. Here’s how to protect your pet with a pet trust, will and pet protection agreement.

It’s critical to have a plan in place for when you die. Your plan should include two elements: an emergency plan that goes into effect to provide immediate care for your pet, and a long-term plan through a trust or pet agreement that is shared with a good friend, relatives, and neighbors. This will ensure that your pet receives the immediate care needed and promptly goes into the right hands that know your plan.

Continue reading How to Protect Your Pet With a Pet Trust, Will and Pet Protection Agreement

Why Your Cat Needs Good Dental Care

February is dental month! Dental disease has become the number one health concern in adult cats. Your cat needs good dental care just like you do. Without it, cats are more prone to problems associated with poor dental hygiene and can get serious and painful dental diseases. Without good dental care cats can suffer from having a painful mouth and as a result, can even stop eating. Good dental hygiene is as important to cats as it is to humans and contributes to your cat’s overall well being, comfort and happiness. The good news is most periodontal disease in cats is completely preventable with good dental care and annual wellness checks.

Roughly 4 out of 5 cats develop periodontal disease. Why? Partly because dental care in cats is often overlooked and left untreated. Cats hide their pain very well though they may be silently suffering, and many cat owners don’t take their cat for regular annual wellness exams each year. Untreated gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) often progresses into gum infection, chronic disease and can even impact vital organs.

Continue reading Why Your Cat Needs Good Dental Care