Category Archives: Food & Nutrition

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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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.

Probiotics for Cats Helps Build a Healthy Digestive System

Probiotics are the “friendly” desirable bacteria that boost digestion, build a healthy digestive/intestinal and immune system, and reduce the harmful bacteria and organisms that can invade the body and cause infections and disease. Probiotics work to enhance the right balance of GI bacteria.

I have learned through my two cats with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), that probiotics given daily in their food really helps to strengthen and build their intestinal tract and reduce the symptoms and suffering caused by IBD. In cats, IBD is caused by intestinal disorders that increase inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract. Food sensitivities and allergies can contribute to IBD, and chronic diarrhea and/or vomiting are typical symptoms that result in the inflammation and scar tissue in the lining of the intestines.

Who Needs Probiotics?

Not all cats need probiotics, but if your cat has loose or smelly stools, chronic diarrhea, lots of gas, is taking steroids for prolonged periods of time for a chronic medical issue, or is on antibiotics for an infection—probiotics can help get their intestinal and digestive system health back on track and ease any suffering they might feel.

Continue reading Probiotics for Cats Helps Build a Healthy Digestive System

Causes and Treatments of Food Allergies in Cats

Allergies are caused by our immune system overreacting to an allergen and triggering a reaction—to a specific food or type of food, airborne or environmental substance. The reaction is an intolerance or hypersensitivity to the allergen, and it can be immediate or delayed depending on the allergen. Cats are not born with food allergies but develop them over time and at any age.

Causes of Food Allergies in Cats

Food allergies in cats have increased in recent years with commercial diets using processed meats, bone meal, meat by-products, grains and cereals as fillers, yeast and artificial preservatives. Cats do best on a diet that most closely mimics nature as they’re carnivores, but the pet food industry has built a $15 billion dollar industry around producing a commercial diet that many cats cannot eat or tolerate well. Continue reading Causes and Treatments of Food Allergies in Cats

Important Reasons to Follow Cat Food Expiration or Best By Dates

How long does cat food last and when is it no longer good any more? There are several different opinions about how long pet food lasts beyond the “Best By” date that should always be printed on canned and dry pet food. In this article, I will try to provide information that is important to understanding the “Best By” dates, and why you want to pay attention to and follow the “Best By” date on your cat food packaging.

“Best By” Dates
Important Reasons to Follow Cat Food Expiration or Best By Dates
Cat Food Best-By Dates

 

First, always check the “Best By” date stamped on both canned and dry cat food when shopping at your local pet food store. It’s usually printed at the bottom of canned food with the month/year and printed on dry food bags on the side toward the bottom of the bag. Continue reading Important Reasons to Follow Cat Food Expiration or Best By Dates