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)

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

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 to learn more about how you can help animals and support animal rights.