Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Truth About Pet Foods

WARNING – The following information may be disturbing!

Do you REALLY know what’s in your pet’s food?

It's a question many of us don't think about. We see pictures of whole grains, prime cuts of meat and human grade vegetables on the bag, and we assume there's some chef in a pet food kitchen cooking up the best for our loved ones. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

You may be disturbed, as I was, to find that you may be feeding your pet road kill, euthanized dogs, and chicken feet, even if you are spending $40 a bag on "premium" food.

The pet food industry has many dark secrets hidden behind the colorful bags and sentimental slogans. Most pet food companies are actually garbage bins for other companies owned by huge corporations. In those kibbles there's a truth that's not so appetizing.

To me, the biggest injustice is that there are pet owners out there who think they're doing the best for their dogs. I found out I was feeding my dog from one of the worst companies out there. You owe it to yourself and your animals to find out what you're really feeding them.

"Do you know what is in meat meal, the major constituent of dry dog food? .. Urine, fecal matter, hair, pus, meat (from animals, afflicted) with cancer and T.B., etc."
Wendell O. Belfield. DVM

Most of what makes up dog and cat food comes from the rendering plant. To render, as defined in Webster's Dictionary, is "to process as for industrial use: to render livestock carcasses and to extract oil from fat, blubber, etc., by melting."

When chickens, lambs, cattle, swine, and other animals are slaughtered for food, usually only the lean muscle is cut off for human consumption. This leaves about 50 percent of a carcass left over. These leftovers are what become what we so commonly find on pet food labels, such as "meat-and-bone-meal" or "by-products." So basically, what pets eat are lungs, ligaments, bones, blood and intestines.

Some other things that may go into rendering are:

Spoiled meat from the supermarket, Styrofoam wrapping and all

Road kill that can't be buried on the roadside

The "4 D's" of cattle: dead, dying, disease and disabled

Rancid restaurant grease

Euthanized companion animals

When dead animals from cow pastures are picked up, they may not be rendered until up to a week after they are dead. Because of this, it is estimated that E. coli bacteria contaminate more than 50 percent of meat meals. The rendering process destroys the bacteria, but it does not eliminate the endotoxins bacteria release when they die. These endotoxin, which can cause sickness and disease, are not tested for by pet food manufacturers.

When all this comes to the rendering plant, it's put in a huge vat and shredded. Then it's cooked at 220 to 270 degrees for 20 to 60 minutes. After it cools, the grease is skimmed off the top. This is "animal fat." The rest is pressed and dried. This is "meat and bone meal."

Dogs wouldn't eat this stuff in the wild, so why will they eat it out of their bowls? Their noses are tricked by the smell of it. The smell of animal fats for dogs and fish oil for cats is sprayed on the dry, bland kibble bits to make them appetizing. These flavors usually come from rendered restaurant grease, animal fat, or other oils unfit for human consumption.

"Since I have graduated from veterinary school in 1965, I've noticed a general deterioration in pet health. I believe that the chemical additives in pet food play a major part in that decline."
Richard Pitcaim DVM

Huge conglomerates use pet food companies as a cheap, and even profitable, way of disposing of the waste from their human food companies. Three of the five major pet food companies are owned by these huge corporations.

Nestle Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, Purina One

Heinz 9 Lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature's Recipe

Colgate-Palmolive Hill's Science Diet

Proctor & Gamble Eukanuba and Iams

Mars Kal Kan, Mealtime, Pedigree, Sheba, Waltham's

Dog eat dog?

Reporter John Eckhouse was one of the first people to discover the practice of sending euthanized pets to the rendering plants.

He quoted an employee of Sacramento Rendering as saying, "Thousands and thousands of pounds of dogs and cats are picked up and brought here every day."

When a vet tells a grieving owner that they'll "take care" of their dead loved one, they usually mean sending it off with the disposal company for rendering. This is all perfectly legal. Many veterinarians and especially shelters don't have the money to bury or cremate animals.

Although many in the pet food industry deny that they use euthanized animals, proof that the practice goes on continues to surface.

Over a few years in the 1990’s, veterinarians began reporting to the FDA/CVM that the drug they used for anesthetizing, and euthanizing, dogs—sodium pentobarbital—seemed to be losing its effectiveness.

This prompted the CVM to explore the most likely cause: animals were becoming immune to the drug because they had been eating food with trace amounts of sodium pentobarbital for years. The likely source of the drug in their food? Euthanized animals.

In 1998, the CVM went about testing dry dogs foods containing the ingredients meat and bone meal, animal digest, animal fat and beef and bone meal. They found the drug in 31 of 37 foods tested.

Two years later, they conducted a study to find the levels of the drug in parts per billion for each food. Some examples were:

32 ppb: Old Roy—Puppy Formula, chicken and beef
25.1 ppb: Heinz—Kibbles ‘n Bits Beefy Bits
16.4 ppb: Super G—Chunk Style Dog Food
15 ppb: Weis—Total High Energy Chicken and Rice
11.6 ppb: Pet Gold—Master Diet Puppy Formulation
10 ppb: Old Roy—Puppy Formula, beef flavor

Note that these products may be free of this drug now, as these are the findings in 2000.

"When the moist foods came out, we figured they must have a very strong preservative because they needed no refrigeration. Many of them do have a very strong preservative-formalin. Formalin is such a good preservative, in fact, that undertakers use quite a lot of it."
Thomas A.Chew Newland, DVM

You may have experienced the pain and expense of caring for a chronically ill animal or may simply be waking up to the nutritional benefits to your own health and are wondering how this could also effect your animals. What ever your reasons, hopefully you will get out the ingredient list of what you are now feeding and compare these notes. In the last few years, holistic veterinarians and animal nutritionists have concluded that many of today's health problems from allergies to cancer, even behavioral problems, can stem from poor nutrition... and not the "table scraps", but the very prescription diets and premium foods highly recommended. It's a shame that you may be unknowingly creating the very problems that your animal has been suffering from! A good diet is fundamental...

Animal/Poultry Fat

It is common knowledge that the pet food industry is built on cleaning up the remnants of our own meat packing process for those scraps which are not fit for human consumption. Common practice is to heavily preserve already rancid fats, with such chemicals as BHT/BHA and Ethoxyquin, to prevent further deterioration. These fats are a staple of the dry and canned food products, and is what you smell (YUK) when you serve up your friends meals. This smell has even led some people to use paper plates end plastic forks to feed their pets in fear of contaminating their own dishes! Animal fats are used to provide essential oils for good skin and coat it any wonder then why there is such a dramatic health problem in this area today?! Rancid, heavily preserved fats are extremely difficult to digest and can lead to a host of other health problems in your pet. Digestive upsets, especially throwing up bile or food, diarrhea, gas, and bat breath, are all linked to this. When fed to the newly developing digestive tract of puppies and kittens, it can permanently effect this sensitive lining, leading to a life time of digestion and assimilation problems. Fat can continue the allergy (sensitivities) responses, especially in the lamb end rice formulas.

BHT/BHA and Ethoxyquin

These popular preservatives are heavily used in the pet food industry, not only to preserve fats but to stabilize the whole product as well. We have certainly been educated as to the dangerous side-effects of BHT/BHA in our own diets as a serious carcinogen, but little truth has been shared about Ethoxyquin. This preservative was developed in the 1950's as a rubber stabilizer and herbicide, very similar to Agent Orange! It was either never approved by the FDA or recalled after three years of human use (I researched both accounts) but one thing is for certain, the documented cases of serious side-effects resulting from exposure to, or ingestion of this chemical. Humans who were working with it in the rubber industry, reported a dramatic rise in such diseases as liver/kidney damage, cancerous skin lesions, loss of hair, blindness, leukemia, fetal abnormalities and chronic diarrhea. In animals it has been linked to immune deficiency syndrome, spleen, stomach and liver cancer, as well as the above mentioned diseases. The steady increase in animal cancer and serious diseases has paralleled the increased use of chemical preservatives in the pet food industry during the last twenty-five years!

Soybean: Whole/Grits/Meal

Soybean is used to increase protein content and bulk in pet foods. It is very difficult to digest and assimilate especially for dogs, who lack the proper amino acid needed. It is known to cause gas build-up in the digestive tract and has been linked to bloat, a major killer of dogs today.

Poultry/Meat: By-Products and Digest

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is no mandatory inspection of ingredients used in pet food manufacturing. Accordingly, law allows the pet food industry to use what are called "4D" sources, that is, meat, tissues, skin and insides of animals that are dead, dying, disabled, or diseased (AND NOT FIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION) when they reach the slaughterhouse. From his experience as a veterinarian and federal meat inspector, Dr P.F. McGargle concludes that feeding slaughterhouse wastes to animals increases their chance of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. Those wastes can include moldy, rancid or spoiled meats and salmonella contaminated poultry parts, as well as the tissues too severely riddled with cancer to be eaten by people. The heavy use of hormones, steroids and antibiotics, in farm animals, is also a concern. These continue to be active, even in "dead" tissues.

Artificial Color

A prime example of generic labeling is that of "artificial colors". By law, the manufacturer does not have to list any ingredients on the bag and often does so in a manner which tells us little of what is actually in the product! Coloring often includes the following coal-tar derivative dyes: FD&C RED #40 (a possible carcinogen), RED #3, YELLOW #5 (not fully tested), YELLOW #6, BLUE #1 and #2 (increases dogs' sensitivity to fatal viruses such as parvo), SODIUM NITRITE, widely used as a red coloring and preservative, produces powerful carcinogenic substances known as nitrosamines. People have died from accidental nitrite poisoning. Animals ingest much larger amounts of these carcinogens and other chemicals daily in their diets, then is ever allowed for humans!


Beet pulp sugar (not to be confused with bed pulp fiber), sucrose (table sugar), corn syrup (a derivative of corn starch), and molasses are the most widely used sweeteners in the pet food industry. Corn syrup is also known (and approved! ) as an effective "humectant and plasticizer", that is, as ingredient which gives the product dampness and flexibility. These ingredients cause chaos in your pets. They produce the same highs and lows as table sugar and a great deal of stress on the pancreas and adrenals, a condition that may result in diabetes. Corn syrup is hardy a healthy ingredient especially when you consider how it dilutes other vital nutrients in the diet by providing empty calories devoid of vitamins, minerals, proteins or fats, and can also over stimulate the production of insulin and acidic digestive juices. These interfere with the animal's ability to absorb proteins, calcium and other minerals that are in the food! They also inhibit proper growth of useful intestinal bacteria for assimilation of these nutrients. Sweeteners have also been linked to behavioral problems such as aggression and hyperactivity Cat food manufacturers rely on sweeteners to help "addict" cats to dry foods, which naturally cats would avoid, preferring fresh kill.

"Every time a pet eats another bowl of high-sugar pet food, he is being brought that much closer to diabetes hypoglycemia, overweight, nervousness, cataracts, allergy- and death."
R. Geoffrey Broderick, DVM

Propylene Glycol

This potentially harmful chemical is added to many products to maintain the right texture and moisture. Along with the use of Ethoxyquin, these humectants tie up the water content and thus prohibit the growth of bacteria. These preservatives allow dry food to stay on the shaves for up to five years, and canned products indefinitely. As well as inhibiting bacteria growth in the product, they inhibit proper and necessary growth of friendly flora in the digestive tract, which aids in the assimilation of nutrients. They also decrease the amount of moisture in the digestive tract, which has led to intestinal blockage and a host of serious digestive tract problems such as cancerous intestinal lesions. This is what produces those "small, hard, dry stools" that certainly are easier to clean up, but you are also led to believe this means more product has been digested. It simply shows that more waste products (toxins) are not being properly eliminated; do you think your doctor would feel this was healthy for you, if you described having these types of stools?!


An ingredient heavily used to help increase palatability it has been believed to be the trigger of many diseases. Excessive salt intake (additional to that found naturally In most ingredients), can lead to hypertension, kidney stress, colon irritation and a host of other aliments. A balance of sodium is vial for cellular health, but excessive amounts can damage these structures.

Peanut Hulls

Long a common source of fiber, it is inexpensive and certainly bulk-producing, therefore very popular especially in the "reducing" diets. This incredibly harsh fiber can not only create chronic constipation but damage the sensitive tissues of the colon.

Proper diet should be a fundamental concern when looking to prevent disease or rehabilitate.

What can you do?

I can barely keep my mouth shut when I see people buying pet food in the store, but you can't change the world. I just try to protect my own pets and tell as many people as I can (without assaulting them in the pet food aisle) about regular pet food.

Do your own research

I know its a lot to handle, and with so many conspiracy theories circling these days, it's hard to know who to trust. Search the internet or your library for more information.

Start with the pets you love

You don't have to settle for what you see in your grocery store. Pet foods that are actually wholesome may be a little more expensive, but I've found I have to feed my dog about half as much as I used to.

Spread the Word

Forward this Web site to all the pet owners you know, or refer them to some other informational site.

The Truth About Pet Foods

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