Resisting human nature…

Avatar BCR | September 3, 2008 1 View 0 Likes 0 Ratings

Resisting human nature...

Yesterday I was in a Petco picking up a Gentle Leader harness for a friend whose dog needed a little help on walks (seems she was dislocating mom’s shoulder every time they went through the neighborhood!). I used to love going into pet shops – have ever since I was a kid when there used to be little neighborhood pet shops - they used to have to run me out of because I’d stay so long playing with the hamsters or birds or whatever animals they had. I don’t hang out in pet shops much anymore – it’s too discouraging for me these days.

The first thing I noticed when I walked in the door of this Petco was a Science Diet representative in the front of the store explaining ingredients to a customer. I wanted to stop in my tracks and listen – but thought it best for me to keep my trap shut. [Just a FYI – many months ago a friend across the country told me of a employment ad she ran across – which was Science Diet hiring representatives to place in pet stores.] I moved on to find the purpose of my visit – the Gentle Leader harness – but…I couldn’t stop myself…I stopped and did a little snooping in the pet treats aisle.

While I was being horrified at the ingredients in some (most) of the dog treats – another customer – a mom and her two young sons came in the same aisle shopping for treats for their standard poodle that was ‘shopping’ with them. I couldn’t help from hearing their decision making process (ok, actually it was very educational for me – I was listening on purpose!). Every product they considered had some type of human food connection – the one they liked the best had the name ‘ribs’ prominently placed on the label. When they were about to purchase the ‘ribs’ treat – I provided them with some unsolicited education on ingredients – I think she was grateful.

And one more thing…recently I read an article from a Google Alert from a newspaper (don’t remember what part of the country) written by a local veterinarian. The article encouraged pet owners NOT to get advice on selecting a pet food from any other source than their veterinarian. I couldn’t stop myself from posting an opposing opinion on the comments section following the article.

My point to sharing these stories…please, oh please don’t make purchases for your pets that are based on marketing. The pictures of human food placed on the labels are not necessarily what’s inside the package. In most cases it’s not even close. This is strictly a guess – but I would wager that more money is spent on pet food marketing research (what makes pet owners purchase a product) than scientific research on what ingredients are health promoting and beneficial to the pet. Resist human nature – don’t trust the packaging. Flip the bag over and read the ingredients.

And with regards to veterinarians recommending pet foods…I love my vet but he doesn’t know squat about pet food ingredients. Thankfully, he admits that issue and doesn’t sell any pet foods except for a few mandatory Rx foods. Very, very few veterinarians have the time or inclination to understand the complicated pet food industry. I am NOT telling you – I have to repeat this…I am NOT telling you to ignore your vet’s advice! Especially if your pet has an illness that must be addressed through their food. If you switch foods – always get your veterinarians input. What I am saying is that your vet is probably not the best resource for information for selecting a human grade, quality maintenance food for your dog or cat.

I recently received an email from a teenager in Australia – asking my opinion for a healthy food to feed her pet. And I’ve gained a new friend in the Amsterdam – which our correspondence led to similar questions. I’m not familiar with pet food rules and regulations of other countries – but I’ll share the highlights of my responses (the answer is also applicable for pet foods here in the US)…

“One thing you can look at in your pet foods - to give you an idea of the quality - is if they contain proteinated mineral or chelated minerals and if the food contains probiotics. You'll see words like 'chelated iron' or 'Iron Proteinate' in the ingredient listing. Also look for some very scientific words like "Lactobacillus Acidophilus Fermentation Product' or 'Lactobacillus Casei Fermentation Product' or 'Bifido Bacterium Fermentation Product' or 'Enterococcus Faecium Fermentation Product' - these are the probiotics. Another thing to look for is antioxidants - not just in vegetables - but an antioxidant supplement - you'll look for 'grape seed extract'. If a pet food manufacturer bothers to put in these three ingredients - they don't have to - then that is a sign that they care enough to make a good food.”

Yep…ya gotta read the label to find these ingredients. It has nothing to do with recommendations from a friend and has nothing to do with pretty pictures on the label. I do encourage you to recommend a pet food or treat to others - but please base that recommendation on ingredients! That is exactly what I do with reviews in Petsumer Report. All reviews are based on ingredient definitions - emotions and marketing is removed.

To close I have a favor to ask you. As you know, I am working on getting US pet owners to have a voice in the upcoming FDA public meeting on pet food safety. Other than Alan Handleman of WZTK in North Carolina (I will be on his show this afternoon 4 PM) – no media is listening so far. Not being easily discouraged, I realize that if we get enough notice on the Internet – the media will follow. So…Kirby and I have made a little video and posted it on YouTube. You can help by watching the video and sharing it with everyone. The more views the video gets – the higher the ranking on YouTube which in turn will get more views. I need your help to get the higher ranking…please watch it (Kirby looks so cute! – he even says ‘please’ in the video!) and encourage everyone you know with a computer to watch it. If the video would get to the opening page on YouTube (that will only happen with lots of views) – then we’ll have some strength to get the necessary media attention and get our concerned voices heard by the FDA. Here is the link…

Thanks for your help!

Wishing you and your pet the best,

Susan Thixton

Truth About Pet Food

Petsumer Report

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