What’s in a name? Not much with some pet foods…

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

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What’s in a name? Not much with some pet foods…

From looking at as many pet food labels as I do, I’ve been reminded about an interesting but disheartening issue about some pet foods. Many pet food manufacturers produce dozens of different types of dog food and cat food. Besides the typical adult or puppy formulas – there are foods that are marketed to specific needs of pets – such as senior pets, indoor cats, dental formulas, and so on. The problem can be that with these niche marketing pet foods – often times their is no difference (or there is very little difference) in ingredients between the higher priced niche products and a maintenance product.

Here are a few examples…

This is the first five ingredients to a cat food sold as a ‘hairball management’ diet…

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Cracked Pearled Barley, Egg Product, Ground Rice,…

Same company – now below is the first five ingredients to a cat food sold as a ‘finicky eater’ diet…

Chicken, Chicken Meal, Egg Product, Cracked Pearled Barley, Ground Rice,…

The first five ingredients are exactly the same – the only difference is the order of the third and fourth ingredients are swapped between the two products.

I’m not saying that all specialized pet foods aren’t good or appropriate for their designed use – but what I am saying is look at the ingredients closely. Often the foods that are designed for a special purpose also have a special price tag as well. You could be paying for something that has no proven benefit for your dog or cat – and that is basically no different than a cheaper priced maintenance diet.

In an article yesterday in the Salt Lake Tribune – livestock owners are warned not to feed “cheap pet food to livestock”. “Utah’s state veterinarian is warning ranchers to avoid giving inexpensive pet food to their herds. Earl Rogers says most pet food has ingredients that could help spread an illness in livestock called BSE. It’s against state and federal law to give it to cattle.” By the way – BSE is mad cow disease!

Now, even though pet food manufacturers adamantly deny using any inferior grade of meat in pet foods – this article is more than proof to me. Pet food ingredients ‘meat and bone meal’, ‘meat meal’, ‘animal digest’, and ‘’by-products’ (in any variation) – by AAFCO definition – contain meat ingredients that can be rejected for use in human food. It has been rumored for many years that the above ingredients can contain what is known as the Four D’s – dead, diseased, drugged, and dying animals.

At a USDA meat processing facility – cattle enter the facility and are put in a holding pen for a 24 hour period before being processed. Any animals that are ‘down’ – meaning they cannot stand – are rejected for use as human food. The concern for human food is that the animal is down because of BSE (mad cow disease) – and all downed animals are supposed to be tested for the disease – again, the intention of not allowing the downed animal into the human food chain is to prevent BSE spreading to humans. The animal would be properly destroyed if shown BSE positive and not put into any food including pet food. That is if it was tested…

Me having the poor attitude that I do towards the quality of ingredients that some pet food manufacturers use – this article proves that State Veterinarians are well aware of the possibility of spreading BSE to cattle from eating pet food – they are well aware that pets are eating potentially BSE contaminated meats. The disease has already crossed species to cats and minks around the world. The only suggestion I have for you is to avoid any pet foods and pet treats using meat and bone meal, meat meal, animal digest, and by-products. Look at the ingredients. (Petsumer Report subscribers – these pet food and pet treat ingredients are listed as ‘red flag ingredients’ and are posted in red type for you to quickly notice – also, please look under ingredient listing for the information of pet grade or human grade ingredients and US Only ingredients – don’t just look at the rating!).

Another article of concern comes from Australia – warning pet owners to only feed their dogs or cats meats that you would buy and consume yourself. This article – http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22915444-2,00.html – explains that the Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association warns that an illegal meat preservative – sulfur dioxide – “in high levels can deplete vitamin B1, causing lethargy, rashes, loss of weight, wobbliness, seizures and even death.”

This meat preservative is also illegal for use in the US – but as in Australia – there is concern. Can’t say this enough – feed your pets only human grade meats. Call the manufacturer and ask them. If they get wishy-washy on the topic – keep asking them direct questions. Pet food manufacturers are not allowed to advertise or make label claims as to quality or grade of ingredients – but they are allowed to tell you over the phone or in person if they use a pet grade or human grade of meat in their foods and treats. Don’t let them push you around!!! As a consumer – petsumer! – you deserve to know the quality of ingredients in your pet’s food.

I will be adding a blog to the website shortly – this will give you the opportunity to post your comments and/or messages to articles – sharing your pet food experiences and information to other pet owners. Please share your information – what you might consider un-important or common knowledge, might just be the answer someone else is looking for. It is my hope that the blog will be an area for everyone to learn and to provide another opportunity to help keep our pets safe.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! Keep yourself and your pets safe – and enjoy your family and friends!


Wishing you and your pet the best,

Susan Thixton

Truth About Pet Food

Petsumer Report


More articles on pet foods and pet treats can be found here: http://www.TruthAboutPetFood.com/PawsClub.html

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