Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finding alternatives to commercial pet food

    When I started looking up information on commercial pet food I expected to find out some less then tasty information but I did not expect to find such an incredibly dark and disgusting side to the industry. 

    With all the negative information out there on commercial pet food it is hard to figure out what to feed your beloved pets.  Yet as it turns out there are so many alternatives out there and even in the commercial pet food industry not all bags are the same. 

  If the major brands in commercial pet food won't listen to our demands to change their practice of churning out recycled garbage then we need to put our support into companies that will actually listen and will have our pets best interest in mind. 

   How can your go about hunting down your pets new menu? Aside from reading about it on the Internet read the labels of the products you're interested in. Often when reading the ingredient list on major pet food bags we can barely pronounce the words listed let alone understand what they mean.  And in the pet food industry even that which sounds familiar is very few times what it claims to be like "meat meal" not appetizing at all.  So look for companies that have ingredients that you can actually recognize as real such as those in Wellness pet food. 

   When you look at your own food would you trust an item that can last on a shelf 10, 15 or 20 years, probably not.  So look for items with no preservatives or with less chemicals which will be fresher.  Remember many of the preservatives used in pet food are suspected carcinogens.

   My husband has pointed out that my posts of pet food have been so dark and serious and suggested we take a look at a more positive aspect of the industry and show support for those who have gotten it right.  Companies that producing healthy pet food.  When I started my search I didn't expect to find such horrible information about the commercial pet food industry for example I didn't expect to have to worry about there being dead dog and cat meat in the pet food i fed my dog.  Pet food companies deny this being true but why should I even have to worry about that even being a possibility (and by the way its much more than a possibility).

   I came across some of the work by author Ann N. Martin and her work has been the resource for a lot of the information I have presented to you.  She was one of the first to bring forth the information on the truth behind the production of pet food in commercial industries.  In her book Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts about Pet food she not only exposes the truth behind commercial pet food but also offers a selection of natural home made recipes gathered from several sources over time. 

   Here's one of the simple recipes from Ann N. Martin's book I my self will be presenting to my pooch.  I have a feeling Tulip will really like this new part of my search for healthy pet food :)

Simple Recipe
3 cups cooked oatmeal or cream of wheat
2 cups cooked cooked ground beef
2 tbsp. plain yogurt
1 small apple cut or sliced into small pieces

mix together and serve. This meal can be served as breakfast lunch or dinner
From The Dog Menu page 116 Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts about Pet Food 2003 Ann N. Martin

Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables
2 cups of ground or chopped chicken, cooked
1 cup of cooked brown rice
1/4 cup grated carrots

cut chicken into small pieces. Run carrots through food processor.  Mix chicken and rice and if there is any fat from the chicken, pour about two teaspoons over the mix.  serve at room temperature. 
From The cat menu page 123 Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts about Pet Food 2003 Ann N. Martin

As always you are the expert on your pet before changing their diet or trying new foods take into consideration your pets medical history and possible allergies or deficiencies.  Be your pets food investigator and fight for their right to real food.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Learn what the ingredients in your pet food really mean?

    The key tool when trying to give your pets the best possible nutrition is not how much you spend or who recommends the product but rather how well you understand what the ingredients listed really mean.

   Animal Digest is the dry by product of rendered meat. It can also include intestines along with the waste inside.

  Bone meal is a mixture of crushed and coarsely ground bones which around the world is mostly used as fertilizer.

Animal by products can be anything from the hooves, brains, lungs, beaks, intestines, and body parts of diseased animals.

   Animal fat really means fat from rendered animals and rancid restaurant grease.  How do companies get this fat? They churn the animal body parts and then boil the remains what rises to the top is what is later used as fat content and sprayed on the final product to add a smell to it that will make your companion eat the food. 

   The chemical preservatives give the pet food an incredibly long shelf life.  The list often includes BHA, BHT, propyl gallate, propylene glycol and  ethoxquin.  Propylene glycol is also found in automotive anti-freeze and many of the other chemical preservatives have been suspected to be potential cancer agents. The companies claim that some of these preservatives are also found in human foods but can you consider the consequences of being exposed to possible cancer causing chemicals in your food every single day like our companions animals are?

    The pet food commercials would have you believe that meat or some sort of meat product are the primary source of nutrition in your pets food and that items listed highest on the ingredient list are the primary and most abundant ingredient.  However due to such loose regulations of the pet food industries companies have found ways to get around this notion. 

  The true most abundant and primary ingredient in pet food is low quality often moldy and of low nutritional value corn products.

    Corn meal, gluten, and grits, all which are cheap allergy causing fillers which are difficult to digest. 
Ground whole grain sorghum has the feed value of grain similar to corn and is used primarily to feed livestock.

The grain used is usually deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold and contaminants. Pet food companies split the type of corn product so that it appears several times in the ingredient list and not as the primary most abundant ingredient.  This then leads consumers to believe that meat is the primary product used.  Our pets are carnivorous, why is grain which they can't properly digest the most abundant ingredient in their food? 

   Beet pulp is also found on the list and it is a filler that also helps contribute to the sugar content of the food. 

Most of the current ingredients in major brand pet food even those in their "premium" lines are not serving their purpose of providing appropriate nutrition for our beloved animals.  What is worse is that it may be very well hurting our animals.

      The food which is compressed in its solid dry form expands when in the stomachs of our pets and further expands when they drink water.  In large breeds this leads to bloat and flipped stomachs which then lead to a painful death where veterinary intervention often can't help.   The food also sticks to their intestines and over a period of time lead to painful blockages and cancers.  The hormones in the animal by products survive the rendering process add on the chemicals that the pet industry adds on to pet food and this gets absorbed by your pet everyday leading large breeds to grow at a disproportionate rate leading to muscle and hip problems.

    So as always you are who your pets depends on, they cannot read labels and pick for themselves healthy food but you can.  Saving a couple of bucks now may seem like a good idea, all the choices may seem the same but this will lead to huge veterinary bills in the future and a lot of heart ache when your pet can't live to its full potential .  And do not be fooled a higher price tag does not always mean more quality.  Go ahead and learn for your self pick up your pet food bag and read the ingredients now that you know what they mean you know what they are really putting in your pets food and in your pets bowl. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What happens when you can't afford to feed your pets?

     In today's community who hasn't heard of the importance of adoption, of spaying and neutering and of helping animal shelters.  We all take this as common knowledge in the struggle to help our animal companions in need.  But have you ever stopped to think about those animals who have a home in which they can no longer be fed?

    With today's economy many people are facing very difficult financial decisions.  Yet so little attention is given to those who have to decide whether they should surrender their beloved animal companions to a shelter or let these animals go hungry because they simply cannot afford to feed themselves let alone another animal.  Every day thousands of people in the United States are losing their jobs, many  have been unemployed for many months and are depending on government aid to survive, yet government assistance programs do not give funds for the assistance in animal care.  People are facing hunger themselves and their pets are being surrendered to already over crowded shelters or suffer a slow and painful fate at the hands of starvation.  Even more amazing is that there are those who are going hungry but share the little they have with their pets and as touching as that may be neither are receiving the aid that they need.  

     In the BlogPaws conference of 2010 keynote speaker Mike Arms spoke of a program that is very much like the human program meals on wheels.  It is called Animeals, an organization that among other things brings food to those that are unable to provide food for their pet companions such as the elderly and the disabled.  Animeals also works as a food bank for animals in need and recently has taken on the task of offering shelter to animals in need as well. 

    Animal food pantry?   We have all heard of food pantries, either from your local church group, school or on the news .  Many community groups hold canned food drives to donate to food pantries and help the hungry.   But have we forgotten that animal companions need to eat too, they are being hit just as hard by our current recession.  Animal food pantries can be found around the country and may be only a click away in your own community.  If there are none in your area think of how many animals and people in need you could help by starting one.  Contact your schools, churches, pet supply stores any one that will listen and offer the possibility of starting a pet food drive to gather supplies that animals in need may have. 
Contact your local animal shelter for help when distributing items.  Determine how to get the materials to those who need it most. 

   Many times I have felt frustrated because I may not always have the time or the space to foster another animal, to save a companion from being held in a cage in a shelter.  But what a wonderful way to help, to spread the word about the need for pet food pantries. 

   We can not forget those in need, all of them.   every night there are animals in homes that go to sleep hungry, along side their human companions that are faced by a terrible decision.  By creating more food pantries or supporting those already around we help alleviate the pain of quite possibly our own neighbors.  
No one should have to face the decision of feeding themselves of feeding their pets.  contact your local senior citizen community center and find ways to help those seniors that need help feeding their pets.  Contact local pet businesses and ask them to allow you to hold pet food drives in their stores.  Have these stores provide a sort of drop off location for others to leave the food they want to donate. 

1. Contact local groups and shelter ask if they participate in a food pantry for pets
2. Search online for pet food pantries in your area
3. Team up with local senior citizen centers and hold pet food drives there to help bring food to seniors who can't afford it
4.  Spread the word that there are resources available to help those with low income care for their animal companions so they don't surrender their animals to already overcrowded shelters
5.  As said in BlogPaws be the change, your actions can help in the struggle for animal wellcare

Monday, October 11, 2010

Friends of Finn: Speaking out against puppy mills!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is there a dark side to your pet's food?

Before we begin lets remember that the pet food industry is a 15 billion dollars a year industry with almost no real regulation and quality control with manufacturing facilities around the world in even worse regulatory control.

    When you read the label on your pets food package do you see the word Pentobarbital? Go ahead check , I'll wait. No? No its not there, not on the label any way but it is in your pets food. What is it? It is the chemical used to euthanize cats and dogs.

In the 1990's FDA's center for veterinary medicine began receiving reports that Pentobarbital was no longer being as effective on cats and dogs they were attempting to euthanize.  The FDA launched an investigation.

     Their research concluded that the drug Pentobarbital was indeed being found in pet food.
FDA Scientists report that the levels of exposure to the Pentobarbital through the food is unlikely to cause adverse health effects in cats and dogs. But the drug is there in the packaged food and the tests run by the FDA are all short term, so we cant really rest assured that in long term over 10 to 15 years of daily consumption the drug wont have "adverse effects" on your pets health.  Pentobarbital should not even be in your pets food to begin with.

The question remains how did it get there? Well the same way the contaminant melamine and other contaminants get into your pooches pet food. Through rendering. Lets review rendering is the process of turning animal tissue other wise inedible into consumable product sold as pet food. It is the garbage disposal that churns out what sits in your pets bowl.

The FDA states that Pentabarbital seems to be able to survive the rendering process and its not the only contaminant that can as so can other chemicals and toxins. In their studies in 1998 and in 2000 this contaminant was found in the dog food researchers purchased . Sorry for the dated material but the FDA has only conducted two studies on this topic.

In their most recent study in 2002 researchers tested for dog and cat DNA and concluded that there was none present and that it was possible the contaminant was coming from rendered cattle. Yet the researchers did not test all brands and they only conducted studies on products purchased in a retail store in Laurel, MD by their facility.  In the book Food Pets Die for: Shocking Facts about Pet food Ann Martin states that researchers informed her that DNA cannot survive the heating done in the rendering process.  How conclusive can the research of the FDA be then if it is done on the end product the pet food already in the bag at the store. Long gone is the dog and cat DNA.  There are reports that veterinary offices do indeed give the bodies of euthanized companions to rendering plants and some rendering plants have also admitted that they receive bodies of euthanized companions and this ends up in the product they sell to pet food companies.

    How long can DNA specific to a species survive, can it survive the destroying of the animals body and the boiling of the remains? I would categorize the FDA study as inconclusive at best, as if it were turning a blind eye since their responsibility truly ends at finding the presence of the drug in question and releasing a statement that it is not harmful. 

    Every day in the USA more than one hundred million pounds of dead animal and animal parts are shipped to rendering plants. In these plants these animals and parts are piled together then dumped into a giant sort of blender that churns and grinds everything together. How can the pet food industry prove what goes in there when there are no regulations to control what can go in there. The pet food industry can't even stop cancerous and infected body part from entering the mix and they cant stop plastic contaminants from entering either hence the 2007 recall which found melamine in the food which is a chemical used in plastic. So can I say to you dogs and cats are in your dogs food, perhaps not with my current level of research and only because I want to have the facts which cant be disputed. Yet pet food companies cant say its NOT there either.

To understand how this is possible it is crucial to understand what the rendering process even looks like. So imagine this: bodies, body parts, garbage, plastic wrapping, ear tags and anything that could have been on or in the pile  is dumped into a machine that grinds all the contents together until creating a sort of mush, solid bodies and parts go in and unidentifiable mush comes out. This mush is then boiled the fat that rises is collected and the solid dry material is processed.

    The point is that as consumers we have taken a passive role in the choosing of quality pet food for our faithful companions.  We trust these pet food companies and truly believe what they flash across the screen in their food commercials.  This is simply not a true portrayal of what is in our pets food.  Are cats and dogs in our pets food? Does it matter? To me its not even about whether cats and dogs are being put in our pets food, its about the ability of this industry to put what ever they want in the food and get away with it.  Cannibal pet food may cause a momentary sensation but its a bigger issue than this its about all the cancer causing chemicals, the very little nutrition that is actually in it. Pet food is the most synthetic product on the market for consumption, more dangerous than we have ever thought and the proof is in all the recent recalls.  So again STOP and READ.  investigate for your self so that your ideas are your own and then you decide if you can take the chance to continue feeding Fido this food.  Read the labels and learn how to protect your loyal companion.
Food Pets Die for: Shocking facts about pet food author Ann N Martin