Day 678: Do You Know What You're Feeding Your Pets?

Check out this link to see which big corporations own some of the most widely recognised pet food brands in the world.

Surprised? You shouldn't be.

For a long time I heard about how the pet food industry cannot be trusted. For a long time I shrugged it off, believing, naively, that there was no way that these well known and vet-approved brands could be bad for animals. My cats have always been healthy and very few of them ever got sick or dies from 'natural' causes - I assumed that my cats were safe and healthy. Then, one of my cats suddenly got sick and had to be euthanised - his kidneys had stopped working for reason(s) unknown. He was 4 years old. This was the turning point for me - even though the vets assured me that the reason he got sick was more likely because he was a rescue and probably was infected by a virus when he was young. I started looking into the pet food industry.

Of course I should have known - it is, after all, an industry whose number 1 goal is profit and not a good product. I discovered that most of the major brands approved by vets were owned by some of the biggest and baddest corporations out there.
  • Hills (Science diet) is owned by Colgate-Palmolive
  • Purina is owned by Nestle
  • Mars owns Pedigree and Royal Canin
  • Procter & Gamble owns  Eukanuba, Iams and Innova
Aside from the scandals of recalls and rotten/suspect ingredients going into these foods, What should maybe be more concerning is the fact that the goal of these companies is to make money, not to give the best possible product to pets. If you look at the composition of most pet food products in vets or supermarkets you will see that often the meat content is around 2 - 8% and the bulk of the pellet is made up of maize or some form of wheat. The problem with that is (now there are a lot of people on both sides of this argument - the reality is that no one has conclusive results that indicate what the truth is - probably because no one is interested in the truth) that cats and dogs (for example) evolved on a specific diet of mostly meats - humans introduced grains into their diets. If you have spent much time with many animals you will have seen a few common health issues, and if those animals have been treated by a vet you may have heard that specific food allergy/sensitivity is a common cause of many ailments (especially skin, weight, ear infections, inflammatory conditions). What will likely happen in those scenarios is that the vet will recommend that the animal be placed on a specific type of food, usually one of the Hill's Prescription Diets. What I find to be concerning about this is for example that a dog that is sensitive to chicken will be put on this diet even though there is absolutely no guarantee by the food does not contain chicken. If I remember correctly, the packaging indicates that there is "poultry and poultry by-products" which may or may not include chicken.

I have read the labels on these vet approved foods. Most contain a number of ingredient names that I cannot pronounce. Most contain chicken (which is one of the more common allergens to dogs). Most contain flavourants (because there isn't enough real food in there to make it appealing enough for animals to eat). Most are made up mostly of grains. Most have a low protein content and high carbohydrate content (contrary to the design and evolution of cats and dogs). I read on one of the Hills Prescription Diet cat food labels that the food should not be fed for more than 3 months or it may cause kidney failure. The vet had just recommended I feed that to an elderly cat who we discovered has spinal arthritis (it was the Mobility food).

After my long experience through the mess of the pet food industry I learned more clearly than ever before that you cannot trust any one or any group/company whose goal is profit.