Sun, Dec. 15

What's in that pet food?

Many of us have always felt that feeding our animals' quality pet food was safe and healthy for our animals. As we have all learned over the past few weeks, it's not the case at all.

Haven't we believed that we are giving our pets food with high protein, high nutritional value because we are buying a well known brand for our pets?

Each day the news brings something else that could have cost many animals their lives, just from eating prepackaged pet food.

What's the real cause for these deaths? Does anyone really know? It's said that the cause for deaths could be wheat gluten, rodent poison, or possibly melamine. There seems to be no real answer.

When you open a newspaper, turn on the radio or television you see something new that could possibly be contaminated. Now it isn't only wet food, its dry food and even treats. Wouldn't it be easier to tell us what is safe for our animals to eat?

Before you read on, I would like to say that not all pet food manufacturing manufactures use inferior or potentially dangerous ingredients. It wouldn't be fair to lump all pet food manufactures into one group.

Just like with items for humans, commercials can be misleading. Those wrinkle creams we purchase just don't do quite the job we see on television, do they?

No matter how diligent you are about rubbing in that cellulite cream on those thighs, the cottage cheese appearance still remains doesn't it? I just keep rubbing, hoping that it's just going to take a little longer to work on me. After all, it worked in the commercial.

We've all seen the ads with the dogs running in the beautiful fields of corn on a glorious summer day. Have you seen the beautiful ripe vegetables growing on vines and the plates of choice cuts of meat that make us believe our animals are getting fresh products? It makes it all look wonderful, doesn't it?

The most enticing ones are the ads showing pouches of perfectly sliced meat covered with rich brown gravy. As you open the package, they still look delicious and smell good enough to serve with piping hot mashed potatoes, a nice tossed salad and a warm loaf of French bread. Add some fresh strawberry shortcake and it looks as if you could have a scrumptious Sunday dinner.

Have you noticed a unique, pungent smell when you first open a new bag of pet food? That smell is normally rendered animal fat, restaurant grease, or other oils too rancid for human consumption.

These oils are stored in fifty-gallon drums outside for sometimes weeks. You will see them sitting behind restaurants waiting for picked up.

Rendering companies pick the drums up, mix the different types of fat together, stabilize them with powerful antioxidants to stop further spoilage and then sell them to pet food companies.

These fats are sprayed onto kibbles and pellets to make them tasty to our little consumers. Manufactures are specialists in getting an animal to eat something that they would normally refuse to eat.

Most consumers don't realize that the pet food industry is simply an extension of human food and agriculture industries. The same companies that make our hot chocolate, our toothpaste and our ketchup also make food for our pets.

Items considered "unfit for human consumption" and similar waste products are turned into a profit for these companies.

The waste often includes bones, blood, lungs, ligaments, intestines, beaks, feet, pus, subcutaneous fat, hooves, udders and possibly even diseased and cancerous animal parts. You will find these on the label with a much nicer name. They are called "by products."

According to the pet food industry, any parts not normally consumed by humans that are left in a slaughterhouse are a perfectly fit source of protein for our animals.

Once again remember the animals running in the fields in those commercials. In my research I have also learned that our animals are more often than not, being fed grain that is also not fit for humans due to the fact that the grain has mold or other contaminants.

Often companies use peanut hulls as fillers, which have no nutritional value at all. This filler is not what we see in commercials. What about the dogs you see running in the beautiful fields of grain?

Looking at things from a business standpoint, if you are a multinational company that just happens to own a pet food manufacturing facility, you have an ideal relationship. Not only do you profit from the products used for humans, you also profit from the waste "not fit for human consumption" by making pet food.

What are we supposed to do at this time? Before you decide you are going to make your own pet food, please do extensive research. Our animals need vitamins and other nutrients that they will not receive from our table scraps.

Before you do anything, please check with your vet. There are many other ways to feed our animals, but you will need help. Let your vet help you make the right choice.

You may want to take a look at "Paul Newman's Own" pet foods, or "Dick Van Patton's" brand. Both sites state that they use high quality products.

It's not my position to recommend any particular brands, only to give ideas and information. At this point I wouldn't endorse anyone. I'm afraid, just as you are.

There is also the "BARF" diet. This diet is said to provide everything our pets need. They have an excellent site and if you are interested in this method, please call the shelter at 634-7387 for someone local that can give you more information.

It's your job as pet owners to research, talk with different people, ask your vet and make a knowledgeable decision as to what is best for your pet.

We have heard of several pet deaths here at VVHS, with owners believing it was due to tainted food. Please keep informed with all recalls, it could mean your pet's life.

By now we all know what to watch for in our pet. Remember, the first sign of this illness is vomiting. Other signs are the refusal to eat, fatigue, increase in water consumption and an increase in urination. If you see any of these signs, please call for an appointment for your pet.

If you are in need of financial assistance, stop in the shelter located at 1502 W. Mingus. It will only take a few minutes of your time to fill in an assistance application. Once approved, a check will be made out to the vet of your choice that will pay for the office call.

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