How To Understand Pet Food Labels: Know The Red Flags

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If you’re anything like me, you may be starting to worry that there isn’t a healthy pet food that you can trust. It seems like each week there’s a new “pet food recall” notice. And with brands bragging that their food is “made with real beef or chicken,” it makes me wonder what the other food is made of?! 

DSC06727Dog food has a “3% With Rule” which states that any food that claims to be made “with chicken” only needs to consist of 3% chicken to make that claim true. For example, “Honest Jack’s Dog Food With Chicken” only needs to consist of 3% chicken in order to meet guidelines. Crazy, right?! 

Pet food labelsI’ve been working on my own research to clear up some of the controversy that’s on peoples’ minds about pet food, but it’s incredibly difficult to find concrete answers to my questions and concerns. It’s proved to be close to impossible to get a straight answer about pet food truths and lies. The confusion about which pet foods are healthy and which ones are fooling us can’t be clarified as easily as I’d hoped. It’s going to take more than one post to get some of this confusion sorted out, so stay tuned!  

Why It’s So Important To Research Your Dog’s Food

DSC06728We have the responsibility to research dog food brands ourselves and learn as much as we can beyond what the companies are telling us on the surface. Almost every aspect of our dogs’ health starts with their diet. A healthy diet can make all of the difference in the world for your dog throughout her entire life.

DSC06730So what should you look for when reading pet food labels? Should we buy labels that say “gourmet, premium, natural, or organic?” Or do companies know that these words are going to trigger us to purchase and they’re using them as marketing techniques?

The government’s rules and regulations on pet food have nothing to do with the advertising and marketing claims that these companies use. That means they can say anything they want regardless if it’s true. Has the Blue Buffalo controversy come to your mind yet? 

 The FDA’s Regulations: Do They Protect Our Pets?

The FDA “establishes standards applicable for all animal feeds: proper identification of product, net quantity, manufacturer’s name and address, and proper listing of all ingredients.” Seems pretty bare minimum to me… so what about the company’s claims to us that they are a superior brand? No regulations on that?

The FDA states on its website: “Pet owners and veterinary professionals have a right to know what they are feeding their animals. The pet food label contains a wealth of information, if one knows how to read it. Do not be swayed by the many marketing gimmicks or eye-catching claims. If there is a question about the product, contact the manufacturer or ask an appropriate regulatory agency.”

So what I get from that explanation is that we’re pretty much on our own to learn how to read labels in order to understand what we are purchasing. Now that’s a hefty task… 

AAFCO Regulations: Do They Protect Our Pets?

Not all states require the FDA to enforce their labeling regulations. Many of the states have adopted the pet food regulations established by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). These regulations are more specific and “cover aspects of labeling such as product name, the guaranteed analysis, the nutritional adequacy statement, feeding instructions, and calorie statements. 

 The AAFCO website provides a lot of contact information from state to state, but it says little about what the committee does. It does state that, “AAFCO’s Pet Food Committee has created a great tool for small pet food businesses to learn what is required when they wish to make pet foods and treats. Though this information is very beneficial in explaining what is necessary for a company to start up their business, it is just a tool. For further information regarding what is required by the state where you live, contact your State Feed Control Official.”

The words “it is just a tool” was a red flag for me. They also state that, “While AAFCO doesn’t help consumers directly, AAFCO has clearly stated in its philosophy regarding feed regulations in the Official Publication that “The most important aspect of feed regulation is to provide protection for the consumer as well as the regulated industry. A major function of feed regulations is to safeguard the health of man and animals. Another important function of feed regulation is to provide a structure for orderly commerce.” We also use expert nutrition opinions to establish nutrient standards (profiles) for dogs and cats.”

Look For The AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement On The Pet Food Bags

The AFCCO states that the nutritional adequacy statement is quite possibly the most important thing to look for on the pet food bag. It will state that the food meets AFCCO standards.

IMG_1931Nutritional adequacy statements may look like any of the following examples:

  • “___________ is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog (or cat) Food Nutrient Profiles for ___________.”
  • “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that ______________ provides complete and balanced nutrition for _____________.”
  • “_____________ provides complete and balanced nutrition for ___________ and is comparable to a product which has been substantiated using AAFCO feeding tests”

 Nutritional adequacy statements that do not meet AFCCO standards that you should beware of will look like these:

  • ““A nutritional or dietary claim for purposes other than those listed above provided the claim is scientifically substantiated”
  • “This product is intended for intermittent or supplementary feeding only”

Don’t Trust “Gourmet” or “Premium” Food Claims

You may be surprised to know that the FDA has no regulations or guidelines to protect consumers from misleading claims like “gourmet” or “premium.”

DSC06710FDA labeling guidelines state, “products labeled as premium or gourmet are not required to contain any different or higher quality ingredients, nor are they held up to any higher nutritional standards than are any other complete and balanced products.”

That bothers me, what about you?!

Beware of “Human Grade” Pet Food Claims

The AAFCO states that although many food companies have claimed to provide human grade ingredients, this term has no legal definition in animal feed regulations.

“Extremely few pet food products could be considered officially human edible or human grade.” The AAFCO also states that a dog food that truly met human standards would be extremely expensive.

There are official standards that must be met in order for food to be deemed “edible” by definition for human consumption. If these qualifications are met then “human grade” claims can legally be made even though there is no official definition for the term. However, a product created for a pet is very unlikely to be nutritionally adequate for human consumption. There are foods that humans can eat, such as chocolate, that are toxic to dogs. Therefore, “human grade” does not by any means indicate that a food is nutritionally safe for dogs. 

“Natural” Pet Food: While It’s Better, It’s Still Unclear

The word “natural” is being used on tons of food labels both in the dog and human food industries. It makes us feel good when we think we’re getting an honest product, and we hope that the label is telling us the truth. Some people confuse the terms “natural” and “organic” as being interchangeable, but they are absolutely not the same.

DSC06719PetMD veterinarian Dr. Hughes tells us that the word “natural” means that the FDA deems the product to contain no chemical changes to the ingredients. Of course we don’t want our dogs to ingest chemicals day after day. This can greatly deteriorate their health. Purchasing a dog food that can provide FDA certified “natural” ingredients should be part of your dog’s daily diet. 

DSC06722The AAFCO says that the word “natural” is a descriptive term that sounds positive, but there are misperceptions about the word. The term was undefined in the past by state and federal agencies, but in an effort to appeal to consumers, marketers have used the term for their food. 

The AAFCO Definition for “Natural” Pet Food: 

DSC06716“A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal, or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”

DSC06729However, the FDA labeling guidelines states, “the term ‘natural’ is often used on pet food labels, although that term does not have an official definition.” The FDA does recognize the AAFCO definition for natural. Unfortunately, it’s up to us to do the remaining research for us to be sure that the company’s claims to be natural are in fact truthful. Furthermore, not all states have adopted the AAFCO definition for “natural.” The FDA admits that ingredients can still contain trace amounts of chemically synthetic compounds and still be considered natural. 

Are you even more confused than before? Don’t feel bad, I am too! It feels like there still isn’t a concrete, defined, trustworthy answer to the natural vs unnatural debate. 

Don’t Believe “Holistic” Pet Food Claims

DSC06720There is no legal definition of the word “holistic” for pet food. Any manufacturer can claim their food is “holistic” regardless of the ingredients. To me, this word would be a red flag for ‘marketing scam!’

DSC06723

“Organic” Pet Food: Look For The Seal 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, organic ingredients must be grown with only animal or vegetable fertilizers such as manure, bone meal, compost, etc. When a product has the USDA Organic Seal, it is certified to meet these standards. If the product does not have the official USDA Organic Seal, it’s claim to be organic has not been proven true by any official agency. 

According to the AAFCO, Organic pet food is “produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation and genetic engineering may not be used.”

 

Now that was a lot to take in! The pet food controversy is one that I believe is far from over. More consumers than ever are demanding answers from manufacturers, and I hope that in only a few more years we will be able to grab a bag of dog food off the shelves without all of these worries and concerns. Stay tuned for more information on reading pet food labels and understanding what all of the chemically-named ingredients truly are. 

Do you have a rule you abide by when picking out your pet’s food? Or is there a tried and true method you believe works when choosing a reputable manufacturer? 

URGENT: Some Peanut Butter Brands Are Deadly For Dogs

RadioFence.com reports that some peanut butter brands contain Xylitol which is poisonous to dogsIf dogs could talk, I’d imagine that most of them would say they’ve tried peanut butter before – and loved it of course! Whether their human used it to hide a pill, let them lick the spoon, or gave them a dollop to witness how funny it is when it gets stuck to their tongues. Peanut butter has kind of always been associated as a healthy treat for our dogs to indulge in. 

But what happens when the manufacturers change the recipe? Would they tell us? And do we always read the food label on the jar without fail before giving our dogs a taste? If you’ve been buying the same brand of peanut butter for many years the answer is probably no. You may think you know what ingredients are in your favorite peanut butter, because there’s no way it’s changed since you started buying it…right?

Wrong! Some peanut butter manufacturers have added xylitol to their ingredients! Why are they adding xylitol? Because they’re trying to lower the calorie count while still preserving the sweet flavor. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that you see most commonly in candy, desert, and especially gum. It’s even hidden in some vitamin supplements and medications. It’s a relatively newer ingredient in food items that is extremely poisonous to dogs, so we have to start being extra careful to read labels before feeding our dogs any human food. 

Nuts N More Contains Xylitol which is toxic to dogsNuts ‘N More, P28, and Krush Nutrition: Nutty By Nature brand peanut butters all contain xylitol. However, these are not necessarily the ONLY brands that contain xylitol, which means it is up to you to check the ingredients in the brand you are purchasing before you feed it to your dog. According to Dr. Kathryn Primm, dogs can’t properly process xylitol the way humans do, so it causes a drop in blood sugar and liver damage that are both life-threatening. Dogs that are poisoned with xylitol will stagger when they walk and collapse. If your dog is poisoned, it is critical that she is rushed to the vet. 

Most of the peanut butter brands that contain xylitol are the ones sold in health food stores that specialize in vitamins. For now most, if not all of the big-brand peanut butters are safe and so are our dogs. We’ve used peanut butter to give our dogs medication countless times, and we also use it in some of our homemade dog treat recipes.

Jem and Laci love Smucker's Organic Peanut Butter! Only 2 ingredients: peanuts and less than 1% salt.

Jem and Laci love Smucker’s Organic Peanut Butter! Only 2 ingredients: peanuts and less than 1% salt.

 As for any food or treat you give your dog, it’s always vital that you check the ingredients list for anything that could be poisonous to her. Make it a habit to read every ingredient on the list, and if you ever see a word you don’t recognize ask your vet if it is safe for your dog to consume. There is a long list of human foods that are poison to dogs, and it’s important to have these printed out on the refrigerator or some place where family members and guests that may not have experience with dogs can view it to remind them of what is acceptable and unacceptable to share with your dog. 

Buddy loves the occasional tasty peanut butter treat!

Buddy loves the occasional tasty peanut butter treat!

Spreading the word about what is safe and unsafe for dogs to eat can save thousands of lives! Make sure your friends know the rules :) 

Has your dog ever eaten anything she wasn’t supposed to?

 

Jerky Dog Treats “Made In The USA” Still Not Safe

RadioFence.com jerky treats made in the USA and china are not safe

By now we’ve all probably heard about the toxic dog treats from China that have caused so many tragic dog deaths and complications. Since 2007, that FDA has received more than 5000 reports of illnesses believed to be related to consuming jerky treats. Since these tragedies, there has been a mass movement to take all treats that are made in China off the store shelves and most pet parents have been paying attention to where the treats are made before giving them to their dogs.

jerky treats from china recalledBut come to find out… even if the treats have the “Made In The USA” sticker/label, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the treats are healthy for your dog to consume. One of the scariest facts about this whole issue is that the specific toxin or poison that has caused all of these illnesses and deaths hasn’t been determined. The FDA believes that there is an association between these illnesses and the treats made in China, but it has not been proven that this is the cause. The truth is that they still haven’t determined the cause of these deaths. 

china treats recalledThe FDA warns consumers that until they can determine which ingredients in jerky treats are poisonous, there may not be a single jerky treat brand on the shelves that is safe for consumption. “I don’t recommend pet owners feed their pets jerky treats until the FDA can actually tell us what in the jerky treat is actually causing the sickness,” said Studio City veterinarian Dr. Julio Lopez

Jerky treats at Petco - some make claims of their ingredients being sourced in the USA

Jerky treats at Petco – some make claims of their ingredients being sourced in the USA

The FDA warns us that jerky treats labeled “Made In The USA” may pose just as many health risks as the treats made in China because while many of these treats are “assembled” in the United States, they are likely to include ingredients from China. The Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer for the FDA explained that “manufacturers do not need to list the country of origin for each ingredient used in their products.”

"Family-Owned Spot Farms" makes it known that the chicken is raised in Kentucky

“Family-Owned Spot Farms” makes it known that the chicken is raised in Kentucky

Los Angeles residents Henry Alvarez and Lynn Thanarajakool say they’ll never feed a pet a jerky treat again, no matter where it’s manufactured, after their beloved Dachshund Kingsley died within days of eating a treat from a package labeled “Made in China.” “I only gave him one treat and it was Wednesday night and he started feeling sick by I would say noon the next day,” Alvarez recalled. The veterinarian ruled Kingsley’s cause of death as kidney failure which is a consistent symptom that the FDA associates with feeding pets chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats. 

The FDA is continuing to investigate all jerky treats and the causes of these illnesses and deaths. If you choose to continue to feed your dog jerky treats purchased in stores, the FDA warns:

  • Adhere to weight guidelines listed on the package: smaller dogs may be more vulnerable to health problems related to the treats
  • Monitor your pets for signs of sickness
  • Report any serious symptoms to the FDA and your vet 
  • If your pet gets sick, keep the packaging so the FDA can track the origin of the ingredients if your

For more information from the FDA on jerky treats, visit this website.

Homemade, organic, locally-grown, inexpensive, quick & easy... what more could you ask for?!

Homemade, organic, locally-grown, inexpensive, quick & easy… what more could you ask for?!

 We make homemade jerky treats for our dogs because it’s much less expensive, we can be sure where the ingredients are coming from and that they are healthy ones, and our dogs have given us clear and obvious signs that they prefer their treats homemade – can you say spoiled?! Zoey was given a treat at a friend’s house the other night that was made by a family company in Texas and kept putting it in her mouth, spitting it out, putting it in her mouth, spitting it out, and so on. She only ended up eating it because the other dogs wanted it and were trying to take it from her! She didn’t want the treat, but she wasn’t going to surrender her treat knowing that another dog would get to enjoy it – typical alpha dog behavior. 

I’m confident that I can make homemade jerky treats for less money than the store-bought kind and with less hassle than going out to the store, so why would I take the chance on the store-bought treats when we don’t know what’s causing these deaths? Have you or anyone you know experienced anything out of the ordinary with treats or dog food? And do you trust the store-bought brands?

For more of our healthy homemade treat recipes:

 

 

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Eating Poop?

How Do I Get My Dog To Stop Eating Poop?Zoey has always had an infatuation with her own poop… and I can’t for the life of me imagine why. What we humans would consider a form of torture, our dogs seem to think is a tasty treat! Why do they do this? Should we be worried? And how can we get them to stop?

Coprophagia is the technical term for eating and ingesting feces. I was relieved to find out that Zoey’s poop fetish is completely normal. Many animal species enjoy the occasional poo-poo platter. 

A Visit To The Vet Is Necessary

In most cases, coprophagia is NOT a sign that your dog has a disease that you should be worried about, but in other cases it can be a sign of an underlying issue. Step 1 if your dog is eating poop is to take her to the vet for tests to make sure she is healthy. Medical conditions that could be causing your dog to eat poop include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Vitamin deficiency 
  • Increased appetite
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Parasites
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Anemia
  • Neurological disease

Jeez… is that all? That’s a lot of medical issues to worry about all because of one disgusting habit that many of us probably assumed was just “a dog being a dog.” But don’t freak out just yet! Most of the time dogs eat poop for non life-threatening reasons.

Your veterinarian will run medical tests to determine if your dog is suffering from any of the diseases or medical conditions that cause some dogs to eat poop. You will also want to discuss your dog’s diet, appetite, nutrition, and environment with your vet. 

Lack Of Nutrients Causing It?

Some dogs have an interest in eating their poop because they aren’t getting enough nutrients in their diet. Sometimes there are food particles in the poop that didn’t get digested. Dogs smell this and think of it as fresh, uneaten food. They may be unable to digest the nutrients the first go-around and eat the partially-digested particles in the poop to meet their nutritional needs. This is the most common reason that dogs eat poop. It tastes good! Even though we can’t possibly begin to understand how… If you believe your dog is eating her poop because she needs better nutrition, consult with your vet or a pet nutritionalist about what diet is best for your dog. 

The ASPCA suggests making sure you’re feeding your dog quality food. They state that you really can’t find high-quality dog food in supermarkets and sometimes can be mislead by the brands at the big box pet stores. The ASPCA suggests finding a quality pet supply store and looks for premium brands with human-grade ingredients. Always read the labels on the dog food you consider purchasing. Choose a brand that has one or more whole meat sources and no meat-by-products. 

Dogs That Eat Other Animals’ Poop

Some dogs don’t just love to eat their own poop, but they will eat other dogs’ poop as well. Our dog Jem will follow Zoey or other dogs around the yard waiting for them to go potty so she can get her stinky snack at it’s freshest. This is also very common in many dogs, but sometimes more risky than a dog eating his own poop. 

It’s important to make sure your dog never ingests the feces of dogs that are strangers. You don’t know if these other dogs are receiving the vaccinations and preventative care that is required to prevent the spread of diseases. If your dog is exposed to other dogs’ poop that is carrying diseases that puts your dog at risk. 

A Mom’s Natural Instinct 

Moms will also eat the feces of their puppies, so puppies may copy this behavior and keep doing it out of habit and curiosity. Once it has become a habit for your dog, it can be difficult to break. But it is definitely possible with the correct training. 

A Technique To Get Attention

Some dogs will eat poop to get attention if they feel punished or neglected. For dogs, any attention is better than no attention at all. A lot of them prefer to be scolded rather than being ignored altogether. Try spending more time with your dog, go for more walks together, and take car rides to show your dog that she is loved and important. 

Your Dog Is A Neat Freak

Other dogs who like a neat and tidy environment will eat their poop to clean their area. Some dogs think they’re doing a great job of cleaning the back yard when they eat their poop. Pups that have an accident inside may also eat their poop in an effort to clean the space.

How Do I Stop This Behavior?

The surest way to avoid your dog eating poop is the watch your dog when she is outside and clean up after her every time she goes #2. This isn’t always realistic for everyone to find the time and means to clean up after your dog every time. Many people don’t pick up their dog’s poop because they don’t want to dispose of it in the trash can and deal with the nasty smell and contamination. You can get a Doggy Dooley for your yard to make clean up sterile and convenient. The Doggy Dooley gets buried in your yard and chemically breaks down poo so you never have to deal with the smell in your trash can when you scoop the poop from the yard. 

Natural Food Additives To Stop Poo-Eating

Many experts believe that the products on the market that claim to discourage your dog from eating poop don’t actually work. There are liquids and powders to add to your dog’s food that claim to make the poop taste bad to the dog and keep him from eating it. Popular opinion is that these are not healthy to use long-term and don’t actually work. Some people have successfully discouraged their dog from eating poop by adding certain human foods to the dog’s food. Pineapple or foods with sulfur such as brussels sprouts or cabbage will discourage the dog from eating his poop. I’m going to try this in Zoey’s food and see if it works!

Correct The Behavior With A Training Collar

You can also use the aid of a training collar to associate the bad behavior with a correction. Consistency is key with this type of training. You’ll have to give your dog a correction every time he tries to eat the poop consistently for a few weeks until he avoids the poop completely. Your dog may regress and go back to his old ways, so you’ll have to reinforce the training later on down the road if/when this happens. 

What Not To Do:

Most importantly, you should always remember what not to do. We want to correct our dogs’ bad behavior, never punish them in a nonconstructive way. Punishment for an act like eating poop will only make your dog more likely to eat the poop next time as a way of “covering up the evidence” to avoid getting punished again. 

There’s been a belief by many people for years that you should rub your dog’s face in urine and feces when you’re potty training. This should never be used as a form of training, according to the ASPCA. If your dog is eating poop, never resort to rubbing her face in it to get her to stop. It won’t work to put an end to the behavior and can only lead to more problems.

Most importantly, never physically hit or harm your dog as a form of punishment for eating poop or any other behavior that you don’t approve of. Dogs are very loyal being by nature, and they want to please their “masters” if they are given the chance. Communicate with your dog in a way that she will understand the cause and effect of her behavior. Physical punishment is not understood by your dog and will only lead to aggression, fear, and acting out.

Do you have any techniques that worked to get your dog to stop eating his/her poop? 

Disturbing Lab Results Prove Top Dog and Cat Food Brands Are Unsafe

Our family is extremely concerned with the quality and safety of our food as well as our dogs’ food. We recently started making our own organic treats at home and posting our recipes to the blog for you to enjoy. The next step in our plan is to make our own homemade dog food, and after reading these lab results we aren’t going to wait any longer to get started! 

I can always count on TheILoveTheDogsSite.com for great content about pets, and this morning I was so happy to come across their article about unsafe pet foods. Pet food consumers just like you and I donated funds to The Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF) to test pet foods sold in North America. This test and it’s results are monumental because this is the first and only time a test of this size has been funded and controlled by concerned consumers themselves instead of a regulatory agency that is in charge of governing and selling pet food. Consumers of these pet food brands are left to wonder if these agencies that have conducted tests in the past were too close to the product and the profit to release accurate and honest results. 

Susan Thixton, Pet Food Safety Advocate at ATPF and author of “Buyer Beware” and co-author of “Dinner PAWSible”, was in charge of leading the test along with industry experts such as Dr. Tsengeg Purejav of INTI Service Corporation who lab tested the foods.

Susan explained that “this is history making. No one has ever taken such an up-close and thorough examination of pet food like this before – and most importantly, this was done by pet food consumers!” Thixton said the pet food testing results are “shocking and little did we know we’d find serious risks to ourselves and our human families too.”

The six top dog food brands tested include:

The six top cat food brands tested include:

 

Did you see any brands you’ve fed your dog before? Because I see two that I’ve fed to Zoey and one that I’ve fed to Jem before! Zoey has been eating Hill’s C/D Urinary Tract Health canned dog food for about a year after she had three consecutive UTI’s. Her veterinarian at Banfield at PetSmart recommended Hill’s brand and explained to me that it is one of the top two brands she would recommend because “they’re the only ones that actually lab test their dog food for health standards.” That feels like a very misleading and untrue statement now that these test results have come out and I see that it’s one of the most UNSAFE brands of food! I can’t believe I’ve been feeding her this food for so long. Jem was eating Blue for the first year of her life until we switched her because of her very stinky farts. Now I’m glad we switched her when we did! 

 

Test Results:

The tests conducted on the most popular dog food brands mentioned before indicate that many of these foods contain high levels of dangerous mycotoxins, nutrient concerns, bacterial contamination, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria that the FDA calls “Qualifying Pathogens.” None of these dog foods have ingredients from China, but they do have ingredients from other countries outside of North America. 

The Hill’s Prescription C/D Urinary Tract health canned dog food that my vet suggested was the safest, laboratory tested dog food option for Zoey tested to contain 7.72% calcium which is almost three times the legal limit of calcium allowed in adult dog food (AAFCO maximum is 2.5%). The Mycotoxin Risk Equivalent Rating was 16 (20 being High Risk), and it contained several bacteria including two bacteria that the FDA calls “Qualifying Pathogens” that pose a “serious threat to public health.” 

Now What Do We Do?

Thixton believes that consumers’ trust in pet food and the regulatory agencies responsible for “testing” these foods is rapidly declining and I believe she is right. I know my trust in them is completely gone after seeing these results. She explains that “it is truly sad that consumers found the many risks in pet food they did. Now we can hope – with this scientific evidence – that authorities will finally listen to the many complaints of consumers and make pet food safe. Not only for the pets, but for the pet people too.”

1. Find A Food That Is Lab Tested and Proven Safe:

Thixton created a list of the safe pet foods from her studies and lab tests that can be purchased for a small donation. What’s crazy and surprising about this list is that there are only 20 dog foods that make the “healthy” list, and NONE of them can be purchased in big box pet stores. They are only available at independent pet food stores, online pet food stores, or purchased directly from the manufacturer. That really makes you think about the integrity of the big box stores and makes me wonder why they are only making unsafe dog foods available for us to purchase and none of the healthy options are on the shelves!

We love to support small businesses any chance that we can since we are a small business ourselves, and this was the third strike for the big box pet stores like PetSmart where I have been buying Zoey’s C/D Urinary Tract food. I will definitely not be buying any more food or other items from big box pet stores after learning that they don’t sell any healthy of the healthy pet food brands. I’m happy to support the small businesses who are morally selling nutritious food.  

2. Feed Your Pet A Homemade Diet Using Balanced Recipes:

The other thing included in Thixton’s list that really excites me is the two homemade dog and cat food recipes! I’m so thrilled to use these recipes and rest assured that I’m providing Zoey and Jem a healthy, organic, homemade diet.

3. Speak Up To Make A Change:

Thixton also encourages us to make a change by sending letters to our representatives in Washington D.C. She only asks that we don’t send petitions – only letters: “No petitions (please) – representatives in government need to receive hundreds of thousands of personal messages directly from pet food consumers demanding change,” she explains. You can simply go to your state government website for the information on how to contact your representatives. She even created a sample letter for you to send without having to do any of the work! 

Sample Letter to Send to Representatives:

Consumers recently raised the funds to test 12 of the most widely-purchased brands of pet foods sold in the U.S. and Canada. What was found in this consumer funded testing were violations of pet food regulations (nutrient imbalances), dangerously high levels of mold (mycotoxins), and very concerning bacterial contamination (bacteria determined by the FDA and CDC to be antibiotic-resistant).

Consumers pay an estimated $1 billion dollars a year to states in sales tax revenue (for pet food purchases alone). Please explain to me what consumers are getting in return for that revenue?

Pet food consumers have been complaining about the condition of pet food since the 2007 pet food recall, complaints have fallen on deaf ears. For more than seven years consumers have waited on FDA to find the lethal contaminant of Chinese jerky treats – FDA has provided us nothing. In 2007 Congress told FDA to establish pet food ingredient standards and definitions, processing standards of pet food and provide updated standards for the labeling of pet food. This work was required – by Congress – to be completed by September 2009. More than five years after the deadline – consumers still wait for the FDA. I ask you, how much longer should consumers wait for safe pet food?

Testing of pet food that should have been performed by tax dollar supported regulatory authorities was done by consumers. Now, consumers – myself – are asking you Why? How? could pet food pose such a serious risk to the pets that consume it and the humans that handle it?

Please read every page of our Pet Food Test Report – you can do that here: http://associationfortruthinpetfood.com/the-pet-food-test-results/

I await your response on this very concerning issue.

Sincerely,

[your name]

 

Thank You For Listening

I hope this post helped open your eyes to how misleading dog food companies and big box retailers are when they claim their food is wholesome and healthy for our pets. We really can’t trust their marketing terms like “natural, no preservatives, non GMO, etc.” because they negate the tried and true results from the tests in the lab. Food is what fuels our bodies and our pets’ little bodies, and it’s so important that we are knowledgeable about what we are feeding them because they depend on us whole heartedly. For the full report and findings from these lab tests click here.