Dog Food Dangers
The basic rule for good health is nutrition. Your dog’s diet is the most important component that affects his whole behaviour and personality. What applies to humans regarding diet and nutrition, also applies to your dog. As any doctor will tell you, fresh wholesome food can prevent illness and disease and lead to a long and healthy life. This sound reasoning is the same for dog nutrition.
The dog is a natural hunter and carnivore. A dog’s digestive system has changed little throughout canine evolution from the wolf to the pet companion and working dog of today. The dog has a short digestive tract that is geared to the consumption and the digestion of raw meat and other raw products.
In 1860, a salesman called James Spratt was in London, England, trying to sell lightening rods and was accompanied by his dog, Spratt. Spratt was given some discarded ship biscuit with which to feed the dog. James Spratt immediately saw a potential for making money. He devised a ‘dog cake’ that was nutritious and inexpensive. This was the first commercial dog food and Mr Spratt became the first pet food entrepreneur. Today the pet food industry is worth billions of pounds as the giants of the pet food industry increase their sales by aggressive advertising, economic power and by producing a product greatly welcomed by the busy pet owner. Gone are the days when the household dog was fed on scraps and whatever prey he could catch for his supper. The array of commercially prepared dog food is vast with each brand claiming to contain rich wholesome ingredients to keep the dog fit and healthy.
The trend today has replaced the yard dog with the new ‘canine family member’. Never has the dog had it so good. Huge pet stores stand next to the supermarket chains filled with products that the new family member cannot live without. Beds and clothing, toys and treats, supplements of vitamins and minerals, medical creams and potions to cure many ailments and of course various products to kill the humble flea! In abundance are the different brands of dog food, each in competition with the other and all claiming to be healthy and wholesome to suit the dog’s nutritional needs. Dog food is sold in cans, bags of kibble and frozen options. The ingredients listed could grace a five star restaurant with emphasis placed on freshness and goodness. The dog food buyer follows the same trends that is found in any type of consumer in the market place, which is one of unfailing product loyalty encouraged and enforced through extremely clever consumer manipulation using advanced marketing and advertising techniques. Buyers tend to stick with one brand of dog food for the rest of their dog’s life, except for minor adjustments within the brand’s range to ‘adapt to the dog’s age’ which again is a result of marketing more than substantial differences in the contents of the bag or tin.
Commercially produced dry kibble has become the standard diet for the majority of dogs due to it being inexpensive and convenient whilst having a long shelf life. The frantic pace of today’s lifestyle leaves little time for paying much attention to the dog’s dietary and nutritional requirements. Dog owners place their trust in the long list of ingredients in the sack they drop in their shopping trolley, many of them believing every one of the marketing claims splashed across the colourful bag. Whether commercially produced dog food meets the dog’s needs is the subject of much controversy and rightly so.
Today, many veterinarians are aware that the nutritional needs of the companion dog are not being met. Veterinarians are beginning to take a proactive approach to canine nutrition and are advising their clients as to the benefits of home prepared raw food diets. Many of the diseases dogs suffer from can be linked to their diet. Veterinarians are aware that by feeding the same product over a length of time may cause conditions such as cancer, kidney problems, urinary tract diseases and bowel disease.
By adhering to the same brand or product for the lifetime of the dog the owner may inadvertently shorten the dog’s lifespan by a huge amount due to the dog’s nutritional needs being permanently deprived. Even if the food was fully nutritious, meaning it contained everything a dog does need to eat, lacking everything he doesn’t or shouldn’t, it would still be a nutritional failing to feed the exact same quantities of the exact same product day after day, year after year. It is an important feature of both canine behaviour and canine nutrition that they ingest varying types and quantities of food at varying intervals.
Think of the wolf which is only 1% genetically different from the dog at your feet, would they have eaten at ‘dinner time’? No, they would have eaten as and when food was available without a time-sensitive routine being enforced in any way. At the same time the food would have differed widely, sometimes being wholesome and nutritious, but at other times consisting of nothing more than a stop-gap such as a dead rodent if hunger was an issue. Regardless of what they ate, they certainly wouldn’t have had chemicals injected, additives and laboratory manufactured proteins added, or preservatives used to make it keep longer on the shelf.
These are comparatively minor problems dogs face in their food today, with some of the worst ones being residue of dead pets (collars and tags included), diseased animals, and even plastic bags all of these being used in major commercial dog food processing plants. Simply eating the same food endlessly (even if its good food) will, over time, cause health problems such as obesity and diabetes. The dog is no different to a human in its needs for a well balanced and wholesome diet that varies in ingredients, consistency and nutrition. Ingesting the same food for any length of time can lead to a deficiency in key nutrients resulting in food allergies and food sensitivity.
Is it any wonder these issues are alarming people with their widespread increase in modern society? These issues were hardly even apparent just a few decades ago. Maybe we are not alarmed enough.
The consumer needs to have an increased awareness of just what that list of ingredients on the bag means. Whether through ignorance or lack of time, most owners have little knowledge of either the dog’s nutritional requirements or the meaning of the contents listed, placing their trust instead in the individual selected brand.
The bag that claims to contain wholesome and tasty chicken conjures an image of the plump bird sat roasting in their own ovens. The label may state meat and poultry “meal” or meat and bone “meal”. In the pet food manufacturing industry “meal” has little to do with meat or chicken of human grade quality, nor in our view of canine grade quality.
Often it is multi-national human food or human targeted product companies behind the manufacture of your dog’s food. From a business point of view these companies have been quick to use the market for commercial pet food as an opening to make profit from wastes produced by their own companies in the human manufacturing process. By ‘Wastes’ we mean commercial losses of significant amounts of money, especially with increasing costs for responsible dumping of waste and processing plant bi-products.
To prove a few examples:
- Colgate Palmolive produces Hills Science
- Procter & Gamble produces Eukanuba and Iam’s
- Master Foods (which owns Mars Inc.) produce Royal Canin, James Wellbeloved, Bounce, Chappie, Pedigree Chum and Sheba
- Del Monte produces Nature’s Diet and others
- Nestle produces Purina, Bonio, Spillers, Winalot and more
The ownership of pet food companies is an excellent relationship and business strategy for these manufacturing giants. They have bulk purchasing power and a captive market as well as a colossal marketing budget which can convince just about anyone to eat just about anything, and to enjoy doing so, regardless of the contents. Just as an example of the power of marketing, it is worth mentioning that the most famous brand of Corn Flakes in the U.K. and probably the U.S. as well (who shall remain nameless here) spends a huge amount MORE money on the making of the box or packaging, than it does on the contents. I have heard figures such as it costing ten times as much to produce the packaging than it does to produce an entire kilogram of corn flakes inside! One thing is for sure, marketing is more important than product, and we as consumers are the only ones who can do anything to force companies to focus more on the contents than the branding. All we have to do is BECOME more interested in the contents ourselves! Most people really are not. They see something on the shelf, connect it with an ad they saw on the TV and ‘feel’ good about buying it. Instead we need to get our ‘feel good factor’ through the underlying benefit of the product, and not the waste cardboard which surrounds it, especially when it is piling up in landfill sites daily.
These companies producing human food products also have a convenient source of pet food ingredients as their processing plants have tons of ‘waste’ which would otherwise mean negative numbers on the corporate balance sheets, but with this clever tactic of re-packaging or ‘re-rendering’ it for another market, and then convincing us it is anything but waste, they turn what were losses into multi million pound profits which grow like compound interest.
Not all pet food manufacturers use poor quality ingredients. The price of the end product is an indicator as to the quality of the ingredients.
Cheap sacks of kibble cannot possibly use quality protein and grain as the purchase price of the ingredients would exceed the selling price of the product. The bag that claims to contain ‘wholesome and tasty chicken’ concocts an image of goodness and health. The label may state meat and poultry ‘meal’ or meat and bone ‘meal’. Meal means that the ingredients have been heated to a high temperature. Fat rises to the top and is skimmed off. The rest of the food is pressed and processed to form kibble. The fat is then sprayed back on to make the kibble palatable for the animal to eat. The resulting food product is called ‘meal’.
The high temperature (130 celsius) is necessary to destroy bacteria, viruses and parasites. Unfortunately the high temperature also destroys valuable nutrients and natural enzymes. It does not destroy any antibiotics, growth hormones or some viruses as was discovered when humans contracted a form of Mad Cow disease from eating contaminated meat despite the usual manufacture and processing procedures.
Most of the meat source in pet food has been rejected as not fit for human consumption. This is logical as most of companies produce food for both humans and pets, so they are unlikely to throw in human grade food for our dogs, when they have a human outlet and market for it next door!
Around 50% of every animal slaughtered for human consumption is not used. Bones, blood, ligaments, intestines, udders, lungs, hair tails spinal cords and feet are known as ‘by-products’ and these become the meat source in dog food. Also included are cancerous tissues, tumours, injection sites, and manure. These are all part of what is collectively referred to as “4D” tissue. 4D equates to Dead, Dying, Diseased and Disabled animals before reaching the rendering plant, and it’s an industry term.
A spokesman for The Pet Food Institute said:
|"The growth of the pet food industry not only provided pet owners with better food for their pets, but also created profitable additional markets for American farm products and for the by-products of the meat packaging, poultry and other food industries which prepare food for human consumption."
In itself this sounds reasonable. These by-products could be nourishing for pets were it not for the presence of antibiotics, hormones, viruses and the fact that the nutritional quality varies between batches. The heart, brain and other organs would be eaten first when an animal in the wild has killed its prey. Two professors at the Davis Veterinary School of Medicine at the University of California, James Morris and Quinton Rogers stated that:
|"There is virtually no information on the bioqualibility of nutrients for companion animals in many of the common dietary ingredients used in pet foods. Claims of nutritional adequacy of pet foods based on the current Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient allowances do not give assurances of nutritional adequacy..."
Grease and oils
Also used in pet food, besides the rendered animal fat, is restaurant grease and oils unfit for human consumption. Restaurant oils are a major component of pet food. The oils are stored in drums and can remain there until collected by the rendering company (fat blenders). At the rendering plant, powerful antioxidants are quickly added to prevent the oils and grease from becoming even more rancid before being sold on to the pet food manufacturers. It is a mystery why pets like the taste of these oils but they do as manufacturers were quick to discover. Also worth noting is how, yet again, pets are being used as a dumping ground for human industrial waste, and a much more cost effective one too. To dispose of oils which have been used is a very costly process, especially as the western world tries to reduce its environmental impact by recycling or responsibly disposing of substances which are not bio-degradable. Sending it off, or even selling it on to another company not only avoids this problem, but can actually turn a previously costly problem into a totally new profit stream. And all the while, your dogs are unwittingly paying the price for these corporate decisions.
...Dog Food Dangers continued ->