Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fat Cats, Dumpy Dogs, & the Crap they're Fed

People will never stop overfeeding their cats and dogs, just like they will never stop overfeeding their human kids.  And the garbage masquerading as food that many pet owners are suckered into buying is half the problem.  I blame the pet food companies' slick marketing campaigns and extremely comfortable business partnerships with veterinarians for that.

What actually goes into most pet food and the animals that suffer in the development and production of many of these brands will be the topic of a future post, but for now, I want to briefly  raise awareness of two things:  1. the consequences of allowing your pet to become overweight and/or live on a diet of low-quality food; and 2. the fact that veterinarians probably know less about animal nutrition then you do.

While I am by no means an animal nutritionist, I do educate myself as much as possible, and I question everything and everyone.  And if I can change the habits of even just a handful of pet owners, I'll be pleased.

First off, I want to be clear on something.  If you allow your pet to become overweight, you will compromise his quality of life and reduce his life span.  Sorry, but it's true.  So all those extra treats you give him to make him happy and show your love?  You're doing him a serious disservice.  Think about it:  robbing your pet of months or years of life when he's only around for a few years to begin with?  Very sad.  Show your love by walking your dog or playing with your cat.

Secondly, while I have no intention of recommending any brand over another, PLEASE READ THE LABLE before you buy a bag of kibble or a can of wet food.  If the ingredient list has things like corn or soy at the top of the ingredient list, it's crap.  Look for chicken, beef, duck, etc. as the first ingredient.  And if the term 'by-product' or 'meat' is used anywhere, DO NOT BUY IT.

As a general rule, if you bought it at the grocery store or the corner variety store, IT'S CRAP.

Don't be fooled by multi-million dollar ad campaigns and fancy packaging; just read the label.

Here is a link to PETA's companion animal food guide; it has a list of companies that do not test on animals, and in most cases use better quality ingredients than the by-product-filled grocery brands.

The important thing to know is that if you allow your pet to become overweight, there's a good chance that in addition to reducing his life span, you are also putting him at risk of developing hip/joint problems and a host of other health issues.

Veterinarians love to push the Hills Science Diet brand of 'vet recommended' pet food.  That food is, in my opinion, C. R. A. P.  I will not going into more detail here, but I will say this:  read the label and decide for yourself.

There is HUGE money involved here, just like when human medical doctors push certain brands of drugs.  We're talking big business here (think $16 billion big), and everyone wins, except you and your pet.  The truth is, if you do a little bit of research into the pet food industry and pet nutrition, you will undoubtedly know more than your vet.  They spend about a day on pet nutrition while in vet school, and guess who gives that lecture?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Yup - the pet food industry.  See how that works?

If you really want an eye-opening look at the underbelly of the pet food industry, check out this CBC documentary, called 'A Dog's Breakfast': 

To really understand what the pet food industry is, and how to read labels. PLEASE read this:

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