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What's really in petfood?
by Deanna (Moose & Squirrel)
What's really in petfood?For anyone who hasn't seen the API report and would like to know the horrible truth, check out their 1997 report "What's really in Petfood" at this URL: http://www.api4animals.org/Petfood.htm


Yuck!!! I read that report! How awful! And to make it worse, the part about even using companion pets who have died! I am so glad you posted this, (I think!). I wonder if a person was to write to the particular company that makes the brand of dog food you use, if they would tell you exactly what they use? Now I am even worried about the Pro Plan I just got! Aren't humans just so smart....as well as being greedy with what they sell and do? It makes me ashamed to be one!
Robin K.

WOW! I had no idea there was so much to learn about pet food, the harm some of them cause and what to look out for in buying a good brand. Thank you very much Deanna (Moose & Squirrel) for this most enlightening report.
I couldn't read all of it, but I read enough to know I want to start cooking for KoKo and Shayna. Big problem, I don't even cook for Shelley and Terryl. My best dish is Reservations. Now that I finally found a food they really like it probably has all the horrible stuff in it. What to do?
Thank You Deanna after reading all of the info I have tried reading labels and now with this info I think I will have a better idea of what to look for I was amazed at all of the things I found out about the way the food for our babies is made. I am thinking of putting my baby on a Chicken and Rice diet and I am wondering if this would be a smart thing to do and what other things my baby would need to be healthy. It is amazing to me what they do to this food that is meant for our babies and they are supposed to want to eat it !?*%# I have always been told not to feed them human food but I am now wondering what is worse human food or the dog food they are supposed to eat??
Thanks for the information. This is just so discouraging--what a challenge to give our little fur babies the quality we want them to have. It is helpful to know what is what, though. Thanks for passing it on!
Deanna, that website contains exactly the information I've been looking for. Thank you so much for posting it. Do you know what "API" stands for? I didn't see anything in the article, but I might have missed it. Thanks again.
Deanna, When I read this artical, I wanted to throw-up and cry! Maybe we should stick to old fashion chicken and carrots! I don't know where you got it but it was extremely informative.
First let me apologize as I know this will ramble on a bit. API is the Animal Protection Institute - a non-profit organization. Thanks for posting their article, it is very informative. But before you all panic, take another look at it. Most of the health risks they mention would be quite noticeable. If your dog is healthy on what it is eating, there is no rush. Take time to learn about nutrition and diet and weigh all the pro and cons. I agree we should hold the petfood industry up to a higher standard, but not all the things mentioned in the article are inherently dangerous to animals. Watch for things on the label like meat, meat-meal, meat-by products. These are very general terms that mean nothing, and with that labeling "meat" could mean something like rendered pets (this isn't a moral problem for dogs, but I'm concerned about host-specific diseases or chemicals used to euthanise the animals). If it says lamb, it must be lamb, if it says beef, it must be beef (etc.), so these are good things to look for as a first ingredient. By-products are generally not harmful, but they shouldn't be a first ingredient. There is nothing wrong with parts of animals we find unappealing, like intestines, brains, other organs, etc.; and parts like feathers, hooves, and ligaments are not usually harmful (they are cheap fillers though, and a poor source of protein). Again, by-products is a vague term, and possibly harmful items as the article mentioned *could* be included so I'd look out for them. As for preservatives, I wouldn't want food that didn't have any if it is to be kept for any length of time, but certainly further study should go into them at least. There is nothing wrong with filtered fast-food grease per se, but if it is sitting around and going rancid before use, it could cause problems. I don't have the time or inclination to cook for my pets, but certainly those who do and who are concerned should carefully research the topic and follow recipes that will provide all the nutrients needed in a balanced way. The cautions you hear about not feeding table scraps have to do with the fact that they throw off the balance of a good petfood diet and add too many calories leading to obesity. Also, most of our foods are much higher in fat, sodium, and protein than dogs need, and for most people (such as me) it isn't even good for them, let alone for their dogs! The truth is most of us aren't going to do this, so we need to rely on the petfood industry and should be informed consumers. I've been looking into raw diets and think there is some merit to the idea, but personally I can barely handle raw meat for myself when cooking (it really makes me sick), and don't think I could watch my dog eat it. Not to mention the concern about bacteria and such (the theory is dogs are less susceptible, and I think this may be true, but I still worry). I'm sure you can see why I hesitate to recommend specific pet foods! There are just so many things to consider. I agree with the article for the most part, but I think that things like this can lead to emotional decisions rather than ones based on knowledge and reason. I strongly believe that good nutrition is the key to long healthy lives in our pets and ourselves. Everyone should learn all they can about nutrition and diet, and how important the right balance is for our pets, but there is no need to make rash decisions. If your dog is healthy and happy and eating well, you probably don't need to worry too much.
Deanna, thanx so much for the info. Ditto on all of the above. It's unbelievable!
Libby & Buster
Thanks! This was very informative. I would encourage all to check their foods. Again, I would feed only a "premium" food. They tell us what to look for. The foods they are telling us about are the ones found in supermarkets which are not "premium" brands and this includes Purina. A good premium food lists a meat such as chicken or lamb as the first ingredient, and contain rice and eggs with no artificial preservatives.
April B.
I am now not only very confused by the great food debate but now I am disgusted,ashamed and upset now too. So what do we do? How do we get the straight skinny from these manufacturers as to what they are using and the quality of it? I have been feeding Science diet to both my 110 lb.4 year old Lab and my 10 yr.old 9 lb. Maltese on my Vets recomendation and I just now looked at the ingredients list and compared it to the ingredient info list at the site and I am furious and ashamed that I just took some ones advice and didnt research it myself.( My vet doesnt sell food so it wasnt profit motive for him..) I dont know what to feed them now. I live 1.5 hrs. away from a major pet food supply where I can comparison shop but I guess I'll have to make plans for a road trip! Anybody wanna meet me at the Nashville Petsmart for a dog food nutrition analysis some afternoon? Let me know...In the meantime , does anybody out there have a degree in this stuff and if so what the heck are YOU feeding Fido and Fluffy ?
Thank you Deanna for the informative site. I have been feeding all home-prepared foods for my pup for the past three months. He loves it and I feel good about his diet. I can strongly recommend Dr. Pitcairn's book (described in the API site). I use his recipes which involve mixing up a batch once a week. For those of you who are interested, here is another good reference site on commercial kibble ingredients with web sites of many manufacturers: http://php.iupui.edu/~ebreeden/kibble.html
Thanks for letting everyone know @ the API report ! Yuck is right,I've known for sometime what's in dogfood,just had two litters this week and while I was at the vet I asked @ various foods, he told me not to believe everything I read ??? THey sell Pro-Plan, which I've been feeding to both mommies and babies, but now the mommies get freshly cooked chicken ( doing one right now overnight in the slow cooker ) rice and carrots, bought extra canned veggies for later.....cooking their food would be my preferance..not always practical & too costly when you have a lot of doggies, I don't worry about Pro=Plan however, I would also trust Bil-jac, dry, not the moist, some of mine are overweight from free-feeding and I have them on " Sensible Choice" adult, lower fat & protein, I feed twice a day now...works out o.k., does anyone have any experience with " Eagle" it was highly recommeded by the feed store I go to also advertised on the last Westminster !
There are alternatives to conventional dog foods. We just bought Mika an all natural dog food that is made differently than most commercial diets. It is called Innova. It is a few dollars more but it is worth it. Other good dry dog foods include Flint River Ranch. These are all natural dog foods made from real meat that has passed inspection and from good quality fruits, vegetables, and grains. No addatives.
Jackie and Mika
I've been studying my butt off for the past couple of months about dog food. There are a couple of websites you might want to check out. One is www.naturapet.com, the other is www.solid-gold-inc.com

They both list the ingredients of their food and they're the closest I've found that conform to everything I've read about good nutrition for dogs. This subject is very controversial and everyone has to decide for themselves what is best for their dogs and their lifestyles.

After reviewing all the posts on this topic, I thought long and hard about Aimee's. While I agree with some of her general statements (don't rush into anything, get informed, etc.), I do take issue with the final comment "If your dog is healthy and happy and eating well, you probably don't need to worry too much." Why wait until your dog is sickly to make a change? There are several alternatives that are so much better than those products that are loaded with fillers, chemical additives and low quality ingredients. All you need to do is a little reading, ingredients lists are a good start. If we, as consumers, vote with our pocketbooks and patronize those manufacturers who promote good health, we will get better products. Our dogs' health can not afford our relying on the commercial pet food industry. I am not trying to scare anyone. I did take my time in making my choices, but I also got my dog off his Eukaneuba/Mighty Dog diet as soon as I learned better (by the way, my dog's vet felt that of the two, Eukaneuba was worse than Mighty Dog). Yes, take you time in selecting the diet that is best for your dog's health given your own lifestyle. But, in the meantime, get the best products you can afford. The savings in vet bills alone are worth the switch. Off my soapbox now.
Sorry if I threw anyone into a panic, I just thought that this would help make an informed choice about what we feed our babies. I don't think that ALL dry food is bad, but I think many manufacturers describe their product in a deliberately misleading way. And JoanG, thanks for posting that kibble site - I have added it to my (growing!) collection of dog sites. Another good way to compare dry food ingredients without a trip to the store is to check out this site: http://www.aloha.com/~wolfepack/foodcht4.html which also has a good section on dog food analysis - what the terms really mean. I know that I've posted this address before (sorry for the repetition) but it's worth a look.
Deanna (Moose & Squirrel)
Belinda I would love to meet you at the Nashville PetSmart to do some comparison shopping it is about a hour away from me I have done some looking for the Innova and California Gold and find that the Knoxville area is the only place in Tennessee that we can get it I like the idea that they only use human grade food and that the California Gold only has three ingredients in it. I will be in the chat room Monday night around 7 or 8 pm if you can make it there we can set up a time to meet. to go dog food shopping If you cant make the chat please post a time that we could talk and set this up I would love to meet another furbabie lover !!
Good point JoanG and well put! I didn't mean you should wait for your pet to get sick first, but that unless there is a problem, you have time to research the best diet for your pet that fits your lifestyle. You said it much better though. The problem is there are so many conflicting reports and ideas out there, and you shouldn't believe everything you read (without checking out the facts), or anything the petfood companies tell you (remember, they are trying to sell you something). I love your comments about "voting with our pocketbooks". The petfood industry needs to understand that these are not just animals, but valued family members and we want the best for them.
Renee, I use Eagle brand food. My vet highly recommends it. Misha has been on it since she was a baby. We get the lamb and rice formula. It's small kibbles, I put it in her dish and soak it in water for about 30 seconds and then drain the water out. This moisturizes the kibbles, my vet recommended it. Misha also has had an intestinal problem in the past and my vet says that Eagle is highly digestible and great quality, good for all dogs especially ones with absorbtion problems. We like it, I hope this helps you.
Deanna, please don't apologize for bringing up an important topic. I tried to do that about a month ago and felt reprimanded for 'spoiling' my baby. I had read the same website prior to writing my concerns to all of you, and I was also appalled at the list of unsuitable ingredients from which I had to choose to feed my pet. My biggest mistake in trying to discuss this with everyone, was not posting the website before hand! I still go into pet stores, read ingredients, and then walk out confused and go home, cook for Truffles and watch her thoroughly enjoy eating. I have read enough now to be convinced that freshly cooked nonfat meat and freshly cooked vegetables HAVE to be more nutritious that dried out parts of animals cooked to over 400 degrees. The only thing that concerns me about that method of feeding the the crunching for her teeth for good dental hygiene. She doesn't even eat treats except on rare occasions. There is reason to be concerned about what our 'healthy' pets are eating 'today' because it directly affects what condition they will be in 'tomorrow'. It was suggested reading the website http://www.naturaldogfood.com/. That is very informative and explains all about later effects of feeding. I also suggest that reading. I noticed at the very end of the kibble website, a food, Wysong. Those ingredients sounded better than any of the others. Pro-Plan was recommended by my vet. She said that a 'little' of that was more nutritious than 'more' of any other the other dog foods. Now that the subject has been brought up again, I would love to find a food that is good for my pet as an addition to the cooking, for convenience sake.
Linda P
Hi! just went to take a look. Wow! I went to API's homepage and went to their site "Premarin-just say no" and almost wish I hadn't. I take premarin. I have ostioporosis. For those of you, like me, that didn't have any idea about the fact that premarin is collected as pregnant mare urine.....and how the animals are treated.....oh my.
Dear JoanG: Just got back from the bookstore. Bought Dr. Pitcairn's book. Read it enough to want to ask you: Do you use all the stuff he suggests to put into the food? Vitamins, bone meal, Healthy Powder, etc.? I'm not certain I know where to find all the ingredients without your help. Bulgar??? I'm at work and can't remember all the stuff, but would really appreciate the recipes that YOU use and how you prepare them. I liked the oats and chicken and grated carrots recipe. I'll probably try that one first, and the puppy biscuits. Have you made them? Do you cook your meats or serve them raw as he suggests? Thanks,
Annette (Mikee & Angel)
Annette: Happy to help! I started out using Pitcairn's "Fresh Meat Supplement for Dog Kibble" (Pg. 45) which I mixed with California Natural by Natura Pet. For the last few months, I have been preparing "Dog Growth Diet B" (Pg. 62), varying the meat, grain and veggies. I find this recipe the easiest for me right now and, I think, the best for Lucca who is now just 9 1/2 months old. I contacted Whiskers, a dog nutrition store in Manhattan (web site: http://choicemall.com/whiskers/) and had them mix up a batch of Healty Powder. With such a small dog (and small NYC apartment) it didn't make sense to buy all the ingredients seperately. They mailed me 8 oz. of Healthy Powder and 4 oz. of bone meal at a cost of just over $9, but it has lasted over five months. The other ingredients I have found at my neighborhood health food store (yes, you can find "bulgar", but I prefer rolled oats). Yes, I feed raw (eeek!) because I believe it is better. But Pitcairn is not "dog-matic" about it. If it makes you uncomfortable, lightly cook the meat. I also give Lucca a raw chicken wing once or twice a week in place of a meal I prepare. His treats include dried apricots and dehydrated beef or chicken livers, broken into small pieces, also, raw marrow bone cut into 1 in. pieces. I always look for hormone-free meats and purchase them from a good local butcher. I am so glad you got Pitcairn's book. Here are a few others you might want to look for: Pat McKay's "Reigning Cats and Dogs". Volhard/Brown's "The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog", and Ian Billinghurst's "Give Your Dog a Bone". I also am on the Well Pet List which is another great source of information and advice. Ask Jay if you can e-mail me privately on this as the instructions are too long to post here. All this sounds more complicated than it really is. Once you do the research, locate sources for ingredients and get into a routine, it is pretty easy to manage. My dog is so healthy with a thick, beautiful coat, no tearstaining, no digestive problems, no ear discharge, just very healthy. I really feel like I am doing the best I can for him, nutritionally anyway (must concentrate on obediance training now). Sorry this is so long, but it is one of my favorite subjects. Ask any questions you want and I will try my best to answer. Good luck!
Well, I checked that site out also. I've been feeding Nature's Recipe Vegetarian and supplementing with turkey at first, then beef, now chicken. ("We" have allergies). The difference in my dogs' scratching, itchiness, anal gland problems, and their coats is enough to tell me I'm doing the right thing. We were possibly facing some nasty anal gland surgury with the cocker mix and now the vet says she is better than ever. Deanna, thanks for pointing us to this site. Annette, I have the same questions as you about the "stuff" in Pitcairn's diet. Where do we get it all? I have some resourses from Wendy Volhard's book.

Joan, what you're doing is to be commended. I plan to get deeper into it as soon as I figure out just what it is GaddyByrd is allergic to. We're doing some elimination now. I also have "Reigning Cats and Dogs" as well as Volhard's and I especially like Carol Boyle's "Natural Food Recipes"...as well as her philosophy. Whatever we do, it is an individual thing and takes alot of committment. I personally find supplementing easy for me. I also give vitamins C, E, B Complex, Cod Liver Oil (but only to the Maltese and the Golden). Just seeing their satisfaction is wonderful, don't you think?!

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