Dirty Secrets of the Pet Food Industry
Such ads have become a fixture in our media, an integral aspect of our culture for decades. They always seem to depict the happiest, most contented people, along with the healthiest looking, most beautiful, vibrant, clear eyed, glossy coated, friendly, lovable and adorable cats and dogs imaginable.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
These advertisements, while seemingly innocuous, are actually extremely sophisticated in terms of the ways in which they’re designed to appeal very powerfully to our subconscious nature, so as to coerce us into purchasing the products they’re pushing.
They often anthropomorphize animals, causing us to identify with our pets even more closely than we already do. The ads sometimes also strive to convince us that the kinds of foods that are appealing to and/or perhaps healthy for us, are also good for our animal friends to eat.
The Ploy of “Delicious” Pet Food
Many pet food ads also make a big point of focusing on how delectable their products are, driving home the point of how much our pets absolutely love and crave the taste of them. Since these ads are obviously not meant for the animals themselves to watch, it’s almost as if the advertisers are trying to make our human mouths water with the kinds of graphic descriptions they use to convince us of just how incredibly yummy and delicious these pet foods really are!
Besides the irresistible flavor of the products they’re promoting, these ads also often describe the ingredients pet foods contain as being utterly wholesome, exceptionally nutritious, and totally geared toward promoting the good health of our pets.
Pet food commercials often give us a very warm, fuzzy, comforting feeling. They can be very effective at engendering in us a sense of safety and security, as if to convince us wholeheartedly that the products they’re selling are a really good, solid, nourishing foundation upon which the health of our pets can be built. These ads can make us feel that if we buy the products they’re selling and feed them to our pets, that by doing so we’re taking the best care possible of our beloved furry friends. The ads lead us to believe that by feeding our animals their particular brand of products, we’re making the best choice possible to ensure the good health and longevity of our precious, beloved animal companions.
Pet Food Is All About Branding
We get ‘branded’ when we get sold on a brand and plunk down our hard earned money to buy that particular one.
And yet despite how effectively these pet food ads evoke such feelings in us — feelings of being so safe and secure, so good about ourselves, and so comforted in the notion that the products they’re convincing us to buy are such a good healthy choice for our pets to eat on a daily basis – the real and startlingly contradictory truth underlying the pet food industry at large is a subject about which the vast majority of people remain quite blissfully unaware.
Most people have no idea that virtually all of what goes into those cans and bags of pet food are vast amounts of waste products – many of which are pretty darn nasty – that are left over from the manufacture of food for human consumption.
Another significant portion of the ingredients used in the manufacture of commercial pet food is derived from genetically modified grain crops, particularly soy and corn, which are virtually always heavily sprayed with toxic petrochemical pesticides and herbicides, and grown in depleted soils treated with synthetic fertilizers.
I believe the term “junk pet food,” which is the phrase I use to describe commercially manufactured pet food, was coined by Australian veterinarian Dr. Tom Lonsdale. He’s the author of two books about raw feeding for pets, entitled Work Wonders and Raw Meaty Bones.
The reason I call it junk is because after doing a great deal of research and digging very deeply into this subject, it has become abundantly evident to me that the majority of these pet food products are of extremely – nay, shockingly – poor quality. In fact when it comes to providing the kind of nourishment our carnivorous companions truly require to thrive, the vast majority of these pet foods fail miserably, and many, in my opinion, are downright dreadful.
That many pets can even survive at all on a lifelong diet of such abysmal junk food is truly a remarkable yet tragic testament to their incredible resilience and adaptability.
We who are interested in learning about, purchasing and preparing the most nutrient dense, wholesome foods possible for ourselves and our families, are all too well aware of what a profoundly deleterious effect the consumption of poor quality, highly processed junk food can have on our human health.
Pet Food Leads to Chronic Pet Ill Health
Well, the same is true for our furry friends. And the epidemic of chronic ill health in the form of debilitating ailments such as periodontal disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer etc. etc. in the junk pet food-fed domestic pet population is surely a telling parallel.
So just what are the dirty secrets of the junk pet food industry? The most disturbing, nitty gritty details, which are beyond the scope of this piece, can be found by reading several online resources which are linked at the end of this post.
To provide an overview here, what’s most important to know is that the bulk of ingredients used in most commercial pet foods come from places called rendering plants. Rendering plants are facilities designed to process a wide variety of leftover waste products, a number of which are quite unspeakable, and most of which are derived from the production of food for human consumption.
Here’s a partial list of items that are routinely sent to, and processed by, rendering plants:
- Slaughterhouse wastes, including most all portions of animals that are not generally considered to be fit for human consumption, such as heads, hides, spines, hooves and diseased body parts
- Diseased, disabled, dying or dead livestock deemed unfit for human consumption, aka 4D animals
- Expired meats from grocery stores, including their plastic and styrofoam packaging
- rancid, overcooked oils drained from fryolators, and filthy grease from grease traps from fast food and other restaurants
- The bodies of domestic cats and dogs that have been euthanized, sometimes right along with flea and tick collars still attached around their necks
- Road kill, YES ROAD KILL!
Rendering plants take the above sorts of items and throw them all into a giant auger to pulverize them.
The resulting ‘soup’ is cooked at extremely high temperatures, surely at least in part to kill off all the potentially harmful bacteria, pathogens and parasites that may be lingering on dead, rotting flesh. However this very high heat also destroys much of whatever nutritional value the stuff may have ever had to begin with. Then the fat is rendered off, and what’s left is made into various products that are known by the euphemistic terms we’re used to seeing on pet food ingredients lists.
If you haven’t already, I would strongly encourage everyone reading this post who is concerned about the health of our pets to start reading pet food labels.
Here’s a partial list of suspect ingredients that come from rendering plants:
- meat by-products
- chicken by-product meal
- meat meal
- meat and bone meal
- animal digest
- animal fat (often treated with things like BHA and/or citric acid)
Also, notice how many junk pet food ingredients listed on the label are grain based, such as corn, soy, wheat, rice, sorghum or barley etc.
As you begin to notice how many grain based ingredients are contained in these products, please bear in mind that dogs and cats are carnivorous animals whose bodies were never designed to consume grains in any appreciable quantities.
For those of you interested in learning the details, below are links to several relevant web pages and articles that delve even more deeply into this troubling subject:
Sources and More Information
An avid independent researcher, writer, speaker, foodie, herbalist, lifelong lover of nature, and perpetual student, Linda Zurich is the author of Detoxification: 70 Ways to Cleanse, Clear and Purify Your Body, Space and Life, and the Raw Fed Cats eBook.