Monday, January 31, 2011

"Pet Food: A Dog's Breakfast"

 I found a link to watch this video online.

This show was in general very disappointing. They did not present anything about the process of rendering and the resultant poor quality fats and protein meals that form the lion's share of pet food ingredients. The persistant dangers of mycotoxins in kibbles didn't get a mention at all. The risk of bacterial contamination of a raw diet is mentioned without any mention of the fact that kibbles have been recalled more often for salmonella than any commercial raw diet.

The use of old, stale grains was not mentioned, the impression was that the corn and rice etc are no different than what we people eat. An entire section is devoted to comparing cheap with "premium" kibbles and it is stated that there is no difference...but they are basing that on the nutritional analysis which is actually not any gauge of quality in any pet food. What they should have been comparing is kibbled "pet food" with FRESH food. But that didn't happen.

Label comparisons by veterinary students in school? Not very helpful in teaching them about advising clients on what constitutes an appropriate diet. A vet who "trusts" dog food companies was spotlighted too, and there was no counter to her notions of how healthful some of these heavily processed foods actually might be.

One woman (dog nutritionist?) baked up her own kibble. Her point was that using poor quality ingredients can make a palatable food....but I think her point got lost in the actually looked like something that might be tasty and delicious. And, we know that there is no kibble that is baked in the oven.....except maybe that one premium brand "Flint River Ranch"......I did like the demo on how a mixture of shoe leather, motor oil and sawdust would make a food that meets the standards....that should have been included early on in the show. By the time they got to it, I was frustrated to death with this lackluster presentation.

So what if there is more corn in her kibble than meat? So what if fish heads are used? Did they mention that the meat scraps, fish heads etc are rendered into a glop and then dried into a non-nutritious meal? Did they mention about how rendering and extruding breaks down the essential amino acids to create deficiency problems?? A few minor details left out. Hey dogs have eaten man's dinner scraps for thousands of years, no big deal to most viewers, right?

There was no mention of the reasons WHY grains and carbs are not optimal feed, except one mention that cats are carnivores and should not be fed grains. Another mention that the grains lose nutrients when cooked. There really was no sense of urgency in this production about the ingredients used or the true depth of the overprocessing....feeding kibble is not comparable to feeding your kidds pizza for your kids, as was suggested in this show. That made it sound sort of like kibble is a fun food! Good lord!

Their presented solution is more regulation of pet food, as if that will make it safer. Overprocessed, poor quality dry food cannot be made any more healthy or safe.....IMHO, the solution is to educate the public to stop buying commercial pet food and instead feed a fresh diet!

This is the companion article to the documentary, :

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Parable-Dog Law in Virginia

(Flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. You pull to the curb and stop. A cop stops behind you and approaches. He goes to the front of your car, breaks a headlight with lug wrench and comes back to the

"Lady, didn't you see the speed limit sign back there?"

(You struggle to control your anger.)

"Ah, no, officer. But I was only going about 25."

"The sign says 'DON'T DRIVE TOO FAST OR TOO SLOW.' That's how we do the speed limits in this town."

"OH ... I didn't know that. But I was only going about 25."

"You were, ahhh ... (looks around) going too slow. And you're driving an unsafe vehicle with a broken headlight."

"I'm sorry. I didn't hurt anything. I'll be more careful next time."

"Good idea, lady, now get out of your car."


"I said, get out of your car. You can take your purse and cell phone but leave the keys in the ignition."


"You heard me. DO IT, or I'll arrest you."

(Cop gets in car. You start to lose it.)


"Better call a cab; my partner has to get the cruiser home in time for his dinner."


(Cop laughs)

"Yeah, lady, you do that. Hey, nice wheels. See you!"

(Drives off in your car, followed by cruiser.)

Less than two weeks later having been trashed as an 'abusive driver'-- "Her car was in deplorable condition" -- in three newspaper articles, you go to a hearing in front of a judge. You are required to forfeit your car and pay all costs. Several days later the Prosecutor charges you with ten counts of driving a vehicle in unsafe condition and nine counts of driving too fast.

Your attorney explains that the loss of your car was a 'civil forfeiture' -- you were using the car to violate the law, so the state had the right to take it away. NOW you are being given criminal charges for your actions. Since each 0.1 mile is a separate violation and the cop followed you for a mile, you're up for 19 Class
1 misdemeanors. Bad -- if convicted you could spend up to 19 years in jail. The good news is that you're being offered a plea bargain: If you plead guilty to two counts of driving too fast they'll let you off
with just a fine -- no jail time.

"I thought the charge was driving too slow."

"I donno -- the cop says you were going way too fast. You're lucky he didn't check his speedometer until he'd been following you for a bit, or it would have been an even 20 Class 1's."

"Can't I fight the charges?"

"Sure -- but can you prove you weren't going too fast? Can you prove that your headlight wasn't broken? When juries aren't sure, they often split the verdict. They might find you guilty on 10 counts for the headlight but not for the speeding."

So you take the plea bargain. You agree to two years supervised probation, you are barred from ever driving again, and given a ten year jail sentence, suspended on good behavior. Your fine is $2000 plus $3231.37 in court costs. You lose your job because you can't get to where you work by public transportation. Your attorney -- retainer $5000 -- says "Well, that's the law." He explains that the cop had the required two weeks of training but like a few others on that town's force, he had lost a loved one to a reckless driver, so "He really doesn't like people who don't obey speed limits."

You see an ad in the paper where a garage owned by the cop is selling your car for the blue book value.


Impossible and stupid, right? Couldn't happen, right? RIDICULOUS, right?

Absolutely right on all. However that IS the way Virginia's laws work for dogs and cats. And the fact that not one Virginian in 100,000 has been on the short end of those laws is why the need for HB 2482 wasn't understood.

Of course the targets are nearly all dog breeders and it's not likely that more than one Virginian in 1000 has done that. You are all perfectly safe, for now. And for now, you'll be able to get your next pet from someone -- either in state and not yet driven out of breeding or in another state whose laws aren't yet as bad as Virginia's.

However the HSUS campaign is nationwide; in ten years or so those laws will be nationwide (look for a federal law within five years) and we'll be making do with dogs that are bred or imported illegally at much higher prices.

You think HSUS will stick to dog breeders with these campaigns and not move on to farmers? Researchers who use animals?

I think we should also consider that a nation that allows laws of this kind for animal owners might one day allow them for other people.

"First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist."

Walt Hutchens

Timbreblue Whippets

Monday, January 24, 2011

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie....YES!

An article posted on AOL news this week admonished pet owners to NOT sleep with their pets. It seems there is reported to be a SERIOUS risk that pets can transmit diseases and parasites to their owners. The sensational title even proclaims that sleeping dogs in your bed can KILL you.

Now I'm no expert, but I believe that most contagious diseases are species-specific. In other words, I'm much more likely to contract an illness from my spouse or my kids if THEY sleep with me. Or hug me, or kiss me.....and need we mention the risk of sexually transmitted diseases in humans?

Shucks, I'm really in serious trouble when I get into my car...I might get into an accident and get injured or even killed. Assuming I make it safely to my destination, if it is a public place like a store or a bank, I am routinely exposed to MRSA, flu and cold bugs and even more serious diseases like tuberculosis that travel undeterred throughout the human population.

Assuming someone loves his dog enough to allow him into his bed at night, that person likely also loves their dog enough to treat him for fleas and other parasites. Dogs licking us will make us sick? I dunno about that, but somebody sure gave me a nasty flu bug last Thanksgiving, and betcha dollars to donuts it was NOT a dog.

Two examples were used in this article. In the first, a child supposedly contracted bubonic plague from sleeping with a flea-infested cat. Now, unless that cat was ill with the plague that is a highly dubious scenario. And it's about as likely as, well, getting shot at a Safeway store in Arizona or maybe even at a school or post office. More likely the flea in question originated with a sick wild animal. And anyway, don't most of today's pet owners routinely treat their pets for fleas and other parasites?

The other example cited was the report of a couple who repeatedly became re-infected with MRSA. This problem was attributed to their dog. Gee, by definition MRSA is a "resistant" bacteria, difficult to eliminate even with the strongest of antibiotics. Seriously, blaming the dog for a bacteria that is resistant to treatment? Ridiculous! The couple probably passed that bacteria back and forth just fine without any help from the dog.

Given the fact that there are so many documented therapeutic mental health benefits to including pets in our lives, it smacks of a bizarre, pet-hating agenda by the likes of PETA and similar social miscreants to draw such bold, unsubstantiated conclusions.

As to wound licking, saliva has enzymes and other beneficial components that may possibly assist in wound healing. But, on the other hand, saliva can also in some rare cases transmit other pathogenic bacteria. And, there may be a certain risk to those with compromised immune systems like children and the elderly. It's probably good advice to not treat your wounds with licks from your dog's tongue. But what does that have to do with a dog sharing your bed, or couch, or for that matter, sharing the same floor space?

If your true concern is reducing serious disease....keep the dogs, ditch the humans!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Risky Business

Truth is, commercial pet food is mostly garbage.

That's right, you heard me correctly. It's garbage.

"OK, fine!" you might say. "Dogs love to eat garbage....and they are even expert poop 'recyclers'! There's no food on the planet that can be a worse for them than poop, right? How bad can pet food garbage really be? Companies have to label it honestly, and they can't sell it if it isn't safe. Right?"

Wrong. As many thousands of owners of pets who were sickened and killed by their dog food will tell you. Dead Wrong.

The undisputed fact is that pet food is composed of the waste products from the food industry.

To make a pet food into that familiar crunchy hard kibble, it is necessary to use mostly dry ingredients. Dry foodstuffs like "meals" are used, along with large quantities of grain products, starches such as peas and potatoes, and dried plant proteins known as "glutens". Add to the mix other non-nutritious ingredients like beet pulp (fiber), rock phosphate for minerals (carrying with it a high load of incidental fluoride) and of course the nondescript "by-products". Some sort of preservative is needed for a long shelf life. These ingredients are then extruded under extreme high heat and pressure into the final kibble-foromed product. As we know from studies on people, overprocessed food lose much of their nutritional value. When you feed kibble, you certainly are not providing your pet with anything that could be fairly considered life-sustaining, much less healthful.
Canned food has the advantage of moistness, lack of chemical preservatives, and improved palatablity. However, the meat used in pet food whether it is canned or kibbled, is amost invariably what is referred to as "4D"..... from Dead, Diseased, Dying or Disabled animals. Yes, even most premium brands use 4D meats.
Another disturbing discovery is the use of rendered companion animals in the ingredient tagged as "meat meal". In the 1990s, some vets reported that dogs seemed to be developing a tolerance to pentobarbital, the drug used to euthanize them. Were they somehow ingesting low doses of pentobarbital? Pentobarbital is never used to kill animals who are destined to be food; it is only used to kill companion animals. Was pentobarbital in pet food? There would have only been one way it could have gotten including the remains of euthanized pets in the meat meals that were produced by rendering plants

In 1998, the FDA did a random sampling of commercial pet foods to check for pentobarbital. Shockingly, 31 of the 37 brands tested had measurable amounts of the toxic drug. A followup study in 2000 found that the highest levels of pentobarbital were found in Ol' Roy, Kibbles and Bits, and Pet Gold. Other popular brands like Purina Pro Plan and Nutro Premium also tested positive for pentobarbital.
The uncomfortable fact is that companion animal carcasses have long been accepted by plants who specialize in "rendering". These carcasses join the dead, diseased livestock and road kill and are ground up, boiled at high temperatures and separated into fats and "meat". This "meat" is then further dried to produce a "meat meal." Meat meal is a major ingredient in many brands of commercial pet foods...and the Pentobartital evidence trail proves that companion animals have been a part of the mix...despite denials by the pet food companies.

So how can we avoid pet food made up of "4D" animals or recycled pets? You can look for a label that touts "human grade" meat, but there is no requirement and certainly no guarantee that "human grade" is ever actually used.

AAFCO is the industry group that certifies pet foods as "complete and balanced", usually with their stamp of approval right on the label! AAFCO is made up of individuals from the pet food industry. In effect, the industry polices itself. The fox is guarding the henhouse.

AAFCO certification means simply that the food in question lists a nutrient profile on the label that meets predetermined criteria for fat and protein content. Alternatively, a certification by AAFCO might mean that a feeding trial was done. To pass an AAFCO feeding trial, 6 out of 8 animals must complete a 26 week course of a steady diet of that particular diet without showing clinical or pathological signs of nutritional deficiency or excess. And 6 of the 8 must not lose over 15% of their initial starting weight. This is supposed to prove that the food is "complete and balanced"? Lack of weight loss is not exactly a ringing endorsement. In my estimation, AAFCO certification is completely worthless.

Think about it for about ten seconds. Dogs and cats are carnivores. How can a food based primarily on grains and carbs, with a bit of "4D" meat thrown into the mix, possibly supply them the necessary vital nutrition? Instead of fresh meats and vegetables, our pets are consuming the sweepings from granary floors, fibrous wastes from beet sugar production, and grains that have been warehoused so long that they are often rancid and infested with mites and mold. Proteins are derived in large part from vegetable sources like wheat, corn and soybeans....and dogs and cats cannot effectively digest plant-derived protein. The little meat included in commercial pet food is "rendered" from dead, diseased, dying and disabled animals.

But the proof is certainly in the pudding, as events in recent years have demonstrated. Recalls occur regularly. Most frightening are deaths due to contaminants like poisonous mold, which naturally grows on stored foodstuffs and produces toxic chemicals that are known as "aflatoxins". Equally horrifying were thousands of pet deaths due to eating food that included glutens tainted with melamine and cyanuric acid. Melamine and cyanuric acid are both high-nitrogen substances. They were illegally cut into glutens to increase the bulk of the product as a way to cut costs. Thankfully, the melamine problem seems to have abated with vigilant monitoring. However, aflatoxins remain an ongoing concern, with a recent recall by Kroger in over 10 states in December 2010 due to high levels of cancer-causing aflatoxins. Aflatoxins, produced by mold on foodstuffs, cause liver damage and liver cancer with long-term low dose exposure, or can kill outright at higher doses by inducing liver failure.

Even more damning evidence of the hypocrisy of the claims of "complete and balanced" pet food lies in the many recalls for vitamin or mineral insufficiencies or, conversely, toxic overdoses. We've seen recalls for lack of vitamin A...something that carnivores have traditionally depended on their meat and organ-based diet to provide. Plant-based beta carotene is useless to dogs and cats as they cannot convert it to vitamin A. Most recently, in 2009, thiamine deficiency in pet food caused deaths. There have been recalls for toxic vitamin D excesses and zinc overdoses.

Contamination with Salmonella, a bacteria that can cause diarrhea and illnes, and often cited as a concern with raw foods, actually has been the source of multiple recalls of dry kibbled pet foods. Apparently, when food is cooked until all microorganisms, both good and bad, are dead, you have just created a petri dish ripe for growing unchecked colonies of the first bacteria or fungus that happens to come in contact with that food. Oops!

The heavy overprocessing of meats used in pet foods degrades vital amino acids including taurine. This often causes actual taurine deficiency disease, manifested by cardiomyopathy. So lets cook the hell out of the food and then make a feeble attempt to add taurine back in? Wrong solution to the problem; taurine is abundant in fresh meats.
Most supplements, including the powdered taurine supplement that is added to pet foods, are exclusively sourced from China, leaving us with no safe haven when it comes to additives in our food supply. The glutens tainted with melamine and cyanuric acid were also sourced from China. I'm doubtful that this new world global economy is beneficial to either us or our pets.

Tainted ingredients are often found in different brands during recalls because dozens of different pet food brands are often made in the same production plant. Yes, even the premium brands are produced right alongside the grocery store brands by large "co-packers". Contaminants have been shared among various brands in recent recalls, premium foods as well as grocery store brands .

Transforming garbage into cash is a magical feat that has been perfected by these pet food industry giants. Is it any wonder that pet food companies are able to sponsor dog shows, and heavily lobby the veterinary schools with grants and freebies intended to push their products on society? You'll notice that most vets foolishly advise owners against feeding their pets fresh foods prepared at home.

Carnivores like dogs and cats rely on their traditional diet of fresh foods to keep them healthy and happy. Give your dog a bone. Give your dog some fresh ground beef, or maybe a chicken wing or back. Scramble him up an egg. Share your fish dinner with him. But please, say NO to commercial pet foods.

Sadly, many out there are so indoctrinated to commercial pet foods that they will remain skeptical of this information. "My pets are just fine and I've fed XXXXX brand for years!" they proclaim. This is comparable to playing a game of Russian Roulette with our pets' lives. And, sadly, for those who die, in hindsight the risk could easily have been avoided.

I rest much easier at night since I made the switch to frozen raw or sun-dried meats, and since I made the decision to share my freshly prepared ricotta cheese and egg casserole with my dogs.

And I cringe whenever I see that bag of "Ol' Roy" dog food ready for checkout in the cart ahead of me at WalMart!
More info:
Info on mycotoxins:
And here is a recent Saturday Night Live spot that is more factual than they might realize! A fictional ad for "Mostly Garbage" dog food:
Gosh that never gets old! I love that SNL spot!