When I think of all the things that I give serious consideration to on a daily basis, the topics that always rise to the top of my concerns are issues pertaining to what I feed my dog, from both a nutritional standpoint and even more importantly, the concerns that must be addressed pertaining to safety.
In caring for our dog’s well being, we can be more than reasonably assured that we are meeting all of the nutritional requirements to keep our beloved pet in excellent health. It’s almost inconceivable that any mass-marketed dog food that you will find for sale would be lacking in any way from a nutritional standpoint. Dog food companies spend millions in nutritional research in what is a highly competitive multi-billion dollar industry, with each company looking for a way to gain another point of market share. No, nutrition is not a major issue, but dog food safety is a very serious issue for me and there is nothing hyperbolic about calling it a matter of life and death.
Over the past decade there have been numerous cases of dog foods being recalled by various producers. If you are a long-time dog owner you may recall one of the most tragic incidents that took place in 2007 when various pet foods were contaminated with the deadly chemical melamine, used in the production of fertilizers, plastics and other compounds that should not be associated with anything you would ever consider feeding to your animal. If you’re a more recent pet owner, then it is important that you be made aware of what took place at that time.
These tainted foods were responsible for causing severe illness in tens of thousands of cats and dogs across the entire country. Many thousands of these animals perished in one of the most sudden and tragic animal-poisoning episodes in American history. The melamine had found its way into a common ingredient in pet food, wheat gluten, which originated from China, imported in large quantities as a cost-cutting measure.
This incident, which can only be described as horrific, left many thousands of pet guardians grieving, angered and totally stunned upon coming to the realization that the resulting injury to, or loss of their special family member was the result of unadulterated greed and a callous disregard by the food producers to save a few pennies per serving in their products. This abject disregard for the safety and lives of their pets was a wake-up call for animal lovers and the pet food industry. By contaminating their products with this crippling (and oftentimes deadly) additive, the food producers were making a concerted effort by adding the wheat gluten to bolster the impression that their foods were higher in protein, considered by consumers to be a major selling point.
I wish I could tell you that this is the only occurrence of this type of incident over the past decade. Unfortunately, it is not. More than one producer of even so-called “premium brands” has had to recall their products for various types of contamination, including very recently.
As I stated earlier, most mass-market pet foods meet the nutritional standards that anyone would expect, but even with keeping that in mind, it is still important to do careful research, from time to time pertaining to dog food safety. Additionally, if you are a guardian of both dogs and cats, don’t think for a single minute that your feline friend is safe from such occurrences. That misconception can lead to tragic results.
If you are a consumer of highly-processed, commercially prepared, mass-market pet foods, you owe it to yourself and your charges to develop a routine by which you can check reliable sources to keep abreast of these contaminations which can spring up, seemingly overnight.
Mass-market pet foods may also contain a long list of potentially harmful and totally unnecessary ingredients, ranging from pesticides, bulk fillers, artificial colorants, flavor additives, preservatives and various chemicals. Some of these, such as the preservatives BHT and BHA, which are generally found together, have been suspected of being cancer-causing agents, yet they are still used in many pet food formulations, needlessly. One final word of caution and that pertains to ‘dog treats.’ There have been many deadly incidents concerning these, so always look for nationally recognized brands when purchasing these, also.
Caring for our pets is something that brings us a sense of happiness. Believing that we are doing the best we can by our pets is extremely rewarding and is one of the great joys of pet guardianship. I’m sure you’ll agree that taking the time to be certain that you are providing your dog or cat with foods of the highest nutritional value and safety standards is a major responsibility in caring for your animal.
Rest assured that the folks at Pampered Pup will always notify our patrons of any recall that we are aware of, on the day we discover it. By subscribing to our newsletter you can put one more line of defense between your pet and what could be a potential disaster. You should also find other sources of this information that you can check on a regular basis. You will only hear of these incidents on local TV when they reach national proportions.
In keeping with this pledge, please refer to the information, which can be found by following these links, pertaining to some recent pet food recalls you should be aware of.
Next month I will touch on a wide range of ‘people foods’ that can bring health problems to your four-legged friend. While you may be aware of many of them, I’m confident there may be more than a couple that might surprise you.