April 29, 2012

Diet & Your Pet’s Food. ~ Alana Stevenson


A few weeks ago, I called a fairly large pet food manufacturer (of higher quality pet food) and gave them my ‘what for.’

I had just bought a bag of a variety I hadn’t tried before hoping that my feline friends would eat it without looking away as if—you’ve got to be kidding, you want me to eat what? When I opened the bag of what was supposedly a myriad dried sea creatures and avian parts, I found animal hairs.

Tired of throwing numerous bags and cans away over the years, and fed up, I made the phone call. And I was surprised when I received a call back the next morning.

Being an animal behaviorist for dogs and cats, I have seen “higher-quality” pet foods I had recommended fizzle in quality while increasing in price (I’ve noted this trend too doing my own personal grocery shopping). The company I had called had bought the brand of pet food I regularly recommended to my clients nearly a decade ago.

I usually get asked pet foods and products I recommend. At this point, none seem to come to mind. I myself have gone to feeding animals more ‘human-grade’ food or what is often called ‘people’ food. Pet food was manufactured so companies could make money off of the slop and wastes from slaughterhouses.

Virtually all of the ‘higher quality’ or better pet foods have been bought out by multinationals such as Colgate-Palmolive and Proctor & Gamble. Puppies universally never want to eat Iams, Eukanuba, and Science Diet. Many foods promoted as ‘allergy-free’ are loaded with cornmeal and corn gluten (an allergen for many animals).

Cornmeal is a notorious culprit in many skin ailments—itching, mysterious infections and sores that are traditionally treated with steroids. Steroids, of course, rarely relieve the problems long term, and in the case of mysterious skin issues, itchiness and licking between the toes, often not at all.

And now, of course, the vast majority of products or ingredients are made in and shipped from China. Made in China, lack of labeling, grotesque pesticides and rampant genetic engineering of plants and animals is now a crisis with food we consume. It becomes even more appalling when we consider what is in animal feed and ‘pet’ products.

The ridiculous numbers of pet deaths and on-going pet food recalls that never seem to end speaks for itself. Pet food is the bottom of the barrel of unmentionables and gross, cheap fillers.

Instead of simply suggesting that clients avoid packaged pet food and treats that contain artificial colors and flavors, animal “digest,” “rendered” animal products, by-products, corn meal and corn gluten, I recommend they skip most packaged and processed pet food altogether.

The terrible ingredients that go into pet food and animal feed has been an issue for decades. When I was about nine years old, I was given the book Natural Health for Dogs & Cats by Dr. Pitcairn (I read every single page). I don’t think we would live a healthy life on fortified corn flakes mixed with some waste products and moldy fillers.

What do I suggest now?

There are many homemade recipes you can prepare for your dog and kitty, including recipes for those dogs and cats who suffer from unknown allergies. Dr. Pitcairn’s book has recipes to follow. Another book is Not Fit for A Dog: The Truth about Manufactured Dog and Cat Food, by Dr. Michael Fox (Dr. Fox, an animal advocate and veterinarian, gave a very nice testimonial for my book, Training Your Dog the Humane Way).

My clients have trained with peaches, apples, bananas, carrots, cashews, sweet potatoes and carob and molasses treats. I have a little arsenal of kitty treat recommendations for my kitty clients. One of my clients baked carob and molasses “fudge” brownies and pumpkin bread for her deaf Great Dane’s training sessions.

Many of my clients have been more than happy to steer away from processed pet foods and switch to more holistic, healthy food for their dogs and cats.

Back to the phone call. The woman on the phone genuinely seemed disheartened by my complaint and wanted to send me a bubble mailer to send in some samples. I’m happy to have called and complained to the company instead of tossing away the receipt and throwing out the product.


Editor: Hayley Samuelson


Alana Stevenson is a Dog and Cat Behaviorist, humane Dog trainer and Animal Massage Therapist. She has a MS in Bio ed. and is the author of Training Your Dog the Humane Way and The Right Way the First Time. She can be contacted through her website www.AlanaStevenson.com.

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