8 Pet Food Industry Myths Consumers Should Know

September 7, 2016

Commercial pet food isn't always safe.

Throughout my 9 years of involvement in the pet food world, I have encountered too many instances where manufacturers repeatedly mislead or lie to consumers. I want to believe the hype; I want to feel like makers of pet food truly have our pets interests at heart; I want to know I can trust them to provide safe and nutritious food for my dog and 2 cats. Unfortunately, the truth doesn’t measure up to what I want. If you believe you can walk into a grocery or a big box discount store, pick up a bag of popular dog food and walk out, certain your pet will benefit from your purchase, you really need to read the following myths about the pet food industry.

Myth #1:  Big pet food manufacturers have the best interests of our dogs and cats in mind when they create their products.

The truth is that they don’t give a rat’s fanny about the well-being of our pets. They are all about their bottom line and making sure they pass the necessary Department of Agriculture , Food & Drug Administration, and AAFCO inspections. As long as the product sells, their concern ends.

Notice that I described them as “Big pet food manufacturers.” There is a reason for that. I find that many smaller companies tend to produce, or try to produce better and safer products.

Myth #2:  That commercial pet food is safe.

Some commercial pet foods are safe, and some have way too many problems. Aside from ingredients in the actual products, there can be problems with mold in the grains used, sanitation in the production process, lack of oversight and inspections, which leads me to the next myth.

Cats do best on a diet of meat

Myth #3:  That the FDA enforces the laws it makes about pet food manufacturing. 

The truth is quite different. Susan Thixton tells it best in her quest to get answers from the FDA. Our government’s “watchdog” over all things pet food doesn’t seem to go after the big problems which appear to be created by big companies. Instead, they focus on the little guy. Read her article to understand the lack of oversight by the very group that should be protecting our pets.

Myth #4:  If a veterinarian sells it, it must be good.

Many vet clinics offer Hill’s Science Diet for sale. The example below shows the ingredients in their Canine Adult Beef & Chicken Canned Dog Food.

One example showing pet food industry does not have pets best health in mind.

If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you already know that the ingredients are not what pets should be eating. The first 4 ingredients count the most in weight, and the very first is water. The fourth ingredient is a by-product, which should not be fed to any dog or cat. The next 4 ingredients are grains, which could also be bad. More about that in the next myth. Science Diet chooses to use soybean oil in this product. Soy is one of the grains that is most likely a genetically-modified ingredient since more than 90% of the soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. GMO plants are sprayed with the commercial equivalent of Round-Up and that ends up in pet food.

Corn is not good for pets.

Myth #5:  That corn is a safe protein alternative in pet food.  Once more, the truth is that many pets are allergic to corn. For more information about the inclusion of corn and other grains, read my article, “The Truth about Grains in Pet Food.” You will find that some animals develop skin conditions or ear infections from eating corn. Corn really isn’t all that high in protein, compared to real meat. Plus, you run the risk of grain molds and mites in the food. Some manufacturers place corn or some derivative of it as the first or second ingredient in their products. That means that your pet would be eating more corn than the other ingredients in the food.

Myth #6:  That dry pet food doesn’t spoil.  Not so! Dry dog and cat foods are subject to mold.  That’s why they show an expiration date on the package. When I operated a retail pet supplies shop, we sent several packages of pet food back to the supplier because the customer opened them and found the product was full of mold. In those cases, the food was well within the expiration date, meaning the food spoiled by some other means.

Myth #7:  Pet food manufacturers don’t lie.  This one really bothers me, because I want to believe the ads I see on television. I want to believe they wouldn’t intentionally harm a pet. But there are documented cases where well-known companies did mislead the public with lies in their advertising. Blue Buffalo admitted in Court that a “substantial and material portion of Blue Buffalo pet foods sold the last few years contained poultry by-product meal, despite pervasive advertising claims to the contrary.”  Yet, we’ve all seen the television ads in years past that specifically said NO By-Products in their foods. They blamed the mistake on their supplier and that may be the truth. But pet food companies owe it to their customers to research their own products and know for sure what is in them before they go on the open market.

Myth #8:  That by-products are good for pets and high in protein. Yes, they can be high in protein but the good may end right there. As I wrote here, by-products come from the rendering industry. Laws require that if a by-product is named, such as chicken by-products, it cannot contain other animals or bones and blood and feathers, among others. If the by-product is general, such as meat by-products or meat meal, there is no telling what may be in that food.

“Meat by-products are created by cooking animal carcasses at such a high heat that the material is melted.  Anything usable is separated from the mess and dried, separating fat from bone.  Out of this, they form a protein meal, which becomes kibble you see in dry pet food.  Most by-products contain parts of animals that are not suitable for humans to eat.”

The pet food industry doesn't always take care of our pets' nutritional needs.Keep in mind that any ingredient that is not a specifically-named meat is prepared in a rendering vat that can contain supermarket waste, old restaurant fat/grease that may have been outside in high heat for weeks before being picked up, euthanized animals from veterinarians, and even road kill. For more information on the pet food rendering industry, read this.  Avoid meat by-products and meals unless they are named meats, like chicken, beef, lamb.

Americans spend approximately 17.4 billion dollars a year on pet food, and every manufacturer wants to get a piece of that pie. Be sure you know the truth before you shop for dog or cat food and don’t be fooled by all the media hype.


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