Do you know what’s really in your pet treats?
The FDA has investigated 5,600 reports of illness and death related to chicken jerky and yam pet treats – leaving many pet owners wondering what’s really in the food and treats we’re giving our animals. Pet food entrepreneur Amy Renz investigated the ingredients, finding astonishing and disturbing results.
Pet treats that proudly say “USA Made” are actually misleading. This label doesn’t indicate the source of ingredients; the classification only requires the processing of the ingredients to take place in the U.S. There’s currently no Country Of Origin Labeling (“COOL”) requirement in the USA for processed foods.
Why should a food’s country of origin matter? In China, where many pet product ingredients come from, more than 80% of the people are concerned about food safety. Concerns include illegal additives, excessive pesticide use, and diseased livestock. And it looks like these concerns are well-founded: China-made dog treats like Waggin’ Train, Canyon Creek Ranch, and Milo’s Kitchen have reportedly killed or sickened over 1000 US dogs.
According to Renz, pet treat labels frequently list melamine, BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, Sodium Metabisulfite, and TBHQ. Renz notes that Del Monte and Purina routinely use these chemicals, which are known to be carcinogenic and can cause liver and kidney problems, loss of consciousness, and brain damage. Not only are these chemicals in pet treats – they’re also used to manufacture rubber and petroleum products, including embalming fluid.
Melamine, which is a toxic substance derived from petroleum, was responsible for the largest pet food recall in North American history: 60 million packages of pet food were recalled. In 2011, the owners of the animals who were affected by food contaminated with melamine received a settlement of $24 million.
Many pet treats, such as Purina Moist ‘n Meaty, include Ethoxyquin on their labels. The FDA prohibited Ethoxyquin from human consumption, except for minute quantities in certain spices.
Sodium Metabisulfite (the preservative in Milk-Bones) is harmful if ingested or inhaled. BHA and BHT are banned in England, Japan, and several European countries. BHA is thought by the National Institutes of Health to cause stomach cancer. BHA and TBHQ are classified as nongenotoxic (not directly affecting DNA) carcinogens (Kroes and Wester, 1986). The FDA puts strict requirements on all of these toxic chemical preservatives in human food, but pet foods have few if any requirements and often contain much more. Why are companies allowed to place these dangerous substances in our pets’ food?
There are natural solutions for preserving food, such as dehydration – but that’s more expensive than using sodium metabisulfite, BHA, BHT, TBHQ or ethoxyquin.
MSG, an addictive substance, is included in pet food but not listed on the label. When a label states that a protein is “hydrolyzed,” it likely contains MSG. MSG is likely a causal factor in pet obesity because it can more than triple insulin levels. More than 50% of dogs and cats in the U.S. are reportedly obese.
Refined sugars are added to pet food because dogs can taste sweetness. Sugar can cause obesity, dental problems, and diabetes. The FDA allows cancer-causing saccharine to be sold to humans and genetically modified ingredients to be undisclosed on labels. Glycerin is a sugar substitute and filler and hydrogenated starch hydrolysate is an artificial sweetener with a similar chemical compound to Xylitol, which is a known pet toxin.
Wheat, which can be difficult for dogs to digest, is frequently identified as an allergen. Wheat is in countless dog treats, including Milk-Bones (Del Monte), Pup-Peroni (Del Monte), Beggin Strips (Purina), Waggin Train Jerky Tenders (ADI in China), Busy Bones (Purina), Moist n Meaty (Purina), T-Bonz (Purina), Beneful Snackin’ Slices (Purina), and The Goodlife Recipe (Mars, Inc.).
Propylene glycol, which is lethal for pets, is found in antifreeze as well as the following pet treats: Milk-Bones (Del Monte), Beggin Strips (Purina), Pup-Peroni (Del Monte), T-Bonz (Purina), Beneful Snackin’ Slices (Purina), Moist n’ Meaty (Purina), and Busy Bone (Purina).
Wolves in captivity live for 20 years or longer, but dogs frequently die at far earlier ages. Cancer is the #1 killer of our dogs; 25-50% of them die from it by some estimates. The toxins in their food are arguably a significant contributing factor.
Our pets cannot tell us that they feel ill – experiencing headaches, itchy skin, gastrointestinal upset, dizziness, and weakness. Disturbingly, in the four years since Renz first began investigating pet treat ingredients, few, if any, changes have been made to diminish the danger to pets who consume store-bought treats and foods.
The market for healthier pet food and treats is growing rapidly. But instead of making a better product, companies like Del Monte (the maker of Milk Bones) make a better gimmick, like inventing Milo’s Kitchen. Del Monte markets Milo’s Kitchen as a ‘home-style’ treat, but the chicken treats are produced in China.”
Renz recommends using alternatives to the larger companies. “I’ve noticed healthier choices coming from new companies,” she stated.
“These are products that contain what the industry doesn’t like us to call ‘human-grade’ ingredients. They’re products from companies like my company, Goodness Gracious, or The Honest Kitchen, or Primal Pet Foods. Our ingredients are fresh, wholesome, USDA certified, and nutritious. They’re the same ingredients you’d feed all members of your family.”
While our pets cannot tell us that our kindness is killing them softly, educating yourself about the ingredients in their pet treat labels can help your pet live many years longer. To learn more about Renz’s company, visit their website.
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