By now, most pet owners have heard of the Menu pet food recall that affected hundreds of pet food brands and caused the deaths of pets throughout the country. The exact number of pets who died as a direct result of eating these contaminated foods is debatable. The Menu foods recall was, simply put, a tragedy. Many unsuspecting pet owners literally killed their pets by feeding them! The aftermath of losing one's beloved pet was even more profound to those owners because they felt that they had caused their own pet's death.
However, is there a bigger message in this tragedy? Is there anything positive that can be gleaned from this horrible happening? At The Wholistic Pet®, we believe that the answer is a resounding "YES!"
If the recall had never happened, then most of us would still be unaware of some of the ingredients that traditionally comprise pet food. Why would we question the ingredients that go into making food that we so trustingly pour into our pet's food bowl at every feeding? After all, isn't it the best that we can be feeding our pets? Unfortunately, the answer is not always "yes."
Just as the food we eat varies between brands, the same holds true for pet food companies that utilize varying qualities of food and ingredients. The truth of the matter is that cost is a factor when it comes to buying the food that we eat and it becomes a major factor when buying food that our pets eat. In addition, pet food companies need to balance what is an adequately nutritious diet for pets with what consumers are willing to pay to feed their pets and what profits the company must realize.
A general rule of thumb when purchasing your pet's food is "if you can't recognize an ingredient, don't buy it." The exception would be vitamins whose scientific names can sound bewildering. For instance, Vitamin E is known as alpha-tocopherol and Vitamin C is known as calcium ascorbate. According to AAFCO, the regulatory body for all animal feed, vitamins must be listed on the label in their scientific names. However, these are usually found at the very end of the ingredient list because it is the relatively smallest amount added to any diet. On the other hand, if the label you are reading contains artificial ingredients, artificial preservatives or chemical names, it most likely is not what you have in mind when buying food that is meant to nourish your pet.
Everyone has heard of the old adage "Buyer, beware!" and that certainly applies to pet food. It really is a matter of pet owners becoming more educated and questioning what really is in that bag of pet food. After all, most of us would not even remotely consider feeding a food to our family that is mashed into an indistinguishable mass, heated to exceedingly high temperatures, pressed into hard little nuggets, spray-dried with an irresistible taste meant to encourage eating and then packaged into a bag with a one-year expiration date!
Just because a package -- with a photo of a healthy appearing pet -- is labeled as dog food, or cat food, or any other pet food fare, don't assume that it is necessarily the best for your pet! However, the good news is that as more and more pet owners question what they are feeding their pets, more and more conscientious pet food manufacturers are beginning to respond by using more natural, higher quality ingredients in their formulas. It is a start, and it is very good news for all pet owners!