“Once you stop learning, you start dying”

Albert Einstein

Trust my instincts! Live in the moment! “Put up or shut up!” As always, I start with the dogs…simply because I can make my own poor life choices. The animals depend on me to steer them through the human gauntlet of  complicated language driven by rules and organisations who are functioning with deceit, selfishness and the soul sucking need for the all mighty buck!

The grocery store in Burns Lake has always been the social gathering place of friends, family and clients. I never expect to get a simple jug of milk while the kids wait in the truck with their iPhones. If a quick trip is required, I send Jason. I love that mischievous glint in a clients eye when they start asking about poop. “Why does my dog poop so much?”, “My dog has gas…?”, “…loosing her fur?”, itching, constant ear infections, allergies, behaviour issues, house soiling… the list is endless. My answer to them, while I fulfill my addiction to dairy, is always re-directed with a single question…”What are you feeding your dog?”

In a 2017 Netflix documentary called Pet Fooled, the complicated issues and confusing language regarding my redirection is clearly explained. There is a problem in the pet food industry. Clear and simple. A big problem. The evidence of this statement is overwhelming should we choose to look at it. There in lies the human challenge.

As consumers we shop at grocery and pet stores for the convenience and the promise of good nutrition from companies that are passionate about what they do. Right? The clear fact is that our dogs are suffering and dying. They are overweight, diabetic, arthritic, suffer from skin issues and allergies, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. As well-educated pet parents we are experts in allergies….but still cannot muddle through the food labels the industry almost literally throws at us. Marketing tactics include buzz words like pre-biotic, organic, healthy, quality, and natural. Beside an overly simple list of ingredients we see catch phrases like “No artificial” colors, flavors, or fillers…this from chicken jerky treats laced with fatal illegal antibiotics that took society 6 years to recall. Evidence exposed in these recalls (or the lack of them), clearly shows the fact that we are feeding our dogs from a dangerously un-regulated industry despite enduring company claims.

Our education needs to start at ground zero. What do our dogs need nutritionally? We know that dogs are carnivores and they need a species appropriate diet to help their body recover from injury and prevent disease. Dogs can eat raw meat because they have high levels of stomach acid that can neutralize pathogens efficiently, it’s how they were made. Simple and honest.

So…in this over simplified knowledge we can now examine our pet food labels and terminology. “By-products” are the left overs after all the edible parts are removed. Yup! I said AFTER the edible parts are removed! These by-products are recycled, deceased animals that have been collected from slaughter houses, farms, or road kill. By-products can then be rendered with heat and chemicals until, if there was anything of value in it, it’s now removed. Do we need to actually stand in front of a pile of rotting carcasses to know we don’t want to feed it to our dogs? If you are still with me, I’ll throw a few more ideas at you…BHA is a toxic preservative. Cancer is caused by chemical preservatives. Ethoxyquin is a preservative that will prolong the shelf life of dry kibble to “stay fresh” for 25 years. Why do we need this kibble to stay fresh for 3 times the lifetime of our pet?  We continue to stand at the vet clinic with our mouths open asking the doctor “How did my dog get Cancer?”.

Our education cannot stop there…we know that dogs are nutritionally resilient, we know this because we are able to abuse their diet and not always see the immediate effects. So now it is time to read the ingredients. Everyone ready? You’ve heard it before! Corn. Corn is a carbohydrate, we all know this, we know that biologically this is unnecessary for our dog’s nutritional requirement. Yet we still buy dog food with a first ingredient of corn. Whaaaat? “Corn gluten meal” is an allergen and again unnecessary. Color….really? Those pretty red bacon strips look so yummy! To our dogs bacon looks grey. Dogs see their world in hues of blue, yellow and grey. That pretty dog kibble with red, green, and orange coloring shaped into little bones and little hearts is not for dogs. It’s for us. To our dogs it looks grey, brown and maybe a bit yellow….yuck! Color additives Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40, and Blue 2 are responsible for hyperactivity, aggression, thyroid/brain/kidney tumors, cancer, allergies, skin issues….

In order to protect our dogs we must know and understand these labels while  dedicating a bit of our attention to become industry detectives. Trying to find the time is why we simply put our trust in the companies producing the food or alternatively the FDA who is, after all, the regulatory authority in charge of making sure the label on the package honestly meets the rules. The rules are formed by the AAFCO who is a non-government organisation…wait for it…funded by the pet food industry. So lets quickly talk about the rules behind the terminology….the word “Flavor” simply means the food can contain as little as 0% meat. “Natural” can include rendered ingredients. “Organic” must have as little as 3% organic meat. And so on, and so on…

Simply stated…The pet food industry as a whole is not trustworthy. The FDA cares about the rules created by an organisation working for an industry who is literally killing our pets. The pet/grocery stores are not responsible for removing toxic food from their shelves without a recall. It all comes down to money. Again. Did you know that in our society a human life is valued at 6-9 million dollars. Dogs are considered a possession and therefore in our court system they are only valued at the money put into them.

Small pet food companies are passionate about education! They are eager to speak with us and answer our questions. As consumers we need to support the small company’s that are transparent to a point where they lose us in their answers. I don’t need (or want) to understand everything about the industry to feed my dog well…I simply need to trust my instincts. The secrets, carefully regulated responses, and refusals to participate in documentaries or interviews scares me. Why is the pet food industry bending over backwards to hide the research about raw food? There is simply no funding available to back up their criticism regarding this natural way of feeding our family…so maybe we should just trust them…not in my world!!

I want to feed my dogs food. Meat…not decomposing bodies processed with chemicals…but happy cows, happy chickens, happy salmon. Happy, free animals who have lived a full life the way nature meant them to live, and are raised and used humanely with dignity and respect. Cows who eat grass, chickens who can walk, fish that swim in the ocean, carrots grown in untreated dirt, apples ripened on trees, kelp harvested by sustainable methods and dried by hand and sun. Have we come so far removed from mother nature that we have nothing natural or humane to conveniently offer our dogs? Are we not a superior species with intelligence that far exceeds all our forefathers? We watch chickens cruelly mistreated while the by-products of whats left of their rotten diseased corpses are chemically treated and we still support the end product of dry kibble that kills our pets because it’s convenient? If that’s the definition of superior, I’m out!

The scariest part of this story is that the same ingredients in the dog food that is killing our dogs, is legal in human food. But that is for another blog….