Not only there are no regulations pertaining to the quality and safety of pet foods, but misleading advertising and deceptive marketing strategies also take advantage.
The commercial pet food industry has been in existence in some form or another since the late 1700s. The first commercial dog food, the biscuit, was originally purposed for human consumption by sailors who were not consuming enough essential vitamins on long voyages, and as a result were coming down with scurvy. These “hardtack” biscuits made basically from flour, water and salt were eventually fortified with fat, meat, oatmeal and vegetables. Ironically, these biscuits quickly became the favorite treat of shipyard dogs!
Dog biscuits eventually became very popular in both the United States and Europe, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century and the Industrial Revolution that the pet food industry was actually born. Canned dog food made primarily of horse meat was highly nutritious for pets and a profitable commodity up until World War II, when metal was rationed and restricted for military use only. This meant no more cans. So resourceful companies began experimenting with ways to make dried dog food known as kibble.
There was an ethical shift in the U.S. in 1952, following a New York Times story which revealed that half a million horses were being killed every year, and that some of the meat was being secretly sold as beef to unaware consumers. Public outcry and Congressional legislation prohibiting wild horses from being captured and slaughtered motivated the pet industry to cease using horse meat in any of its products altogether.
The U.S. pet food manufacturing industry now includes about 200 companies with a combined annual revenue of about $21 billion, according to First Research, Inc., and the public is for the most part uninformed and misled about what ingredients actually go into these foods and how they might affect the well-being of millions of beloved pets. The bad news is that pet foods are the dumping ground for leftovers of human grade food manufacturers. Pets are not people, and we shouldn’t feed them the same way we feed ourselves.
Not only are there no regulations pertaining to the quality and safety of pet foods, but misleading advertising and deceptive marketing strategies also take advantage of pet guardians who think they are giving the best food available to their pets. Bad things are being added to pet foods that the consumer is not aware of, and the fact that they are not illegal makes it harder to expose. Some of these items include carcinogenic food dyes that are used in an attempt to replicate fresh meat, and animal by-products, which include rendered and ground carcasses. Also some products contain incomplete proteins such as corn and wheat, which are less expensive fillers that provide virtually no real protein at all.
So what is the solution? First, realize that the ancestors of your dog or cat were created to live on a Paleolithic diet of a single source protein or “prey diet.” Today a few conscientious pet food companies that are not owned by large conglomerates go to great lengths to make pet foods containing only human grade ingredients. The rest of the matter depends on how well you educate yourself.