What’s In Your Pet’s Food? Survey Shows Owners Don’t Know!
DVM News Magazine® recently reported the results of a survey of pet owners regarding the ingredients in their pets’ foods. In the wake of many food and treat recalls, including a current FDA warning about chicken jerky treats from China, I find the results a bit disturbing, to say the least.
According to the survey, two thirds of owners said they feed their pets as if they were family members. Doesn’t that sound great? Yet only 38% said they always or often read the ingredients on the labels of their pets’ food! To further muddle the issue, 56% worried that their dog or cat food contained ingredients they would not want their pet to eat. In fact, the survey found 48% of cat owners and 44% of dog owners were unsure of the first ingredient of their pets’ food. And only 38% of the survey respondents said they understood all the ingredients listed on their dog and cat food labels.
For me, the take-home message of this survey is that pet owners care deeply about their pets, but they do not have the information and/or guidance they need to make the food choices they want to make. To further complicate matters, in my opinion, there is a great deal of misleading advertising for foods — one that comes to mind touts the meats, vegetables, and “healthy grains” that the food is based on. The actual first ten ingredients of Beneful®, directly from their website, are: Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), rice flour, beef, soy flour, sugar, sorbitol… I ask you, does that bear any resemblance to the commercials you can see at their website?. Two forms of corn, wheat, and soy? Give me a break, does that sound like food for a carnivore? And the reason we need sugar and sorbitol (a sugar substitute, humectant, and ingredient in amateur rocket fuel!) in dog food escapes me — perhaps I missed that lecture in veterinary college…
If you think the dogs eating Beneful® have it bad, consider the cats eating Friskies Seafood Sensations.® Again, from their website, the top ten ingredients are: Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, meat and bone meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soybean meal, animal liver flavor, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, salt. Excuse me, but where is the seafood? What kind of meat is in meat and bone meal? And what is animal liver flavor made of?
I encourage you to learn more, and share what you know with friends and family. Our pets are depending on us.
I highly recommend reading Foods Pets Die For, by Ann Martin. While some of it may seem a bit unappetizing (pun intended), this book gives you the lowdown on what’s really in pet foods, as well as insights into the pet food manufacturing business.