Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to Celebrate National Pet Month.

Every year, April is National Pet Month.  Promoting pet ownership is very big business.  Every vendor of pet toys, clothing, leashes, crates, flea medications, treats, and, of course, pet foods welcomes attention to how owners can spend money on pets.  Most owners' expenditures to celebrate Pet Month probably do not enhance pets' lives or well-being.

Tom Lonsdale, DVM laments that too many pet owners view their cats and dogs as furry toys. Furry toys do not have needs; they are inanimate baubles that serve only to amuse their owners.  Dogs and cats are very animate species, whose specific needs must be met or their health suffers.  Dressing pets in designer clothes may be silly, because cats and most dogs don't need clothes, but the practice is relatively harmless.  Feeding pets so-called gourmet treats that are nothing more than cooked, sugary starches is not harmless. They lead to obesity.  Feeding pets a diet of cooked, sugary starches day after day, year after year, is neglect and abuse.

The cruelty of feeding dogs and cats inappropriate diets is not featured in National Pet Month.  Rather, glossy advertisements on television and in magazines make cooked starches and canned mush appear to have fresh wholesome ingredients that nourish your pet better than real carnivore foods.  Promotions of ever more expensive kibbles, with ever more exotic ingredients, is the pet-food industry's response to consumers' growing mistrust of commercial pet foods.

Some common ingredients in pet foods, such as corn and wheat, have developed a reputation for causing allergies (as well they should).  Vets tell their clients to avoid pet foods based on corn and wheat.  So, manufacturers advertise that their pet foods DO NOT CONTAIN CORN OR WHEAT.  So did they put in more animal proteins and fats?  Of course not.  That would cost more and reduce their profits.  Instead of corn or wheat, the new formulation uses potatoes or tapioca or rice or sweet potatoes.  The product is still cooked, sugary starches that will sicken and eventually kill your pet. Manufacturers hope you don't know that these new ingredients are also starches that should not be ingredients in pet foods, ever.

Selling pet owners on the "benefits" of exotic pet-food ingredients, such as blueberry pulp, spirolina, and alfalfa sprouts, seems to work, because high-priced kibbles are the fastest growing segment of the highly profitable pet-food market. Pet owners don't know why watercress stems or some other exotic vegetable matter should benefit their pets, but manufacturers tell them these "new" ingredients enhance pets' nutrition, so they pay more to buy the new, "enhanced" junk food.

Manufacturers, such as Proctor & Gamble, Mars, Colgate-Palmolive, Heinz, and Del Monte, make trusted brands for human consumption.  These companies control the global, human and pet processed-food markets.  Consumers trust them to produce healthy macaroni & cheese, breakfast cereals, and spaghetti sauces for their families.  Pet owners have trusted these giant companies to promote their pets' health with Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba, Purina, and other well-known brands, but something is very wrong.  Pets have more illnesses and early deaths than anyone expects.  Health officials now tell us the same companies' human products make us obese, and more likely to suffer diabetes and heart disorders -- just like our pets.  Perhaps, consumer confidence in the benevolence of their human products will be shaken, as well.

When you see whole chickens and beef steaks pouring into a kibble bag in the Pet Month television ads, please know that these are not ingredients in the expensive pet food you buy.  If pet food labels were truthful, you would know that "chicken" is feathers, feet, and beaks, and "beef" is rendered waste.  When you are told that some new exotic ingredient replaces one that made pets sick, ask yourself why the new one will be better.  Can you trust global food manufacturers with your pet's health or your own health?

Let's celebrate National Pet Month with something that really benefits pets: An appropriate diet to keep them healthy throughout long lifetimes.  Carnivorous pets are not furry toys.  Cats and dogs are predators that feed on whole prey.  They need a raw-meaty-bones diet that approximates whole prey.  When shopping for groceries, pass by the processed food aisles for yourself and your pets.  Head straight to the meat coolers to buy fresh meats and meaty bones for your pets and your family.  Then go to the produce area to gather fresh fruits and vegetables for your human family.  These are the foods that will promote your pets' health and your own health, as well.


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