Are You Poisoning Your Pet?

ZiCC people are pet lovers. There is a joke in the Springdale Town Council that if you want the whole town to show up at a meeting, just announce that a change to the pet ordinance is being considered. There will be standing room only. 

We understand that. Roxy and I are pet people too. When we lived in the city, we let some of our cats go outside. But now, there are wild things out there that aren’t compatible with our pets, so they stay indoors.

We have always had a problem with cats “throwing up” a lot and we have simply accepted it as part of the price of having them as pets. When we talk to other pet owners, it’s “Yes, our cats throw up too. Isn’t it terrible?” But the problem has been getting gradually worse. Last year, we paid expensive bills at the vet to see if something else was wrong. The vet recommended steroid pills and “prescription” cat food that costs more than what we eat. We asked what caused it. The vet said, “Ummmm … Some cats just have this problem.”

The turning point came when our neighbor Meg in Rockville  sponsored the film, “Genetic Roulette” about GMO’s in food at the Springdale Community Center. (Thanks to Meg for going out of her way to make this and other films available to ZiCC people.) Quite frankly, the film didn’t apply to us directly because it was “preaching to the choir”. We have avoided GMO food for years. But part of the film was about the effects of GMO’s on animals, including pets, and it turned on a light for me. We thought to ourselves, “Hmmmm … Maybe.”

I think we were like other pet owners. If the pets like it, it must be OK. But how many things taste good that really aren’t good? We were applying reasoned thinking to our own food but not to the food we give to our pets!

I started sending email questions to the manufacturers of pet food asking detailed questions about what was in their products. I found out that in most cases, they just won’t tell you. In most cases, I got replies that were nothing but marketing doublespeak.

But a few manufacturers will, and some do their best to exclude GMO ingredients. You can tell who is being honest. The honest ones will confess that it’s hard to guarantee that there is absolutely no GMO content because you can’t find out what livestock is fed when there is meat in pet food. (It’s just as hard if you eat meat, too. We don’t.)

You might remember news headlines from a few years ago about how many of the most popular brands of pet food were killing pets outright by using imported content from China that was laced with poisonous melamine. It made the news for a week or so. The brands caught doing it promised never to do it again. And the whole thing became “yesterday’s news” way too quickly.[1]

After thinking about it for a while, we decided that although we are good to our pets, but we weren’t being good enough. When food is sold for human consumption, there are at least a few rules that are intended to keep people from getting sick immediately. I now believe that the world of pet food is complete anarchy. In fact, I now believe that most pet food is made using two rules:

(1) Will pets actually eat it without dying right away.

(2) Is it cheap and profitable to manufacture. 

There is often some consideration given to making it pretty colors and shapes so that humans think it’s attractive. And there might be a “potato chip” factor in some to make pets gorge themselves so they eat more and you’ll have to buy more. If they toss it up and they then have to eat more still – more profitable sales!

We decided to try one of the brands that was willing to tell us what was actually in their product.

I expected a gradual change, but that didn’t happen. It was like going through a door into a different world. Before we switched, we were used to at least one of our cats tossing cookies EVERY NIGHT. When we would return from a day away from the house, cleaning up the messes was a regular routine. But in the month after we switched, there were exactly two, very minor, incidents with just one cat. And that cat hasn’t had a problem in the last two weeks. We can sleep all night long now!

There’s more.

Our senior cat, Smokey, has been showing new life. He has been climbing the cat tree, jumping up on the table, and playing “paw” with Roxy again. The new food costs quite a bit more per pound than popular brands, but they eat less and several have actually gained weight anyway.

I’ve avoided telling you exactly which brand we picked and how we buy it because I don’t want to turn this into a commercial. It’s not a secret, however, and I’m happy to share if you want to know. There are several brands that are probably OK.

The bottom line is that you might be poisoning your pet slowly without even realizing it. I think we were. Today, large and successful corporations have become institutions without souls or a conscience. If they can make one more nickel at the cost of the health of your dog or cat, they will. You might want to think a little harder about what you’re feeding them.


[1] From Wikipedia: Melamine is … a metabolite of cyromazine, a pesticide. It is formed in the body of mammals who have ingested cyromazine. … Melamine (has) been implicated as contaminants or biomarkers in Chinese protein adulterations.

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About Dan Mabbutt

I was introduced to Zion Canyon as a teenager working for Utah Parks Company at Zion Lodge. (See my Zion Park Centennial writing contest winning essays "Zion Lodge Stories" here under "About ZiCC".) I bought land here as soon as I could and moved here after a career misspent in corporate data processing. Springdale and the Zion Canyon Community is special and this website is my contribution to the strength and unity of the community.

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