If you are concerned about your companion animals’ health and about the cruelty of the meat industry, now is the time to stop buying meat-based commercial pet food.
Dangerous and Unsupervised Industry
Feeding companion animals commercial pet foods may be jeopardizing their health. Supermarket pet foods are often composed of ground-up parts of animals that U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors have deemed unfit for human consumption. The flesh of animals who fall into one of the categories of the four D’s—dead, dying, diseased, or disabled—is what often goes into pet food. One Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specialist says that the unrendered protein in food may come from heads, feet, viscera, and other animal parts.(1) Many of these animals have died of infections and other diseases. Pet food has also been recalled during mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), outbreaks because of the risk that contaminated meat might have been processed into the food. One deputy commissioner states that cats in particular “are susceptible to BSE.”(2)
Most pet foods contain the same hormones, pesticides, and antibiotics that are found in commercial meat products for humans. Other additives can be toxic and go unnoticed until it’s too late. In 2007, melamine found in food was linked to the deaths of least 16 animals, sickened thousands, and caused the recall of millions of containers of dog and cat food.(3) While the pet-food industry falls under the purview of the FDA, the manufacturers are not regularly inspected and, as one industry nutritionist told USA Today, “it’s largely self-policing.”(4) Yet the federal government does not penalize companies for failing to report problems to the FDA, nor does it have the authority to require a recall of contaminated food.(5)
Vegetarian Dogs and Cats
Many vegetarians and vegans feed healthful, meatless diets to their companion animals. One remarkable example is that of Bramble, a border collie whose vegan diet of rice, lentils, and organic vegetables contributed to a nearly record-breaking lifespan of at least 27 years.(6) Studies have shown that the ailments associated with meat consumption in humans—such as allergies, various types of cancer, and kidney, heart, and bone problems—also affect many nonhumans.
The nutritional needs of dogs and cats can be met with a balanced vegan diet and certain supplements. James Peden, author of Vegetarian Cats & Dogs, developed Vegepet™ supplements to add to vegetarian and vegan recipes. They are nutritionally balanced and also come in special formulas for kittens, puppies, and lactating cats and dogs.