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The Sickening Truth About Pet Food

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What is in “popular” pet foods today?

It’s a question many of us don’t think about. We see nice pictures of whole grains, prime cuts of meat and human grade vegetables on our pets food bag and assume there is some chef in a pet food kitchen cooking up the best food for our beloved pets.

Unfortunately this is far from the truth, More than 95% of pets derive their nutritional needs from a single source, processed pet foods. When people think of pet food many envision whole chicken meat, choice cuts of beef, fresh grains and all the nutrition that their dog or cat would ever need, images that pet food manufacturers promote in their advertisements and print on their food bags. What these companies do not reveal is that instead of wholesome chicken meat, they have substituted chicken heads, feet, feathers and intestines. Those choice cuts of beef are really cow brains, tongues, esophagi, fetal tissue dangerously high in hormones and even diseased and cancerous meat. Those whole grains have had the starch removed for corn starch powder and the oil extracted for corn oil or they are just hulls and other remnants from the milling process. Grains used that are truly whole have usually been deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, contaminants, poor quality or poor handling practices, which is obvious by the fact that most pet food recalls are the result of toxic grain products such as Corn or Wheat. Pet food is one of worlds most synthetic edible products, containing virtually no whole ingredients.

The pet food industry is an 11 billion dollar a year, unregulated operation that feeds on the garbage that otherwise would and should end up in a landfill. Pet food manufacturers have become masters at getting pets to eat things they would normally turn their nose up at.

Pet food scientists have learned that it’s possible to take a mixture of inedible garbage, fortify it with artificial vitamins and minerals, preserve it so it can sit on the grocery shelf for more than a year, add dyes to make it attractive and then extrude it into whimsical shapes, making it appealing to us humans so we will purchase it. Unfortunately what makes up most of dog and cat food today (those not qualified as “human-grade) comes from the rendering plant. To render, as defined in Webster’s Dictionary, is “to process as for industrial use; to render livestock carcasses and to extract oil from fat, blubber, etc., by melting.” Some things that go into rendering are:

* Spoiled rotten meat from the supermarket, styrofoam wrap and all.

* Road kill that can’t be buried on the roadside.

* The “4-D’s” of cattle; dead, dying, diseased and disabled

* Rancid restaurant grease

* Euthanized pets, this is NO joke! (more about this below)

When chickens, lambs, cattle, pigs and other animals are slaughtered for food, usually only the lean muscle is cut off for human consumption. This leaves about 50% of a carcass left over. These leftovers are what become what we so commonly find on pet food labels such as “meat and bone meal” or “by-products”. So basically what pets are eating are lungs, ligaments, bones, blood and intestines.

When dead animals from pastures are picked up, they many not be rendered for up to a week after they have died. Because of this it is estimated that E. coli bacteria contaminates more than 50% of meat materials. The rendering process destroys the E. coli bacteria, but it does not eliminate the endotoxins bacteria that is released when they die. These endotoxins, which can cause sickness and disease, are not tested for by pet food manufacturers.

Slaughterhouses where cattle, pigs, lambs and other animals meet their fate provide more fuel for rendering. After slaughter, heads, feet, skin, hair, feathers, carpel and tarsal joints and mammary (milking) glands are removed. This material is sent to rendering. Animals that have died on their way to slaughter are also rendered. Cancerous tissue, tumors and worm infested organs are rendered. Injection sites, blood clots and any other inessential parts are rendered. Stomach and bowels are rendered. Contaminated material including blood is rendered. Carcasses with high levels of drugs or pesticides in excess of limits prescribed under the FDA (not fit for human consumption) are rendered.

At the rendering plant, slaughterhouse material, supermarket refuse, rancid restaurant grease, dead livestock, road kill and euthanized pets are dumped into huge containers. A machine slowly grinds the entire mess. After it is chipped or shredded, it is cooked at 220 – 270 degrees F. for approximately 20 minutes to one hour. The grease or tallow rises to the top where it is removed from the mixture. This is the source of animal fat in most pet foods on the market today. The remaining material, the raw, is then put into a press where the moisture is squeezed out, we now have the meat and bone meal that is added to most pet foods today.

Animals wouldn’t normally eat this stuff in the wild, so why will they eat it out of their bowls? Their noses are tricked by the smell of it. Pet food manufacturers are masters at getting a pet to eat something they would normally turn their nose up at.

These flavors usually come from rancid restaurant grease, you know from those big dumpsters you see in the back parking lot. This grease is often outside for weeks, exposed to extreme temperatures with no regard for its future use. The rancid grease is then picked up by fat blenders who mix the animal and vegetable fats together, stabilize them with powerful antioxidants to prevent further spoilage, then they sell it to pet food manufacturers. Rancid, heavily preserved fats are extremely difficult to for animals to digest and can lead to a host of pet health problems including digestive upsets, diarrhea, gas and bad breath. These fats are sprayed directly onto the kibble or nuggets to make an otherwise distasteful product palatable.

Two thirds of the pet food manufactured today contain synthetic preservatives, of the remaining one third, 90% includes ingredients already stabilized by synthetic preservatives. Be wary of pet foods that advertise as preservative free, if they using animal by-products or ingredients that have been rendered they will mostly like contain preservatives. Natural preservatives such as Rosemary and Vitamin E are used by quality manufacturers of natural pet foods not containing artificial/chemical preservatives. However, Pet food manufacturers are not required to list preservatives they themselves have not added. Here are some of the chemical preservatives that are used in mass-produced pet food today:

* BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) – know to cause kidney and liver dysfunction

* BHT (butylated hydroxytolulene) – know to cause kidney and liver dysfunction

        * Ethoxyquin – suspected of causing cancer

* Propylene glycol (also used as automotive antifreeze) causes destruction of red blood cells-and is also commonly found in many treats such as Pedigree Dentabone/DentaStix etc

Other cheap fillers

Once considered a filler by the pet food industry, the amount of grain products, especially corn, used in pet food has risen sharply over the last decade to where it is usually one or two of the top three ingredients. For instance one Purina brand lists ground yellow corn, poultry by-products and corn gluten meal as its top three ingredients. Notice that two of the three ingredients are corn based products from the same source. This is an industry practice know as splitting. When components of the same ingredient are listed separately (ground yellow corn and corn gluten meal) it appears that there is less corn then poultry-by products, when it truth the corn ingredients when added together may weigh more then the chicken by-products.

Are there really pets in pet food?

Unfortunately when a vet tells a grieving pet owner they will “take care” of their dead loved one, they usually mean sending it off with a disposal company for rendering. This is all perfectly legal. Many veterinarians and especially shelters don’t bury or cremate animals.

Reporter John Eckhouse was one of the first people to discover the practice of sending euthanized pets to the rendering plants. A rendering plant employee was quoted as saying “thousands and thousands of pounds of dogs and cats are picked up and brought here everyday”. Although many in the pet food industry deny they use euthanized animals, proof that the practice goes on continues to surface. Research done on rendering plants that sell meat to pet food companies found that the rendering plants accept everything from road kill, dead zoo animals and euthanized pets from both shelters and veterinary clinics. One such plant was found to have rendered 11 tons of dogs and cats in one week! Another plant in California reported processing an average of 200 ton of dogs and cats per month.

In the 1990’s veterinarians began reporting to the FDA/CVM that the drug they used for anesthetizing and euthanizing pets, sodium pentobarital, seemed to be losing its effectiveness. This prompted the CVM to research the cause. In 1998 they went about testing dry dog food containing the ingredients meat and bone meal, animal digest and animal fat. They found the drug sodium pentobarital in 31 of the 37 pet foods tested. They concluded that animals were becoming immune to the drug from eating food laced with sodium pentobarbital, and the likely source of the chemical was euthanized animals.

They went on to conduct a study to find the levels of the drug in parts per billion for each food. Some actual examples in these results were:

  • 32 ppb: Old Roy—Puppy Formula, chicken and beef
  • 25.1 ppb: Heinz—Kibbles ‘n Bits Beefy Bits
  • 16.4 ppb: Super G—Chunk Style Dog Food
  • 15 ppb: Weis—Total High Energy Chicken and Rice
  • 11.6 ppb: Pet Gold—Master Diet Puppy Formulation
  • 10 ppb: Old Roy—Puppy Formula, beef flavor
    Note that these products may be free of this drug now, as these are the findings in 2000.

The unfortunate reality is:

Huge food manufacturers use pet food companies as a cheap and profitable way of disposing of the waste from their human food manufacturing plants. Here is a list of some of these companies and the pet foods they manufacture:

* Nestle: Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, Purina

* Heinz: 9 lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature’s Recipe

* Colgate-Palmolive: Hill’s Science Diet

* Proctor & Gamble: Iams, Eukanuba

* Mars: Kal Kan, Mealtime, Sheba, Waltman’s

* Menufoods:

Below are ingredient comparison charts that I complied of some well know pet foods on the market today. I think you will be surprised at the lack of nutrition these foods actually have.

Here is a dog and cat food comparison chart listing some of the more popular pet food brands on the market today and listed the “less” desirable ingredients in red.

This information was taken directly off each brands website where the information is readily available. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in descending order by weight just as human food, meaning the ingredient listed first is the ingredient that is used the most or makes up most of the food and so forth. For example if corn is listed once (or twice with some brands) as one of the first three ingredients that is much less desirable then if it was listed as the eighth ingredient.

I’ve included a glossary following the charts that explains each of the undesirable ingredients.

The best way to determine the quality of your pets food is to carefully read and understand the labels. While reading the label ask yourself the following questions, does the food use high quality ingredients? Is there a quality meat source as one of the first two ingredients instead of a by-product? Better yet are the ingredients human grade.

If you love your pet and value their heath I hope you will take this information to heart or better yet take some time to do a little research of your own so you can see the truth for yourself. We were shocked at how much information there was on this subject and how easy it was to find. We only wish pet owners would spend more time reading labels instead of watching commercials to determine what is best for their pet’s health.

Dog Food Ingredients

Brand First Eight Ingredients
Eukanuba Adult Chicken, chicken-by product meal, corn meal,ground whole grain sorghum, ground whole grain barley, chicken fat, fish meal, brewers rice
Iams Chunks Chicken, corn meal, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal, chicken fat, dried beet pulp, natural chicken flavor
Kibbles N Bits Original Corn, soybean meal, ground wheat flour,beef and bone meal, animal fat, BHA used as preservatives, corn syrup, wheat middlings, water sufficient for processing, animal digest
Pedigree Complete Nutrition Ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal,corn gluten meal, chicken by-product meal,animal fat (preserved with BHA/BHT), wheat mill run, natural poultry flavor, rice, wheat flour
Pro-Pak Adult Chunk Chicken meal, ground yellow corn, chicken fat, rice flour, dried beet pulp, natural flavoring(unspecified), flaxseed,salt
Purina One Natural Blend Chicken, corn gluten meal, poultry by-product meal, brown rice, oat meal, animal fat, beet pulp, calcium phosphate
Purina Beneful Original Ground yellow corn, chicken by-product meal, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour,beef tallow, rice flour, beef soy flour, sugar
Purina Dog Chow Complete Formula Ground yellow corn, poultry by-product meal,animal fat, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, animal digest
Science Diet Adult Ground whole grain corn, ground whole grain sorghum, ground whole grain wheat, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal, animal fat,corn gluten meal, brewers rice

Cat Food Ingredients

Brand First Eight Ingredients
Eukanuba Indoor Cat Formula Chicken, chicken by-product meal, chicken liver, corn grits, corn meal, ground whole grain sorghum, fish meal, dried beet pulp
Flint River Ranch Adult and Kitten Formula Chicken meal, ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, chicken fat, ground whole wheat, dried brewers yeast, fish meal,corn germ meal
Iams Original Chicken Chicken, chicken by-product meal,corn grits, corn meal, chicken fat, fish meal, dried beet pulp, chicken flavors
Pro-Pac Adult Formula Chicken meal, rice flour, ground yellow corn, chicken fat, corn gluten, dried beet pulp, fish meal, dried egg product
Purina Complete Formula Poultry by-products, corn gluten meal, corn meal, ground whole wheat, animal fat, brewers rice, soy flour, fish meal
Science Diet Original Chicken by product meal, ground whole grain corn, brewers rice, animal fat,corn gluten, chicken flavor, potassium chloride, calcium sulfate



Animal Digest: This is the dry by-product of rendered meat. During rendering, all usable animal parts (including fetal tissues and glandular wastes) are heated in vats and the liquid is separated from the dry meal. This meal is covered with charcoal and labeled “unfit for human consumption” before processing it into pet food. Digest can also include intestines, as well as the contents of those intestines, such as stool, bile, parasites and chemicals.

Animal Fat and Tallow: Animal fat is a “generic” fat source that is most often made up of rendered animal fat, rancid restaurant grease or other oils that are deemed inedible for humans. Tallow is low quality hard white fat that most animals find hard to digest, not to mention the cardiac risks resulting.

Chemical Preservatives: Chemical preservatives include BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytolulene), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used in automotive antifreeze and is suspected of causing red blood cell damage) and ethoxquin , are all potentially cancer causing agents that your pets are eating every day.

Chicken By-products: These are ground parts from poultry carcasses such as feet, heads, feathers, intestines, necks and undeveloped eggs and can included any rendered material.

Corn Products: Corn products including corn meal, gluten and grits are cheap, allergy causing fillers and are very difficult for animals to digest.

Food Fragments: Lower end by-products of the food manufacturing process, examples include wheat bran and brewers rice which are a waste product of the alcohol industry.

Ground Whole Grain Sorghum: The feed value of grain sorghum is similar to corn and is grown primarily as a feed grain for livestock.

Meat and Bone Meal: “Meat” and bone meal are inexpensive sources of animal protein. Note that these companies do not clarify the source of “meat”, nor are they human-grade meat. The protein in Meat meal containing a large amount of processed bone may not be digestible and fail to provide adequate nutrition.

Meat Based: A label that say “meat based” may also include blood vessels, tendons, organs and other parts of the rendered animal. Note again that these companies do not clarify the source of “meat”, nor are they human-grade meat products.

Meat By-products: Pet grade meat by-products consist of organs and parts not desired or not fit for human consumption. This can include organs, bones, blood and fatty tissue. It can also include brains, feet, heads, intestines and any other internal parts. Unbelievably, by-products can also contain cancerous or diseased tissue containing parasites.

Take a look for yourself

Don’t let the colorful pictures and wording on these pet food manufacturer’s bags mislead you! How does your pet food ingredients stack up to quality ingredients found in our Holistic/human-grade
Cat foods and Dog foods

Below are links to some of the more popular pet foods on the market today, take a look for yourself and what they have listed as their ingredients.

Eukanuba Website:

Iams Website:

Purina Website:

Purina Natural Blends Website:

Pedigree Website:

Proplan Website:

Beneful Website:

Hills Science Diet:



Important Disclaimer: The information on this site are not meant to diagnose or prescribe for you. In no event shall the owners of this website be liable for any damages whatsoever resulting from any action arising in connection with the use of this information or its publication, including any action for infringement of copyright or defamation. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. Opinions expressed here are those of individual contributors including investigative reporters, animal nutritionists, and holistic practitioners who specialize in natural products.

We are very proud of our products, carefully researched prior to being added to our list of quality foods available in our store, offering health benefits. Our products contain NONE of the things you will read about below, only human-grade, natural, quality whole ingredients!!!

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Categories: Cats, Dogs, Health