People food is not bad for dogs

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Nishi loves her fresh kefir and curds

These days, it’s common to hear people believe that “people food” is bad for dogs and that they really need “dog food”. That notion is so strange to me. No other animal in the world seems to specifically need artificially prepared foods. Why do dogs need “special foods”?

I started researching into this and it turns out that dogs do not really need special foods. Infact, packaged dry food (also known as kibble) is quite terrible for dogs. But the pet food industry is a massive industry and the biggest part of that pie has to do with dog food. Most pet food companies are owned by global conglomerates such as Procter & Gamble (Eukanuba and Iams) Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s “Science” Diet) and Mars (Royal Canin and Pedigree) So it’s no wonder that there is a lot of time and money spent by these big brands to market their product and convince us that we need it. But is it really true that we need their products?

Since the introduction of Kibble in the US, cancer rates are known to have shot up to 50%. One in two dogs!!! There are several leading vets across the globe begining to speak up, warning us of the health hazards of kibble and also backing it up with solid science. There is a renewed push towards fresh foods. If you’d like to read more, look up works of  Dr. Jean Dodds, Dr. Karen Becker, Dr. Peter Dobias and Rodeny Habib which will could clue you into these discussions. But, it should really not need too much convincing because in India, we are a country that loves fresh foods and are in general wary of what goes into packaged foods. If that’s our skepticism around human grade packaged foods, what do you think goes into non-human grade food?

If I’ve managed to get you even a bit skeptical about what goes into kibble, I got some news for you. And it’s not good news. Turn your bag around and look at the ingredient list. I will admit that, there are a few brands out there that will do very well here and actually do have a very good ingredient list. However, most of the popular brands that we know of are just terrible. On the ingredient list, if you find the words “bi-product” or “meal”, then you need to sit up and take notice. These vague words refer to end products of a process called fat-rendering. Here is a quick excerpt of an article that explains what it is. If you are able to stomach this level of detail, do go look up “fat rendering in dog food” and you must find as much detail as you need to convince yourself that it’s disgusting and you don’t want your dog going anywhere near it.

“[They] pick up dead animals and their scraps, whether they’re from your local supermarket or restaurant or from your local animal shelter or the side of the road. Then those truckloads are delivered to rendering plants, where the whole mess is boiled down into the euphemistically named “meat and bone meal” that winds up in your pet’s food. And that also explains why your pet’s food can contain such things as bits of ID tags,flea collars, antibiotic tags from livestock, and even plastic. The “Buyer’s Guide to Rendered Fats” also notes that almost all tallow (a fat byproduct of the rendering process) “contains polyethylene (PE), which is a foreign material in tallow, to some degree. It finds its way into the rendering plant as meat wrappers mixed in with the raw material. Most of the polyethylene wrappers used by the meat industry are of low density type that will melt at lower temperatures and stay soluble in the tallow.” (Read full article)

No wonder that early this year, a few dogs got sick after eating a certain pet food and one dog died. Autopsies showed pentobarbital poisoning. This is the drug used in euthanizing dogs in shelters in the US (article with details). Most of the kibble in India, comes from the US, so we need to sit up and take notice. In the US, the pet food is regulated by the US FDA, which is a regulatory body.  The current American government, under President Trump are in favor of reducing the regulatory authority of the FDA, which means that these quality of this food is only likely to get worse. (Read a detailed article about the impact of the Trump administration on the pet food industry).

Sure there are a few high quality kibbles there, especially the ones produced in Europe and Canada that actually use high quality ingredients and use processes that apparently do not need preservatives. But, that of course does come at a cost. For the cost conscious, there’s nothing like fresh food in India and more importantly, it just feels right, does it not?

One caveat, though. Fresh food does not mean vegetarian food. It means meaty fresh food. If you were considering a vegetarian fresh food diet, do read this article first.

Happy meal times with your pooch!

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