Dog & Cat Nutrition
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These two fascinating articles are courtesy of my seminar partner, Dr. Jean Hofve, former Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.   Learn how to feed your dog or cat safely with our new audios. For more information, click here.

 How to Keep Your Pets Safe from Toxic Food!

Sad Stories and Bad Advice

If you feed commercial food of any kind, we suggest you SUBSCRIBE TO ALERTS AT and make a daily check at, and/or   We believe it is risky to rely on any one source or to trust that your food seller has a list that is up to date.

Complete list of all foods and treats related to melamine.'s list of foods reportedly containing rice protein concentrate.

Complete list of other foods and treats that have received a warning or been recalled for reasons other than melamine. 

List of organizations that provide financial assistance for pets' veterinary bills.

We will no longer be keeping a list of recalled foods at this site as keeping it up to date is becoming increasingly difficult and the sites above are doing an excellent job.

Although some of the smaller companies produce foods far better than most of the big mass-marketed brands, we believe the only way to give your dog or cat a proper diet is to become educated on dog or cat nutrition and to feed them fresh foods. A slow death from poor nutrition, as opposed to a quick death by tainted food, is a premature and painful death nonetheless.

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          Go to AskThePetFoodExperts to learn about our nutrition audios

How to Keep Your Pets Safe from Toxic Food!

In the Menu Foods recall scandal, pets' kidneys are being destroyed due to something in the food. Wheat gluten has been put forward as the prime suspect, but no one has explained how an inocuous grain like wheat can cause so much damage. Indeed, it is probably not the wheat itself, but the grain may have been contaminated with toxic mold, heavy metals, pesticides, or chemicals. Plant products, such as grains, can be condemned for human use due to mold, excessive pesticide residue, and other problems, but there are no legal limits for using these condemned products in pet food.

Wheat gluten is used in canned foods as for texture, and as an inexpensive source of protein that can be used to boost the protein percentage without adding much to the cost of producing the food. It is not an officially defined ingredient according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), which sets the standards by which pet food is made in the U.S.

Other suspects would have to include drugs and other toxins from the animal by-products used in all the recalled foods. By-products are a much cheaper source of animal protein than meat. All of the recalled foods used some type of by-products (including liver, giblets, and other organ meats) as well as wheat gluten.

Toxins could also include antibiotics, some of which can survive heat processing intact. There are a few kidney-toxic antibiotics that are extremely restricted, with long "withdrawal" times required before an animal can be slaughtered for human consumption. However, sick livestock, or those that die with high levels of drugs in their systems, can still be processed for pet food.

Bacterial endotoxins and fungal mycotoxins can pass unchanged through all the processing a pet food undergoes. Toxin-producing bacteria like Salmonella and Clostridia are very common contaminants of all slaughterhouse products, but especially the sorts of things that make up by-products, like digestive organs. You might know some of the products of Clostridia bacteria better as botulism and tetanus. Pet food makers know that the animal ingredients they buy are contaminated with these organisms, but they have always relied on the high heat used in processing pet food to kill the bugs. However, they also know that dangerous bacterial toxins remain in the food even after the bacteria are dead. Whether these are enough to cause illness is unknown.

Fungal mycotoxins have been blamed for several recalls of dry dog food in the past several years, some of which killed dozens of dogs. Aflatoxin, one of the nastiest, is common in corn, but can also occur in wheat. Tests on the recalled pet food were reportedly negative for aflatoxin, but there are hundreds of others. Fungal toxins are typically more toxic to the liver, but some affect the kidneys.

Other drugs or chemicals could potentially contaminate any of the ingredients. In a recent incident in South Africa, extensive testing found ethylene glycol (antifreeze) in the food. However, ethylene glycol, cleaning solvents, some mycotoxins, and several pesticides have been preliminarily ruled out as the cause based on laboratory testing.

If you've been reading our CatsWalk newsletter for a while, or if you've browsed our Little Big Cat Library, you've probably read quite a bit about nutrition and feeding. Dr. Jean does recommend feeding canned food, especially to cats. Dr. Jean has always stressed that foods containing a lot of animal by-products or grains should be avoided. Besides wheat gluten, a common feature in all of the recalled products is the use of by-products, which also includes organ meats such as giblets and liver.

Pet food makers have, in the past, been "insulted" by Dr. Jean's allegation that profit, not pet health, is the bottom line for most of the big companies. But this incident proves the point. It is particularly interesting to note that Menu Foods' initial press release was directed to "Business and Financial Advisors"--not consumers--and in fact specifically stated that it should NOT be released to the U.S. media. Menu clearly had the potential damage to its profits foremost in mind.

So how do you prevent such deadly results in your pets? Many of the smaller makers of natural and meat-based pet foods are dedicated to putting out a decent product at a reasonable price. While they obviously have to make money to stay in business, they still put quality ahead of profit by using real meat instead of by-products; fewer grains; and other better-quality ingredients. Those are the ones you want to buy. The Little Big Cat library has dozens of articles on nutrition that explain what and how to feed your pets to keep them healthy. Feel free to make copies for your friends and co-workers. Our new audio series, available in our Bookstore, covers all the info you need to know in 70 minutes. Link to us if you have a website. Let's get the word OUT!

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          Go to AskThePetFoodExperts to learn about our nutrition audios


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Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided for general information purposes. Any information provided is not veterinary advice and should not be substituted for a regular consultation with a veterinary professional. If you have any concerns about your dog's health, please contact your veterinarian's office immediately.
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