Pet caregivers rely on government oversight to protect their four-legged family members from pet foods that contain potentially harmful ingredients. We assume pet foods are nutritious, and more importantly, safe. Unfortunately, neither of these assumptions is true.
A recent study done by the Consumer Council of Hong Kong found that some dry dog and cat foods sold in the USA contain aflatoxin B1. This pet food contaminant is produced by molds that are commonly found in poor quality grains – just the type that end up in pet food.
Grain is the perfect growth media for mold. (If you don’t believe me just check the loaf of bread that’s been in the drawer for a week). There have been several pet food recalls in the past few years because of high levels of aflatoxin. At these high levels, this poison causes liver failure and death. Even the pet food industry frowns on this blatant carnage.
However, low levels of aflatoxin are acceptable by the pet food industry even though these small amounts are known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing). In fact, a Purina representative told the South China Morning Post that aflatoxin B1 was an “unavoidable natural contaminant” found in grains such as corn, barley, and rice.
Hey, I know a way to avoid this carcinogen – DON’T FEED YOUR PET PROCESSED FOOD! Dogs and cats were not designed to eat grains or other sources of starch for that matter.
Aflatoxin is only a small part of the connection between pet food and cancer. It is well known that heating meat and carbohydrates at high temperatures (as happens with the processing of pet food) creates heterocyclic amines which are a type of carcinogen.
A 2003 study found carcinogenic activity in 24 out of 25 commercial pet foods. The authors concluded, “From these findings it is hypothesized that there is a connection between dietary heterocyclic amines and cancer in animals consuming these foods.”
A more recent study found carcinogenic compounds from processed foods (specifically one called PhIP) in the systems of 14 out of 16 healthy dogs. These researchers concluded, “A potential role for PhIP in the etiology of canine cancer should be considered.”
It is time for pet caregivers to wake up to the fact that processed diets are not healthy for our pets. As a pet vet, I see cancer all too frequently. Some would have us believe that the reason cancer is on the rise in pets is because they are living longer. The fact is that I’m seeing cancer in younger and younger animals. I believe, and research agrees, that processed pet food is a major factor in pet cancer.
I am not suggesting that you start feeding some outlandish anti-cancer diet. I’m simply asking that you stop feeding a cancer promoting diet. In other words, go RAW!
Raw feeders out there – help me encourage conventional-feeding pet caregivers. Comment on your experiences with your pets.