Pardon my rant.
If you read this column with any regularity, you know I am very concerned — all right, obsessed — with the food we feed our pets.
Like many of you, I feel responsible for my dogs’ well-being. I do not want to unknowingly feed them anything that is not nutritious or, heaven forbid, something that could really harm them.
When an announcement of a new dog food product by Royal Canin made with ground up chicken feathers crossed my email box, I thought it was a hoax.
But the joke is on me. It appears I was wrong.
In June, Forbes magazine published an interview with the pet food company’s president, Keith Levy. Levy was introducing the new “anallergenic” formula” the company is producing made with ground up chicken feathers. The story was headlined “a win-win for Royal Canin,” a division of Mars.
Levy touted the fact the company has been developing the use of chicken feathers in its pet food for 10 years.
“We’re looking for lots of different sources of protein for our foods: hydrolyzed soy; we are currently researching worm meal as a potential protein source for some of our foods in China,” he told the interviewer.
“Few brands are more expensive than us,” Levy bragged in the interview.
And once again, we are faced with the really naive belief that just because a dog food is at the top of the price range, it is not necessarily because the quality of the food is, too. Then there is the added concern about sourcing in China.
And the kicker? You can only purchase the food from specialty retailers with a veterinary prescription. Add another layer of authenticity.
So let’s take a look at the list of ingredients that I found on veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker’s website at healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/07/17/feather-meal.aspx?e_cid=20130717_PetsNL_art_1&utm_source=petnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20130717 and at chewy.com, an online retailer for the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Anallergenic Dry Dog Food. I was unable to find the product on Royal Canin’s website.
The list, according to both websites, contains about 45 ingredients so I’ll just give you the first dozen or so:
“Corn starch, hydrolyzed poultry by-products aggregate, coconut oil, soybean oil, natural flavors, potassium phosphate, powdered cellulose, calcium carbonate, sodium silico aluminate, chicory, L-tyrosine, fructooligosaccharides, fish oil, L-lysine.”
You will notice the first and therefore largest amount of product in the food is corn starch, a filler, which is a concern because many animals are allergic to corn.
Kind of ironic for an anallergenic product.
Also, corn is very frequently genetically modified. This means the seeds have been chemically altered to produce plants that can withstand repeated spraying with herbicides. In 2009, Monsanto, makers of Roundup, estimated that 60 percent of the corn produced in the United States is genetically modified.
A recent study published in the online journal Entropy into the use of the synthetic herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient found in Roundup and other weed killers, indicates the chemical has been linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, infertility and cancers in humans.
The second ingredient is the “hydrolyzed poultry by-products aggregate” which is the only mention of poultry in the ingredients, so it has to contain the chicken feathers.
However, the issue here is the term “poultry by-product,” which, according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials “consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.” Levy does not address this inconsistency in the Forbes article.
Yuck. Yep, I want my dogs eating the intestines of other animals.
Also on the chewy.com website, a 19.8 pound bag of this stuff costs $86.99.
I will spare you any further rants today so don’t get me started on the Royal Canin connection to a bear baiting controversy in the Ukraine.
Interested? Just Google it.
Other pets in the news:
Low-cost Rabies Vaccination Clinic — Summit County Public Health in cooperation with Pet Guards Inc. is offering rabies vaccinations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Richfield Village Police Department garage, 4450 W. Streetsboro Road. Vaccinations are $8 per animal. Other services are also offered for a fee. The clinic is limited to cats and dogs. All animals must be caged or leashed. Payment is by cash or check only. For more information, call 330-926-5600.
Purina Weight Circles Needed — Heaven’s Homeless Angels, a rescue haven providing hospice care for unadoptable animals is collecting weight circles from Purina dry pet food products. The animal-based nonprofit hospice specializes in caring for animals that are aging, ill, homeless and/or unadoptable pets. Please send donations to P.O. Box 654, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Weight circles are redeemable for rebates that may be used for food purchases and in large enough quantities used for veterinary rebates.
Winos for Rhinos — American Association of Zookeepers Greater Cleveland Chapter will sponsor a fundraiser for rhino sanctuaries in Africa and Indonesia from 4 to 7 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Wine Bar, 1313 Linda St., Rocky River. Wine tastings, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, special rhino-crafted door prizes and live entertainment will be featured during the event. Tickets are $50 per person and are available online at winos4rhinos.eventbrite.com, at the Wine Bar or by phone at 216-661-6500, ext. 4452.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.