Your Pet’s Health

Nutritional Food for Your Cat and Dog

Most of the meat incorporated, during these times, into pet foods was horse meat. Many pets were allergic to the protein and developed serious medical problems. In 1981 in my first book co-authored with Martin Zucker “How To Have A Healthier Dog”, I informed you, the pet owner, of practices in the pet food industry that had negative effects on the animals consuming their foods. Since then many have gotten on the “band wagon” and began making changes in pet food diets, some pet owners began cooking for their pets and others switched to raw meat diets. It was very obvious that these changes made dramatic positive effect in these companion animals. One of the most prominent changes was in skin and hair coat. Previously, many of the animals, allergic to some commercial pet foods, had persistent skin problems. Because of these positive changes, it was hypothesized, by some, since the pets responded positively to raw meat diets and since the early ancestors had consumed their meat raw, then this is natural for the domestic dog and cat.

My concerns about raw meat diets come from my years of meat inspection for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. My first concern is contamination by salmonella and listeria species of bacteria, these are killer organisms. True the early animals in the wild did consume their meat raw; how many became ill? how many died? These questions cannot be answered. We can assume that the present day dog and cat are the descendent of those who survived. Due to domestication, we have permitted the weak of the two species not only to survive, but to propagate thereby producing weak off springs. These animals have difficulty utilizing raw meat diets, a manifestation of this is vomiting. These same animals on a blood workup, will show below normal cholesterol levels which indicates poor absorption of the consumed meat protein. An analogy in humans, is not all humans can be vegetarians. The larval form (Hydatid cyst) of a tapeworm Echinococcus granulosus is often found in most parts of the body especially liver and lungs on post mortem inspection of beef carcasses. This larvae has as its intermediate hosts, man, sheep, cattle, and swine. Since the adult tapeworm is found in the dog, cat, fox and wild carnivores, it is reasonable to postulate that consuming the larvae of this tapeworm can and will infect the dog and cat, developing into the adult stage.

As a veterinary practitioner for thirty-seven years and a veterinary meat inspector for seven years, I, in good conscience, cannot recommend raw meat diets to my clients. My advice to my clients is “cook the meat until the redness is gone”. When this is done, there is no vomiting, the cholesterol level is normal, the risk of infection by microorganisms and parasites diminishes.

It has been observed for the past decade or more that there has been a play on words by some pet food companies in their ads “no byproducts”. Byproducts are classified into three basic groups: Inedible, human inedible, and edible.

INEDIBLE includes the following:

beaks of fowl, feathers, hooves of cattle/horses, hides, hair, and teeth

INEDIBLE (for humans) unprocessed stomach, unprocessed intestines, lungs, utters, bladders, uteri.

EDIBLE (referred to as Offal) liver, kidneys, heart, tongue, spleen, tripe, brains, lips, and thymus glands (sweet bread).

There are more in each of the above categories, too many to mention. The object is to give you some idea of how companies promote their products. INEDIBLE will offer no nutrition to any pet, therefore they are not incorporated in most pet foods. INEDIBLE (human) is a different matter. These are often incorporated into many pet foods. When they are from healthy animals, there is nothing wrong with their use. In fact, in certain regions of the US where ethnicity, and culture requires their consumption, with special permission from the USDA, some of these inedibles can be processed for human consumption. Edible(offal), I am certain there is no objection to feeding these to our pets.

The message here is the public not knowing the differences and variables in meat products. When you observe an ad promoting a pet food having “no byproducts”, does the company really understand “byproducts”?