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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A note from Silvieon2 about pet food

Silvieon4 didn't start this blog to write about pet food recalls. Unfortunately, the sheer number of pet food recalls has required her to write almost weekly postings on the topic. It's overwhelming.

Because of that, and because, let's face it, I do all the cooking, (silvieon4 will eat annnyyythingg) I decided we needed to spend a little time discussing exactly why it keeps happening.

The FDA is a government agency that is responsible for overseeing the safety of both people food commercial dog food. The FDA doesn't review foods before they go to market as long as the dog foods contain only ingredients that are known to be safe, like chicken and rice for example. Other ingredients that aren't known to be safe require FDA approval before they go into dog food.

This process is supposed to weed out, say, phen phen in puppy chow. And it works.... to an extent. The problem is that FDA over site kind of stops there. Generally, FDA does not test dog foods to see if they contain what they claim to contain -- or worse, if they contain other less appealing ingredients.

I say "generally" because there are two exceptions to when the FDA will test dog foods. They'll test dog foods that claim to have some special benefits (e.g. YUMMYpuppy will make your dog FLY!) or if dogs start getting sick.

Let me just emphasize that because it's important: the FDA can't tell you if a dog food isn't safe until so many dogs get sick that it gets the FDA's attention. To borrow a characterization from a cell phone commercial, your dogs are beta testers.

So how do you know if the dog food you're feeding your dog is safe? It's a question I've really struggled with. For me, the only way to know that dog food is safe is to prepare it myself.

That's why, although I've been approached by countless companies to endorse, post links to, or otherwise promote their "all natural" or "holistic" dog food brands, I always say no. Honestly, I'm sure some of their products are safe. There is just no way to tell.

What do we know? Food from China, specifically chicken, is probably a bad idea. Food from your kitchen is probably a good one. It's safer (and cheaper) to make chicken treats, sweet potato treats, and many other dog treats at home.

Want more info? check out fda.gov.

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