Musings on pet health, or, why I don’t purchase grocery store pet food

April 22, 2007

Official Takes Risks Warning on Pet Drug

The Associated Press
Sunday, April 22, 2007


Please read the above article, which has to do with ProHeart, a vaccine to prevent heartworm that was pulled off the market. While it doesn’t concern pet food, it does provide a scary illumination of much of what’s wrong with our current regulatory system for food and drug safety.

I have been skeptical of the FDA for a long time, and the USDA too. So many regulatory agencies are simply too cushy with the big companies they are supposed to regulate, despite often doing good and credible work on some issues. In their defense — and also in defense of many state government agencies — too often there simply aren’t a large enough number of inspectors to get the job done and get it done right. But I think all you need to do is count how many small and family farms are left today, and how many independent small food-related businesses there are compared with chains, and it’s obvious whose interests are being favored. You can also inspect the FDA records — file a Freedom Of Information Act request if you have to — to see how frequently (or not!) the FDA acts on the cautionary content often expressed in consumer responses to Public Comment on assorted proposed regulations. (See current FDA info on the Pet Food Recall here.)

There are only a handful of folks in Congress — among them, Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Dennis Kucinich — who have enough of a clue and enough gumption to take both the FDA and the companies to task for weaknesses in the ingredients in processed pet food. Makes me very, very mad because I feel helpless, i.e., who ya gonna trust anymore… (as if I trusted them in the first place…) Anyone want to place bets on how long it’s going to be before we start hearing melamine has found its way into the human food chain…? (See 5/10/07 post for link to B.L. Ochman’s blog on 4/25/07 re melamine in baby formula!)

Back to the issue of trust: Well, there is one source I do trust. It’s the Whole Dog Journal. WDJ is independently published, and carries no advertising. Among dog health newsletters, it’s my favorite, even more so than newsletters from vet schools @ Cornell and Tufts, which are also good, but WDJ I swear by. Those of you who are reading this who frown on holistic approaches or don’t know what they are, let me assure you that WDJ lives up to its name — Whole Dog. That means the content looks at both conventional and holistic (complementary) vet medicine, and both the physical and behavioral well-being of your dog.

Full issues on the website are available to subscribers only, but Nancy Kerns is one of the most responsible editors in the biz and makes a selection of the most important articles available to all site visitors when the news calls for it. She’s done that with this analysis of the current Pet Food Disaster. Thank you, Nancy, for this valuable public service!

Cori and her late “Uncle Jocko” pigging out of the same dishAs for us, Cori has done fine ever since she’s lived here on California Natural Reduced Calorie Chicken or Lamb & Rice, made by parent company NaturaPet. We are just keeping our fingers crossed NaturaPet stays in the clear. I am happy to support small, independent pet supply stores in our area rather than the big box stores or chain supermarkets. And I’m also happy to report that the Ark Pet Supply & Grooming Store run by the Montgomery County Humane Society sells both our brand and many others that are on the WDJ’s approved list.

Now, I know not everyone around the country lives conveniently near these types of stores. But if you subscribe to WDJ and study their annual lists of approved foods — both wet and dry — you’ll also have contact information for each manufacturer. The good news is that many will ship right to your doorstep. For a fee, of course, but think of the peace of mind you’ll have for giving your beloved pet as high quality food as you can. We weren’t able to go to yesterday’s Beaglefest in Northern Virginia, but I’m sure the chorus of beags who did go would vote with a resounding Arooooooooo!

[Note added 5/11/07, after the online chat 5/9 hosted by PetHobbyist.com:  Perhaps I should have second thoughts.  One of the panelists pointed out WDJ’s reviews were published before the recalls…]




One comment

  1. Thanks for this post, and for the props.

    IMO – trust has to be earned now, company by company, brand by brand and it will take a long time before i believe we’ll learn that this was a known issue long, long before it was announced.

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