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"A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal . . . (Proverbs 12:10)

"Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." (Hippocrates, more than 2500 years ago)

Pet Food: Do You Know What You're Feeding Your Dog

The following information was compiled by Bev Carter of Damascusroad. Similar information has also

been made available on the Pomeranian Club of Canada website in support of its Breed Education Program
Please note that this page reflects my personal views. If you want to change your dog's food,
please do so only in consultation with your veterinarian and a canine health/nutritionist to ensure a safe transition and proper nutrition

Note About this Page

This page hasn't been updated in a while. There's lots more information out there now, but the story remains the same for some dog foods. So when you are choosing what you will feed your dog, choose careful. Look for kibbles made from all HUMAN GRADE INGREDIENTS and made in the plants owned by the people who own and market the brand name - surprisingly, a lot of the foods are distributed by people who own the brand name but DO NOT MAKE THE FOOD. The contract production out to folks like DIAMOND or MENU Foods. Yes the ones connected to so many dog food recalls and death in the last number of years. So check out foods before you buy them. Here's a great link to help you get started:


We do feed kibble (Grain Free only and made from Human Grade Ingredients), but we feed it in combination with our homemade and we rotate the kibbles, using 3-4 at any given time. And we constantly rotate one out and a new one in. We are not experts but we love our dogs and love to feed them well.

The whole issue of pet food has become quite contentious and controversial over the last few years with the release of some shocking reports on the ingredients that many pet foods contain. This partly has to do with the growth of the internet, and its increased use as a means by which anyone can communicate with a large number of people. This fact has greatly diminished the ability of the media to suppress information that might reflect negatively on major advertisers (such as pet food manufacturers) from whom they derive much of their revenue - and, of course, you don't bite the hand that feeds you! The media can still suppress information, but the internet allows people like you and me to get the message out. And the message is this: a lot of pet foods are not fit to eat! And if you knew what was in it, and you loved your pet, you wouldn't feed it to them.

You are what you eat! And your dog is what you feed it! There are good pet foods out there, you just have to know what you're looking for and how to get it. Find out what feeding regimen we use and recommend at the bottom of this page.

It is my personal view that the coat and skin problems (click here for more information), and other health problems, that we sometimes see in Pomeranians (and other breeds too) are primarily caused by diet, and by coat and skin care products . . . products that are often laced with toxic chemicals, hormones and antibiotics. I also believe that vaccinations, and especially over-vaccination practices which still prevail despite new research coming out of some of the top Veterinary Colleges, also contribute to coat and skin problems (click here for more information). I firmly believe many of these health/skin/coat problems are immune system responses to toxic overload, including vaccinations and inappropriate, non-breed specific feeding regimens.

Did you know that the chicken industry grows a chicken from hatching to your table in 6-8 weeks. I was totally amazed when I first learned that, especially since I know it takes my daughter the whole summer, from April to late September/early October, to do that with her grain fed-naturally raised chickens.  It takes an awful lot of hormones in the chicken feed to grow a chicken out this fast. Often the chickens, cows, pigs lambs, etc. are raised in such filthy environments that they are fed large quantities of antibiotics just to keep the infections at bay, and keep the animals from dying off from diseases that thrive in filthy environments. More often than not, they are fed grains and other products laced with toxic pesticides and artificial fertilizers. These hormones, antibiotics and other toxic chemicals remain in the meat after it is slaughtered. That means that even pet foods which guarantee only human grade ingredients contain these ingredients as a by-product of the chicken and other meat they use. Then, of course, there are the pesticides, chemical fertilizers and other toxic chemicals that are by-products of the herbs, grains and vegetables used in the manufacture of pet food.

Is it any wonder that our dogs are often diseased and sick, and sometimes develop skin and coat problems. Keep reading if you want to know more about the pet food industry and about what you are, or may be, feeding your pets and show Poms.

The following is a series of papers/articles that I found on the web and/or in books. Some are by animal rights activists while others are by Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). The source of each paper/article, including website address where applicable, is provided either at the beginning or at the end of each article. Most, but not all, articles/papers are reproduced in their entirety. Where parts are omitted, this is indicated by  ". . .". Footnotes, when they are available, appear at the end of each paper/article. Often you'll find other interesting information at the websites where this information was obtained. Website addresses are also provided.

To skip these articles, and go directly to to what we feed and recommend, click on this link:

 Damascusroad: Natural Rearing All the Way

List of Titles

What's Really in Pet Food

Animal Protection Institute 

From the book

Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food

by Ann N. Martin. NewSage Press (1997)

Food Not Fit for a Pet

by Dr Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M.

A Look Inside a Rendering Plant

by Gar Smith

The Dark Side of Recycling

[Author's name withheld]

Concerns about Commercial Pet Food: What are you really feeding your pet?

by William Pollak, DVM

Does Your Dog Food Bark? A study of the pet Food fallacy

by Ann Martin 

The Truth About Cats and Dogs

by Ann Martin 

Pet Food — Our Pets are Dying For It

by Sandra Brigola 

Dog Eat Dog: What's Inside the Foods We Feed

by Carol Gravestock-Taylor 

Who Regulates the Pet Food Industry


Feeding a Species Appropriate Diet

© 2004 Frances Gavin


Food Not Fit for a Pet

by Wendell O. Belfield, DVM

Links to Various Other Sites of Interest


What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food


What's Really in Pet Food

         Animal Protection Institute
Plump whole chickens, choice cuts of beef, fresh grains, and all the wholesome nutrition your dog or cat will ever need.

These are the images pet food manufacturers promulgate through the media and advertising. This is what the $11 billion per year U.S. pet food industry wants consumers to believe they are buying when they purchase their products.

This report explores the differences between what consumers think they are buying and what they are actually getting. It focuses in very general terms on the most visible name brands -- the pet food labels that are mass-distributed to supermarkets and discount stores -- but there are many highly respected brands that may be guilty of the same offenses.

What most consumers don't know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered "unfit for human consumption," and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.

Three of the five major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of major multinational companies: Nestlé (Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, and Ralston Purina products such as Dog Chow, ProPlan, and Purina One), Heinz (9 Lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature's Recipe), Colgate-Palmolive (Hill's Science Diet Pet Food). Other leading companies include Procter & Gamble (Eukanuba and Iams), Mars (Kal Kan, Mealtime, Pedigree, Sheba, Waltham's), and Nutro. From a business standpoint, multinational companies owning pet food manufacturing companies is an ideal relationship. The multinationals have increased bulk-purchasing power; those that make human food products have a captive market in which to capiTalize on their waste products, and pet food divisions have a more reliable capital base and, in many cases, a convenient source of ingredients.

There are hundreds of different pet foods available in this country. And while many of the foods on the market are similar, not all of the pet food manufacturing companies use poor quality or potentially dangerous ingredients.


Although the purchase price of pet food does not always determine whether a pet food is good or bad, the price is often a good indicator of quality. It would be impossible for a company that sells a generic brand of dog food at $9.95 for a 40-lb. bag to use quality protein and grain in its food. The cost of purchasing quality ingredients would be much higher than the selling price.

The protein used in pet food comes from a variety of sources. When cattle, swine, chickens, lambs, or other animals are slaughtered, the choice cuts such as lean muscle tissue are trimmed away from the carcass for human consumption. However, about 50% of every food-producing animal does not get used in human foods. Whatever remains of the carcass -- bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, and almost all the other parts not generally consumed by humans -- is used in pet food, animal feed, and other products. These "other parts" are known as "by-products," "meat-and-bone-meal," or similar names on pet food labels.

The Pet Food Institute -- the trade association of pet food manufacturers -- acknowledges the use of by-products in pet foods as additional income for processors and farmers: "The growth of the pet food industry not only provided pet owners with better foods for their pets, but also created profitable additional markets for American farm products and for the byproducts of the meat packing, poultry, and other food industries which prepare food for human consumption."1

Many of these remnants provide a questionable source of nourishment for our animals. The nutritional quality of meat and poultry by-products, meals, and digests can vary from batch to batch. James Morris and Quinton Rogers, two professors with the Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California at Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, assert that, "There is virtually no information on the bioavailability of nutrients for companion animals in many of the common dietary ingredients used in pet foods. These ingredients are generally by-products of the meat, poultry and fishing industries, with the potential for a wide variation in nutrient composition. Claims of nutritional adequacy of pet foods based on the current Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient allowances ('profiles') do not give assurances of nutritional adequacy and will not until ingredients are analyzed and bioavailability values are incorporated."2

Meat and poultry meals, by-product meals, and meat-and-bone meal are common ingredients in pet foods. The term "meal" means that these materials are not used fresh, but have been rendered. What is rendering? Rendering, as defined by Webster's Dictionary, is "to process as for industrial use: to render livestock carcasses and to extract oil from fat, blubber, etc., by melting." Home-made chicken soup, with its thick layer of fat that forms over the top when the soup is cooled, is a sort of mini-rendering process. Rendering separates fat-soluble from water-soluble and solid materials, removes most of the water, and kills bacterial contaminants, but may alter or destroy some of the natural enzymes and proteins found in the raw ingredients. Meat and poultry by-products, while not rendered, vary widely in composition and quality.

What can the feeding of such products do to your companion animal? Some veterinarians claim that feeding slaughterhouse wastes to animals increases their risk of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. The cooking methods used by pet food manufacturers -- such as rendering, extruding (a heat-and-pressure system used to "puff" dry foods into nuggets or kibbles), and baking -- do not necessarily destroy the hormones used to fatten livestock or increase milk production, or drugs such as antibiotics or the barbiturates used to euthanize animals.

Animal and Poultry Fat

You may have noticed a unique, pungent odor when you open a new bag of pet food -- what is the source of that delightful smell? It is most often rendered animal fat, restaurant grease, or other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for humans.

Restaurant grease has become a major component of feed grade animal fat over the last fifteen years. This grease, often held in fifty-gallon drums, may be kept outside for weeks, exposed to extreme temperatures with no regard for its future use. "Fat blenders" or rendering companies then pick up this used grease and mix the different types of fat together, stabilize them with powerful antioxidants to retard further spoilage, and then sell the blended products to pet food companies and other end users.

These fats are sprayed directly onto extruded kibbles and pellets to make an otherwise bland or distasteful product palatable. The fat also acts as a binding agent to which manufacturers add other flavor enhancers such as digests. Pet food scientists have discovered that animals love the taste of these sprayed fats. Manufacturers are masters at getting a dog or a cat to eat something she would normally turn up her nose at.

Wheat, Soy, Corn, Peanut Hulls, and Other Vegetable Protein

The amount of grain products used in pet food has risen over the last decade. Once considered filler by the pet food industry, cereal and grain products now replace a considerable proportion of the meat that was used in the first commercial pet foods. The availability of nutrients in these products is dependent upon the digestibility of the grain. The amount and type of carbohydrate in pet food determines the amount of nutrient value the animal actually gets. Dogs and cats can almost completely absorb carbohydrates from some grains, such as white rice. Up to 20% of the nutritional value of other grains can escape digestion. The availability of nutrients for wheat, beans, and oats is poor. The nutrients in potatoes and corn are far less available than those in rice. Some ingredients, such as peanut hulls, are used for filler or fiber, and have no significant nutritional value.

Two of the top three ingredients in pet foods, particularly dry foods, are almost always some form of grain products. Pedigree Performance Food for Dogs lists Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, and Corn Gluten Meal as its top three ingredients. 9 Lives Crunchy Meals for cats lists Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, and Poultry By-Product Meal as its first three ingredients. Since cats are true carnivores -- they must eat meat to fulfill certain physiological needs -- one may wonder why we are feeding a corn-based product to them. The answer is that corn is a much cheaper "energy source" than meat.

In 1995, Nature's Recipe pulled thousands of tons of dog food off the shelf after consumers complained that their dogs were vomiting and losing their appetite. Nature's Recipe's loss amounted to $20 million. The problem was a fungus that produced vomitoxin (an aflatoxin or "mycotoxin," a toxic substance produced by mold) contaminating the wheat. In 1999, another fungal toxin triggered the recall of dry dog food made by Doane Pet Care at one of its plants, including Ol' Roy (Wal-Mart's brand) and 53 other brands. This time, the toxin killed 25 dogs.

Although it caused many dogs to vomit, stop eating, and have diarrhea, vomitoxin is a milder toxin than most. The more dangerous mycotoxins can cause weight loss, liver damage, lameness, and even death as in the Doane case. The Nature's Recipe incident prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to intervene. Dina Butcher, Agriculture Policy Advisor for North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer, concluded that the discovery of vomitoxin in Nature's Recipe wasn't much of a threat to the human population because "the grain that would go into pet food is not a high quality grain."3

Soy is another common ingredient that is sometimes used as a protein and energy source in pet food. Manufacturers also use it to add bulk so that when an animal eats a product containing soy he will feel more sated. While soy has been linked to gas in some dogs, other dogs do quite well with it. Vegetarian dog foods use soy as a protein source.

Additives and Preservatives

Many chemicals are added to commercial pet foods to improve the taste, stability, characteristics, or appearance of the food. Additives provide no nutritional value. Additives include emulsifiers to prevent water and fat from separating, antioxidants to prevent fat from turning rancid, and artificial colors and flavors to make the product more attractive to consumers and more palatable to their companion animals.

Adding chemicals to food originated thousands of years ago with spices, natural preservatives, and ripening agents. In the last 40 years, however, the number of food additives has greatly increased.

All commercial pet foods must be preserved so they stay fresh and appealing to our animal companions. Canning is a preserving process itself, so canned foods contain less preservatives than dry foods. Some preservatives are added to ingredients or raw materials by the suppliers, and others may be added by the manufacturer. Because manufacturers need to ensure that dry foods have a long shelf life to remain edible after shipping and prolonged storage, fats used in pet foods are preserved with either synthetic or "natural" preservatives. Synthetic preservatives include butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze), and ethoxyquin. For these antioxidants, there is little information documenting their toxicity, safety, interactions, or chronic use in pet foods that may be eaten every day for the life of the animal.

Potentially cancer-causing agents such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are permitted at relatively low levels. The use of these chemicals in pet foods has not been thoroughly studied, and long term build-up of these agents may ultimately be harmful. Due to questionable data in the original study on its safety, ethoxyquin's manufacturer, Monsanto, was required to perform a new, more rigorous study. This was completed in 1996. Even though Monsanto found no significant toxicity associated with its own product, in July 1997, the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine requested that manufacturers voluntarily reduce the maximum level for ethoxyquin by half, to 75 parts per million. While some pet food critics and veterinarians believe that ethoxyquin is a major cause of disease, skin problems, and infertility in dogs, others claim it is the safest, strongest, most stable preservative available for pet food. Ethoxyquin is approved for use in human food for preserving spices, such as cayenne and chili powder, at a level of 100 ppm -- but it would be very difficult to consume as much chili powder every day as a dog would eat dry food. Ethoxyquin has never been tested for safety in cats.

Some manufacturers have responded to consumer concern, and are now using "natural" preservatives such as Vitamin C (ascorbate), Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), and oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices, to preserve the fats in their products. Other ingredients, however, may be individually preserved. Most fish meal, and some prepared vitamin-mineral mixtures, contain chemical preservatives. This means that your companion animal may be eating food containing several types of preservatives. Federal law requires preservatives to be disclosed on the label; however, pet food companies only recently started to comply with this law.

Additives in Processed Pet Foods

Anticaking agents
Antimicrobial agents
Coloring agents
Curing agents
Drying agents
Firming agents
Flavor enhancers
Flavoring agents
Flour treating agents
Formulation aids
Leavening agents
Nonnutritive sweeteners
Nutritive sweeteners
Oxidizing and reducing agents
pH control agents
Processing aids
Solvents, vehicles
Stabilizers, thickeners
Surface active agents
Surface finishing agents

While the law requires studies of direct toxicity of these additives and preservatives, they have not been tested for their potential synergistic effects on each other once ingested. Some authors have suggested that dangerous interactions occur among some of the common synthetic preservatives.4 Natural preservatives do not provide as long a shelf life as chemical preservatives, but they are safe.

The Manufacturing Process

How Pet Food Is Made

Although feeding trials are no longer required for a food to meet the requirements for labeling a food "complete and balanced," most manufacturers perform palatability studies when developing a new pet food. One set of animals is fed a new food while a "control" group is fed a current formula. The total volume eaten is used as a gauge for the palatability of the food. The larger and more reputable companies do use feeding trials, which are considered to be a much more accurate assessment of the actual nutritional value of the food. They keep large colonies of dogs and cats for this purpose, or use testing laboratories that have their own animals.

Most dry food is made with a machine called an expander or extruder. First, raw materials are blended, sometimes by hand, other times by computer, in accordance with a recipe developed by animal nutritionists. This mixture is fed into an expander and steam or hot water is added. The mixture is subjected to steam, pressure, and high heat as it is extruded through dies that determine the shape of the final product and puffed like popcorn. The food is allowed to dry, and then is usually sprayed with fat, digests, or other compounds to make it more palatable. Although the cooking process may kill bacteria in pet food, the final product can lose its sterility during the subsequent drying, fat coating, and packaging process. A few foods are baked at high temperatures rather than extruded. This produces a dense, crunchy kibble that is palatable without the addition of sprayed on palatability enhancers. Animals can be fed about 25% less of a baked food, by volume (but not by weight), than an extruded food.

Ingredients are similar for wet, dry, and semi-moist foods, although the ratios of protein, fat, and fiber may change. A typical can of ordinary cat food reportedly contains about 45-50% meat or poultry by-products. The main difference between the types of food is the water content. It is impossible to directly compare labels from different kinds of food without a mathematical conversion to "dry matter basis."5 Wet or canned food begins with ground ingredients mixed with additives. If chunks are required, a special extruder forms them. Then the mixture is cooked and canned. The sealed cans are then put into containers resembling pressure cookers and commercial sterilization takes place. Some manufacturers cook the food right in the can.

There are special labeling requirements for pet food, all of which are contained in the annually revised Official Publication of AAFCO.6 The use of the terms "all" or "100%" cannot be used "if the product contains more than one ingredient, not including water sufficient for processing, decharacterizing agents, or trace amounts of preservatives and condiments." Products containing multiple ingredients are covered by AAFCO Regulation PF3(b) and (c). The "95% rule" applies when the ingredient(s) derived from animals, poultry, or fish constitutes at least 95% or more of the total weight of the product (or 70% excluding water for processing).

Because all-meat diets are usually not nutritionally balanced, they fell out of favor for many years. However, due to rising consumer interest in high quality meat products, several companies are now promoting 95% and 100% canned meats as a supplemental feeding option.

The "dinner" product is defined by the 25% Rule, which applies when "an ingredient or a combination of ingredients constitutes at least 25% of the weight of the product" (excluding water sufficient for processing) as long as the ingredient(s) shall constitute at least 10% of the total product weight; and a descriptor that implies other ingredients are included in the product formula is used on the label. Such descriptors include "recipe," "platter," "entree," and "formula." A combination of ingredients included in the product name is permissible when each ingredient comprises at least 3% of the product weight, excluding water for processing, and the ingredient names appear in descending order by weight.

The "with" rule allows an ingredient name to appear on the label, such as "with real chicken," as long as each such ingredient constitutes at least 3% of the food by weight, excluding water for processing.

The "flavor" rule allows a food to be designated as a certain flavor as long as the ingredient(s) are sufficient to "impart a distinctive characteristic"to the food. Thus, a "beef flavor" food may contain a small quantity of digest or other extract of tissues from cattle, without containing any actual beef meat at all.

What Happened to the Nutrients?

Dr. Randy L. Wysong is a veterinarian and produces his own line of pet foods. A long-time critic of pet food industry practices, he said, "Processing is the wild card in nutritional value that is, by and large, simply ignored. Heating, cooking, rendering, freezing, dehydrating, canning, extruding, pelleting, baking, and so forth, are so commonplace that they are simply thought of as synonymous with food itself."7 Processing meat and by-products used in pet food can greatly diminish their nutritional value, but cooking increases the digestibility of cereal grains.

To make pet food nutritious, pet food manufacturers must "fortify" it with vitamins and minerals. Why? Because the ingredients they are using are not wholesome, their quality may be extremely variable, and the harsh manufacturing practices destroy many of the nutrients the food had to begin with.


Commercially manufactured or rendered meat meals and by-product meals are frequently highly contaminated with bacteria because their source is not always slaughtered animals. Animals that have died because of disease, injury, or natural causes are a source of meat for meat meal. The dead animal might not be rendered until days after its death. Therefore the carcass is often contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli. Dangerous E. Coli bacteria are estimated to contaminate more than 50% of meat meals. While the cooking process may kill bacteria, it does not eliminate the endotoxins some bacteria produce during their growth and are released when they die. These toxins can cause sickness and disease. Pet food manufacturers do not test their products for endotoxins.

Mycotoxins -- These toxins comes from mold or fungi, such as vomitoxin in the Nature's Recipe case, and aflatoxin in Doane's food. Poor farming practices and improper drying and storage of crops can cause mold growth. Ingredients that are most likely to be contaminated with mycotoxins are grains such as wheat and corn, cottonseed meal, peanut meal, and fish meal.


The National Research Council (NRC) of the Academy of Sciences set the nutritional standards for pet food that were used by the pet food industry until the late 1980s. The NRC standards, which still exist and are being revised as of 2001, were based on purified diets, and required feeding trials for pet foods claimed to be "complete" and "balanced." The pet food industry found the feeding trials too restrictive and expensive, so AAFCO designed an alternate procedure for claiming the nutritional adequacy of pet food, by testing the food for compliance with "Nutrient Profiles." AAFCO also created "expert committees" for canine and feline nutrition, which developed separate canine and feline standards. While feeding trials can still be done, a standard chemical analysis may be also be used to determine if a food meets the profiles.

Chemical analysis, however, does not address the palatability, digestibility, or biological availability of nutrients in pet food. Thus it is unreliable for determining whether a food will provide an animal with sufficient nutrients.

To compensate for the limitations of chemical analysis, AAFCO added a "safety factor," which was to exceed the minimum amount of nutrients required to meet the complete and balanced requirements.

The digestibility and availability of nutrients is not listed on pet food labels.

The 100% Myth -- Problems Caused by Inadequate Nutrition

The idea of one pet food providing all the nutrition a companion animal will ever need for its entire life is a myth.

Cereal grains are the primary ingredients in most commercial pet foods. Many people select one pet food and feed it to their dogs and cats for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, companion dogs and cats eat a primarily carbohydrate diet with little variety. Today, the diets of cats and dogs are a far cry from the primarily protein diets with a lot of variety that their ancestors ate. The problems associated with a commercial diet are seen every day at veterinary establishments. Chronic digestive problems, such as chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease are among the most frequent illnesses treated. These are often the result of an allergy or intolerance to pet food ingredients. The market for "limited antigen" or "novel protein" diets is now a multi-million dollar business. These diets were formulated to address the increasing intolerance to commercial foods that animals have developed. The newest twist is the truly "hypoallergenic" food that has had all its proteins artificially chopped into pieces smaller than can be recognized and reacted to by the immune system.

Dry commercial pet food is often contaminated with bacteria, which may or may not cause problems. Improper food storage and some feeding practices may result in the multiplication of this bacteria. For example, adding water or milk to moisten pet food and then leaving it at room temperature causes bacteria to multiply.8 Yet this practice is suggested on the back of packages of some kitten and puppy foods.

Pet food formulas and the practice of feeding that manufacturers recommend have increased other digestive problems. Feeding only one meal per day can cause the irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid. Feeding two smaller meals is better.

Feeding recommendations or instructions on the packaging are sometimes inflated so that the consumer will end up purchasing more food. However, Procter & Gamble allegedly took the opposite tack with its Iams and Eukanuba lines, reducing the feeding amounts in order to claim that its foods were less expensive to feed. Independent studies commissioned by a competing manufacturer suggested that these reduced levels were inadequate to maintain health. Procter & Gamble has since sued and been countersued by that competing manufacturer, and a consumer complaint has also been filed seeking class-action status for harm caused to dogs by the revised feeding instructions.

Urinary tract disease is directly related to diet in both cats and dogs. Plugs, crystals, and stones in cat bladders are often triggered or aggravated by commercial pet food formulas. One type of stone found in cats is less common now, but another more dangerous type has become more common. Manipulation of manufactured cat food formulas to alter the acidity of urine and the amount of some minerals has directly affected these diseases. Dogs also form stones as a result of their diet.

History has shown that commercial pet food products can cause disease. An often-fatal heart disease in cats and some dogs is now known to be caused by a deficiency of the amino acid taurine. Blindness is another symptom of taurine deficiency. This deficiency was due to inadequate amounts of taurine in cat food formulas, which itself occurred because of decreased amounts of animal proteins and increased reliance on carbohydrates. Cat foods are now supplemented with taurine. New research suggests that supplementing taurine may also be helpful for dogs, but as yet few manufacturers are adding extra taurine to dog food. Inadequate potassium in certain feline diets also caused kidney failure in young cats; potassium is now added in greater amounts to all cat foods.

Rapid growth in large breed puppies has been shown to contribute to bone and joint disease. Excess calories and calcium in some manufactured puppy foods promoted rapid growth. There are now special puppy foods for large breed dogs. But this recent change will not help the countless dogs who lived and died with hip and elbow disease.

There is also evidence that hyperthyroidism in cats may be related to excess iodine in commercial pet food diets.9 This is a new disease that first surfaced in the 1970s, when canned food products appeared on the market. The exact cause and effect are not yet known. This is a serious and sometimes terminal disease, and treatment is expensive.

Many nutritional problems appeared with the popularity of cereal-based commercial pet foods. Some have occurred because the diet was incomplete. Although several ingredients are now supplemented, we do not know what ingredients future researchers may discover that should have been supplemented in pet foods all along. Other problems may result from reactions to additives. Others are a result of contamination with bacteria, mold, drugs, or other toxins. In some diseases the role of commercial pet food is understood; in others, it is not. The bottom line is that diets composed primarily of low quality cereals and rendered meat meals are not as nutritious or safe as you should expect for your cat or dog.



See original source http://www.api4animals.org/doc.asp?ID=79


1. Pet Food Institute, 2.
2. Morris, 2520S.
3. Corbin, 81.
4. Cargill, 36.
5. The conversion is: ingredient percentage divided by (100 minus moisture percentage).
6. Official Publication, Regulation PE3, 114-115.
7. Wysong, Rationale, 40-41.
8. Strombeck, 50-52.
9. Smith, 1397.

— Animal Protection Institute



Back to List of Titles                                                          What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food

From the book

Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food

by Ann N. Martin. NewSage Press (1997).


(Ann Martin is an animal rights activist and leading critic of the commercial pet food industry. She lives in London, Ontario, Canada.)

Television commercials and magazine advertisements for pet food would have us believe that the meats, grains, and fats used in these foods could grace our dining tables. Chicken, beef, lamb, whole grains, and quality fats are supposedly the composition of dog and cat food.

In my opinion, when we purchase these bags and cans of commercial food, we are in most cases purchasing garbage. Unequivocally, I cannot state that all pet food falls into this category, but I have yet to find one that I could, in all good conscience, feed my dog or cats.

Pet food labels can be deceiving. They only provide half the story. The other half of the story is hidden behind obscure ingredients listed on the labels. Bit by bit, over seven years, I have been able to unearth information about what is contained in most commercial pet food. At first I was shocked, but my shock turned to anger when I realized how little the consumer is told about the actual contents of the pet food.

As discussed in Chapter Two, companion animals from clinics, pounds, and shelters can and are being rendered and used as sources of protein in pet food. Dead-stock removal operations play a major role in the pet food industry. Dead animals, road kill that cannot be buried at roadside, and in some cases, zoo animals, are picked up by these dead stock operations. When an animal dies in the field or is killed due to illness or disability, the dead stock operators pick them up and truck them to the receiving plant. There the dead animal is salvaged for meat or, depending on the state of decomposition, delivered to a rendering plant. At the receiving plants, the animals of value are skinned and viscera removed. Hides of cattle and calves are sold for tanning. The usable meat is removed from the carcass, and covered in charcoal to prevent it from being used for human consumption. Then the meat is frozen, and sold as animal food, which includes pet food.

The packages of this frozen meat must be clearly marked as "unfit for human consumption." The rest of the carcass and poorer quality products including viscera, fat, etcetera, are sent to the rendering facilities. Rendering plants are melting pots for all types of refuse. Restaurant grease and garbage; meats and baked goods long past the expiration dates from supermarkets (Styrofoam trays and shrink-wrap included); the entrails from dead stock removal operations, and the condemned and contaminated material from slaughterhouses. All of these are rendered.

The slaughterhouses where cattle, pigs, goats, calves, sheep, poultry, and rabbits meet their fate, provide more fuel for rendering. After slaughter, heads, feet, skin, toenails, hair, feathers, carpal and tarsal joints, and mammary glands are removed. This material is sent to rendering. Animals who have died on their way to slaughter are rendered. Cancerous tissue or tumors and worm-infested organs are rendered. Injection sites, blood clots, bone splinters, or extraneous matter are rendered. Contaminated blood is rendered. Stomach and bowels are rendered. Contaminated material containing or having been treated with a substance not permitted by, or in any amount in excess of limits prescribed under the Food and Drug Act or the Environmental Protection Act. In other words, if a carcass contains high levels of drugs or pesticides this material is rendered.

Before rendering, this material from the slaughterhouse is "denatured," which means that the material from the slaughterhouse is covered with a particular substance to prevent it from getting back into the human food chain. In the United States the substances used for denaturing include: crude carbolic acid, fuel oil, or citronella. In Canada the denaturing agent is Birkolene B. When I asked, the Ministry of Agriculture would not divulge the composition of Birkolene B, stating its ingredients are a trade secret.

At the rendering plant, slaughterhouse material, restaurant and supermarket refuse, dead stock, road kill, and euthanized companion animals are dumped into huge containers. A machine slowly grinds the entire mess. After it is chipped or shredded, it is cooked at temperatures of between 220 degrees F. and 270 degrees F. (104.4 to 132.2 degrees C.) for twenty minutes to one hour. The grease or tallow rises to the top, where it is removed from the mixture. This is the source of animal fat in most pet foods. The remaining material, the raw, is then put into a press where the moisture is squeezed out. We now have meat and bone meal.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials in its "Ingredient Definitions," describe meat meal as the rendered product from mammal tissue exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, hide, trimmings, manure, stomach, and rumen (the first stomach or the cud of a cud chewing animal) contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. In an article written by David C. Cooke, "Animal Disposal: Fact and Fiction," Cooke noted, "Can you imagine trying to remove the hair and stomach contents from 600,000 tons of dog and cats prior to cooking them?" It would seem that either the Association of American Feed Control Officials definition of meat meal or meat and bone meal should be redefined or it needs to include a better description of "good factory practices."

When 4-D animals are picked up and sent to these rendering facilities, you can be assured that the stomach contents are not removed. The blood is not drained nor are the horns and hooves removed. The only portion of the animal that might be removed is the hide and any meat that may be salvageable and not too diseased to be sold as raw pet food or livestock feed. The Minister of Agriculture in Quebec made it clear that companion animals are rendered completely.

Pet Food Industry magazine states that a pet food manufacturer might reject rendered material for various reasons, including the presence of foreign material (metals, hair, plastic, rubber, glass), off odor, excessive feathers, hair or hog bristles, bone chunks, mold, chemical analysis out of specification, added blood, leather, or calcium carbonate, heavy metals, pesticide contamination, improper grind or bulk density, and insect infestation.

Please note that this article states that the manufacturer might reject this material, not that it does reject this material.

If the label on the pet food you purchase states that the product contains meat meal, or meat and bone meal, it is possible that it is comprised of all the materials listed above.

Meat, as defined by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), is the clean flesh derived from slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle that is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, diaphragm, heart, or esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels that normally accompany the flesh. When you read on a pet food label that the product contains "real meat," you are getting blood vessels, sinew and so on-hardly the tasty meat that the industry would have us believe it is putting in the food.

Meat by-products are the non rendered, clean parts other than meat derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. Again, be assured that if it could be used for human consumption, such as kidneys and livers, it would not be going into pet food. If a liver is found to be infested with worms (liver flukes), if lungs are filled with pneumonia, these can become pet food. However, in Canada, disease-free intestines can still be used for sausage casing for humans instead of pet food.

What about other sources of protein that can be used in pet food? Poultry-by-product meal consists of ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcasses of slaughtered poultry, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs, and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidably in good processing practice.

Poultry-hatchery by-products are a mixture of egg shells, infertile and unhatched eggs and culled chicks that have been cooked, dried and ground, with or without removal of part of the fat.

Poultry by-products include non rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, and viscera, free of fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice. These are all definitions as listed in the AAFCO "Ingredient Definitions."

Hydrolyzed poultry feather is another source of protein - not digestible protein, but protein nonetheless. This product results from the treatment under pressure of clean, intact feathers from slaughtered poultry free of additives, and/or accelerators.

We have covered the meat and poultry that can be used in commercial pet foods but according to the AAFCO there are a number of other sources that can make up the protein in these foods. As we venture down the road of these other sources, please be advised to proceed at your own risk if you have a weak stomach.

Hydrolysed hair is a product prepared from clean hair treated by heat and pressure to produce a product suitable for animal feeding.

Spray-dried animal blood is produced from clean, fresh animal blood, exclusive of all extraneous material such as hair, stomach belching (contents of stomach), and urine, except in such traces as might occur unavoidably in good factory practices.

Dehydrated food-waste is any and all animal and vegetable produce picked up from basic food processing sources or institutions where food is processed. The produce shall be picked up daily or sufficiently often so that no decomposition is evident. With this ingredient, it seems that what you don't see won't hurt you.

Dehydrated garbage is composed of artificially dried animal and vegetable waste collected sufficiently often that harmful decomposition has not set in and from which have been separated crockery, glass, metal, string, and similar materials.

Dehydrated paunch products are composed of the contents of the rumen of slaughtered cattle, dehydrated at temperatures over 212 degrees F. (100 degrees C.) to a moisture content of 12 percent or less, such dehydration is designed to destroy any pathogenic bacteria.

Dried poultry waste is a processed animal waste product composed primarily of processed ruminant excreta that has been artificially dehydrated to a moisture content not in excess of 15 percent. It shall contain not less than 12 percent crude protein, not more than 40 percent crude fiber, including straw, wood shavings and so on, and not more than 30 percent ash.

Dried swine waste is a processed animal-waste product composed primarily of swine excreta that has been artificially dehydrated to a moisture content not in excess of 15 percent. It shall contain not less than 20 percent crude protein, not more than 35 percent crude fiber, including other material such as straw, woodshavings, or acceptable bedding materials, and not more than 20 percent ash.

Undried processed animal waste product is composed of excreta, with or without the litter, from poultry, ruminants, or any other animal except humans, which may or may not include other feed ingredients, and which contains in excess of 15 percent feed ingredients, and which contains in excess of 15 percent moisture. It shall contain no more than 30 percent combined wood, woodshavings, litter, dirt, sand, rocks, and similar extraneous materials.

After reading this list of ingredients for the first time and not really believing that such ingredients could be used in pet food, I sent a fax to the chair of the AAFCO to inquire. "Would the 'Feed Ingredient Definitions' apply to pet food as well as livestock feed?" The reply was as follows, "The feed ingredient definitions approved by the AAFCO apply to all animal feeds, including pet foods, unless specific animal species restrictions are noted."

[Editors Note: If it goes in to livestock feed, and we eat livestock, then we eat it too.]

If a pet food lists "meat by-products" on the label, remember that this is the material that usually comes from the slaughterhouse industry or dead stock removal operations, classified as condemned or contaminated, unfit for human consumption. Meat meal, meat and bone meal, digests, and tankage (specifically animal tissue including bones and exclusive of hair, hoofs, horns, and contents of digestive tract) are composed of rendered material. The label need not state what the composition of this material is, as each batch rendered would consist of a different material. These are the sources of protein that we are feeding our companion animals.

In 1996 I decided to find out the cost of this "quality" material that the pet food companies purchase from the rendering facilities. Aware that a phone call from an ordinary citizen would not elicit the information I required, I set about forming my own independent pet food company. Stating that my company was about to begin producing quality pet food, I asked for a price quote on meat by-products and meat meal from a Canadian rendering company and from a U.S. rendering company. Both facilities I contacted were more than pleased to provide this information. As I was just a small company and did not require that much material to begin production, the cost was higher than it would have been for one of the large multinationals. Meat and bone meal, with a content of a minimum of 50 percent protein, 12 percent fat, 8 percent moisture, 8 percent calcium, 4 percent phosphorus, and 30 percent ash, could be purchased by me, a small independent company for less than 12¢ (Canadian) a pound. As for the meat by-products the prices varied:. liver sold at 21¢ per pound, veal at 22¢ per pound, and lungs for only 12¢ per pound.

The main ingredient in dry food for dogs and cats is corn. However, on further investigation, I found that according to the AAFCO, the list is lengthy as to the corn products that can be used in pet food. These include, but are not limited to the following ingredients.

Corn four is the fine-size hard flinty portions of ground corn containing little or none of the bran or germ.

Corn bran  is the outer coating of the corn kernel, with little or none of the starchy part of the germ.

Corn gluten meal  is the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.

Wheat  is a constituent found in many pet foods. Again the AAFCO gives descriptive terms for wheat products.

Wheat flour consists principally of wheat flour together with fine particles of wheat bran, wheat germ, and the offal from the "tail of the mill." Tail of the mill is nothing more then the sweepings of leftovers after everything has been processed from the week.

Wheat germ meal consists chiefly of wheat germ together with some bran and middlings or shorts.

Wheat middlings and shorts are also categorized as the fine particles of wheat germ, bran, flour and offal from the "tail of the mill." 

Both corn and wheat are usually the first ingredients listed on both dry dog and cat food labels. If they are not the first ingredients, they are the second and third that together make up most of the sources of protein in that particular product. Perhaps the pet food industry is not aware that cats are carnivores and therefore should derive their protein from meat, not grains?

In 1995 one large pet food company, located in California, recalled $20 million worth of its dog food. This food was found to contain vomitoxin. Vomitoxin is formed when grains become wet and moldy. This toxin was found in "wheat screenings" used in the pet food. The FDA did investigate but not out of concern for the more than 250 dogs that became ill after ingesting this food. It investigated because of concerns for human health. The contaminated wheat screenings were the end product of wheat flour that would be used in the making of pasta. Wheat for baking flour requires a higher quality of wheat. Wheat screenings, which are not used for human consumption, can include broken grains, crop and weed seeds, hulls, chaff, joints, straw, elevator or mill dust, sand, and dirt.

Fat is usually the second ingredient listed on the pet food labels. Fats can be sprayed directly on the food or mixed with the other ingredients. Fats give off a pungent odor that entices your pet to eat the garbage. These fats are sourced from restaurant grease. This oil is rancid and unfit for human consumption. One of the main sources of fat comes from the rendering plant. This is obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial process of rendering or extracting.

An article in Petted Industry magazine does not indicate concern about the impurities in this rendered material as it relates to pet food. Dr. Tim Phillips writes, "Impurities could be small particles of fiber, hair, hide, bone, soil or polyethylene. Or they could be dirt or metal particles picked up after processing (during storage and/or transport). Impurities can cause clogging problems in fat handling screens, nozzles, etc. and contribute to the build-up of sludge in storage tanks.

Other tasty ingredients that can be added to commercial pet food include:

Beet pulp is the dried residue from sugar beet, added for fiber, but primarily sugar.

Soybean meal is the product obtained by grinding the flakes that remain after the removal of most of the oil from soybeans by a solvent extraction process.

Powdered cellulose is purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose prepared by processing alpha cellulose obtained as a pulp from fibrous plant material. In other words, sawdust.

Sugar foods by-products result from the grinding and mixing of inedible portions derived from the preparation and packaging of sugar-based food products such as candy, dry packaged drinks, dried gelatin mixes, and similar food products that are largely composed of sugar.

Ground almond and peanut shells are used as another source of fiber.

Fish is a source of protein. If you own a cat, just open a can of food that contains fish and watch kitty come running. The parts used are fish heads, tails, fins, bones, and viscera. R.L. Wysong, DVM, states that because the entire fish is not used it does not contain many of the fat soluble vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. If, however, the entire fish is used for pet food, oftentimes it is because the fish contains a high level of mercury or other toxin making it unfit for human consumption. Even fish that was canned for human consumption and that has sat on the shelf past the expiration date will be included. Tuna is used in many cat foods because of its strong odor, which cats find irresistible.

In her book The Natural Cat, Anitra Frazier describes the "tuna junkie" as an expression used by veterinarians to describe a cat hooked on tuna. According to Frazier, "The vegetable oil which it is packed in robs the cat's body of vitamin E which can result in a condition called steatitis.''   Symptoms of steatitis include extreme nervousness and severe pain when touched. The lack of vitamin E in the diet causes the nerve endings to become sensitive, and can also induce anemia and heart disease. However, excess levels of vitamin E can be toxic. A veterinarian with an understanding of nutrition should be consulted.

One commercial food that most cats and dogs seem to love are the semi-moist foods. These kibble and burger-shaped concoctions are made to resemble real hamburger. However, according to Wendell O. Belfield and Martin Zucker in their book, How to Have a Healthier Dog, these are one of the most dangerous of all commercial pet foods.  They are high in sugar, laced with dyes, additives, and preservatives, and have a shelf life that spans eternity. One pet owner wrote to me explaining that she had fed her cat some of these semi-moist tidbits. The cat became ill shortly after eating them, and even professional carpet cleaners could not remove the red dye from the carpet where her cat had been ill. In his book, Pet Allergies: Remedies for an Epidemic, Alfred Plechner, DVM., writes, "In my opinion, semi-moist foods should be placed in a time capsule to serve as a record of modern technology gone mad."

The pet food industry corrals this material, then mixes, cooks, dries and extrudes the stuff. (Extruding simply means it is pushed through a mold to form the different shapes and to make us think that these so called "chunks" are actually pieces of meat.) Dyes, additives, preservatives are routinely added and they can accumulate in the pet's body. According to the Animal Protection Institute of America newsletter, "Investigative Report on Pet Food, "Ethoxyquin (an antioxidant preservative), was found in dogs' livers and tissue months after it had been removed from their diet."

After processing, the food is practically devoid of any nutritional value. To make up for what is lacking, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and supplements are dumped into the mix. If the minerals added are unchelated (chelated means minerals will more readily combine with proteins for better absorption), they will pass through the body virtually unused. Most are added as a premix, and if there is a mistake made in the premix, it can throw off the entire balance. Veterinarians Marty Goldstein and Robert Goldstein have stated that the wrong calcium/magnesium ratio can cause neuromuscular problems.  As an example, when I had the commercial pet food tested by Mann Laboratories for my court case, most of the minerals showed excess levels.

Please note: The information provided here is meant to supplement that provided by your veterinarian. Nothing can replace a complete history and physical examination performed by your veterinarian. - Dr. Jeff


Back to List of Titles                                                          What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food



by Dr Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M.

The most frequently asked question in my practice is, "Which commercial pet food do you recommend?" My standard answer is "None." I am certain that pet-owners notice changes in their animals after using different batches of the same brand of pet food. Their pets may have diarrhoea, increased flatulence, a dull hair coat, intermittent vomiting or prolonged scratching. These are common symptoms associated with commercial pet foods.

In 1981, as Martin Zucker and I wrote How to Have a Healthier Dog, we discovered the full extent of negative effects that commercial pet food has on animals. In February 1990, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Eckhouse went even further with an exposé entitled "How Dogs and Cats Get Recycled into Pet Food".

Eckhouse wrote: "Each year, millions of dead American dogs and cats are processed along with billions of pounds of other animal materials by companies known as renderers. The finished product...tallow and meat meal...serve as raw materials for thousands of items that include cosmetics and pet food."

Pet food company executives made the usual denials. But federal and state agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, and medical groups, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), confirm that pets, on a routine basis, are rendered after they die in animal shelters or are disposed of by health authorities - and the end product frequently finds its way into pet food.

Government health officials, scientists and pet food executives argue that such open criticism of commercial pet food is unfounded. James Morris, a professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Davis, California, has said, "Any products not fit for human consumption are very well sterilised, so nothing can be transmitted to the animal." Individuals who make such statements know nothing of the meat and rendering business.

For seven years I was a veterinary meat inspector for the US Department of Agriculture and the State of California. I waded through blood, water, pus and fecal material, inhaled the fetid stench from the killing floor and listened to the death cries of slaughtered animals.

Prior to World War II, most slaughterhouses were all-inclusive; that is, livestock was slaughtered and processed in one location. There was a section for smoking meats, a section for processing meats into sausages, and a section for rendering. After World War II, the meat industry became more specialized. A slaughterhouse dressed the carcasses, while a separate facility made the sausages. The rendering of slaughter waste also became a separate specialty - no longer within the jurisdiction of federal meat inspectors and out of the public eye.

To prevent condemned meat from being rerouted and used for human consumption, government regulations require that meat be "denatured" before removal from the slaughterhouse and shipment to rendering facilities. In my time as a veterinary meat inspector, we denatured with carbolic acid (a potentially corrosive disinfectant) and/or creosote (used for wood-preservation or as a disinfectant). Both substances are highly toxic. According to federal meat inspection regulations, fuel oil, kerosene, crude carbolic acid and citronella (an insect repellent made from lemon grass) are all approved denaturing materials.

Condemned livestock carcasses treated with these chemicals can become meat and bone meal for the pet food industry. Because rendering facilities are not government-controlled, any animal carcasses can be rendered - even dogs and cats. As Eileen Layne of the CVMA told the Chronicle, "When you read pet food labels, and it says "meat and bone meal", that's what it is: cooked and converted animals, including some dogs and cats."

Some of these dead pets - those euthanised by veterinarians - already contain pentobarbital before treatment with the denaturing process. According to University of Minnesota researchers, the sodium pentobarbital used to euthanise pets "survives rendering without undergoing degradation". Fat stabilisers are introduced into the finished rendered product to prevent rancidity. Common chemical stabilisers include BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) - both known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction - and ethoxyquin, a suspected carcinogen. Many semi-moist dog foods contain propylene glycol - first cousin to the anti-freeze agent, ethylene glycol, that destroys red blood-cells. Lead frequently shows up in pet foods, even those made from livestock meat and bone meal. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, titled "Lead in Animal Foods", found that a nine-pound cat fed on commercial pet food ingests more lead than the amount considered potentially toxic for children.

I have been practicing small-animal medicine for more than 25 years. Every day I see the casualties of pet industry propaganda. But the professors in the teaching institutions of veterinary medicine generally support an industry that has little regard for the quality of health in our companion animals.

One last word of caution: meat and bone meal from sources not fit for human consumption have found their way into poultry feed. This means that animal products rendered under questionable conditions are fed to birds that may wind up on your table. Remember this when you are eating your next piece of chicken or turkey.

(Dr Belfield is a graduate of Tuskegee Institute of Veterinary Medicine and is now in private practice in San Jose, California. Dr Belfield established the first orthomolecular veterinary hospital in the US. He is co-author of The Very Healthy Cat Book and How to Have a Healthier Dog. This article first appeared in Let's Live Magazine, May 1992.)

Back to List of Titles                                                          What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food



by Gar Smith

Rendering has been called "the silent industry". Each year in the US, 286 rendering plants quietly dispose of more than 12.5 million tons of dead animals, fat and meat wastes. As the public relations watchdog newsletter PR Watch observes, renderers "are thankful that most people remain blissfully unaware of their existence".

When City Paper reporter Van Smith visited Baltimore's Valley Proteins rendering plant last summer, he found that the "hoggers" (the large vats used to grind and filter animal tissues prior to deep-fat-frying) held an eclectic mix of body parts ranging from "dead dogs, cats, raccoons, possums, deer, foxes [and] snakes" to a "baby circus elephant" and the remains of Bozeman, a Police Department quarterhorse that "died in the line of duty".

In an average month, Baltimore's pound hands over 1,824 dead animals to Valley Proteins. Last year, the plant transformed 150 millions pounds of decaying flesh and kitchen grease into 80 million pounds of commercial meat and bone meal, tallow and yellow grease. Thirty years ago, most of the renderer's wastes came from small markets and slaughterhouses. Today, thanks to the proliferation of fast-food restaurants, nearly half the raw material is kitchen grease and frying oil.

Recycling dead pets and wildlife into animal food is "a very small part of the business that we don't like to advertise," Valley Proteins' President, J. J. Smith, told City Paper. The plant processes these animals as a "public service, not for profit," Smith said, since "there is not a lot of protein and fat [on pets]..., just a lot of hair you have to deal with somehow."

According to City Paper, Valley Proteins "sells inedible animal parts and rendered material to Alpo, Heinz and Ralston-Purina". Valley Proteins insists that it does not sell "dead pet by-products" to pet food firms since "they are all very sensitive to the recycled pet potential". Valley Proteins maintains two production lines&emdash;one for clean meat and bones and a second line for dead pets and wildlife. However, Van Smith reported, "the protein material is a mix from both production lines. Thus the meat and bone meal made at the plant includes materials from pets and wildlife, and about five per cent of that product goes to dry-pet-food manufacturers..."

A 1991 USDA report states that "approximately 7.9 billion pounds of meat and bone meal, blood meal and feather meal [were] produced in 1983". Of that amount, 34 per cent was used in pet food, 34 per cent in poultry feed, 20 per cent in pig food and 10 per cent in beef and dairy cattle feed.

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) carried in pig- and chicken-laden foods may eventually eclipse the threat of "mad cow disease". The risk of household pet exposure to TSE from contaminated pet food is more than three times greater than the risk for hamburger-eating humans.

(Gar Smith is Editor of Earth Island Journal.)

Back to List of Titles                                                          What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food



[Author's name withheld]

[In February 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle carried a macabre two-part story detailing how stray dogs, cats and pound animals are routinely rounded up by meat renderers and ground up into — of all things — pet food. According to the researcher who brought the information to the Chronicle, the paper buried the story and deleted many of the charges he had documented. A report he worked on for ABC television's 20-20 was similarly watered down. In exasperation, he sent the story to Earth Island Journal. NEXUS has been asked to withhold the name of the author/researcher, who has been forced to flee San Francisco with his wife and go into hiding as a result of the threats made against his well-being. Ed.]

The rendering plant floor is piled high with "raw product": thousands of dead dogs and cats; heads and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons&emdash;all waiting to be processed. In the 90-degree heat, the piles of dead animals seem to have a life of their own as millions of maggots swarm over the carcasses.

Two bandana-masked men begin operating Bobcat mini-dozers, loading the "raw" into a 10-foot- deep stainless-steel pit. They are undocumented workers from Mexico, doing a dirty job. A giant auger-grinder at the bottom of the pit begins to turn. Popping bones and squeezing flesh are sounds from a nightmare you will never forget.

Rendering is the process of cooking raw animal material to remove the moisture and fat. The rendering plant works like a giant kitchen. The cooker, or "chef", blends the raw product in order to maintain a certain ratio between the carcasses of pets, livestock, poultry waste and supermarket rejects.

Once the mass is cut into small pieces, it is transported to another auger for fine shredding. It is then cooked at 280 degrees for one hour. The continuous batch cooking process goes on non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week as meat is melted away from bones in the hot 'soup'. During this cooking process, the 'soup' produces a fat of yellow grease or tallow that rises to the top and is skimmed off. The cooked meat and bone are sent to a hammermill press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverises the product into a gritty powder. Shaker screens sift out excess hair and large bone chips. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is yellow grease, meat and bone meal.

A Meaty Menu

As the American Journal of Veterinary Research explains, this recycled meat and bone meal is used as "a source of protein and other nutrients in the diets of poultry and swine and in pet foods, with lesser amounts used in the feed of cattle and sheep. Animal fat is also used in animal feeds as an energy source." Every day, hundreds of rendering plants across the United States truck millions of tons of this "food enhancer" to poultry ranches, cattle feed-lots, dairy and hog farms, fish-feed plants and pet-food manufacturers where it is mixed with other ingredients to feed the billions of animals that meat-eating humans, in turn, will eat.

Rendering plants have different specialities. The labelling designation of a particular "run" of product is defined by the predominance of a specific animal. Some product-label names are: meat meal, meat by-products, poultry meal, poultry by-products, fish meal, fish oil, yellow grease, tallow, beef fat and chicken fat.

Rendering plants perform one of the most valuable functions on Earth: they recycle used animals. Without rendering, our cities would run the risk of becoming filled with diseased and rotting carcasses. Fatal viruses and bacteria would spread uncontrolled through the population.

The Dark Side

Death is the number one commodity in a business where the demand for feed ingredients far exceeds the supply of raw product. But this elaborate system of food production through waste management has evolved into a recycling nightmare. Rendering plants are unavoidably processing toxic waste.

The dead animals (the "raw") are accompanied by a whole menu of unwanted ingredients. Pesticides enter the rendering process via poisoned livestock, and fish oil laced with bootleg DDT and other organophosphates that have accumulated in the bodies of West Coast mackerel and tuna.

Because animals are frequently shoved into the pit with flea collars still attached, organophosphate-containing insecticides get into the mix as well. The insecticide Dursban arrives in the form of cattle insecticide patches. Pharmaceuticals leak from antibiotics in livestock, and euthanasia drugs given to pets are also included. Heavy metals accumulate from a variety of sources: pet ID tags, surgical pins and needles.

Even plastic winds up going into the pit. Unsold supermarket meats, chicken and fish arrive in styrofoam trays and shrink wrap. No one has time for the tedious chore of unwrapping thousands of rejected meat-packs. More plastic is added to the pits with the arrival of cattle ID tags, plastic insecticide patches and the green plastic bags containing pets from veterinarians.

Rendering Judgements

Skyrocketing labour costs are one of the economic factors forcing the corporate flesh-peddlers to cheat. It is far too costly for plant personnel to cut off flea collars or unwrap spoiled T-bone steaks. Every week, millions of packages of plastic-wrapped meat go through the rendering process and become one of the unwanted ingredients in animal feed.

The most environmentally conscious state in the nation is California, where spot checks and testing of animal-feed ingredients happen at the wobbly rate of once every two-and-a-half months. The supervising state agency is the Department of Agriculture's Feed and Fertilizer Division of Compliance. Its main objective is to test for truth in labelling: does the percentage of protein, phosphorous and calcium match the rendering plant's claims; do the percentages meet state requirements? However, testing for pesticides and other toxins in animal feeds is incomplete.

In California, eight field inspectors regulate a rendering industry that feeds the animals that the state's 30 million people eat. When it comes to rendering plants, however, state and federal agencies have maintained a hands-off policy, allowing the industry to become largely self-regulating. An article in the February 1990 issue of Render, the industry's national magazine, suggests that the self-regulation of certain contamination problems is not working.

One policing program that is already off to a shaky start is the Salmonella Education/Reduction Program, formed under the auspices of the National Renderers Association. The magazine states that "...unless US and Canadian renderers get their heads out of the ground and demonstrate that they are serious about reducing the incidence of salmonella contamination in their animal protein meals, they are going to be faced with...new and overly stringent government regulations."

So far, the voluntary self-testing program is not working. According to the magazine, "...only about 20 per cent of the total number of companies producing or blending animal protein meal have signed up for the program..." Far fewer have done the actual testing.

The American Journal of Veterinary Research conducted an investigation into the persistence of sodium phenobarbital in the carcasses of euthanised animals at a typical rendering plant in 1985 and found "...virtually no degradation of the drug occurred during this conventional rendering processÉ" and that "...the potential of other chemical contaminants (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides and environmental toxicants, which may cause massive herd morTalities) to degrade during conventional rendering needs further evaluation."

Renderers are the silent partners in our food chain. But worried insiders are beginning to talk, and one word that continues to come up in conversation is "pesticides". The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality. Government agencies and the industry itself are allowing toxins to be inadvertently recycled from the streets and supermarket shelves into the food chain. As we break into a new decade of increasingly complex pollution problems, we must rethink our place in the environment. No longer hunters, we are becoming the victims of our technologically altered food chain.

The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality.

Extracted from NEXUS Magazine Volume 4, #1 (Dec '96 - Jan 1997).
PO Box 30, Mapleton Qld 4560 Australia. nexus@peg.apc.org
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381

Back to List of Titles                                                          What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food

Concerns about Commercial Pet Food

What are you really feeding your pet?

by William Pollak, DVM

What we’d like to speak on is the importance of freshness, wholesomeness and the appropriateness of what is consumed.

The information we provide is for those people seeking powerful yet simple suggestions for enhancing wellness in their companion animals, as well as their own lives. Not all seekers are looking for this enhanced wellness. Most people in fact are satisfied with their dog or cat "looking" normal on the current commercial food; they assume the animal is just fine. It is not our wish to tell them otherwise. A developing sense of and desire for greater wellness is growing in the world and is giving rise to this information. It is our hope that this small change, switching your pet to a natural raw meat diet, will enhance the quality of life of not just your pet but your entire household. We have seen this time and time again.

Some concerns about Commercial Pet Food:

  • Pet labels mislead and distort nutritional facts.
  • Some animal byproducts make regularly consumed pet food poisonous and toxic.
  • Food additives, like coloring, are for the human purchaser, not the animal consumer.
  • Product deficiencies lead to overeating, the buying of more product and the creation of greater malnutrition.
  • Our companion animals’ life expectancies are growing shorter every generation.
  • Chronic allergic reactions are primarily food based; cause suffering; and require additional treatments that often exacerbates underlying disease.
  • Nutritional issues receive little publicity because the subject matter is technical and usually leads to the "naming of names". Pet food advertising revenue is huge and consequently, the advertisers are very powerful. Common editorial policy must balance "news-worthiness" with business; this usually results in avoiding negative references to advertisers’ products.

This situation is neither political nor, by contemporary standards, even sensational. It is however, something we deal with everyday. It is lack of information. Food manufacturers are silent; they sell pet food in a highly competitive market at prices that haven’t changed in many years. Have you ever asked yourself, why not? The raw materials these food manufacturers mix together to produce typical pet foods you find along the supermarket aisles come from highly questionable, and in some cases, unbelievable sources unfit for either person or beast. Compounding this situation is the fact that pet food labels give only vague ideas of a pet food’s content. The listed items are essentially "catch-all terms" for more specific, and often less desirable, substances. Protein, fat, carbohydrate and crude fiber are general food categories; they have no functional meaning in terms of nutritional source, quality or digestibility.

Our biggest concern as consumers of commercially available pet foods is that this food:

  • Contains ingredients, chemicals, toxins and poisons that should not be consumed.
  • Lacks ingredients that should be part of our pet’s daily food diet.

Package labeling is a necessary obligation the food manufacturers are required to provide by law. These laws however, perpetuate a classification system that has little to do with nutritional value. Manufacturers can and do use obscure and easily misunderstood terms. Why are these labels so obscure? The first and most important question to ask, for a better indication of the nutritional value of food we buy, is what percent of the food is digestible. A substance is a nutrient only when it is digestible, that is, absorbed and assimilated by an animal consuming the food product. Unassimilated food ingredients are at best, non-digestible roughage, and, at worst, deadly toxins or poisons. Nowhere on the pet food label does it state how much of the food can be digested. It is a fact that animals on "supermarket" or convenience diets are usually chronically malnourished due to excessive use of fillers, stale food, and chemicals coming out of a food can or pouch. This empty nutrition, non-vital state of health is the fertile ground for sub-standard biological activity and receptivity.

Pet and baby foods are unlike any other products sold in a supermarket. Both items claim to be a complete, "Whole" nutritional package for the consumer; all other foods in the supermarket are part of an overall, individually tailored diet. Deficiencies in one food product are balanced by another food product if variety and wholesomeness is valued. The possibility of choosing what one wants to eat is available to humans. Our pets however, are denied this choice when given only commercial pet food as the sole source of nutrition. A pet owner must be satisfied in the belief the pet food is all the animal really needs to insure minimum nutritional needs. Rarely can one find a pet diet that provides more than minimum daily nutritional requirements; that seeks to provide, in fact, greater Wellness. It would be wise to seek out commercial pet foods that are, at best, acceptable supplements to a more natural, raw meat diet.

The average pet owner feels satisfied upon leaving the store with a large bag of pet food purchased at a very affordable price (food at 15 cents a pound). At home, the pet "attacks" the food in it’s food bowl further confirming its owner’s conviction that a "smart" purchase in both value and quality has been made. The pet loves the food! It eats it immediately with great vigor. This "gusto" though is usually a sign of a pet’s lack of proper nutrition. It is the voracious overeating observed everyday at feeding time that indicates a lack in balanced nutrition along with a hyperactivity usually unnoticed until the animal is put on a more nutritious and wholesome diet. Overeating quickly empties a food bag; non-nutrient fillers and appetite stimulants (addictive agents such as sucrose, corn syrup, salt, and artificial flavoring exacerbate a pet’s already undernourished state When a pet overeats a food of low nutritional value, they must "digest" additional calories, protein, carbohydrates and waste products to derive a minimal benefit from the diet. Already low "vital energy" stores are further depleted. This borderline state of starvation, despite regular feedings, produces a responsive, though non-alert, living, though non-vital, animal. The end result a pet owner or pet professional observes is an overweight, doughy, dull-coated, undernourished pet that is marginally poisoned. This is the main reason life expectancies of our pets are growing shorter every year. Our companion animals just survive on convenience pet foods. From a holistic perspective, mere survival is not enough; organisms need to do more than just survive. By achieving a state of Wellness, a transcendent growth is secured.

— William Pollack, DVM



Processed Food a Slow Poison !

This article is a result of numerous written letters and phone calls from concerned pet owners as to why our pets do not enjoy good health. Some of the common complaints are lack of energy, skin allergies, flea control, arthritis at an early age, vomiting, epileptic seizures, hypoactivity diet, etc. etc. and the big one ... why our dogs are dying at such an early age??

I use herbs and Homeopathy (Natural Medicine) to treat sick pets, so the thoughts I am putting on paper here are after many years of research and study and working closely with vets who share my view. e.g.. reprint with permission article from 'The Australian' on processed food. I wish to share some of my findings with my fellow pet owners.

No doubt you have all heard the saying, "You are what you eat." and that certainly is the case with our pets as well. What our pets ate a hundred years ago was a lot safer, cleaner and better in nutritional value than it is today.

The supermarket and the pet food manufacturers do not provide safe food for our pets despite all the clever television commercials that claim their brands are complete. The bagged and canned food billed as complete and a balanced diet, is primarily made up of rubbish, consisting mainly of beef or poultry by-products, what they really mean is, contains - feet, organs, blood, hides, hooves, beaks, feathers, etc., also containing diseased or cancerous animal tissue from cattle or poultry that have been condemned for human use. Blood soaked sawdust from slaughterhouse floors is also considered to be meat and poultry by-product. I have personally witnessed this in progress and when I inquired with the worker what he was doing with all the blood, bone offcuts and intestines he was hosing off the floor, etc he happily said, "It is dog food, mate." It is these by-products that comprise 40% of our pets food. The other percentage of commercial dog food consists of vegetable fibre, grain and chemicals. Vegetable fibre is made up of corn husks, peanut hulls, ground up corn and what nutritionless waste it is. In many cases, it is grain or soy meal which has been condemned from human consumption because of mold, debris, odor or bacterial contamination.

Then come the chemicals which are fed to beef, poultry and farm animals. Some of these are hormones and growth induced steroids designed to bring the animals to slaughter earlier. All of these drugs remain in the flesh of the slaughtered animals and are passed on to the pet or humans that eat that flesh.

It seems with pet manufacturers that anything goes. And I wonder how many of our pets have died as a result of these slow poisons in the food. One of the most prevalent of the preservatives is 'ETHOXYQUIN'. This is used in the premium veterinary lines of dog food as a preservative. People are buying these more expensive foods thinking they are giving their pet a better food. Did you know that ethoxyquin was developed by a rubber company as a rubber hardener and as an insecticide? It is believed to cause liver and kidney disease, cancer, immune diseases and skin problems, along with hair loss, gross birth deformities and thyroid problems. Watch for this and B.H.A and B.H.T. as particular prevalent pet food hazards and more importantly avoid them.

Then come the artificial colourings and preservatives, sugar, and salt, which prevent the fat in food from going rancid, these in turn cause many pets to become addictive to certain foods. How many times have you heard a fellow dog owner say "My pet will not eat anything but ........"? Salt, just like in humans can be dangerous in large amounts, they may prompt heart disease and kidney failure which are routine pet killers today. Sugar can comprise as much as 25% of the semi moist dog food packets and dog biscuits. Sugar and salt become addictive, resulting in diabetes, arthritis, cataracts, allergies, overweight, tooth decay and nervousness. As humans we get sick when eating too much of such processed foods, well so do our pets. I tell you, fell pet fanciers, the connection between poor diets, early death and high rate of chronic disease can not and should not be ignored.

Todays diseases are chronic and long term, usually involving the slow and painful of the body by breaking down the body's immune system. Diseases like cancer, kidney diseases and heart problems were rare 40 - 50 years ago, today they are the top killers of both humans and pets. Have you noticed that more and more of our pets are manifesting human-like diseases and are dying in numbers like never before.

The pet food manufacturers are under great pressure and rightly so, to change their ways, and some are now using Vitamins such as Vit.A, E and C, instead of deadly preservatives, but still fall short of what is required for total health.

So read the label and ask questions.

To finish off this section, I can not tell you what to feed your dogs, I can only share with you some of this information and suggest.

First and foremost, the dog is a carnivore which is a flesh eater, raw meat that is. Raw meat is the central ingredient in optimal diets for both cats and dogs. Both animals are carnivores and require flesh derived protein for total health. This meat for our pets should be of human consumption quality, fed raw because cooking it, you destroy the vitamins and minerals needed for digestion. Cooked and canned food is dead meat for our dogs and causes mucus to form in the animal's intestines, mucus being the main food for worms and parasites. See your local butcher for good quality offcuts, chicken, rabbits, bones with meat on them are even better, bones are the secret to good health. Never feed port, it is very high in preservatives.

Chopped raw vegetables are my second ingredient, chopped up finely or lightly steamed is okay and animals learn to love them. The best are carrots, broccoli, sprouts, cabbage, peas, parsley, asparagus, and garlic to name a few. Fresh vegetables and non-citrus fruit are fine.

Whole cooked grains are the third basic pet food ingredient. These include barley, oat bran or flakes, brown rice and corn meal. Some of these grains need to be cooked, some are okay soaked overnight in water. Cereal mixes from health food shops can be used, therefore use whole, unrefined grains. There are many other good foods we can feed our pets but time does not allow us to mention them all, so please remember by increasing quality nutrition and eliminating sugar, starch, chemicals and allergy causing foods, our pets will enjoy better health and longer life. In summary, preservative free feeding lessens or will eliminate diseases like kidney, liver, arthritis, asthma, skin allergies, heart diseases and can reduce even hip dysplasia (which I believe is mainly due to a poor diet).

So fellow reader, I urge you to try the natural diet if you haven't already and you will know what I am saying. Make use of the vitamins and minerals and good quality seaweed and you will not only surprise yourself but also your vet. I invite you to contact me by email or phone if you want more information, or to share your findings (John Backley, Meisterhund@bigpond.com, fax/phone 011-613-52721909 - located in Australia so please consider the time of day before you call). I don't claim to know all the answers, as I said, the information I am sharing with you is after a lot of research and contact with professional people not only in Australia but the U.K. and the U.S.A. Wouldn't it be nice to have a committee researching the quality of dog food and if we got that right, there would not be a need for a lot of other research, in fact there is talk of a group forming to lobby for a better deal for our pets so stay tuned and good health to you all.

written by John Backley
practicing natural therapies
available for phone consultations on your dog's problems, eg. allergies, fleas, arthritis, etc.


Reference "Give Your Dog A Bone" Ian Billinghurst
"The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat" Juilette de Bairach Levy
"The Natural Remedy Book for Dogs & Cats" Diane Stein
"The Australian" Juilian Cribb

Article from 'The Australian'
From 'The Australian'


Back to List of Titles                                                          What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food

Other Information of Interest:

Feeding a Species Appropriate Diet 

© 2004 Frances Gavin http://www.caninenaturalcures.co.uk/diet.htm

Does Your Dog Food Bark? A study of the pet food fallacy, by Ann Martin


The Truth About Cats and Dogs, by Ann Martin


Pet Food — Our Pets are Dying For It, by Sandra Brigola


Dog Eat Dog: What's Inside the Foods We Feed, by Carol Gravestock-Taylor




Who Regulates the Pet Food Industry


(Article shows the industry basically regulates itself)


(regulating body in the US)

Food Not Fit for a Pet, by Wendell O. Belfield, DVM


Links to Various Other Sites of Interest




(this site provides some pretty graphic photos ... its not for the feint of heart)



Back to List of Titles                                                          What Damascusroad Looks for in a Food

We try to raise our dogs as naturally as possible

I think natural rearing means different things to different folks, so for the record, here's what it means to me and my dogs:

  • My dogs do not receive annual vaccinations
    They get their puppy shots and one parvo shot at maturity - and that's it. I do give rabies to dogs leaving the country, but not to my own dogs.

  • We avoid conventional drug treatments whenever possible, and use natural remedies
    Click here to read an interesting article that will help you understand why. Click here for another interesting article about the pharmaceutical industry.

  • My adults and puppies are never exposed to harsh cleaning chemicals.
    Any surface they are exposed to is cleaned with vinegar and baking soda or pure/natural soap in a bucket of hot water.
    - Their bedding and toys are laundered with a pure/natural laundry detergent.
    - Their food and water dishes are washed in a pure/natural dish soap.

  • My adults and puppies are never bathed in chemically laden shampoos or conditioners.
    The only product I use to bath my dogs and puppies is Aubrey Organics "Organimals" which I bring in from the United States. Read why I use, and find out how to get, this product on my Skin and Coat Care page. The exception is when they are bathed before a show, I use Biolage. But I don't use a lot of sprays on them (makes my asthma act up).

  • My adults and puppies get bottled or filtered water to drink (basically what we would drink ourselves).
    They get bottled purified mineral water or filtered tap water to remove any added chemicals, especial flouride.

  • My adults and puppies will never be fed a diet consisting entirely of kibble again. 
    (see important note below)

    I fed what I considered the "best" kibble money could buy for years (all human grade ingredients, guaranteed growth hormone/antiobiotic free meat  . . . the whole nine yards), but eventually they all started to give me problems with my dogs - diarrhea, tummy upsets . . .  you name it. I am now firmly convinced that our dogs were never meant to eat a diet that consists almost entirely of kibble - any kibble. To much grain in some of them, not enough meat or the right kinds of meat, cooked to the point that all the enzymes and nutrients are virtually destroyed. They need more than this.

    My adults and puppies are now fed a combination of  homemade, kibble (grain free and made from human grade ingredients) and Wellness canned (95% Chicken, 95% Beef or 95% Turkey).

  • I do not use or recommend raw meat diets as animals can carry tape worms, coccidia and parasites which can be dangerous to your dog and to you. Meat and fish should be well cooked before feeding it to your dog. They are not wild animals, they are domesticated animals that live in the house with you and your family. They need to be feed appropriately.

    No matter what anyone tells you, COOK THE MEAT, POULTRY AND FISH WELL. We had an outbreak of internal parasites caused by feeding raw muscle and organ meat, so we learned the hard way. COOK THE MEAT, POULTRY AND FISH WELL.
    Some people will tell you that they wouldn't get cooked meat if they were in the wild . . . that may be true, but it's also true that the wild "dogs" aren't as healthy and don't live as long, partly because they have so many internal parasite. So COOK THE MEAT.

    Here's a picture of a stew that I make for the dogs ~  it has lots of ground meat, a variety of fruit and veg (turnip, carrot, sweet potatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, green and sweet peppers, avacodo apples, etc. ~ whatever I have on hand), a little pasta, rice and lots of ground meat. And if I have leftovers, I toss those in too. I add olive and fish oil after the mixture has cooled or when I am feeding. They do get some supplements including probiotics. For young puppies, I just mash this well. They all love it. And I often mix this with kibble for them.

    On the weekend, the dogs get a break from this: Saturday morning they have the same omelet for breakfast that we eat ourselves or scrambled organic eggs (I use organic yogurt instead of milk), and they might get a bit of bacon or sausage if we have some ... they really enjoy these treats; and on Sunday they get a mixture of ground organic fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds mixed with organic yogurt. Throughout the week, they also get fresh wholesome treats (organic cheese, organic yogurt, raw organic veggie sticks, homemade doggie biscuits made with organic ingredients, etc. ... but none of the high-grain-content dog treats that you can buy in the stores - they get a good quality kibble to snack on). 

    My dogs really enjoy their diet and the variety it gives them. Their coats and skin have never been better.

  • We do feed dry kibble, but not as a stand alone diet for our dogs. And we alternate the kibble over several different high quality brands.

  • Transitioning your Damascusroad puppy
    - We make sure puppies are using to eating kibble before they go to a new home. Since most people
      don't feed a natural diet, we find it easier on the puppies to transition them to a mainly-kibble before they leave unless the buyer
      intends to feed a natural BAFF diet. For the most part, we use Precise Chicken and Rice Adult Maintenance . . . I find the puppy food is a bit
       too protein rich for my puppies and they end up with runny stools. So we use the adult kibble diets.

The brands of kibble we use all have an excellent ingredient lists and do not contain any rendered animal fats, meat-by-products, are Grain Free and also do not contain any artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. All the ingredients are human grade and made in plants owned and operated by the people who own the Brand Name - unlike so many others who are just brand name managers would contract out production to places like Diamond Foods or Menu Foods (check out all the recalls of food made at those plants). We typically blend and use three different foods at any given time and rotate them because no single food can provide everything an animal needs. When one bag is used up we rotate another food in.

  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness
     Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a supplier

  • Horizon Amicus
     Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a supplier

  • Horizon Pulsar
    Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Acana
    Click Here
    to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Orijen
    Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Oven Baked Tradition
    Click Here  to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Wellness Canned (95% Chicken, 95% Turkey or 95% Beef only)
    Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • My adults and puppies food is slightly warmed but NEVER microwaved.
    Click hear to read why "Microwaving Your Food Isn't Safe" by Larry Cook; Click here to read "The Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cooking" by Tom Valentine, NEXUS Magazine, Volume 2, #25 (April-May '95). If these pages don't come up for some reason, you can also read about it on our website ~ Click here.

    I never feed the dogs cold food right out of the refrigerator (I usually make up several days food at a time). Dogs will often vomit cold food. heat in a Corning Ware dish in the oven or heat in a pan of warm water (just need to take the chill out) and then serve in individual dishes.

  • New mothers are served a special diet in addition to the kibble-snack food.
    Sometimes the mothers don't want to eat after they have a litter. By serving a special diet to new moms, I have been able to eliminate that problem. Its a bit of extra work, but worth it. The first few days I give the mom's lightly cooked beef sprinkled with parmesan cheese (bit salty and gets them drinking) and mixed with some cottage cheese.

    I boil a whole fresh chicken, remove all the skin and bones when cooked and finely chop the meat before returning it to the pot. Then I add organic brown long grain rice and a variety of finely chopped fresh veg (carrot, turnip, zucchini, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh greens, sweet potatoe, etc.  . . . whatever is seasonal) and an apple or two. The rice soaks up most of the liquid, so the mixture has a nice texture, and it freezes well in individual servings. New moms get this mixture combined with chunks of cooked lean steak (about 2-3 oz per serving) and a spoonful of cottage cheese for breakfast - I feed as much as they will eat. The other meal, I feed either one of the kibbles listed about, or maybe canned "Lick Your Chops" or "Merrick Entrees" (I buy the Gourmet Variety Pack) which I always have on hand. Once the puppies are four weeks old, the Moms go back to their regular diet.

Here's a great link if you're interested in natural rearing:

Please note DAMASCUSROAD does not feed or recommend feeding raw meat.

We found out the hard way that it can contain coccidia, tape worm and other parasites.


This is a raw food that we used for a while a few years agon

if you must use raw, you need to be very careful with this one


Urban Carnivore

I don't recommend this one for Poms - it is raw and has large bone shards.

Warning about this food:

it contains very large bone shards and should be used with extreme caution in small breeds.

I ended up with a few bleeding puppy bums (and crying puppies) before I discovered the bone shards.

There is no warning on the box, so I discovered the bone shards the hard way.

I picked these bone shards out of a single, quarter pound patty.

That's a Canadian penny in the picture, its the same size as a US penny.

You can see that one of the bone shards beside the penny is very large and very sharp.

It takes forever to pick out the bone shards, and even then you miss some.

I really don't recommend this food for Pomeranians unless you are willing to spend the time necessary to go through it very carefully.

And I really think it would need to be cooked before feeding to avoid the risk of internal parasites.

Click on the logo to visit their website.


Please note DAMASCUSROAD does not feed or recommend feeding raw meat.

We found out the hard way that it can contain coccidia, tape worm and other parasites.


These are the kibbles/canned foods that we use

on a rotation basis

  • Blue Buffalo Wilderness
     Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a supplier

  • Horizon Amicus
     Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a supplier

  • Horizon Pulsar
    Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Acana
    Click Here
    to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Orijen
    Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Oven Baked Tradition
    Click Here  to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

  • Wellness Canned (95% Chicken, 95% Turkey or 95% Beef only)
    Click Here to check out the ingredient list and locate a Canadian supplier

It is true that you get what you pay for. You will have to pay a good price to provide quality food for your dogs, but you will save on vet bills in the long run and you can expect your dog to live a longer and much healthier life. You would be amazed at the garbage that many pet foods contain, so please be sure you make an informed decision about what you will feed your dogs.

If kibble will be the mainstay of your dog's diet, make sure you use a good quality, natural and Grain Free one. But we do not recommend that any dog be fed exclusively on pet food/kibble. And if you must feed kibble, we firmly believe that your dogs diet should be regularly supplemented with a variety of organic cooked fresh meat (muscle and organ), fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables, hard and/or cottage cheese, yogurt, and any other table scraps that offer a balanced  meal for your pet (i.e., not just a plate of mashed potatoes and gravy).

Love your Pomeranian enough to feed it well. We do!

You are, after all, what you eat ... and your Pomeranian is too!
But please consult your vet and a good canine health consultant before making any radical changes in your dog's diet!


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