The Foods Pets Die for

New Book Uncovers Startling Facts About Pet Food Industry

We have always known that proper nutrition for our companion animals is one of the keys to maintaining animal health. Because of this, many pet owners have come to rely on commercial pet foods to provide the necessary elements for a balanced diet. Indeed, many commercial pet foods advertise that they provide a balanced, healthy diet. However, according to one concerned pet owner, Ann Martin, in her recent book "Foods Pets Die For", consumers should be wary of feeding many commercial pet foods to their companion animals.

Ann's book chronicles her seven year investigation, from her home in Ontario, Canada, of the North American pet food industry following the death of her own pets and her resulting suspicions about relying on a commercial diet to maintain proper nutrition. While researching her dogs' illness, Martin discovered that very few regulations govern what ingredients make their way into commercial pet foods and that getting an accounting of the contents of materials used in making these foods is difficult. As a result, Martin found that the pet food industry is free to include rendered animal by-products that may include the remains of diseased poultry or livestock, seafood containing excessive amounts of contaminants, or other organic material of questionable quality or otherwise deemed unacceptable for human consumption.

Startlingly, Martin also found no prohibition against the inclusion of millions of rendered dogs and cats, who make their way each year into the rendering process, in pet foods. Pet food companies are one of the primary buyers of rendered material. Martin believes that in addition to the questionable ethics of including the rendered remains of companion animals in pet foods, such inclusion represents a potential health hazard to pets who rely on this diet on a daily basis. Potential hazards include ingestion of euthanasia agents from rendered animals, some of which, studies have shown, do not degrade as a result of rendering; or, infection by disease contagions such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as "mad cow disease") which may survive rendering as well. Hazards from the rendering of commercial livestock or grains include the addition of drugs and hormones from livestock or mycotoxins from grains deemed unfit for human consumption that then make their way into the pet food rendering supply.

Ms. Martin recommends, as do a number of veterinarians, use of a homemade diet to maintain healthy pets. In essence, she states that pet owners should feed their companion animals a diet of ingredients similar in quality to that which they consume themselves (ingredients such as USDA inspected chicken or turkey, brown rice, potatoes, carrots, apples, eggs, cottage cheese, whole grains and seasonings). For dogs, Martin suggests a diet composed of 1/3 proteins, 1/3 carbohydrates, and 1/3 vegetables or fruits, with a small addition of vegetable oil. For cats, Martin suggests a diet comprised of 2/3 meat and 1/3 grain, and vegetables or fruit. Such a natural diet, she indicates, should be phased in gradually. In her book, Foods Pets Die For, Ann Martin includes a number of recipes for a varied and healthy diet.

Finally, Martin emphasizes that responsibility for healthy nutrition resides with pet owners to read pet food labels carefully; shop for natural ingredients; and lobby the pet food industry on an individual level to insist on greater disclosure of, and better quality of contents in commercial pet food. Talk to your veterinarian about the role a healthy diet can play in your pet's life.

In the book's forward, Dr. Michael Fox, with the Humane Society of the United States, says, "Don't buy any pet food if that food contains meat meal, meat and poultry by-products, bone meal, animal fat or tallow." Most pet food products contain these items, so it is important to read labels carefully.

To order the book Foods Pets Die For, by Ann Martin, contact NewSage Press at 1-503-695-2211 or via email at

For more information on this topic, visit Sojourner Farms web site.