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What is REALLY in Your Pet’s Food?

By Dr. Andrew Jones

From: Dr Andrew Jones
Author: Veterinary Secrets Revealed
Website: http://www.veterinarysecretsrevealed.com

Re: What is in Your Pet’s Food?


Good morning fellow animal lovers.

I just finished reading Ann Martin’s book called

“Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food.”

The book is shocking, well researched, and very disturbing.
Her two dogs became very sick after eating a dry dog food.
The food was analyzed by two independent labs, as well as
a Ministry of Agriculture lab.

The independent labs determined there was a toxic level of zinc
in the dog food. After nine months of waiting for the government
lab to finish its testing, the results indicated there were no
toxic mineral levels. She took the pet food manufacturer to court
to recover the costs of her veterinary bills and the testing, and
subsequently lost the case.

This began her seven-year investigation of the pet food industry.

Here is an excerpt from her book:

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

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

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

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

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.”

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 l
isted 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

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

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


P.S. It really does make you think twice
about feeding ANY Commercial Kibble to your
dog or cat. She has had MANY armchair critics,
claiming she was ‘SCARE MONGERING’ or that she
didn’t incude BALANCED diets, BUT she researched
this for 7 years, and took the manufacturer to

I applaud her for her work and by forcing the
Pet Food Companies to clean up their ACT.

P.P.S. I am gearing up for something very

It’s Your Pet. Heal Them At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

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Topics: Pet health | 1 Comment »

One Response to “What is REALLY in Your Pet’s Food?”

  1. Avatar Mary Stephanou Says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 1:02 am

    Interesting reading,

    This might explain why our dog diet from stomach cancer at age 7.
    We were stupid enough to feed him canned Pal and dried Pal.
    Can’t prove the connection of course. However our new dog gets home cooked food only.
    No pet food at all.


Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM