In March 2007, most pet owners grew very concerned about the food they were feeding their dogs and cats with the announced melamine-poisoned foods on the market. Being “mom” to my adorable and, I thought, very well-cared for King Charles Spaniel, I watched the lists daily with worry. I had believed the food I was feeding him was high quality and safe, yet I visited their website daily for reassurance. And daily I read that the food was safe, they didn’t use products from China, trust them.

My dog started to experience diarrhea the day we moved to a new home. Being a sensitive soul for whom stress has this effect, I didn’t worry much until day 3 when it not only continued but seemed to worsen. Again, I checked the websites to see if his food was on any of the recall lists. It wasn’t. That night I had the news on in the background, sitting straight up when the latest list was announced  – his food, the food that “had never used products from China”, was on the list. They lied.

I had been poisoning my beloved best friend.

Of course, I immediately disposed of the poisoned garbage and the next day, started cooking for my dog, thinking it would be temporary until the problems were resolved. I began to research what my dog needed nutritionally to make sure I was giving him everything he required to be healthy and happy.

It was that research that shocked me, then just made me furious beyond description. I found out what was really in dog food (and cat food and other pet foods), and it is disgusting, dangerous and poison garbage even without the melamine. I was sickened by what I learned, knowing I had been feeding this to my pets for years, thinking I was doing right by them with the “high-quality” foods I paid premium price for. Not any more. Never again.

Here are some of the “quality” ingredients in your pet’s food:

* “Meat and poultry by-products” is material that comes from the slaughterhouse and dead animals, such as road kill and euthanized companion animals, classified as condemned and unfit for human consumption. It includes lungs (even when filled with pneumonia), spleen, brains, livers (including those infested with worms), bone, beaks, feet, heads, cancerous tissues… the list goes on. Be assured, if it is remotely fit for human consumption, it isn’t in your pet’s food.

* “Meat and bone meal” is the ground refuse from restaurants and grocery stores, dead stock, road kill, euthanized animals, including stomach contents, blood and hooves, cooked until the grease from it rises where it is removed and the moisture squeezed out. It also may contain foreign materials such as metals, hair, glass, mold, pesticide contamination and more.

* Fat is usually listed high on the ingredients in pet foods that give off an appealing odor so that our pets will eat the garbage. They are made up of rancid restaurant grease and rendered refuse often filled with impurities such as hair, hide, bone, dirt or polyethylene.

* Corn flour, corn bran, corn gluten meal are the corn products left when all the nutritious ingredients, used in human products, are removed.

* Wheat flour, wheat germ meals, are nothing more than what is swept off the mill floors after everything has been processed.

* Artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives, including those believed to be carcinogenic and are banned from human foods like BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propyl Gallate.

If you can read that and then open a can or bag of food for your pet and feed it tonight, you have a stronger stomach than I do!

That’s why I now cook for my dog. I know exactly what he’s eating and that it is good quality, nutritious and safe (as safe as any of our food is these days). The added benefit is that it’s even less expensive! I watch for specials, especially for meats, and stock up the freezer when I find them, which is often. A lot of meat and chicken is greatly reduced in price when its shelf life is nearing its end, and fine if its cooked or frozen immediately.

I only spend a couple of hours or so once a month cooking up a big batch of food, placing it in small containers with about 3 – 4 meals in each one (he eats twice a day), freezing it until I need it. I add a couple of tablespoons of low-fat plain yogurt to a serving, mix it up and “nuke” it for about a minute to get it warm and delicious for him. He loves it!

Best, he looks terrific, better than he ever did before, his coat gleaming, his eyes sparkling, endless energy, perfect weight and a healthy, happy glow.

This is not a difficult thing to do! There are many excellent recipes available and now there are cookbooks dedicated to pet food recipes, including good quality treats and biscuits that your pet will adore and that you can feel great about giving them. I do highly recommend doing some research to make sure you’re giving your dog everything he requires.

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