The following points provide a summary of the price we pay:
1 . Junk food induced cruelty, ill health and suffering affects the majority of the world's pets. Plentiful scientific evidence, experience and common sense confirm this fact.
2 . Misuse of existing scientific paradigms and bogus administrative techniques produces a body of counterfeit science in the service of the junk pet food industry. The current mass poisoning of pets starts with the first lie: that processed pet food is as good as or better than the natural alternative. So called researchers swallow the lie and then misuse existing scientific methods and compliant professional journals to perpetuate and bolster the lie.
3. Broadly, three methodologies combine to form the scientific paradigm that underpins the junk pet food enterprise:
i) an emphasis on treatment, not prevention, of ill health and disease;
ii) dependence on the germ theory of disease as a fundamental axiom when in fact Pasteur, one of the originators of the germ theory, acknowledged that germs are secondary to other predisposing factors; and
iii) dependence on reductionist research methods when in fact an holistic approach, taking account of all interactive forces, provides much more satisfactory evidence.
Consider that a natural, raw meaty bones–based diet acts as food and medicine for carnivores. If we apply the lessons to be learned from a study of the health and disease of carnivores resident at the extreme end of the nutritional spectrum, we can derive information of immense medical, scientific, economic and environmental value to us all. New attitudes and new paradigms are needed, but are blocked by the combined might of vested interests.
4. Economic consequences measure in the billions of dollars. Back in the 1860s, Jack Spratt, assisted by Charles Cruft, opened the first processed dog-food business in London and started dog shows as a marketing tool. (*25) Now, in 2007, Business Week estimates that "Americans spend an astonishing $41 billion a year on their furry friends".(*26) Fuelled by massive profits, the pet food marketing machine encourages us to acquire "furry friends", junk pet food and vet services. (*27) From dog droppings on the sole of your shoe through to the ecological footprint of giant pet food factories, there are immense environmental costs that don't appear in the figures. Neither do the figures reveal the cost of the municipal pounds and welfare shelters needed for the millions of discarded pets. Dogs fed junk food are harder to train and more likely to bite their owners, leading to increased training and medical costs. (*28) What price the scars on a child's face?
5 . Failure of democratic, administrative and legal systems, whether due to oversight, incompetence or corruption, facilitates the junk pet food scam. Despite the moral and ethical problems associated with duping people into slowly poisoning their animals and the clear illegality of such cruel treatment, our politicians and lawyers have done little or nothing. Some animal welfare groups, purporting to care for the plight of pets, consort with the junk pet food companies and are more a part of the problem than the
The media, our watchdogs, mostly remain in their kennel, too scared to comment. Journalists working for the A u s t r a l i a n newspaper, the Sydney S u n - H e r a l d and the UK S u n d a y I n d e p e n d e n t researched and wrote extensive articles that were never published.(*30) Other media outlets engage in self-censorship and publish tepid accounts or no accounts at all.
Pet food recall
Whilst we discuss the pet food scam, we should keep in mind that two giant chocolate manufacturers, Mars and Nestlé, jostle for supremacy of the pet food industry. They span the globe and have plans for vast expansions into India and China. (*31, *32) In the second tier, other large conglomerates, Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, Heinz and Del Monte, compete for consumer loyalty. The companies may seek to differentiate themselves and their products but, in fact, we know there's a sameness about them all, as was amply demonstrated in the March 2007 Menu Foods recall. Dogs and cats in North America were ill and dying of acute renal failure, traced to the output of one contract pet food manufacturer, Menu Foods. (*33) At first it was thought that rat poison had contaminated batches of "food", but as the story unfolded it turned out that melamine, a chemical used for manufacturing plastic counter tops, glue and fertiliser, had been added into Chinese shipments of wheat gluten affecting almost 100 different brands.(*34) Acute renal failure may be uncommon, but chronic renal failure is not. Research carried out by Nestlé revealed that the mean lifespan of cats fed exclusively commercial cat food and receiving regular veterinary attention was less than 12 years of age, with death largely attributable to renal failure or cancer. (*35) The Mars corporation, advertising its Pedigree bone-shaped chews, told vets that "80% of dogs over the age of three have gum disease" and that "dental problems are known to increase with age and are increasingly being linked to vital organ disease, most notably kidneys and liver".(*36) "Chronic renal disease is a leading cause of death in dogs and cats", says manufacturer Royal Canin.(*37)
What does the future hold? Who can tell? Peering through my crystal ball, I see a future of constant change. In a complex world of competing interests, some change will be for the good and some for the bad. Let's be under no illusions: Big, bad forces seek to stifle dissent, and we are merely individuals of good will. Echoing Edmund Burke: "All that is needed for evil to prosper is for people of good will to do nothing." (*38) Let's do something, anything, that helps the animals. Let's start today.
by Dr Tom Lonsdale,
Veterinarian and author Dr Tom Lonsdale, BVetMed, MRCVS, graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1972. In the 1980s he became aware of the dietary disease epidemics affecting the animals under his care. Since 1991, Dr Lonsdale has campaigned to bring the information to public attention. In 2001, his landmark book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health was published (reviewed in NEXUS 12/03), followed in 2005 by Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (reviewed in 13/04). Dr Lonsdale can be contacted by email at email@example.com. For more information, visit his website, http://www.rawmeatybones.com.
25. The Kennel Club (2006), "The History of Crufts", www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/256
26. Brady, D. and Palmeri, C. (2007), "The Pet Economy", Business Week, August 6, 2007,
27. American Pet Products Manufacturers Assoc. (2007), "Industry Statistics & Trends",
28. Mugford, R.A. (1987), "The influence of nutrition on canine behaviour", Journal of Small
Animal Practice 1987; 28:1046-55
29. Lonsdale, T. (2001), "There's a cuckoo in the nest: a deceptive bird", in Raw Meaty Bones:
Promote Health, Rivetco Pty Ltd, NSW, Australia, pp. 263-67
30. Lonsdale, T. (2001), "Poison your pets with multinational offerings", Crikey Media, http://www.rawmeatybones.com Crikey_Media.htm
31. "Pet Food And Pet Care Products in China",
Euromonitor International, August 2007,
32. Mukherjee, A. (2001), "Royal Canin relish for Indian pets", Business Line, Internet Edition,
August 25, 2001, http://hindu.com/businessline/2001/08/25/stories/14251803.htm
3 3 . Menu Foods Income Fund (2007), "MenuFoods Income Fund Announces Precautionary
Dog and Cat Food Recall", March 16, 2007,
34. Lonsdale, T. (2007), "Open Secret: Giant USA corporations poison pets", Raw Meaty
Bones Newsletter 2007; 7(1), http://secureshop.rawmeatybones.com/newsletter/view.epl?id=45
35. Malik, R. (2007), "Feeding cats for health and longevity" (Clinical Review), T h e V e t e r i n a r i a n, August 2007, pp. 61-67, http://www.theveterinarian.com.au
36. "Introducing The Pedigree Denta Range", Veterinary Times 2002 Jul 15; 32:27
3 7 . Elliott, D.A. (2006), "Nutritional Management of Chronic Renal Disease in Dogs and Cats, Small Animal Practice2006 Nov; 36(6):1377-84, viii
3 8 . Quoted on covers of The Whistle newsletter http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/contacts/auwba
Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done
Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”
Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention
Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster
Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay