Our pets are like members of the family, and we give them the best of everything we can afford. But that’s not always the case when it comes to food — and it should be, according to filmmaker Kohl Harrington and former Bourbonnais veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker.
Most of the pet food on the market is overly processed corn, grains and byproducts — even chemicals — they believe actually are harming our pets. Their eye-opening documentary, “Pet Fooled: A Look Inside a Questionable Industry,” gives the lowdown on what’s really happening and questions the correlation between pet food and animal health.
“Our goal, as wellness vets, is not to convince pet lovers that Brand X is better than Brand Y,” Becker said. It’s to educate consumers on what’s in their pet’s food.
What Harrington found is shocking and appalling and has some people rethinking what they are feeding their pets. The industry spends millions marketing their products with phrases such as “moist, chewy chunks,” “beef, bacon and cheese flavored,” “farm-raised” and “organic.” They use beautiful packaging and clever marketing, but it’s deceptive, Becker said, because what’s inside that bag might not necessarily be good for the pet — “nutritional abuse,” she said, which owners unintentionally are buying into.
Most pet food is grain-based, which leads to obesity, diabetes, chronic skin infections, arthritis and more. It’s not unlike how humans have abandoned their traditional diets for more cheap, processed food. Take a look at Purina’s Beneful: The first two ingredients are yellow corn and chicken byproduct meal. (It did win several packaging awards, though, Becker said.) Purina Pro Plan has trademarked words to make their products look special. Natural Balance brand? “Great quality if you’re a goat,” Becker said.
In fact, despite the fact dogs share 99 percent of DNA with grey wolves — carnivores — dogs aren’t getting any more than 25 percent protein in big-brand pet foods. And the source of that protein could be from scrapped, leftover or — believe it or not — found dead carcasses.