Quality meat-based ingredients are generally quite expensive, so how can a 2 kg pack of cat or dog food can cost as little as $5 or $7? Premium brands would be more expensive, but the mainstream cat and dog food is super cheap. What would a 2 kg cut from a butcher shop cost? And how are the pet food manufacturers managing to make a profit for themselves and for the distribution chain with the price so low?
Turns out most brands, including premium brands, use “meat” from two sources:
- factory farm animals deemed not suitable for human consumption
- diseased cats, dogs and road kill animals
Let’s take a look at each one of them.
factory farm animals
It is no secret that factory farm animals are given antibiotics and growth hormones. Factory farms are overcrowded with animals and to maintain control over the spread of diseases factory farm operators give a lot of antibiotics to the animals. Interesting fact: 75% of the antibiotics and 95% of the steroid growth hormones produced in the U.S. go toward meat and dairy animal production. Furthermore, animals need to grow quickly so that they can be butchered and sent for sale. To speed up growth they are given growth hormones. Average life-span of a cow is 20 years. On a factory farm cows are given loads of growth hormones to speed up the growth and milk production rates and after 3 years the cows are so spent that they are sent for slaughter. At 3 years! The cow is barely a teenager in cow years! Yet it's already as big as the grown adult and already spent. When the factory animal is killed and shipped to the store for sale, antibiotics and growth hormones stay in the meat. Residue ends up in pet and human food, which in turn increases the rate of infection and cancer in people and in pets who eat factory farm animals. What makes matters worse is that it is the rejected factory farm meat not suitable for human consumption that goes into pet food. Cows that were sickly and died prematurely, pigs that cannibalized and killed by their peers - are all perfect candidates for cat and dog food.
diseased cats and dogs and road kills
The pet food industry uses diseased cats, dogs and road kills (wild animals killed on roads and highways) to decrease its cost. It is perfectly legal to use diseased animal parts in pet food, despite the fact that those parts could be infected or cancerous. It is repulsive from the ethical perspective to feed your cat and dog with diseased cats and dogs; furthermore, during processing the diseased animals are sterilized with toxic chemicals. Finally, euthanized animals contain traces of Sodium Pentobarbital - the poison used to induce death ends up in pet food. As a result, toxic chemicals and residues in pet food cause illness and premature death.
To summarize, the pet food industry makes cheap $5/bag cat and dog food because it puts cheap “meat” ingredients. Be very careful when you pick up a bag in the grocery store. Check to make sure that the ingredients do not have generic labels like “meat meal” or “bone meal” because that’s the bad meat described above. With plant-based foods we took the radical approach and eliminated all meat-based ingredients from the formula. It took time to get the formula right to ensure that all nutrients are there, but now the vegan brands have been successfully on the market for over 20 years. Give it a try, see the difference.