Pet Fooled

Pet Foo[le]d

You guys already know that I am the epitome of a dog mom – raw feeding, $200 collars, sleeping in my bed and on the furniture.. The list goes on. I spend at least two hours every day reading and researching raw feeding – the benefits of it and the proper way to feed it to your dog. I’ve joined at least five Facebook groups focused solely on raw feeding, holistic pet care, and Traditional Chinese Medicine for pets [yeah, I’m a bit of a wackadoo – no shame].

It was in one of these groups that another member recently posted a link to an article about a documentary called PET FOOleD, and about 85 people commented on it. All of them recommended it to be watched. And, of course, being the avid researcher that I am, I decided to give it a go.

I am really not a huge TV watcher. I watch, like, maybe two hours a week? And that’s not every single week. Some weeks I don’t watch TV at all. A lot of shows and movies give me major anxiety, and the ones that don’t just make me feel like I’m getting dumber and wasting my time. That said, when I come across something that really interests me and I think I’ll learn something from, I will actually sit down and watch it.

Last night I finally had some time to carve out to watch the documentary. The only expectation I had was that it was about the pet food industry [specifically dogs and cats]. Right off the bat, the film opens up with an interview with a wildlife veterinarian who feeds her pets raw. From a young age, she knew she wanted to be a vet. She shadowed a condor rehabilitator who aided in the recovery of injured birds by feeding them what they’d eat in the wild: raw meat. When she was finally old enough to go to vet school, she was confused when the nutrition classes taught the students solely about kibble. How could animals live on something that wasn’t natural to them?

Let me go on a little tangent here about veterinarians. I am by no means an expert, and I don’t claim to be. But what I do know from all of the groups that I’ve joined and all of the research that I’ve done, is that most vets will just regurgitate information they’ve been taught. They don’t form their own opinion or do their own research on the products they are selling to their clients. I trust my vet’s opinion for several reasons. 1) She’s very forward thinking. She’s constantly going to seminars and conferences on new ideologies, and educating herself in order to give the best possible care to her clients. 2) She’s a breeder and she shows her dogs. Many of the things she preaches are through her own trial and error. 3) She doesn’t speak at her clients, she speaks to them. She tries to educate people on what she’s administering and why. She lets people know why certain products will be beneficial to their pets.

Okay, back to the documentary. The film takes us on a tour through the history of kibble – how it came to be in the first place, and where it’s ended up today. It is very graphic at times, and also very emotional. Several people are interviewed about their pets passing away suddenly and horrifically by ingredients in their dogs’ food. Another veterinarian is interviewed about her belief in raw feeding, and how animal obesity has become such a problem in this country because of feeding our pets kibble.

Because the film is right up my alley, I found it to be extremely interesting and intriguing. The biggest message it sends is that we shouldn’t be cheapskates when it comes to caring for our pets and giving them a proper diet. There is an understanding that not everybody can afford to feed their pets raw – in this country it is still very expensive, and, when it comes to more than one pet, it can be time consuming to meal prep. The hope is that educating people on the dangers of buying inexpensive pet food will at least drive the pet food companies to monitor the ingredients in their product more efficiently. At this point, the FDA really isn’t regulating pet food production, which is why so many products have been recalled over the last 10 years. Buying expensive kibble doesn’t necessarily guarantee a healthier pet, but it has a higher chance of containing better quality ingredients than the lower priced brands.

As always, I understand that feeding raw isn’t an option for everyone. As I mentioned, it can be expensive and it is time consuming to meal prep. But I do encourage you to do some research on raw feeding and also on processed pet food. Start to scan the bags for certain ingredients to ensure your pet isn’t taking in something toxic. After switching my own dog to raw, I will always be an advocate for it, but there are decent kibbles out there on the market – you just have to do your research. Don’t be lazy. If you’re taking on the responsibility of a pet, then you also take on the responsibility to care for them properly, and that includes feeding them as well as you possibly can.

I encourage everyone to see the documentary. It was educational and very eye-opening. It even further solidified that my decision to switch Bella to raw was the best decision for her that I ever could have made.