I have been waiting for the release of Pet Fooled for months. Most people after watching this documentary jumped on the raw feeding band wagon. Not only have I been raw feeding for 7 years, but I knew about this documentary months before it came out. Why didn’t I see it the day it was released? Well, we moved and had shitty internet and no netflix lol
So now here I am a few months after its release watching this documentary! Hopefully it lives up to good expectations.
This review will be written as watched….so readers beware.
Although I am not the biggest fan of Karen Becker because she does advocate for plant inclusion in the raw diet among a few other things, I do like some of things she says. Around 15 minutes in Karen Becker says that cats and dogs are more resilient to nutritional abuse. Typically, what I hear from customers is “well my dog or cat is healthy” or “I have been feeding such and such for 30 years and have no problem.” Understandably so, you see outward appearances and nothing seems out of the normal or your pet gets cancer or kidney failure and you don’t make a connection with nutrition. However, these outward appearances do not mean that our cats and dogs are MEANT or DESIGNED to consume the junk we may be giving them. Snakes tell us when they don’t want food (although it seems everyone is on the same page they should eat live or at least frozen mice) and we know and see pretty quickly how they deteriorate. Although it takes longer for cats and dogs never the less its occurring from the fuel or lack thereof we have put in their body.
I like how the video makes you question what all of us so commonly just ignore….listening to pet food industries, blindly never reading a pet food label, being overwhelmed by all the options and just “picking something”, never knowing the difference between any of the commercial products. But that’s marketing right? We are all drawn in by fancy names, colorful bags and ingredients we think our pets need like fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, the pet food industry likes to make us think we are too stupid to know how to feed our pets so the only thing to do is to rely on them. It really starts to get you thinking about how you are feeding your pets and why.
About 20-25 minutes in the documentary starts pointing out icky ingredients in common pet foods. I like that although there was no brand specific bashing (cause that is just mean) no pet food brands or labels were blurred out so you now knew what some of the crappy foods are and why they aren’t the best choice for your companion. Many of these brands are name brand foods that everyone knows. Hopefully people look more into these ingredients because unfortunately it isn’t just name brand foods or low quality foods that contain some nasty stuff. It’s really surprising how many loop holes there are in the pet food industry.
Tobacco vs. Pet Food
I’m glad the documentary mentioned the connection with the tobacco company marketing schemes. This is something I often bring up to customers when they say, “but the AAFCO (who isn’t s regulation organization) or the FDA approves pet food.” Yes, well they also approve what the current tobacco market is like. These organizations seem to disregard that this product holds absolutely no health benefits and furthermore has somehow convinced some doctors to back a product that is horrible for people (check out the movie Thank You for Smoking). The pet food industry is the same. They promote a non species appropriate diet, that makes your pet sick, so you can go to a vet that will either recommend an industry backed product that makes your pet sicker or prescribes you an industry backed prescription medication that your pet not only gets sicker on but must be on for the rest of its life and may have to be on other medications to combat the side effects. It is a vicious circle and sadly there are very few veterinarians that teach real preventative health care.
Around 41 minutes in to the document, I had to laugh. I love how the representative tells everyone that pet foods are heavily regulated and is probably the highest regulated product on the consumer shelve. Well that makes me even more concerned about what the heck I am eating. Thanks for instilling that faith in me!
We have always been taught to read pet food labels. The first ingredient should be a defined meat (chicken, turkey, fish, beef versus meat meal or meat by product) but there are dangers on just simply relying on this labeling to determine the quality of a treat or pet food. Around 42 minutes into the documentary, a couple talks about reading packages of chicken jerky dog treats. Despite the ingredient just saying chicken, sadly their pet died and hundreds of others did as well.
This is where it gets difficult with package labels. There are no country of origin labelling laws for one and there are no regulations on reporting what a previous processor put in the food on the current packaging. For example, if this chicken jerky company got their chicken from China and China put arsenic and mercury in the chicken, once packed in the USA, this doesn’t need to be put on the label. So, you really don’t know what’s being added to your pet’s food and treats heck you don’t even know what is really in your own food with the current labelling laws.
Further along in this section we see that a lot of the chicken jerky companies accelerated their PR efforts after this incident and put out ads trying to convince their viewers and customers including those who suffered that their product was safe and tested.
Just like the 2007 food recall of 150 pet food brands due to melamine contamination, most of these people have only been shut down or refused even compensation for veterinary costs.
Mixing Raw and Kibble
About 1 hour 5 minutes in we return back to Karen Becker suggesting the idea of “a little raw goes a long way”. If expenses or time is short simply do at least one meal raw and the other a dehydrated raw (which ironically would be more expensive) or canned food (which poses digestive issues). Mixing raw and commercial foods is something I am not a fan of. Certainly, I understand where the logic is coming from but this poses multiple problems. First off kibble/commercial pet food and raw digest at two different rates so mixing can cause digestive upset very easily and this also means kibble/commercial pet food and raw sits in the digestive tract longer gathering bacteria. Secondly a kibble/commercial pet food diet is most often loaded with carbohydrates even if it is grain free (fruits and veggies are carbohydrates too) Carbohydrates reduce the stomach acid or keep it at a more basic level. Normally on a raw diet the stomach acid is at 1-2 pH but on a kibble/commercial pet food diet it is more 4-5 pH. With this reduction in stomach acidity the acid can no longer effectively destroy bacteria so in combination with the negative effect on digestion, this easily leaves your pets susceptible to bacterial contamination and illness.
Karen Becker also continues on to say that she would still recommend kibble if you can’t afford to feed raw. I noticed at the beginning of the film Dr. Becker feeds a pre-made raw and most of the raw feeders they showed in the film fed a commercially prepared raw food. One thing I wish this documentary would have done was to talk about home prepared raw and the cost benefits of feeding this method because it IS possible on any budget to feed raw. When I was really getting into raw feeding I was 23 years old, living in a rented home with less than 1000 sq feet with two raw fed cats, a small kitchen, holding three jobs, at one point going to community college and making less than $20,000 a year. I still managed to raw feed. At this point in time. I have five raw fed cats and it costs between FREE (yes free) and $0.85 per day per cat to feed. I’ve even done some prep for family and friends. A 50 lbs pitbull cost $44 a month and an 85 lbs golden doodle cost $76 a month. Sure, you could feed a 48 lb bag of Dog Chow for $19.99 at Tractor Supply but you are going to see the costs down the road in health problems and veterinary bills.
In the industry, I try to stay up to date and do my part to read and learn about information on all sides of the issue on a continued basis. This video referenced the FDA’s compliance Policies Sub Chapter 660-Animal which although I know this information in a general sense, I have not formally read it. Now that I have the name I will be printing and reading this section extensively to further understand the policies in the pet food industry. I always look forward to new reading material and I highly encourage you to read this policy as well.
Over all this was not a bad documentary but it really only skimmed the surface of the pet food industry (then again, I know a lot about the pet food industry and have been intensely studying it for several years.) I hope for those that do watch the documentary that they look into their pet food more as well as a more healthful raw food diet. Unfortunately, in our world today we cannot just take what the “professionals” and industry leaders say at face value. It’s a sad and a hard truth. But our pets are suffering under this guise. It’s time to take our companions’ nutrition into our own hands!