"TESTS FIND NO DOG OR CAT DNA IN PET FOOD."
. . . . . -- The US Food and Drug Administration
As a species, we are naturally drawn to the gruesome, the frightening, and the macabre.
We pay good money to see slasher movies and ride death-defying roller-coasters.
And so it should come as no surprise to find that folks love to speculate about whether... maybe... dead dogs and cats are being ground up for kibbled dog food.
Here's the short answer....
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration web site addresses the issue directly if folks will actually take the time to read.
Good God man, where's the fun in that? Next you'll be telling us there's no Sasquatch, no Chupacabra and no alien autopsies -- and Lord knows we've all seen the videos of those things!
But there are no videos of dead dogs and cats being turned into dog food. None.
And while there is a trace amount of pentobarbital residue in a very few bags of kibbled dog food, it does not seem to be a health concern, and it has a perfectly simple source explanation: farm livestock.
But don't take my word for it. Here's what the FDA has to say about the pentobarbital found in dog food and where it does NOT come from:
A test, derived to determine source of pentobarbital in pet food, is so sensitive it can identify the species of origin for animal products on a scale of 7 lbs. per 500 TONS. Tests find no cat or dog DNA in pet food.
A PCR primer set specific for a canine mtDNA sequence was deduced, and subsequently shown to amplify only that mtDNA derived from dogs, but not mtDNA derived from cattle, swine, sheep, goat, pig, cat, deer, elk, poultry, turkey, rabbit, or horse blood (Fig 1).
When the PCR process is applied to a sample, researchers look for the process to yield PCR products called amplicons that are specific both to the animal species and gene sequence the researchers are looking for.
Thirty-one dog food samples previously analyzed for the presence of pentobarbital 2 were then subjected to the DNA extraction process and tested for the presence of canine DNA. The results demonstrated the complete absence of canine DNA in all 31 samples (Fig 2) at a level exceeding 0.0007% (w/w). In other words, at this level of detection, we can say that if there is any canine material in the dog food, it is present at a rate of less than 7 lb. per 500 TONS.
Cats and horses are also euthanized with pentobarbital and thus might be the source of this drug in dog food. PCR primer sets that are specific for either feline or equine mtDNA were also developed to test the same dog food samples for presence of mtDNA that might have been derived from cats or horses. The results from these analyses demonstrated the complete absence of PCR products, the amplicons, specific for either cat or horse mtDNA in all 31 dog food samples. This analysis was carried out under conditions that achieved 0.007% sensitivity.
Because the results so far were negative, it was important to demonstrate that mtDNA from these dog food samples could be amplified to increase the sensitivity of the test. Therefore, the mtDNA from these samples were subjected to PCR amplification using a set of PCR primers (termed “universal” primers) shown to amplify only mtDNA from cow, deer, elk, sheep, goat, horse and pig. These particular animal species were expected to be present in the samples due to the ingredient statements of the dog food labels.
The results demonstrated that most, but not all, samples had a PCR amplicon, indicating that one or more of these species (cow, deer, elk, sheep, goat, horse or pig) were present in these dog food samples. Interestingly, two samples that were positive for pentobarbital did not produce a PCR amplicon when the universal primers were used, suggesting a complete absence of mammalian-derived mtDNA from species that are typically euthanized with pentobarbital.
Using PCR primer sets specific for bovine, swine, or sheep mtDNA, we were able to demonstrate the presence of rendered material derived from one or more of these species. As expected, samples that did not produce a PCR amplicon using the universal primers failed to produce amplicons when the species-specific primers were used.
For the most part, the PCR results confirmed the ingredients as listed on the package label. Unexpectedly, there were four samples that had PCR results inconsistent with the package label.
Two dog food samples listed lamb in the label, yet both samples also had a PCR amplicon specific for bovine mtDNA. One of the samples labeled as containing lamb proteins produced no amplicon specific for sheep (lamb). While the remaining two samples listed only poultry on the label, one sample had a PCR amplicon specific for bovine mtDNA, whereas the other sample had a PCR amplicon specific for swine mtDNA. Pentobarbital was present in these latter two samples.
Boom. Science. Get some.
In science, you do not make extraordinary claims and demand that others prove them wrong. That's what religions do.
Science is the opposite of religion; it says that extraordinary claims require at least some proof.
But here, there is NO PROOF.
None. Zero. Nyet. Empty set. And people have been looking for a loooong time.
We have video tape of the Lochness Monster and Big Foot, and I myself have taken pictures of Chupacabra in my back yard and in the field. So those clearly exist.
But is there any video tape of dead dogs and cats being rendered into dog food?
No there is is not, despite scores of thousands of workers making jaw-dropping amounts of dog food at dozens of factories all over the nation, and around the world.
In fact, the entire dead-dogs-turned-into-dog-food-story seems to have been sparked by a single 1995 story in the Baltimore City Paper (a free local newspaper more famous for its "personals" column than its reporting) which asserted -- but never proved -- that a local independent rendering plant was running two separate lines (one for slaughterhouse and butcher waste, and the other for roadkill and euthanized pets) and then mixing the fats at the end of the run.
But guess what?
When ABC television's 20/20 news program investigated, they found the story had no legs. It was not true so far as they could tell, and they had to pull the plug on the story they had intended to take national.
Other reporters have chased the same story again and again over the years, but they too have come up with nothing despite the fact that everyone with an Ipod Nano now has a miniature camera and recording device capable of making a pile of cash for the right video tape.
It seems dead dogs and cats are simply NOT being made into dog food. They might be made into candles, industrial grease, floor wax, or chicken or hog feed (though not much evidence of that either), but not dog food.
Of course, a lot of people are not going to be swayed by silly things like facts.
Why let truth get in the way of a good story? Why let science derail the fear-inducing story-board which says ALL of our processed foods are bad, and that the FDA has NO IDEA what is in them.... and never mind if our foods are actually safer today than at any time in U.S. or world history.
But hey, I am not trying to sway the minds of the folks who stand in long lines at the fair in order to pay good money to be scared.
Everyone needs a thrill, a hobby, and a cause. I get it. Carry on. If you want to worry about what is in kibble, be my guess.
But be advised that your dog is definitely eating its own shit.
And if you run your dog loose in forest, field or fen, it's also eating the occasional fox and raccoon crap, cat turd, cow patty, pile of deer shit, and mouse dingle-berry as well.
If your dog spends any time outside on its own (even if it is just in your suburban back yard) it almost certainly eating a dead sparrow once in a while, and maybe a live lizard or snake. For sure it is eating the occasional live mouse or dead squirrel.
If you leave your food and water bowls outside on the patio or porch, your dog is certainly drinking a little rat pee, and has probably gobbled down a little possum snot as well.
And I have not even talked about what happens when your dog drinks out of the toilet bowl in your house, or licks its crotch, or sniffs the butt of the dog next door. Woooeeee!
You say you are worried about toxins in kibbled dog food? OK. Worry away. I can't stop you. Just remember you are probably dosing your dog, inside and out, every month, with powerful poisons designed to kill, and which do kill every day. Those poisons are called Frontline and Heartgard. But you say are still worried there might be a micro-trace of some toxin found in some bag of dog food? That's a little amusing. But hey, go ahead and have another bite of that apple and tell me all about it. No, no, I will not say a word about your own weight, alcohol consumption, smoking, salt use, chemical hair dye, or prescription drug use.
I am not trying to tell you to change your area of concern. Be strong and carry on.
That said, I am willing to bet I know what will kill your dog, and it's not likely to be bagged kibble!
You see, about 40% of all dogs are obese and obese dogs have shorter lives and often live for years with collapsing joints and other ailments as well. Dogs are obese because of their owners and nothing else.
Add to obesity the breed of dog you selected.
Do you have a French Bulldog, a Pug, an English Bulldog or a Pekingese?
These dogs have chronic breathing problems, and are routinely beset with joint and spine problems, to say nothing of chronic skin diseases and eye problems.
Of course, the flat-faced brachycephalic breeds are only a small slice of the canine parade of dysfunction.
We also have the dogs that are four-legged cancer bombs: the Scottish Terriers, the Bernese Mountain Dogs, the Flat-coated Retrievers, the Greyhounds, the Deerhounds, and the Golden Retrievers.
The cancers here are gene-based, and are exacerbated by inbreeding.
But do the owners of these breeds stand up and demand an open registry to perhaps reduce the incidence of cancer?
They do not.
Do the owners of these breeds tell every prospective puppy owner that there is a better than 50% chance that the little puppy they are about to buy will die from a heart-breaking cancer which, before it dies, will suck thousands of dollars from the poor rube's wallet?
And a similar silence is heard from the myriad other breeds wrecked by dyplasia, heart and liver disease.
Instead of a demand for AKC reform, we get a lot of hand-wringing about what might be in dog food, and what it might do to dogs.
Which is fine with me.
I get it.
There will always be folks standing in line to pay good money to see a slasher movie or ride the roller coaster.
There will always be people standing in line to pay money to see the freak show.
There will always be people willing to pay a lot of money for a Jaguar sports car, and never mind the crappy construction and enormous repair bills, or the fact that the owners will never drive the car more than 75 miles an hour.
Form and image over construction and function. I get it
As a species, we like to scare ourselves, and we like to amuse ourselves, but we hate to take responsibility for our own actions and much prefer to blame the great and mysterious THEM.
And so our dogs cannot be dying early and tragic deaths because we selected deformed, defective and diseased breeds and then overfeed and under-exercised them.
It must be the food. It must be the dog food companies.