Sunday, March 25, 2007

Love Your Pets, But Try To Keep It Simple

Kiko and Kimba are fine, but Zephyr (top) is fighting for his life
Kiko and Kimba threw up a couple of weeks ago after splitting a tiny can of wet cat food purchased at Trader Joe's. Wet cat food is a rare bribe . . . er, treat that the Dear Friend & Conscience gives them for being such sweet and semi-obedient fur balls.

Mild concern over their upset tummies turned to a near freak-out when the Menu Foods pet food recall hit the news, but we were relieved to see that the stuff that they ate was not on the lengthy list of the 60 million-plus cans and wet pouches being recalled.

While the cats at Kiko’s House apparently are okay, a lot of other critters haven’t been so fortunate. The toll of dogs and cats who have died of renal failure, are at death’s door or will need expensive therapies if they are to survive because of traces of aminopterin, a rat poisoin, in the products processed by Menu continues to grow.

Hundreds of pets may die as a result, including Zephyr, a cat in British Columbia, and investigators are not ruling out sabotage. (Meanwhile, Menu is now offering to compensate owners for their vet's bills.)

The DF&C and I have fed all kinds of critters over the years – horses, goats, deer, birds, you name it – and our rule of thumb has been to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
That means nothing more than a carrot or sugar cube for horsies and zero table scraps for doggies and kitties, although I admit to slipping Kiko and Kimba a piece of freshly cooked shellfish from time to time.

The DF&C and I read the ingredient and nutrition information labels of the food we give our animal friends, and insofar as cats are concerned, we have stayed with Purina Cat Chow (and Kitten Chow when applicable) for many years. These dry foods are not full of additives, have high protein content and are reasonably priced.

Maybe it’s simply dumb luck and the recall monster will rear its ugly head at Purina some day, but there hasn’t been any reason to switch to other brands, let alone boutique or specialty labels that do lavish TV advertising and charge an arm and a leg.

The fact of the matter is, dogs and cats do not need fancy foods or, in most cases, meat-rich diets. Some, in fact, thrive on vegetarian diets like their owners because they get enough protein. If you have any doubt about this, consult your veterinarian. If your veterinarian doesn't seem to be hip to animal nutrition, find another vet.

You also should be aware that there are different schools of thought on pet foods: The DF&C and I are steadfast believers in kibble over wet food and no red meat, period. Meanwhile, some people advocate just the opposite.
While we're on the subject, there is another problem out there in household pet land: An epidemic of obesity that mirrors the epidemic in the two-legged population. Much of this has to do with lifestyle (lazy owner doesn't exercise lazy dog), but it also is diet driven.
So please, pet lovers, KISS. Okay?

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