Lab tests shed new light on what's in your pets food

Published: Jun. 6, 2017 at 5:02 PM CDT
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Do you really know what you're feeding your furry friend? Lab tests reveal many toxins like arsenic, lead and mercury are in some pet foods.

The lab tests were commissioned by the Clean Label Project. The national nonprofit group which focuses on health and labeling transparency tested over 900 products from 74 brands that contained wet and dry food along with treats. Products were screened for over 130 toxins including arsenic; cadmium, the active component in battery acid; as well as pesticides.

"It's so easy to just assume they are giving you correct information and that the information on their bags is true and correct when really it's most likely untrue and misleading," said Natural Pet Center Owner, Michelle Smith.

"I wanted something that was all natural," said dog owner Barb Malzahn.

Malzahn says there are a lot of pet foods out there and she thinks she found the best for her dog Mocha.

"She's everything to me, and I want her to live a long happy life," said Malzahn.

The Clean Label Project found some pet food has 16 times more lead than Flint, Michigan's tainted water and products labeled "Grain Free" had higher toxins than those that didn't.

"There is all of these hidden you know unknown things that we're ingesting on a daily basis that as they add up can effect our overall health and of course our pet's health," said Smith.

Fargo's Natural Pet Center sells a variety of foods. Smith says big money is involved in the pet food industry and it's not heavily regulated like people food.

"It is easy for some manufactures to skirt around the regulations especially with labeling regulations and things like that to make their product look a little bit better than it probably is," said Smith.

Her advice: do your research.

"You really have turn the bag and take a look," Smith explained while turning the pet food bag over and looking at the ingredient list.

Smith says just because you see a steak on the packaging doesn't mean its in the product. But what exactly are you looking for?

"The more animal proteins the better, the fewer grains," explained Smith.

She said people should have at least two meat items in their foods and typically they should be listed in the beginning of the ingredient list.

Smith adds switching up your pet's diet every few months to give them variety.

"Every food is complete and balanced but they are still different in many ways," explained Smith.

Smith says if you're going to change up the food, its best to mix old and new pet food together.

Another note, Clean Label Project's study reveals just because you're paying more for pet food, doesn't mean its actually safer. The study lists the top and bottom 10 products for each category and notes overall trends. Every product tested is displayed on with a rating of one, three or five stars so consumers can look up the products they purchase—and make informed purchasing decisions based on science rather than marketing terms and manufacturer supplied data.

We've put a link to the Clean Label Project findings here.

Smith says people should use this list as a tool but not an essential factor. She adds people should also consult their animal's vet as well.