Another day, another dog food (and cat food) recall: The Procter and Gamble company has recalled a variety of dry dog and cat foods under the IAMS and Eukanuba brands due to a risk of contamination with salmonella. (Full list as of today is at this link.) The symptoms which can affect animals that have ingested same include lethargy, “diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain.” Similar symptoms can be experienced by humans who have ingested salmonella, and humans can pick it up from infected pets or simply by contact with their contaminated food.
We happen to give our dog home-made food, which isn’t necessarily practical for everyone, but she’s a small dog with an eclectic palate and preparing meals for her is a pleasure and quite inexpensive. Not to overdo a sense of vindication from these frequent recalls, but it does make you wonder how often contaminated or sub-standard food gets out there and stays out there without notice; perhaps, for instance, in smaller batches. Dogs (and cats) do have a tendency to throw up a lot anyway, as pet owners know, and pets also sometimes will just up and die suddenly. How many people pay for an autopsy when their dog or cat dies? The answer is virtually none, as it will not bring Fido or Fluffy back, and veterinary bills are quite bad enough when the animal is alive. So toxic dog food (and cat food) is only even identified as a problem when the effects are widespread enough to attract attention. Or, as in this case, the recall takes place voluntarily because the manufacturer is worried about a potentially big problem. (And since salmonella is communicable to humans too, it holds a special risk of liability for the pet food companies.)
During one of the last big toxic dog food episodes, I remember that there were bereaved pet owners quoted in media stories who admitted that their dogs hadn’t wanted to eat the food, so (believing in good faith that it was healthy) they went to great lengths to persuade them to eat it, mixing it with other more palatable things and so forth. Coaxed into consuming it, many dogs got sick and died. How especially painful it must be to realize you have overcome your dog’s own better judgment and fooled it into eating something that has injured or killed it.
In general, it’s always a little surprising and dismaying for yours truly to hear dog owners say that their dog is “not really into” his food, and/or leaves it lying around for hours. Is it too much to suggest that a healthy dog really ought to be very enthusiastic about eating, that this is the natural canine state? (Cats, those strange and eerie creatures, might be another matter.) Call me crazy, but I’m convinced that if a dog doesn’t wait with excited anticipation and then gobble his whole meal down and lick the bowl clean, then there is either something wrong with the food or with the dog. Or maybe with both, at that point.
Life in a dog-eat-dog world can be tough. Life in a dog-eat-dog-food world is no picnic either.