From the Forum – Pet food/ Sick pets?

Photo by PoPville flickr user Martin Ringlein

Pet food/ Sick pets?:

“My cat has thankfully (i hope) bounced back from whatever she was sick with last week, but i’ve noticed a number of my friends have ill pets or ones that died young, suddenly, and unexpectedly. My boss just told me about an issue with Purina food and I’m wondering if anyone else has noticed issues with their pets?”

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45 Comment

  • pcat

    Best pet picture ever.

    • It took me a second to figure out what was going on here, but I agree. It’s pretty genius.

    • I love this pic! As for the food, I agree that there are better options out there than Purina, and you might want to consider changing your brand.

    • It is funny but hopefully the dog doesn’t realize he is being dressed to look like the cat. His doggy dignity might suffer and he might end up with a complex. I will say I am VERY IMPRESSED with the photographers ability to get both animals to set for long enough to get that photo.

    • I love the tuxedo cat and tuxedo-wearing dog!

  • My dog breeder -just- posted about problems with bad dog foods on her Facebook page and recommended using to find good brands. She linked to this story — — but is not as extreme as the author is in her own prescriptions. The breeder feeds her puppies a top-rated kibble, along with some dog-safe fresh and cooked foods and coconut oil.

  • Purina is awful food for your pets anyway. Basically if you can buy it at Safeway you shouldn’t be feeding it to your dog or cat.

    Is spending $70 on a bag of food a significant hit to your wallet? Of course it is, but so are vet bills from tainted food and all of the associated issues from feeding your dog a lifetime of doggy McDonalds.

    Rules of thumb:

    1. Actual meat should be the first ingredient.

    2. For dogs, the guaranteed analysis should be at least 25% protein and 15% fat. For cats, 40% protein and 15% fat.

    3. Made in USA of US ingredients

    Obviously nothing can completely guarantee that your pet will be safe but this will significantly reduce the risk. I’ve found that Earthborn Holistic makes a very good food that satisfies those requirements and won’t break the bank. A 14 pound bag of cat food should run around $30-$35, and a 28-lb bag of dog food is around $50. Fromm also makes a good dog food which is also around $50 but for a 33 pound bag.

    • Or if you’re lazy, anything sold at a local pet store like Metro Mutts should be ok.

      • Yeah, specialty stores are the way to go.

        Pro Feed, the one by my house will even take bag any opened bag of food if your dog doesn’t like it.

    • Out of curiosity, what do you all think of the selection of food at Petco Unleashed? One of the staff members there told me that they are all trained in pet nutrition and carry higher quality food than regular Petco stores. Not sure if I should trust them on that one.

      • As a rule I never trust big chain stores like Petco. I vastly prefer local speciality stores like Metro Mutts. They carry most premium brand dog foods like Canidae and Honest Kitchen. It does cost a bit more, but I feel a lot better supporting a neighborhood store and feeding my dogs higher quality food.

      • I haven’t been to Unleashed but I was at a regular Petco for the first time in years a few weeks ago and I was amazed at what a good selection they now have.
        The only thing that I didn’t like was how much they hype Blue Buffalo, which is not a terrible food but there are much better ones for the price, and I’d worry that they would steer people toward it instead of better foods that they don’t have an advertising partnership with. But yeah, I would say Petco actually has a pretty decent selection.
        The thing is, quality control issues can happen anywhere, and they really are pretty rare in facilities that make good food, so nutrition should be your #1 concern. When in doubt, just check the ingredients and the guaranteed analysis. For protein and fat, the higher the better.

      • Petco is really rebranding themselves and getting rid of a lot of bad products. We buy Merrick for our dog. Petco has started removing really generic pet foods and have moved towards providing healthier options.

      • I’m a big fan of Unleashed. The staff is always very gracious and helpful.

  • Yes. Purina is probably terrible for your pet. Higher price also doesn’t mean better, though. I briefly had my dog on Wild Buffalo based on store recommendations and marketing about how bad other foods were. It gave my dog the worst gas and indigestion so I stopped buying it. Later, I heard from a vet friend that they have seen multiple dogs and cats die from kidney failure and other issues due to Blue/Wild Buffalo food.

    • Aglets

      I use to feed my cat Iams but back in 2007 there was that melamine in the food and a friend who is a very responsible dog owner/shower said that Purina One was really brand for pets and that brands like Iams/Science Diet were terrible to feed your pets.
      I stopped feeding my cat Iams because it was making her poop smell like hot tar.

      I have started sneaking a little coconut oil into my cats food to kind of grease the track so to speak

  • My two dogs, one in particular, suddenly got really sick this past fall/early winter. I got him on medicine and a prescription food, but as soon as I transitioned him back to Purina he got sick again. At the time I didn’t see a recall. But because he got sick each time from going back to Purina I changed both dogs’ food to Blue Buffalo grain free. I’m not totally sure it was the food or if he had developed a food sensitivity, but he’s doing better. I also tell anyone coming over to my place now to not let the dogs get any people food (not that they got much of that anyway) because he has terrible reactions now.

  • I feed my cat Blue Buffalo Freedom. She really seems to like it and she has never had any digestive issues at all. I had to feed her Purina for 2 days and I swear it was like giving her caffeine and sugar. She zipped around (and she’s a 1 yr Russian Blue, so she’s already nuts) and then would crash a few hours later and be kind of a dick. The only complaints I’ve seen with this brand is the amount of filer, but apparently it has to do with its higher fiber content which is good for hairballs. Plus, I get to make little libertarian jokes with my cat twice a day.

    • I love blue buffalo! When I needed my kitty to lose weight I replaced her temptations with the weight loss kibble, which is fish based. The only problem with it is that it’s SUPER FISHY smelling. She loved it but I was glad when I figured out a better general wet food diet for her.

      • What was the better wet food diet? We have a kitty who is getting adorably fat, but I don’t want him to be scolded by the vet…

  • My family is a big fan of Wysong brands – we have a Wheaten back home who is susceptible to PLE, and she’s had no issues. My mom did a ton of research before deciding on a brand, as we wanted to keep our puppy healthy (before we even got her!). Her half sister just had kidney failure and had to be put down – I don’t think she was given such high-quality food 🙁

  • As someone else suggested, dogfoodadvisor is a great resource. It can be overwhelming, but the first thing I did was look for a GRAIN FREE food. This will wittle down your selection and then just find the brand that has the right nutrients and price point for you. I use blue buffalo wilderness [salmon] for my dog (65lb akita mix) who is very active (~ 4 mile runs 5 days a week). Protein content should also depend on animal’s activity level. I went through a few grain free brands before landing on this one. Moral of the story, stay away from the big brands you are used to traditionally seeing as pet food “staples” and go the grain free route.

  • Aglets

    Also, that cats expression is amazing.

  • My cat was recently very sick. Got a diagnosis of intestinal bowel disease or lymphoma (ultrasound showed bowel thickening). I’ve read a ton and it does seem like what I’ve been feeding my cat could be to blame. Prior to becoming sick (vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, etcetera) she was eating a Royal Canin prescription diet food for urinary health and before that a weight loss prescription food from Hills Science Diet. I figured those relatively expensive prescription foods recommended by the vet had to be high quality and healthy, but now I’m not so sure. Seems for my cat a limited ingredient food is necessary due to suspected development of an allergy/irritation to the bad stuff put into most cat foods. A raw diet, closer to what a cat might naturally eat, is probably best, but is a challenge to safely prepare and maintain, so I’m trying the limited ingredient route. Humans would be better off with limited ingredients, too, I suspect! All those chemicals you’ve never heard of? Probably not good in your food or your pet’s food. Steroids and a probiotic seem to have helped my cat a bunch.

  • This is timely. I’ve been considering switching my cat’s food, and would welcome others’ thoughts.

    He’s fat. Reeeeaaaallly fat. When he sits people-style, it looks like he’s sitting in a puddle of his own self. He’s only 10, but acts way older. He doesn’t play at all anymore, and he’s started to get sort of twitchy. He has started talking to himself. (He’s always been a talker, but now he occasionally talks when he’s alone, and this is new.)

    He’s super picky. Purina cat chow, nothing else. No people food, no treats. If you get a different brand, he bitches and moans like it’s the end of the world. And he’s really vocal, so his people are highly motivated to keep him content.

    Someone told me that when she removed grain from her fat cat’s diet, he lost a LOT of weight, very quickly. And then, within a month, he died. She doesn’t know, but suspects the change in diet and sudden weight loss contributed.

    Thoughts? Experiences?

    • Hmm… if he likes only Purina cat chow, maybe stick with it but decrease the portion size and/or try to increase his activity level with whatever toys, etc. he likes?

    • If your cat is that obese you should really start with a vet checkup and some bloodwork to rule out diabetes or other things like over/underactive thyroid. Canned food might be good too, but really the guidance should come from a vet when it’s that serious. Sometimes making them work for their food too, like a toy that lets out just a few grains at a time.

      My cats are on grain free food, primarily due to one’s IBS issues.

    • My vet actually recommended Fancy Feast for this. I had an overweight kitty, mostly because she too, was super vocal about only eating the gravy lovers wet food by Fancy Feast. As soon as I switched over to feeding a combination of the chicken hearts/livers, fish, and leaner pates slowly started losing weight. Ultra fast weight loss is attributable to serious health problems in cats, so I wouldn’t necessarily blame the diet switch.
      With a cat that age I would definitely see your normal vet and ask them to take blood work and or a glucose test, especially if you notice him drinking a lot of water.

      For awhile, my cat got 2/3rds of one of these cans a day (1/3 am , 1/3 pm) and when I noticed she had become much skinnier over a period of a few months, I raised her back up to a full can a day. Her coat is softer and shinier and she’s much more active! These are the foods I switched her onto after reading a very long chart on cat foods (that I wish I could find now, if I do I will send it.) Basically the rules are: Little to no gravy foods, don’t JUST feed them fish, and try to include an organ meat. I used to have a Turkey in there rather than 2 fishes, but she really really didn’t like the Turkey (most food she’ll come back and finish later, she just WOULD NOT finish the turkey.)

      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Tender Beef & Liver Feast,
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Chicken Feast
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Cod, Sole & Shrimp Feast
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Flaked, Trout Feast, 3-Ounce Can
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Sliced, Chicken Hearts & Liver Feast in Gravy

  • I have always fed my cat Science Diet and he seems to be doing fine. He is 8 and has never had any health issues other than some serious allergies (tons of sneezing and coughing). Multiple vets have told me that the allergies are normal. Does anyone have any suggestions on the best cat food? Is Science Diet acceptable? And has anyone had a cat with these allergy problems? Were you able to find a solution or is it nothing to worry about?

    • I’ve read a lot about Science Diet, and I’m assuming you’re talking about kibble, (and sadly cannot link to it here, it’s been over the years honestly) and the issues I’ve seen for it have been that it is much higher in grain than some other premium foods (along with Royal Canin) and thus harder for their bodies to process. If he’s been doing fine on it, no urinary tract crystals/issues, diabetes, etc I wouldn’t be too worried about it. It’s very stressful to switch foods on some animals.

      I personally dislike Science Diet because it is just SO FREAKING EXPENSIVE and if I’m going to spend that much on dry food I want to get one that is mostly meat. Also, the experience that I had with it was that you HAD to purchase it from the vet, which seemed a little odd, since they were the ones prescribing it…

      I’m a big proponent of wet food for cats, it more closely mimics a natural diet for them, especially if you rotate different cans so they get organ meats and not just white meat or fish. I had a diabetic cat for 14 years (he passed at 19) that once he got sick, we essentially fed him fancy feast pate mixed with water to form a paste. We’ve had multiple vets from various practices tell us that Fancy Feast (in the normal versions, not all sliced in gravy, etc) is one of the best nutrionally that you can get at the grocery store without breaking the bank. Are there better foods out there? Probably, but I did a lot of research into the cans I list below on a very long spreadsheet that listed carbs vs. fat vs. protein (I wish i could find it now) and this seemed like a healthy way to keep my kitty fed without spending $1,000s on cat food.

      If you are worried about your kitties health/expense I would recommend slowly transitioning to wet food over dry food.

    • oh also, these are the foods I feed my kitty. She gets a can a day now, but a little less when she was overweight from ONLY eating gravy foods as a kitten. (used to be Turkey instead of Cod/Sole/Shrimp, but she really really disliked that so I added the extra fish)

      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Tender Beef & Liver Feast,
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Chicken Feast
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Cod, Sole & Shrimp Feast
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Flaked, Trout Feast, 3-Ounce Can
      Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Sliced, Chicken Hearts & Liver Feast in Gravy

      • This is incredibly helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this out! I’m definitely going to speak with my vet about transitioning to wet food.

  • If you’re looking to do some research for cats, I highly recommend this website/PDF:

    The number one thing for cats is: Feed Wet Food. The level of grain in the kibble is really really not good for cats, as they are supposed to be obligate carnivores which means they literally do not eat vegtables/grains. Sure, they eat grass… in order to hork it back up or move their digestive tract along. It’s not for nutritional value.

    This woman is SUPER intense about feeding her cats raw meals (which I am not) but she did A LOT of research into all the commercially available foods for cats. I used this to help my cat lose the last 5 lbs of being overweight (she’s 11 lbs now, and the vet declares her healthy!) slowly over a period of time. I’ve lived with and taken care of many cats, and I was surprised at how many vets (across the board) recommended Fancy Feast of the (non-gravy/fancy types) over some more expensive prescription foods. They tend to have similar ratios of carb/fat/protein to the expensive foods, but cost much less and are available at the grocery store.

    Basically the rules are: Little to no gravy foods, don’t JUST feed them fish, and try to include an organ meat. Usually feeding them animals that they would actually consume are best, but I include a beef because it’s got the liver in it. I read a research paper recently, I wish I could find it, that shows most domestic cats that hunt consume a HUGE amount of lizards over other creatures, but sadly, there are no commercial lizard foods available 🙂 )

    I used to have a Turkey in here rather than 2 fishes, but she really really didn’t like the Turkey (most food she’ll come back and finish later, she just WOULD NOT finish the turkey.) I feed 1/2 a can am and 1/2 can pm, and just rotate through the below cans.

    Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Tender Beef & Liver Feast,
    Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Chicken Feast
    Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Classic, Cod, Sole & Shrimp Feast
    Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Flaked, Trout Feast, 3-Ounce Can
    Fancy Feast Wet Cat Food, Sliced, Chicken Hearts & Liver Feast in Gravy

  • You should to to:

    and then have subscribe to have access to Petsumer Report.

  • I feed my lovely old girl Canidae dry and Paul Newman wet. She has not been sick one day in her 16 year old life. Her snacks are Ritz crackers (not great) and cooked/raw vegetables. She has a little arthritis but that’s it.

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