Monday, January 13, 2014

Giving toxic "food" to animals.

Many are aware that about six years ago there was a scandal because a pet food supplier from china had used melamine as an ingredient (because the presence of melamine causes tests for protein levels to be higher...and I presume melamine is cheaper than protein) and this had caused death for a number of pets. Melamine has also been used to boost apparent protein level in foods designed to be used by human animals. "Melamine is a by-product of the coal industry. It is a chemical compound with numerous industrial uses, including the production of plastics, dishware, kitchenware, commercial filters, laminates, adhesives, molding compounds, coatings and flame retardants." (source)

One of the lessons to be learned here is that the desire to make a profit can result in harm to living beings.

Recently Heartland Rabbit Rescue took in two bunnies from different situations where the rabbits were returned along with some of the food they had been being fed. One of the foods came from Walmart, a brand called Small World, that is apparently manufactured for Walmart by a company called Manna Pro. The other bunny was being fed a house brand rabbit food (called Ranch Pro) that is carried by a farm supply retailer called Atwoods. The negative effects of these pitiful "diets" on these two remains to be fully seen.

The link to the Small World brand food goes to a page that lists the ingredients, they include (in order of how much there is of each)....dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Wheat Middlings, Roughage Products, Soybean Meal, Feeding Oatmeal (whatever that is) and the list then degenerates into a litany of chemicals and vitaminany sounding names, e.g. "sodium selenite".

The Ranch Pro brand sold by Atwoods list ingredients (in order of how much there is in the "food") as being "plant protein products, processed grain products, roughage products, dehydrated alfalfa meal...and then the list degenerates again into a listing of chemicals and vaguely nutritional sounding stuff like "copper sulfate". The Ranch Pro brand does say right under the logo that "This feed is designed to be fed to grower and breeder rabbits." In other is designed to make the bunny get as big as possible as fast as possible because getting big fast increases profits that can be made from the bunny. The Small World brand touts itself as "Complete feed for rabbits".

Both of these "foods" are absolutely and totally unacceptable items to give to a rabbit...unless you care nothing about the well being of the rabbit.They will have the same effect as a poison...slow acting poison maybe...but poison nevertheless.

In contrast to "complete feed for rabbits" you might want to look at these nutrition guidelines from the Minnesota House Rabbit Society. They note: "Overfeeding of pellets can lead to obesity, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, chronic soft stools and bladder stones." And even on the Minnesota page, they aren't clear about the fact that alfalfa should be given to adult rabbits only in rare instances...alfalfa is not hay (grass) it is a legume...from the same plant family as peas. Here's another (and maybe better) source to consult concerning food for rabbits.They note: "Perhaps the single most important item in the rabbit diet is grass HAY, and it should be fed in unlimited quantities to both adults and baby rabbits." Notice they specify grass HAY, not alfalfa.

What's all this about food for rabbits? Well, the truth is, most human's are clueless about what rabbits should be eating (I promise I was) but most of us humans simply take Walmat's word that they are selling us a "complete feed" for rabbits and go merrily on our way of slowly poisoning the rabbit(s) in our care.

Furthermore, most of the food "manufactured" (manufactured food is a strange combination of words when you think about it) for rabbits is created to make "growers and breeders" of rabbits happy. That means the rabbit grows large quickly so they can be killed or they can start "breeding" quickly. None of this food is designed to assist the bunny to be healthy or is designed to satisfy the needs and wants of those who exploit rabbits for profit. The fact is, most commercial rabbit "food" is slow acting poison. Period.

I came across a couple of videos recently that do a good job of injecting humor into a topic that is really not humorous. Food for your rabbit (or for any living being) is literally a matter of life or death...and that's really not funny. Never ever ever pay heed to information coming from an exploiter ("grower", "rancher", "breeder", "exhibitor or shower") of living beings about what is beneficial for the beings they exploit. In the end, they don't know or care, they care about profit and what they can get out of those they exploit. 

I'm including one of the videos here...the other on uses a clip from a movie about Hitler that I actually thought was good too...but found myself conflicted about it because it shows Hitler advocating for rabbits. And the juxtaposing of an evil being advocating for beings I care about left me dismayed and ambivalent.

You can find that other video here if you want to see it. Look...we are an ignorant species and our ignorance...even when we are well intentioned...means if we are responsible for someone else then they will likely suffer because of our ignorance. If you are going to take on the awesome power of caring for someone have an obligation to minimize your ignorance. Harming someone you care about is very painful...for you...and even more so for the one you harm.

Even if you don't live with another have to live vegan to minimize your quit harming...if you haven't already done so.


D.E.M. said...

Fabulous bunny resource!
Pet "food" has been another disgrace of an industry, profiting off of people who think they're doing right by their animals. "Science" etc to maximize nutrition, when it's all garbage combined with contempt. ...

Kale for everyone, is what I say :)

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting DEM. I really didn't meant to slight the other beings. All are being ill served by humans and the trash that is touted as "food" is simply incomprehensible. I'm fully aware that every species is victimized by our lunatic striving for "profit" along with our ignorance. I have an elder cat who has to be given prescription food due to systemic damage he's sustained over the years because of dietary issues. Piece of trivia for you...the most likely thing a cat is allergic to in their diet is fish. That's because cats are desert animals and fish is not part of their diet, their systems did not evolve to cope with fish as a food (milk either, for that matter). We're disgusting.

D.E.M. said...

That is so interesting: cats as desert animals. So, they'd originally have eaten lizards and little rodents?

veganelder said...

Yup, once the cat started having lots of health issues we stumbled onto a vet who had actually spent some time studying cats. She said that cats, lots of cats, have health issues because of the food they are given and the principle culprit in allergic reactions is the fish factor because of the evolutionary disconnect. Cats did not evolve in an environment where water was freely available and that's why they often end up dehydrated on a dry food diet even if water is there for them...they evolved getting most of their water needs from their prey and not from drinking water. It was an education just visiting with her truth...a frightening one given how many cats I've lived with and how many vets I'd seen over the years and never heard a word about this stuff.

Bea Elliott said...

Such an education! Very clever videos too! I never realized that bunnies had specific requirements besides "just" vegetables. But of course it figures that proper nutrition would be the right plants in the right amount. And no... No one is ever going to get that from a commercial "feed" maker. Chicken "feed" as well is made to maximize growth for *rapid-profits*. Long-term health of bunnies and birds isn't a priority in their business.

Thanks - I learned a lot about cat nutrition too! It makes sense that fishes/sea life wouldn't be part of a free feline's meal. A genuine cat's diet looks nothing like what my Oz eats. :/ I normally stay away from "sea food" because of cystitis issues with male cats... Now for sure he won't have any. Good tip!

May all bunnies and birds be lovingly fed.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. From what I can see...the bottom line is...we know damned little about the nutritional requirements/needs of other animals. Veterinarians are not reliable sources, knowing little more about nutrition for other species (unless they've spent time doing the research) than your average physician knows about nutrition for human animals.

One way to think about it is this...look at what humans eat and look at the course of apparent knowledge about what was healthy or not for humans diets. If you think about it you'll realize that such knowledge is 1. incomplete 2. relatively recent 3. wildly divergent and 4. often extremely motivated by factors not having to do with health and/or well being (either of the individual or the planet and her other beings).

Given what ridiculousness has and does surround human "diet" it isn't any wonder that "diet" for our fellow animals is one of the last places we can presume that we know as much as we think we know. If any of us decide to become the dictator of the diet of another (and that is, sadly, what we necessarily do when we live with "domesticated" beings) then it is incumbent on us to do the work of finding out what's best for them and giving it to them. And by doing the work I mean research, research and more research. It sucks and is a pain in the caboose and all that...but...if you eat wrongly and'll get sick and maybe die. That's your lookout...but doing that to someone who depends on you. That's really not ok.

A caveat very very very suspicious and distrusting of any "research" that is funded by or conducted by a profit making organization. There is dreck everywhere and if profit is added to the mix...dreck increases exponentially. On that happy note I'll shut up. :-)

Christine said...

Thank you so much for some very informative and interesting information. Rabbits are rarely cared for properly as people have no idea about their dietary needs. Our adopted rabbit Patch has frequent GI stasis, a huge worry. Before we adopted him he was kept by an animal hoarder with sixty other rabbits stacked in separate hutches like a battery farm fed only on shop brought rabbit food like that which you have described , so he has never really eaten properly and does not eat much hay, certainly not the required 70 percent . He will not eat Timothy hay at all. He eats lots of veggies and fruit, lots of parsley and grass in the summer but his diet is a worry. GI stasis is a consequence of an improper diet.

Many people here in the UK have no idea how to feed rabbits and many bunnies are left to die of GI stasis alone in a hutch at the bottom of someone’s garden.

I had not thought about cats and fish, sadly because cats have always eaten fish we rarely question this. Even with rabbits hay is not really natural I would imagine as wild rabbits of course do not have access to it and eat only grass and natural vegetation. But hay is the next best thing and good for rabbits’ teeth: another issue with improper diet is their teeth which often need filing.

I doubt if any animal gets natural food including the human animal. Even as vegans we do not really have a natural diet. I would think that if you need to cook food to eat it you should not be eating it, neither should any companion animal. Adopting a natural diet would not be easy though, my rabbit would not be used to eating grass all the time and has to be encouraged to eat the small amount he eats. I wish more people who care for animals would take the time to find out how to feed them properly and not just take the easy option of shop brought processed food full of junk and chemicals. There is little excuse these days as there is so much information about diet readily available.

Again many thanks for this important and helpful information

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Christine. I'm a little surprised (not a great deal, but a little) to hear that Europeans are as ignorant about rabbit diets as people here seem to be. My surprise is that since the domestic bunnies are native to
Europe there would be more known about them...but as I write that I realize that if Europeans are like Americans (and they are)...Americans wouldn't know any more about a native species than they would an alien mind.

I'm sorry for Patch's difficulties, stasis can be deadly for bunnies. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for him, thank y'all for looking out for him.