Sunday, April 01, 2007

The pet food gluten, a by-product. Where have I heard that before?

I find the whole story about the pet food gluten that supposedly came from China fascinating. I find it even more intriguing because it is not news to me. Let me explain. Over ten years ago our family owned a Springer Spaniel and a calico cat. We fed them the best pet food money could buy. After a while both the dog and the cat started losing their hair. The spaniel started howling and the cat, too, was miserable. We took the dog to the vet and he said that it was fleas. At first we thought we could control the fleas with flea collars for the two animals. But it worked only temporarily. Also the hair kept falling out. Both cat and dog seemed to itch badly. The dog rubbed his back against a hedge we had till it was raw. The cat became frantic and uncontrollable. The next thing we tried was a preparation primarily used on large live-stock such as cows, by prescription only, that was supposed to work. Every time we applied the medicine the dog went into a fit. So, we quit using the medicine. The cat's reaction was not quite as pronounced. The medicine had not killed the fleas anyway. I was getting desperate. The problem with hair loss kept getting worse. At a certain point I thought back to the time when I had a Cocker Spaniel in Germany. That dog had also had fleas. But he had never lost any of his hair. There was clearly a peaceful coexistence between fleas and hair. I started getting suspicious about the flea/hair loss theory. I thought it had to be something else. I went to the pet store that used to be on California Avenue in Palo Alto and asked the owner what might be causing the hair loss. The old man with many years of experience told me to look into the food our animals were eating. He said that certain pet foods contained plastic. He specifically named certain brands (Iams, Science Diet). He also thought it was DuPont that made the plastic. He said to look at the label. If it said hydrolysed vegetable protein, it was probably mixed with plastic. He also said that animals cannot metabolize this plastic. That means it winds up in the small capillaries near the skin causing the itch.

I was surprised to hear that. But my gut feeling was that he was right. I started feeding only people food to our animals. Unfortunately, the dog was really sick by then. His system was wrecked. He became very weak in his hind legs and died soon afterwards. The cat's hair came back, and we felt that, no doubt, there was a problem with hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Did this story appear in my dreams. You bet you, it didn't. There are witnesses. Hydrolyzed vegetable protein sounds an awful lot like wheat gluten or something similar. Of course the company making it might also have been ADM or Cargill or are there others? Why don't we hear who really made the wheat gluten? I guess it is so easy to say it was made in China. Isn't everything made in China nowadays?


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