I know lots of people are shy of trying a raw food based diet because they assume they don’t have enough knowledge as to what and the quality of ingredients they should use. I try to encourage them to think beyond this self limiting lack of confidence, and that is despite my own kennel falling victim to us buying an inferior calcium product sometime ago.
But, let me assure you, the major animal food production companies can also fall into the same ‘trap’, and in fact, you have to rely on them telling you they have made a mistake and finding and isolating the problem. In Australia a couple of years ago a number of cats died or were badly paralyzed – through no fault of the company, but because the Australian quarantine laws require all food products to be irradiated to kill pathogens. Most dry food isn’t adversely affected, this product, it turned out, was.
What has prompted this short piece from me, is a case in late 2010 in Germany of an alternative source of a compound/ingredient that has lead to dioxin contamination of feed and so the poultry and poultry by-products. Probably you don’t feed poultry or poultry by-product sources from Germany, but how do you know that the manufacturers’ of your dog food don’t either? May be the dioxin levels will be below critical level by the time the poultry or poultry by-product is incorporated into the dog food, but are all the other ingredients in that batch also free of or have such low levels of dioxin that the overall accumulated dioxin level in the product is still safe. And I am happy to bet that the ‘safe’ dioxin level required in a pet food product is higher than in a human food.

So, how, in this case, did it happen. Technicians made the assumption they could ‘safely’, and no doubt more cheaply, produce fatty acids from oils that are typically used in lubrication and cosmetics, See www.wattagnet.com

Commercially prepared food is as vulnerable to problems as are home made diets – it all rests on the safety and quality of the actually ingredients you choose.

My advice is to use food stuffs that are least ‘processed’ but processed to safe hygiene standards – offal where hydatids and other pathogens occur does need to be cooked. I don’t see a need to chop, slice, dice, grind and then re-form the item into a moulded or extruded something or other that is pretty and stays ‘safe’ in a plastic wrapper for months or years. Last time I looked, most Clumbers have a sufficient number of teeth to optimise their food by slicing, grinding, and chewing their own food to a satisfactory state for their own digestive system to absorb the best nutrients for that dog. (There are of course many exceptions, I talk in principle). And I recall when I was looking at ways to lose some fat (weight!) reading that chewing contributes to the stomach’s awareness of being well stocked, this may well be true of dogs.

So what is dioxin, and what does it do? Well I suspect its greatest value is in showing the far reaching effect of human waste and contamination. Dioxin is one of the most toxic of chemicals and accumulates in fat. The dioxin family cause a range of non-specific diseases or contribute to ill thrift; in large doses or doses that become large by continual ingestion of small amounts, they are fatal. By the way, most dioxin in our ‘environment’ is a man made chemical.