Bacteria in Pet Foods: Acute & Chronic Health Concerns of Endotoxins
Bacteria are everywhere and that includes pet foods. Most bacteria are harmless, many essential for our health and other animals’ health, but some cause acute “food poisoning” and other serious health problems. High temperature cooking/processing kills most bacteria but in the process releases endotoxins from them. High levels of endotoxins are associated with high levels of bacteria in the animal parts, many condemned for human consumption, billions of pounds of which is processed around the world into pet foods and livestock feed and fertilizer every year. This includes the remains of so-called 4-D animals; those who are either dead, dying, debilitated or diseased upon inspection at the slaughter house.
Endotoxins are a lipopolysaccharide complex making up part of the outer membrane of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella. Endotoxins can cause a cascade of adverse health consequences and probably contribute to a variety of chronic degenerative diseases especially in dogs and cats fed the same brands of manufactured pet foods high in endotoxins.
They can cause shock, organ failure, trigger the release of histamine and inflammatory cytokines, cause changes in white blood cell numbers, affect blood coagulation, and lead to hypertension, arthritis and asthma. ( For details see Michael Gregor MD, Dead Meat Bacterial Toxemia, www.NutritionFacts.org Vol 9 July 6th, 2012). They probably damage cell DNA with carcinogenic consequences. Research has also demonstrated that carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are formed when muscle meat is cooked at high temperatures to destroy potentially harmful bacteria.
Additional concerns about this animal industry waste recycling of animal parts unfit for human consumption but considered fit for companion and other animals include the presence antibiotic residues and strains of bacteria evolving wide-spectrum antibiotic resistance; other production-related pharmaceuticals including Ractopamine and other beta-adrenergic agoinists, anabolic steroids and recombinant bovine growth hormone; contaminants such as mercury, fluoride and dioxins as well as concentrations of endocrine gland residues like thyroxine that are not destroyed in processing.(XX)
With most dogs there is a greater degree of tolerance to these endotoxins than cats (in whom inflammatory bowel conditions are rampant), because ancestrally the dog is a natural scavenger of animals’ remains while the cat is an obligate fresh-meat carnivore. But genetic and epigenetic factors and dietary changes in their microbiome—their healthy gut bacterial population—seems to make some dogs especially “food sensitive” and, along with cats, develop a variety of chronic maladies. Many of these respond well and show a complete recovery from a host of costly conditions when their diets are changed with only human food-grade quality ingredients and selected supplements.
The recycling of this vast tonnage of slaughter-house and fishing industry waste into pet food and animal feed (causing mad cow disease in the U.K and in companion animals as well as in a yet- uncounted number of human consumers), albeit highly profitable, it is part of a non-sustainable, climate-changing and costly public and environmental health problem that calls for systemic change, at the core of which must be a reduction in production and consumption of high-carbon-hoof print beef, pork and other animal produce from over-stocked free-range and concentrated animal feeding operations. This change should begin with the government establishing better ways to dispose of this food animal waste where polluters pay, consumers support humane and ecologically sound farmed animal husbandry practices and only human-grade foods and their immediate by-products are permitted in pet foods, fish foods and livestock, horse and poultry feeds.
In late 2015 I received a major newspaper reporter interview call asking my opinion of the demand of some pet owners for “humanized” food for their dogs and cats. The reporter made it quite clear that these people must be “anthropomorphizing” their pets by demanding human-quality food for them, a view she had clearly acquired from the main-stream pet food industry. Like the industry, she did not want to hear anything about 4-D meat in pet foods or bacterial endotoxins.
Michael W. Fox BVetMed, PhD, DSc, MRCVS Veterinarian, bioethicist, syndicated columnist (Animal Doctor with Universal-UClick). Website: www.drfoxvet.net
Author of Supercat: How to Raise the Perfect Feline Companion: also Cat Body, Cat Mind, and Dog Body, Dog Mind with Rowman & Littlefield; The Healing Touch for Dogs and The Healing Touch for Cats with Harper Collins & co-author of Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat & Dog Foods with Quill Driver Books