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Concerning Attitude

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  1. Judy Olsen

    This is why I joined Susan Thixton.
    I knew that some of the companies were all about the money, but I didn’t realize they were that blatant a;bout it..
    I also found out that there were several very good companies that I could consider or just do my own cooking. I value my pets, and they are an important part of my family. If I can’t eat it, I don’t want to feed it to my dogs.

  2. Kathryn

    well, it DOES make me ‘feel good’ that I can afford to feed my animals a better quality feed/food product than what is generally on the big box shelves. There was a time when even the foods we were eating were not the quality we are able to provide now. Does that make me a ‘bad’ animal owner? I don’t think so. I am just thankful that we are in a better position today than we were several years ago.

    As Ms. Olsen stated, if it’s not something we can consume, we don’t feed it to our dogs or cats. And I do call it ‘food’ as I don’t buy ‘feed’ for my family – I buy ‘food’.

    1. Jeri

      Susan never said that “feeling good” made one a bad pet owner. That’s just silly. What she did say, is that our personal “feeling” is not the primary motivation behind what we feed our pets. Amen to that. I’ve yet to meet a pet owner who was motivated by “feeling good” to purchase a certain product. We feed raw and wouldn’t have it any other way. We were motivated by our pets’ health, not how it would make us “feel”. The fact that we are feeding the best species-appropriate diet out there and our animals are reaping the benefits does make us “feel good”, but that has never been our motivation to feed raw.

  3. KT Howard

    Well..we can always vote with our wallets when it comes to pet food. makes you wonder what the “attitude” is of those companies that are not so in the spotlight.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      I talk to many big and small companies. You are right, some of the small have that slap a label on it attitude – but many do not. I’m amazed at some of the companies – how intelligent they are on nutrition, how they know their farmers so well, selecting humanely raised animals, graded meats, and/or selecting only non-gmo ingredients. It depends on the company and it is worth the effort to get to know your pet food – not through marketing – through speaking with them.

  4. Beth Marousek

    I witnessed these “in-store representatives” from Blue Buffalo when I shopped at Petco, and I was irritated when the reps would interrupt my shopping by asking about my pets and try to be all buddy-buddy with me. I could not understand why Petco was so flagrantly pushing the Blue Buffalo brand, but I should have realized it was all about money.

    1. Holly Rist

      I’m one of those ‘in store representatives’ from BB and I work in two Petco stores. I’m sorry that you felt that your shopping experience was interrupted by the demo person from BB. Most people love talking about their pets. And I love telling them about mine. Are we there to sell pet food? Well, sort of. The first thing you learn when you work for BB is to connect with the customer. Show them that we’re pet owners, and lovers as well. If it leads to a sale, great. If not, then I give them a business card, thank them for their time, and move on. BB is the only company that has demo people in the same stores, the same day every week, so if anyone has a question, concern or just wants to thank us for recommending a quality food (many people do come back and tell me about the positive changes they’ve seen in their pets) they can find us. I feed my dog and my two cats BB. I genuinely feels that it’s one of the best and most ethical pet food companies out there, that are in major retail stores. Like everyone else, I’m curious to see what happens with the lawsuits between BB and Purina. Knowing what I know about Bill Bishop, the owner, I believe that he wouldn’t tolerate inferior ingredients in ‘his’ food. After all, the food is named for his dog Blue, that he lost to cancer in 2000. But only time will tell.

      1. Lisa Parker

        Want to explain to me why my cat developed a bowel obstruction when I started feeding her the Blue Buffalo cat treats with vegetable glycerin that I thought were NATURAL and HEALTHY? That’s all I have to say. Should have done my homework, though their traditional diet is high quality. I messed up buying the crappy treats.

        1. Mandy B

          I put my cats on Blue during the 2007 recall to be SAFE. A PetSmart employee suggested the food was the most natural they carried AND there were no glutens. Two days later, my female cat, Noella, who was 4-years old at the time, began projectile vomiting 10 seconds after ingesting the food. That evening, Blue cans were recalled for melamine tainted rice gluten (so much for being a gluten-free food!!!). I rushed both cats to the vet the following morning and Noella’s kidneys were failing. I spent more than $1,000 on vet bills just to keep her alive. Blue pretended they were going to cover my bills. I sent in all the paperwork required including a letter from my vet stating that Noella’s kidney failure was because of the Blue food. I NEVER heard from Blue again. While Natural Balance, who used the same manufacturer, American Nutrition, stepped up to the plate, Blue did not. Blue ignored the customers with sick and dying pets, and eventually the pet owners filed a class action lawsuit. Thankfully my cat survived the poisoning, but she will suffer from kidney disease the rest of her life. If I ever felt that a company did not care about pets or pet owners, it is Blue Buffalo.

      2. Pet Owner

        Your post made me go out and read BB’s ingredients again. I have a neighbor who uses BB for a dog I just love taking care of frequently. It’s a wonderful dog that I would never want anything to happen to. Now I feel a little better about the food, as opposed to many other kibble food on the market. BUT honestly, I think if any “counselling” (or selling) is being done about nutrition for dogs, it should include (at minimum) the concept of “rotation.” Of course BB has reps in the stores to sell, and it’s great that you’re taught to “connect” with other loving pet owners. Most sales people ARE taught to “connect” with their clients. But how much nutrition education do the reps receive? Is there anything objective about the training? As in what pets really need for optimum health? Rotation feeding includes several formats since pet owners sometimes can’t afford the time or money to feed 100% whole food or raw. So, kibble could be alternated as long as the pet is receiving some fresh food too. I don’t feel so badly giving my dogs kibble occasionally (traveling, visiting, caretakers) because I know their diet most of the time is home made. The problem with kibble feeding, is that those wonderful ingredients as identified on BB’s label, are not human grade (USDA choice) first quality, but scraps not fit for retail, that are dehydrated into a powered (or ground up) mixes, cooked (extruded) and formed into little shapes, re-flavored, re-vitamitized, and often colored. Preservatives are added for long (incredibly long) shelf life. No human would eat that kind of diet 365 days of the year, so why should a dog, which needs a broad range of varied ingredients to satisfy its instinct and digestive needs? If BB reps are going to do their job, and BB enjoys setting itself apart from other companies supposedly misleading their clients, then they should own up to the complete truth as well.

        By the way Nutro has reps in the west coast PetSmart chain as well.

      3. Judith Pannebaker

        No, no, Beth is right. It IS irritating to be interrupted by a salesperson who touts a particular product. People are incredibly busy and IMO don’t have sufficient time to interact with friends let along someone trying to sell them something. Unless you, as a representative of ANY pet food, are going to hand me a coupon for 50 to 75 percent off for trying your superior product, just move along. BTW, after one representative cornered me, extolling the virtues of her company’s pet food product – NOT BB – it was shortly the subject of yet another massive recall.

        1. Holly Rist

          Point well taken. After working for BB for close to 5 years, I can tell if someone wants to talk or wants to be left alone. Yes, people are busy, but in my experience anytime someone asks them about their pets and shows a genuine interest, they will take the time to talk. While I don’t have coupons to hand out, anyone can go on the BB website, compare different foods to Blue and sign up for coupons. I give most everyone I talk to a business card that has my name, the hours and day I am in the store, the store where I talked to them, and how they can sign up for the coupons. Because BB has a satisfaction guarantee, they don’t do coupons to get people to try the food.

        2. Jersey's Fan

          We’re all entitled to personal opinions, and this is mine. The response is rude. “Just hand out the free coupon and buzz off” … you’ve got to be kidding. It’s not that I would personally choose BB but “ding, dong” this is Holly’s employment. How busy are we all now that we can’t be civilized in a market place, much less unable to interact with friends? Yet there’s plenty of time to “twiddle” on smartphones and suck up Twitter and Facebook feeds.

          Any……way the Readers here have been lucky enough to benefit from TAPF information, so BB is something we recognize for what it is. Which is (basically the same format) as every other kibble in that same PF Chain Store where the PF reps “interupt” other customers. We are probably a step ahead of in-store PF Reps. That’s okay too. But if Holly can get somebody to switch from Walmart’s Ol’Roys or Costco’s (endlessly warehoused) Pedigree, then more power to her. Because that consumer is at least moving up in the food chain of awareness just as the rest of have done in our own good time too.

          Does it take less energy to be exactly the opposite of a joyful customer in a store? If so, then how do we calculate who’s time is more valuable than the next person’s, because apparently there is some formula that justifies …..”attitude!”

  5. june lay

    Even more disgusting than I thought.

  6. Mary Sue

    I don’t know what kind of training those Blue Buffalo in-store reps get, but it sure doesn’t teach them about what’s in the food so they can carry on an intelligent conversation with customers. I was in Petco once and one came up to me and tried to sell me some canned cat food. I was looking at the ingredients (already knowing I wasn’t going to buy any) and I mentioned that I don’t buy any cat food with carrageenan in it. She didn’t know what carrageenan was.

    1. Holly Rist

      I work for BB and I know what carageenan is, but then I do a lot of reading. Would a demo person from any other pet food company (Nutro, Hill’s, Earthborn Holistic, Natural Balance) know what it is? Maybe, but probably not. So it’s not just the BB person that is clueless. I know that carageenan is the latest ingredient that’s getting a bad a rap. While it may cause stomach upset in some animals, it doesn’t affect mine, so I have no problem feeding formulas that contain it, though I rotate between chunky, stew and pate with my cats. My dog eats raw with some high protein canned and, sometimes, dry thrown in for good measure. . BTW, carageenan is only in the BB pate varieties, not in the stews or chunky types.

      1. Sally Bahner

        Holly, if you feed your dog raw, why don’t you feed your cats raw? After all, they are obligate carnivores.

        1. Holly Rist

          I know they are. I feed them partial raw as well. But as you know, feeding cats raw is a little more involved than feeding dogs. They won’t eat prepared, frozen raw, so I give them canned food, tiny bit of grain free dry, and when I get the dog’s raw ready at nite, I give the cats some as well. I do the best I can with the time and money I have.

          1. Sharon Buchanan

            I feed a one year old Maine Coon and five 4-5 month old kittens (four are fosters), raw as well as my dog. There is no more involvement in feeding cats raw than the dog.

            Every day they each get bone-in meat, boneless meat, heart, liver and kidney, spleen, pancreas or testicles. Among the things they’ve eaten are beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, duck and rabbit along with raw tripe. There isn’t anything I give the dog that I don’t give the cats except the bones are smaller.

            Since cats can’t produce salivary amylase to initiate digestion along with a host of other issues that make them inappropriate for the feline carnivore, I don’t feed veggies or fruits – the dog doesn’t get them either. Anything else added to the diet is only done so after careful research and only when needed for a specific reason, for example, the dog has flaking skin that is eased with coconut oil.

            I have four other adult cats that are eating lightly cooked meals to which I add taurine and seaweed.

            It all boils down to what is best for the dogs and cats in my care.

      2. Luann Jamison

        You mean you’re selling BB and you wouldn’t even let your own dog eat it?

        1. Holly Rist

          Actually, what I said was that I feed raw with some high protein canned, and sometimes dry thrown in for good measure. The canned and dry food I feed my cats and dog is Blue Buffalo’s Wilderness.

    2. Raina

      The first time I heard of Blue Buffalo was when I walked into Petco and saw a large display table announcing it as gluten free pet food. At the time there were not very many gf options so I excitedly read the ingredients list to find wheat listed as one of the top ingredients. The Representitive told me that the food is gluten free because the label doesn’t state “wheat gluten”. I have Celiac disease and a cat who is gluten intolerant, I need my house to be gluten free. I simply could not believe the dangerous marketing lies that Blue Buffalo was getting away with. I knew from the start that they are not a company to be trusted.

      1. Holly Rist

        Blue does not contain wheat. You must be thinking of a different brand of food.

        1. Raina

          No, it was definately Blue Buffalo when it first came out. Perhaps I’m mixing up barley with wheat as they are both the same in regards to gluten. Wheat, barley, and rye are the offending grains. I see barley is still used in BB. One can not label a food gluten free if it contains the above. And oats are only allowed if they were grown to be gluten free. And on a different note, there is a lot of confusion about the word gluten attached at the end if a grain. All that means is that they isolated the protein from the rest of the grain. Not having the word gluten attached to grain means the gluten is still included.

      2. Mandy B

        In 2007, it certainly did contain wheat gluten, despite the labels. Tainted wheat gluten at that. That’s why the food was recalled.

        1. Mandy B

          Sorry, Rice Gluten – not Wheat Gluten… But Gluten none the less.

  7. pat che

    What should we consider when our vet recommends that we feed a certain food? Each time my vet has recommended a food he sells I have checked before I’ve bought it; in some cases my research did not lead me to buy the food. What kind of margins do the vets have on the foods they sell? Is the dog food really better or have the manufacturers made the deal so good than the vet cannot turn it down?

  8. Lonnie


    I kinda like that idea of “class action lawsuit” Any lawyers out there willing to take this one on?
    (pro bono of course)
    Can we sue the FDA too while we are at it:)
    (one can only dream)

  9. Tracey

    Excellent article as always. I know this must be extremely frustrating and discouraging but know we are behind you all the way and eventually we will win! Look at the groundswell of opinion about GMO labeling. It takes awhile for people to get educated and get on board but it will happen. Money talks and even though people are trying to save money, eventually they’ll figure out it’s cheaper to feed right then pay the vet bills and/or lose a family member!

  10. Brenda

    I also like the idea of a class action lawsuit. Maybe it would send a serious message to pet food companies that we are tired of the false advertising and bs claims that are made regarding the quality of food they sell. Any idea if there’s any lawyers out there that would be willing to take on something like that?

  11. Wolf

    Evidence. Evidence is the crucial term here.

    When we take a look at a new food under consideration for our store, we look for EVIDENCE OF QUALITY. Show us, give us proof that you are more than a marketing directive. This is why we love companies like Answers, and Honest Kitchen, and Rad Cat, and NRG. We get good transparency from these companies, quick responses, evidence of what is in the package, and a visible commitment to investing in quality as opposed to image. We see companies willing to make a smaller margin in order to provide a vastly better product. We see companies not in the business to make money, but to make a superior food. We see the kind of food we would, and do, use in our own homes. If I ate meat, I’d eat any one of them.

  12. Dianne

    Lawsuits, or at least convictions can be won on the basis of quotes taken out of context. If we could win a big class action lawsuit, it could fund the labeling.

  13. Sally Bahner

    Just before reading the article, I saw the **adorable** Friskies Grillers commercial that’s been all over TV. For the uninitiated, there’s an adorable orange kitty going from window to window until he spots the grill. Then it shows different colored pieces of kibble with “grill” marks.
    Here are the ingredients in Friskies Grillers: Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, ground wheat, chicken by-product meal, soybean meal, beef tallow preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), meat and bone meal, glycerin, turkey by-product meal, animal liver flavor, chicken, phosphoric acid, salt, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, dried carrots, dried green beans… (
    Perfect example of marketing vs. ingredients.

    1. Susan Thixton Author

      The ‘grill’ part infuriates me. It is flat out misleading and without doubt a violation of AAFCO labeling regulations. I’ve reported all the faux grilled pet foods – two years in a row – to each State Department of Agriculture and FDA. Not one has bothered to protect the consumer. It is “false and misleading advertising” and regulatory authorities whose salaries are paid by consumer tax dollars sit back and ignore it. So wrong.

    2. Lisa Parker

      Yup. The list is gross for sure. But “animal liver flavor”? How hard is it to just put in actual liver instead of “flavor”. Geez.

  14. Theresa Marino

    If this wasn’t a serious issue regarding the health of our pets it would be amusing. These companies are in a pissing match and will just waste money fighting each other instead of putting the money towards quality ingredients. Pet consumers just need to say no to these junk foods for our pets. I spend a lot for the highest quality foods and my senior cats don’t look or act their age they are beautiful and healthy A lot of my knowledgestarted with Susan thank you so much . I met one of these blue reps in petsmart once and all he was an old nice gentleman handing out coupons with NO knowledge of what he was promoting.

    1. Lisa Parker

      Agree with you, Theresa. My husband and I deliberately eat as economically as possible, while doing our best to eat organic to maintain our own health. And even though money is tight since I am unable to work, we still buy only the top quality pet food for our rescue kitties, since they are more important to us and the better quality food certainly pays off in the long run with better quality health for our loved pets!

  15. amy

    I don’t feed as Dr Pat Jordan says. “crap in a bag” I feed raw and veggies. they can fight among themsleves all they, we ignore them move away from the crap in a bag crap in a can and educate ourselves on what are animals are really suppose to eat. much healthier for them. when I think about their food I think about giving a child canned raveola ever days of their lives. not happening here. there is plenty of information about how to feed raw bones raw meat veggies etc. packaged food is garbage. as is human packaged canned boxed food stuff. eat fresh real food.

  16. Jane Eagle

    Personally, I would not feed either of these junk brands to any animal I love. The kibble I do buy does not spend its money on ads; now I know why: “There is a reason many pet foods don’t advertise…they don’t have the money to (money is spent on ‘food’ ingredients instead of ‘feed’ ingredients).” I am starting to buy meats and veggies at Costco to make meals for my dogs and cat as well as myself. I think I can do it cheaper than kibble.

  17. Peter

    The ” ‘its all about the marketing’ attitude” is, as you say, absolutely prevalent in the pet food industry. And it is very difficult for even an informed consumer to access information, which really, should be on the label, anyway. Why should I have to work, simply to learn about calorie contents in foods? It is amazing, how little is required or is on the packaging of most foods, even so-called “premium” ones.

    Purina, however, is not in a position to criticize anything in the marketplace. Their products display all that is wrong with the industry. And they have co-opted the package design of holistic brands in order to position their own products in the customer’s mind, as something different than they really are. The lawsuit is just a marketing tool. The day it was made public, Purina had a fully-built up website launched, in which they make their claims in the format of advertising. Even the language of the legal claim is in an odd, folksy dialog that is very informal, and nothing like a formal legal document. The lawsuit is just one big advertisement.

  18. Sharon Buchanan


    When I started research for the best kibble I could find, I signed up for your newsletter as well as the paid subscription to your food ingredient list. I knew you promoted raw but I also knew I wasn’t going there. Nine months later, I’d upgraded the cat and dog food to the brand I thought was best and realized it was still not good enough.

    We’re now feeding a whole prey raw diet (no commercial raw), to three Golden Retrievers (two in Korea with my husband), one adult Maine Coon and five kittens – four are fosters. I have four other adult cats that were taken off kibble but wouldn’t go raw so they’re eating cooked meals (I’m patiently working toward raw for them). All are healthier and the kittens are a delight to watch when they get their first raw meal which always includes tripe.

    I still keep up with your posts and appreciate the work you do. I recommend your newsletter to adoptive parents and just about everyone I converse with regarding a raw diet. But I am most grateful for the fact that I don’t have to panic anymore when you post recall notices and ridiculous pissing contests among commercial manufacturers.


    1. Susan Thixton Author

      Thanks Sharon for your comment – you made a fast change in just a few months. Wonderful! For me – I don’t promote raw or any other type of feeding (my own get home cooked). What I do promote is quality of ingredients. The horrible waste ingredients (feed grade – “suitable for use in animal feed”) allowed in pet food is detrimental. Food – real food – no matter how it is served, makes all the difference in the world.

      1. Sharon Buchanan

        Sorry about that Susan. I was doing so much reading in those first months, I’m not at all surprised to be mistaken about you` feeding raw. I do agree though, fresh, real food has made all the difference in my own pets, raw and cooked.

  19. Ellie

    I agree with you, Susan, 100%. A huge law suit against the false advertizing that consumers have been subjected to might be the only way to get the attention of these companies. They continue to get away with their misdeeds because the public is basically unaware of what is going on inside that bag of FEED.

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