The 30-Day Dog Food Challenge
July 8, 2014

The 30-Day Dog Food Challenge

I am very conscientious with what I feed my dog and my cats. I check the labels, research the brands and best feeding practices, and make choices based on the ingredients and choices of the pet food companies. I feed my cats grain-free food and will feed my dog that once she hits her one-year mark. I buy only the best for my pets. Part of the reason I am so diligent is because I myself watch what I eat, make sure I am eating balanced, healthy, safe meals, and only buy the best for myself. Why wouldn’t I do the same for the pets I love so dearly?

However, I have never eaten my pet’s food, despite the fact that I am pretty sure the stuff I buy is probably edible for humans just based on its ingredients. I have a friend who tries her dogs’ food and treats to make sure they taste good to her, but she only tries a bite or two. Today reported about a pet supply storeowner, Dorothy Hunter, who is so committed to the food and treats she sells at her store, that she is eating only the dog food and treats for a month, until July 19, 2014.

Okay, I know that this sounds, well, ewww and gross. Dog food and treats as her only diet? WTF? But the truth is that many dog treats and dog foods have good, healthy ingredients in them. Here is how Hunter came to this according to the Today article: “Hunter told NBC affiliate KNDO she’d been restocking store shelves when she got hungry — and had an idea. ‘I didn’t have time to get a snack, so I grabbed a bag of treats off the counter, and I was like, ‘Wow, you know, these read better than normal people treats.’ So, I started eating the treats and I was like, ‘You know, I can do this for 30 days.’” From freeze-dried cheddar dog treats to green-bean chips to pumpkin-flavored pet food to blueberry-flavored pet food, she has a variety of choices.

But is this safe? Well, the FDA stated that people and pets have different dietary needs, but both human food and pet food must be compliant with food additive regulations and be free of pathogens. Diet and nutrition editor, Madelyn Fernstrom, for Today says, “pet food can put you at risk for food-borne illness. ‘There are loads of unprocessed, high-fiber, nutrient dense snacks readily available for people…choosing to experiment with pet food as a long term option is a nutritional negative and might make you sick,” she stated.

Really, the message of label watching and eating holistic, natural, safe, and healthy diets is a good one. And frankly if the FDA requires the same food additive regulations and pathogen-free requirements, then most holistic, natural foods for pets probably are safe for humans. However, the dietary needs of humans differ from those of animals, so eating this way for longer periods is probably not the best idea.

I am not promoting the idea that we humans eat pet food. In fact, I definitely skew to the ewww factor, but it seems that Hunter’s experiment to bring about awareness of human foods as well as show how safe the pet foods and treats she sells are not quite as crazy as my first reaction indicated. Plus, in a zombie apocalypse, it might be good to know if pet food will be an option when food becomes scarce. Okay, I kid. In all seriousness, people probably should not follow Hunter’s lead, but what an interesting choice she made.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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