Your pet as been loyally by your side for years. You take the time to walk, feed, and bathe your dog. Or you pamper your cat with gourmet food and fun toys. You put real time and energy into caring for and loving your pet. So, how would you feel if you were feeding your cat or dog hair and bone from decomposing animal carcasses? Would you be glad to hear your pet is ingesting human pain killers?

Food safety is as important to the health of your pet as it is for you and your family. Just as you can become ill from salmonella poisoning, your pet can as well. The pet food industry takes in approximately $16 billion in revenue each year, so for all the money you spend on your pet, you should be in the know when it comes to what they’re actually consuming.

Sad but True
In 2007, pet owners and animal lovers alike saw the most lethal period in pet food history. More than 100 brands were recalled after more than 17,000 pets were sickened from tainted food. After extensive studies, scientists discovered dangerously high amounts of melamine—a chemical used in fertilizers—in the food. The chemical was found in rice protein and wheat gluten imported from China. Although the death toll from this tragic event could not be calculated accurately due to the absence of a centralized database for pet deaths, some experts estimate as many as 4,000 pets died as a result.

5 Dangerous Pet Food Ingredients
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all ingredients be listed on pet food labels. However, an instance like what occurred in 2007 cannot be prevented by simply examining food labels. What you can do is pay close attention to the ingredients in your pet’s food to make the best choices possible. Here is a list of five ingredients you may not want your critter consuming in large quantities:

  • Salt. Just like in humans, salt is known to cause kidney and heart disease as well as high blood pressure in animals. What’s more, salt can also be used to cover up rancid meat in pet food.

  • Meat and Bone. Buyer beware of finding “meat and bone” in the ingredient listing. According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), animal parts can be obtained from any source, including “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter). It can also include decomposed tissue and cancerous tissue.

  • “By-Product Meal” By definition, by-product meal consists of the ground portions of beef, pork, or poultry that is not the clean meat. By-product meal can be composed of necks, intestines, intestines, snouts, organs, undeveloped eggs, bone, and feet.

  • Tetra Sodium Pyrophosphate (TSP). Traditionally used in rust remover in various cleaning products, TSP can cause nausea and diarrhea. The chemical is used in pet food for the emulsification of animal fats

  • Human Painkillers Although it may sound unbelievable, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) reports that acetaminophen has been found in some brands of pet food. According to the ASPCA, acetaminophen is known to cause swelling of the face and paws, depression, weakness, and difficulty breathing in cats. Dogs are less affected.