Got a pet for whom you prefer a lifetime of chemical-free, ingredient-pure, environmentally-friendly living? Do you seek out “natural” and “green” alternatives for him or her? Well, consider that you don’t always get what you think you’re paying for when you go for brands that claim such concessions on their labels. 


It’s obvious that those of us willing to seek out the best for our pets are beloved by marketers for our willingness to pay more for their products. Whether they be foods, dietary supplements, toys, shampoos, or treats, we intuitively understand––as do they––that the ante is upped by our more persnickety choices. 


Fair enough. But what keeps a pet manufacturer from making claims to entice us... and failing to follow through? 


You know what I’m talking about; you’ve read the labels. They make claims like, “all-natural,” “organic ingredients,” and “lite” that make most of us feel good when we purchase them but leave much to be desired on the veracity front. 


If only two of the ingredients are sourced from USDA-certified organic suppliers, is that enough to claim “organic ingredients”? Is it “organic” if the ingredient producers claim organic labeling without USDA certification? Does it alter your perspective to know that organic-labeled pet foods were also recalled in the Menu Foods debacle?


How about this: Is it OK to feed your pets “all natural” ingredients even if most of them came straight out of the rendering plant? I mean, feathers and beaks are natural, too. So are rocks, right? Are Rachel Ray’s “Nutrish” pet foods any more natural or nutritious than the rest, despite its claims? 


And how about all those “green” claims? How “green” can it be if the meat’s been produced in an industrial poultry facility in Maryland, the manufacturing plant is in Canada, and the bag’s been shipped to you in California? 


Then there are all the cleaners that claim to be “all-natural.” Some are, but others stretch the limits of our credulity when they use chemicals sourced from natural products. According to “Green Little Cat,” a website devoted to keeping felines green, Simple Solution Natural Pet Stain and Odor Remover is one of these borderline products that makes intelligence-insulting claims about its “natural-ness.”


Consider the “eco-friendly” cat litters. My favorite is the one made from recycled newspapers (now marketed by Purina as “Yesterday’s News”). Though my green preference still stands at my mother’s old standby––simple shredded newspaper (far more eco-friendly when you consider the cost of shipping a bag of pelleted litter halfway cross-country).


So now answer me this: If you go out of your way to go green or natural, how far do you go to make sure you get what you’re paying for? 



Dr. Patty Khuly



Image: danilag / Shutterstock