The pet food industry has been highly scrutinized for its animal testing, or vivisection, practices, in part due to the 2002-2003 undercover footage from a testing facility contracted by Iams. An investigator from PETA filmed evidence of cruelty at the testing facility, ranging from animals being kept in cages with improper flooring to dogs being piled on the ground after having sections of their leg muscles cut out.
Many of the tests resulted in death of the animals. Since then, Iams has discontinued their contract with Sinclair Research Center, but they do still conduct animal experimentation that many consider cruel. Iams has paid $200,000 to Purdue University to conduct a two-year study on muscle deterioration in mice. Proctor & Gamble, the company that owns Iams, has dramatically cut back on animal testing and promises to eventually phase it out.
However, since the reveal of PETA’s investigative findings, the entire pet food industry has been under a microscope. As new alternatives to using animals for testing continue to surface and consumers demand better options for their fur babies, pet food companies are thankfully beginning to listen. Why all the Testing? The AAFCO, or Association of American Feed Control Officials, has a litany of requirements for the manufacturing of pet food.
Nutritional value, or “guaranteed analysis,” is tested to ensure our pets are getting at least the minimum requirements for protein, fiber and minerals and that food actually contains the ingredients it claims to. Caloric content has to be determined as well. After these are determined, feeding trials are conducted to assess how the food affects the animals. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates pet food, making sure it is safe to eat, contains no harmful substances and makes sure chemicals are pre-approved prior to adding.
The number of tests that food must undergo before sale is actually quite extensive, but when it comes to the health of our pets, the more tests, the better. Welcome to 2015 While invasive testing is still used for pet foods, there have been some recent improvements. Pet food companies are now conducting their own research in their own facilities, giving them full control over what happens to the animals in their care.
Some brands still contract out their testing with facilities though, and it’s important to know what methods our pets’ favorite brands are using. For example, Natural Balance openly names the facilities they use to contract out for tests. While the Natural Balance website details the laboratory tests that are run to determine the chemical makeup of their pet food, PETA’s animal testing database warns that Natural Balance also uses animals for testing.
Thankfully, transparency is becoming the standard, so it’s pretty easy to find out what is happening behind the doors of the pet food company you know and trust. The tricky part is deciphering what different tests and trials mean to make the best decision for you and your pet. Most pet food brands run feeding trials in accordance with the AAFCO. In these trials, a group of eight dogs who are at least one-year-old are fed the company’s food for 26 weeks.
The dog’s weight and a blood sample is taken weekly to test how the diet affects each dog. If these levels are acceptable under the test’s parameters, the food will get the AAFCO seal (can be found on dog food bag). Some companies will run on-site feeding trials where they test food on a group of animals who reside at the testing facility. You might want to look into the conditions that these animals are kept is and whether they are adopted out at any point.
Hill’s, the company who makes Science Diet, has this sort of a facility and offers tours of their testing facility, and you can read all about the visits online, complete with photos. Companies who perform clinical research, ask for pet guardians to bring their animals in for feeding trials. Oftentimes these animals suffer from a specific dietary restriction or medical condition that the pet food aims to ease.
Some smaller companies even ask pet guardians to volunteer to have their own pets sample a new food – of course, before doing this, be sure you know what is in the food! If the company makes 100 percent natural or organic foods, you don’t have to worry too much about adverse effects. So what’s a green monster to do? Well, there are brands, like A+ Flint River Ranch and Weruva, who don’t use laboratory animal testing at all! Further, finding information about whether the brand you purchase uses animals for testing can all be found online, you just have to start by asking the question.
If you want to ensure that your pet’s food is not tested on other animals, check out this database for brands that never test on lab animals. You want the best for your fur baby, and this means the highest quality and most humane pet food possible. With a little research, you’ll be able to find a food that suits both you and your four-legged friend. Happy dining! Image source: Phil Darnell/Flickr RelatedSee Also: Island County Animal Control
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To give you an idea of how prevalent animal testing is in household and cosmetic products, we have provided a short list below of familiar household brands that test their products on animals — so you can spot and avoid them. You can even download a free iPhone/iPad/Android app so that you can easily access the list of products such as make-up, skin care, deodorants, household cleaners and car care that haven't been tested on animals! Millions of rabbits, dogs, cats, mice and other animals are burned, poisoned and killed in painful and unnecessary tests each year for the sake of cosmetics and toiletries.
Finished products (and/or their individual ingredients) are frequently tested on animals overseas before making their way to Australia. Some tests are standard practice for such companies and brands, and other animal tests are carried out because of local laws in importing countries (such as China) that require all beauty products to be tested on animals before they are allowed to be sold in that country.
So some companies and brands may state that they don't support animal testing, but they would not be on the cruelty-free list because they choose to sell their products in countries that require animal testing. The list below shows companies that use animal testing as well as particular brands that are tested on animals for any or all of the reasons we mention above: Cosmetics & personal careAndrew CollingeAnna SuiAramisAveenoAvon*Band-AidBiothermBobbi BrownBonjelaBraunCacharelCashmere BouquetChapstickClairolClean & ClearClearasilClinicareCliniqueColgateCovergirl*CrestDecoreDisprinDolce & GabbanaDonna KaranDoveDufourDurexElizabeth ArdenEstee Lauder*EulactolFruitrienceGarnierGilletteGiorgio ArmaniGucci FragrancesHead & ShouldersHerbal EssencesHugo BossImpulseJohnson & JohnsonJurlique*KerastaseKiehl'sLacosteLancomeLemsipListerineL'Occitane*L'Oreal*LuxLynxMACMary Kay*Max FactorMaybellineMichael KorsMissoniMumNairNeutrogenaNice 'n EasyNurofenOlayOld SpiceOptrexOral BPalmolivePantenePearl DropsPearsPertPlaxPondsPPSRadoxRalph Lauren FragrancesReachRedkenRevlonRexonaRogaineSanexSaturnSavlonSchollSensodyneShiseidoShu UemuraSimpleSK-IISpeed StickSt IvesStayfreeSteradentStrepsilsTampaxTom FordTommy HilfigerTony & GuyTREsemmeVaselineVeetVenusVicksVidal SassonViktor & RolfV05WaxeezeWellaWella BalsamZest Household3MAeroguardAir WickAjaxAmbi-PurArmor AllAutanBaygonBlooBrassoCalgonCastleCloroxCold PowerComfortCrispCuddlyDawnDettolDomestosDranoDriveDuckDynamoEasy-Off BAMExit MouldFabFabulonFairyFebrezeFiestaFinishFluffyFreedomGladGladeGlen 20GumptionHandy AndyHarpicHurricaneJeyesJifKiwiKwitMarveerMorteinMr MuscleMr SheenNapisanNiftiNu-ClenzOff!OmoOustPea-BeauPine O CleenPledgePreenRaidSardScotch-GardSilvoSoft SoapSpreeSteeloVanishWindex Please note that this list is not exhaustive and reflects research at the time of publication.
*This brand has a 'no animal testing' policy in the make and manufacture of their cosmetics, however they have chosen to sell in markets that require (by law) animal testing on their products before they are cleared to sell in those markets. This means that their end products are tested on animals in some markets (for example, China). You can help spare animals from cruel tests! Pledge to use non-animal tested products If after reading this you have struck a cruel company off your shopping list, please contact their customer feedback to let them know why.
Urge major companies including Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Colgate/Palmolive to stop allowing unnecessary and cruel animal tests. Take action! Cruelty-free options Choosing non-tested products is easy. You can find a list of companies that do not test on animals on the Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) website. (If a brand does not appear in the CCF cruelty-free list, then there is reason to believe that their products or ingredients may have been tested on animals, or they may not have qualified for the CCF accreditation because they use animals in some other form in their products.
All of this is explained for you on the CCF website.) References for this list PETA "Companies that do test on animals" Shop Ethical guide