Sunday, March 29, 2015

Guinea Pig Food: Safety in Pet Food Products

In January of this year, an advocacy group called The Association for Truth in Pet Food announced the publication of their Pet Food Test Results, where they had laboratory testing done on a handful of dog and cat food products for harmful substances/pathogens.

According to the Association's report, there were many potentially-harmful things found in the pet food samples they tested. For example:
Select results from the Association for Truth in Pet Food Study.
Afterwards, the Pet Food Institute, an industry association, attacked the study, characterizing it as flawed. The Association for Truth in Pet Food then released a statement defending their study. The scientific debate they raise is a bit over the heads of these three guinea pigs, but we did want to make our readers aware that a debate exists over the quality of pet food.

Although we're not aware of any major guinea pig pet food quality incidents as bad as the infamous one that affected dogs and cats in 2007, that doesn't mean there haven't been any quality issues affecting guinea pig food. In July 2012, the company PMI Nutrition International issued a recall for several of its products, including their "Guinea Pig Diet" pet food, for having elevated vitamin D levels; "The recall was initiated after receiving a small number of customer complaints, which involved animal illness and small bird mortality."

Guinea pig food recalled in 2012 (on the left). Image from Guinea Pig Today ("Image courtesy of Purina Mills, LLC"),
In July 2012, the company expanded the recall to include several other guinea pig food products; "Although no customer complaints have been received to date, the products are being recalled due to analytical test results that indicate a potential for elevated levels of vitamin D." We have to wonder if more testing in the first place would have prevented the "animal illness," and thus the need for a recall. We're also left to wonder what would be found if the Association for Truth in Pet Food did a similar study on guinea pig food. Would there also be worrisome/controversial results for guinea pig foods, perhaps leading to even more recalls like the PMI International one?

Unfortunately, until regulators, watchdog groups, and/or manufacturers start regular lab testing of guinea pig food for safety and sharing the results with the public, we'll just have to use our best judgment as to which types of guinea pig food to buy. Guinea Lynx recommends Oxbow and KMS Hayloft brand pellets based on the ingredients listed on the label; it seems safe to assume that if a company is choosing which ingredients to use carefully, they will probably also be more careful when it comes to ingredient quality.

We tend to prefer Oxbow since they put a lot of emphasis on their relationship with veterinarians. When it comes to other brands, make sure you do your research; if you see issues raised here or on other reputable guinea pig sites, think twice before buying that brand. For example, we've been critical of some Kaytee brand products, and we've found that their pet foods (although not guinea pig food specifically) has been recalled before.

Finally, you should be aware of the signs of illness in guinea pigs. If your guinea pigs start showing signs of illness and you suspect it may be connected to a food product, be aware that you can report the incident to the FDA:
(This only applies to the United States. If you're in another country, you'll have to determine which regulatory authority to report the incident to.)

3 comments:

  1. What is wrong with buying a guinea pig from a chain store.

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  2. Yeah. Our owner got us from a pet shelter where the owner seriously cared for animals. The guinea pigs were treated with care, and we already knew each other!!

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