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By John Lamb
Unleashed! reporter@large

Gail Roberts has heard it from nearly every segment of the pet industry. Veterinarians, trainers, animal behaviorists alike are seeing more instances of cancer, food allergies and skin and coat problems in our domesticated dogs and cats. The reason, she says, is Americans’ overreliance on processed commercial pet foods.

Last October, Roberts started a unique catering service in San Diego and with it a crusade to get San Diego pet owners to start thinking healthy when it comes to their pets’ nutritional needs. CRITTER CUISINE to the rescue!! 

At an early age, Roberts learned the connection between a pet’s healthy diet and its overall well-being. Her father, a respected veterinarian in England, steadfastly urged his clients to avoid processed foods for their pets. Nearly five decades later, the vet’s daughter has turned practical advice into a common-sense business, which she describes as "custom catering for canines and cats." 

And San Diego pets are eating it up. For a very reasonable fee (a minimum of $25 per week, more depending on the size of your pet family and their dietary needs), Roberts prepares a two-week batch of individually portioned meals — freezer ready — made of only "healthy, wholesome people-quality pet food" and delivers it to your home or office. If a client requests only organic foods, she’s only happy to oblige. 

There’s plenty to consider when it comes to your pet's nutrition: 

  • In 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on the common use of euthanized pets in commercial pet foods. The pet-food companies — four of the top five are subsidiaries of huge multinational food-processing companies — cried foul, but the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s animal feed safety division confirmed the nauseating report, noting "The pets serve a viable purpose by providing foodstuff for the animal feed chain." Bits of plastic from identification tags have also been known to wind up in Fifi and Fido’s processed dinner. 

  • The term "by-product" can mean just about anything. In most processed pet foods, chicken and beef by-products typically translate into anything not used for human consumption. In the case of chicken, we’re talking heads, feet, intestines, lungs and blood. For beef, try cow brains, hooves, hair, fetal tissue dangerously full of hormones, and quite possibly cancerous and diseased meat. Oh, and don’t forget the plastic foam packaging enveloping the spoiled supermarket meat and road kill that get tossed into the unappetizing mix. 

  • Researchers at the highly regarded UC Davis Veterinary School of Medicine have concluded that "there is virtually no information on the bioavailability of nutrients for companion animals in many of the common dietary ingredients used in pet foods. These ingredients are generally by-products of the meat, poultry and fishing industries, with the potential for wide variation in nutrient composition." 

  • Veterinarians report that cases of cancer, food allergies, digestive trouble, and skin and coat problems are on the rise in our four-legged friends. One of the culprits?? Pet foods high in by-products and meat meal, with their high concentrations of pesticides and growth hormones used to fatten cattle, both promoters of cancer growth. Not to mention the preservatives and artificial colors (the latter for your enjoyment, since dogs and cats can’t see color). 

"We’re always saying, ‘We are what we eat.’ Well, it’s the same for our pets," Roberts explains. "We are their guardians, and they deserve to be as happy and healthy as possible." 

Not to mention what you’re likely to save monetarily in fewer trips to the vet for nutrition-related medical problems. 

Roberts says she prepares most of her pet meals in a 75/25 mix, that is 75 percent meat and 25 percent vegetable on the premise that in the wild dogs and cats would feed on vegetable-consuming animals. 

For more information on CRITTER CUISINE, please contact Roberts at (619) 468-9009. You — and especially your pets — will be glad you did!

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