There’s a new pet food on the market that’s ‘happy’. In fact, the pet food claims “it helps keep them healthy on the inside, and happy on the outside.” Can a pet food really make your dog or cat happy?
This new pet food – Be Happy – is a product of Purina Pet Foods. The Be Happy website states “For us, pets are the true happiness heroes. When we watch a dog chase his tail or a cat soak up the sun, we remember that there’s more good in the world than not, if you just know where to sniff it out! That’s why we created new Be Happy pet food to spread our pets’ instinctual happiness. With a scrumptious taste, it helps keep them healthy on the inside, and happy on the outside. Who doesn’t love that?”
I couldn’t agree more that pets are instinctually happy. However I’m not sure how a pet food can actually “spread” happiness.
Studies of foods over the years have shown happiness can be found in food. The website LiveStrong.com shares that foods can “boost your mood and energy or make you feel tired and rundown.” Several ‘happy foods’ shared by Live Strong talks are chocolate, chicken, bananas, milk and green leafy vegetables. “These foods stimulate your body to release dopamine” – which is a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure sensations. A deficiency in B vitamins is linked to “depressive feelings”. And research has shown that essential fats – linoleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids – “help neurotransmitters function properly and help stabilize moods.”
From the Mayo Clinic Nutrition-wise blog: “Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate and other B vitamins, low glycemic foods, and chocolate have all been studied to assess their impact on mood. The results are mixed but seem to show an association — though not a direct link — between these foods and improved mood.”
It’s established that some foods are known mood elevators in humans, but what about for pets? There doesn’t appear to be science available (or at least I couldn’t find it) that proves food can cause elevated mood in dogs and cats. We can assume that the ‘Be Happy’ name of this pet food line is more marketing based than science based. Regulatory authorities don’t seem to pay much attention to what names of pet food brands imply (science, nature, and so on). But what about the Purina claim of the food? “With a scrumptious taste, it helps keep them healthy on the inside, and happy on the outside.” Is this a fair and accurate statement? Let’s look at the ingredients in the Be Happy pet foods…(bold added to ingredients discussed below)…
Be Happy Poultry Pair-adise Cat Food Ingredients
Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, soybean meal, chicken by-product meal, meat and bone meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), animal liver flavor, phosphoric acid, calcium carbonate, turkey by-product meal, salt, choline chloride, potassium chloride, taurine, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, DL-Methionine, Yellow 6, niacin, manganese sulfate, Red 40, Yellow 5, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, copper sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, riboflavin supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Blue 2, Vitamin D-3 supplement, folic acid, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite, biotin.
Be Happy Beef Flavor Dog Food
Ground yellow corn, ground wheat, soybean meal, beef and bone meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), egg and chicken flavor, corn gluten meal, animal digest, propylene glycol, phosphoric acid, sugar, salt, potassium chloride, sorbic acid (a preservative), calcium propionate (a preservative), choline chloride, tricalcium phosphate, Red 40, zinc sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, ferrous sulfate, Yellow 5, manganese sulfate, Blue 2, niacin, Yellow 6, Vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite.
Both of the Be Happy dog food and cat food contains the ingredients meat and bone meal and animal fat. FDA testing linked these two ingredients to the euthanizing drug pentobarbital. Which means these ingredients – per FDA testing – are likely to contain a rendered euthanized animal.
Both of the Be Happy dog food and cat food contains dyes. Red 40 – per the Center for Science in the Public Interest report on food dyes titled Rainbow of Risks – “may accelerate the appearance of immune-system tumors in mice. The dye causes hypersensitivity (allergy-like) reactions in a small number of consumer and might trigger hyperactivity in children.” The CSPI report goes on to say “Considering the safety questions and its non-essentiality, Red 40 should be excluded from foods unless and until new tests clearly demonstrate its safety.”
The same CPSI report states “Blue 2 cannot be considered safe given the statistically significant incidence of tumors, particularly brain gliomas, in male rats. It should not be used in foods.”
“Yellow 5 was not carcinogenic in rats, but was not adequately tested in mice. It may be contaminated with several cancer-causing chemicals. In addition, Yellow 5 causes sometimes-severe hypersensitivity reactions in a small number of people and might trigger hyperactivity reactions in a small number of people and might trigger hyperactivity and other behavior effects in children. Posing some risks, while serving no nutritional or safety purpose, Yellow 5 should not be allowed in foods.”
“Yellow 6 caused adrenal tumors in animals, though that is disputed by industry and the FDA. It may be contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals and occasionally causes severe hypersensitivity reactions. Yellow 6 adds an unnecessary risk to the food supply.”
Purina Pet Foods source ingredients from the US with the exception of supplements sourced globally including China.
Both of the Be Happy dog food and cat food contain corn and soy ingredients. Purina Pet Foods has stated their foods are not GMO free. Thus, we’d have to assume the corn and soy ingredients are sourced from genetically modified corn and soy. FoodConsumer.org reports: “One Veterinarian told Jeffrey Smith “that the jump in dog and cat allergies correlated exactly with the introduction of GM pet food. Whenever he switched his allergic animals to an organic (non-GMO) brand, their symptoms such as itching would usually disappear.” Further “Both vets and farmers saw differences inside GM-fed animals during autopsies or butchering, including liver damage, stomach ulcers, discoloration, and an awful stench.”
With corn and soy ingredients, we also have the worry of mold growth causing mycotoxin contamination. A paper published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology states:
“One of the biggest issues of concern discussed, is that existing studies of mycotoxin contamination in pet food overlook the day to day consumption of small amounts of mycotoxins; resulting in “chronic diseases such as liver and kidney fibrosis, infections resulting from immonosuppression and cancer.”
So, what do you think? Can a pet food make a dog or cat happy? Is the ‘Be Happy’ name of this pet food line fair marketing? Is the Purina claim this pet food can help make your pet “happy on the outside” a fair and accurate statement?
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
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