SNIFF NOTES: Is your pet your equal?


I’ve started to wonder recently if we might be humanizing our pets a little too much.

Don’t get me wrong, humanizing animals is kind of what we’re all about at the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter. We want pets to be a part of the family. We like people who think of their animal as another kid.

Heck, I’m just about ready to marry my cat, so yeah. Humanizing.

And I love those stickers on the backs of cars that show a whole family – Mom, Dad, the kids and the pets.

I think it’s a great message to send.

However, it’s also important to remember that they’re still animals and really aren’t humans in a lot of ways.

First, the food they eat doesn’t have to be like ours. I’m shocked, literally shocked, at how many pet food companies actually market their product to make it look attractive to us as humans.

Believe me when I tell you, your dog doesn’t care if the food is red or green or purple or any other color for that matter. Heck, as I understand it, dogs are colorblind anyway.

Additionally, all those dyes can mess up your dog’s system. We’ve seen animals at the shelter who are actually allergic to the dyes in dog food – that’s why we do our best to give them food that has meat as the first ingredient and is free of dyes. Trust me, brown kibble is perfectly fine for your dog. He won’t know the difference.

And yet I see commercials on television that show a multitude of colors cascading out of a dog food bag to show all the fruits and vegetables contained within. All those colors are really doing is maybe making your dog scratch or bite at himself. Think about it.

Then, the latest cat food commercial I saw just the other night portrays an adorable kitten eating his “breakfast” meal out of a goblet. The food is made to literally look like an omelet. No joke.

Cats, especially, are carnivores. They NEED the meat. I mean, yes, eggs contain protein and that’s good, but they specifically need the protein they get from meat products.

Again, believe me, the only reason the gunk that comes out of that can looks like something we would eat for breakfast is so that we will buy it for our cats, thinking they’re eating just like us.

The kicker is they SHOULDN’T be eating just like us. They have cat food and yes, to us it doesn’t look all that appetizing, but it likely shouldn’t. We’re not eating it, they are.

And because cats are carnivores and need the meat, please make sure some type of meat is the first ingredient in your cat’s food. You would not believe how many cat foods (and dog foods for that matter) are made of corn meal.

I also think it’s important to remind our children that while we call the family dog their “brother” or “sister,” the pooch will not necessarily react like their human siblings.

Animals are still animals, with teeth and claws, and their only way of “talking” to us and saying they’ve had enough is with growls and hisses and snarls and bites.

Yes, our pets are a members of the family – and they should be. If more people thought like that, we wouldn’t need animal shelters.

And yes, a lot of mannerisms of our pets seem very human-like, but it’s important to remember that our animals are still animals and should be treated with the respect and necessary food supply their species deserves.

That way they can be our best four-legged friends and in our lives for a long time.

Jennifer Vanderau is the Publications and Promotions Consultant for the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter and can be reached at [email protected]. The shelter accepts both monetary and pet supply donations. For more information, call the shelter at 263-5791 or visit the website CVAS also operates a thrift store in Chambersburg. Help support the animals at the shelter by donating to or shopping at the store.

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