Category Archives: Pets

Top 10 must see documentaries about food, animals and the environment!

  1. Food Inc.How industrial farming is making us sicker, fatter and poorer – and what you can do about it

If you eat food, you need to watch this film. This is a fantastic film about food issues with something in it for everyone.  It covers the drastic changes in the food industry since modern industrial farming began and how it affects our health and the environment but finishes with a positive look on companies doing things right. It will suck you in, shock you, disgust you, anger you, but most importantly, it will make you a better-informed consumer and allow you to have more control over what you put into your body. I can’t stress how important it is for people to watch this film.

Take-away: You can reduce 80% of e-coli in cows by switching their diet from corn to grass

Where to find: In videostores, on Netflix in the US or purchase it on


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15 things people often forget to recycle

Common bathroom and bedroom items often thrown out instead of recycled

Sometimes, we think recycling is reserved for items in our kitchen but that’s simply not true. There are many things we dispose of daily throughout the house that could easily be recycled.

  1. Toilet paper rolls
  2. Paper towel rolls
  3. Kleenex boxes – Remove the plastic lining, open the flaps on the side then flatten
  4. Shampoo & conditioner bottles
  5. Skin care bottles -Face cleanser, eye make-up remover, toner bottles & face cream containers
  6. Cooking oil bottles – I go through a bottle of olive oil a month but I always recycle them. Place the bottle on its side over the sink, then remove the plastic spout by placing a knife into the groove between the bottle and the spout, it will pop out. Clean by shaking with water and dish-washing soap first, then recycle.
  7. How to recycle olive oil bottles

    Remove the plastic spout with a knife

  8. Beauty product containers – Shower gel & scrub containers
  9. Disposable hygienic products boxes -Q-tips, bandaid, pantyliner & feminine products boxes
  10. Hand & body lotion bottles – You might have to remove the pump, but you can easily recycle the bottle. Rinse first please.
  11. Toothbrush & some make-up packaging – Just because it has a small amount of paper packaging doesn’t mean it’s too small for the recycling bin. Recycle the back portion of the toothbrush package or why not your lipstick and mascara boxes?
  12. Vitamin & cough syrup bottles – Make sure to rinse the cough syrup bottles first so they’re clean and not sticky
  13. Deodorant packaging – This might surprise you but check the back. If you see the recycling symbol (two arrows) you’re good to go. Just make sure there is no deodorant left in it. Some deodorant spray cans can even be recycled too.
  14. Shaving cream bottles or cans – Same thing as deodorant. If you see the recycling symbol, you can, but do favour non-aerosol versions and ideally plastic bottles in the future which are more easily recyclable . You can also get shaving cream bar soaps which require no recycling at all as there is no packaging waste to begin with. Olive oil bar soap is also a great alternative for shaving.
  15. Various recycling symbols on beauty products

    If you see these recycling symbols on beauty products, you can recycle them

  16. Old bills, receipts & gum packaging – These papers can stack up quickly. Once you don’t need them anymore shred them (I take mine to work – shhh) then recycle them. As for gum, choose the non-blister packs as they are plastic-less and if you do get a blister pack, at least recycle the outside cardboard packaging.
  17. Pets – Yes, random, but pets also get disposed of when they are no longer wanted. Some are killed humanely, others are not. Where I live in Montreal, many are still killed in in gas chambers. If you’re looking for a friendly companion, please choose adoption and check out where you can choose a pet based on breed, sex or size,  based on available pets in your  area.

Clutch, once a stray dog, found his forever home thanks to MuttScouts

Cat owners rejoice – how to reuse pet food bags to reduce litter waste

How to reduce litter waste with cat food bags

Reduce plastic bag and litter waste by reusing resealable pet food bags

If you’re like me, you hate cleaning the cat’s litter box. On top of that, you probably use your grocery store bags, but now that you’re using reusable grocery store bags, you have fewer of these left and they’re reserved mainly for your garbage can. Am I right?

Here’s a tip i discovered. Nowadays, a lot of dry pet food comes in these resealable zip lock type bags. So, rather than throwing them out, I reuse them for litter waste.  One 9lb bag reduces the need for 10 grocery store bags.  This bag will last 1-2 weeks and I can clean out the litter box more frequently. This makes my cats happier too.

Smart? I think so. Just another way of implementing the 4 R’s of waste management.

Rethink -> Reduce -> Reuse -> Recycle

Putting the litter in the resealable cat food bag

Putting the litter in the resealable cat food bag

Not only can you clean the litter out more frequently by using this same bag, there’s also less odor since i can easily store this bag on my balcony.

Clean litter box

Clean litter box thanks to reused pet food bag

How to choose a healthy pet food

How to choose a healthy pet food

In this day and age of pet food recalls, salmonella poisoning, pet obesity and even cancer, how is one to know which pet food brand to choose? Well, because I believe part of being “green” is being healthy, I have put together this informative article which clearly tells you which brands are safer and healthier for your cherished pets.

I used to work in the pet food industry and was specialised in holistic pet nutrition. I was shocked, jaw dropping disgusted and angry when I learned what was actually considered “acceptable” by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), the organisation responsible for monitoring pet food. In 2005, I wrote The Truth about the Pet Food industry (which has since been updated) which gives full descriptions of why certain ingredients are bad and which ones are necessary.

Here, I give you a black and white list of what I approve. My goal, is that your pet doesn’t just survive, but can prevent a wealth of diseases plaguing companion animals these days such as obesity, excessive shedding, itching and scratching, paw licking, tumours etc. My opinion, which is shared by many, is that the majority of health issues faced by pets today are all directly linked to improper nutrition.


  1. If it’s advertised on TV, it’s probably crap (pardon my bluntness)! Generally, the lower the quality of pet food, the more advertising money is needed to promote it. Since they can’t promote it on the merits of their ingredients, ads will often portray cute looking dogs while throwing the word healthy around that has absolutely no legal meaning whatsoever.
  2. If it’s sold in a grocery, corner or warehouse type store, it’s probably crap! The exception of course is for some holistic brands which might appear in the natural/organic food aisles.  Generally, these low quality pet foods are able to offer the retailer high profit margins because so little is actually invested into the product.
  3. If it contains artificial colours, it’s crap! Dogs are colour blind, so these pet food companies must really think we’re stupid if we believe that the kibble is really red, orange or green because of the vegetables.
  4. If they can’t specify the type of meat (meat-by-products, chicken by-products or meat meal), it’s crap! A brand that can’t specify the type of meat leaves the door wide open for what would be accepted from feathers, cow udders and tumorous parts to euthanised pets and expired grocery store meats (I’m not joking).
  5. Only buy human-grade (holistic) quality pet food. This means that every food ingredient is the same quality as what you would eat, and all the vitamins and preservatives are pharmaceutical grade. By doing this, you are sure that the food is made in a plant that has been inspected by a regulatory food board like the USDA for example. It will also help you avoid foods from plants that try to save money by turning the refrigeration off when inspectors aren’t around, use dubious quality ingredients and are not clean, increasing the risk of listeria or salmonella type poisoning. However, because of the lobbying power that some gigantic (low quality) pet foods companies have with AAFCO, it has become increasingly harder for the smaller, healthier pet food companies to label their food as human-grade or organic. Thus, the only sure way to know is to contact them. Through my work in the pet food industry, I was personally able to speak with most of the approved brands below.

So here it is, healthy pet foods that get my stamp of approval. None of the brands below will contain non-human-grade meat, (some might even be hormone or antibiotic free), meat by-products, rendered meats or fats, expired meats from grocery stores, euthanised dogs or cats, corn, wheat, soy, (major allergens) peanut shells, BHT & BHA, (suspected carcinogenic preservatives), ethoxyquin (pesticide used to preserve fats and rubber in car tires), beet pulp (artificial stool hardener), feathers or meat from downer animals (those too sick to make it to slaughter). And, in keeping with the “green” theme, I have listed them by country of origin for those who prefer to buy locally, although they are all available across North America.


Canadian Pet Foods

Holistic Blend
Go!, Now, Summit (Petcurean Pet foods)
Amoré (raw food)
Pets4Life (raw food)

American Pet foods

Solid Gold
Natural Balance
California Natural
Nature’s Variety (Prairie)
Canidae (dogs), Felidae (cats)
Newman’s Own Organics

Eagle Pack Holistic Select (Although human grade, it does contains corn meal, brewers rice and dried beet pulp, 3 ingredients I advise to stay away from. Avoid if your pet has a corn allergy.)

New holistic brands are constantly being added to the market so it’s possible that there might be other great brands out there that I am not aware of. None the less, these are the most well-known and available. In the unlikely event that one of the above mentioned brands changes its formula or doesn’t live up to holistic standards, I will not be held responsible! At the time of writing this article, they were all deemed holistic!


Grocery store/warehouse brands

Iams *
Alpo *
Pedigree *
Kibbles & Bits

Costco Diamond brand / Kirkland Signature Brands*
(PC) Presidents Choice Brands *
Sensible Choice
Old Roy (Walmart) *

Premium brands

Royal Canin *
Nutro *
Eukanuba *
J.E. Mondou *

Vet brands

Science Diet *
Medi-Cal *
Hills *

* Indicates companies that have had pet food recalls since March 2007 according to the FDA

Some of you might be shocked that I have listed vet brands and I can understand your confusion. After all, the vet should know what’s best, right? Well, it’s the same with doctors who focus on illness as opposed to prevention. Vets like doctors are not there to teach you about nutrition. If you have questions about your diet, your doctor will send you off to a nutritionist or better yet, a naturopath. Well, the vet is the same in the sense that yes, their vet foods have been studied for specific illnesses (weight management, diabetes, sensitive stomachs), but they contain very few ingredients that would actually prevent illnesses. If you fed your pet great food in the first place, they shouldn’t have these problems, right? Moreover, most are loaded with fillers, contain well-known allergenic ingredients like corn, wheat and soy and are not even human-grade. Not to mention, 3 of the 4 above mentioned vet foods had issues with contaminated pet food since 2007.

Nowhere have I found a vet food that focuses on whole foods, non-allergenic grains like quinoa or brown rice, use hormone and antibiotic free or free-range meats, add in human-grade antioxidants, sufficient quantities of omega 3’s for healthy skin and coat, include probiotics (digestive enzymes & immune boosters) and use slow cooking methods so as to lessen the amount of minerals and vitamins that are killed off during the cooking process. I want the food I feed my pets to include low-ash meat and cranberries to prevent urinary tract infections not cause them. I want my pet food to include sufficient quantities of essential fatty acids so that they have glossy fur with no dandruff and itchy skin, not cause it.

Bailey eats Nature's Variety

I have been feeding my pets holistic pet food since 2004 and I have NEVER had a problem of UTI (urinary tract infection), itchy skin, bad breath, pet dandruff, obesity, diabetes, cancer or diarrhea. My 2 cats Simba and Beardie-Girl are in perfect shape, have glossy fur, big bright eyes and are extremely healthy. My dog Bailey is the same. When I adopted my chihuahua Bailey in 2004, he was fed Nutro and did have chronic skin irritations and bad breath. I realised he had an allergy to chicken and when I switched him to a human-grade salmon based diet and gave him Seagreens, he stopped his scratching, chronic paw licking and excessive shedding within about 3 weeks.

Beardie-Girl loves Wellness!

When I managed a holistic pet food boutique in 2004, I had numerous clients who, once switched to holistic pet food, could notice a change in their pets fur in as fast as 2 weeks. Those who had overweight cats (from feeding Iams for example) didn’t even need to put their cats on a “diet” to lose weight. Simply switching to holistic did the trick because they are higher in pure meat protein and contain virtually no fillers.

In terms of price, holistic or human-grade pet food is about the same or even cheaper in some cases, than premium quality brands. The reason is that instead of investing into expensive advertising or kick-backs for pet food retailers, their money is invested into higher quality ingredients. Because the ingredients are higher quality, the pets usually fill up on smaller portions reducing the amount you feed, thus saving you money. I could also argue that by preventing common illnesses, you could also save on expensive vet bills.

Nowadays, you can find it almost everywhere and we are finding more and more pet boutiques specialised entirely in holistic food. Otherwise, most pet stores have seen the increased demand in healthier pet foods so generally carry a few of the above mentioned approved foods. Some health food stores are even starting to carry it. As for pet warehouses like Petco or Petcetera, up until recently, they were not carrying it, although I believe Petco has started carrying holistic brands like Natural Balance and Solid Gold. This only makes perfect business sense as sales have gone though the roof in human-grade foods as people become more and more concerned about what they feed their pets. Of course, if your neighbourhood pet retailer doesn’t carry it, just ask them to bring it in. Most of the distributors they deal with carry them anyways, so they might be able to specially order a bag for you, or better yet, the entire line if there is enough demand. If you are still having a hard time finding it, then I suggest using the store locator on the websites of holistic brands. I’d also like to mention that if you have a choice, choose a pet retailer that doesn’t sell pets as they are generally buying them from puppy mills. Support those that have adoption centres or hold adoption day events!

In conclusion, my experience, coupled with that of my clients and friends, is more than enough to convince me that I would NEVER switch back to conventional pet food, especially considering that most have been recalled since 2007 for various kinds of contamination. The point after all is that pets don’t just live, but can prevent common pet illnesses through eating healthy food.

BTW- Beware of brands that claim their pet foods are “healthy” and “natural“. These words are unregulated and have no legal meaning yet they are often used to describe poor quality brands. Scrutinize the ingredients before you decide if they are or not.

Simba's been eating Holistic Blend since 2004

The truth about the pet food industry

What's in pet food

What's really in pet food?

What most consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.

Three of the five major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of major multinational companies: Nestlé (Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, and Ralston Purina products such as Dog Chow, ProPlan, and Purina One), Heinz (9 Lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature’s Recipe), Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s Science Diet Pet Food). Other leading companies include Procter & Gamble (Eukanuba and Iams), Mars(Kal Kan, Mealtime, Pedigree, Sheba, Waltham’s), and Nutro. From a business standpoint, multinational companies owning pet food manufacturing companies is an ideal relationship. The multinationals have increased bulk-purchasing power; those that make human food products have a captive market in which to capitalize on their waste products, pet food divisions have a more reliable capital base and, in many cases, a convenient source of ingredients.


1) If the meat contained in pet food is not “human-grade” a company could use “meat meal” or “meat by-product” which could include euthanized dogs & cats (including their collars and the sodium pentobarbital used to euthanize them), road kill, rejected or expired meats from grocery stores (including the styrofoam), zoo carcases or any animal taken to slaughter which was deemed dead, dying, disabled or diseased at the time of slaughter, otherwise, deteriorated so much as to be unfit for human consumption.

2) All meats that are not to be used for “human consumption” but are to be sold after slaughter are to be denatured as per government regulations to prevent them from being rerouted and used for human consumption. The denatured carcasses and other waste can then be transported to the rendering facility. This is done by adding sufficient quantities of dye, charcoal, malodorous fish oil, acid, sodium pentobarbital (poison used to euthanize pets) fuel oil, kerosene, crude carbolic acid (phenol, a potentially corrosive disinfectant), creosote (used to preserve wood or as a disinfectant) and citronella (an insect repellent made from lemon grass) are the approved denaturing materials approved in both Canada and United States.

Can you imagine the cumulative effects of these poisons building up in your pets’ bodies? In order to give you a brief understanding of the 4 categories of pet food, i have taken one brand from each category and broken it down ingredient by ingredient so you too, can learn why holistic pet food is the only pet food you should feed your pets.

1) Grocery brand: Pedigree Healthy Vitality
2) Premium food brand:Royal Canin “Active Special 25™” Formula
3) Veterinarian brand: Science Diet Adult original
4) Holistic brand: Holistic Blend “All life stages Canine Formula”

1) Grocery Store brand: Grocery store qualityPedigree (Mars) Healthy Vitality Adult Dog food

Partial ingredient list: (Notice meat not among top 7)

Ground yellow corn, meat and bone meal, corn gluten meal, animal fat (preserved with BHA/BHT), wheat mill run, wheat, natural poultry flavour, wheat flavour…

1) Ground Yellow Corn: One of the worst ingredients that could be given to pets. Causes obesity, allergies, skin problems, rashes and itchy skin. Used because it is a cheap filler. No benefit to animals. Very difficult to digest which causes digestion problems, diarrhoea or constipation.
2) Meat and Bone meal:the rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. Since the exact meat type has not been specified, it could (and I’m not joking) include euthanised cat, dogs, expired grocery store meat, zoo carcasses, road kill or a mixture of slaughterhouse remains.
3) Corn Gluten meal: the dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm. Used for its protein content yet is generally a poor source of protein vs. meat and is a by-product of the human food industries. Highly allergenic for dogs.
4) Animal fat:Which animal did this come from? Because there is no mention as to which “kind” of animal this came from and because this brand is not human grade, it is most likely a combination of different fats from a meat rendering plant which could include euthanized dogs & cats (still wearing their collars and with sodium pentobarbital poison to euthanized them), road kill, rejected or expired meats from grocery stores (including the styrofoam) , zoo carcases, restaurant grease, or other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for humans etc.
5) BHA & BHT preservatives: Synthetic chemical preservatives that prevent the fatty contents of the pet food from going rancid. They provide endless shelf life. Both have been suspected of being carcinogenic. BHA and BHT inhibit the immune system.
6) Wheat mill run: An allergen to pets, it consists of the fine particles of wheat bran, wheat shorts, wheat germ, wheat flour and the offal from the “tail of the mill”. No beneficial value to pets, but used as a cheap filler and a by-product of the human food industry.
7) Wheat: Can cause severe skin problems, allergies and obesity. Used as a cheap filler.

Conclusion: As cute as their ads are, Pedigree dog food is one of the lowest quality dog foods on the market. Ingredients are clearly by-product, leftovers from its human food division. The absolute worst ingredient is meat meal which could include euthanised dog & cats who are sent to meat rendering facilities from vet clinics. Pedigree dog food is low quality, highly allergenic, obesity causing, difficult to digest and there is nothing redeeming about it. Please note: Pedigree is one of the pet food companies that has had many food recalls lately after pets died eating their food.

2) Premium quality dog food:
Royal Canin “Active Special 25™ Formula” for medium dogs

Partial Ingredient List:
Chicken meal…rice…chicken fat, corn gluten meal…dried beet pulp

1) Chicken Meal: Not human grade thus there is no guarantee to its quality. Also, contains hormones which lead to physiological problems in future.
2) Rice: Lack of specificity as to what kind of rice leaves a big grey area open as to what they would accept. Secondly, unless it is brown rice, white rice is a known allergen to dogs and cats.
3) Corn Gluten Meal: Cheap energy source. Highly allergenic to dogs and cats.
4) Dried Beet Pulp: This is the dried residue from sugar beet, added for fiber, but primarily sugar. In their case, sugar was removed. It is known to be an artificial stool hardener. This is dangerous because when the stool remains in the colon too long, it exudes toxins into the blood stream, which could lead to a variety of short term (E.Coli) or long term health problems.

Conclusion: Although not as bad as Pedigree, there is no guarantee that it is human grade and there is nothing redeeming about their ingredients. For the amount of money you spend you are better off buying holistic.

3) Veterinarian Brand:
Science Diet Adult Original

Partial ingredient list:
Chicken, Ground Whole Grain Corn, Ground Whole Grain Sorghum, Ground Whole Grain Wheat, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat, Brewers Rice…

1) Chicken: No assurance of it being human grade, hormone or antibiotic free.
2) Ground Whole Grain Corn: One of the worst ingredients that could be given to pets. Causes obesity, allergies, skin problems, rashes and itchy skin. Used because it is a cheap filler. No benefit to animals. Very difficult to digest which causes digestion problems, diarrhoea or constipation.
3) Ground Wheat: Hard to digest, causes obesity, allergies and skin problems, rashes and itchy skin. Used because it is a cheap filler. No benefit to animals.
4) Chicken By-Product Meal: Could consist of organs and parts either not desired, or condemned, for human consumption. This can include bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, heads, feet, and feathers.
5) Soybean Meal: Although soy is good for humans, it is not required for animal nutrition but used because it is a cheap filler. Side effects are the same as corn and wheat.
6) Corn gluten meal: One of the worst ingredients that could be given to pets. Causes obesity, allergies, skin problems, rashes and itchy skin. Used because it is a cheap filler. No benefit to animals. Very difficult to digest which causes digestion problems, diarrhoea or constipation.
7) Animal Fat:Which animal did this come from? Because there is no mention as to which “kind” of animal this came from and because this brand is not human grade, it is most likely a combination of different fats from a meat rendering plant which could include euthanized dogs & cats (still wearing their collars and with sodium pentobarbital poison to euthanized them), road kill, rejected or expired meats from grocery stores (including the styrofoam) , zoo carcases, restaurant grease, or other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for humans etc.

Conclusion: This is one of the most expensive brands on the market. Next time, read the label of a bag you are about to buy and ask yourself, is this human grade? If not, there is no guarantee as to what you are getting….even if you are buying this from a vet clinic. Remember, very few vets out there know about the problems with pet food simply because pet nutrition courses aren’t given in vet school, and if they are, they are paid for by Hills (Science Diet) or Purina who make poor quality, non-human grade food to begin with. Even more, some vets carry these brands simply because they get tuition reimbursement from them.

4) Holistic Brand Comparison (Canadian)
Holistic Blends’ All life Stages Canine Formula

Low ash chicken, whole ground brown rice, hulless barley, whole oats, chicken fat (preserved with rosemary), rosemary extract, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), natural chicken flavour, tomato pomace, wild salmon, dried whole eggs, nutritional yeast, kelp, sunflower oil, garlic oil, whole dried carrots, whole dried potatoes, beta carotene

1) Low Ash Chicken: Free range, hormone & antibiotic free and human grade chicken. Low in ash to prevent urinary tract infections
2) Whole Grain Brown Rice: Provides higher quantities of fiber and lower quantities of fat and protein than corn, wheat or soybean.
3) Hulless barley: A carbohydrate, which provides the body with energy. Considered to be a non-allergenic grain.
4) Whole Oats:High in trace minerals
5) Rosemary Extract: All natural, free flowing antioxidant for use in the preservation of fats, oils, fat soluble vitamins and other oxygen sensitive ingredients. A detoxifying herb that works wonders for the liver, gall bladder, stomach, and intestines.
6) Asorbic Acid: Essential amino anti-oxidant nutrient. Acts in the formation of collagen and in growth and repair of soft tissue, bones and teeth. Helps with iron absorption.
7) Tomato Pomace: Helps prevent hairballs by eliminating them in the waste instead of being vomited up.
8 ) Wild salmon: Omega 6 & 3 fatty acids for a healthy skin and coat.

You get the picture! Ingredients are chosen strictly for their health benefits to maintain health and prevent future health problems. This food also contain chelated minerals for easier absorption, is hypo-allergenic, loaded with antioxidants, human-grade vegetables and is naturally preserved. There are no rendered meats, animal by-products, BHA/BHT (carcinogenic preservative), corn, wheat, antibiotics, hormones, salt, sugar or beet pulp. Because high quality ingredients are used, the serving sizes are smaller saving you money. They also don’t test on animals. In terms of price, it is no more expensive then premium or vet quality brands. Since you are not paying for their exorbitant marketing and advertising campaigns, the money goes directly into buying higher quality ingredients.

Please note: Avoid pet foods tested on animals:

Believe it or not, pet foods are tested on cats and dogs. Once the experiment is over, these animals risk being sold to other labs for experiments on cosmetics, household cleaners, pharmaceutical or military experiments. In general, holistic pet foods DO NOT test on animals.

For more info on pet food animal testing, check out IamsCruelty, IamsKills, or StopAnimalTests.

For more information on pet nutrition, contact Animal Protection Institute, CommonDreams, WorldWise, ThePetCenter, and Holistic Blend or read “Food pets die for” written by Ann Martin.

Boycott Iams pet food

Boycott Iams pet food