Is your cat or dog eating a food that contains toxic levels of lead or arsenic? According to a new study done by the non-profit group, Clean Label Project, it's a real possibility.
The study shows 82% of the more than 900 pet foods the group tested contained lead levels that exceed the max EPA drinking water level.
The group says some of the food has 16X more lead than Flint, Michigan's tainted water, and 469% more than a cigarette.
"The fact that there is some pet food out there that contains a significant amount of lead, it's concerning," said Dr. Maryam Reems, a Veterinarian with Blue Pearl Emergency hospital. "If it's enough to raise that flag, then it's probably enough to cause some clinical signs."
The study rated each food they tested, wet or dry and either gave it 5 stars, 3 stars or 1. The ratings didn't depend on the brand - but the actual flavor and ingredients.
The study didn't focus only on lead - it also tracked mercury, BPA, Cadmium, and arsenic levels in the food they tested.
Julie Peterman goes to the park a lot- so does Heath Dupras who have become quick friends after recognizing they have mutual interests - their dogs.
They also both care deeply about their animals health.
"I want them to be healthy and I don't want them to eat garbage. I don't want them to have these health problems that could've been avoided through diet," said Dupras.
The study says pet owners need to pay attention to labeling. They say words like "all natural" and "grain free" don't necessarily indicate quality. For example, the group found products labeled "grain free" contained higher levels of toxins than those that didn't.
"The majority of people don't read their label," said Dr. Reems. "Usually you see patients being brought in because they're showing some signs of illness."
Dr. Reems says usually signs of lead poisoning will manifest into GI symptoms like vomiting, upset stomach, lack of appetite and diarrhea. Although in the lead poisoning cases she's seen, they were not caused over a long period of time. Sometimes it's a metal object the pet has swallowed.
Dupras and Peterman agreed they'd like to try and make their own pet food, but say it could be costly.
"I think it would be very expensive and that's going to be a problem," said Peterman. "Think of a young family with four children and a couple of pets, working all day, not everyone can do that."
To see the results of the study click here. The website also lists the ratings of each pet food tested.