Growl! Animal testing companies

<img src="/web/20070607150057im_/http://www.buav.org/campaigns/petfood/images/beagle3.jpg" width="300" height="225" alt="Beagle behind bars at Waltham Test Centre (Pedigree)"/><br/> Goat in heart experiment in Japanese lab

Nestlé Purina Petcare

Nine beagle dogs were kept in single isolation for 15 weeks, during which time their diets were changed every three weeks. The dogs suffered from diarrhoea in an experiment which has no relevance to improving the care of pet dogs. In addition to the inevitable distress of social isolation, frequently changing dogs' diets can also be stressful as they do not have the opportunity to establish a dietary routine.
(Published 2003: Conducted by Veterinary University of Vienna, Austria; Hanover University, Germany; Nestlé Purina PetCare R&D, Nestlé Research Centre, Lausanne, Switzerland)1

Forty-eight labrador retrievers were kept in a laboratory environment for fifteen years (unless death occurred sooner). The dogs had their food intake restricted for the first three years of the study, after which their diet was restricted still further until some animals were being fed just half the amount of food of their litter mates. Dogs were weighed weekly, x-rayed annually, had heart scans, ECGs and blood pressure taken. Once a year the dogs were starved overnight then injected with glucose, before blood samples were taken from their jugular vein five times in two hours. Body weight of feed-restricted dogs was on average 26% lower than the body weight of litter mates. Adult body weights for this group were as low as 22kg; the ideal body weight for Labrador retrievers is up to 34kg.
(Published 2002: Conducted by researchers from the Pet Nutrition Research Department, Nestle Purina PetCare Research, St. Louis, USA)2

Eighteen dogs (6 German Shepherds, 6 English Setters and 6 Miniature Schnauzers) were kept in single isolation for 12 weeks and fed either dry or canned dog food. Four dogs either became ill or refused to eat the food offered during the study.
(Published 2002: Conducted by Nestle Purina PetCare Company, St Louis, USA)3

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Hill's Pet Nutrition

Thirty-six kittens from the University of California were housed alone for 13 weeks, beginning when they were just over nine weeks old when they were separated from their mothers. They were fed a diet designed to stunt their growth - normally fed kittens at the same test facility gained up to 56% more weight per day than the kittens in this study. Blood samples were taken from the kittens' jugular veins.
(Published 2003; funded by Hill's Pet Nutrition, Topeka, USA)4

35 cats were used in an experiment to establish the sodium requirements in adult cats. The cats were divided into groups and fed diets containing varying degrees of sodium. Blood samples were taken at varying intervals. Cats fed the low sodium diet showed loss of appetite and reduction in body weight. The cats were individually housed in small cages for four weeks. Cats kept in confined spaces tend to develop stress-related abnormal behaviours. Small cages provide no space for movement or species-related behaviours such as claw sharpening or play.
(This experiment was carried out in the USA and was supported in part by Hill's Pet Nutrition)5

In another experiment 18 kittens aged between 11-15 weeks were each isolated in small steel cages (60x60x60cm) for up to 26 days. The aim was to discover the sodium requirements of kittens. Sodium deficiency resulted in loss of appetite, stunted growth, excessive thirst and urination, as well as changes in hormonal levels.6
(This experiment was carried out in the USA and part-funded by Hill's Pet Nutrition.)

In a third experiment 42 puppies were fed a zinc-depleted diet for 2 weeks. Severe signs of zinc deficiency were found in all the puppies, (including crusted plaques on face & feet, lethargy & anorexia). The puppies were then divided into groups and given an experimental diet for 3 weeks with varying amounts of zinc, either organic or inorganic. It was intended for one group of 6 pups to be kept on a zinc-free diet for 35 days but 5 out of the 6 pups were removed from the test as zinc deficiencies were so severe. At the end of the experiment dew claws, one canine tooth and testes were removed from all pups for zinc analysis. The fate of the dogs is not known.7
(This experiment was carried out at Hill's Pet Nutrition in Topeka, USA)

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Iams (Procter & Gamble)

Kidney failure was artificially induced in 28 young female cats (8-9 months old). They were cut open, one kidney surgically removed and the blood supply to the other kidney was damaged, leaving only a small portion of the remaining kidney still functioning. Two cats died as a result of the surgery. After 2 months 'stabilisation', feeding experiments started. During the feeding experiments, the cats showed obvious signs of ill health such as weight loss and vomiting. All the cats were housed in single-isolation. After one year, the cats were operated on again and the remaining bit of kidney cut out under deep anaesthesia. It can only be assumed that the cats were subsequently killed.
(Supported by the Iams Company)8

Our friends at Uncaged only promote pet food approved by the BUAV's 'No Animal Testing' Pet Food Standard. Click here to check out more info on IAMS at the Uncaged site.

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Pedigree carries out research at the British Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition. Waltham claims to be the world's leading authority on pet care and nutrition. It has research facilities around the world and also collaborates with universities and individuals both in the UK and overseas. In 1996, for example, it was involved in over 70 collaborative research projects at more than 30 universities in over 15 countries. Waltham houses hundreds of dogs, cats and birds. In 1997 Waltham claimed to have carried out studies on over 25 breeds of dogs, ranging from Yorkshire terriers to Irish wolfhounds.

Waltham experiments are widely considered to be 'mild' or low-invasive work although this hasn't always been the case. A research paper published in 1980 on the need of cats for the nutrient taurine involved keeping cats isolated in cages for 11 months. Some of the cats deprived of taurine suffered irreversible eye damage. Waltham still quotes this paper as making a key contribution to understanding the dietary need of cats.

Moreover, some procedures carried out by Waltham do have the potential to cause suffering or distress. For example:

  • the isolation of dogs
  • taking blood samples
  • measuring flatulence with instrumentation
  • endoscopy (tissue samples taken from the colon via the anus)
  • dental examinations which require dogs to be anaesthetised
  • fasting for up to 24 hours
  • applications of a skin irritant
  • giving warm water enemas and inserting flexible tubes into the colon
  • frequent changes in diet during trials
  • plucking 50 hairs from near the base of the tail

In one test, water levels in the colon were measured. Six 'sensitive' (known to be sensitive to diet) and six 'robust' dogs were used. All the dogs were given a food that is known to cause diarrhoea in the sensitive dogs. While sedated, the dogs were then given an enema and dialysis bags made of flexible tubing were manually inserted through the rectum.9

In another study 8 adult greyhounds were used to see if feeding experimental diets with different amounts of protein and carbohydrate could effect their performance on the racetrack (originally there were 10 greyhounds but 2 were withdrawn from the study because they suffered from muscle injuries during the experiment). The dogs were individually housed during this study, which lasted for 27 weeks, in cages that were significantly smaller than the size recommended by the UK based Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW). They were subjected to potentially distressing procedures of blood sampling from the jugular vein, injections and rectal temperature recordings. The ultimate fate of these dogs is unknown.10

Greyhound racing is responsible for immense animal suffering. This experiment took place in the USA where an estimated 20,000-30,000 racing greyhounds are killed each year because of injuries, age and unsatisfactory racing performances.

Another test at the Waltham Centre involved 21 dogs (including 12 dogs known to suffer from diarrhoea). The dogs were isolated at the Waltham Centre for a total of 16 weeks, during which time they were fed test diets that were changed every four weeks. To study the dogs' colons, the dogs were given an enema and then an endoscopy which involved a tube being inserted into their rectum under sedation. After the endoscopy, dialysis bags were placed inside the colon for 30 minutes.
(Published 2002: Conducted at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, UK)11

In a test involving 60 female cats, the animals were anaesthetised and neutered, then allowed seven days to recover. The cats were used to being group housed, but during the feeding trials some cats were housed individually for an entire year. These isolated cats also had their food intake restricted to an unacceptable level of just 40Kcal/kg/day, just half of the recommended food intake for adult cats. Remarkably, the authors of the study state that the conditions were "similar to those of pet cats". Body fat increased by 40% in ad libitum (freely available food) fed cats and the authors state that obese cats are more likely to develop diabetes, skin diseases and lameness.
(Published 2001: Conducted at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, Leicestershire, UK)12

It is clear that a company such as Waltham and the BUAV do not share the same concerns about animal suffering both as a result of their procedures and as a result of housing dogs and cats in laboratory/kennel facilities. All of the cats and dogs housed at Waltham are kept in artificial, kennel environments for almost their entire lives. According to our latest information, Nestlé Purina PetCare also run testing kennels. Even if the quality of these kennels was superior to typical laboratory environments, they can in no way mimic a normal healthy home with the proper amount of environmental stimulation and individual care and love that these animals need for healthy development. It is well known that dogs do not thrive well for prolonged periods of time in what effectively are kennel conditions.

All of the procedures endured by cats and dogs at Waltham, for example, regardless of their individual severity level, constitute regular and totally unnecessary veterinary intervention, of the type that responsible pet owners are advised to keep to a minimum so as to not overly stress their pets. It is not necessary to induce disease or euthanase an animal in order to cause it suffering. The animals are also kept solely for the purpose of experimentation, in whatever shape that may be, to help make profit for a commercial pet food company. The BUAV does not believe that this is an acceptable way to treat such animals.

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Click to Resource Centre for in-depth fact sheets on this campaign and related topics.

  1. Journal of Animal Physiology & Animal Nutrition (2003) 87, pp 397-407
  2. Journal of Nutrition (2003) 133, pp2887-92
  3. Res of Veterinary Science (2002) 72, pp223-7
  4. Journal of Animal Physiology & Animal Nutrition (2003) 87, pp315-323
  5. 'Sodium requirement of adult cats for maintenance based on plasma aldosterone concentration' Journal of Nutrition (Feb 1999)
  6. 'The minimum sodium requirement of growing kittens defined on the basis of plasma aldosterone concentration' (1997) Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 127, pp 494-501
  7. 'Are organic zinc sources efficacious in puppies?' (1998)Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 128, pp2593S-2595S
  8. 'Protein and calorie effect on progression of induced chronic renal failure in cats' (1998) American Journal of Veterinary Research, Vol 59, No. 5, pp 575-582
  9. Comparison of colonic transport in robust & sensitive dogs, (1997)
  10. 'Effect of Increased Dietary Protein and Decreased Dietary Carbohydrate on Performance and Body Composition in Racing Greyhounds' (2001) American Journal of Veterinary Research, Vol 62, No. 3, pp 440-447
  11. AJVR 63, 4, 617-22
  12. J Small Animal Practices 42, 433-8