When the FDA learned that certain pet foods were sickening and killing cats and dogs, they found that melamine contaminants in vegetable proteins imported into the United States from China were commonly being used as ingredients in pet food. (Melamine is the same poison that killed many Chinese babies who drank contaminated dry milk products in the news recently)

The heartbreaking news coverage of pet owners grieving the losses for their beloved pets who died from melamine-tainted food has put animal lovers across the country in a state of fear and bewilderment. The FDA and the American Veterinary Medical Association are urging pet owners to switch brands as a hedge if they are still worried. (Not very helpful or reassuring advice.)

Many pet owners, however, are unwilling to take even the slightest risk when it comes to their pets health and safety – and are buying organic pet food or making custom fare for their furry friends. Some are even taking things a step further.

Consider the advent of the seminal cookbook titled “Real Food for Dogs” that has successfully charted in the 200 Best Sellers list for Amazon books.

Robert Van Sickle, owner of the Polka Dog Bakery in Boston, said he has received many inquiries from customers wanting advice about how to make their own pet food. For his German pointer, Van Sickle blends carrots, spinach, salmon oil, apple cider vinegar along with whatever 貓關節 meat is in his freezer at the time, to make a scrumptiously complete pet meal that would go toe-to-toe with anything famed pet food pioneer Dr. Ross ever served!

Worried pet owners are helping to increase the already booming sales of organic and natural pet foods as well. An executive at Wild Oats Markets Inc., the specialty food chain that caters to health-minded consumers, says that the organic pet food product sales were increasing by 15 to 20 percent a year and pet food scares are likely to convince even more consumers to feed their pets natural foods only. “People are extending their food ethic to the whole family, including the pets,” said Richard Warner, director of dry grocery products for Wild Oats.

Shelley Gunton, owner of Oregon-based Castor and Pollux Pet Works, said her stores, which specialize in organic pet foods, have seen increases in sales since pet food scares began to surface. “This is going to reinforce to pet owners that there are choices,” said Gunton.

Proponents of natural and organic pet foods and treats say that those products can help prevent many diseases in dogs and cats. The growth of the organic pet food industry and disagreement over what qualifies as organic food has led to the creation of the Organic Pet Food Task Force. This task force has suggested labeling standards that organic manufacturers would have to meet in addition to existing requirements that apply to all pet foods.

Vets say owners should look out for symptoms such as lethargy, diarrhea, increased or decreased urination and thirst, vomiting and lack of appetite. These are the symptoms of kidney failure, which has been the main cause of death from tainted pet food.