Saturday, October 18, 2008

So many specialists, so little objective advise

I found this on one of the so called Expert Advise websites on the net, listed under the topic Animals/Pets > Dogs > Dog Food > Grain Free Diet:
There is this owner of an 11 month old Bichon Frise. The puppy has been fed A-XYZ Dry Puppy since she was 10 weeks old. The owner claims she has done tons of research on the best food and decided to settle with XYZ (Note: I put the A in front of it standing for the manufacturer of XYZ who also happens to be the manufacturer for the second food mentioned within the dog owner’s inquiry). The owner is now planning on switching the dog over to adult food in another month. She was thinking of putting her on a grain free diet, such as A-UVW. The protein level, according to the dog owner, of A-UVW is 42% and she is wondering if it is ok for a 10 lbs dog to be fed grain free. She says, she heard many mixed reviews. Some are saying grain free is the best for any dog of any size. Others told her it will cause kidney and liver failure, so she wants to know what the “specialist” is recommending. She also wants to know if the “specialist” has any experience with food rotation. She even explains what this is. Again because of getting mixed advise she wants to know how the “specialist” views this subject.
The “specialist’s” answer states that there is very little objective information on dog chow available to the general public (My Q: Specialist, have you been on the Internet lately?). That there is a lot of marketing hype. That he does not know if there is any objective tests on how dogs do on grain free food. That he knows of some service dog schools documenting successful feeding of rice containing common chows. These schools are also careful to not stick to one type of meat while the dog is a puppy. And he has a friend whom’s dog developed an allergy to chicken in the ABC kibble he was fed. Switching to DEF was an easy work around. (Mind you, there are DEF links plastered all over the “specialist’s” website). Furthermore, the “specialist” doesn’t like the 48% protein level (My Q,: Would you please pay a little more attention? The dog owner said 42%, quite a difference to what you read. Also, I doubt that the Bichon is going to perform as a race dog, or in any other high performance function requiring protein levels in the 40%+ range). The “specialist” continues: Much of that protein will be burned for energy creating more urea for the kidneys to filter out. Finally, he recommends to find a food with a protein level of less than 30%. (My Q: Ever heard of AAFCO’s feeding profiles which recommend 32% for growth stage and 18% for maintenance stage. After 12 months the dog is pretty much done growing. AAFCO’s 18% is an absolute minimum, a good dog food is in the mid 20% range of protein content, so I guess that answer is not wrong so to speak).
I looked at the “specialist’s” background, he’s getting most of his knowledge by friends who know other dog owners telling him what’s good and he happily shares that knowledge with any dog owner who is interested right there on the “Expert’s Advise” site. He also has done “extensive reading”, I think looking at his advise I couldn’t tell. He claims having a degree in chemistry, which allows him to understand how real research is done, evaluate the proof behind diet claims and not to be taken in by the junk science behind many diets. Yet that doesn’t prevent him from promoting DEF, which is quite frankly based on my knowledge just that: Junk.
In closing let me say this: In my opinion the “specialist” has not answered one question and just published as much garbage as is contained in the food he recommends. Be careful what kind of advise you are listening to. There are 2 different kinds: Either objective, educational and scientifically backed, or should I call it real good advise and then there is tricky and, in my opinion dirty methods of selling junk by making pet owners believe they are the Top Guns among the pet nutrition specialists. There is particularly one company, which uses this strategy as their one and only sales tactic. I am sure anybody who ever looked for pet food on the Internet is familiar with it. If you really look into it you find out that all it is is a pyramid scheme build on the foundation of, guess what? More of really not so good food.

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