Monday, December 8, 2008

Complete and Balanced Diets Part 2: 99.9%? Close enough is not good enough

In part 1 of this topic we came to the conclusion that there is actually no answer to the question a pet owner was asking: “All this talk of "balanced" makes me a little curious. If our pets need balanced meals each and every time they eat, why is it not recommended that I eat three bowls of Total each day? Can you tell why it is OK, even desirable for them to eat a bowl of doggy Total for each and every meal and it is certainly not for me?” We discussed in more detail that this pet owner also could have been simply told that the 100% complete and balanced claim is simply unbelievable, regardless whether it refers to pet food or human food. It is an attempt intended to build consumer trust and dependence on regulators and even more so, commercial products. There is, as of this day, still not a way to create optimal health neither in your pet nor in yourself.
Coming back to Dr. Wysong, in his writings he mentions another fact, which challenges us to think twice about the “100% complete” nonsense. What is does “complete” really mean? He says, “each time regulatory agencies convene to decide how much of which nutrients comprise “100% completeness”, debate always ensues and standards usually change. This not only proves that what they claimed before was not “100% complete”, but it also should make us highly suspicious about what they now claim to be “100% complete.” As he in his book “The Truth About Pet Foods” at a later point delivers medical and scientific proof, altogether the completeness claim consistently was and to this day is still found to be fundamentally wrong. Unfortunately too many times this had to be learned the hard way and ended up with animals suffering and tragic endings. Here are some of the Dr.’s cited, documented examples:
“Myocardial failure in cats associated with low plasma taurine. A reversible cardiomyopathy. Summary:…low plasma taurine concentrations associated with echocardiographic evidence of myocardial failure were observed in 21 cats fed commercial cat foods. Diets used: “Complete & balanced premium processed pet foods.”
“Comparison of procedures for assessing adequacy of dog foods. … dogs given one regionally marketed food had lower growth rate and food efficiency as well as suboptimal PCV and hemoglobin values during the growth trial. Pups fed this diet also had clinical signs typical of zinc and copper deficiencies…”.
Dr. Wysong’s list goes on and on, without going into to much detail here are some head lines:
Development of chronic renal disease in cats fed a commercial diet. Or: Potassium depletion in cats: Hypohalemic polymyopathy (muscle problems). Or: Chlorine requirement of kittens for growth is less than current recommendations. Or, finally: Riboflavin requirement of adult dogs at maintenance is greater than previous estimates. There are plenty more of the same on about 15 pages. The best part about the list, this is not something the Doctor came up with, all he did was collecting information available to the interested public and generated by I would say, sources with credible credentials: Science Journal, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Feline Practice, Journal of Nutrition and others. All written by D.V.M’s, PhD’s, professors and other well educated and knowledgeable authorities.
To me it is interesting that we always come to the same conclusion. It really doesn’t matter who addresses the issue, whether it is people with PhD’s or university professors, veterinarians, other credible authorities with their specialized blogs, smaller, not publicly held pet food manufacturers, pet food stores, even many pet owners (more and more of them joining), all have one common interest as their objective: The well being of our companion animals. Yet, sometimes I wonder, since this is the case, why is the “100% complete” claim still such an effective marketing tool? And it definitely is effective, otherwise the marketing gurus wouldn’t use it anymore. I guess it is the ratios. If one looks at the above list of people interested in our pet’s health, all the doctors, specialists, manufacturers, etc., though there are many by now, are still a very small group compared to the millions of American pet owners. It is obvious to me that there is a tremendous amount of educating still to be done to make an impact, which would cause an effective change in the right direction.
But so far only the opposite takes place: Once commercial mass producing pet food manufacturers with their nutritional scientists and official regulators discover that they were wrong in the past, they typically enter into a stage of denial and then change into an attack mode. Then, as their final solution, once there is enough evidence that they were wrong and there is no more way out, more research is being done. Problems are being fixed by reformulating pet food. Typically this is accomplished by adding more and other synthetic nutrients and, voila, “the problem is all fixed now, here’s your new, 100% complete diet!” No more problem, says the pet food industry. After all, we all make mistakes, right? Why don’t we give them credit for their willingness to discover a problem, admit their wrong doing and perform the necessary repairs. Why don’t we forget about yesterday, move on with today and look forward to tomorrow? I agree with Dr. Wysong: Typically we would not have a problem with doing so. Unfortunately, the errors, which have been made in this case have caused disease and illness in our pets, in too many cases even death. This fact to me makes it very difficult. I wouldn’t even be so hard if it would be a one-time incident. But it happens over and over again, and it continues to happen. All because they claimed perfection to begin with by selling us a “100% complete” pet food. That is what we expected, we didn’t ask for 99.99%. Close enough in this case is not good enough, it may have fatal consequences.
To blog visitors interested in this topic I highly recommend to read R.L. Wysong, D.V.M The Truth About Pet Food as well as any other of Dr. Wysong’s titles.

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