Saturday, December 20, 2008

How pet food is made. Our imagination and expectations from start to finish and the dangerous middle in between. Part 1

With the majority of pet owners feed our pets commercially prepared pet foods I am often being asked: “When choosing a pet food what type of food should I feed? Dry, semi moist, or canned?” We have countless choices these days, all of which are claiming to be the best one for your pet. This in itself can make choosing the best pet food a very confusing endeavor. When answering these questions I found it is helpful if one understands how pet food is actually made. Because this knowledge by itself may make it a little easier to choose the type of food to use. Though it is not the only and most important question to be considered when choosing the best possible food. Pet owners see usually two things. There is the beginning, in our minds a farm in which wholesome, healthy pet food ingredients originate. And there is the end, a beautiful bag in the store shelves, showing us again pictures of a so perfect world of pet food ingredients. What we don’t see is the, what many call “dangerous middle”, the processing, or as Dr. Wysong, D.V.M. calls it “food torturing” and the processing degradations.
The bulk of pet food available in today’s market is dry food. There are several types of manufacturing that lead to dry food. They include baking, pelleting and extrusion. The manufacturing process is similar for all of them except for the final pressing and cooking process. I decided to discuss the most commonly available type: Extrusion. While there are as many variations in the processing and manufacturing of dry pet foods as there are pet food manufacturers making them, I will explain the basic manufacturing process which is typically followed by most of them.
Obviously, the manufacturing of pet food begins with assembling the raw materials. Most raw materials are grain, meat and fat that arrive in train cars or semi trucks in loads weighing between 10,000 and 40,000 pounds. Concentrated vitamins and minerals typically arrive in 25 to 50 pound bags. After arrival these raw materials are stored in appropriate holding areas. Most grains being held in silos.
The raw materials are then ground to the correct particle size. Grinding increases the availability of nutrients. It also improves the ease in which they are processed. Commercial hammer mills are often used to grind the particles to the proper size. Most dry mixes are ground to a consistency of coarse flour. A uniform size is very important for proper water absorption and cooking.
The next step is proper mixing of all the ingredients, which is very important to create a consistent product. If the mix is not thoroughly blended, essential nutrients could be excessive or absent in individual pieces of the finished product. Large ribbon blenders are used to mix batches of up to 2,000 pounds at a time. At this initial mixing, only the dry ingredients are included. Then the dry mix is stored until the next step can be completed.
The extrusion process is very similar to the process of bread making: Mixing, kneading, proofing or rising, shaping, rising again, and slicing. The dry mix is first preconditioned to start the gelatinization of the starches. A pre-conditioner measures accurately the amount of the dry mix and blends it with the measured liquid portion that can include fat, meat products, additional water, and steam. This wet mix stays in the pre-conditioner for about 45 seconds. While in the pre- conditioner, the starch is cooked about 25%. The preconditioned food is then moved into an extruder. Extruders were originally designed for the plastics industry, but are now used by 90% of pet food manufacturers. The extruder consists of a cylindrical multi segmented barrel with a screw that propels, mixes, and further cooks the material, and then forces it through a die. There it is cut to the desired length by a knife. The product moving through the extruder produces its own friction and heat, which then cooks the mix. The speed and friction levels can be varied depending on the formula, to ensure that the product is cooked at the right temperature for the right length of time.
The newly formed kibbles, still being soft and spongy, are then transferred from the extruder to the dryer. Here additional moisture is removed. Most kibble takes about 15 minutes to dry properly. If kibble is dried too quickly or at too high of a temperature, it will be more fragile and will break during handling. This actually creates a high level of so called fines. Fines are very small particles of food, which often settle to the bottom of the bag.
The kibble then goes through a cooling process of around 7 minutes. If the kibble is too hot when it leaves the dryer and is packaged before it cools, condensation will develop, which will encourage the growth of mold or bacteria.
Enrobing is the last step in the manufacture of dry pet foods, and entails the addition of either liquids or powders to the outer surface of the kibble. Fat and flavor enhancers are usually added at this stage. Fat is not usually added during the mixing stage because it would disrupt the starch gelatinization. Fat and flavor enhancers greatly improve taste and palatability, and are most effective when applied to the outside of the kibble.
Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Now let’s come back to what I said in the beginning. There is the start. We see a farm, golden corn, oats and juicy, fresh chicken and other animals. At the end we are being told that exactly those ingredients are in our bag of pet food we just bought. Not just that, but now it is even 100% complete, all natural and scientifically tested. To prove it we are presented colorful charts and platinum, gold and silver certification seals and awards. If we spend a little more money we even get one which is endorsed by some Hollywood celebrity, possibly even made by one. But we are not being told the entire story here. During the manufacturing process, while drying, scoring, milling, heating, baking, dehydration, extruding, freezing and refining the wholesome ingredients the following took place: There were additions made. Such as artificial colors, flavors, texture, preservatives and chemicals. And then there are the processing degradations. Examples: Wheat. Whole wheat contains many minerals, vitamins, enzymes, proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Ground whole wheat retains many of those nutrients. Fractioned wheat, i.e. white wheat flour, as being used in mass produced dry pet food does no longer contain these nutrients. Therefore it has to be fortified to get those nutrients back into it. Often this is done by adding chemicals or synthesized substances. Or take rice. Whole rice contains dozens of important nutrients. However, during processing as described above, those nutrients are being lost and the rice ends up primarily being starch. Once whole rice is fractioned into white rice, unbalanced nutrition is created. This is setting a perfect stage for disease.
The bottom line is that once ingredients are being processed, they become something opposite and completely different from the wholesome starting material. The list of degradations taking place during processing of ingredients in the dry food manufacturing process is as impressive as the manufacturing process itself. Unfortunately to me it is a negative impression. Sure, packaged products must be processed. And if it is just for the sake of digestibility and shelve life. However, there are better, gentler processing methods out there. Those however are apparently only known to manufacturers who realize, as Dr. Wysong says, “that food processing is more than a mere business. It is an opportunity to do great by preventing disease and optimizing health.”
To complete my story, in Part 2 I will discuss in more detail the degradation and also take a look at the manufacturing processes for wet food. Stay tuned.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pet food costs continue to increase, still, pets are a priority

Last Sunday I was getting my physical workout by filling in yet another hole, which our German Shepherd Roxy had dug to escape underneath the fence from the back yard so just that she could sit in front of the house. She amazes me, she doesn’t disappear, and if she does she usually comes back after a short while, she just likes to spend her time waiting for us in front of the house. My wife says it is the Germans against the Germans, as of Saturday it was 4 to 3 for Roxy, since Sunday it is 4 to 4. All I need is one more move to get ahead again. And I have already a strategy on my mind as to how to get there. I am just afraid Roxy probably thinks the same. We will see.
Anyway, while doing that, as the old year winds down, I was thinking about what happened throughout the year. The good and the bad and how it all can be made better in the new year.
One very common complaint from all my customers across the board and country came to my mind. It is the cost of having a pet and feeding it in a healthy fashion. Definitely it was the “pet owner’s choice complaint of the year”.
First it was the cost of shipping, which with increasing fuel prices rose about 40% in fall compared to the beginning of the year. At least with fuel prices coming down, so are slowly shipping rates as well. But then there was also the fact that pet food manufacturers kept increasing prices. Not once, most of them twice, some even 3 times. And talk about increases: The last one coming in the 4th quarter of the year accounted for another most impressive and whopping 20%.
Pet food costs continue to increase. At the same time, many pet owners are experiencing decreased income or at least are worried about their financial security. There are alarming reports that families are giving up their pets in unprecedented numbers. However, beware, it is a fact that these numbers are not as high as some reports would have you believe. Nonetheless, the cost of feeding a pet is causing more concern now than two years ago.According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor's Consumer Price index, pet food prices for the second quarter of 2008 rose by an average of 8 to 9 percent compared to a year ago. As I kept looking at pet food prices in local stores, it appears that the foods that list grain as the first ingredient have increased more than others. As with any other industry the pet food industry too has been racked by inflation. This is mostly due to fuel and energy costs and unfortunately the not so good news is that we can expect to see continued price increases on nutritional pet products.The bursting real estate bubble and now our government with its astronomical bailout of financial institutions who got a little too greedy and failed to use sound business practices are just another very clear indication that things are everything but rosy.

There are other numerous areas of concern like the low value of the US dollar in the global market, oil prices never seen this high before and an inflationary spiral we have not seen in 30 years. Add to this the lowest consumer confidence level in 16 years of 50% and it’s time for a call: “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” As oil prices rise and the dollar loses value, inflation across all consumer goods sold is way out of balance. Many manufacturers are levying with two price increases a year by now.
What is the impact on pet food? This category, the core of the pet industry, has also been racked by inflation mostly due to fuel and energy costs. Fuel is important in different ways. It delivers the ingredients to the plants, it drives the food producing plants, it contributes to packaging cost (since most packaging components these days are poly bags) and last but not least, every bag of kibble and every case of cans has to be shipped from the manufacturer to the distributor, the distributor to the retailer and the retailer to the pet owner.

At the same time the price of raw ingredients has gone through the roof. Corn, for example, is up 35%. Predictions are that due to the flooding in the Midwest it will rise even more. It is a principle protein source for many brands and is also being fed to chickens, which are a primary protein source in natural, holistic and organic brands.
Veterinarian Joseph Wakshlag, Ph.D. and Assistant professor of Clinical Nutrition at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, estimates that consumers are paying, on average, 80 cents to $1 more for low end dry pet foods (grocery and mass merchandise market brands) and $2 to $3 more for high end vet and specialty store distributed pet foods. But Wakshlag points out not all high end pet food, regardless of whether it is dry or wet food, is worth the hefty price tag. "A more expensive brand of (pet) food will sometimes have more digestible ingredients," he says, "but that's not always the case. There are some really high-end foods out there that have some pretty poor (ingredients). It really comes down to going with a product that has worked well for your (pet) for a long time." There are ways that will save you cash while still assuring your pet receives the best quality nutrition available. Purchasing cheap foods is the worst kind of false economy. Quality nutrition is one of the best health protections you can provide your pet. In my column for Paw Prints The Magazine I wrote last month: “All I really hope for is that all pet owners will still be able to feed their animals healthy quality food rather than cheap fillers. It is my wish that they make educated buying decisions and understand that “cheap” usually stands for “not so cheap” and “unhealthy, disease promoting junk and garbage”. Because if the dog gets sick, it’s going to get really expensive.”
Buy the best food you can afford. Before you do so, check out the quality of the food by reading the label; you want to purchase a food that lists a form of meat (NOT meat by-products) among the first two ingredients whether you are shopping for a dog or a cat. Best by far are foods that contain no by-products of any sort. Additionally, check the recall lists. You will be surprised to find most of the heavily advertised foods on these recall lists at one time or another. Shop for discounted sales of the food you prefer, every place selling pet food has frequent promo deals going on, check for manufacturer rebates. Clearance sales are another route to go. The Internet makes comparison shopping so much easier these days. Buy in larger volume. Not just do you get a significantly lower per lbs price, but you also save on shipping cost if buying off the Internet or mail order. Canned foods most of the times have ample of time left on their expiration dates. You can safely stock up with enough food to last until the next sale comes up again. With dry foods buy the largest size bag you can afford. Keep enough meal for one week in a plastic container and put the rest in your freezer. Freezing the meal will prevent bug infestation and keep the food fresh.

Cassandra Kane, Staff Writer for The Lebanon Daily News wrote on 12/07/08:
“For pet owners in the Lebanon Valley feeling a need to save money when it comes to their pets, buying cheaper food is not a common option, music to the ears of area veterinarians.
At the PetSmart at the Lebanon Plaza, the purchase of premium pet food brands increased 13.9 percent since November 2007, said store manager Larry Mann.
“People are more concerned with what they’re feeding their pets,” he said. “They’re sacrificing fringe items like toys and dog treats, where we have seen declining figures.”
Pet Headquarters in Palmyra sells a variety of natural dog-food brands, and according to trainer Tammy Sickles, area pet owners continue to switch to the premium brands. She said quality is important for concerned owners, especially those of dogs with allergies to corn, wheat or soy.
“It (premium food) makes them healthier inside and out,” she said.
Keeping pets healthy with the right food is a must, said Stone, who advises her customers to “not skimp on nutrition.”
“Skimp on a new collar or extra toys,” she said. “Take care of health and nutrition first.”
Because food has a major effect on the bodies and health of pets, McNamee encourages pet owners to feed their animals high-quality food formulated with vitamins and minerals. Especially for overweight pets or those with diabetes or food allergies, owners must continue to purchase the prescription foods.
“You’re saving maybe 25 percent up front (when you buy cheaper brands), but it will come back to haunt you,” she said.
Tami Morgan of Annville is experimenting with food brands for her 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Meadow, until she finds one the “extended family member” likes. Price does not play a role in Morgan’s decision, although she said she would never spend thousands of dollars on an operation or procedure.
“You have your pet and you need to take care of them,” Morgan said. “It’s just what you do. You invest in having a pet, and you have to be willing to undergo taking care of it, within reason.”
When their two Jack Russell terriers, Maxwell and Daisy, and yellow lab, Ginger, require veterinary care, Mimi and Doug Shade of Richland do not hesitate to take their dogs immediately to Stone.
“You do what you got to do for your animals in your family,” Mimi Shade said. “For all those pet owners second-guessing whether they want to keep their pet, they should keep it and do what they have to in order to take care of it because they bring so much joy to your life.” “
I agree with Cassandra’s conclusion as she summarizes what most pet owners she had interviewed expressed: “You can’t really cut back”.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 1

One ingredient we see heavily discussed in pet food marketing these days is grain. Actually, to be correct it is NOT grain, grain free, what is promoted as all the sudden being the best since sliced bread. It is a subject causing many discussions between my customers and myself and it is certainly a controversial one. And as usual, besides making my opinion know, I go and see what the experts have to say about it.
Here is in a nutshell what I came up with so far.
Dr. Wysong, D.V.M. in his “How to apologize to your pet – Fresh and varied feeding with the Wysong Optimal Health Program” says: “Grains should be a smaller portion of your pet’s diet since they are technically not a natural food for carnivores. Raw organically grown rolled oats or raw barley flakes, soaked in raw milk overnight or pasteurized milk result in a treat many pets will relish. Porridges of oats, brown rice, millet, amaranth or quinoa can also be used occasionally. Sprouted grains, raised at home, make excellent additions to your pet’s diet and are eagerly accepted when combined with other foods. Small amounts of leftover table scraps such as cereals, sandwiches and homemade rolls and breads are beneficial additions to your dog’s or cat’s diet, provided they are prepared carefully and with whole grain natural ingredients.”
In his book “The truth about pet foods” he also says: “Within whole wheat, particularly in the germ and outer layers, are many minerals, vitamins, enzymes, proteins, fats and carbohydrates important for healthful nutrition. Ground whole wheat retains most of these nutrients, whereas fractioned white wheat flour does not. Synthetic vitamins are then added to impoverished white flour and this is, deceptively, called fortification.
Whole rice is highly nutritious. Once it is fractioned into white rice, unbalanced nutrition occurs, setting the stage for disease.”
The point he is trying to make is: “Once foods are milled, fractioned, blended, extruded, pelleted, dried, retorted, baked, dyed, breaded, fried, sauced, gravied, pulped, strained, enbalmed, sterilized, sanitized, petrified to permit endless shelf life and finally prettified, they become something entirely different from the wholesome starting materials.” He concludes: “In our age of convenience, packaged products are here to stay. However, as with everything in the market place, there are good and bad products. All creatures are genetically designed for foods directly from nature, not for the chemical potpourri resulting from vigorous processing. Good therefore means as close as possible to natural whole foods. Bad means highly processed food fractions and synthetics.”
Then I looked further through our store assortment and was anxious what Dr. Harvey, D.V.M has to say on the subject:
“I have been asked many times by people who feed their dogs a raw food diet about the use of grains as part of canine nutrition. I am aware that there is a great deal of controversy about the use of grains in the canine diet.
Since many of the people who ask about this are using Canine Health- The Miracle Dog Food , which is my pre-mix and the diet that I have advocated for over 25 years, I respond to their inquiries with the following information which is based on knowledge of chemistry and the facts.
For those who are using Canine Health- The Miracle Dog Food we look at the way in which the food is prepared “in reverse”. Canine Health is prepared with 6 ounces of protein to 7 1/2 ounces of water, which makes a total of 13 1/2 ounces. To this we add 1/2 to 1 ounce of oil and 3 scoops of Canine Health, which is a mixture of 6 different organic grains and 9 different vegetables and herbs. These 3 scoops equal 2 ounces of which one ounce is vegetables.
So the total amount of grain is approximately 1 ounce per pound of food, which is equal to approximately 6% of the total prepared recipe. In reality this is quite a small amount.
I use grain to provide glucose or storage glycogen, which is vital to a healthy canine diet. Every athlete knows that taking in pasta or grain loading prior to an athletic event, provides the necessary storage glycogen for the athlete to have sufficient glucose for muscle performance for the duration activity. This glucose is necessary for all muscle function.
I have seen that wheat, corn and soy can cause problems with animals so we do not put them in Canine Health. Our grains are certified organic, pre-cooked and freeze-dried which makes them easy to digest free of preservatives and incredibly healthy.
Some dogs do well on a completely grain-free diet, and for them I made Veg-to-Bowl , a grain free mix of wonderful dehydrated and freeze dried veggies. This mixture blended with meat and oils makes a wonderful grain free meal. But some dogs do better with grains, in fact, in my experience, many, many dogs improve dramatically when using our Canine Health with raw or cooked meat.
Nature made all muscle and brain function (99%) using glucose and oxygen. Carbohydrates, such as grains, are stored in the in the liver as glycogen this is then released as glucose in the blood as the body requires it.
For over 55 years most of the original commercial dog foods were made with 100% grain, using primarily wheat and corn. We know now that these grains were used because they were inexpensive fillers. Today most commercial foods still contain 40 to 70% grains.
I am not here to knock any other manufacturer, but I know that the companies who manufacture these foods don’t have even the slightest clue about good nutrition for dogs. What we do know, is that given in small amounts with lots of other nutritionally sound additions, grain is very beneficial to a dog’s overall good health.
I see that dogs do incredibly well and thrive on 6-10% grain in their diet. Dogs are able to utilize the glucose from grains, as athletes do when they are performing. We have come a long way in understanding how best to feed our canine companions. We now know how to do it better and improve our lives and the lives of our companions by providing the best nutrition possible.
I am positive that the real problem with commercial pet food is the added preservatives, coloring agents, poor quality protein sources and poor quality fat sources.
Feeding natural and healthy protein, rotating the source each week, adding good healthy oils, also rotated weekly, together with vegetables and a small amount of organic grains, will dramatically improve a dog’s health and well being. This is what I know makes the optimal diet for dogs.”
I would say listening to these two gentlemen it has become clear that the issue and controversy about grain is not the ingredient itself, it is the way how the commercial mass producing pet food industry is using it. There is nothing wrong with adding grain to our pet’s diet. I am sure some of you were shaking their heads in disbelieve while reading the above. They go “Dogs and cats eating grains? Not my pets. They are meat eaters and not rabbits.” Now I have to admit this is true. But nobody here is saying feed them exclusively grain. We are talking about adding fractions of it to the food. And, I fully agree with the 2 guys above. Otherwise, if my 5 cats wouldn’t like bread, why would I have to hide it from them. If I don’t, they look for it until they find the bag, grab it, disappear in their favorite hide outs, rip the bag apart and feast on the with pleasure. So much for a true carnivore. Or , I never saw my dogs turning their heads away from a handful of cooked rice added to their raw meat.
Whole grains in appropriate proportions, applied using common sense is the golden rule here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pet itching for relief? Leading cause Allergies Part 2 Food allergies, allergy testing and treatment

In part one of this comment we talked about what flea, atopic or inhalant and contact allergies are and how they are affecting our pets. Today’s conclusion deals with the 4th type of allergies common in pets: Food allergies. Plus we will address allergy testing and some of the treatments available.
Food allergies are not related to a season, while many atopic allergies start out as a seasonal problem, says Daniel O. Morris, D.V.M., a board certified veterinary dermatologist and chief of staff of the veterinary hospital at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dogs and cats that develop atopic allergies usually show symptoms between 1 and 5 years of age, he says, but food allergies can crop up at any time. They are high on the list of suspects when a dog or cat first exhibits itchy skin at an age less than 6 months or over 5 years.
To test for food allergies, the pet is put on an "elimination diet" for at least 10 weeks, which means it is fed food that consists of a protein and carbohydrate that the pet has not eaten before, such as duck, venison, and potatoes. These special foods may be found in specialty retail stores. Or the owner may choose to feed the pet a homemade diet of foods recommended by the vet.
If the animal's itching subsides by at least half, the allergen is considered to be one or more food ingredients, says James Jeffers, V.M.D., a board certified veterinary dermatologist at the Animal Allergy and Dermatology Clinic in Gaithersburg, MD. To confirm this, the owner can reintroduce the old food to see if the symptoms return. To find the specific ingredients that trigger the allergy, the owner should feed the special diet again and add one ingredient at a time from the old diet for at least a week until the itching increases, indicating that the last added ingredient is an allergen. Or the owner may choose to stay with the special food to avoid causing the pet discomfort each time an allergic ingredient is fed.
While the pet is being tested for food allergies, it should not be given treats, chewable medications, table scraps, or rawhide toys that may contain an allergen.
To check for atopic and contact allergies, veterinary dermatologists use an intra dermal allergy test, or skin reaction test. The pet is mildly sedated, a postcard sized area on the side of the pet is shaved, and small amounts of potential allergens are injected into the skin on the shaved area. If the pet is allergic to a particular substance, the skin will become inflamed at the area of the injection.
Jeffers tested Nora, a wire fox terrier, for 58 different allergens. The dog had been "scratching and biting herself all over, 24 hours a day," since it was 3 months old, says owner Katie Mathews of Bethesda, Md. "The scratching kept Nora up all night and kept the family up all night," she says. Before she was referred to Jeffers, Mathews had taken Nora to several veterinarians, who prescribed various antihistamines, shampoos, sprays, and a food elimination diet, none of which worked. "Steroids were successful," says Mathews, "but I didn't want to keep her on them because of the long term side effects." Mathews also "wanted to get to the root of the problem" so that the allergic substances could be avoided if possible.
Through skin testing, Jeffers determined that Nora had atopic and contact allergies and was allergic to dozens of substances, including pollens, molds, dust mites, grass, cotton, and wool.
Although allergies can't be cured, they can be controlled by avoiding the allergens, treating the symptoms, or desensitizing the pet. In Nora's case, all three methods are used.
Fleas, food ingredients, and some substances that trigger contact allergies may be avoidable, but "with atopic allergies, avoidance is virtually impossible," says Jeffers.
Drug products are available to relieve the symptoms of itchiness and inflammation in pets. Like any drugs designed for animals, these products must obtain FDA approval before they can be marketed by meeting rigorous scientific standards similar to those for human drugs.
The FDA approved two itch-relieving drugs in 2003: Atopica (cyclosporine) for controlling atopic dermatitis in dogs weighing at least four pounds, and Genesis Topical Spray (triamcinolone) for controlling itching related to allergic dermatitis in dogs. Atopica, a product of Novartis Animal Health US Inc. of Greensboro, N.C., is a capsule given orally. It works by inhibiting specific immune cells from reacting to allergens, and can be given as a lifelong treatment. Genesis, made by RMS Laboratories Inc. of Vidalia, Ga., is a steroid spray that is applied to a dog's skin for up to 28 days. Both of these drugs must be prescribed by a veterinarian.
The FDA has approved other steroid products for short term use in dogs and cats to relieve inflammation and itching. Long term steroid use is discouraged because these drugs work by suppressing the immune system; this suppressant action over time can leave an animal vulnerable to infection, diabetes, and other conditions.
Veterinarians often prescribe anti histamines approved by the FDA for humans to relieve itchiness in pets. Under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act of 1994 (AMDUCA), veterinarians may legally treat dogs and cats with drugs that have been approved for people but not for animals. Pet owners should check with their veterinarians before giving a pet any human medications, including over the counter antihistamines.
"If we can control the allergies through medication for occasional flare ups, antihistamines and steroids are useful," says Troutman. But if these medications are needed continuously to provide relief, Troutman recommends seeking other options, such as immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that stimulates the immune system to decrease the body's reaction to allergens. Similar to people with allergies, animals can be given immunotherapy, or desensitization injections. These "allergy shots" contain small amounts, or extracts, of the substances that the animal is allergic to, based on the results of skin testing. The owner gives the shots to the pet at home, usually in the scruff of the neck. The extracts used for allergy testing and treatment in veterinary practices are licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Center for Veterinary Biologics.
Somewhere between 50 percent and 70 percent of dogs and 75 percent to 80 percent of cats respond to immunotherapy, depending upon the study reported, says Morris. "Occasionally, it is so effective that the animal is normal without other treatments," he says, but the majority require medications in addition to the injections. The injections are usually given every 7 to 21 days, depending on the pet's response, says Morris. And rarely does an animal become permanently desensitized so that the injections can be stopped.
Nora gets a weekly injection. Mathews also gives her Atopica and, when the pollen count is up, an over-the-counter antihistamine. Mathews has placed synthetic blankets around the house for Nora to lie on, since the dog is allergic to cotton and wool in the furniture and carpeting. Nora also has a vinyl bed to lie on in the yard, since she's allergic to grass. This allergy management program helps keep the 18-month-old dog comfortable. "She still has periods of scratching," says Mathews, but "she's not biting herself as much and she's sleeping at night." Mathews reports that her other dog, Nora's littermate Nick, is allergy free.
Allergies in pets are neither preventable nor foreseeable, says Morris. "You can have one puppy out of a litter of 10 with allergic skin disease, or it can skip generations. We can't possibly predict it," he says, even if you have a pet examined by a vet at a very young age.”
This comment was written with information obtained in the FDA Consumer Consumer Magazine.
Pet itching for relief? Leading cause Allergies Part 1 Introduction, Flea, atopic (inhalant) and contact allergies

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dietary needs of specific groups and individual breeds of dogs and cats

There are many reasons why pet owners come and see me to ask for my input and advice as to what kind of nutrition they should provide for their pets. Many times these pets can be assigned to groups with specific needs and requirements, such as for example pets with diseases, pets of different size or life stage classifications and even different breeds. Currently I am adding a new product line to our store assortment and came across an easy to understand write-up addressing the most common ones of these groups in layman terms without going into too many details.
Large and giant breed dogs, such as for example German Shepherds, Mastiffs or Great Danes should be fed with several factors in mind. One is the risk of bloat for these dogs. There are no known ingredients linked to cases of bloat, except for one, which is citric acid. And even with this ingredient very specific circumstances have to be present to establish a link between bloat and citric acid. Some pet foods contain citric acid as a preservative. The only time this ingredient is problematic is when the food soaked in water. When fed dry, there is not a correlation between citric acid and increased incidence of bloat episodes. A large or giant breed dog does not need to be fed a protein restricted diet. This is a common misconception that can actually be harmful. Feeding a diet that contains adequate protein levels helps your dog maintain a lean body mass for ideal health and condition. Feeding quality protein sources in moderate levels, I would say about 20 to 28% is ideal. Fat levels should be low to moderate in the 8 to14% range to help these large dogs maintain a healthy body condition and lean body mass. The figures I mentioned here are starting points only and may vary based on activity level and age of your specific pet.
Added nutrients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, L-carnitine, taurine, and antioxidants may be beneficial to your big dog’s health. Glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally occurring substances that are found in healthy joints. When a joint is damaged or inflamed, glucosamine and chondroitin have additional activity in the joints to protect the cartilage. Feeding a diet that contains added levels of these nutrients may protect the vulnerable joints of large and giant breed dogs. L-carnitine and taurine are two nutrients that are relatively new on the dog food scene. L-carnitine is a vitamin like nutrient and taurine is an amino acid. Both are useful for maintaining proper heart muscle function. In some cases of dilated cardiomyopathy, taurine and L-carnitine may be used as a treatment. This disease is more common in large and giant breeds, particularly Doberman Pinschers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, and Great Danes. We all know about antioxidants for our own health and the same applies for our dogs. We also know that antioxidants help protect the cells from normal aging changes. With increasing age the rate of cell damage and death increases. This can partially be blocked by the usage of antioxidants. Large and giant breed dogs age more rapidly than smaller dogs and because of that may benefit from early and higher levels of supplementation of antioxidants. Vitamin E and selenium are two of the most common antioxidants being bolstered in pet foods. Schnauzers are susceptible to pancreatitis, much more than other breeds of dogs. Pancreatitis simply means inflammation of the pancreas. It is not necessarily caused by an infection, and usually is not. Pancreatitis is often triggered by the feeding of a high fat meal or something that the dog is not accustomed to. Schnauzers, however, may suffer from pancreatitis without an obvious trigger. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Veterinary attention is critical, this disease can be life threatening. Feeding a lower fat diet may be helpful in preventing pancreatitis and any dog that has suffered from pancreatitis should be fed a low fat diet. Boxers are known for their high incidence of various types of cancer, or neoplasia. Although I don't know of a cancer prevention diet, it may be helpful to feed a diet that is high in antioxidants and contains added omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are used in many cancer treatment programs and may have some protective effects. Toy breed dogs and some small breed dogs have terrible trouble maintaining good dental health. This is due in part to the conformation of the mouth and teeth and in part to the thought that these tiny dogs simply can’t chew a dry kibble dog food. Encouraging these tiny dogs to chew up their kibble will help scrape the surface of the teeth, removing plaque before it can become tartar. There are plenty of small bite sized kibble formulas out there that even the tiniest of dogs should be able to chew and swallow appropriately. Bedlington Terriers are a relatively uncommon breed, but suffer at a very high frequency from copper storage disease. This genetic disease causes an abnormal build up of copper within the liver. All diets contain copper, in excess of the level that these dogs can eliminate it. Because of hat the diet has very little effect on this disease. Many small breeds have a higher incidence of mitral valve heart disease, especially as they get older. This disease eventually progresses to cardiac insufficiency and failure. There are not any dietary guidelines for preventing the disease, but restricting the sodium intake once congestive heart failure has developed will help make the treatments more effective. With cats it is a little different. There are not too many diet responsive diseases in cats that are specific to individual breeds, but there are some worth mentioning. Persian and Himalayan cats are more likely to form calcium oxalate stones than other breeds of cats. Dietary prevention of these stones is accomplished by feeding a diet with moderate calcium and magnesium content and by alkalinizing the urine. However, most adult cat formulas are formulated to acidify the urine. Kitten formulas are not acidified, and may be a good option for your Persian cat. Persian cats are also more likely to suffer from a genetic disease called polycystic kidney disease, or PKD. Diet will not prevent this disease, but feeding a high quality prescription diet for kidney health may be recommended for these cats. Hairballs affect many cats. Longhaired cats are more likely to suffer from chronic hairball disease, but any cat can suffer from this disease. When cats groom, some of the hair is removed and swallowed. The hair stays in the esophagus or in the stomach and causes irritation, until it is vomited back up. Fiber ingredients can greatly decrease the incidences of hairballs. Insoluble fiber ingredients like powdered cellulose, bind the hair in the stomach and pull it through the intestinal tract. The hair is passed out in the stools, and is not vomited up. Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), is a common problem affecting many cats of all breeds. There are many factors contributing to this disease. Often it is stress in the environment, including any changes, that induces the disease in susceptible cats. Diet changes are one of the physical stress events that can instigate the disease. Feeding a diet that keeps the urine pH moderately acidic and has controlled magnesium content will be helpful, but not wholly preventative. Offering multiple water sources, including fountains and maybe even canned food will help even more. Maintaining a low stress environment will benefit the susceptible cat. Breed specific nutrition is not a common concept, as some dogs or cats of all breeds need diets to address certain medical or health conditions. Talk to your vet and have him help you select the most wholesome diet for your pet’s lifelong health and wellness.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Pet itching for relief? Leading cause Allergies Part 1 Introduction, Flea, atopic (inhalant) and contact allergies

The other day a copy of the FDA Consumer Magazine ended up on my desk. In it I found an article written by Linda Bren, content of which I wanted to share on this blog because in my opinion it is an easy to understand basic introduction to one of the most common problems seen affecting our pets these days: Allergies. Linda wrote:
“When your dog pumps its leg frantically to scratch its ear, or your cat bites its tail furiously until the fur falls out, it's clear that your pet is itching for relief. Occasional scratching is normal, but if a pet scratches or bites itself relentlessly, a health problem may be the cause. Itching can be triggered by a variety of conditions, ranging from liver disease to lice, from fungus to fleas, from mange to anxiety.”
According to Linda Messinger, D.V.M. and board-certified veterinary dermatologist at the Veterinary Referral Center of Colorado in Englewood the leading cause of itching and scratching in pets is allergies. Allergies are also the most common underlying cause of ear problems in dogs," she adds.
Unlike people with allergies, animals don't usually get stuffy or runny noses or watery eyes. Their main symptom is itchy skin, which can turn raw and red from scratching, licking, and chewing. This condition is called allergic skin disease, or allergic dermatitis. With enough scratching and biting, open sores can form, creating a haven for bacteria or yeast that can lead to infection.
"Just about every mammal can get allergies," says Lisa Troutman, D.V.M., a veterinarian with the Food and Drug Administration. "So can hamsters, rabbits, birds, and some other pets." But dogs and cats are the pets most frequently seen with allergies.
To relieve the itch, dogs may scratch and bite at themselves and rub their face with their paws or against the floor and furniture. "Cats tend to pull out their hair and get patchy hair loss on their ears, legs, and around their eyes," says Troutman. "They'll make themselves bald."
There is no cure for allergies. "They are a lifelong problem," says Messinger, "and often times they get worse as a pet gets older."
But there are treatments to relieve itchiness, clear up infections that arise from constant scratching, and even "desensitize" a pet to substances that cause allergies. In addition to regulating drugs for people, the FDA regulates drugs for animals, and the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine has approved medications to treat itchy pets and their infections.
The key to making your pet comfortable is to find out the cause of the itchiness. If the pet is allergic, determining the source of the allergies will help with treatment, says Messinger.
There are different types of allergies and the ones that can plague pets are grouped into four types: flea, food, atopic, and contact.
The most common type of allergy in both dogs and cats is flea allergy. The offending allergen is actually the protein in flea saliva left in the skin after a fleabite.
Atopic, or inhalant, allergy is the second most common allergy in dogs and the third most common in cats. Breathing in or directly contacting air borne particles in the environment, such as mold spores, dust, tobacco smoke and pollens, will activate atopic allergies.
If a pet is allergic to pollens, it will show symptoms even if you keep it indoors, says James Jeffers, V.M.D., a board certified veterinary dermatologist at the Animal Allergy and Dermatology Clinic in Gaithersburg, MD. Outside airborne substances waft their way into the house, and air filters don't tend to bring relief to pets with these types of allergies, he says.
Although pets with atopic allergies sometimes have respiratory problems, such as coughing and sneezing, they more typically develop itchy skin. Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop atopic allergies, including Terriers, Dalmatians, and Golden and Labrador Retrievers.
Food allergies are the second most common type of allergy in cats and the third most common in dogs. Food ingredients most likely to trigger allergies in cats are fish, milk, beef, and eggs. Ingredients most likely to cause a reaction in dogs are beef, soy, chicken, milk, corn, wheat, and eggs. Some pets with food allergies may have vomiting and diarrhea.
A reaction to physically touching a substance is called contact allergy, the least common type of allergy in dogs and cats. Contact allergens include grass, wool, and plastic. Jeffers occasionally sees dogs in his clinic with "plastic dish dermatitis," an irritation to the skin on the nose caused by a reaction to an antioxidant found in a plastic food or water dish. The condition clears up when the pet is switched to a metal or ceramic dish. And although uncommon, some cats become allergic to kitty litter, says Jeffers. But allergies caused by contact with chemicals, such as those contained in cleaning fluids, waxes, carpet cleaners, and lawn fertilizers, are "about 1 in a million," he says. Nevertheless, these products are potentially toxic, and pets should be restricted temporarily from areas treated with them.
Some pets' allergies are set off by seasonal changes. Springtime, with its tree pollens, brings on the animal form of hay fever, which is primarily itchy skin. Mosquitoes and flies, which may trigger allergies, are rampant in summer. Grasses and flowers often release pollen in summer and late blooming plants produce pollen in early fall, creating airborne irritants. Fleas and the allergies they activate persist in spring through fall in most parts of the country, but are found year round in some areas.
Geography also plays a role in allergic reactions. Regional changes mean different varieties of grasses, trees, insects, and other environmental elements, which can affect allergies. Jeffers says when he took his dog camping in Maine, the pup was healthy, but when he brought him back home to Maryland, he started itching.
Pets, like people, have allergic responses when their immune system overreacts to certain substances. When they enter the body, the offending substances, called antigens or allergens, set off an alarm. This alarm stimulates the body to produce antibodies to defend itself against what it perceives as a threat, the allergen invaders. The antibodies attach themselves to immune cells, called "mast cells," within the skin and other body tissues. When the allergens penetrate these tissues' surfaces, they are captured by the antibodies, which then stimulate the mast cells to release powerful chemicals into the surrounding tissues. It is these chemicals, called histamines, that cause inflammation and itching.
The body's immune system is meant to protect against harmful substances, so why do some animals have a severe reaction to non-threatening substances? "We think it's very similar to the situation in human beings," says Daniel O. Morris, D.V.M., a board certified veterinary dermatologist and chief of staff of the veterinary hospital at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Some animals, like some individuals, "may carry genes that put them at risk for developing allergic reactions," he says.
Another explanation is the hygiene theory, says Morris, which suggests that if you allow children to be exposed to infectious organisms early in life, their immune response may better control infections and make them less likely to develop allergies. In societies that stress cleanliness and try to protect children from dirt and disease, a child's body may overreact when confronted with a foreign substance, even a harmless one. The hygiene theory may explain why allergies in children are on the rise in the developed world, and the same explanation could apply to allergies in pets, says Morris.
There are many conditions that can make a pet itch or have hair loss, including endocrine, autoimmune, infectious, and parasitic skin diseases. It takes some detective work to identify the cause. A veterinarian may be able to diagnose the problem or may refer your pet to a veterinary dermatologist, a specialist in treating skin conditions in animals.
If allergies are suspected, the first thing a veterinarian will usually ask is if the pet is on a flea control product, says Troutman. Flea allergies are the most common type of allergies and the easiest to control, she says. And just because a pet is kept indoors doesn't mean it can't have fleas. An owner might bring fleas into the house on a piece of clothing, and the fleas can jump onto the pet. Just a single flea bite can cause an allergic animal to itch severely for more than five days, according to the American Animal Hospital Association.
Pet owners have many options for flea control on pets and in their environment. Veterinarians can recommend an appropriate product.
Once flea allergies are ruled out and if the itch is non seasonal, food allergies are checked next. Stay tuned for part 2 on this topic when we address those and also look at allergy testing and treatments

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Food: What difference does it make? Part 2: Ingredients

In part 1 of this comment together with Jeanine Dunn-Harmon and Wendy Volhard, we started our attempt of answering the question posed in the comment’s title. We decided that in order to live, a dog must eat. How long the dog lives, as well as health, immune system, behavior and temperament, the ability to reproduce successfully and to recover from trauma, all depend on what is eaten. An animal that eats well lives a long life, coping with everyday stresses and strains. One that eats poorly is unhealthy and with age will begin to suffer from chronic diseases. This comment deals with dog food ingredients.Most people have no idea what's in their dog's food. If their dogs pick at the food, people will change to another, trying to find the one just right for their dog. Feeding the correct food to a dog makes the difference between health and disease.Dogs are carnivores, or meat eaters. Their teeth are formed to pull flesh apart, they have simple stomachs and a short digestive tract, ideal for digesting meat. Cereal and vegetable proteins are not as readily digested by the dog. While dogs have adapted somewhat to digesting these proteins, they have to eat in greater quantity of such foods to get the necessary nutrients. More food means more expense, as well as more voluminous stools. Dogs prefer a food high in animal protein, and it makes them healthier and perform better.In order to choose a food that meets the nutritional needs of your dog, you need to understand something about protein, fat, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins and water. These basic ingredients are the recipe for any food you feed a dog.
Protein, Amino Acids
At the very core of the dog's health and fitness are amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are necessary to life. If you are feeding an un-supplemented food high in cereal and vegetable proteins, chances are that your dog has an animal protein deficiency. Diseases that may result include: Skin and chronic ear infections, reproductive, heart, kidney, liver, bladder, thyroid and adrenal gland malfunctions, some forms of epilepsy, some kinds of cancer, rage syndrome, "spinning," or tail chasing, lethargy, timidity, lack of pigmentation
inability to think and act clearly, lack of appetite, excessive shedding, as well as gastrointestinal upsets.
Protein is composed of amino acids, of which 25 are presently known. Ten or 11, depending on the reference source you use, are essential and cannot be produced by the dog's body; the other 14 or 15 can be converted from the essential amino acids through a chemical chaining process taking place in the liver. These 10 or 11 essential amino acids can be obtained only through what the dog eats, and they must be consumed at the same meal in order to sustain a healthy life.In a commercial dog food, protein is provided by combining animal sources, such as meat byproducts, chicken, cheese, milk, fish, turkey or lamb, together with grain sources, such as corn, wheat, rice, soy and so on. The sum total of these proteins appears on dog food packages as crude protein. How these ingredients are arranged in the recipe and the quantity of those ingredients, whether the animal protein is listed first, third, or fifth, dictates the kind of protein available to the dog.Amino acids are altered by heat, which in turn affects their bio-availability. Dry, semi moist or canned foods go through a heat process in manufacturing, and the finished product can be deficient in amino acids. Such a food, if fed without supplementation, can cause disease. Many amino acids are available only from animal sources, and if grains are the main source, a dog may develop one of the animal protein deficiency diseases listed above. Since amino acids are dependent on one another, a diet that contains too little of one will have a chain reaction effect on the others and will reduce their utilization. To achieve the proper balance, it s necessary to combine foods with the correct amount of amino acids.While the chemical composition of protein is similar for some grains and meat products, the bio availability is different. Soy protein is used as a source of amino acids in food for animals that have complex stomachs, such as cattle and sheep, and as food for pigs, turkey and chickens. Some component parts of soy bind up their own nutrients and make them unavailable to the dog. Young dogs and old dogs cannot utilize the amino acids from soy, hence it should be avoided. Cottonseed meal falls in the same category.The need for amino acids in the diet changes during the different life stages, climate and season changes, trauma or stress. When these stresses are experienced, your dog's food should contain extra animal protein.What are physical signs of deficiencies? By observing your dog carefully, you can pick up signs of amino acid deficiencies. Many will be found on the feet and nails constantly biting or licking feet, crooked nails on one or more of the toes or toenails that are brittle can signal a protein deficiency. Pimples, skin discoloration and crooked whiskers are also deficiency signs. A Landseer Newfoundland we treated for many years had a pimple on the left side of her face in the middle of her whiskers. It was itchy and she would rub her face along the carpet and paw at it, sometimes breaking it open. The whisker coming out of this point was crooked and turned backward. The pimple was situation on the amino acid lysine point. Supplementing the dog's diet with an amino acid complex tablet containing lysine caused the pimple to disappear and the itching stopped.
In summary we come to the conclusion that food proteins are considered complete only when they contain all the essential amino acids. Animal proteins are complete. Vegetable proteins are incomplete and unbalanced, but can be mixed with complete proteins to provide adequate amounts of essential amino acids.
Dietary protein requirements are influenced by various factors. These include digestibility, rate of protein synthesis, carbohydrate and fat levels in the diet and the timing of meals. Clinical factors can influence protein needs of the dog. These include disease, medications and surgery or any other trauma to body tissue.
You can test to see if your dog is deficient in amino acids. If you wish to supplement the dog's diet, test each of the following supplements to see what is best for your dog. Needs change with the seasons, so test several times during the year.
Animal protein supplements: Raw meat, raw liver, cooked meat (lamb, pork or venison), cooked chicken, cooked fish, milk, whole eggs (cooked for 5 minutes, plus shell), yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, goats' milk, You can add a small amount of any of these proteins to your dog's diet. In total, supplementation should not exceed 10 percent of your dog's total diet.Remember that the inter-dependency of amino acids is such that unless you have a degree in chemistry and understand a fully how the isolated amino acid works, more harm can be done than good. Avoid supplementing with methionine alone if there is a history of liver disease. Too much methionine in relationship to other amino acids can cause coma and even death in dogs that have diseased livers. When supplementing, make sure that the diet contains adequate vitamin C and B complex necessary for protein digestion. Magnesium must be present in the diet for the essential amino acids to work.
Food: What difference does it make? Part 1: Foundation, building blocks, life stage requirements

Food: What difference does it make? Part 1: Foundation, building blocks, life stage requirements

No question, as a dog owner you should have a clear understanding about dog food. If your dog is being fed incorrectly, a variety of problems may occur. This can be anything from spinning and aggression to bad skin. With this 2-part comment and the help of Jeanine Dunn-Harmon and Wendy Volhard, we are trying to answer the question posed in the comment’s title.
In order to live, a dog must eat. How long the dog lives, as well as health, immune system, behavior and temperament, the ability to reproduce successfully and to recover from trauma, all depend on what is eaten. An animal that eats well lives a long life, coping with everyday stresses and strains. One that eats poorly is unhealthy and with age will begin to suffer from chronic diseases. How is it possible that what we feed our dogs can make so much difference to their health? Think of the body as a house. If you build a strong foundation (pregnant mother's diet), the walls of the first story provide the support for the upper stories (puppyhood and adulthood). A roof that is made of the right materials and placed at the correct angels will be a protective covering over the whole house that will withstand even the most violent weather (immune system). Your house will outlast those around you that are built of less solid materials.
In order to build a proper nutritional foundation, you need six building blocks: Protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. The quality of these building blocks and the ratio of one to another will determine how long your house will last. Every cell in the dog's body needs fuel. Fuel comes from food, which is converted into energy. Energy produces heat, and how much heat is produced determines the ability of your dog to maintain and regulate body temperature. The quality and quantity of energy your dog needs to be able to run, play, work and live a long and healthy life depend on the quality and quantity of the fuel you provide. Nutritionists measure fuel in terms of how much energy it produces. They use the term calories to measure energy produced by individual foods. A dog will eat the quantity of food needed to meet individual caloric needs.If the calories provided in dog food are sufficient, your dog's body will be able to produce energy for growth, maintenance, the production of enzymes and the ability to fight disease. Chemical reactions take place in the body that allows these enzymes to break down the food, making it available as a building block. The chemicals that are needed to trigger enzyme production come from the food the dog eats. If you provide a food with the correct amount of calories coming from quality sources mixed in the right proportions, your puppy will grow well if the correct calories are not provided, you will produce an inferior dog, poor in health and short lived.
A puppy during the first six months of life, increases birth weight anywhere from 15-40 times, depending on the breed. By one year of age birth weight will have increased 60 times. By contrast, humans reach maturity over a 20 year period. A dog, therefore, grows almost 12 times faster than a human, and if fed improperly as a puppy, even for a short while, may quickly exhibit symptoms of improper growth. A puppy needs almost double the amount of food of an adult, at times, even more than that.
As an adult, your dog needs to maintain weight and provide enough energy to do the tasks you expect. A family pet, with no demands other than to play with the children and be a companion, needs a different diet than a dog that is used for hunting, showing or working.With age, your dog's digestive system becomes less efficient, and should make dietary changes that take aging into consideration. Other factors that affect what your dog should eat are temperature and climate. If you live in a cold climate, your dog will require more food to maintain body heat calories than if you lived in a hot climate. Living in a hot climate often reduces hunger, but dogs burn up a lot of energy panting to stay cool. In the hotter climates, your dog needs a small amount of food that contains a lot of calories. Food also has breed specific results. What produces energy or body heat in one breed may not in another. A good example is a Border Collie whose ancestors were raised in Scotland. This breed has developed a digestive system that breaks down oats and lamb very well. A food made from chicken and corn may be digestible and turned into fuel, but the dog will need to eat more of this food in order to get the necessary nutrients.
A dog fed incorrectly will experience stress. That stress will manifest itself in the weakest part of the body. It may be runny eyes, ear infections, skin problems, crooked teeth or diseases of the bones and kidneys. Stress may manifest itself in an inability to breed, conceive, have a full term pregnancy, whelp easily or make enough milk to feed puppies for several weeks. Dogs that are shy or afraid of thunderstorms or who show unprovoked aggression may also be exhibiting stress symptoms. Dogs that are genetically sound, fed properly for the breed and the climate in which they live, and for the purpose they are being used, will be healthy animals.
Stay tuned for part 2 when we address Industry Controls and their function related to pet food.
Food: What difference does it make? Part 2: Ingredients