Friday, February 6, 2009

Something in the air… Some say this comment “stinks”: Flatulence in cats and dogs

This one customer couple with their 7 month old German Shepherd puppy prompted me to write this comment after they e-mailed me this “…Odin is having really bad gas and we can't deal with the stench anymore... it is really bad. We are thinking about switching his food to something else. We honestly don't know what to do anymore!” Dog owners, I am sure you all have been there: You want to spend some quality time with your puppy and all the sudden something makes you want to run away. Yep, the room is filled with not so pleasant smelling air. And we all know dogs are very well talented in that area. In the case of my customers, their intention to switch to another food does not get me too excited. This is because I know that the puppy is sensitive to his food and we had a hard time to getting him used to any other food than what he was originally fed by his breeder, which was Solid Gold Wolf Cub dry formula. When the couple got the puppy they started him out on some supermarket food, I think it was some Purina formula and it caused diarrhea. Then they approached me and we put him on Healthwise Puppy dry since budgetary considerations played a role as well. I consider Healthwise a healthy and very economical alternative, however, one has to keep in mind that you basically get what you pay for. Not to say the food is bad, quite the contrary is the case, but it is quality wise just not at the same level as let’s say California Natural, Innova or Solid Gold. The Healthwise did not help the stool problem, which led us to try the Innova Puppy and later the Innova Large Breed Puppy. I believe we tried Canine Caviar Puppy as well. Nothing seemed to do the trick. The vet could not find anything wrong with the dog’s digestive system. However there were other health issues and the puppy, at the same time, while we were experimenting with all the foods, was on all kinds of medications plus underwent a treatment against mange. First I was not happy with the way the food was constantly being changed, more or less always over night without proper transition periods. Then, when I found out about all these side issues going on, I hit the brakes and said it is not the food itself causing the problem. It has to be something else. We agreed that the owners would pay closer attention to what the dog was doing all day long, restrain him during the time when they are absent and monitor closely what he is eating and swallowing all day long. Plus we all came to an agreement to put him back on the Solid Gold and ever since things seemed to be fine.
That was until I received this latest e-mail. During further investigation of the problem I was told that Odin is on and off again having diarrhea. His stools are changing sometimes within one session from hard to very soft. And Odin is also a “fast” eater, i.e. inhaling the food without properly chewing and he will eat until he is being forced to stop when the food is gone or being taken away. Every vet visit with a (very costly) battery of tests ends up with the vet reporting that there is nothing wrong with the dog. During my last conversation with the couple I suggested: “If the vet cannot find anything wrong with the dog, maybe there is something wrong with the vet. I would suggest getting a second opinion, since to me it appears that there is obviously a problem here.” For the time being we agreed to keep him on the Solid Gold until we find out more. I will keep everybody appraised as to the progress we are making on finding the right diet for Odis.
But, the “air” problem is still there and the initial e-mail clearly suggests that it is becoming unbearable for the owners, so let’s get that addressed for today.
Although gas production is a natural part of the digestive process, some pets produce more than others and are not always fun to be around. What is causing increased stomach or intestinal gas, also called flatulence in dogs? Flatulence results from the accumulation of gas in the digestive tract. The quantity and the smell of the broken winds vary according to the diet and to the individual animal. Dogs are more concerned than cats. As to the origin and nature of the gas it has to be said that they can come from various sources: First there is swallowed air or aerophagia. This means that animals that gulp down their food very quickly swallow air. This air passes very quickly through the digestive tract. They also can be caused by products of degradation of the undigested food by the intestinal bacteria, they can be a result of the gas diffusion from the blood to the lumen of the guts or they could be the result of intestinal chemical reactions.
Intestinal gases have a mixed composition. There are first non odorous gases such as air, hydrogen, methane or carbon dioxide. Then there are so called odorous gases. They include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, by-products from proteins like indole (1), skatole (2) and short chain fatty acids. Odorous gases represent less than 1 % of the total gas volume but it is enough to make the flatus very nauseating.
Let’s take a closer look how food influences gas formation. Food that contains an important indigestible part, either from animal or vegetable origin, are most likely to be responsible for flatulence. For example, bones and low quality meat containing a lot of indigestible protein, encourage intestinal fermentation. Milk and other dairy products may cause gaseousness in animals with lactase deficiency. Then there are vegetables that contain complex sugars. They include onions (NOTE: If fed in excess, onions can lead to GI upset and perhaps damage red blood cells, so stay away altogether regardless of smelly or clean air), cabbage, cauliflower, to some extent potatoes (like green potatoes or potato peels), soy and haricot beans. They cannot be well digested by dogs or cats and should be avoided altogether in order to address excessive flatulence. Remember my usual advise: Use common sense and find the right balance. Not all dogs are alike. And just because someone else's dog didn't have a certain reaction to a particular food doesn't mean that your pet will behave the same way. Your dog could react differently to the taste of the food.
High levels of fermentescible fiber (3) are not advised for sensitive animals. On the contrary, too little fiber lengthens the retention time of the undigested food in the large intestine, and it is in favor of bacterial fermentation.
Other factors in gas formation: The same food, distributed the same way, may induce highly variable effects according to the animal and its digestive ability. Young animals, or animals that suffer from digestion or assimilation problems (hepatic, pancreatic deficiency, etc.) are the most likely to produce intestinal gas. It is the same for animals housing some intestinal parasites (like for example giardia (4)). Flatulence also is often observed in overweight animals. As their physical activity is generally decreased, their intestinal transit slows down, which is a factor that favors bacterial fermentation and flatulence. The undigested fraction of the meal is generally excreted 20 up to 48 hours later.
And now, I am sure this is the part you have been waiting for the most let’s look at some ways to help prevention of flatulence:
Slow down the actual eating. Flatulence is often caused by air being gulped down when pets eat too quickly. The guys at Dr. Foster’s & Smith’s came up with a good idea: Putting a large object in his food dish will force your pet to slow down when eating. The object should be something that is too large for the pet to pick up in his mouth. Try something like a ping pong ball for cats, a baseball for toy dogs, a softball for medium breeds, and an even larger ball for large and giant breeds. If you have more than one dog, feed them separately to reduce competition for food. You may also try scattering dry food around the house and/or yard so the dog will need to 'forage' for it. Try feeding from an elevated level. Dogs that do not have to bend over so far to eat swallow less air.
Go for a walk after feeding. Light exercise aids digestion and works out the gas while you are outside. If your dog eliminates during the walk, even better.
Switch food (but avoid useless changes of diet to keep the balance of the intestinal flora). Your brand of dog food may be the source for the problem, particularly if it is high in soy. Try adding dietary supplements with probiotics (flora found in the digestive system, also called “good” bacteria and helping to eliminate “bad” bacteria, use preferably a non dairy variety) and enzymes (to help break down undigested portions of food) to food (e-mail me for product recommendations). These products help in the digestive process and may help eliminate gas completely. Choose a diet with a high digestibility and a moderate fiber content to limit the available substrate for the bacterial population. Most supermarket brands of dog food are made up mostly of corn products for fillers. While this gives your dog the feeling of being full, it also can contribute to a smelly gas problem. Feeding a higher quality food, not only makes a more comfortable pet, but a less odiferous one as well. High quality kibble reduces the amount of waste product, meaning less poop (both, in volume and smell) and less gas. Avoid risky foods like some of the veggies I listed above. If you want to feed vegetables choose for instance carrots or French beans.
Watch how much and what your pets eat. Too much food at one time can cause gas, as can eating out of the garbage, or too many table scraps.

Conclusion: This will give you quite a few ways to deal with excessive flatulence. If none of the above helps, here are two more “last minute in” suggestions: Try a teaspoon of plain, low fat yogurt daily (ideally whole). Or try peppermint. Still no luck? See your vet. Frequent gas in your pet shouldn't be ignored. It could be way more than just an unpleasant aromatherapy.

Notes: (1) Indole is an aromatic heterocyclic organic compound. Indole can be produced by bacteria as a degradation product of the amino acid tryptophan. It occurs naturally in feces and has an intense fecal odor. (
(2) Skatole or 3-methylindole is a mildly toxic white crystalline organic compound belonging to the indole family. It occurs naturally in feces (it is produced from tryptophan in the mammalian digestive tract) and beets and has a strong fecal odor. (
(3) Fiber is made up of different compounds, all of which are carbohydrates. The term "fiber" is used to describe the "insoluble carbohydrates" that resist enzymatic digestion in the small intestine. Found in the cell walls of plants and grains, the most common fibers are cellulose, hemicellulose, pectin, gums, and resistant starches. Almost all carbohydrate sources will contain some fiber. Some of the most common sources of fiber in pet foods include rice hulls, corn and corn by-products, soybean hulls, beet pulp, bran, peanut hulls, and pectin. Fiber is not considered an essential nutrient in your dog's diet, but it is present in almost every commercial dog food. While dogs do not derive any energy from fiber, adding fiber to a diet improves colon health, helps with weight management, and helps with diarrhea, constipation, and diabetes mellitus. Some fiber is fermented into fatty acids by the "good" bacteria in the intestine. Fatty acids aid in preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. They also help the colon cells to recover from injury and possibly help reduce the risk of colon cancer. If rapidly fermented fiber source (which loses its shape and bulk quickly) is used at an excessive level, loose stools or excessive gas may result.
(4) Common causes of giardia in dogs includes drinking from a lake, pond or stream. Dogs get the infection when they drink water that contains trace amounts of animal feces. The feces contains a cyst or small sac that enters the gastrointestinal tract of the dog. The cysts are the causes of giardia in dogs as they change into protozoa that divide in two rapidly. The protozoa attach to the small intestine where they produce disease by taking away nutrients from your dog. The protozoa also produce harmful substances. Left untreated, Giardia can damage the lining of the small intestine and cause scaring. The disease is sometimes called Beaver Fever since beavers are known carriers of giardia. (The Dog Health Guide)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Urinary Tract Disorders in Dogs and Cats briefly summarized

Urinary tract disorders are just another one of the disorders/diseases/illnesses, which affect more than half of America’s pet population these days. Today more than ever before is known about urinary tract disorders in dogs and cats. The possible causes, treatment and prevention regimes now consider diet, feeding, and environmental issues. Common clinical signs include urinating with greater frequency, straining or urinating outside the litter box. If a total urinary tract blockage occurs, seek immediate veterinary attention. There are several different types of disorders that can affect the urinary tract, and these fall into two primary categories: Crystals or stones and infections. The crystals or stones category breaks down into 2 variations: Struvites are made up of magnesium ammonium phosphate. These thrive in a urinary tract which is too alkaline or not sufficiently acidic. The other type are Calcium Oxalates, which are crystals formed when the urinary tract environment is too acidic or not sufficiently alkaline. Struvite crystals were formerly the most prevalent type to affect cats in particular and, in response, many manufacturers developed "acidifying" diets designed to dissolve the struvite crystals and discourage their future development. However, this change in many diet formulations is thought to be partly responsible for the recent increase in the development of calcium oxalate. The two types of crystals now occur with almost equal frequency. More recent research indicates that strongly acidic diets may actually do more harm than good, particularly if fed to cats who are not actually affected by struvite formation, as they are then at greater risk of developing calcium oxalate. The only way to be certain which type of crystal is affecting a cat or dog is veterinary examination or testing. Treatment and prevention should be planned accordingly. Since acidifying the pH of the food, and hence, urinary tract, is no longer thought to be the optimal strategy, a moderate or very slightly acidic food pH is now indicated, to give a urine pH of just below neutral, which should not affect or encourage the formation of either type of crystals.
Reduced magnesium levels are also indicated for animals prone to crystals, although this mineral should never be eliminated completely from the diet.
The Calcium to Phosphorus ratios should be balanced.
Increased water intake is recommended, particularly for the prevention of future crystals. Canned food is a good option as it contains up to 78% moisture, as opposed to the 10% moisture found in most dry foods. Other treatment should be geared to the exact type of crystals or stones that are present. Cranberry extract or vitamin C is often recommended for struvite, as these substances are acidic. We found that many companies use vitamin C in the form of sodium ascorbate. We recommend foods which do not add sodium or salt as dogs and cats do not require an excess of this mineral in their diets. For calcium oxalate crystals, other veterinary treatments are available.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in dogs and cats may result from insufficient water intake and are most commonly caused by the bacteria, E. coli. There is a substance in cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) and blueberries (Vaccinium myrtilus) that has been shown in a number of clinical trials to prevent the adhesion of E. coli to the bladder wall and Urethra. If the bacteria are unable to attach, they are washed out of the urinary tract during urination and an infection cannot develop. Increased water intake will assist in flushing out infections and can be achieved by feeding a canned food that can contain up to 78% moisture. A good idea is to look for foods containing either blueberries or cranberries. Of course you don’t have to look for those in the shelves of your mass merchandise or grocery super market, you are wasting your time looking for something they don’t have. Typically those ingredients are only contained in high quality foods starting at the upper midrange. Extra cranberry juice may be added to the food or drinking water as an additional aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections and struvite crystals. However beware of and avoid products with added sugar, corn syrup, or other fruit juices that can negate the cranberry's acidic and beneficial effects. The best is to go with supplements specifically made for our companions.
Urinary Tract Disorders are a very serious problem and I strongly recommend to seek veterinarian advice and help. Be open minded. In most cases the vet will prescribe some scientific diet. This, based on what many of my customers reported to me does not mean the problem is being taken care of. Only problem it seems to solve is the vet’s need for an improved bottom line through the sale of pet food. There are non prescription high quality food brands available to you. They cost way less and, based on the feedback I got from my customers, do a much better job at a way lower price. If you want more info on those, e-mail me.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Hazards of a Health Fetish Part 1

Years of dedicated study explain the reasons why feeding raw food is not only necessary but advantageous; in honor of Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD. Dr. Pottenger was an original thinker and keen observer whose imagination, integrity and common sense gave him the courage to question official dogma. Dedicated to the cause of preventing chronic illness, he made significant contributions to the understanding of the role of nutrition in maintaining good health.
In his classical experiments in cat feeding, more than 900 cats were studied over 10 years. Dr. Pottenger found that only diets containing raw milk and raw meat produced optimal health: good bone structure and density, wide palates with plenty of space for teeth, shiny fur, no parasites or disease, reproductive ease and gentleness.
Cooking the meat or substituting heat processed milk for raw resulted in heterogeneous reproduction and physical degeneration, increasing with each generation. Vermin and parasites abounded. Skin diseases and allergies increased from 5% to over 90%. Bones became soft and pliable. Cats suffered from adverse personality changes, hypothyroidism and most of the degenerative diseases encountered in human medicine. They died out completely by the fourth generation. The changes Pottenger observed in cats on the deficient diets paralleled the human degeneration that Dr. Price found in tribes that had abandoned traditional diets.

Ron Schmid, ND, writes in “Francis M. Pottenger, MD and "The Hazards of a Health Fetish"”:
“The impact of quoted work is often influenced by the reputation of the person quoted. But what makes a reputation, in particular that of a person who died many years ago? Certainly in part the accuracy and importance of the written work left behind. But when a person's life and work are ignored by most of society, much less maligned by prestigious segments, reputation suffers. What yardstick may we use then to evaluate the import of the life? We may be left with only our judgment of the work itself. If the work is complex and perhaps not readily available, as is Dr. Pottenger's, making that judgment may be difficult.
Thomas Hotchkiss knew Francis M. Pottenger from the time Thomas was eleven years old in 1912. His "Personal Memoir" of Francis, written after his death in 1967, provided me with the following details about Francis's life.

Genius & Service
Two years before his death, Pottenger received the Distinguished Alumnus Award at Otterbein College in Ohio. In presenting the citation, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees praised Pottenger's distinguished career in medicine and public service.
Service indeed. By the time he received that award, Francis M. Pottenger, MD, had published over fifty peer-reviewed articles in the scientific literature, mainly in the fields of medicine, chronic disease and nutrition. He had served as president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, the American Therapeutic Society and the American Academy of Applied Nutrition. "Francis was among the first in his profession to recognize the hazard to health caused by air pollution in Los Angeles County. He worked indefatigably over a period of many years to mitigate its deleterious effects upon human health. His efforts were widely recognized and as a result he became a member of the Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District's Scientific Committee on Air Pollution."
Pottenger received a rather unusual accolade for a medical doctor. In 1951, the Texas State Dental Association honored him with an award for the Advancement of the Science of Dentistry in Texas. He had written a number of brilliant articles on the effect of raw versus cooked foods, including pasteurized milk, on the dental and facial structures of animals and human beings. The articles had a powerful and lasting impact on the many American physicians and dentists who were actively interested in the effect of nutrition on human health and disease.
In 1940, Francis founded the Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., Hospital at Monrovia, California, for the treatment of asthma and other nontubercular diseases of the respiratory system. And beginning in 1945, he was Assistant Clinical Professor of Experimental Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Dr. Pottenger also served as Medical Service Chief for the Civil Defense Area surrounding his home during World War II. Japanese invasion of the West Coast of America was considered a real threat in the dark days just after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The project to set up the first portable hospital in Los Angeles County under simulated disaster conditions was directed by Pottenger.
In 1940 he began what became known as the Pottenger Cat Study, the work that brought him fame. There's no money these days in making famous a man who proves the value of raw foods; in the last forty years or so, Pottenger's fame in the conventional medical and nutritional establishment has faded as surely
as the stocks of processed food companies have risen. Yet he remains an icon to those who understand his work and its importance, particularly in relationship to the work of Weston Price. Let's look now at what Francis had to say in one of his many professional papers, and an example of how his work has not only been misunderstood and ignored, but indeed sometimes deliberately misrepresented.

A fetish
is defined as 1) a thing abnormally stimulating or attracting sexual desire and 2) an inanimate object worshipped by primitive peoples for its supposed inherent magical powers or as being inhabited by a spirit. b. a thing evoking irrational devotion or respect.
For many years, advocates for raw milk have pointed to Pottenger's work as perhaps the most important research that proves raw milk's benefits. Those who would outlaw the sale of all raw milk have meanwhile disparaged and distorted his work. An example of the latter is found in an article titled "Unpasteurized Milk The Hazards of a Health Fetish" that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association on October 19, 1984.
The authors refer to a 1946 Pottenger article from the American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, "The Effect of Heat-Processed and Metabolized Vitamin D Milk on the Dentofacial Structures of Experimental Animals."
The authors of the "Health Fetish" article state: "Numerous studies of the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk have been conducted in animals and humans, and no differences were detectable. One animal study deserves particular attention because a misrepresentation of the results has become prominent in the raw milk folklore. In 1946, Pottenger published a report about his observations on cats fed varying combinations of raw and heat-treated milk and raw and cooked meat. In his first and largest series of experiments, Pottenger observed many diseases in cats fed raw milk and cooked meat. Raw milk advocates have erroneously cited this article as having reported that disease occurred in cats fed pasteurized milk. Smaller experiments in the same article showed that a diet of one-third raw meat and two-thirds milk (pasteurized or not) did not provide adequate nutrition for the cats."
Based on this quote, one might reasonably think that perhaps the diseases Pottenger observed in the first series of experiments were caused by raw milk, and that the smaller experiments showed that raw milk was not superior nutritionally to pasteurized milk. Publication in so prestigious a journal by two medical doctors and two veterinarians lends further weight to the pronouncements.”
Stay tuned for the conclusion in part 2 when we take a closer look at Pottenger’s Cat Studies, discuss some word games and talk about misleading truths. Animal Food Services AFS inspired me to this article.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 3 Whole Grains: The Healing Truth

“Whole grains are a very cost effective and environmentally sensitive way to provide the mainstay of your pet’s diet.” – Richard Pitcairn, DVM in “Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Cats and Dogs

Towards the end of last year I started this little mini series about one of the most controversial pet food ingredients, grain. Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 1, Part 2). Since then I have located a few more opinions on this topic. Altogether at the end we should have a nice collection of opinions and view points and hopefully based on those will be able to draw up our own conclusion. But before we get to that point, here’s another view point:

"Eating a variety of whole grains is an important part of a balanced natural pet food diet that offers numerous health benefits. Whole grains are a low-fat source of complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, plant protein, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In fact, whole grains are among the most nutrient rich plant foods on the planet. As a fiber source, whole grains are almost unrivaled. Rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber, whole grains are crucial for healthy intestinal function. Insoluble fiber has been linked to protection against colon cancer, as well as constipation and hemorrhoids. Soluble fiber can help to lower blood cholesterol and help stabilize blood glucose levels. Whole grains are also helpful with the common problems of constipation and anal gland issues in dogs and cats, which sometimes can be caused by poor quality nutrition that is void of dietary fiber.Grains are an excellent source of many antioxidants, vitamins and trace minerals, including vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. In combination with phenolic acids, phytic acid, and tococtrienols, whole grains possess a wide and unique combination of antioxidants that work to keep free radicals in check. Antioxidants work together to protect our cells from oxidative damage. Phytochemicals are the components that give whole grains their color and flavor. While research is relatively new, there are many exciting indicators that phyt ochemicals may play a role in the prevention of chronic disease such as cancer and heart disease. In fact lignans (a phyto estrogen) has been shown to slow cancer in animals! In America whole grains are the most widely consumed source of phytoestrogens. Whole grains provide an entire package of vital substances that work together to promote overall health. There has been an astounding connection between whole grains and the possible prevention of many types of chronic illnesses including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and digestive disorders. Studies show that regular consumption of whole grains causes a 10% to 60% reduction in the risk of certain cancers, especially of the stomach and colon, and whole grains are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. They also help regulate blood sugar by slowing down the conversion of complex caborhydrates into sugar. In Italy, a study between the years of 1983-1996 found a connection between the consumption of whole grains and a reduced risk in several types of cancer. In Iowa, a study of over 34,000 women from the ages of 55-69 showed that those who consumed whole grain foods on a daily basis had a 30 percent lower rate of heart disease then women who only consumed whole grains once a week or less. In a separate 10-year study of over 68,000 healthy women between the ages of 37-64, the group of women that consumed the highest amount of whole grains also reported the lowest rate of heart disease. Whole grain fiber has also been linked to a reduced risk for type-2, or adult onset diabetes. In a 6-year study of over 65,000 women between the ages of 40 to 65, the women that consumed the lowest amount of whole grain cereal fiber had a 2 1/2 times greater risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Similar results were shown for a group of over 42,000 men over the same 6-year period. And these studies are only the beginning.So why do people refer to grains in commercial pet foods as “filler”? One thing to keep in mind is that there is a profound difference between whole grains, like those found in our natural cat food and natural dog food, and refined grains. It is in the processing that crucial nutrients are lost. There are over twenty vitamins and minerals that are removed during the refining process. The protein, fiber, and phytochemicals are all lost. Take it one step further with our pets. When companies start with grain by-products that are void of any beneficial nutrients, and then cook, process, and preserve them on top of that, it’s no wonder some pets have trouble digesting them and people think of them as fillers. However, fresh, whole grains provide wonderful nutrition that pets thrive on. And founders of the holistic veterinary movement like Dr. Richard Pitcairn and Juliette DeBairclay-Levy have always used whole grains as an important part of their raw dog food diets. These are diets that have been time-tested for decades, therefore confirming the long-term positive results. The bottom line is that whole grains are a wonderful addition to a balanced, biologically appropriate diet."
Contributed by Ward Johnson, Founder of Sojourner Farms, a pet food company that provides customers with healthy, homemade pre-mixes and bases for raw feeding.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Buyer Beware: Human Grade Dog Food

It's a little confusing to grasp, but here's the gist of it: The term Human-Grade refers to the quality of a finished dog food product. The term applies to a product that is legally suitable and approved for consumption by a person or edible.
In contrast, the term Feed Grade applies to a product that is not suitable for consumption by people and is only legally approved to be fed to animals or is inedible.
The FDA and USDA are responsible for regulating human foods and determining 'edible' status. In order to be allowed to produce human foods, a manufacturing facility undergoes far more frequent and detailed inspections by these and other agencies, compared with the inspection that a pet food plant undergoes.
Other terms like "Human Quality" or "Table Grade" are not legal definitions for human food or pet food. A number of manufacturers use these terms to imply that their manufacturing and finished products are better than they really are.
Only a facility that actually produces human foods, undergoes the inspections and approval necessary to have genuine human grade status and therefore, a pet food must be made in such a plant in order to be called ‘human grade’. Human food plants to not make kibble, the dry nuggets of food fed to many pets in the US.
And the term "Made with Human-grade Ingredients" doesn't mean that a finished product is actually, legally, human grade either. An ingredient, for example, a carrot, may start off being human edible but once that carrot has been shipped to and processed in a pet food plant, the 'human-grade' term can no longer legally be used. By definition, it is now feed grade.
Beware also of pet food manufacturers that bandy about the ‘human grade’ term liberally on their web sites and other marketing materials - but don’t actually state it on the bag. This is a good indicator that the authorities have already picked them up for breaking the rules – or that they’re being a little liberal with the truth. Short staffed and under funded inspectors generally only have time to check labels and don’t usually get to the online and printed marketing pitch.
So what’s a pet mom to do? Home cooking is one option, though this can be time-consuming, and achieving nutritional balance is tricky. Raw diets are also a nutritious, healthy way to incorporate real human food into Fido’s menu.
When shopping the pet food aisle, look for a brand that is marked as being produced in a human food factory under FDA or USDA inspection. If in doubt, call your pet food manufacturer and ask them where their food is made.
Various ingredients used in many pet foods are not fit for human consumption at all, and may include by-products, chemicals, fillers and parts from '4D' meats (animals which are dying, diseased, disabled or deceased). These ingredients never have 'edible' status and the finished products certainly don't. Other ingredients may be derived from origins that are human grade, but are not actually edible themselves. Examples would be feathers, feet and beaks from a chicken. The meat would be directed to the human food chain and these components, from that same chicken, make their way to pet food plants as approved and acceptable sources of protein for cats and dogs.
So, Buyer beware, question manufacturers and scrutinize labels.
Contributed by The Honest Kitchen

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What’s Really in Pet Food? Part 1 Introduction and Players in the Industry

Plump whole chickens, choice cuts of beef, fresh grains, and all the wholesome nutrition your dog or cat will ever need.
These are the images pet food manufacturers promulgate through the media and advertising. This is what the $16.1 billion per year U.S. pet food industry wants consumers to believe they are buying when they purchase their products.
This report explores the differences between what consumers think they are buying and what they are actually getting. It focuses in very general terms on the most visible name brands — the pet food labels that are mass-distributed to supermarkets and discount stores — but there are many highly respected brands that may be guilty of the same offenses.
What most consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a convenient way for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, heads, hooves, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.

The Players
The pet food market has been dominated in the last few years by the acquisition of big companies by even bigger companies. With $15 billion a year at stake in the U.S. and rapidly expanding foreign markets, it’s no wonder that some are greedy for a larger piece of the pie.
NestlĂ©’s bought Purina to form NestlĂ© Purina Petcare Company (Fancy Feast, Alpo, Friskies, Mighty Dog, Dog Chow, Cat Chow, Puppy Chow, Kitten Chow, Beneful, One, ProPlan, DeliCat, HiPro, Kit’n’Kaboodle, Tender Vittles, Purina Veterinary Diets).
Del Monte gobbled up Heinz (MeowMix, Gravy Train, Kibbles ’n Bits, Wagwells, 9Lives, Cycle, Skippy, Nature’s Recipe, and pet treats Milk Bone, Pup-Peroni, Snausages, Pounce).
MasterFoods owns Mars, Inc., which consumed Royal Canin (Pedigree, Waltham’s, Cesar, Sheba, Temptations, Goodlife Recipe, Sensible Choice, Excel).
Other major pet food makers are not best known for pet care, although many of their household and personal care products do use ingredients derived from animal by-products:
Procter and Gamble (P&G) purchased The Iams Company (Iams, Eukanuba) in 1999. P&G shortly thereafter introduced Iams into grocery stores, where it did very well.
Colgate-Palmolive bought Hill’s Science Diet (founded in 1939) in 1976 (Hill’s Science Diet, Prescription Diets, Nature’s Best).
Private labelers (who make food for “house” brands like Kroger and Wal-Mart) and co-packers (who produce food for other pet food makers) are also major players. Three major companies are Doane Pet Care, Diamond, and Menu Foods; they produce food for dozens of private label and brand names. Interestingly, all 3 of these companies have been involved in pet food recalls that sickened or killed many pets.
Many major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of gigantic multinational corporations. From a business standpoint, pet food fits very well with companies making human products. The multinationals have increased bulk-purchasing power; those that make human food products have a captive market in which to capitalize on their waste products; and pet food divisions have a more reliable capital base and, in many cases, a convenient source of ingredients.
The Pet Food Institute — the trade association of pet food manufacturers — has acknowledged the use of by-products in pet foods as additional income for processors and farmers: “The growth of the pet food industry not only provided pet owners with better foods for their pets, but also created profitable additional markets for American farm products and for the byproducts of the meat packing, poultry, and other food industries which prepare food for human consumption.” (Pet Food Institute. Fact Sheet 1994. Washington: Pet Food Institute, 1994.)
Contributed by and © 2003-2009 - Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute - All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.