Saturday, March 7, 2009

Pet Medical Conditions Ranking 2008

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), USA's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed medical claims received in 2008 to find the year's most common pet maladies, according to a VPI press release published by PR Newswire
According to this press release,
Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), USA’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed medical claims received during 2008 to find the year’s most common pet maladies.
The results indicate that pets visit the veterinarian for many of the same reasons humans visit the doctor, with ear infections the No. 1 condition for dogs and lower urinary tract disease No. 1 for cats. The top 10 conditions accounted for nearly 340,000, or close to 25%, of all canine and feline medical claims received in 2008.

Here is the press release in its original wording:
“BREA, Calif., Feb. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Not all the similarities between pets and people are cute and cuddly. Take ear infections, for example, or skin rashes. Not convinced? How about diarrhea? Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed medical claims received in 2008 to find the year's most common pet maladies. The results indicate that pets visit the veterinarian for many of the same reasons humans visit the doctor, with ear infections the No. 1 condition for dogs and lower urinary tract disease No. 1 for cats. The top 10 conditions accounted for nearly 340,000, or close to 25 percent, of all canine and feline medical claims received in 2008.

Top Canine Claims
1. Ear Infections
2. Skin Allergies
3. Pyoderma/Hot Spots
4. Gastritis/Vomiting
5. Enteritis/Diarrhea
6. Urinary Tract Infections
7. Benign Skin Tumors
8. Osteoarthritis
9. Eye Inflammation
10. Hypothyroidism

Top Feline Claims
1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease
2. Gastritis/Stomach Upsets
3. Chronic Renal Failure
4. Enteritis/Diarrhea
5. Diabetes Mellitus
6. Skin Allergies
7. Hyperthyroidism
8. Ear Infections
9. Upper Respiratory Virus
10. Eye Inflammation

"The large number of claims received for these medical conditions attests to their often repetitive or chronic nature," said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. "A dog with allergies, for example, will most likely require continuing care and a cat with diabetes will be no stranger to the veterinarian's office. Pet owners have a tendency to fear major accidents and illnesses - car crash injuries, or cancer - but a chronic condition can be just as detrimental to a pet's quality of life and financially burdensome to treat." Most of the top pet conditions will bring about a noticeable change in the behavior or appearance of a pet. Pet owners can ensure that they recognize an illness quickly with regular observation of a pet's daily routine and inspection of a pet's eyes, ears, and skin. Any lumps, sores, unusual odors, or drastic changes in behavior suggest that one's pet should be promptly examined by a veterinarian. Even before a problem manifests, semiannual physical exams can help diagnose problems early or in some cases prevent many illnesses. If left untreated, any of the top 10 conditions could result in serious health problems and eventually cost hundreds of dollars to treat. In 2008, the most expensive of the common canine conditions was benign skin tumors, with an average submitted claim fee of $340. For cats, the most expensive common condition was renal failure, with an average submitted claim fee of $267.About Veterinary Pet Insurance…” following here in the
original is a description of VPI’s services and products.

Looking at the top rated conditions, I wanted to know not just what the signs are telling me the animal is affected but also was interested in the causes as eliminating those should be the first step in taking care of a problem.
Ear infections: This condition, an inflammation of the outer ear canal and also known under its medical name “otitis externa” is estimated to affect about 20% of the canine population. The signs for this condition are odor, scratching or rubbing of ears and head, discharge in the ears, redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal, shaking of the head or tilting it to one side, pain around the ears and or changes in behavior such as depression or irritability. Causes can be various and include allergies such as atopy (inhalant allergies) or food allergies, parasites such as ear mites, microorganisms like bacteria and yeast, foreign bodies,, trauma, hormonal abnormalities like for example hypothyroidism, the ear environment, e.g., excess moisture and ear anatomy, hereditary or immune conditions, and tumors.
Skin Allergies show by the animal chewing on its feet, rubbing its face, scratching its body, is affected by recurring ear infections or showing of hair loss and/or mutilated skin. They can be caused by a number of allergens the pet’s body is reacting to, which can include Trees, grass, weeds, pollens, fabrics, rubber and plastic materials, foods and food additives such as individual meats, grains, or colorings, milk products, house dust and dust mites and flea bites.
Ptyoderma/Hotspots are also known as acute moist dermatitis. Dogs with long hair or those with dense undercoats are more common to suffer from this condition. Similar to skin allergies causes are often local allergic reactions to a specific antigen. Insect bites, especially from fleas, are often found to be the cause. Other causes of hot spots include allergies (inhalant or food allergies), mites. Ear infections, insuffucient grooming, hip dysplasia or arthritis and anal gland disease.
Gastritis and vomiting: Typically affected animals will vomit, have no appetite and will not eat, and be lethargic. They also may have an elevated temperature above the normal 101.5 degrees. Gastritis, if a virus or bacteria is involved, may eventually progress to the intestines and cause diarrhea. A classic example of a viral infection is infectious canine parvovirus, which occasionally begins as gastritis. This condition is caused by viruses and bacteria, but also often affects animals which have eaten spoiled food or garbage, etc..
At this point I really don’t have to go further. More information on each condition is available throughout this blogs in separate comments and article. What I wanted to point out however is the fact that many of these conditions are caused by food and diet. Which in turn, as I keep insisting, clearly shows how important it is to make sure your beloved companion gets the right and healthy food. Even if that may mean to pay a little more money, in the long run you will be better off as it will help you to avoid these special health conditions. And that is true regardless of whether you have a health insurance policy for your pet or not.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Consumer Reports: The place to look for answers on pet food?

In its March issue, Consumer Reports makes an attempt to advise consumers on what to look for on pet food labels and discusses some fancy claims they say pet owners can ignore. Here is what came across my desk on the PR Newswire:
“YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- When it comes to buying pet food, higher cost doesn't always mean higher quality, according to the March issue of Consumer Reports. A higher price could indicate better ingredients and better quality control during and after manufacturing, but it could also just mean prettier packaging, more marketing, or a fancy name. And despite food safety concerns that resulted from a recall of pet food tainted with melamine in 2007, Consumer Reports urges caution for consumers who are considering making their own pet food, a growing trend.
The full report is available in the March 2009 issue of Consumer Reports and online at
Consumer Reports asked eight experts in dog and cat nutrition at seven top veterinary schools what consumers get by spending more for pet food. They were also asked what they served their own pets: Most of the experts said they use a variety of common brands sold at pet stores or supermarkets.
A recent survey by the Associated Press found that although Americans may be spending less on themselves, they're not scrimping on their pets. According to the survey, just one in seven pet owners said they had curtailed spending on their pet during the past year, even as they cut back on other expenses.
Thirty-seven percent of U.S. households have dogs, and 32 percent have cats. But because of multi-cat households, felines outnumber canines: As of 2007, there were almost 82 million cats and 72 million dogs.
The bottom line, says Consumer Reports: It's more important to look for the overall nutrient profile of a particular pet food brand than it is to shop by price or even individual ingredients. "As a pet owner, your main goal is to ensure that your animal is active and healthy," says Jamie Hirsh, associate health editor at Consumer Reports. "That suggests that the food you're buying is doing its job. But it's also important to know that you don't have to choose the most expensive food to get what's best for your pet. Look for food labeled 'complete and balanced,' which indicates it can be the pet's sole nourishment."
Hirsh advises pet owners to look for labels stating that the food's nutritional adequacy was validated by animal-feeding tests based on protocols from the American Association of Feed Control Officials, a regulatory group. That statement is a step above the other one that AAFCO allows -- that a food was formulated to meet the group's nutrient profiles. "In addition, make sure the package has contact information for the food's manufacturer, in case you have questions," Hirsh says.
Consumers should also take into consideration the age of their pet and whether he or she has special needs. For example, cats with kidney or urinary problems might benefit from the moisture in wet food, while animals with dental issues might do better with dry food.”
Then following here is a basic brief 101 on pet food labels and common terms used with their actual meanings. I decided not to bring those up here since our readers have learned about them on this blog earlier and are constantly reminded. What I found important is the report’s continuation:
“What Consumers Can Do
Consumer Reports offers the following advice to pet owners:
Be careful when making your own pet food. Most experts said they hadn't seen a pet get sick from inexpensive food; however, half said they had seen pets become ill from eating homemade pet food, a growing trend since the 2007 recall of some commercial pet food contaminated by melamine. Dogs and cats each require about 40 different nutrients in very specific proportions, …
MARCH 2009
The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.”

In addition, Consumer Reports publishes the following postings on its website:

“Q&A: Vets weigh in on Fido's food
Americans might be spending less on themselves, but not on their furry friends. In a survey conducted by the Associated Press in December 2008, just one in seven pet owners said they had curtailed spending on their pet during the past year, even as they cut other expenses.
Prices range as widely as the foods—everything from low-glycemic and grain-free meals to human-food mimics such as chicken pot pie. At stores near our headquarters in Yonkers, N.Y., per-day costs for dry foods for a 35-pound dog ranged from about 38 cents (Walmart's Ol' Roy Krunchy Bites & Bones) to about $2.88 (Karma Organic). Prices for canned foods ranged from $1.38 per day (Ol' Roy Hearty Cuts in Gravy) to $4.78 (Merrick Turducken Entreé).
We asked eight experts in dog and cat nutrition at seven top veterinary schools what you get by spending more for pet food. (Note: All but one have received some funding from the pet-food industry.) They also shared advice on pet feeding. Answers represent their consensus.
Should you pay a lot for pet food?
"There's no scientific evidence that any food is better than the next," says Joseph Wakshlag, D.V.M., Ph.D., an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Pets can thrive on inexpensive food or become ill from pricey food. If your animal is active and healthy, the food is doing its job. A higher price could mean better ingredients and better quality control during and after manufacturing. But you might also be paying for pretty packaging, marketing, or a fancy name.
Can inexpensive food make a pet sick?
Most experts said they haven't seen that happen, with the exception of a zinc deficiency in the 1980s that was traced to a generic dog food. But half had seen pets become ill from eating homemade pet food, a growing trend since the 2007 recall of some commercial pet foods contaminated by melamine. Dogs and cats each require about 40 different nutrients in very specific proportions. If you insist on making your own pet food, consider enlisting an animal nutritionist certified by the American College of Veterinary Nutrition ( or get help from or, which the ACVN lists as resources on its site.
What ingredients should you look for?
Most experts said individual ingredients are much less important than overall nutrient profile. Check the label for two statements. Look for food labeled "complete and balanced," which indicates it can be the pet's sole nourishment (unlike a treat). Also look for food labels stating that nutritional adequacy was validated by animal-feeding tests based on protocols from the American Association of Feed Control Officials, a regulatory group. That statement is a step above the other one AAFCO allows—that a food was formulated to meet the group's nutrient profiles. Make sure you can find the manufacturer's contact information, in case you have questions. For more on labels, see
What pet-food labels really mean.
Do you need to buy food with claims?
For pet food, there's no official definition of organic, human-grade, premium, no fillers, or gourmet. Gluten-free foods are generally necessary only for the tiny percentage of pets that are intolerant of that protein. There's some evidence that antioxidants—such as vitamin E—and some omega-3 fatty acids might enhance pets' immunity or help protect against certain diseases, but the experts were split on whether you need to look for them.
How important is age-specific food?
It's very important for puppies, kittens, and pregnant pets, which have especially stringent nutritional needs. Foods "for growth" or "for all life stages" meet those needs. Foods "for maintenance" are for healthy adults only. "Senior" is "a marketing term, not a nutritional term," says Sarah K. Abood, D.V.M., Ph.D., an assistant professor of small-animal clinical sciences at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Do wet and dry differ nutritionally?
No, but there's a cost difference: Wet foods contain about 75 percent water, so you need more to get the same calories. The experts we spoke to said that the decision usually comes down to price, convenience, the pet's preference, and any health issues. Cats with kidney or urinary problems might benefit from the moisture in wet food, for example, and animals with dental issues might benefit from dry food.
What do vets feed their pets?
Among them, our experts have 11 dogs and at least six cats. Most told us they use a variety of common brands sold at pet stores or supermarkets. They use both wet and dry and often combine the types.
Posted: February 2009 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: March 2009

So much for what Consumer Reports has to say. Here is my take on this story:
I never understood nor will I understand how a publication like Consumer Reports can make the claim that they are experts on everything, a valuable resource for the consumer, which is in many cases very often considered to be “the bible”, the law of which products are good and which ones bad. How can someone be expert on everything from used to new cars over, to kitchen appliances, lawn mowers, food, housing, furniture, insurance and you just name it, they know it all? Including pet food? I have some serious doubts here and would say rightfully so.
Let’s face it, how much credibility do I place in a report which places on the same level and compares Ol’ Roy with Karma Organics, or Ol’Roy with Merrick?Just to make Karma and Merrick look bad to begin with because they are sooo expensive? Regardless, this is all neither here nor there, the bottom line is one does not compare the brands as they did, that is an insult to Karma and Merrick. So I was hoping that they would talk about the actual food some more, provide more detail and so on. Well, they didn’t. And to make intelligent statements here and backup my claim of them comparing apples with oranges I went to visit the Ol’Roy website in the hopes I would find the detail I was looking for. To my surprise, when I visited the
Walmart site looking up the product I found Ol'roy: Dog Food Krunchy Bites & Bones and under “Nutritional facts” the statement: “Nutrition Facts are not available for this item.” Wow, I thought we are way beyond that and something like no ingredient listing is a story of the past. Is it that bad that it cannot be posted on a public website? So bad that even the prospective buyer is not told what he is going to buy? What do you guys have to hide here? In disbelieve I kept looking and found under : “Nutritional Info” another site visitor’s inquiry: “Hi- just wondering what the nutritional breakdown is for this food?” The answer posted was just the next surprise: “Product Details: Formulated to Help Promote A Healthy Immune System, Omega-6 Fatty Acid For Shiny Coat & Healthy Skin, Protein, Calcium & Phosphorus For Strong Muscles, Bones & Teeth, 100% Complete & Balanced Nutrition For All Breeds, Give Your Dog Wholesome, Quality Ingredients, Plus A Taste He Will Savor. You Can Feed Ol'roy Krunchy Bites & Bones With Confidence. The Confidence of Knowing That Your Dog Is Receiving All The Essential Nutrients He Needs to Help Promote A Shiny Coat and Strong muscles…” Well, now here I have it: Omega-6 Fatty acid, I guess some protein, calcium and phosphorus, wholesome quality ingredients and essential nutrients. Just what I have been looking for (NOT). Consumer Reports, I thought you would do better than what you did here, I sincerely hope none of your pet owning readers consider your comparison as a recommendation, but I am just afraid many will. Because if people would listen to what knowledgeable sources have to say, nobody would buy this product. But that is obviously not the case. I guess the 38 cents per day do work wonders.

Then the next problem I am having with the report is that the reader for advice is being sent to sites which sell their nutritional consulting services, like the sites of and Is the fact that the ACVN is recommending these sites a justification that Consumer Reports should recommend them? I wonder about how much independence this is supposed to show? I am seriously considering to inquire with Consumer Reports if they can publish my name next time around. After all, I am providing advice. Granted, I am not being endorsed by the ACVN. But at least I never claimed I would be independent and I never made a secret out of the fact that my main job is selling healthy pet nutrition. I wonder what it takes to get such a favor and privilege. Come on guys, with a little more intense research you could have found way better resources for the consumer group you are addressing here. Like the totally unbiased, honest and straight forward opinions of Susan Thixton on her site or Sabine Contreras’ Best of all, it is free. Though you would have had to find a different comparison of foods to begin with, because both of these very knowledgeable ladies will agree with me.

And while I am talking about independence: I researched the Consumer Reports website a little more and found what I was looking for:
Our Mission Why did Consumer Reports create a Web site about health decisions?
For more than 70 years, Consumers Union, the nation's expert, independent, nonprofit consumer organization, has been working for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and empowering consumers to protect themselves. We're a leading advocate for patient safety, health-care quality and effectiveness, and affordable health coverage for all.
Our trusted research, testing, and reporting on health topics–always free of advertising and commercial or government influence–appears regularly in Consumer Reports magazine,, and our other media products. …..
As consumers become increasingly involved in their own health decisions and turn to the Web for answers to their questions, they need unbiased, accurate, evidence-based information to compare their options and to make appropriate choices for themselves and their families. Informed choices lead to better health outcomes, lower costs, and improved value.
In response to this need, Consumer Reports launched offers Consumers Union's rich array of research and recommendations about health care and healthy living on one continuously updated Web site. Our goal is to answer your pressing questions–from which diet plan is rated the best to cost-effective alternatives to your prescription drugs–and to help you make better health-care decisions.”

“Help you make better health care decisions” Pointing out the food I discussed above is a “Good health care decision”?
“Independent… consumer organization” Recommending sites charging the consumer for their services is independent? “Trusted research free of advertising” would fall in that same category, right?
“…evidence based information to compare their options” does include comparing apples with oranges or Ol’ Roy with Karma and Merrick?
One more on “independence”: In your Q&A subchapter you say yourself about the vets you had questioned: “Note: All but one have received some funding from the pet-food industry.” How independent is that?
“Can inexpensive food make a pet sick?” The answers provided here to me are just ridiculous. Was anybody reading up on the subject matter? Almost pandemic proportions of pets showing diseases because of what they are being fed, i.e. in most cases mass marketed low cost pet foods are not enough of a fact that inexpensive foods make our pets sick? I have stats on my opinion, do you have any on yours? What world are these vets questioned living in?
And finally to round it up, what also made me wonder was when the vets in the Q&A session were asked about what they feed their own pets. They buy food for their own pets at the super market? I have two questions: They don’t trust the food what they sell at their offices or clinics? And if they feed their pets the super market brands, I hope they don’t recommend that to their patients. Because in that case I only can say “May God be with us, or better, with our pets.”

In conclusion: I hope this all is sort of an attempt which didn’t quite work out as well as it was supposed to. The pet owning consumer really didn’t learn a lot here and I sure hope he or she realizes that and seeks more and better advice when making decisions about pet food. Because this one in my opinion went totally the wrong way. To answer the initial question "Is Consumer Report the place to look for answers on pet food", I would say "Think again."
Resources and references:
PR Newswire: “Consumer Reports: Pricey Pet Food Not Necessarily Better”
Consumer Reports “Q&A Vets weigh in on Fido’s Food”
Consumer Reports “Pet Food Labels, what they really mean”
Walmart: “Ol'roy: Dog Food Krunchy Bites & Bones

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Hazards of a Health Fetish Part 3: Conclusion with Word games

In part one of this series I introduced you to a man you constantly hear about when the discussion is about raw food. Dr. Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., MD 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, processed diets accomplished the opposite. We realized that one has to very carefully read Pottenger’s notes as some appear to be deceptive to some degree. Today I want to share with you what. Ron Schmid, ND, author of “Francis M. Pottenger, MD and "The Hazards of a Health Fetish" has to say about the doctor’s “Word games:
We see that Pottenger's own words describe clearly the superior value of raw versus pasteurized milk for the animals. Yet the "Health Fetish" authors’ statement that "a diet of one-third raw meat and two-thirds milk (pasteurized or not) did not provide adequate nutrition for the cats" is strictly speaking true, because of the use of the phrase "pasteurized or not." One experiment used raw metabolized vitamin D milk, and, like the pasteurized, evaporated, and sweetened condensed milks, this resulted in diseased animals. The metabolized vitamin D (a synthetic form of the vitamin present in the milk because the cows had been fed irradiated yeast) proved to be so toxic that it overrode the benefits of the otherwise optimal all-raw diet that were proven in the animals fed plain raw milk. Thus one type of milk that was not pasteurized had indeed not provided adequate nutrition. Had the "Health Fetish" authors used the phrase "pasteurized or raw," the statement would have been false, because the word raw would be referring to both raw milks tested—the raw metabolized vitamin D milk that did not provide adequate nutrition, and the plain raw milk that did. The choice of the word "not" makes the distortion possible without actually making a false statement. Very clever indeed. There is no discussion on the toxicity of the synthetic vitamin D in the "Health Fetish" article, and no mention of the sparkling health seen in generation after generation of cats fed raw meat and raw milk free of synthetic vitamin D.
The "Health Fetish" authors make one other statement that may not be called an untruth, yet is obviously designed to lead one to false conclusions: "Raw milk advocates have erroneously cited this article as having reported that disease occurred in cats fed pasteurized milk." I'll repeat what Pottenger reported: "The cats fed pasteurized milk as their principal item of diet, and raw meat as a partial diet, showed lessened reproductive efficiency in the females, and some skeletal changes, while the kittens presented deficiencies in development." Pottenger indeed does not actually use the word "disease" here or anywhere else in this article in reference to animals fed pasteurized milk (the article is about effects on the dental and facial structures of the animals). Yet his finding of the superiority of raw versus pasteurized milk is clearly presented. In fact, in one experiment described briefly, 13 cats fed pasteurized milk all died within several months.
The "Health Fetish" authors make no mention of a number of other relevant findings published in the Pottenger article. For example, an autopsy photograph shows the internal organs of a cat that had been fed a diet of one-third raw meat and two-thirds pasteurized milk for eight months before being sacrificed. The caption reads, "Note poor tone of skin and inferior quality of fur. Fair heart. Slight fatty atrophy of the liver. Lack of intestinal tone: moderated distension of uterus. Note the disturbance of the skin with a shift from the creamy color of the raw-milk fed cat to the purplish discoloration of congestion."
In contrast, another photograph shows the internal organs of a cat fed a diet of one-third raw meat and two-thirds raw milk all of its life. The caption reads, "Note excellent condition of fur and creamy yellow subcutaneous tissue with high vascularity. Moderate heart size. Good liver, firm intestines, and resting uterus. Note the muscle of the raw-milk-fed animal has a deeper red color and appears more vascular than that of the animals receiving the heat-processed milks."
Another experiment began with 13 cats in excellent health that had been raised on raw meat and raw milk. A table is used to show how long these cats lived after being placed on a diet of one-third raw meat and two-thirds pasteurized milk. The average length of life for the males is 4 months 11 days, for the females 3 months 27 days. The calcium-to-phosphorous ratio of each cat's femur (thighbone) is shown, and all are abnormal.
Two X-ray photographs depict the results of another experiment that used two rats, one fed raw milk (rat A) and the other pasteurized (rat B). The caption for the raw milk animal reads, "Note advanced maturity, greater diameter and length of the olecranon process [part of the elbow] of the ulna [the long bone in the foreleg]." The caption for the pasteurized milk animal reads, "Note smaller olecranon process and delayed maturity when compared with rat A."
Another photograph shows a number of bones from one of the cats, previously healthy, that died four months after being placed on the one-third raw meat and two-thirds pasteurized milk diet. The caption reads, "Note missing teeth, chalky appearance of bone, squaring of the bases of teeth and marked root resorption. Osteoporosis. Lack of completion of orbital arches [the orbit is the eye socket]. The cheek bones have become separated at suture lines [where the bones come together]."
An X-ray of the jaw of a living cat fed the raw meat-raw milk diet all of its life is presented. The caption reads, "Normal jaw structure, good distribution of trabeculae [part of the bony structure], well developed condyle [a knob at the end of the bone], and well developed pterygoid process [a little outgrowth of bone] of the mandible [jaw bone]. Alveolar crest [the alveolus is the bony socket for the root of a tooth] of normal height; even distribution of teeth."

My object here is not to give a lesson in anatomy, but rather to make accessible to the reader some of the details of Pottenger's findings. In this article he focused primarily on the effects of heat-processed foods, including pasteurized milk, on the bones and jaws of his experimental animals because the article was written for a dental journal. In many other articles published over the course of some fifteen years, he emphasizes the diseases that result in cats and other animals when fed diets that include pasteurized milk.
Another of the "Health Fetish" authors' statements quoted earlier deserves further inquiry: "Numerous studies of the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk have been conducted in animals and humans, and no differences were detectable." This appears to be a simple statement of fact. Since, in reality, numerous studies of the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk conducted on animals and humans have shown clearly the nutritional superiority of raw milk, one is tempted to declare the "Health Fetish" statement to be untrue. But in fact it is a true statement! Now how can that be? To answer this question, we must do a little exercise in logic.
Examine these two statements: 1) "Numerous studies of the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk have been conducted in animals and humans, and no differences were detectable." 2) "Numerous studies of the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk have been conducted in animals and humans, and vast differences were detectable."
It appears that if one statement is true, the other must be false, right? Wrong! Both statements may be true—it all depends on which "numerous studies" the writer is referring to, and when he doesn't tell us, he isn't pinned down. Even if the writer is aware of numerous studies that favor both sides of the argument, statements 1 and 2 may both be defended as true statements (in a court of law, for example, or in a subsequent article). Understanding this element of logic is necessary when writers employ logical tricks. Young people who go on to medical school usually study logic as undergraduates.
Notice that although the authors refer to Pottenger's animal study in the very next sentence, they carefully do not say it is one of the "numerous studies" to which they have just referred. We get the impression that it is, of course. But they do not say this, for to do so would be false; as we have seen, Pottenger's study undeniably shows the nutritional superiority of raw milk as compared to pasteurized.
But it is almost as though someone played a game of perverse (dare I say fetishistic) logic, devising technically true statements which would disguise Pottenger's findings, distort the meaning of his words and trick the reader into false conclusions. I've studied Pottenger's work for over twenty years, and it took me hours to untangle the web I've described.
It is indeed a fact that a number of researchers supported by grants from the dairy industry have published research that claimed to find no significant differences in the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk. We have good reason to question the validity of research funded by corporate money or conducted by individuals funded by corporations. No references are given for the "numerous studies" mentioned above, so it is not possible to examine them.
The "Health Fetish" authors carefully avoided any simple, straightforward statement to the effect of, "None of the reasonable studies in animals or humans of which we are aware have shown that there is a significant difference in the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk." They also avoided words to the effect of "The Pottenger study under discussion showed no significant difference in the relative nutritional merits of raw and pasteurized milk." Either statement would have been patently false, because scores of reasonable studies, obviously including this Pottenger study, demonstrate the nutritional superiority of raw versus pasteurized milk.
We've seen that the "Health Fetish" authors used technically (logically) true statements to completely distort Dr. Pottenger's findings. Only careful study of Pottenger's article would allow the choice of precisely the right words to accomplish this while avoiding making false statements. We may hope that the authors gained considerable understanding of Pottenger's work and its implications for the health of people everywhere. Perhaps they may someday use that knowledge in the way Dr. Pottenger intended.
Pottenger concludes his article with possible explanations for his findings, referencing his words to physiology textbooks and articles by other scientists: "What vital elements were destroyed in the heat processing of the foods fed the cats? The precise factors are not known. Ordinary cooking precipitates proteins, rendering them less easily digested. All tissue enzymes are heat labile and would be materially reduced or destroyed. Vitamin C and some members of the B complex are injured by the process of cooking. Minerals are rendered less soluble by altering their physiochemical state. It is possible that the alteration of the physicochemical state of the foods may be all that is necessary to render them imperfect foods for the maintenance of health. It is our impression that the denaturing of proteins by heat is one factor responsible. The principles of growth and development are easily altered by heat and oxidation, which kill living cells at every stage of the life process, from the soil through the plant, and through the animal."
Dr. Pottenger's work leaves us with clear indications that there is no better food for human beings than raw milk from grass-fed animals. The clear and present danger is that "experts" such as the health fetish article authors wield unjustified influence with physicians and public health authorities—influence based in large part on false representations. Understanding the truth about Pottenger's work and the value of raw milk is an important step in regaining our health.”
All I have to add is: Not just an important step in regaining “our” health, but also the health of our companion animals.

Plus: Aren’t we pet owners used to the common problem that words, especially (but not only) if used for marketing purposes can have many different meanings and often require us to think twice of what they really say? Leaving a word out here or there or using a word it in a little different, deceptive way can make a world of a difference in understanding what we are looking at and possibly going to buy.
Contributed by Ron Schmid, ND: “Francis M. Pottenger, MD and "The Hazards of a Health Fetish"” ( Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Source: Reprint by Animal Food Services, Inc. (AFS))
Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation
1. Hotchkiss, Thomas. A Personal Memoir of Francis M. Pottenger, Jr., M.D. The Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, 1975.
2. The Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary, Oxford, 1991.
3. Potter, M., Kaufmann, A., Blake, P., and Feldman, R. "Unpasteurized Milk - The Hazards of a Health Fetish." The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 252, No. 15, 2048-2052, October 19, 1984. 4. Pottenger, F.M., Jr. "The Effect of Heat-Processed and Metabolized Vitamin D Milk on the Dentofacial Structures of Experimental Animals." American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, Vol. 32, No. 8, 467-485, August, 1946.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pet food global: Food coming from Taiwan safe? Food from China still very questionable.

Pet Food Industry Magazine, a publication for pet food professionals, reported recently that according to the Taipai Times, to ease public concern over possible health threats in petfood, the Taiwan Council of Agriculture (COA) said that its recent tests of the aflatoxin levels in about 100 types of dog and cat food showed that all products were safe for consumption.
Meggie Lu on 02/05/09 wrote for the Taiwan paper under “Council says dog and cat food meets safety standards”:
““In January we sampled most brands of dry dog and cat food on the market for aflatoxin levels and found all to be within safety standards,” said Hsu Tien-lai (許天來), director of the council's Department of Animal Industry.The COA investigation followed an incident in the middle of last month, when a batch of Dog Food House brand dry dog food produced on Nov. 7 was found to contain 155.59 parts per billion of aflatoxin, which is 15 times the legal safety standard.Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by fungi. The substance is known to be carcinogenic in humans and has been documented as causing liver failure and deaths in dogs.Hsu said the tests and analyses were conducted on 106 types of pet foods, including 94 types of dog food and 12 types of cat food produced by several popular brands, such as Pedigree, Purina, Hills, Classic, Eukanuba, Choice, Optima, Carrefour Brand, Whiskas, and DFH.“If pet owners are still unsure about their pet's condition, the COA has asked the four veterinary hospitals affiliated with National Taiwan University, National Chung Hsing University, National Chiayi University and National Ping Tung University of Science and Technology to offer charged outpatient services specific to ailments related to animal feeds,” he said.Concerned pet owners can also submit any suspicious pet foods to the council's Livestock Research Institute for a charged analysis, he said.The COA will also hold a hygiene and food safety seminar with pet food manufacturers before the end of this month to prevent similar breakouts in the future, Hsu said.”
Calum MacLeod on the other hand wasn’t quite as positive about China. On 03/02/09 he wrote for USA Today on 03/02/09 under “Some skeptical of China's new food safety law” :
BEIJING — Following recent tainted milk and pet food scandals that damaged the "Made in China" brand worldwide, some Chinese experts and consumers are worried that the country's first food safety law may not be enough to prevent a repeat. The new law, which China's legislature passed Saturday, toughens penalties against makers of tainted food. It also establishes a Cabinet-level food safety commission to improve monitoring, beef up safety standards, and recall substandard products. Wu Yongning, deputy director of China's National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, said the new law is a lost opportunity to create a single, powerful body — akin to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — to handle food safety. Wu counts 13 Chinese government departments with a hand in food safety. He said at least five will remain heavily involved under the new law. "There has been no fundamental reform of the system that many people in the industry hoped for," Wu said. "There will be better coordination, but problems like Sanlu will still happen," he said. Sanlu was the company that in August recalled 700 tons of powdered milk adulterated with melamine, a chemical that is harmful to humans but was added to falsify protein readings. Across China, tainted milk killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000 people. In 2007, thousands of American pets were sickened by Chinese pet food also containing melamine.
In recent years, Beijing has launched a series of crackdowns against substandard food producers. The FDA also opened up its first overseas offices in China last November. The new law, effective June 1, and the new commission, to be based in the Ministry of Health, represent the most forceful effort yet at solving food safety issues. The law "is very encouraging, it's progress, and American consumers can see the Chinese government really takes this issue seriously," said Luo Yunbo, director of the Food Science and Nutrition Engineering Institute at Beijing's China Agricultural University, who has advised lawmakers. "But it takes time as food safety is very complicated and all the problems won't be solved overnight, such as the morals of factory owners, and the education of the public," he said. he milk scandal highlighted the gaps in China's food monitoring system, according to Luo and Wu. While the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for China's cows, and several ministries are involved in getting their milk to consumers, no department took charge of the milk collection stations where the melamine was added. The new commission will address these issues of responsibility, and ensure the whole food chain is under control," promised Luo. "No country, including the USA, can promise 100% that food safety problems will not occur in the future."
In Beijing, shoppers welcomed the legislation, but sounded skeptical about its chances of success. iang Manchang, shopping for groceries in the Jingkelong supermarket in Sanlitun, hoped the new law would force manufacturers to guarantee quality. His wife, Jia Li, laughed off such optimism. "There are so many people and factories in China. At the local level they don't obey the laws of the central government. Why should this law be any different?" she asked.”
While this article basically just talks about human food, we all still very clearly remember that we had our large share of problems with pet food when Chinese contaminated pet food ingredients caused history’s largest pet food recall with in many cases fatal consequences. And I believe there still to this day justifiable concern is in order. Especially since we have to consider that the FDA only inspects 1% to 3% of all food and drug imports into the US. My friend Susan Thixton of
ThruthAboutPet, as she reports under “Arrests in China for Tainted Animal Feed” of seven people having been arrested for allegedly being responsible for the recent cases of pig feed poisoning, comments on the FDA import dilemma: “Just imagine what has gotten by!” Susan’s recommendation: “Take the time to call the manufacturer of your pet’s food and treats. Ask them if any ingredients are sourced from China, including vitamins and minerals. Without this information, your pet’s health is at risk. Avoid any pet foods or pet treats that contain ingredients sourced from China.” While I agree with Susan that a healthy portion of critical analysis and research is in order when it comes to buying pet food containing ingredients sourced in China. However, I also feel that in the global environment we live in these days it is fine with me to use foreign ingredients as long as they are humanely processed, safe and healthy for our companion animals. Just F.Y.I., everything goes both ways. Don’t throw stones if you sit in the glass house: Recently there also have been reports of possible problems with American exports to China causing health problems.
Image: Photo credit AFP/Getty Images: A Chinese health inspection officer checks meat at a slaughterhouse in Beijing on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Not everybody jumping onto the Grain Free train

Warning: Please consider my today’s comment in part as a reflection of the not so serious side in me, the humorous side of your Pet Food Examiner.
Not a day goes by anymore when we don’t find out about yet another pet food manufacturer introducing his grain free contribution to the market. Grain free is in. (See also on this blog my series
Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry). As a matter of fact, we may indeed soon get to the point when we don’t hear any more announcements because everybody will have it in their programs. Well, almost everybody that is.
According to in Richmond, Indiana on 03/01/09 “The Wayne County Farm Service Agency has approved additional approved warehouse capacity for Harvest Land Co-op's new storage facility. The farmer-owned cooperative built additional grain storage at the Hagerstown Ag Center last year and has eliminated its storage facilities in the city of Richmond.
In January, Harvest Land Co-op was approved for a property tax abatement on the new facilities by the Wayne County Council, based on supplying grain to Hill's Pet Nutrition, which maintains jobs in the community. The 10-year abatement was granted on the 750,000-bushel grain bin and equipment valued at $970,000 and property valued at $1.5 million.
Harvest Land delivered 3.5 million bushels of grain to Hill's in 2008, up from 2.2 million bushels in 2001, according to Wayne County Council records.”
It all makes a lot of sense to me: Low cost ingredient for a high cost pet food with very close ties to the veterinary community. Corn instead of what our carnivores need: Meat. But what is good about it: It comes in 2 varieties: Vet recommended and if that doesn’t impress you, let’s use more force: Vet prescribed. Now you have no other choice. Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? And sounds like that trend, though to me personally not so desirable, is definitely here to stay for a while. At least I think they must be doing well since I didn’t hear of any bail-out requests from their quarters. And, to give the company credit, it has to be noted that according to their own declarations Hills “Nature's Best pet foods lets you treat your pet to high-quality … grains … .”
To round this up I wanted to get into it and talk more about the fine line of
Hills products, actually I was looking for a grain free diet. All I had intended was giving them credit. Well, I started searching their site and when looking at the first one I considered to be applicable to be grain free label, the d/d Venison & Green Pea Formula, I noticed that the first listed ingredient is Pea Protein Concentrate and the second ingredient is venison. Already it started the other way around than what the name states. Why does pet food shopping have to be so difficult? If I want venison food and buy food stating by it’s name that is venison food then I expect (rightfully so?) the first ingredient to be nothing but venison, either meat or meal and not some pea protein concentrate. Or is there a dictionary or industry guide telling me what I should look for when looking for venison? Is it after all maybe peanut butter? It is for that reason that I decided to stick with the brands I know and support and stay away from the scientific stuff mainly because it is probably way beyond my educational horizon and will take up too much of my time and energy. I may discover that I suffer ADD and it may impact my mood today. I still don’t know if they indeed offer a grain free formula, but to be honest, today I am not interested in whether they do or not. Maybe another day. There is nothing for us to be worried about. After all, according to them, their “Science Diet® brand pet foods are formulated for overall health and wellness” and represent “Superior Nutrition For the Lifelong Health of Your Pet®.” Their “Prescription Diet® brand therapeutic pet foods are available only from a veterinarian.” But don’t worry about that, after all they are “Clinical Nutrition to Improve Quality of Life™” of our pets.
Sources & references:
Hills Pet Nutrition, Inc.
This article mentions and includes Trademarks and Registered Trademarks owned by Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Feeding natural alternatives: Fabulous pet food for Cats & Dogs

The following article reflects in large also my opinion about feeding our pets what I consider technically the only really natural food: Raw. Joan Morris wrote in the Contra Costa Times:
“Old Mother Hubbard might have needed some assistance in managing her household budget, but some pet owners and veterinarians approve her choice of pet food. Giving her dog a bone, one with some meat on it along with a side of fresh vegetables is the best thing, they say, she could do for the pup. A growing number of pet owners are canning the Alpo and tossing out the kibble in exchange for natural and raw pet foods, sometimes called designer pet food, that they say provide the healthiest diet possible for our domesticated wild things. They point to the diets dogs and cats ate long before Morris starting pushing kitty chow or Gravy Train rolled into town. Dogs and cats ate what humans ate or what they could catch on their own, and they were the better for it.
"I have so many clients and so many stories," says Alameda veterinarian Kristina Dallas. "You hate to call them miraculous, but they are. And when you start to see so many miracles, you have to question why." Dallas, who works at Alameda Pet Hospital, is a natural food convert. She's seen chronic intestinal illnesses and skin diseases clear up immediately with the food change, while diseases such as diabetes become more manageable. The coats thicken and shine, eyes clear, energy returns. Little wonder, Dallas says. She thinks that feeding animals a steady diet of processed pet food is something akin to humans eating breakfast, lunch and dinner at McDonald's. In fact, she says, that would be healthier than the pet food. "I don't preach natural diets to everyone," Dallas says. "If the animal looks good, then I don't recommend a change. It's also more expensive to go to natural foods, so you have to take that into account. But when there's a problem, that's where we should look."
A tough battle: Designer pet food purveyors tend to be small companies feeling their way through the mine fields of the highly competitive pet food industry. They battle not only the resources of national pet food manufacturers, but the perception, even among veterinarians, that brand-name foods provide the healthiest diets for animals. Veterinarians receive little training in pet nutrition, Dallas says, and like pet owners, rely on reading the labels and trusting what they read. We look for food made with meat and scan those tiny labels in search of the magical "meets 100 percent of nutritional requirements." But not all meat is rendered equally, Dallas says, and it's hard to say how much of those nutritional additives are being utilized by your pet's metabolism. Most pet foods, even premium brands, are made with meat byproducts, which include everything not fit for human consumption. That, Dallas says, would be feathers, feet, tumors and abscesses. It is all carved from the animals and placed in barrels, which are shipped to pet food manufacturers. Processing it removes any dangers to pets, but it doesn't make it particularly good for them, she says.
Natural foods have their critics, too. Many complain the costs are unreasonably high, about twice that of brand names and that evidence of the food's benefits is, at best, anecdotal. Brand-name companies boast that they've tested their food and conducted nutritional studies that show their foods are healthful, while designer food makers are experimenting in the family kitchen. Those who feed natural and raw food diets also sacrifice some of the convenience that traditional pet foods provide. Designer pet foods remains a niche market, but it is growing. … And some large pet food companies are expanding their lines to include the natural labels, and beefing up their advertising to promote ingredients such as New Zealand lamb.”
Allow me to comment on a couple points here: Talking about cost: I have my serious doubts about that. However, to show my thought process on this and documenting it with real, factual and cash numbers requires some more serious effort and also would be too lengthy to talk about it in this comment today. But stay tuned as I will bring you more details on this particular topic within a separate comment to follow soon. So much up front: Get ready for a big surprise.
Now let’s discuss what Morris calls a “designer” food. Her article dates back quite a few years. Reason why I decided to share it with you here is simply that she is talking about some major facts on natural and raw feeding, which I consider worthwhile to be discussed. However, at this point I believe we are far beyond that point of considering healthy food designer food. They have in the meantime become and grown into a substantial, undeniable factor in the pet food industry and definitely are here to stay. Example: Pet Product News International, a monthly news magazine distributed within and published for the pet supply retail industry writes in its March 2009 issue:” Prepare for the unprepared: The raw food demand just might exceed a retailer’s expectations. According to David Lummis, senior pet market analyst for Packaged Facts in Rockville, MD, raw is still only about 1% of the overall pet food market. However, retailers unfamiliar with the uncooked concept may be interested and surprised to learn it is currently experiencing double digit growth. It is growing about 20 to 30 percent annually, Lummis discloses. It is very big, especially compared with the pet food industry overall, which is growing by maybe 5% at best. And a lot of that (5%) is coming from price increases.” Veterinary Practice News in its January 2009 issue addressed veterinarians as follows: “Alternative diets still riding high. Nearly two years after the massive recall of melamine tainted pet food, veterinarians are still fielding pet owners’ questions about alternative diets. “Even prior to the recall we were seeing a shift in pet owners who were interested in alternatives to conventional pet foods, such as natural or organic pet foods, raw pet foods and home cooked diets,” says Sally C. Perea, DVM, Dipl.ACVN. The recall accelerated the trend, Dr. Perea says, as pet owners began to look for what they perceived to be safer dietary options. … Perea was formerly a consultant with Davis Veterinary Medical Consulting, Inc. in Davis, CA and now is a senior nutritionist for Natura Pet Products in San Jose, Ca.” Natura is known for it’s
Innova, Evo, California Natural, HealthWise, Karma and Mother Nature brands. Veterinary Practice News: “Perea considers alternative diets to fall into 3 categories: Alternative commercial pet foods, home cooked pet foods and raw pet foods, either commercial or home prepared.”
Let’s go back to Morris’ writing: “Natural vs. raw: But even within the growing market of designer pet food there are cat fights between the naturals and the raws. Some owners favor natural pet food, which is made from the same meat and produce that might otherwise find its way onto your dining-room table, 100 percent human grade, they call it. Others opt for raw food, saying that while natural is better than brand-name foods, they still are over-processed, robbing them of important nutrients. Opponents of raw food worry that improper handling could poison the pets and maybe their human owners with salmonella and E. Coli. Stephen Barone, co-founder of
Primal Pet Food, says he worries about serving raw meat to pets are exaggerated. People only need to take the same precautions they take in preparation of their own food.
Primal, based in San Francisco, ships frozen raw foods to customers throughout the country, although the Bay Area has been the company's primary market since the company began in 2001. The food also is sold in area stores. Prices vary, depending on type of meat and size… . Barone, 36, and his partner, Matthew R. Koss, 33, started the business after Koss' own pets began suffering from health problems. Koss, a graduate of the San Francisco Culinary Academy, used his own knowledge of nutrition to concoct a raw formula for his dogs, which responded immediately, he says. Koss began talking with animal nutritionists and eventually developed a line that combines raw meats -- beef, lamb, chicken, duck, venison and fresh vegetables. He partnered with Barone, his longtime friend, to market the meals to other pet owners. In the three years since they began, they've expanded their line to include cat food. Koss and Barone named their food plan B.A.R.F., "bones and raw food." They comb the countryside looking for fresh meats and produce, buying from farmers and ranchers who also supply fine restaurants. The products are sold frozen and include the popular "medallion" form, which packages the food in one ounce nuggets, which makes serving and handling easier. Primal's business has grown substantially. Barone and Koss set up tables at dog and cat shows, and club events. Their customers are devoted to the B.A.R.F. diet.
Primal instinct: Ellen Brooken of Walnut Creek started feeding Primal to her two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Maddie and Paige, about two years ago. One of her dogs had chronic health problems and she was spending $100 to $200 a month at her vet's office. At a dog show, she picked up a sample of Primal and a testimonial from a fellow pet owner. She was skeptical, but she gave it a try. "Within two days, her digestive problems were completely gone," Brooken says. "That was pretty astounding. And we've had no problems since." The clincher, Brooken says, is when she took both dogs in for their annual check-up and her vet commented that it had been a long while since they'd been in. The dogs got perfect marks on their exams, but Brooken could see the improvements for herself. Their coats are glossy and their eyes shiny, she says. Brooken supplements Primal with her own recipes and raw foods. Her vet wasn't totally supportive of the diet plan, Brooken says, so she switched doctors to one who is. The raw food is more expensive, Brooken says, but she considers it a trade-off. "I've never done a side-by-side comparison, but I know I'm not spending hundreds a month on vet bills," Brooken says. "And my dogs are extremely healthy. I'm convinced."”

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Feline Cystitis and FLUTD: What are they, causes and dietary and other considerations when your cat has them

Once again I am addressing a specific health condition, which is not just too common these days but also most likely is caused by the insufficient and ill formulated mass marketed commercial pet foods being fed to cats.
According to
How stuff works Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley: How to Treat Common Cat Diseases: “A cat's bladder can become inflamed because of infection or irritation. In most cases cystitis happens as part of a collection of bladder and urinary problems, which are commonly called feline urological syndrome (FUS) or feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).”
I talked about FLUTD in my previously published comments
Reduction of struvite and calcium oxalate in cat urine through the diet, Dietary needs of specific groups and individual breeds of dogs and cats and Urinary Tract Disorders in Dogs and Cats briefly summarized.
Cystitis is when your cat’s internal bladder wall is being irritated by something causing an inflammation of the bladder. Common sources of such irritation can be inflammation due to the cat retaining urine for an extended amount of time. The presence of stones or crystals which rub against the bladder wall or infectious organisms that have built up inside the bladder also can cause inflammation. The anus of the cat (both male and female) is located directly above the urethral opening, giving feces and bacteria an easy opportunity to collect and colonize in the urethra and bladder. While this is normally not a problem with regular urination and healthy urinary tract cells, it can become one with decreased urine volume leading to increased concentration of urine. In addition, crystals, bacteria, and sloughed off cells may cause a disruption of the urinary tract's normal defenses, thereby leading to a FUS attack. Dr. Whiteley continues: “Attacks of cystitis or FUS (which includes cystitis, along with inflammation of the urinary tract and the formation of stones or sand in the bladder) are announced by bloody urine, frequent urination of small amounts, litter box accidents, spraying, excessive licking of the urinary opening, straining in the litter box, and possibly tenderness of the lower abdomen.
The pH of a cat's urine, how acidic or alkaline it is, has a lot to do with cystitis and FUS. If the cat's urine is alkaline, it's much easier for urinary crystals to form. These crystals in turn form gritty "sand" or small stones that irritate the lining of the bladder and can plug up the urinary opening in male cats, which is an extremely serious problem.Serious complications of cystitis and FUS show up most often in adult male cats. The first flare-up usually occurs when the cat is fairly young, and repeat bouts can pop up for the rest of his life. That having been said, don't think that just because you have an older or female cat that you're in the clear: Urinary tract problems can strike any cat.Most experts agree that many factors, including diet, contribute to a cat's susceptibility to developing FUS. Plant based cat foods tend to make a cat's urine more alkaline with a higher pH, which encourages the formation of crystals and stones and is a more hospitable environment for bacteria. Some commercial dry cat foods seem to have the same effect on urinary pH. As a result, some say cats who develop cystitis or FUS should only eat dry foods recommended by a veterinarian or stick to prescription dry food specially formulated for cats with bladder problems.” Well, I don’t quite 100% agree with that. Reason for my disagreement is the feedback I am constantly getting from customers at the store. They complain usually not just that this kind of food is extremely expensive, but also that the results are less than satisfactory. What I have good experience with is the
Wysong brand. Not just is it way more affordable, but more importantly it really works. Don’t believe me? Well let me show you the ad a customer of ours (what a nice gesture) ran in the local Craig’s List:
“2009-02-12, 9:31AM Check out for the absolute best foods for your dogs/cats/ferrets. They ship worldwide. One of my cats has urinary tract problems. She was on prescription food from the vet at $40 a bag! I discussed the situation with Lizzys and now my cat is on an all natural dry food diet with occasional all natural wet food as a treat. Prescription wet food was $12 a can - I couldn't touch it at that price. The price is less, but honestly, price was only part of the consideration - I wanted her health again - not just hanging in there We tried it and kept a close eye on her to make sure there would be no problem with the switch. She's been on the diet now for about a year. My nine year old cat now acts like a teen! She's running all over the house like she did when she was young - even playing with the kitten! Check them out - you'll be SO glad you did and your pet will, too! Original URL:
Sorry, but I couldn’t control myself and had to do this. I am just so proud of it. Coming back to the task on hand: My recommendation to this customer and others depend on the specific circumstances. If you wish more info please
e-mail me and we can discuss more details. Important is that calcium to phosphorus ratios should be balanced.
Another dietary opinion comes from Dr. Feinman, VMD, CVH, who says on his
HomeVet website: “Restrict the cat's intake of dry cat food. Though dry foods do not cause cystitis, several studies have shown that the cat's total fluid intake is decreased when dry diets are fed. When the fluid intake is decreased, the urine is more concentrated with minerals and other materials that can cause future episodes of cystitis. Canned foods can result in increased fluid intake and more dilute urine. However, we know that many cats do not like canned food and that there are several distinct advantages to feeding dry food. Therefore, if there have been only a few infrequent episodes of cystitis, these other factors may be more important.” I do not agree with Dr. Feinman when he says “though dry foods do not cause cystitis…”. I believe it has very well something to do with it. If we discuss ingredients influencing pH levels and calcium to pH ratios, then where are these ingredients we are talking about: In the food.
We also, just as your vet would do, may also suggest a urinary acidifier to add to your cat's diet, making sure the pH of his urine stays low enough to prevent bladder stones, or may recommend a special diet formulated to dissolve crystals or stones in the bladder. However, research lately indicates that 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. Magnesium is an important trace nutrient that every cat needs. It serves several important metabolic functions and plays an important role in the production and transport of energy. It is also important for the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Magnesium is involved in the synthesis of protein, and it assists in the functioning of certain enzymes in the body. Unfortunately, some commercial cat foods provide it in a form that also encourages crystals to form in the cat's urine, which can lead to bladder stones, which occur when urine in the bladder is concentrated and materials crystallize and in turn, can cause a urinary obstruction. A good quality commercial canned food is usually relatively low in magnesium, easy to digest, produces more acidic urine, and provides more fluid intake.
Let’s go back to Dr. Whiteley: “The body is an amazing thing: If it doesn't have enough of something it needs, it finds a way to get it. If a cat isn't drinking enough, his body will find a way to conserve and reclaim water. One way is by reabsorbing water from the urine, making it more concentrated. The urinary tract lining in cats that have already had a bout of cystitis or FUS is particularly sensitive, and concentrated urine can trigger additional attacks.Make sure your cat has constant access to plenty of clean, fresh water. Watch for your cat's drinking preferences, some favor a water faucet or even the toilet over a water bowl on the floor. It might seem odd or even a little bit disgusting, but it's probably a good idea to cater to his water drinking whims, especially if the option is a flare-up of bladder disease. Cats also get water from their food. The higher the moisture content in his diet, the more water he's getting, even without drinking. A cat eating canned food gets a lot of water with the meal and more as a result of breaking down the higher fat, higher energy ingredients that are in most wet foods.The "body-mind connection" works for cats just as well as it does for people. Country folks know that a healthy attitude toward life makes for a healthy body. Unfortunately, you can't explain that to your cat. Instead, it's up to you to minimize his stress and maximize his health. Try to anticipate problems. Do you know a major change is coming up in your household? Whether it's a new baby, someone going off to college for the first time, a family vacation, or remodeling the kitchen, if you know it's coming it's best to either ease the cat into it slowly or expect an attack of urinary problems and take the necessary precautions. You should have realistic expectations for your cat. Sure, cats are clever and agile and maybe even a little sneaky, but they're still cats.” I’d say, sure, some believe that it is entirely possible that your cat understands everything you say and is just playing dumb or being obstinate. However, my take is a little different: Could it be equally possible that cats only learned how to get along in human society just well enough to find themselves a comfortable situation? Dr. Whiteley: “Your cat possibly has absolutely no idea why you're so bent out of shape that it has been urinating in your beautiful potted plants instead of the convenient litter box you bought him or her. If a cat doesn't understand why he's being reprimanded, it stresses out. A stressed cat will announce its unhappiness with a change in behavior, often by elimination. To a cat, leaving it where you're sure to notice it, where your personal smell is strongest, is a great way to guarantee you'll get the message. Finally, to lessen your cat's stress, try to stay cool yourself. Have you ever tried to enjoy a favorite activity and then had someone who was really, really intense about it right next to you? To cats, life in your home is basically one long stay at a resort hotel: The weather is always fine, everything is already paid for, you don't have to work, and you can eat, sleep, and play whenever you like. If the humans in this little paradise are under stress, though, the vacation is suddenly over. Some of this may be cats' fabled sensitivity to people's emotions, but some of it certainly is a reaction to the changes in the way we humans move and speak when we're agitated.A clean litter box filled with the appropriate kind of litter must be available to the cat at all times. Using the litter box is not an instinctive behavior in cats; the instinct part is the action of digging in loose materials to bury their urine and feces, especially if there is a habit of using that spot or the very faint residual smell of elimination there. If something turns them off to the box, like it's too dirty, too perfumey, or too much trouble to get to, they'll either hold it too long, thereby increasing bladder irritation and the risk of infection, or find another "toilet." Check your cat's litter box regularly, making sure it is clean and free of irritants.” The actual cat litter also can make a difference. I usually recommend some of
Dr. Elsey’s litter products as they offer solutions specifically designed to address the medical and urinary tract problems with an amorphous silica gel litter infused with hydrolized herbs. Litter should absorb urine on contact and trap it inside the crystal to prevent bacterial growth, thus helping to prevent urinary tract infections. A small particle size and dust fines also coat and dehydrate cat feces to reduce odor and prevent bacterial growth of E-Coli. E-Coli bacteria grow on feces and along with reduced natural body defenses can lead to kidney failure, urinary and uterine infections. Litter should have no organic materials such as wheat, pine, corn and paper that can support bacteria and fungal growth, thereby helping to prevent urinary infections.
Let’s close out with Dr. Whiteley’s conclusion: “Cats with urinary tract problems will often deliberately urinate outside of the litter box, even if they've been 100 percent accurate all their lives. If your cat suddenly starts having "accidents," spraying urine, or squatting and straining outside of the box, don't punish him. He's probably telling you he's got a problem. Call the vet as soon as you notice one of these signals and schedule an appointment for an exam. If it's a physical problem, the sooner your catch it, the easier it will be to treat. If it's a purely behavioral thing, you can start correcting it before it becomes an ingrained habit. If your cat is straining in the litter box or elsewhere and not producing any urine, produces small amounts of bloody urine, or cries during urination, call the vet immediately. These are the signs of a urinary blockage, an extremely serious and potentially fatal problem. Most bladder problems by themselves are not dangerous; they're mostly inconvenient and a nuisance for the owner. However, urinary blockage is extremely dangerous and should be treated as a life threatening situation.”
Sources & references:
How stuff works Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley: How to Treat Common Cat Diseases
Dr. Jeff Feinman, VMD, CVH: Feline cystitis (or Feline Urologic Syndrome, Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease)