Saturday, March 21, 2009

What’s Really in Pet Food? Part 4 Manufacturing, Recalls and Dangers Ahead

Today we are going to discuss various pet food manufacturing processes, various recall issues and the potential dangers with pet food laying ahead of us to continue this series contributed by Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute. In Part 1 of this series we briefly introduced the subject matter and discussed the major players in the pet food industry. But as we have learned the trend to bigger doesn’t necessarily translate into better and unfortunately we learned, not that it would be anything new, that there are major differences between what pet owners think they are buying and what they are actually getting. Part 2 addressed in very general terms labeling basics, standards and regulations, while Part 3 focused on ingredients. This series focuses in very general terms on the most visible name brands, the pet food labels that are mass-distributed to supermarkets and discount stores. However, just so that we are on the safe side, there are also many highly respected brands that may be guilty of the same offenses. What many pet owners to this day still 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. In order for the consumer to make an educated decision it is necessary to learn, among many others considerations, how to read pet food labels to begin with.
The Manufacturing Process: How Pet Food Is Made
Dry Food
The vast majority of dry food is made with a machine called an extruder. First, materials are blended in accordance with a recipe created with the help of computer programs that provide the nutrient content of each proposed ingredient. For instance, corn gluten meal has more protein than wheat flour. Because the extruder needs a consistent amount of starch and low moisture to work properly, dry ingredients — such as rendered meat-and-bone-meal, poultry by-product meal, grains, and flours — predominate.
The dough is fed into the screws of an extruder. It is subjected to steam and high pressure as it is pushed through dies that determine the shape of the final product, much like the nozzles used in cake decorating. As the hot, pressurized dough exits the extruder, it is cut by a set of rapidly whirling knives into tiny pieces. As the dough reaches normal air pressure, it expands or “puffs” into its final shape. The food is allowed to dry, and then is usually sprayed with fat, digests, or other compounds to make it more palatable. When it is cooled, it can be bagged.
Although the cooking process kills bacteria in the ingredients, the final product can pick up more bacteria during the subsequent drying, coating, and packaging process. Some experts warn that getting dry food wet can allow the bacteria on the surface to multiply and make pets sick. Do not mix dry food with water, milk, canned food, or other liquids.
A few dog foods are baked at high temperatures (over 500°F) rather than extruded. This produces a sheet of dense, crunchy material that is then broken into irregular chunks, much like crumbling crackers into soup. It is relatively palatable without the sprayed-on fats and other enhancers needed on extruded dry food.
Semi-moist foods and many pet treats are also made with an extruder. To be appealing to consumers and to keep their texture, they contain many additives, colorings, and preservatives; they are not a good choice for a pet’s primary diet.
Wet Food
Wet or canned food begins with ground ingredients mixed with additives. If chunks are required, a special extruder forms them. Then the mixture is cooked and canned. The sealed cans are then put into containers resembling pressure cookers and commercial sterilization takes place. Some manufacturers cook the food right in the can.
Wet foods are quite different in content from dry or semi-moist foods. While many canned foods contain by-products of various sorts, they are “fresh” and not rendered or processed (although they are often frozen for transport and storage). Wet foods usually contain much more protein, and it’s often a little higher quality, than dry foods. They also have more moisture, which is better for cats. They are packaged in cans or pouches.
Comparing Food Types
Because of the variation in water content, it is impossible to directly compare labels from different kinds of food without a mathematical conversion to “dry matter basis.” The numbers can be very deceiving. For instance, a canned food containing 10% protein actually has much more protein than a dry food with 30% protein.
To put the foods on a level playing field, first calculate the dry matter content by subtracting the moisture content given on the label from 100%. Then divide the ingredient by the dry matter content. For example, a typical bag of dry cat food contains 30% protein on the label, but 32% on a dry-matter basis (30% divided by its dry matter content, 100-6% moisture = 94%). A can of cat food might contain 12% protein on the label, but almost 43% on a dry-matter basis (12% divided by its dry matter content, 100-72% moisture = 28%). Dry food typically contains less than 10% water, while canned food contains 78% or more water.
Danger Ahead
Potential Contaminants
Given the types of things manufacturers put in pet food, it is not surprising that bad things sometimes happen. Ingredients used in pet food are often highly contaminated with a wide variety of toxic substances. Some of these are destroyed by processing, but others are not.
Bacteria. Slaughtered animals, as well as those that have died because of disease, injury, or natural causes, are sources of meat, by-products, and rendered meals. An animal that died on the farm might not reach a rendering plant until days after its death. Therefore the carcass is often contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli. Dangerous E. Coli bacteria are estimated to contaminate more than 50% of meat meals. While the cooking process may kill bacteria, it does not eliminate the endotoxins some bacteria produce during their growth. These toxins can survive processing, and can cause sickness and disease. Pet food manufacturers do not test their products for bacterial endotoxins. Because sick or dead animals can be processed as pet foods, the drugs that were used to treat or euthanize them may still be present in the end product. Penicillin and pentobarbital are just two examples of drugs that can pass through processing unchanged. Antibiotics used in livestock production are also thought to contribute to antibiotic resistance in humans.
Mycotoxins. Toxins from mold or fungi are called mycotoxins. Modern farming practices, adverse weather conditions, and improper drying and storage of crops can contribute to mold growth. Pet food ingredients that are most likely to be contaminated with mycotoxins are grains such as wheat and corn, and fish meal.
Chemical Residue. Pesticides and fertilizers may leave residue on plant products. Grains that are condemned for human consumption by the USDA due to residue may legally be used, without limitation, in pet food.
GMOs. Genetically modified plant products are also of concern. By 2006, 89% of the planted area of soybeans, 83% of cotton, and 61% of maize (corn) in the U.S. were genetically modified varieties. Cottonseed meal is a common ingredient of cattle feed; soy and corn are used directly in many pet foods.
Acrylamide. This is a carcinogenic compound formed at cooking temperatures of about 250°F in foods containing certain sugars and the amino acid asparagine (found in large amounts in potatoes and cereal grains). It is formed in a chemical process called the Maillard reaction.4, 5 Most dry pet foods contain cereal grains or potatoes, and they are processed at high temperatures (200–300°F at high pressure during extrusion; baked foods are cooked at well over 500°F); these are perfect conditions for the Maillard reaction. In fact, the Maillard reaction is considered desirable in the production of pet food because it imparts a palatable taste, even though it reduces the bioavailability of some amino acids, including taurine and lysine.6 The content and potential effects of acrylamide formation in pet foods are unknown.
Pet Food Recalls
When things go really wrong and serious problems are discovered in pet food, the company usually works with the FDA to coordinate a recall of the affected products. While many recalls have been widely publicized, quite a few have not.
In 1995, Nature’s Recipe recalled almost a million pounds of dry dog and cat food after consumers complained that their pets were vomiting and losing their appetite. The problem was a fungus that produced vomitoxin contaminating the wheat.
In 1999, Doane Pet Care recalled more than a million bags of corn-based dry dog food contaminated with aflatoxin. Products included Ol’ Roy (Wal-Mart’s brand) and 53 other brands. This time, the toxin killed 25 dogs.
In 2000, Iams recalled 248,000 pounds of dry dog food distributed in 7 states due to excess DL-Methionine Amino Acid, a urinary acidifier.
In 2003, a recall was made by Petcurean “Go! Natural” pet food due to circumstantial association with some dogs suffering from liver disease; no cause was ever found.
In late 2005, a similar recall by Diamond Foods was announced; this time the moldy corn contained a particularly nasty fungal product called aflatoxin; 100 dogs died.
Also in 2005, 123,000 pounds of cat and dog treats were recalled due to Salmonella contamination.
In 2006, more than 5 million cans of Ol’ Roy, American Fare, and other dog foods distributed in the southeast were recalled by the manufacturer, Simmons Pet Food, because the cans’ enamel lining was flaking off into the food.
Also in 2006, Merrick Pet Care recalled almost 200,000 cans of “Wingalings” dog food when metal tags were found in some samples.
In the most deadly recall of 2006, 4 prescription canned dog and cat foods were recalled by Royal Canin (owned by Mars). The culprit was a serious overdose of Vitamin D that caused calcium deficiency and kidney disease.
In February 2007, the FDA issued a warning to consumers not to buy “Wild Kitty,” a frozen food containing raw meat. Routine testing by FDA had revealed Salmonella in the food. FDA specifically warned about the potential for illness in humans, not pets. There were no reports of illness or death of any pets, and the food was not recalled.
In March 2007, the most lethal pet food in history was the subject of the largest recall ever. Menu Foods recalled more than 100 brands including Iams, Eukanuba, Hill’s Science Diet, Purina Mighty Dog, and many store brands including Wal-Mart’s. Thousands of pets were sickened (the FDA received more than 17,000 reports) and an estimated 20% died from acute renal failure caused by the food. Cats were more frequently and more severely affected than dogs. The toxin was initially believed to be a pesticide, the rat poison “aminopterin” in one of the ingredients. In April, scientists discovered high levels of melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizers, in wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate imported from China. The melamine had been purposefully added to the ingredients to falsely boost their protein content. Subsequent tests revealed that the melamine-tainted ingredients had also been used in feed for cows, pigs, and chickens and thousands of animals were quarantined and destroyed. In early May, scientists identified the cause of the rapid onset kidney disease that had appeared in dogs and cats as a reaction caused by the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid, both unauthorized chemicals.
Stay tuned for the discussion about nutrition related diseases in part 5 soon to follow.
Reprinted with permission from and contributed by
Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute and reprinted with permission. © 2003-2009 - Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute - All rights reserved

Friday, March 20, 2009

Raw, the optimal nutrition for felines?

Today’s article I found on the Cornell Feline Health Center, a veterinary medical specialty center devoted to improving the health and well-being of cats everywhere. The concept of a feline medical specialty center began in 1973 as part of a long-range planning effort at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. In reviewing the present and anticipated future of veterinary medicine as it related to the cat, it was obvious that a concerted effort would be required to investigate the many serious diseases of cats.
Feline health studies are the cornerstone to providing better health care for cats. One of these studies is today’s comment on feline raw feeding, here we go:
"If you are a cat owner, more than likely you understand the importance of providing your feline friend with optimal nutrition. Your cat's nutrition can be a very confusing topic if you are like a lot of pet owners out there. Nutrition is not a simple topic to cover; the amount of contradictory information available is enough to make a professional animal caregiver cringe. When you take your cat to the vet for a routine checkup you are told she's overweight and given a wet food to try. The wet food is important because cats don't drink enough water to stay fully hydrated on a dry commercial food diet. The first three ingredients on the can read: water, liver and beef. Those ingredients don't look so bad. Since canned food is predominantly water, why wouldn't the first ingredient be water? Notice how general the ingredients are though. Liver, well there aren't many mammals that don't have one of those. Beef is a little more specific but then you are left wondering about the quality; Was it a downer cow? The list of ingredients on this particular food is well over 20, many just as vague as the first few. As you move through the ingredients list you come across quite a few ingredients that you can't pronounce and don't know what are. Would you eat something with an ingredients list like this? Would you eat it every day of your life? Do you feel like this would promote a happy and healthy life? If these questions resonate with you, raw food may be a good option.Feline Physiology: Cats are obligate carnivores. Their teeth are designed to rip flesh and crack bone. In the wild they feed on small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Cats may eat grass but their teeth do not allow them to masticate it so it travels through their system in its whole form. If you open your cat's mouth you will see 30 sharp teeth, all with specific purposes. The feline digestive track is designed to digest meat. A cat eating a diet high in carbohydrates could cause a multitude of problems, most of which don't show up until much later in life. Diseases including dental disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, obesity and kidney failure are becoming more common and even acceptable. One nutrient that cats must get from their diet is taurine. They are unable to produce this particular amino acid on their own so they must consume meat or get it through supplementation (in commercial foods). Cats that consume a high carbohydrate diet are consuming a lot of filler material that their body doesn't know what to do with. The consumption of food that their bodies can't process results in larger, more odoriferous bowel movements. Left to their own devices, cats would hunt and "consume prey high in protein with moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates." (Cornell) Their entire body is designed to hunt; from their needle like claws and sharp teeth to their long legs and slender body.Benefits of Raw Food: Feeding your feline companion a raw food diet isn't a mainstream practice yet but neither is being vegan. The choice to feed your cat a raw food diet is just as important as choosing to feed yourself a vegetarian or vegan diet. The benefits are substantial. Since cats are obligate carnivores they are able to meet their nutrition requirements by consuming fresh raw meat. It is advised to feed a species specific diet; providing your cat with meats that they could catch in the wild. Poultry is a great option. These meats are high in protein and not as fatty as beef or pork. To provide your feline friend with a diverse diet, you could rotate in rabbit and small amounts of larger mammals or wild game. It is important that the cat is allowed to consume the intestines (including the heart, lungs, liver & kidney) as well as muscle meat and bone so they are getting a well balance diet.If you were to ask your vet about making your own cat food you may find that it is frowned upon. Cats require a balance of multiple different nutrients including fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Cats are very susceptible to deficiencies. If you ask about feeding your cat raw food, unless your vet is very well versed in nutrition and the benefits of raw food, they may try to talk you out of it. Make sure you are prepared to have this conversation with your vet by educating yourself and having documentation with you during your cat's routine visit.Cat's mouths benefit greatly from the chewing action required for them to consume whole pieces of raw meat and bone. This chewing action breaks tartar and gingivitis off the teeth and stimulates the gums, acting like a natural tooth brush. Cats that eat dry or wet food do not get this benefit, the only way to remove the tartar and gingivitis is to put your cat under anesthesia and scale and polish their teeth. In most cases, if the cat has to be put under anesthesia it is because they are already exhibiting signs of dental disease like bad breath or pain when eating. Depending on the severity of the dental disease it may take a couple procedures to finish cleaning your cat's teeth. Another thing to consider is the number of times during your pet's life that she will have to undergo this procedure. The exploitation of dental disease through exams and minimal education is one way veterinarians make money. Since a majority of pet owners feed their cats dry or wet food there is a prevalence of dental disease in the companion animal community and a consistent revenue stream for animal dental hygienists.Cats are able to digest meat and bones. Their systems were built to do it. People have only been feeding their pets processed foods for about 100 years. Commercial pet foods became popular in the 1930's during the Great Depression. Commercial food wasn't developed to promote health and well being; it was made of cheap ingredients and designed to sustain life not nourish it. When given the opportunity cats still hunt and consume their kill. Due to cats short intestinal tract and a reduced time required for digestion there is little concern for bacterial proliferation. The highly acidic environment that their bodies create when a meal has been consumed quickly breaks down meat and bones to extract its nutrients. Some feel it is important to supplement their pet's diet with a cat specific multi-vitamin or supplement powder so they get a full spectrum of nutrients as well as greens. Depending on personal knowledge and research this is an area where people who feed raw differ greatly.A cat's outward appearance benefits greatly from a high protein natural diet. You will see a healthier fur coat, brighter eyes and healthier skin just to name a few. By supporting your cat's heath with raw food you create a happy healthy cat that will not need to go to the vet as often. Their immune system will be stronger and they will be less susceptible to parasites. You may find that you no longer need to use chemicals to prevent fleas. With a decrease in vet visits it is possible to put more money towards promoting the health of your feline friend. When you take your cat to the vet don't be surprised if your vet or the technicians make comments on how healthy your cat looks. This may also provide you the opportunity to educate your vet on the benefits of a raw food diet.How to make the Switch: These lanky little carnivores will thank you with many years of health if you decide to support their systems by providing them with natural fresh meats. The cost of feeding a raw food diet to your cat may prove to be less expensive than the super premium foods you currently feed. There are multiple options for feeding your cat raw food. You can order your food online through a company like Primal Pet Foods, Inc. or Hare-Today, buy it at a local natural pet food store, join a local raw pet food co-op, visit a local farmer or butcher shop, or pick it up at the grocery store. Purchasing pre-packaged foods has the advantage of simplicity, but you don't know exactly what went into your pet's food. Buying whole meat and cutting it up is less convent but you do know exactly what your cat is consuming. It is advised to feed 4% of your cat's body weight (a little less if you are looking to get them to lose weight, a little more if you are looking to get them to gain weight) or 4% of their ideal weight.Once you have a preferred source of meat (whole or pre-packaged and preferably organic) you have to get your cat to convert over to raw from kibble or wet food. This can be a long, drawn out task. Cats like their commercial food; getting them to switch over to raw is similar to getting a kid raised on fast food to switch over to a vegetarian diet. If your cat is young it may be easier than if your cat is older. Cats become addicted to the flavoring and sugars in the commercial foods. Raw meat does not have the odor that commercial foods do. It is designed as nature made it, not in a lab. A little coaxing may be necessary. Make sure your serve the raw food at room temperature, cats are more inclined to eat food that is near body temperature. Starting by getting your cat on a 100% wet food diet is advised. Ground up pieces of raw food can then be mixed into the canned food, slowly replacing the wet food. Once your cat is on 100% raw food you can start making the pieces larger and giving them small bones to consume. They will catch on quickly once they are on a 100% raw diet. This whole process can take anywhere from a couple weeks to months. Don't get discouraged, it is worth the time and energy.In Conclusion, remember that you aren't alone when you decide to make this switch. There are enlightened veterinarians out there who are very helpful; there are also many different internet communities whose main focus is pet health and nutrition. The opportunity for you to learn and grow your pet nutrition knowledge is limitless and you may be surprised to see how the knowledge gained from feeding your pet well affects other aspects of your life. The greatest reward is having your happy health cat that is 10, 15 even 20 years old not be plagued with the health issues that most are. This is not to say that a raw food diet will prevent them from ever getting sick, but it will support their body and immune system making it less likely.Feeding your cat a natural diet is not intended to substitute for veterinary care. If your cat already has a compromised immune system you should work with a veterinarian, animal nutritionist and/or nutrition consultant to make sure you do not tax your cat's already overworked system. To best serve your cat it may be advisable to use nutrition as a complimentary therapy to Western practices. Once you have made the switch to raw it will take a little time to see the full benefits. Fur coat, skin and eyes may take a little while whereas you may notice the litter box and energy level (depending on age) right away.”
Contributed by and copyright If you like this article and wish to support the efforts of the Feline Health Center visit their website for more information on how to help.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Under the Pet Food Examiner’s Magnifying Glass: Review Innova Large Breed Puppy Dry Formula

One of my customers today asked me about my opinion on the Innova Large Breed Puppy dry formula. He owns 2 German Shepherds, one of them obviously being a puppy. He joined my customer base just recently and after we had a few interesting conversations about healthy pet food in general. Earlier on, when we met he had told me that “I was shocked when I stumbled on and learned that the Royal Canin German Shepherd food I was feeding my dog - thinking i'm doing the best for him - is rated 2 stars - and it costs nearly as much as the really good premiums such as Blue Wilderness and Orijens. I've since found a few other sites and they all seem to pretty much agree on the top 8 or 10 foods. And when you read the ingredients - and now I understand them - it's pretty shocking - actually criminal - what the big pet food makers such as Purina are putting in their foods. What boggles my mind is that vets - and I have a great vet - still recommend something like Iams which is even worse than Royal Canin. When I first got D., the breeder was feeding him Timberwolf. I asked my vet about it and he said "you're wasting your money." Go figure. I guess because you're a veterinarian doesn't mean you're a nutrition expert” I like pet owners like him. It just always gives me confidence that with what I am doing I am not wasting my time. More and more pet owners are waking up and realizing that they have been led down the wrong path for too long and that it is time to make a turn onto the right way.
Anyway, his puppy was on a vet prescribed diet and my customer had started to make a transition to Solid Gold Wolf Cub. While initially the Wolf Cub was well received, now the puppy seems to have lost interest and would not eat it anymore. So he is looking for alternatives and wrote:
“I'm thinking I may switch from the Wolf Cub - now that she's almost totally off the Iams Low Res prescription diet, she doesn't seem to be eating the Wolf Cub. I'll work through what I have but was thinking of changing to Innova Large Breed Puppy - see if she likes that better. Doesn't get a real high rating from but only because of low meat content. I supplement her dry food with canned to take care of that. Your thoughts on Innova - Timberwolf and Evo don't make a dry puppy food.”

Actually I think this really poses 3 questions: What is my opinion about the food? How about life stage based feeding? And finally, how reliable are dog food review data bases and what pet owners should keep in mind when utilizing them. To get started and food into the puppy bowl, as I am sure she is hungry, I want to start with the food review and attack the other two issues in another, seperate comment.

My thoughts are:
You asked me about my thoughts on Innova and Evo and refer to the rating. There are 2 ways of looking at food, one is dog food rating sites like the one you quoted and there are plenty more, some more, some less credible. I would like to address food reviews as a general topic in a separate discussion.

The other way I look at pet food is through my experience. Based on that meanwhile I have a pretty good feeling about which brands and formulas are better than others and have their spot in my top listings. So, you may ask, how opinionated is my “experience”? Well, let me put it this way, I sell food and it would be unbelievable to say I am not recommending the products I sell. But I have to make one thing clear here: I do sell only the best food available on the market today. That is a fact not just based on my “experience”, but also by many other experts who are at a minimum at least as “little” experienced as I am. And I will refrain from recommending products I do not know or, based on my philosophy do not believe in.

Let me say up front, Evo is not for puppies. Which is most likely the reason why they do not offer a puppy formula. We do not even have to go there in detail, the bottom line is I have tried it with less satisfying results and experienced issues. I suspect it is the high protein levels causing problems. I then called up Natura of which Evo is a brand. Their reps were pretty straight forward telling me that Evo is not made for puppies. When I deal with high quality pet food manufacturers it is my opinion that I need to follow their advice. As a matter of fact, credit where credit is due: I am impressed by the fact that they gave me an honest answer right up front, even if that meant this was a lost sale. Now this is a good indication and the difference between strictly profit driven Wallstreet oriented mass marketed food manufacturers and idealism driven small to medium sized, family owned manufacturers. Pet owners are definitely better off with the ladder ones.

Looking at the Innvoa Large Breed Puppy formula I can tell you that I have plenty of customers who have highly successful raised their puppies on this formula. They were so satisfied with the product that their former puppies now are as grown ups on Innova Large Breed Adult (and Evo) formulas. None of them ever had a problem except for one in which the owner tried to blame it on the food. The dog had a stool problem and when trying to get to the bottom of it I found out about many other circumstances which may have caused those problems. Aside from this one and only case, like I said no problems at all. I have currently I believe 6 or 7 customers with German Shepherd puppies and they are all doing extremely well. Even their vets say so. The vets may not be so pleased with that fact, but it is the simple truth. Sorry vets, not prescription food sale required here.
Innova has just made minor improvements during a major product re-launch back in October/November last year. None of them have shown to be any problem. Now, and this in the past was a minor issue during transitioning time from one formula to another, even the extended loose stool periods during transition are eliminated. I personally believe this is mainly due to the fact that Innova has replaced garlic with pumpkin as another ingredient. Pumpkin is considered a “super food’” and is an excellent source of antioxidants. Other improvements included enhanced APA and DHA levels for brain and eye development, optimized feeding charts based on accurate calorie information and standardized energy requirements equations, improved stool quality and palatability and elimination of transition periods when upgrading to a subsequent life stage.
The formula itself is pretty straight forward. It is listed by Whole Dog Journal (WDJ) as a Top Dry Food of the Year. WDJ in my opinion is “the” current authority when it comes to dog food ratings. (More about that in the above mentioned blog comment)
According to various conversations I had with Natura, the manufacturer, all ingredients are human grade quality and sourced domestically. At least 80% of the protein comes from meat sources (!). It contains several quality animal protein sources (turkey, chicken, egg). The first 5 ingredients are turkey, chicken, chicken meal, barley and brown rice, all quality ingredients, i.e. whole grains and named meats and meals. It also contains flax seed meal and alfalfa sprouts as quality ingredients. It is free of any added chemicals like artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin. It contains a complete vitamin and mineral supplement program that helps pets to thrive, not just survive. The minerals are chelated, providing three to ten times greater assimilation than common minerals. The food also contains beneficial probiotic supplements, which are not required with the AAFCO minimums.
Large breed puppies have a genetic tendency to grow rapidly. Controlling growth rate helps normal development of bones and joints which is particularly important from about eight weeks of age, when a puppy is weaned, to two years of age. The tendency to overfeed and give supplements (such as calcium) to large breed puppies is common but should be avoided as it can potentially cause abnormal skeletal development. Instead, a food specially formulated to provide your puppy with the right balance of nutrients for optimum skeletal development should be selected. Innova Large Breed Puppy Food contains 6% fewer calories than regular Innova Puppy Food and includes balanced levels of calcium and phosphorus. Innova Large Breed Puppy Food also has less protein and is balanced with the appropriate mineral content for optimal skeletal development. Innova Large Breed Puppy Food also contains a bit more fiber than regular Innova Puppy food to prevent overfeeding. Innova Large Breed Puppy Food provides complete and balanced nutrition. (If you follow my blog “
All about pets & pet nutrition”, you will notice that I take the term “complete & balanced” with a grain of salt, as I agree with Dr. R.L.Wysong, DVM, who simply says “there is no such thing!” see specific blog comment “The most crucial ingredient to your pet’s health: A high quality diet“ ).
One thing I really like about Natura is the information and data provided on their formulas. While ingredient listings and guaranteed analysis are pretty much standard these days (though, sadly enough not everybody provides them), at Natura, as with any other high quality food manufacturer who has nothing to hide, you also get detailed
ingredient descriptions, referring to sourcing and benefits and nutrient analysis data, in two ways on an “as fed” or on a “dry matter” analysis, which is by far more meaningful than the summarized standard 4-item guaranteed analysis required by regulators.
The only problem I had in the past with Innova formulas was that some ingredients were sourced in China. However, the good news is that Natura just recently announced 100% their ingredients will come from trusted, non-Chinese suppliers.
Supplements are needed to ensure that pets receive optimum nutrition, and among the necessary supplements, certain B vitamins and taurine, in the past have been unavailable from anywhere other than China. As a side note, I find this fact in itself highly interesting. How many pet food manufacturers made and make us believe that their foods do not contain Chines ingredients? A little controversial I would say at least. Anyway, after diligently working with its suppliers, Natura has found alternative sources and is now using them exclusively.
Natura also was a front runner right after the 2007 recall, when it became the first pet food company in the industry to test and guarantee that all of its products are free from melamine and cyanuric acid.

You asked for my opinion:
Innova Large Breed Puppy Dry Formula gets a Pet Food Examiner's Thumb Up (in lieu of a rating system yet to be determined and established). Would I feed it to my next large breed puppy? If I would not have the on-line store, yes. But having the store, my dogs have the added benefit of being “taste testers” for a large variety of types and brands of food.

I hope this information helps you to come to your own conclusion.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What’s Really in Pet Food? Part 3 Pet Food Ingredients

Today we are going to discuss pet food ingredients to continue this series contributed by Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute. In Part 1 of this series we briefly introduced the subject matter and discussed the major players in the pet food industry. But as we have learned the trend to bigger doesn’t necessarily translate into better and unfortunately we learned, not that it would be anything new, that there are major differences between what pet owners think they are buying and what they are actually getting. Part 2 addressed in very general terms labeling basics, standards and regulations. This series focuses in very general terms on the most visible name brands, the pet food labels that are mass-distributed to supermarkets and discount stores. However, just so that we are on the safe side, there are also many highly respected brands that may be guilty of the same offenses. What many pet owners to this day still 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. In order for the consumer to make an educated decision it is necessary to learn, among many others considerations, how to read pet food labels to begin with.
So, let’s talk about Pet Food Ingredients
Animal Protein
Dogs and cats are carnivores, and do best on a meat-based diet. The protein used in pet food comes from a variety of sources. When cattle, swine, chickens, lambs, or other animals are slaughtered, lean muscle tissue is trimmed away from the carcass for human consumption, along with the few organs that people like to eat, such as tongues and tripe.
However, about 50% of every food animal does not get used in human foods. Whatever remains of the carcass — heads, feet, bones, blood, intestines, lungs, spleens, livers, ligaments, fat trimmings, unborn babies, and other parts not generally consumed by humans — is used in pet food, animal feed, fertilizer, industrial lubricants, soap, rubber, and other products. These “other parts” are known as “by-products.” By-products are used in feed for poultry and livestock as well as in pet food.
The nutritional quality of by-products, meals, and digests can vary from batch to batch. James Morris and Quinton Rogers, of the University of California at Davis Veterinary School, assert that, “[pet food] ingredients are generally by-products of the meat, poultry and fishing industries, with the potential for a wide variation in nutrient composition. Claims of nutritional adequacy of pet foods based on the current Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient allowances (‘profiles’) do not give assurances of nutritional adequacy and will not until ingredients are analyzed and bioavailability values are incorporated.”3
Meat or poultry “by-products” are very common in wet pet foods. Remember that “meat” refers to only cows, swine, sheep, and goats. Since sheep and goats are rare compared to the 37 million cows and 100 million hogs slaughtered for food every year, nearly all meat by-products come from cattle and pigs.
The better brands of pet food, such as many “super-premium,” “natural,” and “organic” varieties, do not use by-products. On the label, you’ll see one or more named meats among the first few ingredients, such as “turkey” or “lamb.” These meats are still mainly leftover scraps; in the case of poultry, bones are allowed, so “chicken” consists mainly of backs and frames—the spine and ribs, minus their expensive breast meat. The small amount of meat left on the bones is the meat in the pet food. Even with this less-attractive source, pet food marketers are very tricky when talking about meat, so this is explained further in the section on “Marketing Magic” below.
Meat meals, poultry meals, by-product meals, and meat-and-bone meal are common ingredients in dry pet foods. The term “meal” means that these materials are not used fresh, but have been rendered. While there are chicken, turkey, and poultry by-product meals there is no equivalent term for mammal “meat by-product meal” — it is called “meat-and-bone-meal.” It may also be referred to by species, such as “beef-and-bone-meal” or “pork-and-bone-meal.”
What is rendering? As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, to render is “to process as for industrial use: to render livestock carcasses and to extract oil from fat, blubber, etc., by melting.” In other words, raw materials are dumped into large vat and boiled for several hours. Rendering separates fat, removes water, and kills bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other organisms. However, the high temperatures used (270°F/130°C) can alter or destroy natural enzymes and proteins found in the raw ingredients.
Because of persistent rumors that rendered by-products contain dead dogs and cats, the FDA conducted a study looking for pentobarbital, the most common euthanasia drug, in pet foods. They found it. Ingredients that were most commonly associated with the presence of pentobarbital were meat-and-bone-meal and animal fat. However, they also used very sensitive tests to look for canine and feline DNA, which were not found. Industry insiders admit that rendered pets and roadkill were used in pet food some years ago. Although there are still no laws or regulations against it, the practice is uncommon today, and pet food companies universally deny that their products contain any such materials. However, so-called “4D” animals (dead, dying, diseased, disabled) were only recently banned for human consumption and are still legitimate ingredients for pet food.
Vegetable Protein
The amount of grain and vegetable products used in pet food has risen dramatically over time. Plant products now replace a considerable proportion of the meat that was used in the earliest commercial pet foods. This has led to severe nutritional deficiencies that have been corrected along the way, although many animals died before science caught up.
Most dry foods contain a large amount of cereal grain or starchy vegetables to provide texture. These high-carbohydrate plant products also provide a cheap source of “energy” — the rest of us call it “calories.” Gluten meals are high-protein extracts from which most of the carbohydrate has been removed. They are often used to boost protein percentages without expensive animal-source ingredients. Corn gluten meal is the most commonly used for this purpose. Wheat gluten is also used to create shapes like cuts, bites, chunks, shreds, flakes, and slices, and as a thickener for gravy. In most cases, foods containing vegetable proteins are among the poorer quality foods.
A recent fad, “low-carb” pet food, has some companies steering away from grains, and using potatoes, green peas, and other starchy vegetables as a substitute. Except for animals that are allergic to grains, dry low-carb diets offer no particular advantage to pets. They also tend to be very high in fat and, if fed free-choice, will result in weight gain. Canned versions are suitable for prevention and treatment of feline diabetes, and as part of a weight loss program, as well as for maintenance.
Animal and Poultry Fat
There’s a unique, pungent odor to a new bag of dry pet food — what is the source of that smell? It is most often rendered animal fat, or vegetable fats and oils deemed inedible for humans. For example, used restaurant grease was rendered and routed to pet foods for several years, but a more lucrative market is now in biodiesel fuel production.
These fats are sprayed directly onto extruded kibbles and pellets to make an otherwise bland or distasteful product palatable. The fat also acts as a binding agent to which manufacturers add other flavor enhancers such as “animal digests” made from processed by-products. Pet food scientists have discovered that animals love the taste of these sprayed fats. Manufacturers are masters at getting a dog or a cat to eat something she would normally turn up her nose at.
What Happened to the Nutrients?
Cooking and other processing of meat and by-products used in pet food can greatly diminish their nutritional value, although cooking increases the digestibility of cereal grains and starchy vegetables.
To make pet food nutritious, pet food manufacturers must “fortify” it with vitamins and minerals. Why? Because the ingredients they are using are not wholesome, their quality may be extremely variable, and the harsh manufacturing practices destroy many of the nutrients the food had to begin with.
Proteins are especially vulnerable to heat, and become damaged, or “denatured,” when cooked. Because dry foods ingredients are cooked twice — first during rendering and again in the extruder — problems are much more common than with canned or homemade foods. Altered proteins may contribute to food intolerances, food allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Additives in Processed Pet Foods
Many chemicals are added to commercial pet foods to improve the taste, stability, characteristics, or appearance of the food. Additives provide no nutritional value. Additives include emulsifiers to prevent water and fat from separating, antioxidants to prevent fat from turning rancid, and artificial colors and flavors to make the product more attractive to consumers and more palatable to their companion animals.
A wide variety of additives are allowed in animal feed and pet food, not counting vitamins and minerals. Not all of them are actually used in pet food. Additives can be specifically approved, or they can fall into the category of “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS). They include: Anticaking agents, antigelling agents, antimicrobial agents, antioxidants, color additives, condiments, curing agents, drying agents, emulsifiers, essential oils, flavor enhancers, flavoring agents, grinding agents, humectants, leavening agents, lubricants, palatants, pelleting agents and binders, petroleum derivatives, ph control agents, preservatives, seasonings, spices, stabilizers, sweeteners, texturizers and thickeners.

Chemical vs. Natural Preservatives
All commercial pet foods must be preserved so they stay fresh and appealing to our animal companions. Canning is itself a preserving process, so canned foods need little or no additional help. Some preservatives are added to ingredients or raw materials by the suppliers, and others may be added by the manufacturer. The U.S. Coast Guard, for instance, requires fish meal to be heavily preserved with ethoxyquin or equivalent antioxidant. Evidently, spoiling fish meal creates such intense heat that ship explosions and fires resulted.
Because manufacturers need to ensure that dry foods have a long shelf life (typically 12 months) to remain edible through shipping and storage, fats used in pet foods are preserved with either synthetic or “natural” preservatives. Synthetic preservatives include butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze), and ethoxyquin. For these antioxidants, there is little information documenting their toxicity, safety, interactions, or chronic use in pet foods that may be eaten every day for the life of the animal. Propylene glycol was banned in cat food because it causes anemia in cats, but it is still allowed in dog food.
Potentially cancer-causing agents such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are permitted at relatively low levels. The use of these chemicals in pet foods has not been thoroughly studied, and long term build-up of these agents may ultimately be harmful. Due to questionable data in the original study on its safety, ethoxyquin’s manufacturer, Monsanto, was required to perform a new, more rigorous study. This was completed in 1996. Even though Monsanto found no significant toxicity associated with its own product, in July 1997 the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine requested that manufacturers voluntarily reduce the maximum level for ethoxyquin by half, to 75 parts per million. While some pet food critics and veterinarians believe that ethoxyquin is a major cause of disease, skin problems, and infertility in dogs, others claim it is the safest, strongest, most stable preservative available for pet food. Ethoxyquin is approved for use in human food for preserving spices, such as cayenne and chili powder, at a level of 100 ppm — but it would be very difficult for even the most hard-core spice lover to consume as much chili powder every day as a dog would eat dry food. Ethoxyquin has never been tested for safety in cats. Despite this, it is commonly used in veterinary diets for both cats and dogs.
Many pet food makers have responded to consumer concern, and are now using “natural” preservatives such as Vitamin C (ascorbate), Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), and oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices, to preserve the fats in their products. The shelf life is shorter, however — only about 6 months.
Individual ingredients, such as fish meal, may have preservatives added before they reach the pet food manufacturer. Federal law requires fat preservatives to be disclosed on the label; however, pet food companies do not always comply with this law.
Stay tuned for part 4 when we talk about manufacturing processes, discuss possible dangers ahead and pet food recalls.
Reprinted with permission from and contributed by
Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute and reprinted with permission. © 2003-2009 - Born Free USA united with Animal Protection Institute - All rights reserved

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The “Albert Einstein” of the Pet Nutrition World?

I am sure you all have noticed during the past months since I started this blog, I am not just publishing and talking about my very own opinion when it comes to the subject matter of this blog: Healthy pet nutrition. Very frequently I pass on what I learn and hear from others who I think are knowledgeable and educated enough to make a valuable contribution to our discussions here in this community. One of these “others” is Dr. R.L.Wysong, D.V.M.. He is my idol of the pet nutrition world so to speak. A great deal of what I know today I have learned from him and his efforts to educate pet owners. There are many resources available these days. Much of the information is provided by pet food manufacturers. Therefore one has to be careful as to how the information provided is interpreted. How much of it is real, fact based, peer reviewed and scientifically documented and how much, on the other hand is “marketing effort” to sell the own products? And Dr. Wysong to some degree is not different. Though he sometimes makes it sound like he is the “savior” of this world in which pet owners for many years have been misled. He sometimes makes it sound like his only objective is to educate pet owners on what is right and wrong, but lets face it, he too is in the business of selling healthy pet (and human) nutrition and other holistic products. And, he has the benefit of a doubt, most likely his primary intention is to educate before selling product. But fact is, providing free information doesn’t pay the bills, period. And I also have to give him credit: Very frequently he not just admits to that, but also has no problem acknowledging other competitive products in a positive way and providing credit to others where credit is due. So, what is my motivation to lift this man into the “sky”, to praise him like he is the “Einstein” of pet nutrition? Sure, I admit, there is one reason, which is simply that we are selling the entire Wysong line at our store and every bit to get the word out helps. Especially if that word really means something. Which simply is the second reason why I look up to this man: Pet owners who came and come to me for many reasons, typically because their pets suffer one or another specific health condition, were given advice based on what I learned from Dr. Wysong. Along with that, in many cases we sold and are selling the Wysong products. Fact is, based on the testimonials and feedback I am receiving from these customers, it simply works. I have in the past had pet owners who’s animals were literally shortly before passing away. For many reasons, typically because they were given the wrong or not enough treatment for their conditions. I have, in writing, testimonials (real, not something made up during a long night on my desk) stating that those animals came “back to life”. Period. And just that to me is enough to justify that what I am doing is right. And I will continue listen to and to believe in Dr. Wysong. I also think so should you. This man is knowledgeable, knows his business and holistic in and out and he also has the advantage that he shares his knowledge in a way that one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand what he is talking about. For this reason, following here is another one of is thoughts, today about “The myth of 100% complete and balanced pet food”:

“The pet food industry has been running in place and causing immeasurable harm to pets for at least 75 years. It presents an egregious example of scientific hubris and commercial irresponsibility. Whether you have pets or not, what follows will underscore and substantiate everything the book has said thus far regarding how wrong society can be on health and nutrition. Only in this case, our wrongness falls upon innocent pet victims.

Companion animals were once fed table scraps and also ate whatever they could find or catch in the barn or fields. This was fine until leash laws were enacted and pets became more urbanized and house bound. So pet owners began to seek convenience foods from the grocery store. Alert entrepreneurs in the food processing industry noted this and saw an opportunity to convert waste (much of it still highly nutritious) in the growing human food industry into pet food. These converted scraps proved to be an efficient use of resources otherwise wasted and a convenient solution to keeping the pet’s bowl full.

There are now extruded, pelleted, baked, canned, freeze-dried, semi-moist, frozen, lifestage, breed specific, high protein, low protein, natural, holistic, USDA approved, human grade, fortified, anti-allergenic, and disease treatment processed pet food formulas. In a race to create new market niches, profiteers roll out an endless array of purported “special” ingredients, and demonize a growing list of “bad” ingredients. Each manufacturer argues that their food is the best and can offer either unsupported claims playing to myths and public ignorance, or proofs such as analyses (% protein, fat, water, etc.), successful AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) feeding trials, digestibility studies (how much comes out compared to how much is fed), and testimonials and endorsements. All such claims and proofs constitute a fallacious life support system keeping, as you will see, a very dangerous idea alive.

The commercial pet food imbroglio is confusing and frustrating for consumers trying to make conscientious choices. After all, how can pet food A be better than food B, while B is better than A, with each side providing proofs? Rather than get into the confusing debate, most people just go with the flow and swallow current marketing razzle-dazzle. Myth, lore, faith, convention, clever advertising, convenience, trust, and tales of pet food ingredient dos and don’ts have become the basis for pet feeding. But virtually every processed pet food claim intended to lure consumers is found to be deceptive upon close examination.

For example, “human grade” ingredients sound good, but virtually all pet food ingredients come from human grade processing facilities. “No by-products” sound good, but the trimmings, organs, and scraps you and I can’t find at a meat counter turn out to be some of the most nutritious elements for pets. “No corn, soy, or wheat” is a common scare tactic but the brands that omit them usually use some other form of starch that is nutritionally inferior. Some brands, in an attempt to scare people into their coffers with a “no-grain” claim, use tapioca for their starch. But that can contain the poison hydrogen cyanide. Some make boasts about being holistic, natural, and the like but are essentially the same as all other brands. The “no preservatives” claim would mean that the nutrients are unprotected from oxidation and would generate toxins worse than the preservatives that have been left out. One brand, implying by its name that it is “raw,” lists the raw ingredients it contains after fifty or so ingredients that are heat processed (ingredients must be listed in order of quantity), and below an ingredient that is in the food at one ten-millionth of an ounce in a normal meal. The raw part of the food could be at billionths of an ounce, trillionths, or just a few molecules per twenty-ton truckload.

People are easily led and deceived because they tend to believe anything on a label and assume pet feeding is mysterious and needs high tech solutions. Let’s think about this for a moment using the same common sense we would use in choosing our own best foods. Because of the nondescript nature of the mush and nuggets in pet food cans and bags, pet owners must extend a lot of trust to manufacturers. But the balm of blind trust and faith never turns out to be a solution for anything.

For example, consider the following approved ingredients from the official AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) regulatory publications: Dehydrated garbage (you read that right), polyethylene roughage (plastic), hydrolyzed poultry feathers, hydrolyzed hair, hydrolyzed leather meal, some 36 chemical preservatives, peanut skins and hulls, corn cob fractions, ground corn cob, ground clam shells, poultry, cow and pig feces and litter, hundreds of chemicals, a host of antibiotic and chemotherapeutic pharmaceuticals, a variety of synthetic flavorings, adjuvants, sequestrates, stabilizers, anti caking agents.

This is not to say these ingredients are commonly used, just to point out that they can be. Obviously these ‘approved’ ingredients prove it may not be such a good idea to blindly trust regulators, manufacturers and nutritionists, and assume they know better about how to feed your pet than you do.

The absurdity of official nutrition deepens because at the same time regulators approve dehydrated garbage, they ban natural ingredients like pollen, chondroitin, Coenzyme Q10, and other nutraceuticals (natural substances with health effects). Any health food store and grocery has foods and nutraceuticals approved for humans that are banned from inclusion in commercial pet foods.

This sad state of irrationality—approving feces and garbage but banning chondroitin—can only be explained by the fact that regulators are trained in old school nutrition - using textbooks parroting 100-year old nutritional ideas. They are taught and come to believe that the nature of the food makes no difference, just the percentages of protein, fat, vitamin A, and the like. If dehydrated garbage and feces is made sterile (safe?) and has 12% protein, then to them that equals nutritious food. Similar thinking can be found in human hospitals where old school nutritionally trained dieticians feed diseased and starving patients instant potatoes, Jell-O, canned meat, and Diet Coke. Any claim about special merits of natural ingredients is often considered voodoo by them.

Both human and animal nutritionists can be so caught up in their science of percentages that no room is left in their brains for common sense. If that’s the way they want to eat, that is one thing. It’s quite another for consumers to follow along just because nutritionists and regulators promote themselves as expert, authoritative, and immune from error.

In a classic case of government run amok, regulators carefully purge the industry of natural ingredients that may have health benefits, and then call manufacturers to task over picayune matters on package labels that have nothing to do with nutrition, health, or safety.

Here is just one example of how regulators fill their time policing pet foods - A commercial food that had chicken and beef in it claimed on the label that it had “meat.” The regulatory Gestapo swooped down and declared it illegal. They considered neither chicken nor organs to be “meat” because of a terminology technicality they had created. It took thousands of dollars and months of work for the manufacturer to make the changes to the packages. For what? So the public would not be ‘misled’ to believe that the “meat” mentioned on the label was chicken and organs (even though the ingredient label clearly identified what was in the product). This was an action taken by the FDA, the same regulatory body that permits drugs into the market that maim and kill hundreds of thousands of humans and animals every year. In contrast, never has the word meat on a label harmed a pet. And most certainly no pet has ever been harmed if their owner understood meat to be chicken and organs. P

et food regulators busy themselves refereeing precise label verbiage, size of print, where on packages certain things must be said, and work to promote the disease-producing “100% complete and balanced” pet food label claim (I will get into in a moment). They are stuck in their own deep bureaucracy, oblivious to the real world, and convinced of their self-importance by monitoring silly nonsense.

In the meantime, against such a massive background of agreement among industry, regulators, medical professionals, and nutritionists, how could the public help but be bamboozled into thinking that pet food manufacturing is some sort of high tech wizardry their pets need? Yes, processors can soup-up their twin-screw extruders and make things like white flour, textured soy vegetable protein (TVP), dye, and flavoring look and taste like a real pork chop. But the best of technology is being used to fool owners and pets and to make profits, not to create truly healthy pet foods.

The results speak for themselves. After countless generations on the new fangled diets, pets are plagued with every manner of modern degenerative disease, including obesity, cancer, dental disease, et al that plague humans and their companion animals on their fare of processed foods.

The tragedy is greater for pets because people can at least choose foods for themselves; pets can’t. Even though people may think they are being smart by relying on the pet expert industry, stop and think about this for a moment. Nobody in their right mind would ever eat the same processed food, meal after meal, day after day for a lifetime. Nobody would make his or her child eat the same processed food at every meal. So why on earth would we ever think of doing it to our pets? Yet virtually every pet owner feeds the same processed food, meal after meal, day after day, and does so thinking they are doing their pet a favor because the label says “100% complete and balanced.”

Recognizing this contradiction and using the same intuitive sense to feed our pets as we do ourselves is the key to healthy pet feeding.

Aside from the fact that the singular feeding of processed foods spawns illness and disease, it is a cruelty to force a captive animal to eat the same food at every meal. Try eating a bowl of dry Captain Crunch as the only food at every meal for the next 15-20 years, the lifetime of pets. Or eat a can of Spam at every meal for the same time.

The exclusive feeding of processed pet foods takes advantage of people’s desire for convenience and their unwillingness to trust themselves or take personal responsibility. As for the pet industry perpetrators, it all began innocently and well intentioned enough. Entrepreneurship is the American way. All pet food producers needed to do was convince the public to throw their “non-nutritious and imbalanced” table scraps in the garbage, and to feed their pet the new modern way. But heat-processed, starch-based pet foods had all sorts of nutritional imbalances and deficiencies. Pets were dying, developing rickets, and going blind, just like starving children do in a third world country.

To save the day, regulators stepped in to force manufacturers to “balance” the pet foods better. So manufacturers consulted nutritionists who hold the belief that almost any mix of base ingredients can be made whole by adding protein from virtually any source along with synthetic vitamins and minerals. (The recent massive pet food recall of products containing an ingredient that was evidently spiked with toxic melamine to boost its nitrogen percentage—interpreted as protein—is an example of the danger of a focus on percentages.) They “fortified” and “balanced” the foods so they would meet the “known” standards. To prove that the resulting foods are wholesome and healthy they decided to devise an experiment, known as the AAFCO feeding trial. This is an example of something called science that is not that at all. Since it is not an experiment worth doing, it is not worth doing well.

It goes like this: If after a few weeks of eating the specific diet to be proven, the caged experimental animals don’t die or show signs of deficiency, toxicity, or sickness, then the pet food passes. The manufacturer can then claim “100% Complete and Balanced” on the label. Monitoring this claim and making sure manufacturers meet the standards surrounding its presentation on labels is pretty much the central focus of pet food regulation: the FDA, USDA, AAFCO and every state feed control agency.

With a passed AAFCO test certificate in hand, the manufacturer can tell everyone that their new ‘scientifically proven’ food is all that a pet owner should feed and if they feed anything else nutritional imbalance and disease may result. If the manufacturer flashes scientific looking graphs and charts in front of veterinarians, some of them might endorse the products as well. (Veterinarians, like physicians, get little if any nutritional education. What they do get comes primarily from the biased “100% complete” pet food industry.)

By performing such testing all was supposed to be well and science served. But as it turns out, the claim of “100% complete" is a pretense of science because it assumes that which cannot be true - 100% complete knowledge.

Nutritionists, caught up in their cognitive chauvinism about percentages, totally miss the fact that nutrition has long-range impact that cannot be measured in a several-week AAFCO feeding test. Measuring such things as body weight, general condition, and a few blood values only gives the process the flavor of science, not its substance. They forget that prisoners have been known to survive for years on little more than water and a little rice or bread that is deficient and imbalanced by every nutritional measure. They overlook the body’s ability to adapt to and tolerate all kinds of nutritional abuses - for a time. Their so-called proof of a food’s perfect completeness is a mockery of logic, evidence, and science.

The commercial gambit of claiming 100% completeness is nothing new. It was also attempted in the baby formula industry. After all kinds of assurances that scientifically designed baby formulas were the “100% complete” smart choice for modern moms, the breast was retired to its ‘proper’ place as a cosmetic appendage. Physicians were indoctrinated by industry propaganda to push baby formula as the new, advanced, modern way. Then disaster struck. Hundreds of thousands of babies suffered serious nutritional diseases. When the breast was brought out of retirement, health was restored. Surely with such a terrible lesson, food processors would not again try to supplant nature.

But they have, and on a grand, worldwide scale. With clever subterfuge the pet food industry—under the tutelage of official nutritionists and regulators—is doing exactly the same thing the baby formula industry did. The difference is that it is now illegal for mothers to be told that baby formula is better than natural food (in this case, breast milk), or that formulas should be fed exclusively. Why? Formula can cause disease and death.

But the lesson learned has not been transferred to pet feeding. The “100% complete” claim is now the bread and butter of a multibillion-dollar pet food industry and pays the salaries of countless nutritionists and pet food regulators. The scam has caused disease and death from its beginning, but it continues unabated while regulators harass manufacturers about how to place words on package labels.

Think about it. Our world is complex beyond comprehension. It is not only largely unknown, it is unknowable in the “complete” sense. In order for nutritionists and manufacturers to produce a “100% complete and balanced” pet food, they must first know 100% about nutrition. But nutrition is most certainly not a completed science. In fact, although nutrition is rapidly being developed as a science, it has always lagged behind the other sciences. This is in part because it is a field of study that has not stood side by side with the other sciences in universities. Rather, nutrition has more or less been considered an incidental branch of homemaking or some other applied field such as animal husbandry. Additionally, because of its almost infinite complexity, the science of nutrition is not easily developed.

The fact of the matter is that the “100% complete” claim is actually 100% complete guesswork. At best, one could say that such a claim is the firm possibility of a definite maybe. As proof, consider that each time regulatory agencies convene to decide how much of which nutrients comprise “100% complete,” debate ensues and standards usually change. This not only proves that what they claimed to be 100% complete before was in fact not, but should also make us highly suspicious about what they now claim to be 100% complete.

So don’t believe the claim on any commercially prepared pet (or human) food that it is “100% complete and balanced.” It is a specious, unsupported boast intended to build consumer trust and dependence on commercial products—not create optimal health. It is a marketing slogan and nothing more. Modern, heat processed, food-fraction-based, additive-laden pet foods sold as supposedly ‘100% complete’ foods to be fed exclusively have caused serious illness and the death of untold thousands of pets.

Take the case of cats fed thoroughly approved, AAFCO proven, “100% complete and balanced” premium branded foods. These poor cats ended up with eye maladies and dilated failing hearts (dilated cardiomyopathy), among other things. Science, perhaps the most prestigious of all scientific publications, prefaced a study of this disaster with this: “Thousands of pet cats die each year with dilated cardiomyopathy…” When such nutrient problems strike, the exigencies of public relations and profits prompt the industry to quickly search out a solution. In this case, to make up for the damage heat processing was doing, they added synthetic taurine. This action had the virtue of being relevant to the matter at hand (animals dying from taurine deficiency) but was generally unimportant in that it did not fix the underlying cause: the pompous mindset that all is known and that good nutrition is just about percentages. This intellectual cul-de-sac creates mental cobwebs preventing the understanding of the single most essential element of health: nature cannot be improved upon.

So the industry—including nutritionists, veterinarians, and regulators— continues mired in its wrong thinking and parading out before the public an endless array of new brands that are heralded as the fix to all the pet disease and dying going on. The market is flooded with “100% complete” diets by prescription, for life stages, for specific breeds and sizes, and those featuring high protein, low protein, no-carb, low-carb, organic, no corn, no soy, no wheat, high fat, low fat, lamb, potato, rice, avocado, persimmon, tapioca, quail eggs, buffalo and on and on. But they all miss the point: a heat-processed food cannot be “100% complete” and should never be fed exclusively. Occasionally there are disastrous failures in commercial foods such as with taurine, and more recently with the “100% complete” and “natural” foods containing the rodenticide, aminopterin, and the plastic melamine.

More often, results are not immediately apparent. Subtle nutritional problems can cast long and insidious shadows. Many of the degenerative diseases striking animals - particularly in their middle and later years after perhaps years have passed with no apparent problems - are directly related to following the “100% complete” pet food myth. Since these degenerative diseases are the primary reason people flood veterinary offices with their pets, this is no small matter. The pain and suffering for both pets and their owners, and the financial loss, is a tragedy of incalculable size. It will not end until the “100% complete” claim is banned from labels or people recognize it for the fraud it is.

When people are no longer under the assumption that a packaged pet food is perfect, they will hopefully begin to think and find a better way. It will have little to do with nutritionists and regulators pretending they have complete knowledge, and everything to do respecting and listening to nature and our own internal common sense.”
Thank you Dr. Wysong. To read more of the Dr.’s work, visit his website or if you are interested in learning about his products visit mine.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Born to be wild: Should your dog eat more like a wolf?

was the question posted as a headline for a write-up in Dog Fancy’s new “side kick” “Dog Fancy’s Natural Dog – Caring for your whole dog” in one of its recent issues. Needless to say that this caught my interest and led me to take a closer look into the subject matter, especially since it is one of the questions asked by customers and friends on a daily basis.
We all have seen the pictures printed on the dog food bags:
Timberwolf Organics, Taste of the Wild, Solid Gold WolfCub or WolfKing, Blue Buffalo Blue Wilderness and many more, typically high quality manufacturers are using these images to sell their products. With the intention to create an image making pet owners believe that they are buying something what is good for their dogs because they take an ancestrial approach of going back to the domesticated dog’s origins.
Says Taste of the Wild: “Years of domestication have turned your pets from fierce predator to best friends. However, modern science proves that your dog or cat still share the DNA of the wolf or wild cat. … offers your pet a diet dictated by his genes. It provides your pet with the kind of natural, balanced diet that he could find "in the wild."”
Dr. R.L.Wysong, DVM in his pamphlet “
How to apologize to your pet” writes under “Fresh and natural foods”: “Meats: The ideal meat product would be the entire natural prey your pet’s ancestors once hunted. This is not likely to be achieved, but nether the less feeding meat should mimic this model as close as possible. In the wild, when carnivores make a kill, they eat the viscera (organs), muscle meat and bones…. Such fresh meats should be a prominent fresh food you add to your pet’s diet.” He also mentions about plant based ingredients: “Vegetable, fruits and nuts: Believe it or not, many pets relish these foods. … Your pet may eat most eagerly if you are sharing the treat and eat the same raw fruits and vegetables…. The reasons (cats and) dogs frequently eat grass is because they crave and enjoy it – especially if they are feeding ill or are on a processed, dead diet. It is as simple as that. In the wild, pets will actually graze on grass, roots and sprouts as they find them. This should be a small, occasional addition to your pet’s diet. … Grains should be a smaller portion of your pet’s diet since they are technically not a natural food for carnivores.”
Mark Heyward of Timberwolf Organics explains in “The wolf in your living room”: “During the past decade a large following has developed in the US and Europe of animal nutritionists, breeders and pet owners who have begun reverting back to the old methods of feeding their pets raw meats, bones and cooked greens which was the norm before the advent of commercial pet foods. There’s much information available of studies pertaining to the use of whole animal meats and organs, essential fatty acids, seeds and some vegetation in the management of the nutritional requirements of our pets. In other words, simulating a "wild & natural" diet as closely as possible. Many people who take a serious interest in pet nutrition have made a decision to feed their dogs a diet that’s dictated by their genes, that carnivore diet they truly need.Dogs and wolves belong to the order carnivora, or meat eaters and the family canidae. They also share the genus canis and are of the same species lupus. Dogs have been reclassified as canis lupus familiaris. Recent tests have shown that the DNA of a dog is the same as a wolf. As such, a dog's diet should be as close as possible to a wolf's diet. In the wild that would include elk, moose, deer, beaver, rabbits, rodents and birds. All of the prey is consumed with relish, beginning with the blood at the incision site, which is loaded with moisture, minerals, salt and amino acids, followed by muscle tissue, which is high in protein. Quickly they turn to the internal organs: heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, spleen etc that are high in vitamins, minerals, hormones and fatty acids. Contrary to popular belief the stomach and its contents are among the last of the organs consumed and in fact the intestines and stomach contents are rarely eaten at all, only the fat surrounding the intestines. With smaller prey they can often be seen eating the head first. Just like their wolf cousins, canids have teeth designed for tearing, a relatively short intestinal tract and a simple single compartment stomach, which is efficiently designed to extract nutrients and energy from meat rich in complete proteins and essential fats.However, in our civilized suburbs it’s not practical to feed a completely wild diet. Our goal should be to feed a diet that approximates a diet seen in the wild as closely as possible.”
Those are just a few opinions coming from pet food manufacturers, which I classify as upper range quality food providers.
Now let’s see what the magazine had to say:
It started like this: “Imagine a wolf, its gray fur blowing in a wintery wind, howling at the moon, sharp eyes ever alert for potential prey. In the wild, wolves move in packs, hunting large mammals like deer, moose, elk and caribou. Sometimes they hunt alone and feast on smaller prey like rabbits, rodents and birds. “Wolves eat the entire animal, including the meat, hair, bone and all the internal organs” says wildlife research biologist and wolf expert L.David Mech, founder and vice chairman of the International Wolf Center and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. “They eat the stomachs of their prey, but shake the guts to remove the contents and any vegetation is consumed by accident. Wolves only eat fruit and vegetables when they are starving.” “
To me here it already starts to be interesting, because that is quite the opposite what I was made to believe in the past by pet food manufacturers who take the position that exactly because, so they say, the animal eats the guts with contents, that is where fruits and veggies come into play and that would be why dogs need to have the same to be present in their diets.
Natural Dog continues: “Now consider the domestic dog and his diet of dry processed kibble and biscuit treats, made largely from corn, rice, wheat, barley or oats. Caribou on the one hand, kibble on the other. What is wrong with that picture? Should our dogs eat more like wolves?”
Kathryn E. Michel, DVM, a professor of nutrition for the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, after questioned by the magazine stated that comparing our domestic dogs to wolves would be misleading. Wolves are apex predators, which means they eat mostly prey. Other wild canines, more closely related to our dogs, such as foxes, coyotes and wild dogs on the other hand are scavengers.
Here is where it becomes confusing. Who were the domesticated dogs’ ancestors? Wolf or fox? To find the answer I checked Wikipedia again:
“The dog is a domesticated subspecies of the gray wolf, a member of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term is used for both feral and pet varieties. … “ . While I kept reading it became got more and more confusing, they keep going on and on, but are basically always coming back to the theory that the gray wolf was the original animal. To discuss this here in detail would distract too much from what I want to talk about, nutrition. But if you are interested in finding out more, here is the link:
Dog. It really makes for highly interesting reading. I for my part think much of it simply has to do with our dogs being “domesticated” animals, i.e. the evolutionary adjustments occurring because of the dogs living with the humans. I did find one more comment which I wanted to use here:
“Diet: Despite its descent from wolves, the domestic dog is an omnivore, though it is classified in the order Carnivora. Unlike an obligate carnivore, such as a member of the cat family with its shorter small intestine, a dog is neither dependent on meat-specific protein nor a very high level of protein in order to fulfill its basic dietary requirements. Dogs are able to healthily digest a variety of foods, including vegetables and grains, and can consume a large proportion of these in their diet. In the wild, canines often eat available plants and fruits.”
This is the time to come back to Dr. Michel: “Dogs aren’t built like the animals that must survive primarily on meat. All you have to do is look at the anatomy, physiology ,dentition and gastrointestinal tract to see what dogs are capable of digesting compared to the domestic cat for example. Dogs have gastrointestinal tracts and teeth that reflect a much more diverse diet. They have an almost full complement of molars, which are used for grinding plant material, much more like a pig or a human than a cat or a wolf.” (Sigh), this now sounds like we are all back on the same track again.
Michel concludes that dogs can survive on many different foods, including the starches in commercial kibble. There is no question that dogs are adapted to starch in their diets. They don’t need it, but they can utilize its nutrients if that is what is available. Now does that mean it is the dogs’ own fault that they have to eat food what makes them sick? While I agree, there may be many dogs that don’t have a problem with the food they are being fed right now, (I am talking about mass produced and marketed commercial dry foods), yet there are on the other side many more which do have problems. Look at the stats, they tell it all, most diseases amount to numbers in excess of 50% of the total dog population. And the magazine questions Dr. Michel’s conclusion too: “Whether or not a bowl of kibble is the ideal diet for dogs, however is another question. The subject is controversial, and much of the information both for and against different kinds of pet diets is produced by people or companies with a vested interest in selling a product. While some people say natural foods like raw meat and bones are obviously better for pets, others say scientifically formulated and nutritionally balanced food is superior, even though it is more processed and less natural. What is the real story?”
I agree with the “vested interest theory”, however also have to say that it is documented that pets fed raw diets are doing way better than pets being fed processed kibble. I have yet to hear similar horror stories about pets suffering from pandemic diseases because they were fed raw. I do however know that there are many such cases applicable to “scientifically formulated” dry diets. Like Dr. Wysong says in his “
Truth about Pet Food”, who are the scientists believing they are above everything in this world and can declare a food “100% complete and balanced”, while it is a fact that as of this day we still do not have a 100% knowledge of food and nutrition?
Natural Dog brings another specialist to the round table, Dr. Robert Goldstein, VMD, a holistic veterinarian in Westport, CT and co-author of “
The Goldsteins’ Wellness and Longevity Program for Dog & Cats”: “The problem with kibble is that it contains not only more carbohydrates than dogs need, but it is missing many things whole food once contained. Kibble is processed at very high temperatures. This sterilizes the food and destroys many of the nutrients.” And this, concludes the magazine, “bothers people who believe in eating food as close as possible to its naturally occurring state.”

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pet Nutrition: Requirements and related diseases Part 2 Protein, Fats, Carbohydrates & Fiber

Purpose of this series is to explore the required specific dietary nutrient concentrations of cats and dogs based on their life stage. While the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Research Council (NRC) cooperate to publish dog and cat nutrient profiles for growth, maintenance, and reproduction, within these publications is little background to be found about the actual nutrients. And even less about the problems caused by malnutrition or imbalanced diets. To be more specific, in developed countries, nutritional diseases are rarely seen in dogs and cats, but only if and especially when they are fed good quality commercial rations or nutritionally balanced homemade diets. Dog or cat foods or homemade diets derived from a single food item are inadequate. For example, feeding predominately meat or even an exclusive hamburger and rice diet to dogs can induce calcium deficiency and secondary hypoparathyroidism. Feeding raw, freshwater fish to cats can induce a thiamine deficiency. Feeding liver can induce a vitamin A toxicity in both dogs and cats. Malnutrition has been seen in dogs and cats fed “natural,” “organic,” or “vegetarian” diets produced by owners with good intentions, and most published recipes have been only crudely balanced by using calculated nutrient averages. Because the palatability, digestibility, and safety of these recipes have not been adequately or scientifically tested, it is difficult to characterize all of these homemade diets. Generally, most formulations contain excessive protein and phosphorus and are deficient in calcium, vitamin E, and micro minerals such as copper, zinc, and potassium. Also, the energy density of these diets may be unbalanced relative to the other nutrients. Commonly used meat and carbohydrate ingredients contain more phosphorus than calcium. Homemade feline diets that are not actually deficient in fat or energy usually contain a vegetable oil that cats do not find palatable; therefore, less food is eaten causing a calorie deficiency. Rarely are homemade diets balanced for micro minerals or vitamins.
part 1 of the series we talked about water and energy, today we are going to take a closer look at protein, fats, carbohydrates and fiber.
Protein is required to increase and renew the nitrogenous components of the body. A primary function of dietary protein is as a source of essential amino acids and nitrogen for the synthesis of nonessential amino acids. Amino acids supply both nitrogen for the synthesis of all other nitrogenous compounds and a variable amount of energy when catabolized. The amount of protein required depends on the age of the animal and protein quality and is different for dogs and cats.
Healthy adult dogs need around 2 g of protein of high biologic value per kg body wt/day. The cat has a higher protein requirement than most species, and healthy adult cats need about 4 g of protein of high biologic value per kg body wt/day. The biologic value of a protein is related to the number and types of essential amino acids it contains and to its digestibility and metabolizability. The higher the biologic value of a protein, the less protein needed in the diet to supply the essential amino acid requirements. Egg has been given the highest biologic value, and organ and skeletal meats have a higher biologic value than do vegetable proteins.
The dietary requirement for protein is satisfied when the dog’s metabolic need for amino acids and nitrogen is satisfied. Optimal diets should contain 22 to 25% protein as dry matter for growing puppies, and 10 to 14% for adult dogs. Optimal diets should contain at least 24 to 28% ME as protein for growing kittens, and around 20% for adult cats. Growing kittens are more sensitive to the quality of dietary protein and amino acid balance than are adults. Protein suitable for cats must supply >500 mg of taurine/kg diet dry matter. Unless synthetic essential amino acids are added, some animal protein is necessary in the diet to prevent taurine depletion and development of feline central retinal degeneration or dilated cardiomyopathy.

Without sufficient energy from dietary fat or carbohydrate, dietary protein ordinarily used for growth or maintenance of body functions is less efficiently converted to energy. Too little high biologic protein in the diet, relative to the energy density, can cause an apparent protein deficiency.
Protein requirements of animals vary with age, activity level, temperament, life stage, and health status. Most commercial dog foods contain a combination of cereal and meat proteins, with protein digestibilities of 75 to 90%. Digestibility is less for protein ingredients of poor biologic value and for poor-quality diets. If excessive heat is used in processing, proteins can become chemically unavailable for digestion and absorption. The signs produced by protein deficiency or an improper protein to calorie ratio may include any or all of the following: weight loss, skeletal muscle atrophy (dogs), dull unkempt coat, anorexia, reproductive problems, persistent unresponsive parasitism or low-grade microbial infection, impaired protection via vaccination, rapid weight loss after injury or during disease, and failure to respond properly to treatment of injury or disease. High protein intakes per se do not cause skeletal abnormalities in dogs (including osteochondrosis in large breeds) or renal insufficiency later in life in cats.

Fats: Dietary fat consists mainly of triglyceride with varying amounts of sterols and phospholipids. Fat is a concentrated source of energy, yielding ~2.25 times the ME (as an equal dry-weight portion) of soluble carbohydrate or protein. As much as 60% of the calories in a cat’s diet may come from fat, and diets that contain 8-40% fat (dry-matter basis) have also been fed successfully. Triglycerides are divided into short, medium, and long chain based on the number of carbon atoms in the fatty acid chain. Fatty acids are either saturated, indicating there are no double bonds, or unsaturated, indicating there are one or more double bonds. Dietary fatty acid profiles are reflected in the fatty acid composition of tissues and cell membranes. In general, as the fat content of a diet increases, so does the caloric density and palatability, which promotes excess consumption that results in obesity. Dietary fat also facilitates the absorption, storage, and transport of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. They are also a source of essential fatty acids (EFA), which maintain functional integrity of cell membranes and are precursors of prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Animal fats are the most digestible component of the diet, and dogs can tolerate quite high dietary concentrations. However, the addition of too much dietary fat may result in excessive energy intake and subsequent suboptimal intakes of protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Dietary fats, especially the unsaturated variety, require a protective (natural or synthetic preservatives) antioxidation system. If antioxidant protection from a natural preservative system (eg, vitamin C or mixed tocopherols) or from synthetic preservatives (eg, BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin) in the diet is insufficient, dietary and body polyunsaturated fats become oxidized and lead to steatitis. Canine diets typically contain 5-15% fat (dry-matter basis) for adults. Puppy diets usually contain 8-20% fat (dry-matter basis). One reason for the wide range of fat content seen in commercial dog foods is the purpose of the diet—work, stress, growth, and lactation require higher levels than maintenance. However, because fat can add considerably more calories to a finished diet, it is important to remember that the amount of protein relative to energy must be balanced appropriately to the life stage and typical intakes expected for an animal’s size and needs.
Cats cannot readily convert linoleic acid to arachidonic acid, which must be obtained from animal sources. Recommendations include both linoleic acid and arachidonic acid at ~5 g and 0.2 g/kg diet, respectively.
Dogs have a dietary requirement for linoleic acid, an unsaturated EFA that is found in appreciable amounts in corn and soy oil. Recent studies suggest that α-linolenic acid (ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid) is also essential in dogs and possibly cats. In addition, the longer chain omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid, may be conditionally essential for normal neurologic growth and development of puppies and kittens. The amount of dietary ALA needed likely depends on the linoleic acid content. Although required amounts of these omega-3 fatty acids are presently unknown, current minimal recommendations include 0.8 g/kg diet of ALA when linoleic acid is 13 g/kg diet (dry-matter basis) for puppies and 0.44 g/kg diet ALA when linoleic acid is 11 g/kg diet (dry-matter basis) for adults. Amounts for cats are currently unspecified. EFA deficiencies are extremely rare in dogs and cats fed complete and balanced diets formulated according to AAFCO profiles. Deficiencies of EFA induce one or several signs, such as a dry, scaly, lusterless coat; inactivity; or reproductive disorders such as anestrus, testicular underdevelopment, or lack of libido. Fatty acid supplements are often recommended for dogs with dry, flaky skin and dull coats, but underlying metabolic conditions should always be evaluated first.
Carbohydrates and Crude Fiber:
Carbohydrates in pet foods include low- and high-molecular-weight sugars, starches, and various cell wall and storage nonstarch polysaccharides or dietary fibers. The 4 carbohydrate groups functionally are absorbable (eg, monosaccharides such as glucose and fructose), digestible (eg, disaccharides, some oligosaccharides), fermentable (eg, lactose, some oligosaccharides), and nonfermentable (eg, fibers such as cellulose, which is an insoluble fiber). Different carbohydrate sources have varying physiologic effects. In cats, carbohydrates apparently are not essential in the diet when ample protein and fats supply glucogenic amino acids and glycerol. Properly cooked nonfibrous carbohydrates are utilized well by dogs. In both dogs and cats, if starches are not cooked, they are poorly digested and may result in flatulence or diarrhea. Except for the occasional case of lactose or sucrose intolerance, most cooked carbohydrates are well tolerated. There is evidence that fermentable sources of carbohydrates (ie, digestible or soluble fibers) are useful in dogs; digestible versus nondigestible carbohydrate sources must be evaluated for their unique characteristics and intended purposes. Beet pulp, for example, contains both soluble and insoluble fiber and provides good stool quality in dogs without affecting other nutrient digestibility when included at ≤7.5% (dry-matter basis).
There are several chemical methods to determine the fiber level of a food; all extract the components of fiber to different degrees, which results in different estimates of fiber level for the same feedstuff. Crude fiber consists mainly of cellulose and lignin. It is resistant to hydrolysis by mammalian digestive secretions but is not an inert traveler through the GI tract. Increased levels of crude fiber in feline rations increase fecal output, normalize transit time, alter colonic micro flora and fermentation patterns, alter glucose absorption and insulin kinetics, and at high levels, can depress diet digestibility.
Stay tuned for part 3 with a discussion about vitamins and minerals.

Notes: Contribution Merck Veterinarian Manual