Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dry food storage affecting your dog’s health?

Keeping an open bag of dry dog food for weeks in your kitchen or garage will cause changes in the food that may lead to serious health problems. Learn how to properly store dry dog foods to help your dogs and cats live longer.
Would you keep a loaf of bread in your kitchen for 39 days?
We hope not. That’s how long the typical opened bag of dog food lasts. This lengthy storage time and often poor storage conditions lead to nutrient degradation, oxidation of fats, and infestation by molds, mites and other food spoilers. One in three dogs dies of cancer, and we think improper storage at home is a major contributing factor.
Dry dog foods usually have a one-year “shelf life.” That means the food is “good” for up to one year after the manufacturing date. Many dry foods stamp a “best if used by” date on the package. This applies only to unopened bags.
High-quality dog food companies use bags that provide protection from oxygen and moisture. If the bag is intact, not enough oxygen and moisture can migrate into the food in one year to cause significant oxidation or microbial growth problems. Though there are problems which can occur between the manufacture of food and the customer opening the bag, it’s what happens after the bag is opened that we are most concerned with in this article.
What happens after you open the bag of dog food
As soon as you open a bag of food, oxygen, moisture, light, mold spores, storage mites, and other potential spoilers enter the bag.
Oxidation of fats
Oxydized fats may cause cancer and contribute to many chronic health problems in humans. The same is true for dogs.
Dog food companies use antioxidants (sometimes vitamin E and other natural sources) to forestall oxidation. Every time the bag is opened, oxygen enters. Eventually the antioxidants are all oxidized (used up) and some of the fats are damaged, starting with the more fragile omega –3 fatty acids, which the better pet food companies now add to their foods.
Degradation of all micronutrients
Vitamins particularly susceptible to oxidation and damage due to long term room temperature storage include vitamin A, thiamin, most forms of folate, some forms of vitamin B6 (pyridoxal),vitamin C, and pantothenic acid. The nutrition in the food at the bottom of a bag left open 39 days will be considerably less than the nutrition in the top of the bag. The fresher the better.
Molds and mycotoxins
Storing open bags of dry dog food for 39 days in warm, humid areas (most kitchens) promotes the growth of molds. Some of the waste products of these molds (mycotoxins) are increasingly being implicated as long-term causes of cancer and other health problems in humans, poultry, pigs and other animals. Dogs are particularly susceptible to these toxins (1).
When dry dog foods absorb moisture from the surrounding air, the antimicrobials used by most manufacturers to delay mold growth can be overwhelmed(2), and mold can grow. The molds that consume dry pet foods include the aspergillus flavus mold, which produces aflatoxin B 1, the most potent naturally occurring carcinogenic substance known (3).
You can’t see low levels of mold, and most dogs can’t taste it.(4) While many dogs have died shortly after eating mycotoxin-contaminated foods (5), mycotoxins kill most dogs slowly by suppressing the immune system and creating long-term health problems in all organs of the body(6) .
Bugs, storage mites, mice, and other unpleasant invaders thrive on dry dog food. Recent research has shown that allergic dogs are frequently allergic to the carcasses of storage mites, which may infest grains, especially those grains used in low cost dry dog foods.
Here are our recommendations:
Keep food in its original bag, even if you use a container. Plastics can leach vitamin C out of the food. The components of the plastics themselves may leach into the food. Rancid fat which lodges in the pores of plastics that are not food-grade will contaminate new batches of food.
Buy small, fresh bags of food; only enough to last 7 days. Look for manufacturing or “best if used by” dates on the bag. If you don’t see one, or can’t understand the code, write the manufacturer and ask where it is or how to interpret their codes.
Keep food dry . If the food looks moist, throw it away.
Keep larger bags in the freezer. This is the only way we think large quantities of food may be kept safely.
If the food has off color, throw it away.
If the food smells rancid or like paint, throw the food away.
If your dog says no, do not force her to eat.
Don’t buy bags that are torn.
Follow these simple recommendations and you will radically reduce the deadly toxins your dog or cat encounters. May your Spot live a long, healthy life.
1. Bingham, Phillips, and Bauer. “Potential for dietary protection against the effects of aflatoxins in animals” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 222, No. 5. March 1, 2003. 593.
2. The data we’ve seen from manufacturers of antimicrobials shows that after four days at above 12% moisture mold growth starts.
3. From Science News, Vol 155, No 4, January 23, 1999 p 63.
4. Hughes, Graham & Grieb “Overt Signs of Toxicity to Dogs and Cats of Dietary Deoxynivalenol”, Journal of Animal Sciences, 1999. 77: 699-700.
5. Chafee and Himes, “Aflatoxicosis in Dogs,” American Journal of Veterinary Research, Vol 30, No 10, October 1969, p 1748.
6. Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, Ames, Iowa, USA Mycotoxins: Risks in Plant, Animal, and Human Systems January 2003 32.

Contributed and © Steve Brown and Beth Taylor Authors of See Spot Live Longer

Friday, April 10, 2009

Looking for a nutritional consultant for your dog?

Should you set up blind taste tests for your dog? Ask your vet what to feed your dog? Go with what your dog walker, groomer, trainer, friend or neighbor suggests? Choose whichever product some magazine or Internet blog says to feed?
Only if you have answered all of these questions with a clear “No”, you got it right. Nancy Kerns in her article “How to Choose Dog Food” for the
Whole Dog Journal (WDJ) says:
“No one is in a better position than you are to decide which dog food you should feed your dog. You are uniquely well qualified to select the best food for your dog. That may not be what you wanted to hear. You may have been hoping that someone would reveal to you the name of the world’s healthiest food, so you could just buy that and have it done with.”
That is just where the problem starts: We constantly are looking for an easy way out, the most convenient way with the smallest amount of effort required on our part. This is why there is dry and canned food. Because it is convenient. Pet food manufacturers marketing their products to mass merchandising and grocery markets are taking advantage of our desire for convenience. It has become such a big money maker for them that they got greedy and decided not just to sell it in high volume, but also in low cost, low quality versions with to say the least, sometimes very questionable ingredients. Resulting in the fact that this kind of pet food now has become the largest contributor to pandemic diseases in our companion animals. Sorry for the interruption but I couldn’t help it.
Nancy continues: “However, dogs, just like people, are individuals. What works for this dog will not work for that one. A Pointer who goes jogging with his marathon-running owner every day needs a lot more calories than the Golden Retriever who watches TV all day. The diet that contains enough fat to keep that sled dog warm through an Alaskan winter would kill that Miniature Poodle who suffers from pancreatitis. The commercial kibble that stopped my Border Collie’s itching and scratching in its tracks may cause your Bedlington Terrier to develop copper storage disease.
Every dog food on the market contains different ingredients, and each one has the potential to cause symptoms of allergy or intolerance in some dogs. Every dog food contains a different ratio of macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates and you have to learn by trial and error which ratio works best for your dog. Each product contains varying amounts of vitamins and minerals, and though most fall within the ranges considered acceptable by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), some may be in excess of, or deficient to your dog’s needs.
So how do you choose?
The starting placeWell, you have to start somewhere, and you undoubtedly have. Your dog is eating something already. We hope it is a food that meets WDJ’s selection criteria outlined annually in the February issue. We highlight a number of dog foods on our “approved” list, but consider any food that meets our selection criteria to be as good as the ones on our list. Our goal is to help you identify the dog foods with the best-quality ingredients whole meats, vegetables, fruits, and grains, and high-quality sources of dietary fat to get you into the right “ballpark” in terms of quality. Then you have to start individualized feeding trials on your dog.
Start by assessing your dog’s health. Take a sheet of paper and make a list with two columns: One for health problems, and one for health assets. Any conditions for which the dog receives veterinary care or medications go in the “problems” column. Other conditions that should be listed here include bad breath, teeth that are prone to tartar buildup, chronically goopy eyes, infection-prone or stinky ear, a smelly, greasy, flaky, or thinning coat, itchy paws, excessive gas, recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or incontinence, repeated infestations of worms or fleas, low or excessive energy; and a sudden onset of antisocial or aggressive dog behavior.
In the health assets column, list all the health characteristics that your dog has in her favor, such as fresh breath, clean teeth, bright eyes, clean ears, a lack of itching, a glossy coat, problem-free elimination, a normal appetite and energy level, and a good attitude.
If there are a lot more assets on your list than problems and the problems are minor, you may have already found a diet that works well for your dog. However, if your list reveals a lot more problems than assets, your dog is a good candidate for a change of diet in addition to an examination and some guidance from a good holistic veterinarian!
Now look at the food you are currently feeding your dog. Note the food’s ingredients, as well as its protein and fat levels, and its caloric content. Write all of this down, so you can make logical adjustments if need be.
Nutritional management of diseaseJust two decades ago, it was considered fairly radical to propose that canine diseases could be treated, at least in part, by manipulating the patients’ diets. Today, the increasing availability of “prescription” diets is the big story in the pet food industry. As stated by the editors in the preface of the fourth edition (2000) of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition (the nutrition bible for most veterinarians):
“This is truly an exciting time for those involved in the discipline of clinical nutrition because of the veterinary profession’s increased understanding of the role of nutrition in health and disease management, pet owners’ continued interest in receiving the best nutritional information for their pets and the recent proliferation of commercially available therapeutic foods. Our ability to improve the quality of life for pets and their
If your dog has any sort of disease or an inherited propensity for disease, ask your veterinarian about the benefits of nutritional therapy to help treat or prevent the disease. Do not settle for the suggestion of a commercial “prescription” diet; most of them are formulated with lower-quality ingredients. Instead, ask what specifically in the diet has been manipulated to be beneficial for your dog. Then, see if you can find a product that offers the same benefits and better-quality ingredients. The best example is a “kidney” diet for dogs with kidney failure. The goal is to feed these patients a diet with a moderate level of very high-quality protein and low amounts of phosphorus (see “When to Say No to Low-Protein,” WDJ, May 2005). An intelligently formulated home-prepared diet can do a far better job of accomplishing these goals than the commercial diets on the market.
You should also do some research on your own to determine what dietary changes might help your dog. A good starting place is
Donald R. Strombeck’s Home-Prepared Dog & Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative Dr. Strombeck details strategies for changing the dog’s diet to treat and/or prevent gastrointestinal, skin, skeletal and joint, renal, urinary, endocrine, heart, pancreatic, and hepatic disease.
Other diseases that can be improved with dietary management include:
Allergy or intolerance. There are a number of breeds that are particularly susceptible to food allergies, including Cocker Spaniels, Dalmatians, English Springer Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Schnauzers, and more. Again, it is important to keep a record of what foods you feed your dog, what they contain, and how your dog looks and feels. If your records indicate that one or more ingredients trigger bad reactions in your dog, seek out foods that do not contain those ingredients in any amount. (See “Walking the Allergy Maze,” WDJ August 2004 and “Diet Makes the Difference,” WDJ May 2001.)
Cancer. High fat, low-carbohydrate (or carb-free) diets are ideal for cancer patients. Cancer cells use carbs for energy, and do not easily utilize fat, so you can effectively “starve” the cancer cells while providing extra energy to your dog with a diet rich in a high-quality fat sources. (See “Feed the Dog, Starve the Cancer,” WDJ November 2003.)
Inherited metabolism disorders. Some breeds are prone to diseases with a strong dietary influence. For example, the West Highland White Terrier and the Cocker Spaniel have an inherited tendency to suffer from copper buildup in the liver; these dogs should eat a diet formulated with low levels of copper. Malamutes and Siberian Huskies can inherit a zinc metabolism disorder, and require a high-zinc diet (or zinc supplements).
Ask your veterinarian (and reliable breeders) about your dog’s breed-related nutritional requirements. In addition, contact the manufacturer of your dog’s food for the expanded version of the food’s nutrient levels. Pet food makers are not required to print the levels of every nutrient on their labels, but should make this information available to you upon request.
Caloric considerationsAnother thing you have to consider is the caloric content of the food you choose. If the food you select for your dog is energy-dense, and your dog is a couch potato, you may have to cut her daily ration considerably to prevent her from getting fat. Some dogs respond to forced dieting with begging, counter-surfing, and garbage raiding. If your dog is one of these, you may have to seek out a high-fiber, low-calorie food one that may not necessarily contain the highest-quality protein or fat sources on the market to keep your dog feeling contentedly full without getting fat.
Dogs exhibit a wide range of energy requirements. You may have to seek out a higher- or lower-calorie food based on the following attributes that can affect your dog’s energy needs:
Activity level. The more a dog exercises the more energy he needs to consume to maintain his condition; it is that simple.
Growth. Growing puppies have higher energy requirements than adult dogs. A food with a higher protein level, but a moderate (not high) fat level is ideal. Obese puppies are far more prone to degenerative joint disease especially in large and giant breeds than puppies with a normal or slim physique.
Age. The age at which a dog becomes a senior citizen varies from breed to breed, with larger dogs considered geriatric at earlier ages. Older dogs typically require fewer calories to maintain their body weight and condition, partly because they tend to be less active than younger dogs.
Environmental conditions. Dogs living or spending much of their time outside in severe cold temperatures need from 10 percent to as much as 90 percent more energy than dogs who enjoy a temperate climate. The thickness and quality of the dog’s coat, the amount of body fat he has, and the quality of his shelter have direct effects on the dog’s energy needs.
Illness. Sick dogs have increased energy needs; it takes energy to mount an immune response or repair tissues. However, dogs who do not feel well also tend to be inactive, which lowers their energy needs.
Reproduction. A pregnant female’s energy requirement does not increase significantly until the final third of her pregnancy, when it may increase by a factor of three.
Lactation. A nursing female may require to eight times the energy as a normal female of the same age and condition.
Neutering. It is generally accepted that neutered and spayed dogs have reduced energy needs. However, there are actually no studies that conclusively prove that neutered dogs require fewer calories simply because of lower hormone levels. It has been suggested that these dogs gain weight due to increased appetites and/or decreased activity levels.
Other individual factors. Other factors that can affect a dog’s energy requirement include its temperament (nervous or placid?) and skin, fat, and coat quality (how well he is insulated against weather conditions).
Human factorsFinally, there are the human factors that may influence your dog-food purchasing decision, such as cost and local availability. Understand that there is a connection between the quality of an animal’s food and his health, and do the best you can do.
It is also worth considering the reliability, responsiveness, and availability of the manufacturer’s customer service people. It can be frustrating and costly if a company makes terrific food, but you can never reach them, your direct-ship order is regularly late, or the customer service people are either rude or unhelpful. Today, there are too many companies doing a good job and making good food to put up with this.”
Not a bad article. Certainly provides a lot of ideas and valuable feedback. Though at times Nancy contradicts herself. Like she starts out with saying “asking the vet for nutritional advise” should be answered with “No”, but then she recommends asking the vet. I think her article also calls upon us using common sense as most of her input is simply nothing but that. I like a lot the editors’ comment in the preface of the fourth edition (2000) of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition: “...nutritional therapy to help treat or prevent the disease. Do not settle for the suggestion of a commercial “prescription” diet; most of them are formulated with lower-quality ingredients. Instead, ask what specifically in the diet has been manipulated to be beneficial for your dog. Then, see if you can find a product that offers the same benefits and better-quality ingredients.” Why do I like it? Because that reflects exactly what I advise our customers to do. And we have been pretty successful with that.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Chemicals in pet food Part 3: Colorful, yet not so pretty after all

Today’s comment is a further installment on my thoughts about unhealthy pet food ingredients, which I started with Chemicals in pet food can lead to bad behavior, says top vet in part 1 and continued with Chemicals in pet food Part 2: Marketing campaign indicates: Unhealthy, chemically enhanced pet nutrition is here to stay

There are many chemicals added to commercial pet foods to improve taste, stability, characteristics or appearance of the food. Typically they don’t provide any nutritional value at all. They 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. Notice that I said “make the food more attractive to consumers”. Reminds me of when I see these great pictures advertising kibble in all kinds of beautiful colors. You know which ones I mean. Just yesterday, while grocery shopping I noticed them again. Kibble in a rainbow mix of yellow, blue, red, green. It’s awesome. And for 22 bucks, can’t beat that, that’s less than half of what the 30 lbs bag runs at our store. Eye catching and attractive too. In addition 50% less in price also comes with only less than 10% of the value compared to the good quality bag. What a bargain! Now if just my dogs and cats would care more about the colors, wouldn’t this be great? However, unfortunately science has already determined: Cats have the ability to distinguish between blues and greens. Their ability to see shades of red is limited. Dogs are able to differentiate between blue and violet. Between reds, yellows, and greens? Forget it. Bottom line is, there is no scientific evidence to prove that dogs or cats prefer a food or treat of any particular color. (See also: “Pets can’t see colors, why dye their foods?” by Susan Thixton). By the way, neither do our pets care too much about whether their kibble is star, bone or heart shaped. Though they are by now a little spoiled: They will refuse any kind of what they perecive as harmful food. So why are dyes being added? To make us people believe we are buying healthy pet food rich in content. To make pet owners believe they are spending there money for something great for their animals. Looking at color enhanced food just will entice us to buy the bag. After all, that is how manufacturers of mass marketed pet food would like to have it (and do have it still at too high of a rate). It works, many consumers don’t know better and fall for the simple trick.
Now, these manufacturers may tell you that their decision is based on research. I can’t help it but the only research I can think of they would be talking about is marketing research and research on how to trick people into making wrong decisions and adding to the profits Wallstreet is expecting. Although, there are indications that even their marketing research may not be up to date: According to the
Feingold Association, an organization dedicated to promote old fashioned nutrition combined with modern convenience but without the dangers of chemical ingredients, claims on its website:
“It is likely that in a very short time, there will be few, if any, "certified" petroleum derived food dyes left. Fortunately, products such as Dannon Yogurt ("No artificial anything"), General Foods' Cheerios (no Yellow 5 as in the past), and many other foods without artificial colors have shown, by their extraordinary success, that we can all do very well without these dyes.”
Scientifc research on dyes clearly tells a not so great story about these dyes being used in food: Many common food dyes are related to behavior problems in children. I could not locate any documented scientific research helping to link food dyes used in many mass marketed pet foods to behavioral problems in pets. However, I would assume that once the results of such research become available they will be not too much different than the ones from 3 decades worth of research on humans and children. Don’t believe me? Just see what
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says on it’s home page:
“Important new research has shown that commonly used food dyes, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, and six others, are linked to hyperactivity, impulsivity, learning difficulties, and Attention Deficity Hyperactivity Disorder in many children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of these dyes, many of which are already being phased out in Europe.
These dyes, petrochemicals mostly, are often used to simulate the presence of healthy, colorful fruits and vegetables. But considering the adverse impact of these chemicals on children, and considering how easily they can be replaced with colorings derived from real food ingredients, it’s time to get rid of them altogether.”
The Feingold Association asks: “What do strawberry Jello, orange Koolaid, raspberry soda, grape popsicles, much candy and baked goods, most brands of ice cream, maraschino cherries, many snack foods, and most pet food have in common? They are laced with millions of pounds of artificial coal-tar based dyes with names such as Red 3, Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Red 40. Each year, Americans eat (as food dyes), swallow (as pill coatings or medicinal syrups) or rub on themselves (as cosmetics) 6.4 million pounds of these 7 dyes, mostly in food. (That was in 1985. In 2005, Americans consumed more than 17.8 million pounds of these dyes.) Four of these food dyes (Red 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 2) which make up over half of the food dyes used each year have been shown to cause cancer as have other dyes which are not used in food but are used in drugs or cosmetics.”
In a press release CSPI also shows that a little governmental pressure could change things, like it did in Europe. Just take a look at this:

In its related article, CSPI writes:
“Brits Get Treats, Americans Get Tricks From Food Companies, Says Nutrition Action HealthletterPumpkin, Annatto, & Strawberry Color Foods There, Synthetic Petrochemicals Fill In Here
WASHINGTON—British consumers enjoy products made by General Mills, Kellogg, Kraft and McDonald's that are free of synthetic food dyes, but American customers lack such royal treatment, according to the
October issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter. Despite evidence linking food dyes to hyperactivity and other behavior problems in children, companies continue to use the controversial dyes in American product lines while substituting natural colorings in the United Kingdom.
In the U.K., Fanta orange soda gets its bright color from pumpkin and carrot extract, but in the U.S. it comes from Red 40 and Yellow 6. Starburst Chews and Skittles, which are both Mars products, also contain synthetic food dyes in the U.S. but not in the U.K. Similarly, in the U.S., McDonald’s strawberry sundaes are colored with Red 40 but, amazing as it might sound, real strawberries in the U.K.
"British candy has all the sugar of American candy, and it’s certainly not health food," said Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, Nutrition Action’s publisher. "But as Halloween approaches, it's a shame that American kids trick-or-treat for candy dyed with discredited chemicals while British families have many of the same foods, minus the dyes."
Americans consume five times as much food dye as they did 30 years ago, according to data from the Food and Drug Administration. But in the wake of
two British studies that found food dyes (and possibly the preservative sodium benzoate) impair the behavior of many children, the British government pressured companies to switch to safer, natural colorings and the European Parliament approved a warning label for foods that still contain the dyes.“

So here we go, I am not the only one who is complaining and concerned. Now many of you readers may say, well, the above said applies to humans and has little to do with animals. Right you are about the fact that above said is based on the impact the harmful stuff has on the human body and well being. Wrong you are with that it has little to do with animals. Our companion animals are affected in the same way we humans are. In pandemic dimensions, more than half of our companion animal population is stricken with one or another disease. Among the experts, there is little doubt that this progressive and degenerative illness has its roots in today’s modern feeding practices involving highly processed, chemically “enhanced” food. Only a fool would believe it to be different. To say:”…after all, it’s just a dog or cat” doesn’t sit to well with me.

And if that still makes you wonder, my friend Sabine Contreras of The Dog Food Project states on her site under “Ingredients to avoid”: “Coloring Agents:
Blue 2 (artificial color)
The color additive FD&C Blue No. 2 is principally the disodium salt of 2-(1,3-dihydro-3-oxo-5-sulfo-2H-indol-2-ylidene)- 2,3-dihydro-3-oxo-1H-indole-5-sulfonic acid with smaller amounts of the disodium salt of 2-(1,3-dihydro-3-oxo-7-sulfo-2H-indol-2-ylidene)-2,3-dihydro-3-oxo-1H-indole-5-sulfonic acid and the sodium salt of 2-(1,3-dihydro-3-oxo-2H-indol-2-ylidene)-2,3-dihydro-3-oxo-1H-indole-5-sulfonic acid. Additionally, FD&C Blue No. 2 is obtained by heating indigo (or indigo paste) in the presence of sulfuric acid. The color additive is isolated and subjected to purification procedures. The indigo (or indigo paste) used above is manufactured by the fusion of N-phenylglycine (prepared from aniline and formaldehyde) in a molten mixture of sodamide and sodium and potassium hydroxides under ammonia pressure. The indigo is isolated and subjected to purification procedures prior to sulfonation.
The largest study suggested, but did not prove, that this dye caused brain tumors in male mice. The FDA concluded that there is "reasonable certainty of no harm", but personally I'd rather avoid this ingredient and err on the side of caution.
Red 40 (artificial color)
The color additive FD&C Red No. 40 is principally the disodium salt of 6-hydroxy-5-[(2-methoxy-5-methyl-4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid.
The most widely used food dye. While this is one of the most-tested food dyes, the key mouse tests were flawed and inconclusive. An FDA review committee acknowledged problems, but said evidence of harm was not "consistent" or "substantial." Like other dyes, Red 40 is used mainly in junk foods. Personally I'd rather avoid this ingredient and err on the side of caution.
Titanium Dioxide:

A white powder, TiO2, used as an exceptionally opaque white pigment and dough conditioner.
Non toxic but an unnecessary ingredient that could just as well be left out.
Yellow 5 (artificial color)
The color additive FD&C Yellow No. 5 is principally the trisodium salt of 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-4- [4-sulfophenyl-azo]-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid (CAS Reg. No. 1934-21- 0). To manufacture the additive, 4-amino-benzenesulfonic acid is diazotized using hydrochloric acid and sodium nitrite. The diazo compound is coupled with 4,5-dihydro-5-oxo-1-(4-sulfophenyl)-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxylic acid or with the methyl ester, the ethyl ester, or a salt of this carboxylic acid. The resulting dye is purified and isolated as the sodium salt.
The second most widely used coloring can cause mild allergic reactions, primarily in aspirin-sensitive persons.
Yellow 6 (artificial color) The color additive FD&C Yellow No. 6 is principally the disodium salt of 6-hydroxy-5-[(4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2-naphthalenesulfonic acid (CAS Reg. No. 2783-94-0). The trisodium salt of 3-hydroxy-4-[(4- sulfophenyl)azo]-2,7-naphthalenedisulfonic acid may be added in small amounts. The color additive is manufactured by diazotizing 4-aminobenzenesulfonic acid using hydrochloric acid and sodium nitrite or sulfuric acid and sodium nitrite. The diazo compound is coupled with 6-hydroxy-2-naphthalene-sulfonic acid. The dye is isolated as the sodium salt and dried. The trisodium salt of 3-hydroxy-4-[(4-sulfophenyl)azo]-2,7-naphthalenedisulfonic acid which may be blended with the principal color is prepared in the same manner except the diazo benzenesulfonic acid is coupled with 3-hydroxy-2,7-naphthalenedisulfonic acid.
Industry-sponsored animal tests indicated that this dye, the third most widely used, causes tumors of the adrenal gland and kidney. In addition, small amounts of several carcinogens contaminate Yellow 6. However, the FDA reviewed those data and found reasons to conclude that Yellow 6 does not pose a significant cancer risk to humans. Yellow 6 may also cause occasional allergic reactions. Another ingredient I would rather avoid and err on the side of caution rather than risking my pet's health. “

I told you so… .Stay tuned for more on the subject of unhealthy pet food ingredients to follow soon.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pet Nutrition: Requirements and related diseases Part 4 Pet Food Labels and Product Types

While American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and the National Research Council (NRC) cooperate to publish dog and cat nutrient profiles for growth, maintenance, and reproduction, this series goes beyond the percentages suggested by these organizations and explores in more detail why nutrients are required and what happens if they are not supplied in sufficient quantities. In part 1 we discussed water and energy, in part 2 we talked about protein, fats, carbohydrates and fiber and in part 3 we looked at vitamins and minerals. Today we are going to broaden our discussion by talking about various pet food product types available to us and pet food labeling requirements and issues.

Manufacturers of all commercial dog and cat foods are legally required to provide certain information on the label, including name of product, guaranteed analysis, ingredient guarantee, net weight, and name and address of the manufacturer or distributor. The most important nutritional information on the label is the guaranteed analysis, ingredient list, and the statement of nutritional adequacy. In the USA, all pet foods sold must be registered with state feed control officials and must contain approved ingredients generally regarded as safe, unless they are for specialized purposes such as the amelioration or prevention of disease. Such foods are considered to be drugs and must be approved by the FDA.

Guaranteed Analysis:
This part of the label lists the minimal amounts of crude protein and crude fat and the maximal amounts of water and crude fiber on an as-fed (not dry-matter) basis. This analysis does not specify the actual amount of protein, fat, water, and fiber in the product. Instead, it indicates the legal minimums of protein and fat and the legal maximums of water and crude fiber content contained in the product. A laboratory proximate analysis lists the actual nutrient concentrations in the food, and 2 foods that have identical guaranteed analyses may have very different proximate analyses. A guaranteed analysis for protein may list a minimal level of 25%, while the product may (and usually does) contain >25%. A certain variance above or below a minimum or maximum should be expected. Consequently, whenever possible, the manufacturer’s average nutrient profile should be used to evaluate a food. Direct product comparisons made between like (similar water content) products (ie, dry vs dry, or canned vs canned) are generally valid. However, comparisons across different food types should be made on a dry-matter or caloric basis. As a rule of thumb, dry-food analyses can be converted to a dry-matter basis by simply adding 10% to the as-is value because most dry foods contain ~10% water (eg, a dry-food protein content of 25% on an as-fed basis is equal to 27.5% dry-matter basis). Canned food analyses can be converted to a dry-matter basis by simply multiplying by 4 because most canned foods contain ~75% water (ie, a canned food protein content of 6% on an as-fed basis is equal to 24% dry-matter basis).
Ingredient List:
Ingredients are listed in descending order of weight, on an as-fed basis, in the food. Although a food ingredient (eg, chicken) may be listed first, if that ingredient is 75% moisture, it will contribute a much smaller percentage of total nutrients to the food dry matter. In addition, an ingredient such as corn may be listed by individual types, eg, flaked corn, ground corn, screened corn, kibbled corn, etc. In this case, the total corn amount may be a significant amount of the total food dry matter, but when presented as individual types, each type appears lower on the ingredient list. No reference to quality or grade of an ingredient is allowed to be listed; therefore, it is difficult to evaluate a product solely on the basis of the ingredient list. The value of this list is limited to determining the sources of the proteins and carbohydrates for dogs or cats. This kind of information is useful when evaluating animals that are having an adverse reaction to a food, possibly due to an allergy or intolerance to one or more ingredient sources such as beef, poultry, rice, corn, etc.

Product formulations can be either fixed or open. In a fixed formula, combinations of ingredients and nutrient profiles do not change regardless of fluctuating market prices of the ingredients. In an open formula, ingredients, and possibly actual nutrient profiles, change depending on availability and market prices.

Statement of Nutritional Adequacy:
This statement indicates how the food was tested (feeding versus laboratory analysis or formulation) and for which life stage the food is intended. AAFCO recognizes only 4 life stages: growth, maintenance, gestation, and lactation. The term “all life stages” is frequently used on a label and indicates that the product has been either formulated or tested for growth. By default, it is anticipated that such a food would also pass a maintenance protocol because testing a food for growth generally includes gestation and lactation. There are no AAFCO-approved nutrient profiles for geriatric, senior, or weight loss stages.

The statement “complete and balanced” indicates the product contains all nutrients presently known to be required by dogs or cats and that these nutrients are properly balanced to the energy density of the diet. The “complete and balanced” claim must be substantiated by successfully completing AAFCO feeding trials, or the food must contain at least the minimal amount of each nutrient recommended by AAFCO. There are cautions “against the use of these requirements (levels) without demonstration of nutrient availability” because some of the requirements are based on studies in which the nutrients were supplied as purified ingredients and, therefore, are not representative of ingredients used in commercial pet foods. Laboratory analysis does not address the issue of bioavailability. Supplements, snacks, treat products (ie, those intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding), and therapeutic or dietary products (ie, those intended for use under the direction of a veterinarian) are exempted from AAFCO testing.
Commercial dog and cat foods are available in 3 principal forms: canned, dry, and semimoist. The classifications used depend on the processing method and water content more than on the ingredient content or nutrient profile. Complete and balanced commercial dog and cat diets are formulated to provide adequate quantities of each required nutrient without an intolerable excess of any nutrient. Supplementation of particular nutrients to commercially produced complete and balanced dog and cat foods should be done carefully and only with appropriate justification. Dog foods are not satisfactory for cats because most dog foods are lower in protein, often do not contain assured concentrations of taurine, and are not designed to produce a urinary pH of <6.5 (which helps prevent the crystallization of struvite or magnesium-ammonium-phosphate in the feline urinary tract.

Dry Food:
This is the most popular category of pet food in the USA and some other countries. Dry foods generally contain ~90% dry matter and 10% water. About 95% of dry dog and cat foods are extruded, ie, they are made by combining and cooking ingredients (grains, meat and meat byproducts, fats, minerals, and vitamins), then forcing the mixture through a die. During cooking and extrusion, a temperature of ~150°C converts the starches into a form more easily digested, destroys toxins and inhibitory substances, and flash sterilizes the product. The food is then enrobed with fat and/or digest (material derived from controlled degradation of animal tissues, eg, chicken digest) during drying to increase palatability. Advantages of dry food include a lower cost than canned or soft-moist food, and refrigeration of unused portions is not needed. Dry food may also provide beneficial massage of the teeth and gums to help decrease periodontal disease.

Canned Food:
Canned dog and cat foods contain 68-78% water and 22-32% dry matter. Many of the same ingredients are used in canned pet foods as in dry-extruded types but usually not at the same levels of inclusion. Given their high moisture content, canned foods typically contain higher amounts of fresh or frozen meat, poultry, or fish products and animal byproducts. Many canned pet foods contain textured proteins derived from grains, such as wheat or soy. These materials function as meat analogs having a physical structure similar to meat and high nutritional quality. The use of meat in combination with some of the textured proteins not only holds costs down but can improve the overall nutritional profile of the final product.
Canned pet food processing begins with blending meat or meat analogs and fat ingredients with water and dry ingredients, such as vitamins and minerals, for proper nutrient content. The mixture is blended and sometimes ground to produce a fine slurry depending on product profile. After cans are filled, they are sealed and retorted (a heat and pressure-cooking process that also sterilizes the contents) assuring destruction of food borne pathogens. Advantages of canned food include a long shelf life in a durable container and high palatability. However, canned food is more expensive than dry food.

Soft-moist Food:
Soft-moist dog and cat foods contain 25-40% water and 60-75% dry matter. They do not require refrigeration and are preserved using humectants—substances that bind water so that it is unavailable for bacteria and mold growth and assure shelf life. They include simple sugars (usually sucrose), sorbitol, propylene glycol, and salts. Reports of an increased risk of Heinz body anemia in cats that consume soft-moist foods preserved with propylene glycol have raised concerns over the use of propylene glycol in cat foods, and it has been removed from the generally recognized as safe list for cat foods. Many soft-moist foods are acidified using phosphoric, malic, or hydrochloric acid to further retard spoilage. Advantages of soft-moist foods include convenience, high energy digestibility, and palatability. However, soft-moist food is more expensive than dry food.

Home-cooked Diets:
Dogs can be successfully maintained on properly formulated home-cooked diets; this is much more difficult in cats. Advantages of home-cooked diets include the use of fresh, high-quality ingredients chosen by the owner. Disadvantages include preparation time, variable quality control and diet consistency, higher cost, and the difficulty in formulating and preparing a nutritionally complete and balanced diet. It is most difficult to formulate a nutritionally complete and balanced diet with sufficient nutrient density in a small volume of food that is palatable for cats. Many home-cooked diets result in foods that are high in protein and caloric density and have inappropriate calcium:phosphorus ratios and inadequate levels of calcium, copper, iodine, fat-soluble vitamins, and several of the B vitamins. Many published recipes for feline diets have very high ash or mineral levels due to the extent of synthetic nutrient supplementation required.
Stay tuned for part 5 disussing feeding practices at the various life stages of an animal.
Notes: Contribution
Merck Veterinarian Manual

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Simple Dental Care for your Dog: Simply give a bone

Forget about celebrating Dental Month for Dogs catering to vets for teeth cleaning services worth (?) hundreds of dollars, try this instead: Simply Give Your Dog a Bone

The other day one of my local customers, she owns 2 dogs, was picking up her food and asked me if we would have any tooth paste for the dogs. She almost got upset when she told me that she just had spent a couple hundred dollars for cleaning her dogs’ teeth at the vet’s office. Of course that came on top of the bill for annual checkups, heartworm treatments, and shots for this and for that, so she ended writing a check for about $800 before she even had gotten any of her doctor’s prescribed food. Needless to say, at that point she was sort of fed up and decided going forward to take care of her dogs’ teeth not just better than before, but mostly on her own. It just so happened that around the same time I came across this interview. Ward Johnson, founder and President of Sojourner Farms, the makers of Sojos Raw Food Mixes had a chance to sit down with and talk to the Canine Coach Maureen Haggerty of The K9 Coach about dental hygiene for dogs and keeping your dog’s teeth clean:

Q. What do you recommend people do when it comes to doggie dental hygiene?

A. Brushing your dog’s teeth is a noble act, but through my personal experience I discovered that I got the same if not better results from letting them chew on raw bones. Raw knuckle bones (the joints) in particular are great because they are soft and still have some tendons and muscle meat attached. They look kind of round like the shape of your fist. These bones clean your dog’s teeth in addition to providing them with a nice oral workout – not to mention a healthy dose of natural calcium.

Q. Does it matter if the bones are raw or cooked?
A. It does matter. Raw knuckle bones are what I recommend versus cooked or sterilized bones. Cooked bones are more likely to splinter from the effect that high cooking temperatures have on them. And cooked bones, especially the white sterilized bones from the pet stores, will also be deprived of beneficial nutrients which raw knuckle bones are chock full of. A further benefit of raw bones versus the white sterilized bones from the store, are that they are much more yummy to your dog. This translates into more chewing time from your dog, which will both keep him occupied and better clean his teeth.

Q. Why the knuckle bone as opposed to other types of bones?
A. Raw knuckle bones are soft and allow dogs of all sizes to scrape their teeth into the bone, nicely cleaning food and tartar from their teeth. The meat tissue typically still left on the bones allow for a separate type of chewing, which is natural and necessary for your dog. This is the nibbling and pulling you see your dog do with his front teeth. They will use their front teeth to pull the tissue off the bones which is a great way to clean these teeth – natural flossing, if you will.Being that this is a conversation about teeth cleaning, I am going to focus on the raw knuckle bone in particular as the best type for the topic at hand. This is not to say dogs should never chew on anything else or any other type of bone. Satisfying the need to chew is very important whether or not it contributes to keeping the teeth clean. So let me just say that while other bones may make fine chew toys, I don’t feel they serve the teeth cleaning purpose. One in particular that I don’t recommend for teeth cleaning (besides cooked or sterilized bones) is the femur bone, which ironically is the stereotypical “dog bone” shaped bone. While your dogs will enjoy raw femur bones, I find that they don’t do as good of a job at cleaning the teeth because generally dogs cannot scrape into the femur as easily as they can with the knuckle bone. I also find that the enjoyment doesn’t last as long as it does with a knuckle bone. Many dogs spend most of their time licking out all of the marrow from the femur bones, which may be tasty but has nothing to do with teeth cleaning. Once the marrow is gone, most dogs seem to lose interest. Unlike raw knuckle bones, femur bones are usually very clean, with no meat tissue on them, and they are not very edible because you have to be careful for narrow walled femur bones, which might split upon chewing creating sharp edges. In addition, the marrow in femur bones is very rich and high in fat. Not that this is bad for your dog, but some dogs may react with diarrhea caused by the marrow, though most dogs do just fine with it.

Q. Where do you find raw knuckle bones?
A. The best place to find raw knuckle or femur bones is from your local butcher of the meat counter at your local supermarket. Ask them if they will cut them to the appropriate size for your dog.

Q. What about small dogs. Is there a more appropriate size bone for small breeds?
A. Ask your butcher if she will cut the bones down if they seem too large for your dog. Not that your small dog can't handle the big bones, but you wouldn't want them to consume too much at once (although most dogs are likely to self-regulate). Also, you will have more bone left to put back in your frig or freezer. Femur bones are often cut into small pieces at your grocery store's meat section. But I do prefer the knuckle bones, and you can get those cut down if you want. Also, make sure the bone size is large enough. Femur bones need to be longer than your dog's mouth is wide. Too short of a femur bone has been known to get lodged in the dogs mouth between their teeth.

Q. Is this alternative to teeth brushing a philosophy followed by Holistic Vets, Conventional Vets or both, generally speaking?
A. I actually have not discussed this with any vets. I do get comments with each visit how clean and healthy my dogs' teeth and gums look. They say I do I good job brushing, and I just tell them it is the bones they chew on.

Q. How often do you recommend my dog chew on raw bones...and for how long should each “chew session” last?
A. I let my dogs and any guest dogs chew on them as long as they want. The first chewing session on a fresh bone typically lasts 30 to 60 minutes. But I have had some guest dogs chew on them for hours straight, being very delighted in this new treat. Chewing is also nice exercise for your dog. I find them very content and relaxed while chewing and a little sleepy afterwards.

Q. How should the bones be stored when not in use?
A. When I bring home new bones, they are stored in my freezer until they are given to the dog. I usually thaw them out or run warm water over them before giving to my dogs. After your dog is done chewing on the bone, if he leaves any meat on the bone, I would put it back in the freezer or refrigerator. If after the first chewing, the bone is pretty well cleaned up, I let them stay out. Although do not let the bones stay outside in the warm months if you do not want flies all over them.

Q. Is this bone chewing thing a stinky and messy past time?
A. Well, not so stinky when they are fresh, but definitely messy. You will want to keep your dog on a doggy blanket or towel that can be easily washed, keep them outside, or contained to their crate, which can be easily washed out. Once the bone has been chewed down well, they are actually quite clean and I let my own dogs chew on them throughout the house.Keep in mind that many holistic veterinarians still advocate regular brushing and annual dental care (teeth cleaning, polishing and full dental exam) even for dogs that eat raw bones. This is especially important for dogs with very poor dental health and for breeds with unique oral structure such as greyhounds, poodles, or collies. Also, dogs with poor health or tooth quality can have tooth fractures when chewing on raw bones.Proper tooth and gum health can prevent bad breath, periodontal disease, discomfort and pain associated with inflamed or infected gums, as well as more serious conditions such as kidney disease, liver disease, heart conditions and joint problems. Plaque and tartar can build on the teeth, offsetting the balance of good bacteria in the mouth, which leaves way for infection and disease to spread. Whether you brush her teeth daily, or let your dog chew on raw knuckle bones daily, what’s important is removing that plaque and tartar regularly. This and a healthy dog food diet full of naturally, occurring nutrients will keep the immune system up and the good bacteria plentiful, which in turn will make your canine’s canines shine. – End of interview

I would like to add that most of the raw food brands we are selling at our store offer raw bone options, another alternative source for pet owners.
Just for fun I went to visit Wikipedia to see what they are saying on this topic. Here we, go, I am sure you agree with me that this still has to be in the beginnings and requires a lot more work: “Some proponents of raw diet claim noticeable benefit to the dental hygiene of pets who eat raw bones, while others believe that ground bone should be used instead, to prevent the possibility for intestinal puncturing and dental fractures. The abrasion between bone and teeth when chewing is believed to scrape off dental plaque. Cartilage, ligaments, and tendons are thought to act as a natural dental floss. The chewing and tearing action is also believed to strengthen the jaw, neck and shoulder muscles, keep the digestive juice flowing and boost the neurological and immune system. Proponents of ground bones believe that the chewing of muscle meat may also assist in keeping teeth clean.
The use of whole bone creates a risk of dental fractures, intestinal obstruction, gastroenteritis, and intestinal perforations. Wolf care managers questioned on the topic of feeding bones identified the presence of animal hide with hair as offering some protection from intestinal perforation in the wild. An analysis of the skulls of African wild dogs showed that the natural diet of wild carnivores does not prevent them from suffering the same oral disease as their domestic counterpart, although other studies have had results that claim otherwise. Raw diet proponents note that the same risks of obstruction, puncturing, and dental fractures are present in dog chews, with little evidence indicating that this is a serious problem particular to raw diets with bones. Some veterinarians state that chewing raw bone is an inadequate substitute for regular dental cleaning and tooth brushing.” My reason for bringing this up here was that I think I have the answer to the veterinarian statement in the last sentence: Read my first sentence on today’s comment.

Interview courtesy of Ward Johnson, founder and President of
Sojourner Farms, the makers of Sojos Raw Food Mixes
Note: Most of the raw food product lines represented at our store include numerous options for raw bones.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Basic Feeding Practices for Cats & Dogs

Domestication and use of dogs and cats as companions may have modified eating patterns of these animals to varying extents. Easier access to food and consistency of food quality has led to increased food consumption and the possibility of decreased energy expenditure overall. Hence, there is greater risk of obesity. At the same time, longevity of companion animals has also increased and, along with it, the emergence of other chronic progressive diseases such as osteoarthritis, cancer, and immune and cognitive disorders. Healthy dogs and cats eat a variety of foods. During a 24-hr period, most dogs will eat 1-3 meals, while most cats will eat frequent small meals.

While odor, consistency, taste, and learned dietary habits determine which foods a dog will eat, most are indiscriminate eaters. Finicky, begging dogs have learned such behaviors. Likewise, odor, consistency, taste, and learned dietary habits determine which foods a cat prefers, but how much a cat will eat is affected by such things as noises, lights, food containers, the presence or absence of humans or other animals (including other cats), physiologic state, and disease. Cats can and will refuse to eat to the point of starving themselves under stressful conditions. These cats are at risk of developing hepatic lipidosis, which can be fatal if not treated early and aggressively. Some dogs and cats have adequate appetite controls and maintain an optimal body condition, even with dietary changes. By contrast, other dogs and cats overeat, consume excessive calories, and become obese. The thickness of the fat layer over the rib cage and pelvic bones is a good indicator of obesity, as is regular body condition scoring over time. Normally, the ribs and hip bones should be easily felt but not seen; these cannot be easily palpated in an obese animal. A pendulous abdomen, a waddling gait, and sluggish behavior are also seen in some obese animals.

Dietary modifications are required by changes in life stage, environment, body weight and condition, and disease. Energy density varies from 2,500 to >5,000 kcal/kg dry matter for dog foods and from 3,000 to >5,000 kcal/kg dry matter for cat foods. Therefore, general feeding recommendations cannot be given for all dogs and cats on any particular food. Instead, feeding recommendations should be individualized. The best feeding method is one that maintains optimal body weight and condition, bearing in mind that disease conditions may require dietary changes.

When a dietary change is necessary, it should not be done abruptly. New food should be introduced gradually over 3-5 days. Also, it is better to offer slightly less than the calculated new food amount. Overindulgence and abrupt changes are frequently the inciting cause of GI disorders that may ultimately lead to diet refusal. In dogs, the new food should be introduced slowly by replacing 25% more of the old food every day or two until the new diet makes up the entire amount fed. Cats can easily become habituated to a particular food and may resist any dietary change. In cats, new food should also be introduced slowly. Some cats have definitive preferences for dry food, while others prefer the same food moistened or canned. If the dog or cat is to be switched from a canned to a dry diet, it may be useful to moisten the product by adding sufficient warm water, and the food can be warmed to release odors and flavors that encourage consumption. Dry-matter digestibilities are 60-90% for dog food and from 75-90% for cat food due to ingredient quality, crude-fiber content, processing, and level of intake. Small, firm, dark feces suggest high nutrient digestion and absorption, while large volumes of pale feces indicate less dietary utilization. High digestibility is not always the dietary goal, as in weight loss programs and diabetes mellitus.

After a dog has reached ~90% of its expected adult weight, a diet that is less nutrient dense than the growth diet is recommended. The dietary goal is to maintain optimal body weight and condition for that particular dog. Most adult dogs can be fed a maintenance diet either ad lib or as several meals/day. Ad lib feeding may not be possible for dogs that overeat or for multiple-dog households. Overfeeding dogs by providing excessive calories and food amounts relative to energy expenditure is the most common error in feeding adult dogs and promotes obesity. More than 40% of owners feed treats and snacks, which are often an important aspect of the human-animal bond. Complete and balanced treat products that use low-fat, high-fiber ingredients are available. Nutritional supplements are not required and, in fact, may be harmful. In an animal prone to obesity, the caloric content of all treats fed should be considered in an effort to match energy intake to expenditure. Regular assessment of the animal’s body condition helps ensure minimal weight gain beyond optimal adult values throughout life.

Most inactive, neutered adult cats can be fed a reduced fat diet (6-9% dry-matter basis) ad lib, but in some animals increasing the insoluble fiber content may be necessary to satisfy hunger. Cats exposed to variations in temperature (eg, cats that remain outdoors year-round or at night) may eat more during the winter. The need for a different nutritional profile in older cats versus middle-aged cats has not been documented. However, depending on activity level, feeding a food with a different fat and fiber content (increased or decreased as needed) may be needed to maintain optimal body weight and condition.

Growth and Reproduction in Dogs:
Growth, pregnancy, and lactation greatly increase nutrient demands over those of maintenance. Growth diets have increased nutrient density, digestibility, and bioavailability to provide nutrients necessary in a smaller volume of food. Supplementation of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D beyond amounts present in complete and balanced diets designed for growth and reproduction is rarely necessary and may be contraindicated if calcium is >3.0% (dry-matter basis) or the calcium:phosphorus ratio is outside the ratio of 1:1 to 3:1.

Overfeeding during growth increases growth rate. This is not desirable because it is incompatible with proper skeletal development and also contributes to obesity later in life. Feeding methods for growing puppies should be individualized for the puppy and owner. General recommendations are that puppies between weaning and 6 mo of age should be fed 3 times a day; puppies 6-12 mo old should be fed twice daily. Large- and giant-breed puppies should be fed complete and balanced growth diets that have been tested in feeding trials and that contain calcium, fat, and protein at levels closer to the minimums stated by AAFCO. Small-breed puppies may have to be fed more than 3 times a day using a tested diet that contains calcium, fat, and protein at levels greater than the minimums stated by AAFCO.

Only limited data have been published with respect to breed growth curves. Nonetheless, a slow growth rate is preferable to a fast growth rate. Weight gains should be closely monitored (weekly), and feeding recommendations adjusted such that the puppy gains a small amount of weight each week. When growing large-breed puppies were fed 50-70% of their littermate’s ad lib intake, adult height, length, and bone or muscle mass were not stunted; only total body fat was affected. It is difficult to stunt the growth of a puppy being fed a complete and balanced growth diet that has passed an approved AAFCO feeding trial using meal feeding of an appropriate amount for 2-3 times/day.

Feeding recommendations for pregnant bitches through the first two-thirds of gestation are the same as those for maintenance. A common mistake is to overfeed during early gestation and to underfeed during lactation. In the last third of gestation, the total amount of food offered should be increased at least 20-30% over the amount for maintenance. Growth diets are often used during gestation because of their higher energy density and smooth transition after parturition to support lactation.

Lactating bitches often require energy levels 2-4 times those of maintenance to avoid excessive loss of body condition. Ad lib feeding using a complete and balanced growth diet containing 10-20% fat (dry-matter basis) that has passed an approved AAFCO feeding trial is recommended to maintain lactation and to permit optimal body weight and condition to be required by weaning. If a bitch loses significant body condition during lactation, the fat content of the diet should be increased to 20-30% fat (dry-matter basis), and she should be fed ad lib.

Growth and Reproduction in Cats:
The pattern of weight changes during gestation and lactation differs between bitches and queens. Because queens tend to lose weight during lactation regardless of diet fed, it has been assumed that net tissue reserves should increase somewhat in preparation for lactation. A kitten/growth diet that contains 10-35% fat, 30-40% protein, and low (<5%) fiber (dry-matter basis) should be fed. Growing kittens and pregnant and lactating queens can be fed ad lib or several times a day to meet their daily needs. During the latter third of gestation, the amount of food and level of nutrient intake normally increases an average of 25%, although energy intakes for cats during pregnancy have been estimated to be as much as 40% greater than for maintenance. Some queens may eat less early in gestation and immediately before parturition; such changes are of concern only if prolonged. Queens require 2-3 times the normal food intake during lactation, depending on litter size. Supplementing an already balanced diet is not necessary and should be discouraged.

Older dogs have not been documented to have different nutritional requirements than middle-aged dogs. Some dogs begin old age considerably overweight, while others may show some loss of condition. Feeding an appropriate food with a different nutrient profile with respect to energy, fat, or fiber content (increased or decreased) may be needed to maintain optimal body weight and condition. Geriatric dogs and cats should be monitored in a preventive health program that includes periodic assessments of body weight and condition. The incidence of chronic degenerative organ disease increases with age, and early diagnosis fosters earlier treatment and more effective nutritional management.

Work or Stress:
The caloric needs of working or stressed dogs may exceed the levels of a maintenance diet, depending on the animal and extent of work performed. Most diets designed for work or stress have increased levels of animal fats, with the other nutrients appropriately balanced to the increased energy density. At extreme levels of stress (eg, an Alaskan sled dog requiring 10,000 kcal/day), many recommend not only increasing the percent ME from fat, but also from protein, while minimizing the contribution of carbohydrate. Any daily feeding recommendation should be considered an estimate or starting point and should be modified based on continual evaluation of the dog’s weight and condition, skin and coat, performance, and general attitude. Feeding a smaller amount of the daily ration (eg, 1/3 of the daily amount) prior to beginning a work shift is recommended with the remainder being fed thereafter. Plenty of fresh water should be available, and opportunities to stop work for a water break should be scheduled in any daily work routine for these dogs.
The Merck Veterinary Manual

How to find the "right' pet food manufacturer

Not a day goes by when I am not being asked this question, and it seems to become more and more an issue as more brands we are adding to our product line-up. The good thing about this increase is that there is indeed still a substantial number of high quality pet food brands out there and we at our store certainly have quite a long way still to go since our goal is to carry them all. The problem is, it too often becomes overwhelming for the consumer. While we are trying to cover every little aspect and every need of the market and every pet owner, it sometimes becomes confusing, like for example the other day this woman e-mailed me: “I found your website during my search and it seems to have much more information about different food choices that I have found elsewhere – however it gets quickly complicated when trying to make a decision.”
Like Dr. R. Wysong, DVM, states: “It is virtually impossible for consumers to know the health value of packaged pet foods by viewing or feeding them. Processing makes products non-descript, and, furthermore, manufacturers can cleverly make about anything look like anything they like, e.g., starch, textured vegetable protein and dyes can look like a pork chop. Additionally, taste enhancers can make non-foods palatable. Short term feeding trial results do not reveal the true health measure of a pet food’s value, which are long term, active, vital life, free from chronic degenerative disease conditions. Such short term tests do not prove what they are intended for, see blog comment
100% Complete & Balanced Pet Food: Difference in opinions. They are performed on caged animals and are generally 26 weeks at most. They deny that nutrition can have effects beyond the few weeks used in a feeding trial. Undetected nutrient imbalance in youth has, for example, been shown to affect both animal and human, adult and latter age susceptibility to many chronic degenerative diseases, and even impact the health of future generations. A feeding trial does not and cannot measure this. Results from a laboratory bred puppy raised on concrete in stainless steel cages, placed under fluorescent lights, breathing conditioned air does not necessarily correlate to real animals in homes and backyards. Further, such tests are found to be ineffective. In an issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. David Dzanis of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine stated, “The formulation method does not account for palatability or availability of nutrients. Yet a feeding trial can miss some chronic deficiencies or toxicities.” Dr. Rogers of the University of California stated, “Some foods that pass the feeding trial still won’t support animals over the long term…The maintenance protocol lasts only 6 months, the effects of an excess might not cause a problem for several years.” In short, feeding trials in no way assure animal owners that optimal pet health¹ will be achieved and maintained if tested products are fed exclusively over a lifetime. More background and documentation on this can be found in philosophical correctness (see The Truth About Pet Foods).
Judging merit by reading advertising, marketing brochures and pet food package labels can also be deceiving. Although it would seem that regulation would not permit false and misleading information in the marketplace, this is simply not the case. So assuming that what is said in advertising is true because it is in a reputable publication, or on a beautifully designed brochure or package is a dangerous mistake.
So if all the commonly used criteria for judging the merit of a pet food are invalid, what is the concerned pet owner to do? As in all other important decisions in life, gathering information and applying reason is the best way to the best answer.This process is even more important in food decisions because health is at issue.
Ultimately a pet food can be no better than the competency and the principles of those producing it. Everything flows from that. If the pet food producer’s main objective is profit, then health will be a secondary consideration. Evaluating manufacturers, therefore, becomes the most critical element in making pet feeding choices. The following criteria will help you in this evaluation.
1. Pet health philosophy: Does the literature and pet health philosophy make sense and clearly put pet health as the number one priority, or is the primary objective marketing and sales?
2. Leader credentials: What are the credentials, experience and accomplishments of the people in charge? Is the leader a marketing person, a board of directors concerned primarily about profits, or someone competent in health and nutrition?
3. Pet health information literature: Read their literature, don’t just test feed the product or read package labels. Is their literature mere marketing claims, or do they educate and provide logical and documented scientific proof for the rationale of their product? Additionally, do they propose that the only way to pet health is through feeding their products? If so, be assured that they are lying...
4. Manufacturing control: Find out if the pet food company marketing the product is also the owner of the company manufacturing it or in close control of formulations and manufacturing parameters. Consider that anyone off the street can go to any number of pet food manufacturers and have them make a food (such contract manufacturers have files full of ready-to-go formulas), add micro amounts of “special” ingredients, create a new label and then make unsubstantiated claims about the superiority of the “revolutionary new” product.
5. The “100% complete & balanced pet food” myth: Does the company promote the claim of “100% complete and balanced?” This claim is a myth and is directly responsible for far-reaching nutritional diseases in pets. Use of the claim proves a manufacturer does not properly understand animal nutrition and pet health and is under the mistaken (but profitable, since it misleads consumers into thinking they should feed only their processed food) view that manufactured foods can be perfect.” Note: See also blog article
100% Complete & Balanced Pet Food: Difference in opinions
“6. Fads over facts: Does the company follow fads or does it lead with solid responsible information? Fads include high fiber, low cholesterol, low fat, “natural,” no preservatives, four food groups, high protein and the like. Such singular focus on faddish pet food fallacies demonstrates either an incomplete understanding of nutrition or a motive to profit from misinformed consumers.
7. Ingredient boogeymen: Does the company incite fear mongering about “boogeyman” ingredients? Current examples of such nutritional boogiemen include: soy, corn, wheat², fat, “by-products,” seaweed, ash, meat meal, yeast and magnesium. Popular misconceptions, dubious field reports and poorly conducted science lie at the base of such beliefs. If a pet food company uses such fallacies to promote their products, they either do not understand pet nutrition or desire to play on popular ignorance for financial gain.
8. Foods as drugs: Since the body can only experience health and healing from natural foods and a natural environmental context, it is presumptuous to claim a processed, manipulated, fraction-based food can do it better. In fact, such fabricated foods may create serious side effects and are far inferior to whole natural nutrition. Pet food producers who create and promote such foods attempt to capitalize on the awe of supposed advanced manufacturing technology and medicine. The illusion is created that a processed pet food, just because it is promoted like a prescription drug, is somehow high-tech and scientific, when in fact it may be no more so than most other processed pet foods.
9. Cosmetics over pet nutrition: Most pet food producers target food cosmetics rather than real nutrition. Flavors, shapes, packaging, bonuses, discounts, coupons, pricing, guarantees and the like are essentially unrelated to health and nutrition. Emphasis on such features should alert the consumer that the producer may be interested primarily in mass marketing, not serious pet health and nutrition.
10. Innovation: Since nutritional science is a rapidly growing and expanding field of knowledge, a producer truly interested in pet health should be highly innovative. Adapting new knowledge to formulations, processing, packaging and storage should be ongoing and these innovations should be clearly communicated to consumers. Most pet food companies don’t lead, they follow. Consumers would be wise to follow leaders, not followers. “
What I like the most about the Dr.’s writings and opinion is the fact that, while he frequently attacks his competitors by simply speaking out about the truth, he also is a manufacturer who consistently claims about his own products that they have many positive characteristics but they too are falling short in many areas and are indeed, while coming close, not the most “perfect nutrition”. There are not too many manufacturers out there making that claim about their own products. Everybody seems to look just at his own products and provide an opinionated view. While this problem mostly exists among the mass producing/mass marketing pet food manufacturers/grocery/merchandise market brands, it does unfortunately also apply to many of the smaller, non-Wallstreet oriented family owned manufacturers. Nobody really attacks the problem at the roots like Dr. Wysong does: The fact that (over-)processed food comes with many disadvantages and shortfalls and to make up for those, manufacturers too often are implementing substitutions, which rather than helping the cause make it even worst. But like I said, not all of the manufacturers are the same and I am glad to report that most of the ones we are dealing with fall more into the category of “Wysong alikes”, if there is such a thing to begin with. In my opinion the Wysong line is an entirely different ball game to begin with. Everybody has his niche, so does Wysong and for a matter of fact every other manufacturer represented at our store. Yet many products are overlapping in many areas, which is where it becomes confusing, or better said, overwhelming.
Contribution in large by Dr. R. Wysong, DVM, founder of
Wysong, in business since 1979. Visit our or the Wysong website for additional info and to read in their entirety the articles quoted in part:
Optimal pet health
²No corn, soy, or wheat
Dr. R.Wysong, DVM “The Truth about Pet Food”

100% Complete & Balanced Pet Food: Difference in opinions

As pet owners we all are too familar with the term "100% Complete & Balanced", the claim nowadays printed on pretty much every bag and can of pet food we are looking at and buying. But what does it mean, if anything at all? Is it just a marketing gig like so many others being utilized in the pet food industry? Even more important: Is there such a thing at all? I figured I let Dr. R.Wysong, DVM today give us his point of view:
"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”¹ 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”² 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: Ddehydrated 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, host of antibiotic and chemotherapeutic pharmaceuticals, a variety of synthetic flavorings, adjuvants, sequestrates, stabilizers, anticaking 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. Pet 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."

¹Are By-Products bad? Under this headline Dr. Wysong further states: “From a nutritional as well as ethical standpoint, the benefits of incorporating by-products into pet foods cannot be denied. The Whole Dog Journal advises pet owners to reject any by-products and instead seek “whole meats.” This demonstrates their lack of understanding of the nutritional merits of the various parts of food animals. Whole Dog and others in the pet food marketplace pushing the "no by-products" claim seem unaware of the fact that “by-product” is a mere word invention. It creates a negative connotation, but has nothing to do with health or nutrition. Pet health and nutrition are not about superficial impressions created by word labels. Feeding just muscle meats to pets is a serious error since no carnivore in the wild eats such a diet. If they did, they would become diseased from doing so. … In fact, carnivores often prefer the non-muscle meat parts of their prey that are labeled “by-products.” Critics of by-products evidently feel food animals have no inherent merit and that they should be raised, slaughtered, and then everything but their “prime meat” should go to a landfill.In a similar vein, there are claims about “USDA approved” ingredients, “human grade” ingredients, and ingredients purchased "right out of the meat counter at the grocery store." Again, at first glance - and superficiality is what marketers often like to deal with - it may seem that such foods would have merit over others. But such labels only create a perception of quality. People would not consider the food pets are designed for in the wild - whole, raw prey and carrion - “human grade” or “USDA approved.” Just because something is not “human grade” does not mean it is not healthy or nutritious. For example, chicken viscera is not “human grade,” but carries more nutritional value than a clean white chicken breast. Americans think that chicken feet would not be fit for human consumption, but many far eastern countries relish them. On the other hand, “human grade” beef steaks fed to pets could cause serious nutritional imbalances and disease if fed exclusively. Pet foods that create the superficial perception of quality (no by-products, USDA, human grade, etc.) with the intent of getting pet owners to feed a particular food exclusively is not what pet health is about. There are also the larger concerns of the Earth’s dwindling food resources and swelling population. Should “human grade” food products be, so to speak, taken out of the mouths of people and fed to pets with all of the excellent nutritional non-“human grade” ingredients put in the garbage? Think about the humane aspect of converting all pet food to “human grade.” Millions of tons of pet foods are produced each year. Should cows, pigs, sheep, fish, chickens and other sentient creatures be raised and slaughtered for these foods? Or should the perfectly good and nutritious by-products from human meat processing be used rather than wasted? Why would caring and sensitive pet owners want other creatures - that are themselves capable of being pets - needlessly raised in factory farm confinement and slaughtered when alternative sources of excellent nutrition from animals that have already been slaughtered are available?”
My understanding of by-products: There is nothing wrong in using them in pet food as long as they are not utilized as a cheap substitution for high quality protein, as a filler to minimize production costs or to maximize profits. As long as the manufacturer looks to nature to dictate what should be fed to our companion animals to achieve optimal health that would be fine. And this is why the very nutritionally beneficial trimmings, organs, and viscera can be incorporated into cat foods and dog foods in addition to human grade fresh meats.
Contribution in large by Dr. R. Wysong, DVM, founder of
Wysong, in business since 1979. Visit our or the Wysong website for additional info and to read in their entirety the articles quoted in part:
The Myth of "100% Complete and Balanced" Processed Pet Foods
¹Are By-Products Bad?
²No corn, soy, or wheat
Dr. R.Wysong, DVM “The Truth about Pet Food”