Saturday, April 25, 2009

Call for pet food transparency

Dr. Tim Phillips, DVM and Editor of The Pet Food Industry Magazine the other day under the headline “Whole Dog Journal wants Transparency” picked up on an issue, which is, as so many others, very controversial when it comes to pet food ingredients: Pet food ingredients and specifically by-products. I am going to address this issue at another time. What I also found interesting in the article were his comments about the Whole Dog Journal’s expectations on dog food and the call for more transparency. Dr. Phillips writes:
“In addition to transparency, Whole Dog Journal examines the ingredients listed on the product labels and looks for, among other things, the absence of by-products, added sweeteners and artificial coloring.

Every February, the
Whole Dog Journal reviews dry dog foods. This year, for the first time, the magazine has added pet food company transparency to its list of criteria for approving dry dog foods. Editor Nancy Kerns puts it this way: "All companies, whether they own their plants or hire contract manufacturers, should be equally forthcoming about their manufacturing."

In addition to revealing where its products are made, Kerns believes a company should also be transparent about:

Product formulation: Who developed the formula and what are his/her credentials?
Ingredients: Can the company provide full traceability on each ingredient used in its products?
QA processes: Do its plants follow a HACCP food safety program?
Available support: If I feed my dog your food and he gets sick, what support will your company be able to provide for me?

In addition to transparency, Whole Dog Journal examines the ingredients listed on the product labels and looks for the following:
A lot of high-quality animal proteins, "ideally a food will have one or two animal proteins in the first few ingredients."
The absence of meat or poultry by-products, "there is a much wider range of quality in the by-products available for pet food manufacturing than there is for whole meats."
The absence of fat or protein not identified by species.
Whole grains and vegetables.
The absence of artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, "a healthy product full of top-quality ingredients shouldn't need non-nutritive additives to make it look or taste better."
The absence of added sweeteners.
Organic ingredients.

So what do you think of those criteria? Do they make sense?”

Since he asked what we think about WDJ’s criteria, here is my opinion: With regards to transparency, I think their ideas are great and it certainly would be a start into the right direction. Obviously, the manufacturers of mass marketed pet food are most likely not in agreement with those ideas since it would require transparency, seemingly the last thing they are interested in. (Unless someone can explain to me why there is no ingredient listing available for example for Ol’Roy, see my blog comment “
Consumer Reports: The place to look for answers on pet food? “)
Well, I went back to my friend Dr. Wysong to see what he has to say about this topic. In his pamphlet
“How to apologize to your pet” he writes under the headline “The most critical ingredient – The company” (meaning “the manufacturer”):
“…So how do you make choices with so many competing products out there? We will give you some fair advice and we hope we have earned your ear since this entire brochure is about how you could feed optimally without using any Wysong products at all. Our purpose is health enhancement, and telling you what you need to know and not just what you may want to hear. Additionally, we are insiders. We know manufacturing, distribution, ingredients, marketing and all the other details – and shenanigans – in the pet food industry. That is what uniquely qualifies us to help you in your evaluation.
Now comes a prefacing apology. Much of what we say in this section may be (mis)understood and (mis)construed to be negative. Unfortunately it is very difficult for the layperson to even discern that there is a problem, much less know how to correct it. Companies and products receive much polish to make things appear as appealing as possible on the surface. You must be skeptical, see through the smoke and mirrors – and you can’t do that without information. Research, learn, and probe to be sure you’re doing the best for your beloved pets.
When you purchase a nondescript packaged product like a nugget or mix, you have really no true idea what is in it. Yes, the ingredient label and analysis may say certain things, but terminology is crafted to put the best face forward to you. For example it is possible to say “natural flavors” and yet the product may contain MSG and a whole range of chemicals you might not desire. “Chicken” could mean heads and feet. “Natural,” “holistic,” “organic,” “human grade,” “balanced,” “veterinary recommended,” “science” and “100% complete and balanced” are powerful marketing terms, but not necessarily a true reflection of what is in the product. There is wide latitude on labels and even wider freedom for what can be said in marketing brochures. In the end, you are left with making a decision based upon trust in the company. That trust should not be blind.
These are considerations when deciding who to grant that trust to:
- Do they promote the misleading “100% complete” claim?
- Nutrition is a serious health matter. Are the leaders of the company scientists and doctors, or marketers and business people?
- Do they control their own manufacturing or are they just having a standard formulation with a few “special ingredients” made by a private label company?
- Do they educate (at no cost) to help you control your own and your pet’s health?
- Do they attempt to convince you to buy based on nonsense that has nothing to do with health, such as movie star endorsements?
- Do they have a long history of success in feeding pets?
- Do they provide products that have not been heat processed and degraded – reflecting knowledge of this critical nutritional issue?
- Do they show concern for animal welfare by not fostering unnecessary lab animal testing?
- Do they pander to misleading marketing approaches such as “four food group” feeding, emphasizing so-called special ingredients or trying to create panic about others? Remember, good nutrition is natural and varied, not about singular special or boogeyman ingredients.)
- Do they truly innovate – lead – with formulations and processing methods that enhance health (not just cosmetics) or do they just follow markets?
These are the considerations that will tell you what’s really in the package.”

In my mind, the bottom line is this: As by now everybody is in agreement, the most simple indicator whether you are dealing with a good, better or not so good pet food is if the manufacturer. My take is, is it a Wall Street traded company or is it a privately, possibly family owned, small to medium sized company with direct owner involvement and participation in daily operations (and creations). Because most of the times it is these small companies, which were brought into life because their owners were at one point just as we are today, fed up and frustrated with what is going on in the pet food industry. Fed up with watchning how their companion animals' health kept deterrerating. Fed up with learning day in and day out that what we are supposed to believe is good for our pets at the end of the day only causes harm. These guys will have no problem to live up to either WDJ’s or Dr. Wysong’s ideas of transparency and using the best possible ingredients, because that is what they live already on a daily basis and their products reflect that thinking and transparency. None of them will ever have a problem talking openly about and explaining their products at any length desired by any pet owner. Quite contrary, they proudly will do so. And as we all know, rightfully so.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Raw feeding: Forever surrounded by mystery?

MSNBC on their Pet Health page recently reported “Raw deal? Some feed their pets uncooked diet, but most vets fear food borne illnesses and say trend can harm the furry foodies.”

Here are some of the points they made:

“BARF. It’s what’s for dinner. Your dog’s dinner, that is. The acronym stands for Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, which is not so much a diet as it is a movement among pet owners who believe their pets will benefit from eating the same kinds of food their furry ancestors gobbled: bones, raw meats and veggies. Just as a raw food trend has turned more mainstream among people, a small but vocal community of pet owners is using the same quality ingredients they buy for themselves to create homemade raw meals for their critters.

But most veterinarians are wary about the trend toward raw food, or even meals that are cooked, but homemade. The idea of feeding pets raw meat, which has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella or E. coli bacteria, or a home-cooked meal that may not be properly balanced, gives them the shudders. “So many of these people are just trying to make their pets happy and have no concept of nutrition,” says Dr. Patty Khuly, who practices in Miami.
Although no studies have been conducted to assess the benefits of a raw food diet for cats and dogs, believers in the raw pet food movement say the evidence speaks for itself: Their pets have shinier coats, stronger teeth, fewer ear infections and improved weight control.

Bob Kurtz, who was already feeding his retrievers a high-quality dry food, recently turned to a commercial raw diet to solve a young Labrador’s skin allergies.
“Since switching to raw, we have found several major benefits,” he says. “Our dogs’ weights have stabilized perfectly. They now rarely change weight by more than a pound between checkups. They are lean and muscular, with coats that are even more beautiful and glossy than before. The ground bone in the diet does a great job of scouring their teeth, and all signs of plaque and tartar buildup have disappeared.”

Pat Puckett, a founder of SoCal BARF, a buying association based in Orange County, Calif., began feeding a raw diet to her American pit bull terriers in 1998.
“My breed has a tendency toward skin problems, and I had spent quite a bit of time at the vet for various problems,” she says. “One of my friends who also has the breed had talked about switching over to raw for her dogs. I moved in that direction and never went back.”
Kurtz says the diet gets a mixed reaction from the veterinarians who see his dogs.
“Our practice has two vets. The senior vet is very wary about bacterial growth, E. coli, salmonella, etc. She has recommended to us many times that we cook the food instead," Kurtz says. "The younger vet is very excited about the growth of raw and homemade diets, is not particularly concerned about bacteria in the dog's shorter digestive system, and is very pleased with our results. As she says about our Labrador, ‘Ooh, look at her coat — she's sleek, like a seal!’”

A raw diet isn't as easy as dropping a chicken bone into Baxter's bowl. It’s essential to use a trustworthy recipe that provides all the nutrients a dog or cat needs or to feed a great enough variety of fresh foods that the diet is balanced over time, in the same way that a person who eats a variety of foods achieves a balanced diet. People who are concerned about providing a correct balance of nutrients or who don’t have time to prepare a pets’ meals can purchase commercial frozen raw diets at pet supply stores.

Dr. Deborah S. Greco, an internal medicine specialist, advises dog breeders who fed a raw diet to rotate protein sources rather than relying exclusively on a single protein, such as chicken.
“What I usually recommend for people who are feeding homemade diets is to call a nutritionist and say ‘This is what I’m feeding; is it balanced?’”

Dr. Khuly, the Miami veterinarian, proffers the same advice to her clients. She will consult a nutritionist for them, for a fee, or refer them to a veterinary nutritionist for a personal consultation. She says there is another reason veterinarians are conservative when it comes to recommending raw or homemade diets.

“Veterinarians want to be legally safe, and there are things that can go wrong with feeding anything,” she says. “If there’s a commercial entity to back you up, it makes it so much easier. If there’s just your diet, your recipes and your recommendation, you’re the one out on the line."
When done right, the greatest benefit of a homemade diet is the ability to select the ingredients. Puckett and the approximately 400 members of SoCal BARF want to know how the food animal was fed. They prefer to avoid soy-fed poultry and rabbits, for instance, because soy is a common pet allergen. That’s difficult, though. Soy is in almost every poultry and rabbit feed, she says.

“The dogs are healthier than any I’ve ever had who were primarily kibble-fed,” says Shirley Thistlethwaite, who lives in a rural area near Columbia, S.C., and feeds her six dogs cooked homemade meals using a rough ratio of one-third meat, one-third grains and one-third vegetables, fruits or herbs.

Thistlethwaite buys the highest-quality foods she can work into her budget each week.
“I try to get wild-caught fish, free-range meats, and organic and local foods if I can,” she says. Often, she and her dogs eat similar meals.

But not everyone has such a positive experience. After a massive pet food recall in 2007, Margaret Alexander of Newton, Mass., began cooking for her three Cavalier King Charles spaniels. She read a lot and consulted her own veterinarian as well as veterinarians at Angell Memorial Hospital in Boston. A year later, however, all three of her dogs developed various problems that may or may not have been related to their diet.

“The oldest one developed very serious liver and gall bladder problems and was hospitalized for several days,” she says. “The youngest dog developed slow digestive processes and lots of vomiting in the summer. The third one, in the fall, developed some type of problem which was initially thought to be a blockage. He has had what are euphemistically called 'dietary indiscretions' since we got him.”

Alexander suspects that the food she was preparing was too high in fat. Now her oldest dog is eating a diet prescribed by the veterinarian and the other two are back on a high-quality dry food. She’s happy with the foods they’re eating now, citing cost and convenience.
“The dry food is measurably cheaper than home cooking," Alexander says. "Expecting a pet sitter to prepare the dogs’ food is a little more than we think we can ask, and it is hard to prepare enough in advance.”

Khuly has a handful of clients who feed their pets a raw diet, and she herself has moved from ambivalence to cautious acceptance. Her two French bulldogs now enjoy regular raw meaty bones. Clients who want to start feeding their pets a raw or homemade diet are referred to a veterinary nutritionist for expert advice on what and how to feed.

“I believe in raw feeding, I believe it can be done well, I believe it can be helpful, but I have a lot of conditions because I’m still new to it,” she says. “I tell people to have a good relationship with a high-quality butcher and make sure they understand that the meat needs to be human-grade, every bit as high-quality as they would expect you to want to eat. You have to work hard at it.””

The article contains a number of issues I would like to address here:
First the statement “…senior vet is very wary about bacterial growth, E. coli, salmonella, etc. She has recommended to us many times that we cook the food instead," Kurtz says. "The younger vet is very excited about the growth of raw and homemade diets, is not particularly concerned about bacteria in the dog's shorter digestive system, and is very pleased with our results. As she says about our Labrador, ‘Ooh, look at her coat — she's sleek, like a seal!’”
This is in full agreement with what I see and hear every day. A majority of the older vet generation normally advises against raw feeding. Yet when I talk to younger ones or hear what they recommend to my customers I see definitely a more open minded attitude towards raw feeding. A lot of it in my opinion has to do with the fact that “Veterinarians want to be legally safe, and there are things that can go wrong with feeding anything,” she says. “If there’s a commercial entity to back you up, it makes it so much easier. If there’s just your diet, your recipes and your recommendation, you’re the one out on the line." And that seems to be what vets have been and still to this day are being taught. Every site related to vet or veterinarian practice preaches mainly against raw, usually pushing the main scare “E-coli and salmonella”.

By the way, when I hear “cooking the food” I basically only can laugh. That defeats the entire idea of raw feeding in the first place. Remember, dear vet, heat destroys the most important elements of food? This is kind of the same advice like the other day I read about in my newspaper’s pet column. A woman reported to the column’s vet that her dog had some serious dental problems. So bad it resulted in the vet pulling all her teeth. Now while that was sad, what made me wonder about her vet’s intelligence was that after the surgical procedure he prescribed some of the scientific dry food for the poor toothless dog. I’d say, it is about time to make a change. Are you people sure it was your vet and not the absent minded professor?

Coming back to raw feeding. The article talks about the negative experience this one pet owner had with her three dogs. Too bad, rather than figuring out how to do it right the convenient way of going to a scientific prescription diet was chosen. The problem I see with home cooking is first of all that home cooking does not translate into raw feeding as many pet owners make the wrong assumption. This are two totally different things. The second problem is that pet owners very often don’t know enough about raw feeding nor do they have or are they willing to take the time and learn. Just running to the butcher, buying some raw meat and put that in front of the pet doesn’t do the trick. Raw feeding is way more than that and requires carefully composed and assembled meals to ensure all important nutrients required by an animal are provided as well to ensure a balanced meal in compliance to nutrient requirements. Sure, at the first glance it seems to be a lot more economical to just get and feed simple, plain raw meat, but over the long run doing this route can be even more dangerous than feeding highly processed commercial dry or wet food for a life time. Raw feeding is great and in my opinion the best a pet owner can do to maintain a pet’s optimal health. It comes the closest to the ancestral diet and nature. But it needs to be done right. Therefore, even if it looks like it is more expensive, if you don’t have the time to learn about how to or to prepare it right, you definitely are way better off with buying some of the commercially prepared raw food diets readily available. Remember, find the answer to the question “Is it balanced?”

Finally, MSNBC tied a survey into the article. The question is “Would you feed your pet raw food?” I really liked the numbers at the time of this writing: 61.4% (342 votes) say “Absolutely, wild animals eat raw food all the time”. 13.8% or 77 votes came back “It depends. If I knew exactly where it was from, I might” and 24.8% or 134 votes came back “No way. I'd be too worried about them getting sick” (probably the group with the “older” vets?) This clearly indicates that there is a trend in the right direction. However, talk is cheap. Now we still have to see those numbers transfer into real life and there so far is certainly not such a great percentage following the right track. The survey also allowed for voters to leave comments. Here are some of my favorite ones:
“I like how the article states there has been no research in raw food diets, yet vets are already attacking it. Scared of lost sponsorships?”
“If it was from a reputable dealer I'd consider it. Dogs and cats are carnivors, so a diet of mostly meat makes sense.”
“I feed my Samoyed a raw frozen balanced diet and at 12 yrs he acts and looks half his age. Dry food is much too processed for good health! “
And this one is my absolute top runner: “Vet are not taught nutrition in school. Related info school is supplied by the pet food companies” It says it all in a very simple statement.
To read the full
article and more voter’s comments with up-to-date survey results visit .

Overweight pet? Awareness doesn't solve the problem, action does

Petfood, an on-line community for Pet Food Professionals recently reported of a story coming from the UK. Reason for me addressing the issue here at the blog is because I am convinced that the problem here in the States is very similar and certainly has to be of concern to every pet owner. But why not let the numbers speak for themselves; According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and their press release published in February 09, the latest stats reveal:
“Nationwide study finds half of dogs and cats now overweight or obese, an increase from 2007*
In the US, over 44% of dogs and 57% of cats are now estimated to be overweight or obese according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). The second annual National Pet Obesity Day Study conducted in October, 2008, found that from 2007 to 2008, the number of overweight dogs and cats increased by 1% and 4%, respectively.
"Pet obesity continues to emerge as a leading cause of preventable disease and death in dogs and cats. Our pets are in real danger of not living as long as previous generations and developing serious and costly diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and other largely avoidable conditions,” states lead researcher Dr. Ernie Ward.
Obesity rates in cats were highest at 17.8%; dogs were slightly better with 9.6% classified as obese. Approximately 39.6% of all cats and 34.7% of dogs were classified as overweight by a veterinary healthcare provider.
According to the study, 7.2 million dogs are estimated to be obese and 26 million overweight. The number in cats is higher, with 15.7 million estimated to be obese and 35 million overweight.
"These numbers, 33 million dogs and 51 million cats that are overweight, represent a huge problem for everyone. Excess weight causes or contributes to many painful and debilitating conditions. Just as we’ve become a nation of couch potatoes, our pets have become a nation of lap potatoes—and that’s not good for anyone,” replies Dr. Ward.
Older animals had a higher incidence of being overweight; 52.1% of dogs and 55% of cats over age seven were found to be overweight or obese.
“This is a particularly concerning discovery for veterinarians. Extra pounds in older pets amplify any pre-existing conditions and complicate treatment. We’re seeing more and more diabetes, respiratory, and arthritic conditions in older pets as a direct result of obesity. These are often chronic, incurable, and generally preventable diseases. Pet owners need to understand that a few extra pounds on a dog or cat is similar to a person being 30 to 50 pounds overweight,” says Dr. Ward.
Pet owners with heavy pets accurately reported their pet’s weight status when asked by veterinary healthcare providers; 71.5% of owners with overweight or obese cats identified their cat as overweight or obese, and 60% of dog owners agreed with their veterinarian’s assessment of their dog’s weight. “This tells me pet owners know their pet is too heavy. It’s up to veterinarians to help pet lovers get their pet back to a healthy weight,” responds Dr. Ward.
Smaller breeds of dogs had more trouble with their weight than larger breeds. Breeds such as Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Yorkshire terriers were more likely to be classified as overweight than Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, or German shepherds.
“Smaller, indoor-only dogs tend to have more trouble maintaining a healthy weight because they don’t get adequate exercise. Unfortunately, these are also the dogs we’re seeing a high number of weight-related disorders in,” says Ward.
The second National Pet Obesity Awareness Day study was conducted using data collected by 95 US veterinary clinics in October, 2008. In all, 669 dogs aged 1 to 16 and 202 cats aged 1 to 19 were evaluated. Approximately 10% of dogs were classified as obese and 35% as overweight. Approximately 18% of all cats were rated as obese and 40% as overweight.”
Now “ Nine out of 10 UK pet owners are unconcerned coming back to the UK story, reported under
“UK owners ‘unconcerned at fat pets" that Nine out of 10 pet-owners are unconcerned about their animals' size despite an increase in overweight pets, a survey suggests.
Some 62% of dog-owners and 72% of cat-owners believed they could do little or nothing about their pets' weight.
More than 2,100 UK households were surveyed on behalf of the Pet Food Manufacturers' Association (PFMA).
A report by the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals in 2008 claimed one in three UK dogs was overweight.
However, in the TNS survey for the PFMA, eight out of 10 owners believed their pet was the correct weight.
But when shown pictures of animals of varying weights, just 33% of dog-owners and 23% of cat-owners said their animal resembled the "normal weight" image.
PFMA chief executive Michael Bellingham said perceptions of pets' correct size were "seriously out of kilter with reality".
"Pet obesity has a serious, and sometimes fatal, impact on the health and welfare of our pets.
"The figures are alarming and the problem won't go away without a fundamental shift in owners' attitude to feeding their pets," he said.
"It is also worrying that most owners are not aware of the problem, because they are unable to recognize a fat pet in the first place.
More than a third of owners who admitted having an overweight pet said they fed it too many treats, while a similar proportion blamed lack of exercise.
Only a quarter of respondents said they had ever sought advice on their pets' weight.”

So it seems like pet owners (of obese pets) here in the States are definitely better informed about their problems since they apparently at large (60% for dogs, 71.5% for cats) recognize that their pet is overweight.

But recognizing the problem itself doesn’t do the trick. Now the blaming game kicks in. In my opinion the answer to where to look for blame is simple: I am sorry my friends for being once again so frank and loud and clear, but it is mainly you, the owner of the obese pet. To blame a pet food manufacturer on wrong feeding tables is nonsense. The pet is being fed by its owner. And who can better observe the weight development? I rest my case. Who is feeding junk food in between meals? Who is providing fattening treats too often? Why is there an obesity problem? One of the biggest feeding mistakes pet owners make is portion control. For example, to a 20 Lbs. dog, 1 ounce of Cheddar Cheese is like a human eating 2 hamburgers or chocolate bars. Or, a cup of milk to a 10 Lbs. cat is like you eating 5 hamburgers or 5 chocolate bars.

Neither is anybody else to blame for not making sure that the pet gets sufficient exercise. See also my blog comment
Pet obesity - a pet owners' problem”. This is not beating a dead horse, pet obesity is a serious problem. The common health risks of obesity in pets include: Osteoarthritis, Type 2 Diabetes, respiratory disorders, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease and many forms of cancer.

Don’t let any of this happening to your pet. Following are 4 basic considerations to control your pet's weight:

Choice of diet: For example, all food products offered at our on-line store, whether they are for your dog or for your cat, raw, freeze dried, dry or canned, are serious alternatives available to you. We carefully select our suppliers based on their credibility and motives. We offer a wide spectrum of products so that you can provide variety to your pet. A rotation diet consisting of more meat protein and less grain fosters biologically appropriate weight control. Lean feeding leads to less obesity. A good solution for home made meals are our Sojos Food Mixes. Made by experienced experts they are a safe base and with their nutritional value offer many benefits, one of them being balanced weight.
Portion control: Don't listen too much to your pet. Many of them don't know how much is good for them and when to stop. Follow the manufacturer's feeding guide lines available within our on-line product descriptions or on the back of each package. Consider lifestyle, activity level and medical conditions of your pet. Important: These guide lines usually refer to the "ideal body weight" of your pet, i.e. what your pet should weigh rather than what it weighs actually. Not keeping this in mind can lead to constant "over" feeding. Example: If your cat weighs 15 Lbs. and is 20% overweight, give her only as much as the manufacturer recommends for a 12.5 Lbs. cat.

Controlled "Treat"ments: Treats are great rewards and training aids. We offer many of them at our store. However, most of the ones we offer for dogs and cats are not just all about fun. They are functional, meaning they are made using healthy and palatable main ingredients providing many health benefits. As wellness products they are supplementing your healthy food. "Treat" treats as what they are: They are not a food item. Dogs appreciate a thumb nail sized bite as much as they like a 2 Lbs. bag of biscuits, the latter not being helpful in you solving your pet's obesity problem. As with everything in life, remember the word "moderation".

Regular exercise:The best thing to do is asking your vet about the ideal exercise program for your pet. Following are just a few ideas to inspire your creativity. Change your walk with your dog into intervals of jogging and running. Cut down on the typical every 2 minute sniffing and marking breaks. Change the pace from 20 to 25 minutes a mile to 12 to 15 minutes. Don't worry, dogs are built to run anywhere between 0 and 100 miles an hour with a very little risk of injury. After all, you're not doing an all-out sprint. Be consistent. Let the dog know you're not on a stroll and have other places to go too.
Move the food bowl as far away as possible to force the dog to walk. Don't let them sleep right next to their food.

Play, chase, fetch, catch. Combine exercise with play time, for example check out this link on the Dog Channel: "Fun Backyard Games With Your Dog" by Cathy M.Rosenthal. Get moving toys. Get busy. And do it regularly. Use your fantasy and be creative. And remember, to your dog what's fun today may be boring tomorrow, so be innovative as well.

Remember, pet obesity is not an animal problem, it is a human problem. Stores like ours can help you by providing products, which are designed and have proven to be supportive of obesity prevention. Imperative to my objectives is also that I provide in-depth information on effective holistic, healthy nutrition. My goal is contributing to your pet's health and vitality by educating you. With the help of the information provided by myself and others in the field, you will be able to make the right and correct, healthy and informed decisions on behalf of your pet. After all: All we want to do is help our beloved pets to live a longer, healthier and happier life.
Downloadable version)
For healthy guidelines download the
helpful fact sheet: Weight, calories & your pet” by APOP
Download the Junk food calorie list by APOP
Visit Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Holistic alternative to achieve animal wellness

As humans, we strive for more than just freedom from physical limitations, pain, or disease; we seek Wellness, within ourselves and all of that around us. True Wellness is a state of life in which the totality of genetic expression is a living reality. This natural state is the birth right of all life on earth. Nurtured from within and supported from outside the confines of the physical body, life is viewed as a full and rich tapestry on many levels. The absence of disease is a by-product of this natural state.

Why is the health and longevity of a pet so important?
In our fast paced world of technology and commerce, we can lose touch with our more nature oriented aspects and the natural environment around us. Few links to this natural world remain. The very fortunate few of us with gardens that bear fruit still can experience a link to a less technological time. The only way greater numbers of us who live in concrete, urban environments can still share in a joy experienced by all cultures of humankind since the dawn of history is through the bonding with a companion animal. These pets allow us to go beyond the constraints of our own immediate human situation and into a larger, older, more harmonious world view. The very act of nurturing and caring for these four legged friends and, in return receiving their unconditional devotion, brings us closer to our natural roots in this world and allows us to experience our humanity from a place of greater emotional well being.

Why do we believe holistic approaches to animal care are so important?
Since these methods address the whole organism and support the body’s own abilities to heal it, many holistic methods focus on prevention and cure of disease, not just treatment. Proper nutrition is the foundation upon which many holistic practices build our pet's (and our own) quality of life and Wellness. Poor nutrition is one of the major contributors to our pet's lower life expectancy. By feeding our pets most commercially available pet foods, we are unintentionally depriving these animals of important nutrients needed for sustaining the states of greater Wellness that their genetic material encodes. By standard of modern Western medical science our bodies are bio mechanical parts, which are either repairable or replaceable. Non holistic medical and veterinary practitioners address illness in the same way; a disease means a body part is malfunctioning or has been invaded by some outside agent. One either repairs or removes that body part through surgery, or supports it with chemicals or substances from the outside. Identifying a malfunctioning part often requires expensive laboratory testing; a major part of most physical examinations. Laboratory workups support medical diagnoses with “scientific fact”; which in turn confirms the malfunctioning body parts and outside agents. This is the non holistic medical model of disease.Growing numbers of people, though, are seeking alternatives to this medical model. They want more encompassing methods not just for themselves but also for their companion animals. Instead of viewing a living body as a flesh covered skeleton composed of individual “bio- mechanical parts”, holistic methods approach living organisms as constellations of “biological” systems; each self contained and self defined, yet all seamlessly woven into an organic tapestry that is constantly unfolding over time through the expression of “Universal Being”. More inclusive forms of treatment address the whole organism; not just the sum of the organic parts. Holistic treatments do not isolate, control, or eliminate individual symptoms; they assist the whole body in regaining “Wellness” and a higher state of balance. Few people suggest that holistic approaches should totally replace medical and veterinary science especially in the case of accident or acute illness. However, many alternative methods achieve significant results without the need for surgical intervention or long-term drug therapy. As lovers of companion animals, we want to take an active role in the care of our pets. We must assume responsibility for their quality of life and their “Wellness.” Statistics show that the average life expectancies of companion animals have rapidly dropped in the last 40 years despite improvements in the medical model, veterinary diagnosis, and treatment modalities. Poor nutrition, inbred genetic defects, and over vaccination have led to an epidemic of allergic reactions that challenge our pets’ bodily defenses. Their shortened lives are further complicated by symptoms ranging from skin rashes to epilepsy, kidney and liver ailments as well as other chronic disease processes. Our pets have grown hypersensitive to many common environmental allergens their ancestors casually threw off. Our companion animals provide us with an important reminder of our link to this totality. The closeness we feel toward our animal friends reinforces our view of them as full family members and life companions. We see ourselves in them and are reminded of our greater nature. Our companion animals live in a natural state of oneness no matter what “illness” they may have. In their reflection of a natural earthly rhythm, we are reminded intellectually and emotionally that all is well in life’s ever diversifying flow. Our gain from their unconditional acceptance of us is transformed into our wanting Wellness for them and ourselves.

Contributed by Dr. William Pollack, DVM

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pet Nutrition: Requirements and related diseases Part 5 Feeding Practices at the various life stages of an animal

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. In part 4 we widened our discussion by talking about pet food label basics and pet food product types available to pet owners and today we continue with a discussion of feeding practices that should be followed throughout the various life stages of our pets.

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.
Stay tuned for the soon to appear conclusion of this series when we talk about the important role of nutrition in disease management.
Notes: Contribution
Merck Veterinarian Manual

Monday, April 20, 2009

Changing nutritional needs throughout all life stages of your pet

I found this following article on the VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) Pet Health Zone and wanted to share it since it provides in Layman’s terms easy to follow advice on what to consider when feeding your pets throughout its entire life cycle.

“Walk down the food aisle of your local pet supply store and you’ll see a wide variety of pet food products. Some are labeled for puppies or kittens. Others are for senior pets. There are also pet food products for more active pets or for overweight pets.
How do you choose the right pet food for your pet, and why are there so many different options?
Your pet’s dietary needs change over the course of his life, from birth to adolescence to adulthood and then to old age. A life stage diet is one that is tailored to meet the different nutritional needs as your pet ages.
Dogs’ and cats’ nutritional requirements are quite different from one another. It’s always wise to discuss the best diet for your pet with your veterinarian at each stage of your pet’s life.

Specific Needs for Young Pets
Puppies need nearly four times the energy than adult dogs, and they need extra protein to help build new tissue. So an energy rich diet including protein, fat, calcium and phosphorous is important during this phase.

Puppies’ needs vary according to breed. Small breed dogs need higher levels of these nutrients, while large breed dogs need less to control their growth rate. Medium-sized dog breeds are between the two.

Too little or two much of these nutrients can cause problems with your dog’s skeletal structure and possibly lead to obesity.

Kittens, due to the small size of their mouths and digestive systems, can’t eat much at one sitting. According to veterinarian Cori Gross, who is a VPI Pet Insurance field veterinarian, kittens should be free fed, meaning food should be left available at all times.

Their food should be high in easily digestible animal protein and other important nutrients, such as fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, and taurine, an amino acid found in chicken and fish sources.

Gross said there is evidence suggesting that adding DHA, an essential fatty acid that improves brain development and is mandatory in human baby formula, to puppy or kitten food can actually make your pet smarter. Ask your veterinarian for a DHA recommendation prior to adding it to your pet’s diet.

The Teen/Adult Dog Years
The recommended time to switch your dog’s diet to an adult food formula is ideal when your dog is close to his adult height, approximately at two years of age. Smaller dogs achieve this sooner, around one year of age.

The adult diet that is right for your dog will depend on his breed and level of activity. Feed your dog dry food to help keep his teeth healthy—and for larger breeds, to provide more caloric density.

While some dogs may require special diets due to medical issues, the average small or medium breed dog should eat food containing:
High-quality, animal-based protein for muscle maintenance
Fiber for a healthy digestive tract
Essential vitamins and minerals for the immune system
Vitamin-rich fish oils for a healthy coat and skin and for overall health
Healthy grains for energy

Large breed dogs may need food containing glucosamine and less fat than a medium breed dog to help maintain joint health.

Our pets are living longer than they did several decades ago. They are better vaccinated and receive routine veterinary care.

The Teen/Adult Cat Years
Veterinarians recommend feeding your kitten adult food at about nine months of age. Cats tend to put on weight after they are spayed or neutered, which occurs at six months or earlier.

To avoid overfeeding your cat, gradually mix the adult food with the kitten food. After two weeks, your cat should no longer be eating kitten kibble. Begin allowing free feeding only during breakfast and dinnertime. Eventually switch to measured portions of breakfast and dinner based on your veterinarian’s recommendation.

Blend dry cat food with canned food for a well-rounded meal. Cats are strict meat eaters, or carnivores, so the food should contain a high level of easily digestible protein. Fat is also important for needed calories.

Adult cat food should also contain:
Vitamin A, from liver, kidney and other organ meats, and niacin for healthy growth
Essential fatty acids for healthy skin and fur
Taurine for healthy eyes and heart muscle

Senior Living
Our pets are living longer than they did several decades ago. They are better vaccinated and receive routine veterinary care. They also are getting better nutrition.

A senior pet is one considered to be in the last third of his life. For instance, if your particular breed of dog has a life expectancy of 12 years, then it will be “senior” by age 8. If your cat has an expectancy of 18 years, then it would be considered “senior” around age 12.

Of course, some animals remain healthy and active well into their old age. Others, however, undergo physiological changes that can be impacted through diet.

Senior dogs need a diet lower in calories, protein and fat, and one higher in fiber, as most are not as active as they were. Obesity can become an issue. Kidney failure is not uncommon.

Senior cats do not need a reduced-calorie diet as they maintain their energy needs throughout adulthood, obesity risks greatly decrease after age 10. Senior cats still need a high amount of protein. They don’t necessarily absorb fat as well, so they might need more digestible fat in their diets for the same amount of energy.

Both senior cats and dogs can develop dental issues and can begin to lose teeth, making it more difficult for them to eat hard kibble. For senior cats or cats with certain medical problems such as bladder problems or obesity, Gross recommends that most if not all calories come from canned food.

Evolving Needs
Your senior pet may develop age-related health issues in the last year or so of his life. There are different food and supplements to address different problems.

Keeping your pet active and at a healthy weight will increase his lifespan and the time you get to spend together.

Your veterinarian can help guide you to make sure your pet has a quality of life as long as possible.”

I think this pretty much sums up the very general basics. Only thing I do not like about the article is that I think it’s editor is a little too often “sending” you to the vet for his general basic advice, which in my opinion not always justifies that we see our vet and spend (or waste?) more of our money. Granted, vets have their place and are a substantial part of our pet’s lives, but I am a little doubtful (as most of you already know from my previous comments and articles) when it comes to veterinarian nutritional advice. I believe this is certainly an area of veterinary practice, which certainly could use a major overhaul.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Innovation in the pet food industry – The driving forces behind it. (Comparison of pet food types Part 2)

In part 1 of this series we started looking at and comparing various types of food, mainly dry, canned and raw food and did so by concentrating on the advantages and disadvantages of the various processing methods applied during the manufacture of these types of food. Today we are going to expand upon this topic by taking a look at the pet food industry overall and how developments are influencing innovation for the pet food market.
According to the stats, the pet food industry, despite the overall major down turn lingering over our overall economy is still enjoying strong growth. Some call it even spectacular, like Euromonitor International, an international market intelligence provider who claims that US pet food sales rose from $12 in 2002 to $15 billion in 2007. As I found on, an industry publication for pet food retailers, MediaPost Communications claims: “The recalls of contaminated pet food in the spring of 2007 encouraged owners to convert to higher-priced foods that were perceived to be safer. This trend to premium helped boost dollar sales for the category not only in 2007, but to a smaller extent last year, despite the dramatic downturn in the economy.” “US pet food sales grew 5.5% to an e in 2008 and grew by a cumulative 20.9% (compound annual growth rate, or CAGR, of 4.9%) between 2004 and 2008”, Packaged Facts estimates in the latest edition of its Pet Food in the US report. IRI InfoScan data showed category sales in tracked retail outlets up 6.4% to US$5.9 billion for the 52 weeks ending November 2, 2008, including a 7% gain in dog food sales (to US$227 million), a 6% gain for cat food (to US$125 million) and a 3% gain for other pet food (to US$6 million). Dollar sales reflected consumer trading up and higher ingredient costs, not volume gains. Overall pound sales were down 2% and unit sales were down 6% last year, continuing the pattern seen in previous years, according to the article. The analysts project that the economy will slow the category's sales to 4.5% in 2009 and 2010, followed by more tapering off through 2013. CAGR for 2008 through 2013 is projected at 4.1%, with premium demographics and products accounting for an even larger part of the overall market going forward.
With this pretty rosy perspective of the future in mind, I was wondering, how does the industry do it? It is actually simple.
Whole Dog Journal noticed in its November 2008 issue: “The pet food industry, like the human food industry, has become increasingly savvy about marketing” (no kidding, what do I always tell you?) “- essentially selling more pet food than is actually needed.” (as supposed to make the existing better, which is what I would like to welcome as a quantum leap forward) WDJ continues: “And empires are being built from the innovation of products that fill previously unnecessary “needs”. How did our dogs survive before they had special diets for seniors, large breeds, small breeds, dogs of specific breeds? Really? A food just for a Yorkshire Terrier?”
Better yet, I noticed kibble formulas for indoor and outdoor cats. Not that this in itself would be exciting, but how about 3 different formulations for the less active, the more active and the very active indoor cat? Talk about stretching creativity to the absolute limit. I can’t wait to do the analysis on this one.
An additional category comes to my mind: How about all the foods addressing specific health conditions? How many scientific formulations can we find in our vet’s office displays or lately even in the shelves of pet supermarkets? Good questions with actually a very simple answer. Dr. R.L. Wysong in his
“The Truth about Pet Foods”, while talking about “a host of foods targeting specific diseases” says: “In fact you would be hard pressed to find any controlled study published in a peer reviewed journal that has ever proven the value of any such diets over just good, varied home cooking. This is not to suggest that such publications are the only place to find good evidence. But if the promoters of such foods are going to start throwing around “science”, then they should be able to cite the medium of science – scientific journals. “Put up or shut up” comes to mind. Aside from this, do specific diets even make sense? Well, let’s go to the great teacher and mother of us all, nature. Do puppies in the wild eat differently than adults or seniors? Do different kinds of canines or felines eat different foods? Do big dogs or cats eat anything fundamentally different from what kittens or puppies eat after weaning? Are carnivores in the wild who get sick (a very rare thing in terms of the degenerative conditions we see plaguing modern pets) doomed if they can’t find a diet to match their condition? The answer to all is an emphatic “no”. Creatures in the wild eat what they were designed to eat: Raw, natural, whole foods exactly as found in nature. No fancy, fabricated, fortified, “complete and balanced” concoctions. Just the best science of all: Nature. True, some designed diets may help some animals in special situations much like some drugs will also help in special situations. But the problem is, such allopathic approaches are symptom based, temporary band aids fraught with contraindications and potential dangers in themselves, and do nothing to cure or address underlying causes. It is like turning the fore alarm off while letting the fire continue to smolder in the closet. Much better in these special situations is to use diets with concentrated natural nutrition, augmented with fresh foods and supplements. This can stimulate the healing forces within, rather than drug like attempts to force the body into submission. The cause of most illness in modern pets (and humans) is modern living and processed diets. So can more similarly designed exclusively fed processed diets (the cause) be the cure? Not likely.”
So much for this kind of innovative pet food. In my mind I actually don’t consider them an “innovation”.
However, credit where credit is due. It also has to be said that there are indeed a number of various forms of pet food out there, which in my opinion are making their marks and are here to stay. They are coming from a growing number of business owners in the pet food industry who were and are thinking outside the conventional bag of kibble and canned and wet food. They have developed entirely new ways to deliver high quality nutrition to our pets. Notice that I said “pets”. Yes, these types of foods are available for cats and dogs, granted though the number of products for canines by far outnumbers the feline products. And there are still some types of food which made their debut quite some time ago, back then were in a similar position as today’s highly innovative products, but just now seem to reach a better position in the market. While much of this change had to do with the 2007 recall, it just goes to show, people including pet owners are very reluctant to change. Unfortunately for many pets way too reluctant. Procrastination to the very end unfortunately often results in that all the sudden their pets are on the bad side of the scale, which includes the 50 +% of pets affected by disease. Fortunately, better late than never, these pet owners do have many alternatives to the food, which they were feeding previously and which most likely was the cause for their companion’s misery. In the forthcoming parts of this series I am going to address the individual alternatives available to pet owners, from raw to food mixes, from food rolls to fresh chilled, from freeze dried to TNT™ processed to dehydrated. Even hybrid types of foods are on the horizon, combining the good of natural raw with the necessary (being economical limitations) evil of kibble. And I also will discuss to some degree why these food types too need to be subjected to your very critical review and analysis. No worry, you don’t have to start learning all over again, the basics are the same as the ones applied to dry and canned food. Stay tuned.