Category Archives: dog nutrition and labelling

A tale of 2 dog foods

Clients of my practice know that I feed a hybrid diet, that is a diet that is part commercial dog food (dry food – ‘kibble’ as well as dehydrated raw food), raw (real meat) and homemade food using both real meat, vegetables, eggs and fruit.

We are preparing for our third annual fundraiser and I received a small bag of a dry food – readily available in supermarkets – as a donation for the rescue.  I set it aside in my office and, one evening, I heard the rustling of paper…

Izzy had helped herself to the donated food.  It seemed she found it quite tasty.

So, I decided the donated food could be hers and I would replace the bag with another one.  In the meantime, I let her have one small handful with one of her meals over the next few days.

And she did something she had never done before… during the night she was chewing on her feet.  Really chewing.  For the first night, I dismissed it as a one-off irritation.  By the fourth night, I knew something was up.

It was the dog food, of course!

The supermarket dog food has gone into the organics bin to be recycled.  I’ll make a donation to the fundraiser in lieu of another bag of that food!

Thought you might like to compare labels…

This is Izzy’s current ‘normal’ food:

Salmon Meal, Potatoes, Tapioca, Fish Meal, Chicken Fat, Peas, Blueberries, Cranberries, Papayas, Mangos, Apples, Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Sunflower Seeds, Chamomile, Peppermint, Camelia, Natural Flavor, Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5), Vitamin A Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid (Vitamin B9), Sodium Chloride, Taurine, Choline Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Cobalt Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Green Tea Extract, Rosemary Extract and Spearmint Extract

and this was the supermarket food:

Lamb (source of glucosamine), brewers rice, whole grain corn, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal (source of glucosamine), corn gluten meal, soybean meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols, calcium phosphate, glycerine, animal digest, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, salt, caramel color, Vitamin E supplement, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, ferrous sulfate, sulfur, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, copper sulfate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity, sodium selenite.

Notice the differences?

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

High meat diets – a NZ study

An independent study from New Zealand has found that a high meat diet is easier for dogs to digest, meaning more nutrients are able to be absorbed, resulting in higher levels of bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion.

The study found:

  • High meat diets are more digestible for dogs
  • More nutrients from a high meat diet are able to be absorbed
  • Dogs on a high meat diet had higher levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion
  • Dogs on a high meat diet had smaller poo and better fecal health

The research paper ‘Key bacterial families (Clostridiaceae, Erysipelotrichaceae and Bacteroidaceae) are related to the digestion of protein and energy in the dog’ is accessible here.

With Government funding and funding from the NZ Premium Petfood Alliance, which is a collaboration between Bombay Petfoods, K9 Natural and ZiwiPeak, the research is being undertaken at AgResearch and Massey University.

“To date there has been hardly any published research, so this study is a significant contribution to the international animal nutrition field. A lot of diets on the market have been designed to ensure a dog survives, but this research shows that high meat diet is the best to help a dog thrive,” said New Zealand Premium Petfood Alliance spokesperson Neil Hinton.

Another study, about cat diets, is underway.

Source:  Beehive.govt.nz media release and AgResearch media release

Breed-specific dog foods

Back in January, I posted a blog about Prescription diets – what’s the truth?

In this post, I’m again going into the controversial world of commercial dog food and sharing some information on breed-specific dog foods.

The two labels most associated with breed-specific foods are Eukanuba and Royal Canin, although there are others.

 

In the November 2016 issue of Your Dog (published by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University), veterinary nutritionist Cailin Heinze provided opinion about such foods.

Dr Heinze re-iterated the common theme about the lack of rules for marketing.  “It’s a free for all.”

Although these pet foods must meet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standard, ‘tweaking’ recipes to make them slightly more suitable for a particular breed isn’t a big change to make.

The article points out that there are no feeding trials to support the claims made for breed-specific dog foods and that the breed-specific formulations are not therapeutic diets.

You will need to buy access to read the article in its entirety (follow the link above), and I won’t break copyright by printing too much of the article in this blog.

It is heartening to see a veterinary nutritionist making these comments.  Too often, criticism of commercial dog foods is discounted because the writers are not veterinarians.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Prescription diets – what’s the truth?

Prescription diet foods, both canned and dry, are often recommended to match a specific health condition in an animal.  Most owners know how expensive these foods can be, and yet they want to feed something that will help their pet’s health.

There is lots of information written by holistic veterinarians about the quality of ingredients in these foods and whether they are truly biologically appropriate for animals.  In my massage workshops for owners, we go through a module on label reading as an introduction to understanding what is in commercially-made pet foods and what makes one food ‘better’ than another…

Recently, a class action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court of Northern California listing these companies as defendants:

  • Mars PetCare
  • Hill’s Pet Nutrition
  • Nestlé Purina Petcare
  • Banfield Pet Hospital
  • Blue Pearl Pet Hospital
  • PetSmart
The plaintiffs are pet owners who had purchased prescription diets from one or more of the above companies and they argue that the companies conspired with each other to falsely promote prescription pet foods and, more importantly, that none of the ingredients in the foods are drugs or medications that would be subject to a prescription under the food and drug regulations.  The plaintiffs argue that this is false marketing; some of the plaintiffs appear to say that veterinarians in some of the pet hospitals ‘prescribed’ the foods without even examining their animal.

The main brands involved in the case are:
  • Hill’s Prescription Diet hills-prescription-diets
  • Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets
  • Royal Canin Veterinary Diet
  • Iams Veterinary Formula
pro-plan-veterinary-dietsAs pet parents are a large group of consumers, it’s important that we understand nutrition and ask questions of professionals that recommend diets.  This is everyone who tries to sell you pet food – not just vets, may I add.  In our local market in New Zealand, there are dog trainers and pet shops that sell food and have a vested interest in recommending certain products to owners.
royal-canin-veterinary-dietiams-veterinary-formula

For me, the question to ask is how any food or supplement may help to nutritionally support your pet’s health condition.  It’s also worth asking what feeding or clinical trials were done on foods professing to be specifically for treatment of a health condition.

The grounds for the lawsuit make very interesting reading You can read a copy of the lawsuit filed in the court here.

And if you are based in the USA, have purchased prescription diet foods within the last four years,  and may wish to consider joining the class action, this is the website of the law firm representing the plaintiffs.

There will be more to come on this case; the plaintiffs are seeking a trial by jury.  I can’t even say at this point that the jury is out…
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Label reading

There is a lot of information on the web about reading the food ingredient label on your dog’s food.  Some of the advice I agree with, some of it is purely marketing.

But I have a much simpler test for you.  If you feed a commercially prepared food (whether raw, cooked or processed), take a look at the label.

What is the country of origin?

Here’s the label on the commercial kibble that I am currently feeding Izzy (she is on a diet of home-cooked mixed with this food).  It is made in New Zealand (where we live).

pet food label

Where is yours made?

Country of origin labeling can offer an insight into quality, particularly in terms of things like food safety, security of the supply chain, and length of time the product has been on the shelf.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Freshpet goes public

Earlier this month, Freshpet Inc, the first and only fresh, refrigerated pet food brand distributed across North America, commenced trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.  It’s trading abbreviation is FRPT.

Freshpet logo

This listing is yet another indication of the growing pet products market in the USA (and worldwide).  Pet owners have incredible purchasing power and this power grows every year.

Freshpet’s operations began in October 2006.  Their food is delivered to Freshpet Fridges in over 13,000 retail outlets.

Freshpet display cabinet

All products are cooked in small batches and then refrigerated immediately and come with a best before date.

I don’t live in the USA and so haven’t experienced Freshpet firsthand.  If you feed their foods, what do you and your dog think about them?

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Petco Removing All Dog and Cat Treats Made in China From Store Shelves

Petco is a major pet store chain in the USA.  It has announced that it is removing all Chinese-made treats from its shelves, after many concerns about pets getting sick from jerky treats made in China.  It looks liked Petsmart is due to follow…

Do you know where your dog’s treats are made?  Are they safe?

Petco Removing All Dog and Cat Treats Made in China From Store Shelves.