Author Archives: Dr. Doug

The Natural/Holistic Pet Food Myth

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Most pet foods that claim to be “natural” or “holistic” are indeed not! All you need to do is look at the official definitions of these terms to understand what I’m saying.

The standards for pet food labels are set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO’s definition of natural is:

“a feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subject to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification, extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.”

I don’t know about you but that does not sound very natural. Besides, AAFCO only addresses the naturalness of ingredient processing. The statement says nothing about how natural it is for a pet to consume specific ingredients.

For example, it is totally unnatural for dogs and cats to consume grains. However, if the grains are processed according to AAFCO’s definition of natural, a pet food containing them can call itself natural.

My definition of natural nutrition is:

“A diet consisting of ingredients that a particular species has evolutionarily adapted to eat with the macronutrient (protein, fat, and carbs) and micronutrient (vitamins and phyto-nutrients) balance that is ideal for their health.”

Such a diet is by definition a balanced, raw food diet. No dog or cat evolved eating kibble or canned food.

The concept of a “holistic” pet food makes no sense whatsoever. The term holistic means that it addresses body, mind, and spirit. All pet foods address the body. I suppose some might have ingredients that affect the brain and thus could be said to address the mind. However, no pet food addresses spirit.

AAFCO has no definition for the word holistic so any pet food company can use it as they wish. Basically, if you see a pet food labeled as holistic it means that the pet food manufacturer thinks that they can sell more food by slapping that word on the label.

Don’t be fooled by pet food labels with their trendy words. Now that holistic medicine is starting to catch on, everyone is trying to cash in. The only natural pet food is a balanced, raw diet.

Do you feed a truly natural diet?

The Body’s Wisdom is Smarter than Nutritionists

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Nutritional reductionists believe that they can formulate complete and balanced diets for dogs and cats. They create pet foods from ingredients that the ancestors of our dogs and cats did not have access to. The conditions under which the animal body was finely tuned over millions of years can give us insight into what is needed for its optimal functioning. Nutrition is far too complicated for people to figure out how to bypass Mother Nature.

Most people do not realize that there is very little correlation between the amount of a nutrient consumed and the amount that actually reaches the cells of the body (its bioavailability). The proportion of a nutrient that is digested, absorbed, and delivered to various tissues, in part, depends on the body’s need for that nutrient at that moment in time.

For example, the proportion of beta-carotene ingested that is actually converted to its active form (vitamin A) can vary by 8 fold in the same individual. The proportion converted also decreases with increasing doses, keeping the absolute amounts that are absorbed about the same. Calcium bioavailability can vary by 2 fold and iron bioavailability can vary by 19 fold! We can never know exactly how much of a nutrient to feed since we cannot predict how much will be utilized.

Furthermore, there are complex interactions between the individual nutrients in food. For instance, calcium decreases iron bioavailability by as much as 400%, while beta-carotene increases iron bioavailability by as much as 300%. If we compare a high calcium, low beta-carotene diet with a low calcium, high beta-carotene diet we could see a 1200% difference in iron absorption. Such interactions are common between all of the hundreds of nutrients found in foods. To complicate things further, nutrients not only affect each others absorption but they also influence each others affect on various systems on the body.

For the reductionist nutritionist, nutrition is hopeless. Even the smartest veterinary nutritionist armed with the most powerful super-computer cannot figure it out. Luckily, the wisdom of the body can handle the nutrition puzzle with no problem – assuming the body is provided with the raw materials it evolved consuming.

The best way to ensure that a pet is getting optimal nutrition is to mimic its ancestral diet as closely as possible. That’s why I recommend balanced raw diets for pets.

Join Dr. Doug at Pittsburgh Event

DrDoug

Hi Everyone,

I will be speaking about pet nutrition and vaccines on Sunday, April 3rd from 2-4 PM at Ringers Pet Dog Training in Natrona Heights (Pittsburgh area).

http://www.ringerspetdogtraining.com/Upcoming-Classes—Events.html

Please register for this FREE lecture. Call 724-226-4822 or 724-226-9670 or email gsd10@yahoo.com. Sponsored by Answers Raw Pet Food

Learn everything you need to know to keep your pet healthy!