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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!

Lying Labels – Part II

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In last week’s blog post, we explored some of the many ways pet food companies misguide us with their labels. This week I have the rest of the story.

Questionable Quality

Hopefully there is meat listed somewhere on the ingredient list. Unfortunately, you cannot easily tell the quality of that meat from the label. Here’s a tip about the meat in pet food. Stay away from any food that lists “meat and bone meal” as an ingredient. This “mystery meat” component comes from a rendering plant and may contain pentobarbital (the drug used to euthanize animals). In fact, two separate studies found traces of this drug in major brands of pet foods. It truly is a dog-eat-dog world.

If you look carefully at any pet food label you will see that the amount of “Crude Protein” is listed. However, this is not a measurement of the actual protein in the food – thus the name “Crude Protein.” The way this ingredient is actually measured is by looking at the nitrogen level of the food since protein is high in nitrogen.

So an unscrupulous supplier of wheat gluten (a common source of pet food protein) could adulterate their raw ingredient with some other compound that is high in nitrogen – such as melamine – and make their gluten look especially nutritious while in reality it is more toxic. This is how thousands of dogs were poisoned by the food they were fed a few years ago.

Hidden Preservatives

On another front, no one wants to see preservatives in their pet’s food. Unfortunately, the label may not be much help with evaluating this. You see, if the pet food company buys an ingredient, such as chicken fat, and adds a chemical to preserve it, that chemical must be on the ingredient list. However, if they buy fat that is already chemically preserved, the preservative does not go on the label. Just because there are no preservatives on the ingredient list does not mean the food is preservative free. This scam is used in some “holistic” and “natural” pet foods.

Don’t Trust the Labels

I wish I could give you a straightforward way of choosing the best pet food based on the label besides being aware of the tricks of the trade. At a recent veterinary nutrition conference I attended, the nutritionist told us that “You cannot tell the quality of a pet food by reading any company material or even the pet food label.” He recommended that we veterinarians take note of the pet food each patient we see is being fed and the animal’s health. Over time, correlations can be made between specific foods and health.

Based on my experience, dogs and cats that are fed a balanced, raw diet are the healthiest. This evolutionary diet includes raw meat, ground raw bones, organ meat and shredded veggies. Frozen, pre-made diets are available.

In my opinion, Mother Nature is smarter than the smartest veterinary nutritionist and the closer we stick to the animal’s natural diet, the better off they are.

 

Why is this Dog Goofy?

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Recently I went on a special house call to Disney World to answer this age-old question. You will never believe what I discovered.

It all has to do with a nutrition study sponsored by the Iams Company in 2004. The research revolved around the idea that feeding extra DHA (an essential fatty acid found in fish oil) can improve brain function.

DHA and the Brain

In fact, 30% of the brain is fat – so the next time someone calls you a “fat head” you should respond, “Oh, thank you very much.” A large portion of that fat (up to 5% of the brain) is DHA. That would seem to make DHA an important nutrient for the brain. (Imagine flying in a jet that has 5% of its engine parts missing).

The Iams Study

The Iams study started with two groups of pregnant female dogs. The first set of dogs (the experimental group) was fed Iams diet plus fish oil. The second group (the control group) was fed plain Iams diet. Now, the puppies from the first group of dogs were also fed Iams diet plus fish oil. The pups from the second group were fed the standard Iams food.

When the puppies got older, they were put through training performance testing. Amazingly the puppies that got the fish oil in their diets were found to be twice as intelligent as those in the control group. The researchers concluded that “since the number one killer of dogs is euthanasia due to behavior problems, we should be recommending high DHA diets.”

Unintended Conclusions

I agree with the findings of this study. However, this research leads to an interesting conclusion. Remember the control group – the stupid dogs. They were being fed standard Iams diet which we all know from the label is “100% complete and balanced.”

If you believe that statement then it follows that dogs are inherently stupid, but feeding them this “new” nutrient can make them smart enough for us to keep them alive. I think a more rational idea is that we have created and continue to create behavior problems in dogs due to our arrogant attitude toward nutrition. We think we know everything but we do not.

Two troubling corollaries to this study are:

  1. DHA is still not on AAFCO’s list of required pet food nutrients
  2. It makes one wonder how many other health problems are we inflicting on pets because of nutritional deficits we are unaware of?

The bottom line is that Goofy and his mother had been fed conventional pet food all their lives and that is what led to his mental deficiencies.

Do you supplement your pets with fish oil?