Posted on December 25, 2008 by okitheboxer
If a bag of dog food lists beef as the first ingredient, it should be a pretty good choice, right?
Wrong. While the food might actually contain beef, when the rest of the ingredients are combined they far outweigh the beef. Your dog ends up consuming a diet of mostly grain fillers!
Not only do commercial dog foods consist of such high quantity fillers, but the ingredients labeled as meat might not be what a pet owner expects to find in their dog’s food, either.
All dog food manufacturers are required to display their list of ingredients on the label of the pet food. Ingredients must be listed in descending order based on weight.
EVO Vension Canned Dog Food
For example, EVO’s 95% Venison, canned, contains the following ingredients:
Venison, venison broth, natural flavors, carrageenan, potassium chloride, minerals, guar gum, vitamins, choline, chloride, herring oil, salt, sodium ascorbate, taurine, sunflower oil, sodium phosphate, and beta carotene.
According to the label, EVO’s product contains more venison and venison broth by weight than any other ingredient.
But how do you determine just what the ingredients listed actually are?
The pet food industry—an offshoot of the Food and Agricultural industries—often uses parts of animals that are left over from the processing of foods intended for human consumption.]
Another trick that is of the pet food industry is the separating of ingredients into differently named products, especially empty fillers. Corn, for example, may be listed as three separate ingredients, such as corn gluten, corn meal, and corn hulls. This gives the impression that these three types of corn contribute less to the total weight of the pet food than they actually do. When these three same ingredients are combined, they make up the majority of the pet food—far outweighing the earlier listed ingredients!
When reading a pet food label, there are certain things to keep in mind:
•By-product refers to parts of an animal that we definitely wouldn’t eat, such as heads, viscera (organs and intestines), and feet. •Hulls refer to the empty casings of such products as peanuts, wheat, and corn. They provide absolutely no nutritional value and are only present to act as a filler. •Salts while some salt is necessary, a high quantity is often added to lower quality dog foods to help entice a dog to eat something he normally wouldn’t touch. •Sugars Sugars are often found in dog foods to sweeten the taste, making the dog more likely to overeat. Some dog foods contain up to 15% sugars and sweeteners! •‘Grain’ glutens, meals, husks, are nothing more than fillers and often result in skin allergies and other conditions.
With such a list of what to avoid, what should a conscientious pet owner look for?
Look for ingredient lists with words such as Chicken, Beef or ‘chicken meal’ (or any other recognizable meat or meat meal) near the beginning of the list. “Meal” refers to rendered (processed for preparation, often by the removal of water content) meats, resulting in a heavy, nutrient-filled powder. Look for ingredients after the ‘meal’ that you recognize.
Innova Adult Dog Food
Innova’s Adult dog food contains ingredients that you’d find in your own cabinets—turkey, chicken, potatoes, rice, apples, carrots, cottage cheese, and eggs.
When reading a pet food label, there is one quick and easy guideline—If you don’t recognize what’s in it, you shouldn’t buy it!
Today we are inundated with so many difficult choices, what to feed our best furry friends should be one of them! Read carefully and know what exactly is going into your dog. Its all right there on the label.
. Due to the nature of our store, we rarely get inquiries for low-end foods. However, Purina Beneful is one that we hear about
all-too-often and from clients who are truly wonderful…they just don’t know the truth. We decided to do this post to let you
know why this highly (and effectively) marketed dog food is just plain terrible!
To most of you, this ingredient list will be shocking and offensive:
Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soy protein concentrate, soybean meal, pearled barley, brewers rice, tricalcium phosphate, sugar, water, animal digest, sorbitol, phosphoric acid, salt, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, calcium carbonate, sorbic acid (a preservative), dried spinach, dried sweet potatoes, dried apples, dicalcium phosphate, choline chloride, calcium propionate (a preservative), DL-Methionine, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Yellow 6), zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, Vitamin A supplement, niacin, Vitamin B-12 supplement, calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, copper sulfate, biotin, garlic oil, thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), calcium iodate, sodium selenite.
Let’s break down the top five ingredients, as they comprise the bulk of any dog food:
1 Ground Yellow Corn- A known allergen and nearly impossible to digest, pure filler
2 Corn Gluten meal- the remains of corn after most of the nutritious bits have been removed.
Calling it something different doesn’t make it NOT corn!
3 Whole Wheat Flour- A known allergen and useless filler
4 Animal Fat- Um, gross. Animal fat is an ingredient of unidentified origin for which it is impossible to determine species, source or quality. Unidentified ingredients are usually very low quality. AAFCO define this as obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. This can include ANYTHING from chicken to dogs, I kid you not!
5 Soy Protein-Soy is a product we prefer not to see used in dog foods, especially this high on the ingredient list. Soy is a very common cause of food allergy problems, and although boosting the (otherwise minimal) protein content of this food, it is very low quality protein compared to that sourced from meat.
There is no meat in this food at all.
Is it cheap? YES. Is it
Why do you really need a prescription for your dog’s food? … just follow the money!
By Deb Dempsey
Did you know that the Prescription Diet® (Prescription Diet® is a registered trademark of Hills® Pet Nutrition, Inc.®) your veterinarian prescribed for your dog doesn’t really require a prescription in the true sense of the word? I’m willing to bet that most consumers and perhaps even some vets are unaware that there are no special ingredients inside these diets that are regulated by the FDA or DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), requiring an official prescription.
In the dog food world, the term Prescription Diet® describes an effective marketing agreement between a hundred-milliondollar pet food manufacturer and the veterinarian community. This agreement allows for the sale of their foods through licensed veterinarians only. Veterinarians benefit because they can achieve a much higher mark-up on these foods than they would by offering foods widely available without a “prescription.” The pet food manufacturer, in return, gains credibility as a manufacturer of veterinarian-recommended food and uses that as an endorsement, if you will, for the rest of their products. Win-win, right?
A Brief History of The Prescription Diet ®
Dr. Mark Morris, Sr. created the first “Prescription Diet®” in the late 1930’s. Dr. Morris was a Cornell-educated veterinarian who worked with the American Humane Association to develop a meat-free diet, necessary to feed dogs amidst food rationing during World War II. “Pets do not need fresh meat, but can get their protein from rejected eggs, unsalable fish, soybeans, or even sour milk,” he explained in his biography, Mark Morris Veterinarian, written by Willard Haselbush in 1984 (pg. 88). Once the war ended, many pet food manufacturers began creating diets higher in animal proteins, more in keeping with the dietary needs of carnivores, i.e. meat-eaters. Dr. Morris, however, stuck to his previous formulations, explaining that, “…when I remember in wartime thousands of dogs in this country were kept alive and healthy on diets of cooked cereals and vegetables fortified with soybean meal, the effort to lure the American public into feeding pets an all-meat diet consisting of meat by-products is ridiculous” (Haselbush, 89). Interestingly, many of the Prescription Diets® today contain animal by-products.
Dr. Morris developed a variety of Prescription Diets® including r/d® (r/d® is a registered trademark of Hills® Pet Nutrition, Inc.®), a formula designed to reduce a dog’s weight. “These dogs are around the house a lot and are often fed bits of candy and other sweets as a snack or reward. Fatness is a natural result. This presented a real research problem: How to create a diet that would be palatable, fill up the stomach, provide very little real nourishment—and still not create a diet deficiency disease,” Dr. Morris lamented in his biography (Haselbush, 144). He found the solution in pulverized cellulose, also known as wood pulp or sawdust, which is still a major ingredient in r/d® today. One has to wonder why he went to the trouble to create a dog food based on sawdust instead of suggesting that the pet owner cut back on the amount of candy they gave their pet.
An informal price survey amongst veterinarians selling 30-pound bags of Prescription Diet® r/d® (weight reduction) found the average price to be $61.00 or $2.03/lb. Alternatively, a 40-pound bag of Hills® Science Diet® Adult Light with similar ingredients and guaranteed analysis statements cost $43.99 or $1.09/lb. From a layperson’s viewpoint, both foods (containing corn, chicken by-products, and cellulose) seem to be used for similar goals, yet the formula available only through licensed veterinarian’s costs nearly twice as much.
Elaborate Marketing Plans Ensure Veterinary Cooperation
In addition to creating pet food to address specific health issues, Dr. Morris also created a detailed and very successful marketing plan to gain credibility within the veterinary community. His daughter Ruth was hired “to disseminate knowledge about k/d®, p/d® (k/d® and p/d® are registered trademarks of Hills® Pet Nutrition, Inc.®) and the foundation among veterinarians, to encourage a favorable image among them and to develop a whole new area of professional and public relations as it may relate to veterinarians,” which was explained in Dr. Morris’ biography (Haselbush, 171). With the help of a public relations firm, they created the “Student Agent Program,” designed to indoctrinate promising young veterinary medical students to act as liaisons to help educate their young, impressionable classmates about these diets.
Dr. Michael W. Fox, co-author of Not Fit for a Dog! The Truth About Manufactured Dog and Cat Food, explained it this way: “Until recently, vet students in the U.S. and other countries were taught cat and dog nutrition by veterinarians employed by pet-food companies. Now more schools have staff teaching a short course in companion animal nutrition, but only too often their research and lectureships are funded by pet food manufacturers.”
Surely, Not Every Vet Buys Into This Marketing Strategy
Dr. Paula Terifaj, a holistic veterinarian in Orange County, owner of Founders Veterinary Clinic and author of How to Feed Your Dog if You Flunked Rocket Science, recalled being “courted by" pet food companies in vet school: “It was conveyed to us that people are too stupid to cook for themselves,” she says. As most veterinarians do, she utilized “Prescription Diets®” in her practice initially. In 1999, however, she had a light bulb moment when she came across a book written by one her favorite professors, Dr. Donald Strombeck, entitled, Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative, which is still available today on Amazon.com. His advice set her on a journey that changed her practice forever. Today, Dr. Terifaj operates a holistic practice and encourages her clients to cook for their dogs. She feels that the manufacturer of Prescription Diets® uses “substandard ingredients and then fortifies the hell out of their formulas.”
Dr. Judy Jasek, a popular holistic Veterinarian in Englewood, Colorado and owner of Bellevue Animal Clinic, also bought into the Prescription Diet® mantra early on in her career. “It was just the way we were taught,” she recalled. “Sales reps were always coming in telling us how wonderful their foods were.” As she began to educate herself on nutrition, she slowly began to phase them out of her practice. “Almost all are corn-based and there is no real nutrition in them. They are so highly processed and contain lots of by-products.”
Dr. Michael Fox, Veterinarian, author, and former Vice President of the Humane Society of the United States, sums it up: “Vet students and practicing veterinarians alike believe the ‘science’ behind manufactured pet food formulations is sound. But as we (Drs. Fox, Hodgkins and Sharp) show in Not Fit for a Dog; The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Foods, the science is seriously flawed and trumped by the bottom line of lowest-cost ingredients and maximizing profitability. Pet owners must realize that manufactured pet foods and the spin-off prescription diets are part of the agribusiness food and drug industrial complex that profits from recycling food and beverage wastes into pet foods and livestock feed, putting animal health and wellbeing at risk in the process…”
A More Natural Approach
So what is a pet owner to do if their dog develops kidney disease, urine crystals, or any other diseases that these diets would normally be prescribed to treat?
Dr. Terifaj first suggests first verifying that the dog does indeed need a special diet. She feels that often times a dog is “on the fence” and the easiest thing for a veterinarian to do is to suggest a Prescription Diet®. Instead, she often turns to a Web site, www.balanceit.com. This Web site provides recipes at a nominal charge to pet owners interesting in cooking their own food. In addition, vets can log in at no charge and request diets designed to treat specific diseases. She suggests asking your vet to do so for you if he or she is adamant about a specific diet. Not only will this be a cheaper alternative, but Dr. Terifaj feels it is a much healthier approach to feed real “human food.”
Dr. Fox also prefers to feed a biologically appropriate, whole-food diet to his patients and offers recipes on his Web site www.twobitdog.com/drfox. He points out that “many of the so-called prescription diets are highly unpalatable and are lacking in essential nutrients. Veterinarian Deva Khalasa, VMD, in her new book Natural Dog: A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs, has some excellent home-prepared diets for dogs with various chronic ailments from cancer to diabetes.”
If a veterinarian won’t budge from the idea of a Prescription Diet®, it may be time to locate a holistic veterinarian for second opinion. Dr. Jasek is a member of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA) and clients often find her using the vet finder on the group's web site, www.holisticvetlist.com.
The next time your veterinarian suggests a diet for your four-legged child that you’re not comfortable with, don’t hesitate to ask questions. A good veterinarian, traditional or holistic, will welcome that discussion and encourage you to look at all the options available.
Today, Hills® Pet Nutrition, inc.®, owned by toothpaste giant Colgate-Palmolive®, is involved in widespread marketing efforts designed to reach veterinarians at all stages of their career. This approach is remarkably similar to the marketing efforts in the toothpaste industry, courting and then touting a dentist’s endorsement.
Hills® Pet Nutrition, Inc.®…
• offers scholarships for veterinary students
• offers educational grants for veterinary schools
• funds continuing education programs for licensed veterinarians
• maintains the Hills vet school graduate feeding program, providing food to students at no charge that they can resell for a profit
When shopping for dog food, pet food stores offer a wide variety of choices.
"There are foods on the market which are very easy and tasty for your dog but don't provide the highest nutrition," says Dr. Katy Nelson, a Virginia-based veterinarian who has consulted on the nutritional makeup of dog food products. "Even though your pet may be excited about what's in their bowl, it won't necessarily glow afterwards, just like people who regret those visits to fast food restaurants."
Avoid "Fast" Dog Food
How can we tell the difference? Like with fast food for people, very inexpensive dog food may indicate a less nutritious meal.
"Generally, the higher-priced premium brands have higher-quality ingredients, as well as specialized nutrients," says Dr. Amy Dicke, a veterinarian who also consults on the nutritional aspects of pet food. As a general rule, it's wise to feed your pet the best food you can afford.
"From foods which use human-quality sources, to foods which use the scraps off of the slaughterhouse floor, you truly do get what you pay for most of the time," says Nelson.
After price, look at the list of ingredients. Just like we screen our food labels for unsaturated fats or high fructose corn syrup, there are things to look out for on dog food ingredients lists.
Because ingredients are listed in order of quantity, "always look at the first three ingredients on your pet food's bag," says Nelson. "If there is corn or something with the word ‘gluten' in those first few ingredients, step away and keep looking." Gluten, a vegetable protein, is a cheap alternative to protein from animal sources. But animal protein is more nutritious for your pet.
Spotting Good Dog Food
Although it's not a panacea, there is a seal of approval you can look for. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) provides pet food guidelines and regulates the naming of ingredients.
"AAFCO's nutritional adequacy statement identifies the food is nutritionally complete and balanced and contains all of the required nutrients," says Dicke.
Beyond that, there's still variation. But Nelson recommends at least avoiding foods without AAFCO approval.
Pet foods that are poor in quality typically contain a number of filler ingredients, rather than the actual nutrients, vitamins and minerals that your dog needs to be healthy.
A wide variety of issues can result from poor quality pet food, including heart problems, obesity, behavior issues, lack of energy and markedly reduced life span.
Scary thought isn’t it?
A close friend of mine had two dogs that both died very young, around age 8.
Both had lived a life largely on tinned pet food and fatty table scraps and I have no doubt that their poor diet contributed to the dog's shortened life span.
One of the reasons for these issues is the fact that POOR quality pet food provides bulk but not necessarily nutrition.
This creates a void of the nutrients that they do need to maintain their healthy life.
On a human scale, this could be the equivalent of eating junk food or fast food every single day.
Humans that subsist on a diet of junk food or fast food are frequently overweight, suffer from heart problems, diabetes and experience mood swings.The same can be said of a dog that does not receive adequate dog nutrition through their pet food.
I know, it's not rocket science is it?
Pet foods that are always advertised or those that are popular aren’t always the best choice.
Reading the pet food labels as well as consulting with your vet is always the best practice when dealing with your dog’s nutrition. Be sure your Vet has spent time learning more about pet foods or they may recommend only what they have for sale.