Anyone who has searched the internet on pet foods, as anyone who has found this page has, has learned a few things about dog and cat foods. First, there is a lot more that goes into pet foods than you imagined before you started your internet searching on pet nutrition. Every day there seems to be new information, studies and theories on pet as well and human nutrition. The information can be daunting. Secondly, there are a lot of pet foods to choose from and as if there were not already enough foods now, we can expect over 600 new dog and cat foods or treats to come out in 2012!
With six hundred new dog and cat foods that came out this year and another six hundred expected next year, some companies are trying everything they can to promote their foods. Some of these foods might be brilliant and innovative with Grade 1 and 2 supportive data, and some might be made without the help of any expert consultation or data in an effort to just turn a profit. This second category unfortunately represents much of what is out there and often uses nutrient profiles that end up not being for the pet's benefit.
One problem that has surfaced is the distressing appearance of pet food myths. These take two forms: individual hypotheses without supporting data and outright untruths. Unfortunately both of them take the form of internet data and buzz words that seem both plausible and scientific.
Why do these exist?
To make a proper pet food requires a number of factors:
Expert oversight in the form of veterinary specialists in the fields of nutrition and internal medicine, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, biochemists and other experts in the field of nutrition.
A proper nutrient profile. Most consumers are taught to focus on ingredient lists when the truth of the diet lives in the nutrient profile. A nutrient profile includes the ratios and amounts of over fifty different nutrients. Ingredients can vary so widely in quality and nutrient content that just looking for "meat first" and "no by products" can be horribly misleading.
AAFCO Testing. Most foods are just formulated. This means that the test subjects are your pets! AAFCO tested means that a food has been fed to a group of pets and that their blood work and physical status has been monitored for six months while on the food. Many problems of toxicity, nutrient deficiencies and bio-availability problems will come to light with these tests. The pets in these tests are treated very well by most companies and the animals can even be adopted out in many cases afterwards.
Extensive research. Especially for pets that have special needs or disease conditions, having data to confirm that the food benefits the pets is essential. Depending upon the situation there are different types of seals or tests that can be done. For example, any food, treat or supplement for dental health should always be VOHC seal approved. Without it, you could not only be wasting your money but even making conditions worse for your pet.
Individual factories. Most pet foods are made by third party companies where quality control cannot be controlled by the company that owns the food. There are several companies that own and operate their own factories where they can control quality. Companies can ask to be additionally inspected by AIB (American Institute of Baking) where they can pass quality assurances that are held for human foods.
Mission Statement. This may seem like an unusual item to place onto the making of a pet food but mission statements are key not only to the running of a business but to the quality of focus of their product. Some companies have mission statements that are known and a focal point for every member and some companies have mission statements that are just stuffed in a drawer somewhere. When you talk to a company representative, see what there company's mission statement is.
So when a company does not have these above items, as many do not, they rely on marketing. With no controls on the internet or on brochures, this has led to a deluge of "new facts" and theories with little to no scientific basis. Unfortunately marketing spin has made the myths seem very plausible.
This section will cover some of the common myths that we see on the internet and look at data behind them. Here are the topics that are covered:
Corn. Is it a cheap filler that companies use to make a fast buck or is there science behind their choice of this grain?
By Products. What the heck are these? Are they as bad as they sound?
Meat First. Is it important that my pet food's ingredient list is meat first? Is this a myth? and if so, why?
Human Grade. Is my pet food's ingredients the same that I eat? How do I know?
Grain Free. Are grains bad for my pet?
Dogs as carnivores. Are dogs carnivores? Should I "feed the wolf within?"
Cats and Carbs. Are carbohydrates killing my cat? How much protein should my cat be eating?
Please click on the top tabs to read more about these. Please note that I am still writing a few of these so please check back frequently if they are not complete.
A note on Mail to the Author:
If you do not agree with the views posted on this website, than I would ask you to remember a few things. First, I will not respond to hate mail of any sort. Second, the facts that are placed here can all be sourced. The myths currently are individual hypotheses without supporting data. Expert opinion is the lowest form of evidence, and thus classified as Grade IV. For any response on dissenting opinion, I require Grade I or II data that is not only referenced but copied in full. Without this, there will be no responses. If you do not understand these Grades of Evidence, then feel free to ask questions but do not opine with dissenting comments. Finally, this site is intended in good faith to help those in search of helping their pets. If you love it, please feel free to ask me questions; if this site is not for you then take my best wishes and blessings with you as you continue to surf elsewhere.