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Author Topic:   Info on Dog nutrition


Posts: 480
From:Harrisburg,PA USA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 07-18-2003 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
Cats Are Different
by T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM

Our wonderful life-supporting planet is home to a remarkably diverse and complex spectrum of living organisms. And although all living things do share some common traits and similar biochemical pathways and cellular functions, there are many notable differences that make each creature stand out from the crowd. So even with the thread of sameness joining all the planets’ life forms, diversity and difference makes us take note of each creature’s uniqueness. Maybe that’s why the cat is America’s favorite housepet . . .cats are different!

This extraordinary four-legged feline has, for all of recorded time, evoked wonder and surprise, superstition and affection, damnation and deification. From pharaohs to philosophers to paupers, the companionship of and affection for cats has been a result of the cat’s unique ability to make us humans gaze in awe and admiration.

Eons of special environmental circumstances have forced the cat to evolve some interesting and individualized biochemical activities. Let’s take a peek at how unique the cat is inside, in that mysterious universe of liver and kidneys and glands and fluids where a million chemical reactions are going about their biological business in silent obscurity. And to make our little peek at the inner workings of the cat more interesting, let’s contrast a few of the cat’s biological activities to those of our next most favorite companion the dog.

In so many obvious ways, cats look, act, react, and respond differently than dogs. You never see a cat happily wag its tail; a dog’s reflexes are quick, a cat’s reflexes are incredible; dogs are doers, cats are watchers. These differences are easily noted by simple observation. Now let’s explore some of the unseen microscopic world of the cat – the invisible world of metabolism and chemistry that is just as real as those traits we can see with our eyes.

To begin with we must get a good grip on two terms . . . carnivore and omnivore. The cat is considered by scientists to be a strict carnivore and the dog is considered to be an omnivore. Both species are in the Class Mammalia and the Order Carnivora, but here’s the difference: The cat cannot sustain its life unless it consumes meat in some form. Dogs, however, are able to survive on plant material alone; they do not have to consume meat. But always keep in mind that dogs do best and by nature are primarily meat-eaters. Just because by definition they are omnivores (can digest and utilize plant and animal food sources) does not mean that plant material alone makes a good source of nutrition for the dog. Far too many dogs have been undernourished by those cheap grain-based dog foods. And grain-based cat foods are even worse!

So a good way to think of it is that cats are carnivores, dogs are omnivores, but they both have evolved as hunters of other animals in keeping with their nature as meat-eaters.

There are numerous chemical substances that are required for a cat to remain alive. These substances, some very complex chemical molecules and some very basic and simple, must be provided along the internal chemical reaction pathways at all times. Like other living plants and animals, the cat can manufacture most of its own required substances within its own body’s chemical factory. For example, Vitamin C is a requirement for life sustaining processes for us Mammalia, and dogs and cats make plenty of their own within their body’s chemical factory – the liver. We humans don’t make enough within our body chemical factory... so to keep ourselves alive we have to find some Vitamin C already made (preformed) somewhere in our environment, gather or capture it, then eat it. Without the Vitamin C, we’d die.

Dogs and cats don’t have to worry about gathering, capturing, and eating other preformed Vitamin C. They don’t care where their next grapefruit will come from because they make all the Vitamin C they need inside their own personal chemical factory.

On the other hand, there are numerous nutrients and chemicals that cats need that they can only acquire if they eat animal-derived tissues. That is, they need to prey on other living creatures that do make the essential chemicals that cats don’t! Out of necessity, the cat has evolved ways to hunt down, capture and eat this prey in order to "borrow" the prey's nutrients.

Outlined below are just a few of the unseen, but still very real biochemical differences between cats and dogs. Look these over and you will be even more convinced that cats are different!

Vitamin A... Also called retinol, is required at the cellular level by both cats and dogs.
Cats – Process little or no enzymes that will break down the plant-produced carotenoids. Must eat preformed active Vitamin A (that is, Vitamin A that already has been converted from carotenoids to its active form by some other creature such as a mouse or rabbit). Here’s a good example of why cats are called strict carnivores . . . they need to eat some other animal in order to "borrow" its active Vitamin A!
Dogs – Have enzymes in the lining of the intestine that can break down plant carotenoids and convert these into active Vitamin A.

Niacin... An essential B vitamin (essential means must be eaten, can’t be made inside the body’s chemical factory.)
Cats – Can obtain Niacin only by eating the preformed vitamin. Cannot convert Tryptophan to niacin.
Dogs – Obtain Niacin in two ways. One is by converting a dietary amino acid call Tryptophan into Niacin and the other way is by eating preformed Niacin.

Arginine... Is a building block for proteins, called an amino acid. Arginine is vital to many of the animal’s internal chemical factory’s functions. No Arginine and the entire factory goes on strike!
Cats – Are extremely sensitive to even a single meal deficient in Arginine and are unable to make their own Arginine within their chemical factory. Cats need lots of protein, and Arginine is involved in aiding the elimination of the protein waste products so the wastes don’t pollute the whole factory!
Dogs - Are not very sensitive to low levels of Arginine in their diets and produce enzymes internally that can aid production of Arginine.

Taurine... An amino acid that is not built into proteins, but is distributed throughout most body tissues. Taurine is important for healthy functioning of the heart, retina, bile fluid and certain aspects of reproduction.
Cats – Must eat preformed Taurine and since Taurine is not found in plant tissues, cats must consume meat to obtain Taurine. Cats can’t make their own, therefore, Taurine is essential in the diets of cats. Here again, meat has to be supplied to the factory so the Taurine can be extracted for its many uses.
Dogs – Make their own in their internal chemical factory.

Felinine... Is a compound made from a sulfur amino acid (SAA) called Cysteine.
Cats – Have a much higher requirement for SAA than other Mammalia and are the only creatures to manufacture the Felinine chemical. Felinine’s role in the overall function of the chemical factory is unknown, but like most factories whose wastes generate offensive odors, any Felinine present in the male cat’s urine alerts the neighbors that the factory is up and runnin’!
Dogs – Don’t know and don’t care what this stuff is.

Dietary Protein...
Cats – If fed a perfectly balanced and 100% digestible protein in a diet, the cat will use 20% of that protein for growth metabolism and 12% for maintenance. Here’s any easy way to say it . . . cats need more protein in their diets than dogs do.
Dogs – If fed a perfectly balanced and 100% digestible protein in a diet, the dog will use 12% of that protein for growth metabolism and only 4% of that protein for maintenance. Here's an easy way to say this...dogs need less protein in their diets than cats.

Arachidonic Acid... An essential fatty acid that plays a vital role in fat utilization and energy production.
Cats – Cannot make their own Arachidonic Acid even in the presence of adequate linoleic acid. The reason cats can’t make Arachidonic Acid from linoleic acid is because the cat’s chemical factory (liver) contains no delta-6-desaturase enzyme to convert linoleic to Arachidonic. Tell your cat owning friends about this one. Tell ‘em about the cat’s lack of liver delta-6-desaturase enzyme and they’ll think you’ve got a Ph.D. in biochemistry!
Dogs – Can make their own Arachidonic Acid if they consume enough linoleic acid by eating proper fats. Therefore, we can say that Arachidonic Acid is not an essential fatty acid for dogs.

Fasting and Starvation...
Cats – Do not mobilize fat reserves for energy very efficiently and, in fact, break down non-fatty body tissues for energy. This upsets the internal chemical factory and can lead to a very dangerous feline disorder called hepatic lipidosis. Never put a fat cat on a starvation diet, it might just put the entire factory out of business. (I’ve had occasion to relate this personal fact to my wife!)
Dogs – Can tolerate prolonged fasts and utilize fat reserves for energy.

So, there you have an insight into some of the invisible goings-on in our friend the cat. It should be obvious that a high quality, meat-based diet is imperative to a cat's wellness. There are no vegetarian diets for cats! And feeding your cat a homemade concoction of meat may be a disaster. There are a few good quality meat-based diets available to cat owners., America's Pet Store on the Web, ships quality feline diets direct to your door. Take a look at their selection of cat foods. Commercial diets based on corn, wheat, rice and other grains are not a good choice for our meat-eating felines.

The next time you admire a cat's unique personality and behavior, and watch the way they egocentrically carry themselves for anyone to see, remember...hidden beneath that furry skin is another unique and vast universe. There is a veritable chemical cosmos inside your cat that's just as wondrous and magnificent as the cosmos above. You can't see it, but it's there, silently following the rules of nature to sustain our unique and valued feline friends. And it's that complex chemical cosmos, working it's fantastic magic, that prompts us cat lovers to say, truly...cats are different!

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Posts: 480
From:Harrisburg,PA USA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 07-18-2003 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
The Nutritional Aspects of Bone Composition

Raw bones have been a part of canines' diets for as long as they have been tracking, attacking and killing their prey... far back into the early shadows of evolution. Today's canine house pets share almost exactly the same genetic determiners of anatomy and behavior as their long-distant predecessors.

When early man found out that the canine, if captured very early in life, could be trained to do man's bidding, the destiny of the canine was changed forever. Humans found ways to breed the canine companions for specific jobs, such as hauling, hunting or retrieving. And coat color became important when "modern" humans got interested in status symbols and prized possessions. Body size and shape became important because the humans who were hunting prey needed specific types of canines to assist in the hunt. One type of canine would be better suited to chase down elk and another body type would be best at digging rodents from their earthen dens. That's why, in the world of dogs, we have today all sorts of body types and sizes.

What didn't change, though, through all those centuries of breeding for specific body and coat types was the internal configuration and function of organ systems. The general pattern of teeth, stomach, intestines, kidneys, liver, heart and other mammalian organs stayed the same. If you were to take a look at the internal organs of a Saint Bernard, a wolf, or a Chihuahua you'd see that they are arranged, shaped, and function in identical ways! With such differences in body size, color and shape it doesn't seem possible that they originated from a common ancestor and share the same internal anatomical and biochemical machinery.

Modern man has modified a number of characteristics of the canine. But there's one thing man has not altered... the basic nutrient requirements of the dog. Dogs need today essentially the same nutrients that their predecessors required eons ago. That is precisely why there has been so much notice given to the practice of feeding dogs (and cats, too!) raw meat and other unprocessed foods. There is ample proof that today's pet dogs and cats DO NOT thrive on cheap, packaged, corn-based pet foods. Dogs and cats are primarily meat eaters; to fill them up with grain-based processed dry foods that barely meet minimum daily nutrient requirements has proven to be a mistake. And the fact that some pet foods have artificial colors and flavors added simply reveals the trickery needed to coax dogs and cats into consuming such material.

There arises the question of safety when feeding raw foods, too. The risk of infection from food-borne pathogens such as Salmonella and E.coli need to be understood. (This topic is addressed at And the question of the need to feed whole, raw bones to dogs has yet to be answered to everyone's satisfaction. There are many proponents of feeding raw bones to dogs and the feeling is that the benefits gained from consuming raw bones far outweighs any perceived hazard of bone impaction or intestinal perforation. (See the bones section of for information on the hazards of feeding whole bones to dogs.) Finely ground raw bone presents no hazard, though.

Proponents of feeding whole bones to dogs (the contention is that COOKED bones are a safety hazard, RAW bones are not) state that there are great nutritional benefits derived from consuming raw bones. These nutritional benefits can actually be seen in the greatly enhanced health status of the dog when the dog is switched away from processed, dry food diets. Raw bones, some contend, are an absolute necessity; dogs will not live a long and healthy life unless their diet contains RAW BONES. But is this contention based on facts? Is it the actual bone itself that provides all these nutritional benefits... or the attached soft tissues that really are the storehouses of nutrients? Let's find out where these nutritional benefits are really coming from...

An educated look at this topic...

Marrow is NOT bone

The marrow cavity of any bone is composed mainly of fat and blood components... high quality nutrients, to be sure, but the minimal reward for scraping out a bit of fatty marrow hardly warrants the status of it being declared a daily requirement for a dog. Read Official Publication of American Feed Control Officials, 1997, page 191: Regarding bone marrow, it " the soft material coming from the center of large bones, such as leg bones. This material, which is predominantly fat, is separated from the bone material by mechanical separation."
Cartilage is 50 percent collagen (a poorly digestible fibrous connective tissue) and mucopolysaccharides which are chains of glucose molecules in combination with mucous.
(Dry weight basis)

Are whole raw bones a requirement for health in the canine?

As a veterinarian with over thirty years of hands-on experience dealing with healthy and sick dogs and cats, and as a veterinarian with a keen interest in nutritional consequences affecting dogs and cats and as a member of a national veterinary nutrition association, I must ask two questions of those who so staunchly believe that RAW BONE consumption is an absolute requirement for dogs:
1.) Could it be that the nutritional benefits seemingly derived from feeding RAW BONES is mostly derived from the meat, fat and connective tissues attached to those raw bones more so than from the actual bone itself? In other words, "Is the benefit really coming from bone... or from the attached muscle, fat and connective tissue?"
2.) How can it be explained that I have seen many very healthy, old dogs in the course of practice that have never eaten a single RAW BONE? (Of course these old, healthy and very fortunate pets have owners who are feeding these dogs meat, fruit and other "table scraps". That may be precisely why they are old and healthy!)

To help answer these questions myself, I did a little research, asking the question "What is bone made of?" If whole RAW BONE is so absolutely necessary in a dog's diet the proof would be in the biochemical composition of the bones. Remember... I am referring to BONE alone, without any meat, fat, or other connective tissue or blood attached.

My questions were:
Are there lots of vitamins in bone?
What is the protein value of bone?
Are there lots of amino acids (the building blocks of protein)?
Is the protein in bone of good quality... like in an egg white, or more like in leather?
Is good quality fat present with Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids?
Besides Calcium is there an abundance of other minerals present?
Are carbohydrates present as an energy source?

Here is what I found and the references are included so that anyone can look up exactly the same information:

[The data is analyzed on a DRY WEIGHT basis, that means the composition of bone is looked at as if there was no water present. Since water is not an actual nutrient (although absolutely essential for life!) and water is so abundant in most foods, nutritionists assess ingredients on a dry weight basis so that comparisons between different foods can be done without regard to the water content.]

Lets take a one pound raw thigh bone (with all the water vacuumed out) and see just what its ingredients are:

From Miller's Anatomy Of The Dog, 2nd Edition, W. B. Saunders Co., page 112: "Bone is about one third organic and two thirds inorganic material. The inorganic matrix of bone has a microcrystalline structure composed principally of calcium phosphate."

Bone, then, is composed mainly (two-thirds) of calcium phosphate. The calcium and phosphorus ratios and total amounts in the diet are very important factors, especially in rapidly growing, large breeds. The results of ongoing research clearly document that the unique nutritional needs of the large breed puppy are best provided by a diet matrix containing a minimum of 26% protein (high quality, animal-based source), a minimum of 14% fat, and 0.8% Calcium and 0.67% Phosphorus. Also the ideal amount of calcium in the food is 1.0 to 1.8 percent of the dry weight of that food. Low quality dog foods often contain 2 and even 3 percent of the dry weight as calcium. This is due to the large amount of ground bone in the meat, poultry or fish meal. Diets with high amounts of "meat and bone meal" may surpass the optimal percentage of Calcium.

This data was derived from Orthopaedics: Principles and Appications, Samuel L. Turek, M.D., J. B. Lippincott, 1985, 2nd Edition. pages 113 and 136.

The Composition of Bone


(Technically this means substances that have no Carbon atom present.)
65 to 70 percent of the bone is composed of inorganic substances. Almost all of this inorganic substance is a compound called hydroxyapatite. [Think of this substance as little mineral crystals.] The chemical composition of hydroxyapatite is (10 Calcium atoms, 6 Phosphorus atoms, 26 Oxygen atoms, and 2 Hydrogen atoms).
Therefore, 65 to 70 percent of bone is a mineral compound called hydroxyapatite that is composed of nothing more than Calcium, Phosphorus, Oxygen and Hydrogen. There are no Vitamins, Fatty Acids, enzymes, proteins or carbohydrates in this, the largest component of raw bone. It is a nice source of Calcium and Phosphorus, though. (Technically this means substances that do have Carbon atoms present.)
30 to 35% of bone is composed of organic material (on a dry weight basis). Of this amount nearly 95 % is a substance called collagen. Collagen is a fibrous protein. It is poorly digested by the dog and cat. The other one-twentieth of the 30% organic substances are Chondroitin Sulfate, Keratin sulfate, and Phospholipids.
Therefore, 30 to 35% of bone is collagen with a tiny fraction of other compounds.
The following quote is from Canine and Feline Nutrition by Case, Carey and Hirakawa, 1995, page 175... "The matrix of bone is composed of the protein collagen. Collagen is very poorly digested by dogs and cats yet will be analyzed as protein in the pet food."

So, if we have a one pound bone (and all the water is vacuumed out) and we feed it to our dog for its wonderful nutritional benefits, where are those benefits coming from? If 70% of the bone is minerals and only 30% of that one pound is composed of poorly digested collagen, where is all this purported nutritional reward? There are no vitamins, no Omega Fatty Acids in BONE, no digestive enzymes, and only scant amounts of poorly digestible amino acids locked up in the collagen. Even if stomach acids could leach out all the collagen locked up in the bone fragments the collagen would yield minimal nutritional value.

Finely ground bone is a good source of Calcium and Phosphorus. Finely ground bone presents no risk whatsoever to the canine or feline digestive tract. Rather than feeding whole raw bones to dogs based on the erroneous notion that those whole bones provide outstanding nutritional benefits, we are much more accurate in asserting that whole raw bones provide a good balance of Calcium and Phosphorus for dogs... and that's about it! (For chewing exercise why not use a hard Rawhide Bone that softens if ingested?)

Other than being a great source of Calcium and Phosphorus, the chemical composition of raw bones is such that minimal nutritional benefits are obtained from their ingestion. Marrow does have some nutritional value but is composed mainly of fat.

Now... to answer another question: Do RAW BONES splinter when cracked open? Take a look at the following photos. A fresh raw beef bone (with fat, muscle and connective tissue still present!) was purchased from the grocery store, placed in a vise and compressed until it broke open. The shards and splinters were collected and placed on the dish in front of the fractured bone. The images speak for themselves. I don't know about you but I sure wouldn't allow my dog any chance to consume bone fragments.

Click on a photo to see the full sized image.

It would be unlikely that a dog could break open a large beef bone such as this. However as the dog grinds away at the bone edges, small chips and fragments exactly like what you see in these photos could break off. If these small chips are swallowed they will pass along the intestinal tract and be eliminated in the stool... MOST of the time! Stomach acid will dissolve the bone... eventually. But stomach acidity depends upon various factors including the amount of food, type of food and other factors present in the stomach. On occasion bone chips can create severe constipation, become lodged between teeth, in the esophagus or intestinal tract, and can create severe pain when the dog eventually has to pass the chips rectally. See some X-rays of bone fragment obstruction patients.

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From: MsRottie1 Sent: 1/12/2003 2:21 AM
This page questions the SAFETY of feeding whole BONES to dogs.

Feeding raw foods such as meat, eggs, fish, fruit and vegetables can be tremendously beneficial to dogs and cats. Raw foods retain many health-enhancing benefits that cooked foods may lack. ThePetCenter encourages pet owners to look into the advantages and disadvantages of feeding raw foods. If you "do it yourself" by composing a homemade diet for your pets you must be very careful that the amounts and ratios of nutrients are correct. The eventual effects of deficiencies, imbalances and over-supplementing a diet may not show detrimental effects in an animal for months after an improper diet has been fed.

For a report on the Nutritional Value of Bones, read this.

There are people who will tell you that feeding bones is natural and healthy for dogs, and that feeding bones promotes clean teeth and aids the nutritional status of the animal. Well, mushrooms are natural, too, and certain kinds will kill a dog if eaten. Pine trees are alive with vital cellular nutrients of all kinds, but does that imply that we should grind up pine trees and feed them to our pets in order to provide their "vital nutrients" to our pets? I will share with you just a few examples of many where a dog has been very seriously harmed by ingesting bones...YES, EVEN RAW BONES!

It is my belief that feeding bones to dogs is not perfectly safe to do. Many experienced and knowledgeable veterinarians feel the same. Yes, there are some veterinarians who encourage the feeding of raw, whole bones. Pet owners must decide for themselves what really makes sense and what just seems like a good thing to do. Lets go right to the first x-rays, below left, and I will show you a case that was presented to Dr. Ray Goodroad in Rhinelander, Wisconsin in December, 1998. This hound of about 75 pounds was found by his owner feeding on a dead deer carcass. The dog became very lethargic, attempted unsuccessfully to vomit and pass stool, and was dehydrated. This dog was feeding NATURALLY on RAW BONES and you can see the results.

Click on the photo for an enlarged view. To return here, simply click your back button.

Now take a look at the two x-rays on the right. This dog was straining to pass stool, was weak and dehydrated when presented to the veterinarian, and had a history of raiding the neighbor's garbage cans. Both dogs required four days in the hospital, anesthesia and sedation, repeated enemas, i.v. fluid therapy, antibiotics, and additional x-rays. If this treatment approach wasn't successful, major surgery would have been necessary to save the dogs from an agonizing death.

Now, for those of you who state with confidence that "Wolves in the wild eat bones all the time; so it must be OK for dogs to do the same", I would ask you this... How many times have you even seen a healthy wolf? How can you state with authority that wolves are NOT occasionally harmed by a bone splinter? I can tell you this: If a wolf unluckily happens to become disabled by intestinal bone fragments such as the dogs in these examples were, the wolf's cousins would dispatch the sick wolf in moments "...and unto dust thou shalt return". Hardly anyone ever sees even a healthy wolf, how much more unlikely would it be to happen upon a sick wolf when being a "sick wolf" is equivalent to a swift death sentence! We don't get many opportunity to do autopsies on dead wolves. For a list of unedited, honest replies from wolf care managers regarding the question of whether or not consuming bones is safe for wolves, look at this page.

Hard "round" bones are no different. As well as creating the chance for major problems, such as death, gnawing on bones often results in the cracking of the tips of the 4th premolars. These cracked teeth can lead to root infections and SUBORBITAL ABSCESSES that require tooth reconstruction or extraction. I have seen these cases frequently in practice. Lets be practical... the nutritional benefits from feeding bones to your dog are derived from the soft tissues attached to the bone such as meat, cartilage, fat and connective tissue... not from the bones themselves. Bone is composed of minerals that are common in many ordinary foods. The scant protein matrix in bone is mainly collagen and dogs can't digest and assimilate collagen! So where's all that great nutritional benefit that is supposed to be coming from the actual "bone" really coming from? It comes from the meat, cartilage, fat and connective tissue that happens to be along for the ride. Read about the actual nutritional content of raw bone.

Just for fun, though, lets assume there are great benefits to be derived from feeding bones, but with that benefit comes the slight chance that drastic major surgery may be needed to save your dog's life as a result of feeding those bones...WHY DO IT??!! Very nutritious foods are available, some have ground bone as part of the recipe and the ground bone is fine to feed.

The photos below (click on them to see the full view) show a common occurrence where a bone fragment has broken and lodged between the upper molars. These dogs are in acute stress and need attention immediately. Fortunately, these cases resolve easily simply by removing the bone manually.

For a view of responses from Wolf management experts regarding feeding bones to wolves, go here

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Posts: 480
From:Harrisburg,PA USA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 07-18-2003 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
Simple Canine Cancer Diet

The following home-made cancer diet can be given to any pup with cancer,and follows the low carb, high fat, moderate protein priniciple. It is important to understand that some additional supplementation (eg. a high-quality Iron-free multi vitamin) is needed for complete nutrition.

1 cup cooked brown rice
2 eggs hard boiled
1 teaspoon Flax Oil
1 cup grated, lightly steamed or raw organic vegetables (carrots,broccoli, cauliflower, bok-choy, cabbage, tomatoes etc.)
1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup cooked beef or fully cooked chicken or turkey (immune suppression from chemotherapy makes bacterial contamination a danger, so be sure tocook all meat thoroughly)

This is enough food for a 15-20 lb pooch for one day (double the above amounts for a 30-40 lb pup; triple the amounts for a 50-60lb). It should be feeding 2-4 servings at room temperature.

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From:Harrisburg,PA USA
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posted 07-18-2003 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
Nutrition...The Foundation of Good Health

Unfortunately for our pets who cannot make decisions about what they will eat, there are products being presented to them that are full of artificial colorings, flavor enhancers to entice them to eat, ingredients such as meat and bone meal that are so highly processed they have questionable nutritional value, and preservatives to allow a long "shelf life" at the grocery store. This is a sorry state of affairs for our pets; and often the consumer believes they are providing good food for their dog or cat!
The field of canine and feline nutrition is clouded with misconceptions, misleading advertising and an overall lack of commitment to educate pet owners. During 30 years of experience treating dogs and cats, plus 7 years in Veterinary School, I have learned far more "on the job" than I ever did in the few classes that were offered in College. I am committed to passing on to you, the responsible guardians of our dogs and cats, some of the important aspects of pet nutrition I have learned.
T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM



According to Rebecca Remillard, DVM, a Specialist in Veterinary Nutrition:
"Canines are in the order Carnivora, but I think their feeding behaviors are best described as omnivorous. The term carnivore applies to their taxonomic classification, not their feeding behavior. Taxonomically, dogs are members of the order Carnivora, a very diverse group, that includes 12 families of more than 260 species, some of which are herbivorous mammals (the panda). There are three types of feeding behavior (omnivorous, herbivorous and carnivorous) all of which can be found among different members of the order Carnivora." (From an email response to the question of dogs being looked upon as carnivorous or omnivorous in the newsletter of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition.)

Our feline friends are classified as true carnivores because they must consume meat in order to survive. Go here to see some of the differences between feline and canine metabolism. Canines are just slightly different from cats in their conversion of foods for life maintenance; dogs are classified as omnivores. They can survive on a diet of either plant or animal origin if it is balanced and diverse. But to thrive and not merely survive, dogs should have a source of animal protein - MEAT - in their diets. There is a huge difference between survive and thrive! Nature made the rules of biochemistry and nutrition and we mortals have no power (and no business, for that matter) to try to bend those rules. For that reason there are truly no adequate vegetarian diets for cats. For that reason dogs thrive on diets based on meat.


There are so many topics to be discussed that it is difficult to select where to start. The Internet has many informative places to visit for background on how to read pet food labels, what responsibility the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has and even a web site about the Pet Food Institute. Many of these sites have factual information and are not slanted by pet food manufacturers' marketing strategy, profit margins, or advertising agencies' creative design departments. Other sources of information available to the pet owner looking for good advice may not be quite so objective. The Golden Rule you should keep in mind is "Does the advice make sense?"

For example, if some pet food "expert" tells you that eating animal fat is bad for dogs and cats and that a plant source of fatty acids is much better, your common sense should tell you that dogs and cats successfully evolved over the eons by consuming animal fat in their diets. So does it make sense to say that animal fat is bad for dogs and cats? Another example is the common notion that lots of protein in a pet's diet will cause kidney damage. Again, looking at the nature of the dog and cat as primarily a meat-eating animal and having evolved by capturing and consuming other animals, we know their diets have always been high in protein. Think about what makes sense IN NATURE. If you hear about a nutritional product that "just doesn't make sense"... be cautious about it's factual basis.

Here is the biggest and most common misconception of all... the promotion of some low priced, grain-based foods as being a Complete and Balanced diet for dogs and cats! Having done physical exams on tens of thousands of dogs and cats and learning from their owners what these pets are being fed has taught me that dogs and cats look, feel, and perform better if they are fed a meat-based diet rather than if fed a corn, wheat, soy or rice-based diet. This does not mean that grains are bad for dogs and cats; they surely can contribute certain limited nutrients to a good diet (mainly calories in the form of carbohydrates). Nevertheless, many veterinarians believe that grains should not be the foundation of a diet intended for a dog or cat.

I'll give you one second to answer this question. (It's so simple that you won't even need the full time allowed!)

If you could pick only one product to properly feed your dog or cat, which would you choose... corn or meat?

It has been shown that all-meat diets are harmful over a period of time because of mineral and other imbalances. Properly formulated meat-based diets have ingredients added in specific amounts to insure a nutritionally beneficial diet. DO NOT feed your dog or cat a home-made ALL MEAT diet! (See

Are they getting a bad rap? As you read various pet food producers' advertising material you will often find such statements as "No By-Products Added!" or "Our food contains no animal by-products so you know it's top quality". I will let you decide if By-Products aren't good for dogs and cats after you learn what they are. To most people the term "by-products" congers up images of whatever is left over after the animal is processed, or maybe whatever can't be used for human food, or maybe even what's cleaned up off the processing floor at the end of the day. (I hear this misconception all the time!) It's time you learn what by-products are; so here is the legal definition as described by the official agency in charge of directing animal feeding practices in the U.S....AAFCO: Association of American Feed Control Officials.

By-Product... Secondary products produced in addition to the principal products. Well, there is nothing here to indicate good or bad quality of product. Maybe we should look at what the principal product is to find out what the secondary products are; then we can decide if the secondary products would make good food for meat-eating dogs and cats.

If Meat is the primary product (meat refers to the skeletal muscles of the slaughtered mammal) then ...
Meat By-Products - the non rendered (uncooked), clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hooves.

For a report on the Nutritional Value of Bones, read this.

Think about this for a moment... in a free roaming and natural state, wouldn't dogs and cats feed on exactly these parts of a killed prey animal? Wouldn't a meat-eating animal consume the liver, stomach, lung tissue, and intestines of the prey? These tissues are what we call by-products! They happen to be very nourishing for meat-eating animals like the canine and feline! My conclusion is that Meat By-Products are a good source of nutrition for dogs and cats; what's yours?

If you are worried about the concept of "too much protein harming the kidneys"... take time to read about this myth here.

(For hundreds of pages of definitions, rules for processing, amounts of preservatives and additives allowed, feeding trial protocols and much more, you should consider purchasing an Official Publication of AAFCO Phone:1-404-656-3637. Ask for the AAFCO Official Publication of the Association of American Feed Control Officials)

If you are interested in learning more about sensible nutritional practices, I would recommend these two books, The AAFCO Publication and Canine and Feline Nutrition by Case, Carey and Hirakawa; C.V. Mosby, for your library. You could spend lots of interesting hours discovering what many veterinarians and other animal caretakers have not... that sensible nutritional practices are based on proven scientific research.

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posted 07-18-2003 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
10 Secrets Pet Food Companies Don't Want You to Know

1. Pet food is NEVER mostly meat. Many ads suggest that it is. In order to list a meat source first on the bag label pet food companies resort to a variety of gimmicks.

Here are a few to get you thinking:

1st, listing a "wet" ingredient in what ends up being an essentially dry finished product. Wet meat gets a lot lighter when the moisture is cooked out. This labeling loophole is blatantly deceptive to the general public.

All ingredients should be weighed and listed in dry weight equivalents for you to know truly how much of each makes up the ration. If the label lists, "chicken" it means chicken weighed when wet. Drop 75% of the value. If, on the other hand, it says, "chicken meal" they play fairly. If it says, "meat (any type) by-product meal" or "meat (any type) by-products" it was never meat to begin with. Find another food.

Another gimmick is to "split carbohydrates" (grains) into multiple parts to get the "meat" to list first. Label ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. So, If you have 10 lbs. of chicken meal and 25 lbs. of rice, which should appear first on the label? Chicken of course! (if you want people to buy the stuff).

Here's how it's done:




4th- RICE GLUTEN Pretty sneaky and obviously deceptive unless you know the trick. Rice Flour, Brewer's Rice and Rice ala Ronny could also have been listed if they really wanted to be fancy. A related tactic is to use a variety of grains with different names to get meat listed first. This is slightly more valid since they have different amino acid profiles and are truly different ingredients. Grains cost a lot less than meat. Meat "by-products" cost a lot less than meat. Both also have considerably less food value.

The last gimmick for now is the campaign to convince the public that meat by-products and meat are just about the same thing. Hmm..."Honey, I'm having a ribeye steak tonight and you're having a nice pile of by-products, ok?" "Would you like the chicken breast or the intestine-cartilage-beak medley with your rice, Bob?" "Well gee Dear, doesn't really make any difference to me, they all sound equally delicious, nutritious and healthy!"

By definition, by-products may contain anything from the specified animal except, (in the case of chicken), feathers and feces and, (in the case of beef), hoof, hide and feces. Meat and fat are separated out first because they are costlier and are therefore not present in any appreciable quantity. What's left is the bones, tendons, cartilage, beaks, feet and innards. Proudly displayed and masqueraded as meat.

A pet food bag is not a place for dumping stuff of unknown nutritional value. Some foods even use the term , "SELECT by-products". All these contortions serve one purpose; To make you think that you're getting more meat than you really are in your bag of pet food. After all, who'd pay $35 for a bushel of corn?!

Well, keep reading!

2. The cooking process used in pet foods KILLS off a vital component: enzymes. In order to eliminate bacteria and make cutesy shapes that pets care nothing about, processing temperatures in excess of 160 degress F are used to extrude or bake your pet's food.

So what? Well, glad you asked. This places the entire burden for digestion on your pet's pancreas to supply the enzymes necessary for breaking down nutrients for absorption. In nature, this is far from the case. Animals naturally follow the path of "least digestive resistance" in the wild.

Consider the fox who catches a rabbit. First item on the menu is the contents of the gut.

Let the rabbit do the digesting and enjoy! The rabbit spent hours nibbling grasses and grains readying them for the fox's easy absorption of carbohydrates. Quick and cheap fuel.

Next the fox buries or hides the rest to stew a spell. What we call, "turning rancid" the fox calls, "just getting better". In a couple days, the live enzymes in the rabbit meat have broken it down into easily digested protein. Notice how no fire was used in this process? For dessert, a little bone gnawing for the marrow, the calcium, and the teeth cleaning, and it's naptime. Left for the lower animals in the hierarchy are most of the by-products and the hide.

Let's get back to your pet.

In puppies and kittens, the pancreas is usually robust and up to the task of supplying sufficient digestive enzymes to make dead food somewhat useable and fulfill it's other vital functions.

With age, however, pancreatic function is weakened and often can't keep up with this undue burden.

If the pet food fed day in and day out is of low nutritional value to begin with, the taxing effect on the system will be all the greater and the pancreas will most likely give up that much sooner.

The consequences to your pet's health are too broad in scope to cover here.

3. Giving "real food" aka "table scraps" is the RIGHT thing to do! Stepping on a lot of toes here to smash the myth that you should only feed the stuff from the bag and nothing else ever, PERIOD.

What is it they are afraid of anyway? That your pet will learn to beg? Unlearn that. That your pet won't eat the chaff they call "food" after tasting the real deal? Probably. Or that it will throw the delicate balance of their finely tuned "nutrition" out of whack somehow? He He Hoo, hardly.

Here's the scoop...

Providing real food (not potato chips or other junk food) in its raw form counteracts some of the deficit that can be caused by only feeding commercially prepared pet food. It can provide the living enzymes to make digestion an easy rather than burdensome process.

But, don't just go wild and throw everything in the feeding trough. Good bets for pets are raw carrots, broccoli, yogurt, cheese, garlic and meats. Cooked oatmeal, rice, corn, squash and the like are fine too. Don't feed raw grains, legumes, potatoes, onions, celery or chocolate which are either unusable or unhealthy. If you aren't comfortable with raw meat and fish, don't do it. Keep in mind, they aren't people and have an entirely different gastro-intestinal system than we do.

Introduce new foods a little at a time about three times a week to start and give your pet's pancreas a much needed break.

4. Most "vet recommended" foods pay mightily for the "honor". Does it matter that the majority of vets know very little about pet nutrition? The public is told to, "Ask your vet".

The vet is told by the pet food companies, "we'll send you to Hawaii for a week of golf if you sell and endorse XYZ brand pet food".

In school, vets-to-be could ELECT to take an overview course in animal nutrition. Or not.

There have been changes of late to make this required study. AS IT WELL SHOULD BE!

You are miles ahead if you understand the pet food label yourself and take the time to learn some basic nutritional concepts. It's not that complicated! Find out for yourself, trust your own judgement and ignore what people say who are getting paid to say it.

5. The #1 vet recommended brand is probably the #1 worst pet food value. Without mentioning any names, if it lists corn as the first ingredient on the label and gets blasted by the competition for it, you know the company.

Read the label! Compare it to the cheapest stuff you can find. There isn't a dimes worth of difference in most cases. How much does it cost them to make a 40 lb. bag of this stuff you may wonder? Right? Sit down. How about less than $3 including the cost of the bag? How much does the duped public shell out for the bushel of corn and peanut shells most recommended by vets?

About $35. "Have a nice flight to Maui, Dr. Cutter and thanks again for your support".

6. Feeding "Soft-Moist" diets will cut your pet's life expectancy in half. Thankfully, these foods are on the steep decline but aren't gone yet.

Perhaps killing your customers isn't a good way to develop long term brand loyalty. These toxic morsels are so loaded with chemicals to stay soft and prevent molding and so laden with sugar to cover the harsh chemical taste, they rip a pet's insides out. The sweetness is addictive and you'll hear owners say, "Fifi just won't eat anything else".

Well, then better buy the small bag because who knows how long Fifi will be eating at all? Anybody feeding this garbage should stop at once and the manufacturers of it should be faced with a class action.

7. Many companies have "slithered" away from using ETHOXYQUIN. The once popular, and staunchly defended as safe, preservative (antioxidant) called "Ethoxyquin" has been mostly abandoned because of "hushed" litigation and settlements with professional breeders.

It formerly was championed by pet food manufacturers (and others) as an advanced and healthy inclusion in pet food in an attempt to hide the fact that it was never intended to be eaten, much less on a daily basis. It was originally formulated as a rubber stabilizer and a color retention agent.

Tires stayed pliable and spices stayed red.

Despite efforts to get it approved as a food stabilizing agent in people food, it is only allowed for extremely limited application with colored spices. The people who know the devastating truth about this ingredient when eaten daily by pets have been paid off and forced to never tell their stories. There are innumerable instances of stillbirth, sudden liver failure, kidney dysfunction, permanent pigment changes, tumors and death thought to be caused by the addition of this wonder substance to pet food starting in about 1987. Much of the talk about ethoxyquin has quieted since the major pet food companies jumped off the bandwagon and switched to safer (and less legally troublesome) preservatives like forms of vitamins E and C.

If they want the trust of the public, they should own up to their mistakes and come clean. Fat chance.

All you'll get is denial.

8. Nature didn't intend for pets to eat dry food devoid of enzymes. Convenience is paid for in reduced pet health. Where is it written that your pet's bowl has to be filled with chalk dry nuggets of quasi-nutritious ground up brown stuff? We've been sold on a bad idea. We bought it because it made life easier. Until the real bill comes, that is.

But doesn't kibbled food make their teeth shiny and their breath fresh? Won't their teeth fall out if they eat soft stuff? Yeah, right. Ever watch your dog eat? Does it look like some kind of teeth cleaning exercise? How about the cat? Really getting the old gum line clean huh? The truth about teeth cleaning is this... sticks, rocks, yarn, bones, toys and saliva primarily accomplish this task, not food. Commercial pet food has to be flavor enhanced with digest and sprayed-on fat to be even remotely attractive to your pet. Without these palatability modifications, the old dry kibble would just sit there and get dusty.

People get paid big money to invent coatings to make your pet dive headfirst into the food bowl.

Because then you smile and feel like it must be healthy and that Fifi loves the food and you too so you'll buy it again. Right? Remember, the fox didn't go in search of a crunchy rabbit. It ate the soft one and it has a dazzling smile and a fully charged pancreas.

9. Some companies sneak sugar into pet food to hook your pet. Watch out for these guys! They call it other things of course... (cane molasses, corn syrup) but it absolutely does not belong in your pet's food bowl. Processed sugars are foreign to dogs and cats and over the long term can result in obesity, tooth decay and diabetes (along with other maladies). Until 2 years ago, propylene glycol was being used as a sweet tasting preservative by those who must have cared much more about shelf life than about pet health. Thankfully, it has finally been banned.

Pet food companies will tell you that the industry is tightly regulated and that your pet's health is being fastidiously protected. Do you buy that one?

The FDA can't even keep up with human food and didn't lift a finger on behalf of the pet owners during the ethoxyquin debate.

The regulating body for pet food ingredients is AAFCO. The American Association of Feed Control Officials. The rules and definitions they adopt are made by those with vested interests and are enforced through "voluntary compliance". The fox guards the rabbit hutch here.

10. Almost all manufacturers use stool hardening agents in pet food. Convenience again triumphs over pet health. Stool modifiers make clean up easier and mask the effects of nutrient malabsorption.

Who's going to buy a pet food if you've got to SCRAPE up after your dog? It's easier to just stack those little bricks into a pile or kick them elsewhere. Consider however the strain on your pet's innards. Would you put concrete mix in your pancake batter? How about sawdust? If you were dieting, would you mix ground peanut shells into your breakfast cereal? Well, they do all that and more for your beloved pet.

See if any of these made it into your pet food bag: sodium bentonite, powdered cellulose,tomato (or any other) pomace, ground peanut shells. The explanation for including these usually is that they are fiber sources for your pet's well being.

Maybe a little truth there but not the real reason they are added. Whole grains provide great fiber content. A bit of bran would do well too. The real goal is to make you buy the food again because clean up time is so easy and enjoyable with brand XYZ's designer stools. Before you do this to your pet, try it yourself for a few days.

One question to ask a company representative is this, "Aren't there times when my pet needs to evacuate it's system rapidly such as when a toxin is ingested or when the kitty or doggy flu comes around? Is having a cork in there at all times really a good idea? You'll then likely hear mumbling about "Our research..." and "regulating intestinal transit time for optimal nutrient absorption".

Do you buy that one? If the food is good and fed properly, stools will be fine without forcing your pet to work a brick through their digestive and excretory systems.

End note:

The opinions of this author were formed over a period of 15 years inside the pet food industry.

It was written because it needed to be said to enlighten and alert the pet loving public and to act as a minute counterbalance to the daily barrage of pet food hype foisted on us.

Your pets depend on you to make the right choice when it comes to feeding them a nutritious diet.

Their quality of life is at stake. Become a label reader! Take the time to bone up on nutrition.

Call the Company if you have questions. Most have a toll free number on their bag. Ask to speak to a Nutritionist or the person who formulated the food you are using. Dig until you are satisfied or until you know it's time to switch to another food (or manner of feeding).

For your pet's sake, don't be content with the miserable status quo. Not all currently available pet foods are totally rotten and not all companies engage in the above practices. Some are much better and more ethical than others. You are the boss. Now, you're the boss with the inside track on what to watch out for. Please take your pet's diet seriously. It's the right thing to do.

Feel free to pass this article along to interested parties. An informed public will generate changes.

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posted 07-18-2003 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
Whole Dog Journal's Top Ten Dry Dog Food



Read the ENTIRE NEW article in the February 2001 issue, pages 3 - 8.

Note that WDJ states: "We do not conduct either feeding trials or laboratory tests on the foods. We selected our favorites by conducting a thorough label review, and holding this data up to the criteria listed in the "Foods Should Contain" and "Foods Should Not Contain" boxes (below). We have not selected the foods on the basis of protein or fat content."

"We have not seen every dog food on the market. New foods emerge on a monthly basis, some are available on a regional scale only. We've tried to list foods that are good examples of the kinds of foods you should be looking for."


Click here to subscribe to Whole Dog Journal - an extremely informative publication on natural health and feeding.

Click here to view the AAFCO's definitions of dog food ingredients.

Quality Foods Should Contain:
Superior sources of protein, either whole fresh meats or single source meat meal (ex. chicken meal rather than poultry meal)
A whole-meat source as one of the first two ingredients.
Whole, unprocessed grains, vegetables, and other foods. Nutrients and enzymes are more likely to be found in unprocessed foods.

Quality foods should contain a MINIMUM of the following:
Food fragments - lower-cost by-products of another food manufacturing process, such as brewer's rice and wheat bran...Manufacturers usually include at least one fragment to help lower costs. Beware any food that includes several fragments.
Meat by-products (not handled as carefully as whole meat) - any food that contains meat by-products as the MAJOR protein source indicates a low-quality product.
Fats or proteins named generically (ex. animal fat/poultry fat instead of beef fat/ lamb meal)
Artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin)
Artificial colors.
Sweeteners (corn syrup, sucrose, ammoniated glycyrrhizin) to improve unappealing food
Propylene glycol - a toxic substance when consumed in large amounts; added to some "chewy" foods to keep them moist.


February 2001 Review Food Name: Manufacturer & Location: WDJ Comments:
Back to Basics Beowulf Natural Feeds
Altmar, NY
"Human grade & hormone-free ingredients. Delivered fresh from manufacturer....Very high fat content (19%) reflects company owner's philosophy that more fat is good for dogs. Also offers a pork-based formula."
Best In Show Power Food Best In Show
Jupiter, FL
"Two meat sources in top three spots! Yay!"
"Kitchen sink approach to formulation: fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc. added."

California Natural Chicken & Rice Natura Pet Products, Santa Clara, CA "Simple, short ingredients list. Great for allergy-prone dogs."

Canidae Canidae Pet, San Luis Obispo, CA "Four major proteins ensure complete amino acid profile. All ingredients are whole, not fragments. Date of manuafacture printed on label."
Eagle Pack Holistic Select Eagle Pet Products, Inc.
Mishawaka, IN
"Three major proteins ensure complete amino acid profile. All ingredients are whole, not fragments. Inclusion of organic chicken to be commended."
"Kitchen sink approach to formulation (throwing a little of everything good into the pot)."

"Eagle has made a giant leap forward with this product."

Flint River LC Dog Food Flint River Ranch, Riverside, CA "Fresh product shipped direct from factory..."
"Ordered through multi-level marketers. Product also available in some retail outlets, but this would be less fresh."

Innova Natura Pet Products
Santa Clara, CA
"Three proteins top the list; hurray! All ingredients are whole; company claims all ingredients are human-grade."
"More kitchen sink formulating, with lots of what must be small amounts of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, supplements."

Limited Diets Duck & Potato Innovative Veterinary Diets (division of Heinz Pet Products) Pittsburgh, PA "Unlike Science Diet's precription foods, these products contain no artificial preservatives. These foods, with their novel proteins (duck, rabbit, venison, whitefish, plus lamb) make elimination diets for allergy dogs easy."
Lifespan PetGuard, Inc. Orange Park, FL "Chicken in the first two spots."
"Corn gluten meal in the formulation."

MMillennia Solid Gold Health Products for Pets, El Cajon, CA "Two quality proteins in top four ingredients. Date of manufacture printed on label."
"Maker does not add preservatives of any kind, but does not disclose preservatives added to fat sources before manufacturing, either."

Natural Balance Ultra Premium Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance, Pacoima, CA "Three quality protein sources in top four ingredients. Mostly whole grains and vegetables used. Company donates a portion of profits to local animal charities."
"We don't like any unnamed flavor enhancers, even if they are purportedly "natural." Amounts of trendy supplements (vitamin C, glucosamine, yucca) not qualified."

Prime Life Owen & Mandeville Pet Products, Oxford, CT "Two proteins in top three ingredients. Maker claims chicken and turkey meals are antibiotic-and hormone-free. Label lists kilocalories per cup of food."
"We don't like unnamed flavor enhancers, even if they are purportedly "natural."

PHD Canine Growth and Maintenance Perfect Health Diet Products, Inc., White Plains, NY "Company encourages owners to supplement dog's diet with real foods - radical!- for live, healthy gastrointestinal bacteria and other nutrients."
"Use of "poultry" rather than single-source protein such as "chicken." "

Pinnacle Breeder's Choice Pet Foods,
Irwindale, CA
"Two proteins top the list.Most ingredients are whole. Great enzymes (papain and alpha amylase) and probiotics added. Kilocalories per cup provided."

Wellness Super5Mix Old Mother Hubbard
Lowell, MA
"Three protein sources top the list; that's awesome. Maker says lamb is hormone-free. Filtered water is used in food production. Food is baked; probiotics and prebiotics added afterward."
"Kibble is very dry and hard. More kitchen sink formulating, with lots of what must be small amounts of fruits, vegetables, herbs, supplements."

Wysong Maintenance Wysong Corporation
Midland, MI
"This food appears to contain less meat than any other food listed here; perhaps a helpful option for dogs who are intolerant of meat proteins."
"We'd prefer to see "chicken fat" rather than the potentially mixed "poultry fat" ingredient."

1999 List 2000 List
Back to Basics (Chicken Formula)
Best In Show "Solutions"
California Natural California Natural
Canidae Canidae
Flint River Flint River
Innova Innova
Innovative Veterinary Diets Duck and Potato
Natural Balance
PetGuard LifeSpan PetGuard LifeSpan
Pinnacle Pinnacle
Solid Gold
Wellness Super5Mix Hormone-Free Lamb

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posted 07-18-2003 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nern     Edit/Delete Message
Great info. Thanks for taking the time to post all of it!

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From the Animal Protection Institute:

How Pet Food Is Made

Although feeding trials are no longer required for a food to meet the requirements for labeling a food "complete and balanced," most manufacturers perform palatability studies when developing a new pet food. One set of animals is fed a new food while a "control" group is fed a current formula. The total volume eaten is used as a gauge for the palatability of the food. The larger and more reputable companies do use feeding trials, which are considered to be a much more accurate assessment of the actual nutritional value of the food. They keep large colonies of dogs and cats for this purpose, or use testing laboratories that have their own animals.

Most dry food is made with a machine called an expander or extruder. First, raw materials are blended, sometimes by hand, other times by computer, in accordance with a recipe developed by animal nutritionists. This mixture is fed into an expander and steam or hot water is added. The mixture is subjected to steam, pressure, and high heat as it is extruded through dies that determine the shape of the final product and puffed like popcorn. The food is allowed to dry, and then is usually sprayed with fat, digests, or other compounds to make it more palatable. Although the cooking process may kill bacteria in pet food, the final product can lose its sterility during the subsequent drying, fat coating, and packaging process. A few foods are baked at high temperatures rather than extruded. This produces a dense, crunchy kibble that is palatable without the addition of sprayed on palatability enhancers. Animals can be fed about 25% less of a baked food, by volume (but not by weight), than an extruded food.

Ingredients are similar for wet, dry, and semi-moist foods, although the ratios of protein, fat, and fiber may change. A typical can of ordinary cat food reportedly contains about 45-50% meat or poultry by-products. The main difference between the types of food is the water content. It is impossible to directly compare labels from different kinds of food without a mathematical conversion to "dry matter basis."5 Wet or canned food begins with ground ingredients mixed with additives. If chunks are required, a special extruder forms them. Then the mixture is cooked and canned. The sealed cans are then put into containers resembling pressure cookers and commercial sterilization takes place. Some manufacturers cook the food right in the can.

There are special labeling requirements for pet food, all of which are contained in the annually revised Official Publication of AAFCO.6 The use of the terms "all" or "100%" cannot be used "if the product contains more than one ingredient, not including water sufficient for processing, decharacterizing agents, or trace amounts of preservatives and condiments." Products containing multiple ingredients are covered by AAFCO Regulation PF3(b) and (c). The "95% rule" applies when the ingredient(s) derived from animals, poultry, or fish constitutes at least 95% or more of the total weight of the product (or 70% excluding water for processing).

Because all-meat diets are usually not nutritionally balanced, they fell out of favor for many years. However, due to rising consumer interest in high quality meat products, several companies are now promoting 95% and 100% canned meats as a supplemental feeding option.

The "dinner" product is defined by the 25% Rule, which applies when "an ingredient or a combination of ingredients constitutes at least 25% of the weight of the product" (excluding water sufficient for processing) as long as the ingredient(s) shall constitute at least 10% of the total product weight; and a descriptor that implies other ingredients are included in the product formula is used on the label. Such descriptors include "recipe," "platter," "entree," and "formula." A combination of ingredients included in the product name is permissible when each ingredient comprises at least 3% of the product weight, excluding water for processing, and the ingredient names appear in descending order by weight.

The "with" rule allows an ingredient name to appear on the label, such as "with real chicken," as long as each such ingredient constitutes at least 3% of the food by weight, excluding water for processing.

The "flavor" rule allows a food to be designated as a certain flavor as long as the ingredient(s) are sufficient to "impart a distinctive characteristic"to the food. Thus, a "beef flavor" food may contain a small quantity of digest or other extract of tissues from cattle, without containing any actual beef meat at all.

What Happened to the Nutrients?

Dr. Randy L. Wysong is a veterinarian and produces his own line of pet foods. A long-time critic of pet food industry practices, he said, "Processing is the wild card in nutritional value that is, by and large, simply ignored. Heating, cooking, rendering, freezing, dehydrating, canning, extruding, pelleting, baking, and so forth, are so commonplace that they are simply thought of as synonymous with food itself."7 Processing meat and by-products used in pet food can greatly diminish their nutritional value, but cooking increases the digestibility of cereal grains.

To make pet food nutritious, pet food manufacturers must "fortify" it with vitamins and minerals. Why? Because the ingredients they are using are not wholesome, their quality may be extremely variable, and the harsh manufacturing practices destroy many of the nutrients the food had to begin with.


Commercially manufactured or rendered meat meals and by-product meals are frequently highly contaminated with bacteria because their source is not always slaughtered animals. Animals that have died because of disease, injury, or natural causes are a source of meat for meat meal. The dead animal might not be rendered until days after its death. Therefore the carcass is often contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli. Dangerous E. Coli bacteria are estimated to contaminate more than 50% of meat meals. While the cooking process may kill bacteria, it does not eliminate the endotoxins some bacteria produce during their growth and are released when they die. These toxins can cause sickness and disease. Pet food manufacturers do not test their products for endotoxins.

Mycotoxins -- These toxins comes from mold or fungi, such as vomitoxin in the Nature's Recipe case, and aflatoxin in Doane's food. Poor farming practices and improper drying and storage of crops can cause mold growth. Ingredients that are most likely to be contaminated with mycotoxins are grains such as wheat and corn, cottonseed meal, peanut meal, and fish meal.


The National Research Council (NRC) of the Academy of Sciences set the nutritional standards for pet food that were used by the pet food industry until the late 1980s. The NRC standards, which still exist and are being revised as of 2001, were based on purified diets, and required feeding trials for pet foods claimed to be "complete" and "balanced." The pet food industry found the feeding trials too restrictive and expensive, so AAFCO designed an alternate procedure for claiming the nutritional adequacy of pet food, by testing the food for compliance with "Nutrient Profiles." AAFCO also created "expert committees" for canine and feline nutrition, which developed separate canine and feline standards. While feeding trials can still be done, a standard chemical analysis may be also be used to determine if a food meets the profiles.

Chemical analysis, however, does not address the palatability, digestibility, or biological availability of nutrients in pet food. Thus it is unreliable for determining whether a food will provide an animal with sufficient nutrients.

To compensate for the limitations of chemical analysis, AAFCO added a "safety factor," which was to exceed the minimum amount of nutrients required to meet the complete and balanced requirements.

The digestibility and availability of nutrients is not listed on pet food labels.

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posted 07-18-2003 10:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
The 100% Myth -- Problems Caused by Inadequate Nutrition

The idea of one pet food providing all the nutrition a companion animal will ever need for its entire life is a myth.

Cereal grains are the primary ingredients in most commercial pet foods. Many people select one pet food and feed it to their dogs and cats for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, companion dogs and cats eat a primarily carbohydrate diet with little variety. Today, the diets of cats and dogs are a far cry from the primarily protein diets with a lot of variety that their ancestors ate. The problems associated with a commercial diet are seen every day at veterinary establishments. Chronic digestive problems, such as chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease are among the most frequent illnesses treated. These are often the result of an allergy or intolerance to pet food ingredients. The market for "limited antigen" or "novel protein" diets is now a multi-million dollar business. These diets were formulated to address the increasing intolerance to commercial foods that animals have developed. The newest twist is the truly "hypoallergenic" food that has had all its proteins artificially chopped into pieces smaller than can be recognized and reacted to by the immune system.

Dry commercial pet food is often contaminated with bacteria, which may or may not cause problems. Improper food storage and some feeding practices may result in the multiplication of this bacteria. For example, adding water or milk to moisten pet food and then leaving it at room temperature causes bacteria to multiply.8 Yet this practice is suggested on the back of packages of some kitten and puppy foods.

Pet food formulas and the practice of feeding that manufacturers recommend have increased other digestive problems. Feeding only one meal per day can cause the irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid. Feeding two smaller meals is better.

Feeding recommendations or instructions on the packaging are sometimes inflated so that the consumer will end up purchasing more food. However, Procter & Gamble allegedly took the opposite tack with its Iams and Eukanuba lines, reducing the feeding amounts in order to claim that its foods were less expensive to feed. Independent studies commissioned by a competing manufacturer suggested that these reduced levels were inadequate to maintain health. Procter & Gamble has since sued and been countersued by that competing manufacturer, and a consumer complaint has also been filed seeking class-action status for harm caused to dogs by the revised feeding instructions.

Urinary tract disease is directly related to diet in both cats and dogs. Plugs, crystals, and stones in cat bladders are often triggered or aggravated by commercial pet food formulas. One type of stone found in cats is less common now, but another more dangerous type has become more common. Manipulation of manufactured cat food formulas to alter the acidity of urine and the amount of some minerals has directly affected these diseases. Dogs also form stones as a result of their diet.

History has shown that commercial pet food products can cause disease. An often-fatal heart disease in cats and some dogs is now known to be caused by a deficiency of the amino acid taurine. Blindness is another symptom of taurine deficiency. This deficiency was due to inadequate amounts of taurine in cat food formulas, which itself occurred because of decreased amounts of animal proteins and increased reliance on carbohydrates. Cat foods are now supplemented with taurine. New research suggests that supplementing taurine may also be helpful for dogs, but as yet few manufacturers are adding extra taurine to dog food. Inadequate potassium in certain feline diets also caused kidney failure in young cats; potassium is now added in greater amounts to all cat foods.

Rapid growth in large breed puppies has been shown to contribute to bone and joint disease. Excess calories and calcium in some manufactured puppy foods promoted rapid growth. There are now special puppy foods for large breed dogs. But this recent change will not help the countless dogs who lived and died with hip and elbow disease.

There is also evidence that hyperthyroidism in cats may be related to excess iodine in commercial pet food diets.9 This is a new disease that first surfaced in the 1970s, when canned food products appeared on the market. The exact cause and effect are not yet known. This is a serious and sometimes terminal disease, and treatment is expensive.

Many nutritional problems appeared with the popularity of cereal-based commercial pet foods. Some have occurred because the diet was incomplete. Although several ingredients are now supplemented, we do not know what ingredients future researchers may discover that should have been supplemented in pet foods all along. Other problems may result from reactions to additives. Others are a result of contamination with bacteria, mold, drugs, or other toxins. In some diseases the role of commercial pet food is understood; in others, it is not. The bottom line is that diets composed primarily of low quality cereals and rendered meat meals are not as nutritious or safe as you should expect for your cat or dog.

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Amaranth - Is considered to be the father to all grains that are currently grown. It is considered to be a superior source of carbohydraes, minerals and rich flavor
Corn Gluten Meal - The by-product after the manufacture of corn syrup or starch which is the dried residue after the removal of the bran, germ, and starch.
Alfalfa Meal - The finely ground product of the alfalfa plant.
Semolina - The endosperm of durum wheat is called semolina, high protein used in fine pasta.
Barley - At least 80% good quality barley; no more than 3% heat damaged kernels, 6 percent foreign material, 20% other grains or 10% wild oats.
Barley Flour - The soft finely ground barley meal obtained from the milling of barley.
Ground Corn (also called Corn Meal or Corn Chop) - The entire corn kernel ground or chopped. It must contain no more than 4% foreign material.
Brewer's Rice - The small fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from larger kernels of milled rice.
Brown Rice - The unpolished rice left over after the kernels have been removed.
Soybean Meal - By-product of the production of soybean oil.
Grain Sorghum - Sorghum is a member of the Grass family. There are many different varieties. They can be clasified into 4 groups.
Grain Sorghums
Grass Sorghums
Sweet Sorghums
Broomcorn is grown for the brush or brances of the seed cluster. The fibers are used in the manufacture of brooms.
Sweet Sorghums of sorgos, have a sweet juicy stem. These are used to produce sorghum syrup. Animal Feeds and silage can also be made for the sweet sorghums.
Grass Sorghums are grown for green feed and hay but can be found in Kansas fields of weeds. Two types are Sudan and Johnson grass.
Grain Sorghums are grown especially for the rounded, starchy seeds. The grain Serves as A substitue for corn in feeding animals. Some grain sorghums grow as much as 15 feet high. The entire plant can be used to make silage. World wide, common grain sorghums include milo, durra and kafir.
Ground Grain Sorghum - Made by grinding grains of sorghum.
Cereal Food Fines - The by-product of breakfast cereal production which consists of particles of the foods.
Flaxseed - Is also known as Linseed. It is very high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Once a container of this is open it will spoil rapidly. It is best to keep it under refrigeration.
Linseed Meal - The residue of flaxseed oil production, ground into a meal.
Mesquite Bean Meal- This is full of essential nutrients, helps regulate blood sugar, and is an excellent source of carbohydrates.
Oatmeal - Is a heart smart food that is an excellent fiber source and is clinically proven to lower cholesterol.
Meat or Meat Based - Meat is the clean flesh of slaughtered cattle, swine, sheep or goats. The flesh can include striated skeletal muscle, tongue, diaphragm, heskeletal muscle, tongue, diaphragm, heart or esophagus, overlying fat, and the portions of skin, sinew, nerves, and blood vessels normally found with that flesh. This is what some people would call on the hoof or "wet - state". This applies equal to all livestock whether it be Beef, Chicken, Lamb, etc.,,,. After processing these meats can loose up to 80% of their weight. Thus when looking at the ingredients list you might find it as number one but in truly reality after processing it will fall between 4, 5 or even 6 on a ture ingredients list.
Meat Meal - Rendered meal made from animal tissue. It cannot contain hair, hoof, blood, horn, hide trimmings, stomach or rumen (the first stomach) contents, or manure except for amounts that may not be avoided during processing. It cannot contain any added foreimay not be avoided during processing. It cannot contain any added foreign matter and may not contain more than 14% indigestible materials. Indigestible crude protein in the meal cannot be more than 11%. Meals are also use after processing and give a more ture actual weight on the list of ingredients for placement over whole meats or "wet - state" meats.
Meat By-Product - Clean parts of slaughtered animals, not including meat. These parts include lungs, kidneys, brain, spleen, liver, bone, blood, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue, stomach, and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, teeth, hooves or horns. Only 14% may be indigestible residue and no more than 11% indigestible crude protein.
Chicken Liver - Organic meat , highly usable protein source containing vitamins A , K and Foliate. It also contains minerals Phosphorus and potassium. Many Amino Acids are also found in Chicken Liver.
Poultry By-Product - Clean parts of slaughtered poultry, such as heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, feet, abdomen, intestines, and heads and must not contain feces or foreign matter except that which is unavoidable and then only in trace amounts.
Poultry By-Product Meal - Made up of ground, rendered, and clean parts of slaughtered poultry, such as undeveloped eggs, necks, feet, and intestines. It does not contain feathers except those which are unavoidable during processing.
Dehydrated Eggs - Whole poultry eggs which are dried.
Meat and Bone Meal - Rendered from meat and bone, but it does not include hair, blood, horn, hoof, manure, hide trimmings, stomach, or rumen contents except that which is unavoidable during processing. It does not include any foreign matter. Like meat meal, only 14% may be indigestible residue and no more than 11% indigestible crude protein.
Whole Fresh eggs - This is the Highest rated source of usable Protein, and rates above all meats and meat products. Shells are a great source of Calcium Carbonate good for strong healthy teeth.
Beef Tallow - This is the Very Hard white fatty substance which is rock hard and looks like a bone. Most dogs have great difficulty in digesting this substance.
Animal By-Product Meal - Consists of rendered animal tissue which does not fit in any of the other categories. It cannot contain hoof, hide trimmings, extra hair, horn, stomach or rumen contents, manure or any foreign matter.
Animal Digest - A powder or liquid made by taking clean under-composed animal tissue and breaking it down using chemical and or emblematic hydrolysis. It does not contain horn, teeth, hair, hooves, or feathers except in trace amounts which are unavoidable, Digest names must be descriptive of their contents....that is, chicken digest must be made from chicken and beef digest made from beef.
Fish Meal - Clean, dried, and ground tissue of undecomposed whole fish or fish cuttings which may or may not have the oil removed. It is also considered an excelent source for Omega 3 fatty acids.
Salmon - Excellent source of protein and fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6.

Biotin - Vitamin essential to cellular metabolism, it helps metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Biotin prevents anemia, muscular pain, and skin disorders. It also helps prevent heart disease. Is a concentrated, non-processed natural food source of active enzymes, probiotics cultures, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and various other micronutrient.
Dried Whey - The thin part of milk separated from the curd, or thicker part, when milk coagulates. Dried whey is this milk part, dried, and is not less than 11% protein or less than 61% other grains or 10% wild oats.
Probiotics and Probiotics - This is the natural micro-flora like enzymes and friendly bacteria that help in the digestive process. They provide for more efficient utilization of food. It is important to note that they are also heat sensitive.
Peanut Hulls - The outer hull of the peanut shell.
Dried Kelp or Dried Seaweed - The maximum percentage of salt and minimum percentage of potassium and iodine must be declared.
Ginkgo Biloba - This is a rejuvenating herb that helps with memoryh and mental functions of older animals by increasing blood flow to the brain. It is also believed to help improve hearing and equilibrium.
Glucosamine - This is made up of sugars (glucose) and amino acids (glutamine). It is the general believed that it also help in the treatment of osteoarthritis by helping to develop health bones and cartilage.
Fossil Mineral Flour - Finely ground Coral and Fossilized rock. These tiny crystals are eaten by parasites in the intestinal tract and lead to their expulsion from the body. It is one of natures ways of eliminating parasites. Another is Garlic
Lecithin - A Rich Nutrient that lowers Blood Cholesterol levels. It is believed to that it strengthens arteries thus controlling blood pressure. It also helps to reduce the fat content within arterial walls.
Blue-Green Algae - Humectant, Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, High in B-12, all essential amino acids, sulfonolipids and glycolipids, diverse spectrum of vitamins, contains a 95% usable protein complex, 17 bata-carotenoids, thousands of enzymes, and a vast mineral array.
Olive Oil - Is monounsaturated, one of the finest sources of fat and lowers blood cholesterol especially the most harmful variety. The useful fat in olive oil helps carry important vitamins through your pet's body like A, D, E and K.
Apple Cider Vinegar - Contains cholesterol-reducing pectin and the perfect balance of 19 minerals. It contains 93 different components that can help regulate blood pressure, fight off infections, relieve arthritis pains, promote healthy digestion, and improve metabolism. Cleans out toxins from tissues and joints.
Shark Cartilage - This is an excellent source of Calcium and it is also believed that it will help strengthen bones and prevent osteoarthritis.
Sodium Bentonite - Sodium Bentonite is basicly a small amount of inert clay which is used as a binder to aid in the formulation of small pellets of food. Side advantage of this ingredient is that it is said to aid in the digestive process.

Brine - Is a pickling solution. Poured off after pickling leaving only a minimal salt residue.
Brown Sugar - Used as a pickling agent, moisture stabilizer, and a source of minerals.
Calcium Propionate -This chemical has been around for a long time.
BHA and BHT - These are both preservatives. BHA is butylated hydroxyanisole. BHT is butyhlated hydroxytoluene. Both BHA and BHT have been associated with liver damage, fetal abnormalities, and metabolic stress. They also have a questionable relationship to cancer.
Ethoxyquin - This preservative has been the most highly debated item in dog foods for the last several years. It is a chemical preservative that has been widely used to prevent spoilage in dog foods and some human foods as well. It is alleged that ethoxyquin has caused cancer, liver, kidney and thyroid dysfunctions, reproductive failure, and more, although the allegations have not been proven in tests to date, it is highly suspect.
Potassium Sorbate - This chemical has been around for a long time.
Propylene Glycol - This chemical preservative was designed for use in antifreeze, oil and waxes. It causes irregularities in the red blood cells of cats. Dogs and Cats can become addicted to it. It can cause skin problems, hair loss, dull coat, diarrhea, overweight and even death in both dogs and cats.
Sodium Nitrate - Used both as a food coloring (RED) and as a preservative. When used as a preservative, it produces carcinogenic substances called nitrosamines.
NOTE: Accidental ingestion of sodium nitrate by people can be fatal.
Tocopherols (Vitamins C and E) - Naturally occurring compounds used as natural preservatives. Tocopherols function as antioxidants, preventing the oxidation of fatty acids, vitamins, and some other nutrients. These are being used more frequently as preservatives, as many dog owners are more concerned about chemical preservatives. Tocopherols have a very short shelf life, especially once the bag of food has been opened.
© Earl Wolfe
Last Updated: > 04/24/2002 02:55:01

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Commercial pet food and stock feed contain a cocktail of dead domestic animals and deadly environmental toxins.


-All Animals Are To Be Destroyed In A Humane Manner and No Processing Is To Begin Until The Animal Has Expired.

-The Management

[Sign on the wall of a rendering plant]

Warning: these four short articles will make you rethink what you feed to your pets, and even what you and your family eat.


Extracted from NEXUS Magazine, Volume 4, #1 (Dec '96 - Jan 1997).
PO Box 30, Mapleton Qld 4560 Australia.
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381
From our web page at:

Reprinted with permission from
Earth Island Journal
(vol. 11, no. 3, Summer 1996)
(vol. 5, no. 4, Fall 1990)
300 Broadway, Suite 28
San Francisco, CA 94133, USA
Phone: +1 (415) 788 3666
Fax: +1 (415) 788 7324
Web page:



by Ann Martin

The pet food industry, a billion-dollar, unregulated operation, feeds on the garbage that otherwise would wind up in landfills or be transformed into fertiliser. The hidden ingredients in a can of commercial pet food may include roadkill and the rendered remains of cats and dogs. The pet food industry claims that its products constitute a "complete and balanced diet" but, in reality, commercial pet food is unfit for human or animal consumption.

"Vegetable protein", the mainstay of dry dog foods, includes ground yellow corn, wheat shorts and middlings, soybean meal, rice husks, peanut meal and peanut shells (identified as "cellulose" on pet food labels). These often are little more than the sweepings from milling room floors. Stripped of their oil, germ and bran, these "proteins" are deficient in essential fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants. "Animal protein" in commercial pet foods can include diseased meat, roadkill, contaminated material from slaughterhouses, faecal matter, rendered cats and dogs and poultry feathers. The major source of animal protein comes from dead-stock removal operations that supply so-called "4-D" animals&emdash;dead, diseased, dying or disabled&emdash;to "receiving plants" for hide, fat and meat removal. The meat (after being doused with charcoal and marked "unfit for human consumption") may then be sold for pet food.

Rendering plants process decomposing animal carcasses, large roadkill and euthanised dogs and cats into a dry protein product that is sold to the pet food industry. One small plant in Quebec, Ontario, renders 10 tons (22,000 pounds) of dogs and cats per week. The Quebec Ministry of Agriculture states that "the fur is not removed from dogs and cats" and that "dead animals are cooked together with viscera, bones and fat at 115° C (235° F) for 20 minutes".

The US Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is aware of the use of rendered dogs and cats in pet foods, but has stated: "CVM has not acted to specifically prohibit the rendering of pets. However, that is not to say that the practise of using this material in pet food is condoned by the CVM."

In both the US and Canada, the pet food industry is virtually self-regulated. In the US, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) sets guidelines and definitions for animal feed, including pet foods. In Canada, the most prominent control is the "Labeling Act", simply requiring product labels to state the name and address of the manufacturer, the weight of the product and whether it is dog or cat food. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) and the Pet Food Association of Canada (PFAC) are voluntary organisations that, for the most part, rely on the integrity of the companies they certify to assure that product ingredients do not fall below minimum standards.

The majority&emdash;85 to 90 per cent&emdash;of the pet food sold in Canada is manufactured by US-based multinationals. Under the terms of the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement, neither the CVMA nor PFAC exercises any control over the ingredients in cans of US pet food.

Pet food industry advertising promotes the idea that, to keep pets healthy, one must feed them commercially formulated pet foods. But such a diet contributes to cancer, skin problems, allergies, hypertension, kidney and liver failure, heart disease and dental problems. One more item should be added to pet food labels: a skull-and-crossbones insignia!

(Ann Martin is an animal rights activist and leading critic of the commercial pet food industry. She lives in London, Ontario, Canada.)


by Dr Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M.

The most frequently asked question in my practice is, "Which commercial pet food do you recommend?" My standard answer is "None." I am certain that pet-owners notice changes in their animals after using different batches of the same brand of pet food. Their pets may have diarrhoea, increased flatulence, a dull hair coat, intermittent vomiting or prolonged scratching. These are common symptoms associated with commercial pet foods.

In 1981, as Martin Zucker and I wrote How to Have a Healthier Dog, we discovered the full extent of negative effects that commercial pet food has on animals. In February 1990, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Eckhouse went even further with an exposé entitled "How Dogs and Cats Get Recycled into Pet Food".

Eckhouse wrote: "Each year, millions of dead American dogs and cats are processed along with billions of pounds of other animal materials by companies known as renderers. The finished product...tallow and meat meal...serve as raw materials for thousands of items that include cosmetics and pet food."

Pet food company executives made the usual denials. But federal and state agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, and medical groups, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association and the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), confirm that pets, on a routine basis, are rendered after they die in animal shelters or are disposed of by health authorities&emdash;and the end product frequently finds its way into pet food.

Government health officials, scientists and pet food executives argue that such open criticism of commercial pet food is unfounded. James Morris, a professor at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Davis, California, has said, "Any products not fit for human consumption are very well sterilised, so nothing can be transmitted to the animal." Individuals who make such statements know nothing of the meat and rendering business.

For seven years I was a veterinary meat inspector for the US Department of Agriculture and the State of California. I waded through blood, water, pus and faecal material, inhaled the fetid stench from the killing floor and listened to the death cries of slaughtered animals.

Prior to World War II, most slaughterhouses were all-inclusive; that is, livestock was slaughtered and processed in one location. There was a section for smoking meats, a section for processing meats into sausages, and a section for rendering. After World War II, the meat industry became more specialised. A slaughterhouse dressed the carcasses, while a separate facility made the sausages. The rendering of slaughter waste also became a separate speciality&emdash;no longer within the jurisdiction of federal meat inspectors and out of the public eye.

To prevent condemned meat from being rerouted and used for human consumption, government regulations require that meat be "denatured" before removal from the slaughterhouse and shipment to rendering facilities. In my time as a veterinary meat inspector, we denatured with carbolic acid (a potentially corrosive disinfectant) and/or creosote (used for wood-preservation or as a disinfectant). Both substances are highly toxic. According to federal meat inspection regulations, fuel oil, kerosene, crude carbolic acid and citronella (an insect repellent made from lemon grass) are all approved denaturing materials.

Condemned livestock carcasses treated with these chemicals can become meat and bone meal for the pet food industry. Because rendering facilities are not government-controlled, any animal carcasses can be rendered&emdash;even dogs and cats. As Eileen Layne of the CVMA told the Chronicle, "When you read pet food labels, and it says "meat and bone meal", that's what it is: cooked and converted animals, including some dogs and cats."

Some of these dead pets&emdash;those euthanised by veterinarians&emdash;already contain pentobarbital before treatment with the denaturing process. According to University of Minnesota researchers, the sodium pentobarbital used to euthanise pets "survives rendering without undergoing degradation". Fat stabilisers are introduced into the finished rendered product to prevent rancidity. Common chemical stabilisers include BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene)&emdash;both known to cause liver and kidney dysfunction&emdash;and ethoxyquin, a suspected carcinogen. Many semi-moist dog foods contain propylene glycol&emdash;first cousin to the anti-freeze agent, ethylene glycol, that destroys red blood-cells. Lead frequently shows up in pet foods, even those made from livestock meat and bone meal. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, titled "Lead in Animal Foods", found that a nine-pound cat fed on commercial pet food ingests more lead than the amount considered potentially toxic for children.

I have been practising small-animal medicine for more than 25 years. Every day I see the casualties of pet industry propaganda. But the professors in the teaching institutions of veterinary medicine generally support an industry that has little regard for the quality of health in our companion animals.

One last word of caution: meat and bone meal from sources not fit for human consumption have found their way into poultry feed. This means that animal products rendered under questionable conditions are fed to birds that may wind up on your table. Remember this when you are eating your next piece of chicken or turkey.

(Dr Belfield is a graduate of Tuskegee Institute of Veterinary Medicine and is now in private practice in San Jose, California. Dr Belfield established the first orthomolecular veterinary hospital in the US. He is co-author of The Very Healthy Cat Book and How to Have a Healthier Dog. This article first appeared in Let's Live Magazine, May 1992.)


by Gar Smith

Rendering has been called "the silent industry". Each year in the US, 286 rendering plants quietly dispose of more than 12.5 million tons of dead animals, fat and meat wastes. As the public relations watchdog newsletter PR Watch observes, renderers "are thankful that most people remain blissfully unaware of their existence".

When City Paper reporter Van Smith visited Baltimore's Valley Proteins rendering plant last summer, he found that the "hoggers" (the large vats used to grind and filter animal tissues prior to deep-fat-frying) held an eclectic mix of body parts ranging from "dead dogs, cats, raccoons, possums, deer, foxes [and] snakes" to a "baby circus elephant" and the remains of Bozeman, a Police Department quarterhorse that "died in the line of duty".

In an average month, Baltimore's pound hands over 1,824 dead animals to Valley Proteins. Last year, the plant transformed 150 millions pounds of decaying flesh and kitchen grease into 80 million pounds of commercial meat and bone meal, tallow and yellow grease. Thirty years ago, most of the renderer's wastes came from small markets and slaughterhouses. Today, thanks to the proliferation of fast-food restaurants, nearly half the raw material is kitchen grease and frying oil.

Recycling dead pets and wildlife into animal food is "a very small part of the business that we don't like to advertise," Valley Proteins' President, J. J. Smith, told City Paper. The plant processes these animals as a "public service, not for profit," Smith said, since "there is not a lot of protein and fat [on pets]..., just a lot of hair you have to deal with somehow."

According to City Paper, Valley Proteins "sells inedible animal parts and rendered material to Alpo, Heinz and Ralston-Purina". Valley Proteins insists that it does not sell "dead pet by-products" to pet food firms since "they are all very sensitive to the recycled pet potential". Valley Proteins maintains two production lines&emdash;one for clean meat and bones and a second line for dead pets and wildlife. However, Van Smith reported, "the protein material is a mix from both production lines. Thus the meat and bone meal made at the plant includes materials from pets and wildlife, and about five per cent of that product goes to dry-pet-food manufacturers..."

A 1991 USDA report states that "approximately 7.9 billion pounds of meat and bone meal, blood meal and feather meal [were] produced in 1983". Of that amount, 34 per cent was used in pet food, 34 per cent in poultry feed, 20 per cent in pig food and 10 per cent in beef and dairy cattle feed.

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) carried in pig- and chicken-laden foods may eventually eclipse the threat of "mad cow disease". The risk of household pet exposure to TSE from contaminated pet food is more than three times greater than the risk for hamburger-eating humans.

(Gar Smith is Editor of Earth Island Journal.)


[Author's name withheld]

[In February 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle carried a macabre two-part story detailing how stray dogs, cats and pound animals are routinely rounded up by meat renderers and ground up into&emdash;of all things&emdash;pet food. According to the researcher who brought the information to the Chronicle, the paper buried the story and deleted many of the charges he had documented. A report he worked on for ABC television's 20-20 was similarly watered down. In exasperation, he sent the story to Earth Island Journal. NEXUS has been asked to withhold the name of the author/researcher, who has been forced to flee San Francisco with his wife and go into hiding as a result of the threats made against his well-being. Ed.]

The rendering plant floor is piled high with "raw product": thousands of dead dogs and cats; heads and hooves from cattle, sheep, pigs and horses; whole skunks; rats and raccoons&emdash;all waiting to be processed. In the 90-degree heat, the piles of dead animals seem to have a life of their own as millions of maggots swarm over the carcasses.

Two bandana-masked men begin operating Bobcat mini-dozers, loading the "raw" into a 10-foot- deep stainless-steel pit. They are undocumented workers from Mexico, doing a dirty job. A giant auger-grinder at the bottom of the pit begins to turn. Popping bones and squeezing flesh are sounds from a nightmare you will never forget.

Rendering is the process of cooking raw animal material to remove the moisture and fat. The rendering plant works like a giant kitchen. The cooker, or "chef", blends the raw product in order to maintain a certain ratio between the carcasses of pets, livestock, poultry waste and supermarket rejects.

Once the mass is cut into small pieces, it is transported to another auger for fine shredding. It is then cooked at 280 degrees for one hour. The continuous batch cooking process goes on non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week as meat is melted away from bones in the hot 'soup'. During this cooking process, the 'soup' produces a fat of yellow grease or tallow that rises to the top and is skimmed off. The cooked meat and bone are sent to a hammermill press, which squeezes out the remaining moisture and pulverises the product into a gritty powder. Shaker screens sift out excess hair and large bone chips. Once the batch is finished, all that is left is yellow grease, meat and bone meal.

A Meaty Menu

As the American Journal of Veterinary Research explains, this recycled meat and bone meal is used as "a source of protein and other nutrients in the diets of poultry and swine and in pet foods, with lesser amounts used in the feed of cattle and sheep. Animal fat is also used in animal feeds as an energy source." Every day, hundreds of rendering plants across the United States truck millions of tons of this "food enhancer" to poultry ranches, cattle feed-lots, dairy and hog farms, fish-feed plants and pet-food manufacturers where it is mixed with other ingredients to feed the billions of animals that meat-eating humans, in turn, will eat.

Rendering plants have different specialities. The labelling designation of a particular "run" of product is defined by the predominance of a specific animal. Some product-label names are: meat meal, meat by-products, poultry meal, poultry by-products, fish meal, fish oil, yellow grease, tallow, beef fat and chicken fat.

Rendering plants perform one of the most valuable functions on Earth: they recycle used animals. Without rendering, our cities would run the risk of becoming filled with diseased and rotting carcasses. Fatal viruses and bacteria would spread uncontrolled through the population.

The Dark Side

Death is the number one commodity in a business where the demand for feed ingredients far exceeds the supply of raw product. But this elaborate system of food production through waste management has evolved into a recycling nightmare. Rendering plants are unavoidably processing toxic waste.

The dead animals (the "raw") are accompanied by a whole menu of unwanted ingredients. Pesticides enter the rendering process via poisoned livestock, and fish oil laced with bootleg DDT and other organophosphates that have accumulated in the bodies of West Coast mackerel and tuna.

Because animals are frequently shoved into the pit with flea collars still attached, organophosphate-containing insecticides get into the mix as well. The insecticide Dursban arrives in the form of cattle insecticide patches. Pharmaceuticals leak from antibiotics in livestock, and euthanasia drugs given to pets are also included. Heavy metals accumulate from a variety of sources: pet ID tags, surgical pins and needles.

Even plastic winds up going into the pit. Unsold supermarket meats, chicken and fish arrive in styrofoam trays and shrink wrap. No one has time for the tedious chore of unwrapping thousands of rejected meat-packs. More plastic is added to the pits with the arrival of cattle ID tags, plastic insecticide patches and the green plastic bags containing pets from veterinarians.

Rendering Judgements

Skyrocketing labour costs are one of the economic factors forcing the corporate flesh-peddlers to cheat. It is far too costly for plant personnel to cut off flea collars or unwrap spoiled T-bone steaks. Every week, millions of packages of plastic-wrapped meat go through the rendering process and become one of the unwanted ingredients in animal feed.

The most environmentally conscious state in the nation is California, where spot checks and testing of animal-feed ingredients happen at the wobbly rate of once every two-and-a-half months. The supervising state agency is the Department of Agriculture's Feed and Fertilizer Division of Compliance. Its main objective is to test for truth in labelling: does the percentage of protein, phosphorous and calcium match the rendering plant's claims; do the percentages meet state requirements? However, testing for pesticides and other toxins in animal feeds is incomplete.

In California, eight field inspectors regulate a rendering industry that feeds the animals that the state's 30 million people eat. When it comes to rendering plants, however, state and federal agencies have maintained a hands-off policy, allowing the industry to become largely self-regulating. An article in the February 1990 issue of Render, the industry's national magazine, suggests that the self-regulation of certain contamination problems is not working.

One policing program that is already off to a shaky start is the Salmonella Education/Reduction Program, formed under the auspices of the National Renderers Association. The magazine states that "...unless US and Canadian renderers get their heads out of the ground and demonstrate that they are serious about reducing the incidence of salmonella contamination in their animal protein meals, they are going to be faced and overly stringent government regulations."

So far, the voluntary self-testing program is not working. According to the magazine, "...only about 20 per cent of the total number of companies producing or blending animal protein meal have signed up for the program..." Far fewer have done the actual testing.

The American Journal of Veterinary Research conducted an investigation into the persistence of sodium phenobarbital in the carcasses of euthanised animals at a typical rendering plant in 1985 and found "...virtually no degradation of the drug occurred during this conventional rendering processŠ" and that "...the potential of other chemical contaminants (e.g., heavy metals, pesticides and environmental toxicants, which may cause massive herd mortalities) to degrade during conventional rendering needs further evaluation."

Renderers are the silent partners in our food chain. But worried insiders are beginning to talk, and one word that continues to come up in conversation is "pesticides". The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality. Government agencies and the industry itself are allowing toxins to be inadvertently recycled from the streets and supermarket shelves into the food chain. As we break into a new decade of increasingly complex pollution problems, we must rethink our place in the environment. No longer hunters, we are becoming the victims of our technologically altered food chain.

The possibility of petrochemically poisoning our food has become a reality.

(First published in Earth Island Journal, Fall 1990.)

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Posts: 480
From:Harrisburg,PA USA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 07-18-2003 10:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message

by Mary Ellen R. Lunde

So many of us ask for recommendations on what to feed our furkids. To help YOU decide, what is best for YOUR fuzzbutt, I have listed the top 5 ingredients of some major kibbles below. If the product uses ethoxyquin, BHA or BHT as a preservative it is also shown. The list includes:

- Adult dry dog food
- Premium and Super-premium brands; no supermarket kibbles
- Address, phone #, e-mail and web site info

I have asterisked certain ingredients that can, but not always, denote inferior sources of nutrition. The AAFCO definition of these ingredients, along with further explanations, is after the kibble list.(Since I have already posted these, please refer to the post "Dog Food Ingredients)

This list is strictly meant as a starting point. One of the big things missing from any ingredient list, is the quality of the ingredients. For example, two products could list chicken or chicken meal but you would not know from the list, if it is pet grade chicken, meaning unfit for human consumption. Pet-grade could include the diseased-ridden, e.g. salmonella-infected, rejects.

Another thing to think about when reading labels is that the ingredients are supposed to be listed in weight order. However, "creative" labeling does occur. For example, the Science Diet Lamb Meal and Rice kibble shows Lamb meal first, so you might think that there was more lamb than any other ingredient. Well..... note that the second, third and fourth ingredients are brewers rice, rice flour, and rice gluten. It is quite possible that there are more substandard rice derivatives in this product than lamb.

At the end of the list are my personal opinions and recommendations on what to feed.


Best In Show
(All human grade) Chicken
Chicken Meal
Brown Rice
Millet PO Box 850, Jupiter FL 33468-0850
1-800-DOG-EATS (1-800-364-3287)
Local 561-747-3287, FAX 561-745-0283
California Natural
(All human grade) Lamb Meal
Ground Brown Rice
Ground Rice
Sunflower Oil Natura Pet Products
P.O. Box 271
Santa Clara, CA 95052
408-261 0770
Diamond Premium Lamb Meal;
Brewers Rice*
Brown Rice
Rice Flour*
Turkey By-Product Meal* Diamond
PO Box 156
Meta, MO 65058
Eagle Natural Pack Lamb Meal
Ground Brown Rice
Ground Yellow Corn*
Ground Whole Wheat
Chicken Meal PO Box 506
Mishawaka, IN 46546-0506
Eukanuba Adult Chicken
Chicken by-product meal*
Rice flour*
Ground corn*
Ground grain sorghum* The IAMS Co
7250 Poe Ave
Dayton OH 45414
1-800-525-4267 and
Eukanuba Natural
Lamb & Rice Lamb
Rice flour*
Ground corn*
Fish Meal
Ground grain sorghum* The IAMS Co
7250 Poe Ave.
Dayton OH 45414
1-800-525-4267 and
Flint River Ranch
(All human grade) Chicken Meal
Wheat Flour
Ground Rice
Lamb Meal
Poultry Fat 1243 Columbia Ave, B6
Riverside, CA 92507
Fax: 909-682-5057
Distributor Sites:
IAMS Chunks Chicken By-Product Meal*
Ground Corn*
Rice Flour*
Ground grain sorghum
Animal Fat* The IAMS Co
7250 Poe Ave.
Dayton OH 45414
1-800-525-4267 and
IAMS Lamb Meal
and Rice Lamb Meal
Rice Flour*
Ground Corn*
Ground Grain Sorghum*
Fish Meal The IAMS Co
7250 Poe Ave.
Dayton OH 45414
1-800-525-4267 and
(All human grade) Turkey
Chicken Meal
Ground Brown Rice
Whole Steamed Potatoes Natura Pet Products
P.O. Box 271
Santa Clara, CA 95052
408-261 0770
Natural Life
Lamb & Rice
Lamaderm Lamb Meal
Whole Brown Rice
Ground Grain Sorghum*
Poultry Fat Natural Life
PO Box 943
Frontenac, KS 66763-2391
Nature's Recipe
Lamb & Rice Ground Whole Wheat
Lamb Meal
Ground Rice
Wheat Bran
Animal Fat* Nature's Recipe
1 Riverfront Place
Newport, KY 41071
Nutra Nuggets
Lamb and Rice Lamb Meal
Brewers Rice*
Brown Rice
Rice Flour*,
Turkey By-Product Meal* Nutra Nuggets
PO Box 204
St. Thomas, MO 65076
Nutro's Lamb Meal
& Rice Lamb Meal
Ground rice
Rice Bran*
Rice Flour*
Sunflower Oil Nutro
445 Wilson Way
City of Industry, CA 91744
PetGuard Chicken
Chicken Meal
Ground Whole Brown Rice
Ground Whole Yellow Corn* Pet Guard, Inc.
PO Box 728
Orange Park, FL 32067-0728
(All human grade) Lamb Meal
Poultry Meal
Brown Rice
Whole Corn*
Poultry Fat PHD
PO Box 8313
White Plains, NY 10602
Foundation Chicken Meal
Ground Brown Rice
Ground Whole Wheat
Ground Yellow Corn*
Poultry Fat Precise
PO Box 630009
Nacogdoches, TX 75963
Sensicare formula Lamb Meal
Ground Brown Rice
Ground Oats
Rice bran*
Linseed meal Precise
PO Box 630009
Nacogdoches, TX 75963
ProPlan Natural Turkey
Corn Gluten Meal*
Animal Fat* Ralston Purina
PO Box 1606,
St. Louis MO 63188
Quality Care Plus Chicken
Chicken Meal
Ground Brown Rice
Corn Gluten Meal*
Oatmeal Quality Care Plus
PO Box 1475
Battle Creek, MI 49016-1475
Science Diet
Canine Maintenance Corn*
Poultry By-Product Meal*
Soybean Meal*
Animal Fat*
Natural Flavors
BHA, PPG, Citric Acid Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc.
PO Box 148
Topeka KS 66601-0148
Science Diet
Lamb Meal & Rice Lamb Meal
Brewers Rice*
Rice Flour*
Rice gluten*
Poultry Fat Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc.
PO Box 148
Topeka KS 66601-0148
Sensible Choice
Lamb & Rice Lamb Meal
Brewers Rice*
Rice Gluten*
Rice Flour*
Poultry Fat Sensible Choice
5600 Mexico Road, Suite 2
St. Peters, MO 63376
Solid Gold
(All human grade) USDA Lamb Meal
Whole Ground Millet
Ground Brown Rice
Whole Ground Barley
Amaranth 1483 N. Cuyamaca
El Cajon, CA 92020
619-258-1914 Fax - 619-258-3907
East Coast 1-800-521-0010
email -
(All human grade) Chicken Meal
Turkey Meal
Whole Brown Rice
Brewers Rice*
Whole Oats Sirius Pet Food Co., Inc
408 Wilson Ave
Mingo Junction OH 43938-1552
Waltham Rice
Ground Corn*
Chicken by-Product Meal*
Ground Wheat
Corn Gluten Meal* Kal Kan Pet Care
PO Box 58853
Vernon, CA 90058-0853
(All human grade) Chicken
Ground Whole Corn Grain*
Ground Whole Wheat Grain
Ground Whole Brown Rice
Ground Extruded Whole Soybeans* 1880 N Eastman
Midland, MI 48640

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Posts: 480
From:Harrisburg,PA USA
Registered: Feb 2003

posted 07-18-2003 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for RottyMommy     Edit/Delete Message
For anyone with questions about homecooked meals

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Posts: 536
Registered: May 2003

posted 07-20-2003 11:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jas     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks for the info.

I too have some favorite sites that also provide good information worth their read for anyone looking to change/improve their pets diet.

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