Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by Ausrural, Sep 4, 2010.
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Honest question here, absolutely no snark intended. That page seems to be aimed at dairy farmers. Would the digestibility of brewer's grains be the same for a ruminant as for a dog or cat?
Very interesting debate. I can't help wondering as I read this thread - what about the veterinary nutritionists that formulate dog food? How do you factor them into the debate? From my limited understanding, the majority of pet foods do not have a veterinary nutritionist on staff (although they may have originally been formulated by a nutritionist) and I find it hard to completely tear apart any brand that does employ or consult one. What do you think?
I took a quick browse of the book and was pretty disappointed that there was no bibliography listed. Hard to take any science seriously when a lot of the statements were "It is my belief...."
They might be right but I still have no opinion either way.
That is a good point, and I have to admit I was also disappointed in the lack of bibliography/citations.
I'm not a huge fan of holistic foods, but that may be because I am interested in production medicine. Dogs can do just fine on a diet that has corn as a major ingredient. Cats are a different story because they require a significant amount of protein in their diets as well as taurine and other nutrients not found in plant based foods.
What about people who cannot afford expensive brands? Should they feel bad because they cannot afford a $60 bag of dog food every two months?
My cocker spaniel ate Purina dog chow for 12 years, and now at 15.5 years, she is doing just fine. My chihuahua is on a RX dog food produced by Hill's and is also doing great.
Just found a really good (IMO) article on the subject from VIN News. http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=12031
I was quite surprised to come back from a long day at work and see how much this thread has exploded! I don't know enough to give much of an opinion at this point, but this whole thread is a really interesting read and I definitely am going to look into things. Do vet schools have a class where they delve into this debate, or are nutrition courses more just straight how the body processes x, y, and z? It's such a huge field that affects so many pet owners, yet the different options seem like such a small part of what vets discuss with clients, from what I've seen.
Anecdote != fact.
Again, vp of HSUS's anecdotes with no bibliography or peer reviewing != fact. Peer reviewed journal articles by him on the topic of pet food are sparse to say the least, and I don't think most of the ones showing up in pubmed under JAVMA are actually articles - they look more like letters to the editors. I'd have to look it up on the JAVMA website and as I don't remember my login atm, yeah... In any case, conclusions without support are conjecture, until proven otherwise, even when printed in a fancy shiny book available on amazon. Nothing that is showing up on pubmed seems relevant to that book really. When he publishes a peer reviewed article on his findings, then I'll take them a bit more seriously.
Yeah I suck and didn't read to the bottom. I got owned by google. Digestibility would be different for sure. Nutrient levels wouldn't change though!
Quote from article: Veterinarians are aligned with major food manufacturers to some degree, so criticisms of the major food companies are, to some degree, a criticism of standard veterinary medicine, too, he said. So we should really know the products that either fund our CE programs or are sold ... from our offices.
Not sure I agree completely with the former half of the quote but I for sure agree with the later half. It's really all I can think about while reading this thread. I cannot wait to take the nutrition course in vet school and have more insight into the issue at hand.
It's true that there are some smart people who somehow connected to HSUS (e.g. RAVS people), but don't you wonder if the VP has an axe to grind, given their increasingly radical stance on just about everything?
Re: raw: there is a paucity of evidence WRT purported nutritional benefits.
What there IS empirical evidence on is that feeding raw diets to dogs increases the rate of carriage of several zoonotic pathogens, such as Salmonella.
Commercial raw diets contain lots of good stuff, too.
Dr. Scott Weese, an infectious disease specialist from U of O Guelph vet school has written numerous times about this topic. Here's one post with links to multiple recent studies finding much higher rates of shedding Salmonella, multi-drug resistant E. coli, and Campylobacter.
Q and A on Salmonella and raw food (hint - intestinal bacteria get on your dog's coat, so you don't have to touch his poop directly to be exposed)
This kind of sums it up:
See here's the thing I don't get, and maybe the word 'by-products' has more than one meaning, but when you slaughter an animal and it produces by-products, that's just anything that the target market (in this case, Americans) won't readily consume OR a product that's separate from the main carcass/chunk of meat. So that's to include things like the liver and the tongue (big chunk of muscle, so protein). I don't know why the word by-products is such taboo.
Just because you (generic you) wouldn't eat it doesn't mean your dog won't love it, and it's all processed into a kibble any how so they don't know the difference.
But in general, I find that debating someone on food is kind of like debating one of those....let's say 'overly exuberant' type people on vaccines. They've already drawn their conclusion and will only listen to things that support it, regardless of whether it's evidence or opinion.
Raw hasn't really been brought up yet. I definitely agree with the literature on that one. Even if you do everything correctly in handling the meat you are going to feed your pet, you can't be sure that everyone along the line that had a hand in bringing that food to your kitchen (manufacturer, shipping, store employees, etc.) was as careful as you were. All of the data supporting raw diets is thus far circumstantial and anecdotal, though I do believe some research is being done (maybe at Tennessee?) to compare raw diets vs. cooked and/or processed foods. Also, if you have young children in your house, or elderly, or immuno-suppressed, you're taking a pretty big gamble on their safety. There may be some benefits, but those don't outweigh the risks, IMO.
HopefulAg: You may be right, but I really don't see the need for beaks, feathers, feet, and that kind of stuff to go into commercial pet food. Maybe it has some awesome nutritional value (and it's cheap stuff that would be otherwise disposed of), but I don't think that's what I would want my pet to eat every day for the rest of his life. Call me biased if you want, but that's my opinion.
I agree here, I don't believe there is a "blanket food" that is great for all. Each pets diet should be tweeked to its individual needs. One size doesn't fit all. Although there are foods out there that have the potential of being great nutritionally and there are foods not worth even looking at the label. I have heard that the next tier of the pet food industry will be in breed specificity. I think this will be better suited to dogs especially because what is good for your chihuahua won't be good for another's great dane. I know there is already differences in the pet foods for large and small breeds, but i think its important to formulate diets for smaller subcategories to better meet the nutritional needs of each dog/cat.
I did raw (for my healthy pets) for a little while during the recalls back in 2007 after we got burned and it seemed like none of the standard commercial fare was certifiably safe. They did great on it, but my FIV+/diabetic/all-over-FAIL cat managed to steal a few bites of (fresh) raw I'd just pitched and ended up seriously ill (two weeks of bloody diarrhea followed by a life-threatening neurologic episode that may or may not have been related). I don't feed raw anymore.
If people want to feed raw food to a healthy animal, I think that's their prerogative... but when I see veterinarians and BARF-ers advocating that people feed it to immunosuppressed/ potentially immunosuppressed animals (and snarking on those who suggest otherwise as being neurotic, ignorant, and/or in bed with the pet food companies), it kind of makes me see red.
I'm in total agreement with those who've expressed the view that there is no blanket ideal that suits all pets. I've seen others' animals thrive on foods that my pets can't eat (and vice versa). One of my cats is sensitive and can't eat a strictly "premium" diet or he ends up puking up everything he touches. We've tried every food they carry in these parts. After almost nine years of trial-and-error, the only thing we've found that works for him is alternating a handful of higher-quality brands with occasional cheap stuff. I've faced some judgment when people see the cheap food, but he is thriving, he's not barfing, and he looks great... so I'm not going to stress.
And, in response to the question about the free/cheap food offered in vet school... I am not crazy about Science Diet, but if my cats can tolerate it, I'll accept the freebies and supplement them with other stuff. Tyler eats like a horse (albeit a small, carnivorous one). I'd be thrilled to have someone help feed him while I am busy incurring $150-200 k in debt.
I regularly feed my cats cooked "by-products" as treats. They love gizzards, chicken/turkey hearts, beef heart, and the occasional chicken liver. (Beef kidney, on the other hand, receives a resounding "".) They're healthy, and they are dirt cheap. I'm all about quality organ meats.
I don't freak out when I see by-products on the label. My only concern is, if the bulk of the food's meat content is comprised of by-products, you don't know what those by-products are. Are they largely nutritious by-products, or parts that are little more than animal-based filler?
I saw this awesome quote from a vegan who provides a vegan diet for her greyhound in the NYT (link deleted because apparently it's behind a pay-wall): "And it's in line with my values [...]"
I had to wonder: If your greyhound could talk, would it share your vegan values?
Haha yeah. That doesn't make any sense to me. Dogs are omnivores (some will say carnivores); a main part of their diet is meat. You can make all the moral choices you want for you and your children, but to not give a dog meat based on your own personal preferences is doing a disservice to the dog. That's not to say that dogs can't survive on vegetarian or vegan diets, but I don't agree with that line of thinking.
These are nutritionally balanced diets, so does it actually matter? It's about the sum of the components, not the individual components.
I have 5 cats. Three are on Science Diet Indoor Cat food and 2 are on Science Diet Mature Adult food. They've all been on Science Diet either their entire lives or most of their lives. They're all healthy and happy, and constantly get compliments from veterinarians on their coats, teeth, and weight. I have no problems with Science Diet and see no reason to change their diets. The two on mature adult food have been eating Science Diet for >9years! By-products are perfectly fine by me, especially since Hill's employs veterinary nutritionists.
Oh, and I have taken a veterinary nutrition course and still feed them Science Diet. I also get my food for free, which is a great relief when you have 5 cats and are living off of student loans. My cats were, however, eating Science Diet before I started getting it for free.
Everyone feeding their pets Iams, Science Diet, Purina, etc. are all giving us anecdotal evidence of their pet thriving on the food. That's all fine and good, but I would like to see some peer reviewed articles that say the same thing (it works both ways). I'm assuming they are out there but I wouldn't mind some links
One also has to remember that Hill's and other companies, like it or not, have a big role in the teaching of veterinary students. I'm not saying that every single vet is an idiot or is being duped by the big companies (because that would definitely be underestimating the intelligence of the profession), but I do think there is some attempt at influence being done by the companies (in terms of free/discounted food, wet labs, even textbooks). I definitely don't think there is conscious awareness of this kind of stuff (everyone wants to take advantage of free food and educational opportunities---and no one consciously says "hey! Hill's gave me free food, I'm going to recommend it to my clients"). But it is definitely something to be aware of.
Thank you for pointing me toward a well-known database. I was merely pointing out the fact that people were chastising me for not providing links and for providing anecdotal evidence and it appears that the 'other' side of the debate is perfectly allowed to do the same without penalty. I merely thought that if anyone had done some reading and had readily available links, they would be willing to share.
Sorry. I didn't realize your request for peer-reviewd articles was a rhetorical point. So I provided a resource where you could find the articles you were interested in.
It wasn't rhetorical. I was wondering if anyone had any articles that addressed the issue in their file libraries/favorites. I will definitely do the research myself but if anyone had some articles that would be helpful, I would appreciate it.
Are you in Madison for med school? (you're either there in at MCW since we only have two med schools here )
If you're in Madison, I can give you some recommendations for vets. PM me and I can give you a list, and you can get a discount where I work, most likely.
Now I'm going to go read more of these posts and possibly reply to them.
Yeah... so everyone on here hasn't had a problem feeding their animals a lower-quality food.
They say that outdoor cats live a significantly shorter life because of diease, being hit by cars, predation, etc.I know one person who had their 3 year old cat go missing while outside. I know many people who have had outdoor cats live 12+ years. Because their cats lived long, "happy" lives, does that make the above fact false... and we should all keep our cats outdoors?
The "my pet ate this food and lived to be 15" is not a scientifically valid argument as to which food is best.
Also, for those of you who never fed your pets anything but low quality food, how do you know if the high quality stuff or raw diets are so horrible if you're never tried it?
I'm not saying that Hills is evil... with all of this controversy, I'm curious to as to whether it's as evil as people are making out to be or if it's genuinely okay for your animal to be fed that.
My cat had cancer and a stoke when she died. She was overweight while she was on the "low quality" food. I could easily bounce back and say that her being fed cheap food most of her life caused her to die...
First, let me just say I don't have a issue with Science Diet. I don't think it's evil or horrible for your pets. It's just that I do not personally choose to feed it because I have made a decision regarding what I want my dog eating. I wouldn't recommend it if someone asked my opinion, but what people feed their animals is totally up to them.
I'm not much of a nutrition person either, but I can think of a comparison. A person can go to McDonalds and get a nutritionally complete meal with enough calories, biologically available nutrients of the right profile, etc. Let's say this person got a Cheeseburger, fries, coke, and one of those dinky side salads. It is, by nutritional definitions, complete and balanced. But it's full of s.hit. It has hormones and god knows what in the beef, preservatives, filler gross stuff that is not good for your health in the slightest. So even though it is nutritionally balanced it doesn't mean it's any good for you, all that 'nutritionally balanced' means is that you won't die of deficiencies/starvation/etc.
Similarly, a dog diet can be nutritionally complete (meeting AAFCO standards) and still be made of poor products/fillers/cheap stuff. I personally think by-products are great as long as they are not the only source of animal protein (need some flesh in there), but IMO corn, while nutritionally sufficient, is not the best option available for my pet.
Yikes, what a scary line of thought! Of course it matters what the diet is made up of. Purina could make a nutritionally balanced diet out of seaweed, vitamins, minerals, soybeans, synthetics and oil, could you honestly say that it wouldn't matter? Heck, they could use melamine for all their nitrogen component and the bag would say "nutritionally complete" yet you say that it doesn't matter because as long as it's "nutritionally balanced" the individual components don't matter?
TongaPup.. I was actually thinking about the same thing. I wouldn't go around eating fillers, chicken bones and the intestines of a cow that was diseased, so why would I feed my pets that?
*thinks back to an article I read where an egg factory in New Jersey threw male chicks into a meat grinder while they were sorting them... the ground up chicks were made into pet food... feathers and beak and all!*
I haaaaate the McDonald's analogy McDonald's is NOT a good comparison to cheap pet food. Your meal example is NOT a complete and balanced meal. McDonald's doesn't spend large sums of money doing nutritional research and food trials to test it's food, or follow nutritional guidelines.
And I'd like to know what your definition of "filler gross stuff" is exactly? Because every ingredient is there for a reason
So, in one breath you're saying that personal anecdotes don't mean anything, which they don't, and then you're saying that you have to have personal experience to judge a food type?
I don't need to personally get C. difficile colitis from feeding my pet a raw diet and having them shed it to know that feeding a raw diet increases the risk of household members (and others who touch the pet) getting a zoonotic gastrointestinal pathogen. That's why we pay scientists to go out and get data.
What you describe may be complete, but it certainly isn't balanced. Pet foods are designed to provide 100% of an animals needs. A McDouble(while delicious) is not, which is why them not being particularly healthy is fine..
Ignoring the fact that this would've been a pretty horrific ending for the chicks, if we were just talking solely about nutritional value, this wouldn't really bother me. In the wild, if (or, when, in the case of the ferals) my cats were catching prey, they wouldn't be consuming strictly muscle meat. They'd eat basically the entire mouse, chipmunk or sparrow, uglies, fur, feathers, feet, bones and all.
That is a good point, but we also have to remember that we have domesticated dogs (and to a lesser extent, cats). That means we have also altered their gastrointestinal physiology and capabilities in some ways. What might cut it for a wolf may not cut it for a domestic dog. The distinction is probably lesser in cats, but there are probably still differences between ancestral cats and what we call housecats.
Mechanical euthanasia for day old chicks is considered humane. http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf pg 17 and references an AAAP article about the practice.
As far as articles about commercial pet food nutrition and unconventional types of nutrition, it took me about 10 seconds to get 16 pages on the topic with one pubmed search. I don't think any of them scientifically compare commercial diets to McDonald's drive-thru though glhf
Mind sharing your search terms? I was looking earlier today and couldn't really find anything with "pet food" "Science Diet" "dog commercial diet" and others. Also, does anyone know how to get it to search other journals? Mine was only coming up with a Canadian Journal (maybe that has something to do with my school's database?) Not sure.
I do think the quality of the ingredients matters.
We saw the impact of poor quality fillers back in 2007 during the Menu Foods recall, when Menu purchased shoddy wheat gluten that had been "fortified" with melamine to give the illusion of higher protein content. Had a higher quality gluten been used, they wouldn't have had to fake its nutritional value. (And I wouldn't have to spend the rest of my cat's life crossing my fingers and testing his kidney function every six months.) And if these foods had used more quality animal-based protein, there would've been no need to supplement them with mass quantities of inexpensive plant-based filler to begin with.
How many times a year are pet foods recalled due to contamination with aflatoxins? Clearly, the quality of the grains used in pet food isn't a non-issue.
If you're dealing with an obligate carnivore, like a cat, ideally, is it better if the bulk of the protein in his diet is animal-based or derived from corn?
Adulteration aside, the AAFCO standards represent a bare minimum. Some of the stuff on the market may be enough to sustain life, but "this won't kill your dog" doesn't necessarily equate to "healthy".
I'm definitely not a pet food snob. (To be brutally honest, I dread having to deal with overzealous "foodies" in practice. A lot. If you want your veterinarian to spend hours designing recipes for your pets and pontificating about the latest canine dietary fads, I am not the practitioner for you.) Our pets are individuals, as are our circumstances. If it's working for your pet and it's working for your checkbook, I'm not about to judge. But, at the same time, I think there's a lot that the "37% crude protein" stamped on the side of that bag isn't telling you.
This may well be true. To be honest, I have a lot more experience with cats than I do with dogs at this point... and I'm far from being a nutrition buff.
I suspected it had probably been deemed acceptable by the powers-that-be, given the prevalence of the practice.
This would be why I am destined for a career in companion animal medicine. I know the bounds of my practicality, and I'm far too much of a softy to ever do food animal or livestock.
I stand by what I said. For companies to be able to put the "Complete and Balanced" label on their food, these are the requirements that must be met:
You can make a meal to these standards out of McDonald's food, or out of seaweed, synthetics, oils, etc. It would provide 100% of what an animal needs for maintenance, however since these requirements say nothing about the quality/source/availability, that doesn't make it a good, healthy food. "Balanced" is not subjective - it is right above you.
Here is the ingredient list from a food that meets AAFCO standards:
The only source of animal protein is beef and bone meal - the rest comes from soybean meal. I have bolded the ingredients that are strictly fillers/additives for palatability and making bulk in the food. Personally, even though this food meets AAFCO standards, I would rather feed my dog McDs. No dog food needs corn syrup, and even though corn is not bad, the first three ingedients are grains that many dogs are allergic to or have better alternatives. There are better options.
Here is another, worse, diet:
A complete filler as the second ingredient. Here is AAFCO definition:
Soybean hulls confer no protein/energy quality to a diet, they are there to create bulk and make a dog feel full. That's all - no nutritional value. Powdered cellulose is completely indigestible.
I'm not saying people shouldn't feed these diets, I'm just saying that just because a food is AAFCO certified doesn't mean it's automatically good for a dog. It just means it can live off of it. Just like someone can construct a diet from McDs that would be following the government guidelines. But with all the "junk" in McDs, that doesn't mean it's healthy/something you would want to live off of. There are vegetarian formulas that are AAFCO certified, however I would wonder about long term effects of having an omnivore that requires animal proteins on a plant based diet. So just because AAFCO says it confers 100% of the basic nutrients to maintain life doesn't mean that it's perfectly healthy. I mean there are people who live off TPN, who get 100% of their needs for maintenance, but the damage it wreaks on their system is horrendous (however I will admit TPN is a extraordinarily far stretch!).
Every ingredient is there for a reason - and for some pet food ingredients, the reason is to make a dog feel full while giving it absolutely 0 nutrition or bigger feces (cellulose powder, for one). Not every ingredient is there for a "nutritious and healthful" benefit, some are there just to provide a cheap source of filler.
I don't have a problem with Science Diet or any other pet food manufacturer out there, really. I just can't lose sight of the fact that their primary goal is to buy customers and make money - no matter how much research they do, it's all done to be able to sell and market their products. I mean, who wouldn't trust a food that has proven itself worthy of AAFCO feeding trials and is recommended by some nonspecific entity "veterinary nutritionists" - it's all a marketing ploy. Science Diet research backs up its own foods and formulas, however there have been no studies done comparing various diet types (with regards to ingredients, quality of the ingredients, etc). For a company to really "buy me", I'd like to see comparative research done first. That way we'd be better able to tell what sorts of diets and ingredients really are better/worse than others rather than just saying X diet does this, Y diet does that.
That's my opinion anyways, I didn't mean to be inflammatory and I'm not attacking anyone personally - to those out there who feed Science Diet, rock on - your pets are in good health and happy. Just because I'm not the type to feed that food doesn't mean I judge anyone who does - seriously, so don't think I'm looking down my nose at anyone here.
Hills is one of the few pet food brands which is actually formulated by veterinary nutritionists, and undergoes extensive feeding tests at their large nutrition centres.
I would say that Hills puts their food through more testing than the vast majority of pet food companies.
Not only that, but there are numerous peer reviewed journal articles proving many of their prescription diets have excellent benefits. (There is a great one about kidney cats and k/d).
Given the amount of testing and regulation that Hill's food goes through, which is performed by veterinary nutritionists, I have no problem feeding my animals hills.
How is "veterinary nutritionists" a non-specific entity? Veterinary nutritionists have to undergo veterinary school and residency, just like any other specialist. If there is a pet food out there being formulated, tested and regulated by them, yes, I do want my pet being fed that. Because many pet foods aren't. Just like I want my dogs eyes operated on by the opthalmologist, skin fixed by the dermatologist and stifle repaired by the surgeon. Do you want them to list each individual veterinary nutritionist who works for that company on the packet?!
Sunshinevet - I put nonspecific because we (by that I mean I) really know nothing about these veterinary nutritionists. Hills could mean boarded vet nutritionists, or they could just be using the term for vets that enjoy learning about nutrition - point is that we don't know. They could be employed by Hills, they could be government vets, they could be private practice owners, they could be paid to promote the food - we don't know.
You've assumed that they are boarded veterinary nutritionists with an objective position, but for all we know that may or may not be true.
It's like the toothpaste commercials that say "4/5 Dentists recommend Colgate", "My dentist uses X", or "9/10 Doctors prescribe Prilosec over X brand". It really doesn't mean much to me other than trying to market to consumers who trust veterinarians.
Is that not the goal of like, literally every company that produces and sells anything?
I think that's a pretty bold statement to make. You don't think they put any research into product improvement or nutritional adequacy?
That goes back to your original point, nobody will buy their product if it isn't a good one.
Just a thought . . . for those of us who are trying to slim down our obese pets, fillers are a GOOD thing, because it means that my cat won't be done eating in 5 minutes and feeling hungry for the next 12 hours until the next meal. Fillers like soy bean hulls or beet pulp increase bulk so that they get full with fewer calories. High-fiber diets also improve blood glucose regulation in diabetic cats, so there may be other metabolic benefits to so-called fillers.
ETA: I just compared the EVO Weight Loss dry cat food with the Innova Low Fat dry cat food last night (both made by Natura). EVO is supposed to be the premium, grain free line of cat food with most of their non-weight loss products boasting 95% meat. According to the energy needs of my cat calculated by quantized, The Rotund One would get 3/4 cup per day of Innova but only 1/2 cup per day of EVO, because the Innova food contains more fillers.
That may be true in a broad sense, but I'm not quite sure how it's supposed to be a bad thing if it's taken in that manner.
The fact of the matter is, pet nutrition is not a high priority research area for most sources of funding - its benefits are pretty much solely for the species the research is done in, so you won't get much if anything from the NIH and whatnot like you would if you were doing some more basic, broad research in something like cancer biology or neuro. That's why you'll find that a lot of veterinary nutrition faculty and such at schools get funding from some pet food company or the other. I know a lot of nutrition research people (due to having worked as an animal tech at a large nutrition research cat colony at UCD) and I can tell you I've never seen a scientist exhibit brand loyalty at the expense of practicing good science. I'm sure those people exist, but I've definitely not seen them to be in any sort of majority.
Yet, I find it funny that people on here are saying that it's perfectly okay to feed their animals corn and brewers yeast. That's not natural. Have you seen a dog shuck a head of corn and consume it
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