Thursday, December 17, 2009
When they arrived at the vet hospital, Bear was diagnosed and treated. He has a full leg cast on his right rear leg and some stitches to close wounds. He was admitted to the vet hospital for a 4- to 5-day stay. Owners asked to bring his raw-meaty-bones food for him. They were told, Absolutely Not! Vet delivered a salmonella and broken teeth lecture and told them they were irresponsible to feed him rmb. So, Bear was to be fed kibble for the duration of his hospitalization.
When they visited Bear in hospital, vet told them she will not release the puppy from hospital until they show her they have purchased "real dog food", by which she meant kibble. Owners reluctantly purchased a large bag of kibble to retrieve their puppy. After 5 days in the vet hospital, Bear was skinny. His ribs and backbone showed through his coat. His teeth were yellow. He was lying in a cage with a full bowl of kibble beside his head. As soon as Bear got home, he ate rmb voraciously.
I took care of Bear yesterday, 5 days after he was released from hospital. He is a handsome son of my lovely Ella (Gamefield Enchantress) and Am/Can Champion Timberline Ben of Fawnhaven, Senior Hunter. Bear is still thin, but his backbone is no longer visible. After a week on his raw-meaty-bones diet, he gained weight, and his teeth are only spotty yellow, on their way to white again.
This vet told Bear's owners she knows me. Yes, she does, unfortunately. Here are two incidents I had with this veterinarian. In December 2007, I took my pregnant bitch Emily to this practice to have an x-ray to see how many puppies to expect. Emily was due to deliver in about two weeks, and this vet had told me she could count the puppies at this point in the pregnancy. After the x-ray was done, she told me that Emily's puppies were "poorly developed", because I was not feeding her a proper diet. She told me to put Emily on puppy chow immediately, if I hoped to save this litter. This was shocking news.
Rather than acquiesce to her demand to buy puppy chow, I asked, "What does puppy chow have in it that makes it essential food for a pregnant bitch?" I was told that canine nutrition is very complex, that I could not possibly duplicate the nutrition in commercial pet foods. "Which ingredients are so critical?", I asked. Calcium, vitamins, and proteins, I was told. She launched into a diatribe about kcals-and-43-essential ingredients. She asserted I was ignorant about how to feed dogs properly, which had to be high-quality commercial pet foods, sold by the vet practice. I didn't buy any kibble, but, unlike Bear, she was not holding Emily hostage.
When at home, I looked again at Internet sites on rawfeeding, gathered data on the values of the diet I feed and wrote a letter to the practice owners to complain about the treatment she dished out. Emily had 10 fully developed, healthy puppies two weeks later.
In March 2008, Bonnie was showing signs of advanced pregnancy, although I had not seen any signs of her coming into season and did not arrange for her to be mated at this time. Evidently, Stormy and Bonnie had another plan. I took Bonnie to the same vet practice, and unfortunately found this vet on duty. After several hours, she found time to examine Bonnie. She took her into an examining room and returned in less than a minute. "It's a false pregnancy", she said. "There are no puppies in there." "What should I do about a false pregnancy?", I asked, never having seen one before. "Nothing", she said, "the symptoms will go away in a few months." If I had not been so surprised, I would have asked for an x-ray to confirm her diagnosis of false pregnancy.
That night, Bonnie was lying on her side on my bed, I could see bulges in her abdomen, and when I felt along her side I could feel puppies inside. Bonnie gave birth to 8 healthy puppies a week later. Again, I wrote a letter to the practice owners complaining about the treatment I had received. I met with them when the puppies were examined. Their defense of her behavior was apologetic but unyielding. It's very hard to diagnose pregnancies in dogs, they said -- yeah, so hard that I could feel the puppies the same day she diagnosed a false pregnancy. The treatment this vet gave Bonnie is malpractice, in my opinion.
A dozen or so rawfeeders left this practice when another vet came to town. These vets' opposition to raw-meaty-bones and BARF diets is so extreme they are not able to provide good care for our pets. They are so brainwashed about commercial pet foods, they despise alternative diets. Their advocacy of junk pet foods is very emotional. They fail to see evidence (well-developed, healthy puppies; healthy older dogs with white teeth and sound gums). They try to use their power over clients to force compliance to commercial diets. When the villainous vet, who treated Bear, feels she has leverage, she actually forces clients to buy bags of kibble.
Vets do not have the power to retain a dog in hospital until owners comply with their diet "recommendations". But picture a worried, young couple with their injured baby. They are grateful to the vet for setting his leg and treating his wounds. They feel guilty for allowing the accident to happen. They want the best treatment for their beloved Bear. If the vet demands they show proof of purchasing kibble, they comply for the sake of their baby.
Imagine if a pediatrician gave emergency care and admitted a child to hospital. The child's usual diet is fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, breads, and meats, the parents say. May they supply these foods to the child while hospitalized? Pediatrician says, Absolutely Not! In hospital, child will be fed only commercial cereals, which are "100% complete and balanced nutrition". And child is not allowed to brush his teeth as long as he's in hospital. Parents have to purchase commercial cereals before pediatrician will release the child from hospital. Child emerges from hospital thinner and with cereal-coated, yellow teeth. I guarantee this physician would be reported to the disciplinary committee of the state medical society, and his license and hospital privileges would likely be revoked.
So, what ethical boundaries are there in veterinary medicine to prevent the incidents described here or to levy consequences for bad behavior?. None, it seems.
Friday, December 11, 2009
On Wednesday, five of my kids and a friend's Lab (a former puppy of mine) made the 200-mile round trip from Kona to Hilo to see Dr. Brundage. Dr. Brundage retired to Hawaii Island, after spending her career in Honolulu as a reproduction specialist. I suspected she actually knew how to do proper hip and elbow x-rays for certification by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the major US registry for dogs' joints. Dr. Brundage successfully inseminated Emily and Ella last spring, so I know she knows how to do AI. When I asked her about OFA x-rays, she said she'd done a few, by which she meant a lot. Unfortunately, the vets on the Kona side of the island are neither skilled nor interested in AI or OFA certification. I have had expensive, bad experiences with their incompetence in both.
So, we took two vehicles to Hilo, to keep two puppies, Cody, 11 months, and Abigail, 7 months, separated from the pack of four -- Zoe, Frances, James, and Koa -- all of whom are two years old. Zoe especially does not appreciate new dogs moving into her pack. She will accept them after a few growls and scoldings, but we didn't need that aggravation on a long trip. Besides, having four Labs in an SUV with two people is quite enough. My friend Joslyn drove my truck with the puppies.
We left at 7 AM and arrived at Dr. Brundage's Aloha Veterinary Center at 9:30 AM. Thanks to advanced planning, with competed forms on my side and a well-oiled veterinary service on the other, all the dogs were examined, sedated, x-rayed, and mostly awake by 5 PM. During the long day in Hilo (not a major tourist center), we went to the zoo, and found it much nicer than we imagined. The animals have huge outdoor enclosures, beautifully landscaped, and the grounds offer many shady benches and picnic spots. Signs said the carnivorous animals, such as the white tiger, are fed raw-meaty-bones! The tiger gets three live chickens a day. I don't know why they don't feed him goats and pigs, which are plentiful. I will ask.
When we returned around 5 PM to talk with Dr. Brundage, she said all the dogs are in great condition, ideal weights for their frames, and their joints look good. Except for Frances, who has some arthritis in her right hip. Frances was imported from Australia at 8-weeks of age. No one can tell that early how dogs' hips and elbows will develop. Having sound parents is a help but still probabalistic. I am personally and financially saddened by Frances' hip problem. I will have to spay her and find her a pet home.
I asked Dr. Brundage about the dogs' shiny white teeth. She chuckled and said their teeth and gums look great. She laughed because, when I left Ella to be bred last spring, I took 5-days worth of frozen, packaged rmb for her. Dr. Brundage accepted this deviation from their kennel practice, and she noted then how good Ella's mouth looked at age 7 years. Seeing 6 more rmb-fed Labs with perfect teeth and healthy gums did not surprise her, I suppose, but I am quite sure she will not recommend a rmb diet to other clients.
It's odd that Dr. Brundage can accept my feeding rmb, examine my healthy dogs, and still refuse to see how other dogs will benefit. Actually, I have heard vets' reasoning on why I can feed rmb and no one else can be trusted with a rmb diet. They make me an exception: "you know what you're doing; other owners do not." When I try to explain how easy feeding a diet of whole prey or rmb is, their eyes glaze over, and they give the canned lecture on "balanced and complete" food in bags and cans.
When I imported a Maine coon kitten from Australia last January, I took her for a routine exam to Dr. Brundage, who was at the time in Kona. Her diet lecture astonished me. She, who has bred Russian Blue cats for decades, told me that cats are "obligate carnivores" that require a carefully balanced diet of some 43 nutrients. I must feed her a balanced and complete, commercial food. I wrote to Tom Lonsdale at the time to express my surprise that her sentence, which began with "obligate carnivore", did not mention meat in the rest of the sentence. Needless to say, Daisy enjoys her rmb.
Sometimes, I dream of convening a meeting of veterinarians to expose them to the rmb diet. It would be fun to take along a few dogs to demonstrate how they wolf-down rmb -- chewing meaty hunks, cracking bones, gnawing, and consuming a meal in a most efficient manner. I don't suppose the local vets would come to a meeting I organized, because they think of me as a lost cause. Oh well, I have more and more puppies being fed rmb and a dozen loyal members of Kona Raw, who have switched their dogs from kibble to rmb and rave about the results. Word gets around....
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Today, another affront came to my e-mail box. "This sponsored message was sent to email@example.com by the American Kennel Club. It includes information that may interest you."
What follows is an advertisement for Eukanuba dog food with extravagent claims of bringing show dogs to peak condition with prebiotics. I suppose they spray bacteria onto the kibble after it's baked and extruded, because nothing of any value survives their processing.
"Our cutting-edge approach: customized nutrition, based on breed, size, age, and even special needs, such as sensitive skin. No other dog food offers these choices for your dog's health." Thank you, Proctor & Gamble, for bringing us another, useless version of cooked starches that will make carnivorous pets sick. I must ask them about the research on which they base their customized kibble formulations. Do you imagine they tested Afgan food on 100 randomly-assigned Afgans over several years, and contrasted those results with a control group of Afgans fed non-Afgan food? If you think so, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you at a great price.
The American Kennel Club is selling its good name to pet food companies that fund a small perentage of their activities. My analysis of their published budget shows that only 7 to 9% of 2008-2009 funding comes from pet food companies. Problem is that these funds are used for the most visible, public aspects of the AKC program, where the pet food companies want to have their names entwined with the AKC emblem -- at dog shows and in public advertising.
As a Labrador retriever breeder, I am forced to interact with the American Kennel Club to register litters of puppies and to keep dog breeding more-or-less honest. It's painful to see this venerable organization controlled by Eukanuba's commercial interests. For the AKC to send out a Eukanuba advertisement to millions of purebred dog owners on their mailing list is so degrading to the AKC and to purebred dog owners everywhere, it's hard to put into words.
Center for Science in the Public Interest
1875 Connecticut Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20009
Your analyses of foods and additives provide very important guidance for people to understand healthy and unhealthy diet choices. I write to ask you to look at pet foods from the same perspective. I can provide documentation and scientific information for all of the points cited below.
More than 90% of companion animals (cats, dogs, ferrets) in the US are fed commercial diets. Kibbles and canned pet foods contain high percentages of cooked starches. Cats, dogs, and ferrets are carnivores that evolved to eat diets of whole prey – raw muscle and organ meats and meaty bones. Carnivorous pets’ health depends on having a diet of raw-meaty-bones to clean their teeth and to provide appropriate nutrition.
Kibbles and canned mush coat pets’ teeth with gummy sludge that harbors bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Veterinary dental authorities admit that 85% of dogs and 75% of cats have diseased mouths by three years of age. Gum diseases pour toxins into the blood stream, infecting major organs and stressing the immune system. Commercial pet foods condemn carnivorous pets to chronic illnesses and premature deaths. Pet owners are victimized by unnecessary veterinary expenses, and pets suffer shorter lifetimes of poor health.
Commercial pet foods are made from human waste products by the same global companies that dominate the human, processed-food market. The Big Three -- Mars, Nestle-Purina, and Proctor & Gamble -- enjoyed $15 billion in 2008 sales in the US alone. Globally, these companies sold more than $40 billion in pet foods in 2008. Pet foods are enormously profitable for these companies, a bright sector in an otherwise stagnant processed-food market.
For 50 years, the Big Three have invested in veterinary training, research, and practice. Pet-food companies fund small-animal, veterinary medicine. Vets employed by pet-food companies teach small animal nutrition in vet schools. They write the textbooks. Mars, Nestle-Purina, and Proctor & Gamble provide scholarships, prizes, and research support for veterinary students; research and travel funds, and continuing education for faculty. Pet-food companies teach and fund a large percentage of continuing education courses in small animal medicine. Veterinary buildings, professorships, hospital wings, and pet memory gardens are named by pet-food companies. Once in practice, veterinarians earn up to 40% of their incomes from sales of commercial pet foods.
The Big Three fund animal welfare and purebred pet organizations. Employees of, and consultants for, pet food companies populate pet food regulatory committees in the NRC and AAFCO. There are no appropriate standards or safeguards for pet foods in this country. Advertisements of commercial pet foods are permitted to make outrageous health claims that are simply untrue. Pet-food labels are allowed to be entirely deceptive. Put simply, the pet-food industry funds and controls companion animal medicine, advocacy organizations, and pet-food regulatory bodies.
Information for Consumers
Pet owners do not know that their dogs, cats, and ferrets require a diet of raw meats and meaty bones to stay healthy. They do not know that expensive vet bills for continual allergies, digestive problems, heart, kidney, and liver diseases come from feeding monotonous diets of cooked starches. Most pets today are considered family members. Pet owners do not knowingly feed diets that make their cherished pets sick.
CSPI can make an enormous contribution to the health of some 66 million dogs and cats, and to the finances of their US pet owners, by informing consumers about pet diets. Because the same collusion of veterinarians and animal welfare organizations with pet-food manufacturers exists in all developed countries, CSPI’s investigation and publication of reliable information about pet diets will have worldwide impact.
I have extensive information from FOI inquiries in US veterinary schools on pet-food company influence on training and research. A few veterinarians, who have worked for pet-food companies, have written exposes of pet-food company corruption of their profession. The Internet provides a treasure trove of data on pet-food company control of regulatory bodies and animal advocacy organizations.
Like the pharmaceutical-company scandal in medicine, pet-food companies’ control of small animal medicine is a scandal waiting to be exposed. Of more importance to consumers, commercial kibbles and canned mush must be examined and exposed as the junk pet-foods they are. CSPI has done extensive research and published widely on human foods. Informing consumers about commercial pet-foods is a natural extension of that work. I stand ready to help in that effort in any way possible.
Friday, December 4, 2009
When I tell prospective buyers about their diet, some are shocked. RAW MEAT? BONES? Most have owned dogs, usually Labs, for many years. All their dogs were fed kibble. How was their health? Now come the stories of illnesses and early deaths. Often their dogs developed chronic illness, cancers, and the like. When I tell them about raw-meaty-bones, they are interested. I send them away with packets of my own materials and books and articles by Tom Lonsdale, author of Raw Meaty Bones and Work Wonders.
When they return to see the puppies again, they have questions and concerns about the rmb diet. How can young puppies eat chicken wings and gnaw on beef neck bones with their baby teeth? Time for a demonstration! Hand 6-week old Lab puppies chicken wings or drumsticks and step back! Puppies shake their meaty bones, bite into them, use their paws to steady them, while they begin to gnaw away the meat. Once at the bone, they crunch loudly. The bone disappears, puppies lick their lips, and nuzzle the ground, looking for more. It's a sure-fire demonstration of carnivores with their natural diet.
Nearly all puppy buyers adopt the rmb diet for their new companions. They see how clean the older dogs' teeth are and how trim and healthy they look. No puffy, overweight dogs or puppies at Aloha Labradors! New owners need support to implement the rmb diet at home, and I am happily available to help them. In fact, that is why I formed Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op to help local puppy buyers to learn more about raw feeding and to offer rmb at wholesale prices.
More than half my puppies go to families on other islands, where there are no raw-meaty-bones co-ops. They have to buy chickens and meaty bones at local grocery stores, and some get meats from friends who hunt. However they can, they raise their puppies to healthy adulthood on rmb.
Once people realize the huge benefits of a rmb diet for their puppies, they are committed. It's a joy to see puppies educate their new owners, before they go new homes.
She adopted raw chicken and beefy bones for her dog, while also feeding her high quality kibble "for balanced nutrition". After several months of talking, reading, and thinking, she decided that raw-meaty-bones probably is a complete diet for a wolf/dog. I can tell she's not entirely sure yet, but she didn't buy any more kibble and purchased a week's worth of meaty bones. We'll see how it goes....
She noted how hard it is not to feed kibble, because she's fed pets commercial pet foods for 50 to 60 years. I agree. I have had dogs and cats in my home since early childhood, and I am 73 years old. I don't recall what my mother fed the earliest companion animals, but it was probably not commercial pet foods, because they did not become really popular until after World War II. My earliest recollections are that pets were fed table-scraps. But I am not sure....
As a young adult, my Rough Collie was fed canned mush and kibble. A succession of dogs and cats suffered the same fate. It was only 8 years ago that an alternative vet told me she refused to treat dogs fed commercial pet foods, because they cause so many problems. Her statement was shocking. If you don't feed dogs kibble and canned foods, what do you feed them? I was baffled and alarmed, both by my ignorance and the dire implications of her words for my dogs' health.
Over the past 8 years, I have had to undergo the same unlearning experiences that other pet owners do, when confronted with the idea that kibble and canned mush are not perfect foods for carnivorous pets. To stop feeding kibble requires unlearning decades of veterinary advice and mountains of advertising, promoting commercial pet foods. Only when one searches out information on carnivores' natural diets does one encounter the truth -- a complete and balanced diet for dog/wolves and cats is whole prey, or its equivalent, raw-meaty-bones.
I predict that more and more pet owners will discover the truth about pet diets and save their pets from the sad fate of many millions, fed manufactured "foods". If a couple of old pet owners in their 70's can make the transition, surely younger, more cyber-savvy pet owners will discover the truth earlier in their pet-owning lives.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Recently, I learned about another deceptive practice in pet food labeling: Divide and Conceal. In the revealing pet food video I cited in an earlier blog, Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM cooks up a typical kibble to show how processing works. She adds three kinds of corn to the mix. Corn meal, corn gluten, and corn hulls are listed on pet food labels as separate ingredients. None is the first or second ingredient on the list. If you add up all the CORN that goes into the mix, however, corn outweighs all other products in the kibble.
Pet owners reading the label on Dr. Hodgkins' home-made kibble would be led to believe that meat meal is the primary ingredient. Meat meals are dried before being added, so that, unlike fresh meats, meat meals do not lose 75% of their volume in processing. Even so, the sum of three kinds of corn far outweigh the meat meal.
Now think about the kibble label that list chicken as the first ingredient, followed by corn meal, corn gluten,and corn hulls. 75% of the chicken is lost in cooking. What's left is a tiny amount of chicken in a corn nugget.
Real kibble is even worse than Dr. Hodgkins' demonstration product. Not only may there be three kinds of corn in the kibble, but more than one kind of another starch -- wheat, barley, potato, tapioca, etc. If you add up all the starches in cooked kibble, it's no wonder that proteins and fats comprise less than 30% of the final product. Still worse for carnivorous pets, the proteins and fats may not all come from animal sources. Vegetable proteins and fat do not have the same nutritional value for carnivorous pets as animal proteins and fats, but for label regulators, protein is protein, fat is fat. Not so!
To summarize, the pet food label that says the first, primary ingredient in kibble is beef or chicken probably has a tiny percentage of meat in the final product. Add up all the starches to figure out what's really in the bag.
This thought brings me to a confession. I changed veterinarians when my old one told me never to mention raw-meaty-bones in her clinic, that I was endangering my pets and not giving them appropriate nutrition. I interviewed a new veterinarian about his views on feeding. Although he does not support raw feeding, he said, he was not totally against my feeding raw-meaty-bones, because I seemed to know what I was doing. I accepted this truce as the best deal I could get among local vets and moved my many pets to his practice.
A year later, the vet and I had a heated argument about dog food, because he told one of my puppy buyers to switch from a raw-meaty-bones diet to Hill's Science Diet, which he sells. I was furious. I told him the puppy had the best possible diet, and he told these naive, new dog owners to abandon it. He countered that puppies only need 24% protein in their food and a lot of other nutrients not provided by raw meat alone. I told him that's why we call it raw-meaty-BONES, because raw meat and BONES provide all the minerals and vitamins dogs need.
Raw-Meaty-Bones is a convenient equivalent of whole prey, which dogs evolved to eat as a complete diet. I appealed to his knowledge of wolves but got the vet-party line that dogs are not wolves but omnivores. Omnivorous dogs, he said, need grains and vegetables as well as proteins and fats for a complete and balanced diet. I told him the claim that dogs are omnivores is counter-factual (e.g., a lie), because research in the last decade has proved that dogs are a subspecies of gray wolves and share 99.8% of their genes with wolves. He looked at me blankly and said, no, dogs are omnivores.
He told me I waste money feeding dogs a diet that is more than 24% protein. I am foolish to waste money on meats and bones when dogs can be fed 24% protein in kibble, with a lot of cheap "fillers". He reiterated that puppies need only 24% protein in their food, and the rest is "filler". Rather than argue about the need for animal fats, as well as proteins, I took a different tack. "If I fed a diet that was 48% protein, would I feed only half as much?", I asked. "If the rest is just "filler", why feed it?" He backpedaled and said, well, no, there are essential fats and carbohydrates, too, and reiterated that a raw-meaty-bones diet is not complete and balanced. I asked him, "What could be more complete and balanced than the whole prey diet dogs evolved to eat?" He said he didn't have time for this useless argument, had patients to see, so we terminated the discussion, and I terminated this vet.
Losing a client with 14 dogs and a cat is not a trivial financial loss for a new vet practice, especially when I include the 30 or so puppies I bring annually to be examined and inoculated. This poor vet was giving me the party line on dog food. He told me what he had been trained to believe. Even when it did not make sense, he had no other information to call upon. The term, brainwashing, comes to mind. All he ever knew about evolution and the natural world was erased by pet nutrition training in vet school.
For a few moments, my friends and I thought we'd run out of local vets, but a new mobile vet came to Kona. This vet retired from a practice on the mainland to live in Hawaii and open a house-call practice. This vet is open to new ideas, because he was trained in India. He didn't get the full brainwashing by pet-food companies that vets trained in developed countries do. Pet-food giants are just beginning to penetrate markets in developing countries, and, as their history predicts, will be penetrating their veterinary schools. They just haven't got there yet.
At first, he worried about bacteria and bone fragments, but after reading Tom Lonsdale's books and articles, he became "98% convinced" that raw-meaty-bones is the best diet. My older dogs' healthy mouths also impressed him. Here, at last, I found a vet with a working brain. And, he makes house calls! It's heaven!
My Indian-trained veterinarian has followed the raw-meaty-bones trail to look at commercial pet foods in a new light. He exclaims over listed ingredients and tells me they lie. He reports on cases he sees where foul mouths and chronic diseases can be cured with a raw-meaty-bones diet. He gets it!
It is tragic that so many other vets have been brainwashed by pet-food companies and that they inflict their counter-factual beliefs on clients, to the enormous detriment of pets' health and owners' finances. Just look at pet-food labels, add up the harmful starches, and recognize that they lie.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Common knowledge that wolves and wild cats eat whole, raw prey is overcome by distancing dogs from fellow wolf species members and cats from wild-cat, close relatives. Ironically, dogs, which are a subspecies of gray wolves, are misclassified in veterinary education as omnivores. Omnivores, such as humans, benefit from vegetables and grains in their diets. If dogs are misclassified as omnivores, they can be fed starchy diets that contain little animal protein or fat. The fact that studies of feral dogs show they eat small game and virtually no vegetable matter, is omitted from the curriculum.
Cats are harder to misclassify, because research in earlier decades proved that cats must be fed animal proteins and fats. Even so, dry cat foods that vets are taught to recommend are heavy in starches that make cats chronically ill.
Gross distortions in the system of vet education, research, and practice are important and worthy of social scientific investigation. I am not in a position to launch a full-scale investigation. The best I can do is to gather public information about curriculum, affiliations of faculty who teach pet nutrition, pet-food companies’ student and research support, and associated matters. Perhaps, if information gleaned from my inquiries is made public, other social scientists will be inspired to launch more complete investigations.
A starting place is to persuade social scientists that a whole prey or raw-meaty-bones diet is essential to carnivorous pets' health and well-being. Evolutionary history and observations of wild relatives make this case. The next step is a treatise to overcome the myth that manufactured pet foods are "100% complete and balanced" diets, that commercial pet foods are ideal pet nutrition. Next is a presentation of copious evidence that commercial pet foods make pets sick.
When nearly 100% of vet authorities endorse manufactured diets, making the contrary case is a challenge. Unless social scientists can be educated to accept the importance of natural diets and the harmful effects of manufactured “foods”, however, a treatise on the corruption of vet education, research, and practice will be dismissed as largely irrelevant.
What About Human Medicine?
For comparison, imagine an attack in medical schools on the germ theory of disease and a proposal it be largely replaced by a dietary theory of health – not far from what is being proposed for veterinary medicine. Defenders of the germ theory would point to decades of research on microbes and their deleterious effects on health. They would point to the efficacy of certain drugs to reduce populations of bad bugs and to eliminate infections. We could counter with a theory of health, immune system functions, and the role of good bugs in promoting health, bugs that their germ-theory drugs destroy. Germ-theory practices have utility when health-promotion fails, but the focus of medical education should be on health-promotion.
Unless some authorities could be persuaded of the value of health promotion through appropriate diets and lifestyles -- a theory of health, not disease -- exposing how much influence drug companies have on medical education, research, and practice loses much of its shock value, Commercial interests are merely influencing which drugs are taught and prescribed, not undermining the entire medical enterprise.
It's the inappropriate extension of germ theory that undermines health-promotion; drugs are merely the implementation of germ theory. Health promotion through appropriate diets limits the scope of a germ theory of disease and replaces it with a theory of health to address many health issues.
Fortunately, there are authorities in the human health arena who endorse health promotion. Not only diets but other lifestyle issues are acceptable ideas in human medicine (anti-smoking, weight control, exercise, etc.). Ideas about health-promotion are still considered ancillary or alternative approaches to human health, but they have crept into the medical curriculum. Although they have not displaced the germ theory of disease as the center of medical education, research, and practice, health promotion is a recognized aspect in contemporary medical education.
If health promotion could reduce the application of germ theory to many human health issues, people would be healthier. We know this, but to persuade a human population, who have been brainwashed with germ theory and drug efficacy, to change behaviors to live a healthier life is a Herculean task.
Campaigns to stop smoking, lose weight, and avoid street drugs are only partially effective, with literally billions of dollars thrown at the problems. Alcoholism is largely ignored, despite the fact that 10% of the population is alcoholic and another 10% have major health and behavior problems caused by alcohol consumption. Few doctors even think to inquire about alcohol as a presenting problem in their practices, because they were not taught to consider lifestyle issue in health. The germ-theory of disease does not apply, so the issue was not taught. Newer MD's are more likely to think about lifestyle issues.
Veterinary Medicine Left Behind
In reviewing veterinary curricula, I have found little to no attention given to health promotion via diet or any other lifestyle issue. Ideas about health-promotion may make it into vet schools in a decade or so, but health promotion is not likely to displace germ theory as the center of the curriculum any time soon.
Ironically, pet-food companies' advertising is now promoting healthy lifestyles for pets and their owners. Ads stress the benefits of exercise and how your pet companion can help you to get more exercise. Recent pet-food ads stress weight control and how to use various special commercial diets to help your pet slim down.
Recent kibble ads stress their fresh ingredients and raw meats, which may presage a shift in pet-food companies’ product lines. Kibble is cooked, processed starch, no matter what ingredients it says it put in the bag. Consumer demand for healthier, raw pet foods is increasing.
Let’s remember that pet foods are made by the same companies that dominate the human packaged-food market. Companies’ antennae are up to sense what consumers want, and they are prepared to meet shifting priorities. Companion animals today are often considered family members that are entitled to healthy food. How much longer can pet food companies persuade pet owners that cooked, extruded nuggets of starch are healthy foods for carnivorous pets?
It will be a great irony, when pet food companies switch their product lines to dehydrated and frozen meats to replace kibble and canned mush. That product shift will leave veterinarians with kibble and canned mush on their faces, so to speak. Pet food manufacturers will have to scramble to re-educate their veterinary authorities, educators, and practitioners, all of whom are publicly committed to support the current processed-food myth, Because the manufactured food myth extends deeply into veterinary education and practice, excising it will be both difficult and embarrassing.
Social Science Research Can Save Pets and Pet Owners
How to present dietary health promotion for carnivorous pets to a social science audience? Many social scientists, like everyone, believe commercial pet foods provide "compete and balanced" pet nutrition. The first task is to undermine that belief and to present contrary evidence. Then, the influence of pet-food companies on vet education, research, and practice can be seen as sinister. Quite a few social psychologists and sociologists would potentially be interested in the capture of veterinary medicine by commercial pet food companies, if they see the harm it does to pets' health and owners' finances.
It’s a tragedy that veterinarians, on whom pet owners depend for dietary advice, are programmed to trust manufactured diets to be “complete and balanced” nutrition and to use that misinformation in their practices. They are taught to warn about largely fictitious dangers from raw meats and meaty bones. They instruct pet owners not to feed any raw meats, meaty bones, or human foods, despite seeing disastrous health outcomes from manufactured diets daily in their practices. This delusion cannot continue. It can be exposed and changed, when a thorough investigation reveals the extent and depth of the corruption that brought it about.
I have to remember that quite a few members were not feeding raw meats and bones to their pets prior to learning about carnivore diets through Kona Raw. After they tried a few meaty bones, saw the pets' enthusiastic responses, they came back for more of the same and for more variety. Even the most skeptical owners note rapid improvements in older pets' vitality and joy.
I forget how hard it is to overcome all we've been taught about feeding pets exclusively on commercial pet foods and how hard it is to begin feeding raw foods to pets. The fact that more and more pet owners are making that commitment is very rewarding. I aspire to widen their choices of meaty bones, and to eliminate ground meats, except for very young puppies and kittens. But they will feed what they deem best for their furry children.
Every day I spend two to three hours feeding, running, swimming, and playing ball with the 10 Labrador retrievers currently living at Aloha Labradors. The first task is to cut up bargain turkeys (see entry on seasonal bargains) to feed all those hungry Labs and a couple of other pets. Dismembering raw turkeys is not for the weak or faint of heart. These large birds have tough skin, strong joints, and thick bones. I feed each Lab a drumstick, a thigh, half a breast bone and ribs, a back,or a wing -- with extra breast meat going to those with smaller pieces. One turkey can be dissected into 10 meaty, bony pieces -- with considerable slicing, pulling, and swearing. After turkey season is over, I look forward to feeding more beef, because many beefy bones come in suitable sizes that require no additional work. Chickens are comparatively easy to dissect into halves and quarters. Turkeys in November are cheap, but they are also tough work for the feeder.
After feeding, I ride my All-Terrain-Vehicle, and the dogs RUN up and down the hills on our 9-acre farm. We dash in and out of rows of coffee trees, along woods, and through open areas, at a pretty good clip. When their tongues hang out and they are happily panting, we end the run and go to the dog pool -- where all jump in immediately to drink and cool off. They swim, retrieve balls in the water, and some show off their great leaps, belly-flopping with huge splashes to get a ball. When everyone is suitably exercised and happy, they return to their kennel yards for a rest. Usually two or three dogs are housed together in a 20' x 30' yard with roofed kennels for shelter from sun and rain. They play and rough-house in their areas when I am not with them. In the evening, everyone gets a good-night treat and settles down for the night.
I realize that my dogs get more exercise than many house pets, who may get a leisurely walk once or twice a day. Their diets reflect their need for more calories than many other dogs need. I advise Kona Raw members to watch their pets' waistlines as the best indicator of how much to feed. Not only do exercise regimes vary, but individuals' metabolism can be very different. James, a large chocolate boy, gets 1 1/2 times as much food as two of the girls, who would be rotund on his diet.
The most rewarding part of coordinating the Kona Raw Co-op is talking with other members about their pets and their concerns about feeding. We all have to unlearn so much misinformation about commercial pet diets and learn how to feed healthy diets of raw-meaty-bones. Having colleagues to share the journey is very rewarding.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Canadian Professor Marion Smart demonstrates vet students' ignorance about pet nutrition in her own veterinary class (pet food video; go to minute 26 to begin this segment). Vet students are not taught about carnivores' natural diets, so that they cannot advise pet owners knowledgeably about what to feed pets.
From ingredient lists on bags of kibble, it is impossible to tell which are so-called premium brands and which are lower-priced store brands, because they are all basically the same. As Professor Smart points out, bags of so-called premium and lesser brands all come from the same manufacturing plants, and it is unlikely that the plant has 6 different bins of protein and 4 different bins of corn meal. Pet owners and their vets are paying double and triple the price for bags of kibble that are not any more nutritious than cheaper brands.
AAFCO standards set nutrient requirements that are supposed to guarantee that pet foods include minimally sufficient proteins, fats, and other dietary elements to sustain pets' lives in a brief feeding trial (actually, only 6 of 8 animals need to finish the trial). Professor Smart demonstrates that the nutritional requirements for pet foods can be met by a concoction of old leather boots, wood shavings, and motor oil -- all of which are completely indigestible and poisonous to pets.
Professor Smart shredded old leather boots, wood shavings, and motor oil , canned the mixture, and label it "Old Boots" dog food. She sent "Old Boots" cans to a laboratory for analysis as pet food. "Old Boots" passed all tests for proteins, fats, and fibre content! All that Old Boots needed was a dose of artificial vitamins and minerals to be "complete and balanced". In other words, the "tightly regulated" pet food industry could approve a completely poisonous concoction of non-food ingredients and call it pet food. To see Professor Smart make "Old Boots", go to the cited video, minute 36.
Despite vets’ total ignorance of natural diets, pet owners rely more on vets than on anyone else to tell them what and how to feed pets. Add to their lack of knowledge the financial support pet-food companies supply from their first days in vet school through funding their practices, most veterinarians are captured by and committed to commercial pet foods. Vet schools provide no contradictory information, so misinformed vets go out of school to misinform pet owners and to feed their own pets on cooked starches. The blind mislead the blind.
The cited video, which is worth viewing in its entirety, is highly critical of commercial pet foods, mostly because their exaggerated claims of healthy nutrition are not based on any science. Claims of "100% compete and balanced" are bald-face lies. No manufactured diet is complete or balanced food. Dr. Elizabeth Hodgkns, an expert on cats, tells pet owners in the video that cats must have a meat diet, because they are ‘obligate carnivores”, which means their natural diet consists entirely of meat and meaty bones. Yet, most vets are feeding their own cats dry foods that give them urinary tract stones, intestinal disorders, and may kill them long before their time.
Commercial pet foods also have a poor safety record, a fact that veterinarians seem not to know. The massive 2007 pet food recall for poisonous melamine in the wheat gluten used in hundreds of canned foods was just one of dozens of pet food recalls in the last decade. Mis-formulated commercial pet foods kill and sicken hundreds of pets annually.
Unfortunately, poisonous batches are not the worst problem with commercial pet foods. The primary problem is that kibbles and canned mush are not appropriate foods for carnivorous pets. Cooked, starchy diets make carnivorous pets chronically sick, even when they are not poisoned with melamine and other contaminants. Tens of millions of pets suffer chronic diseases and premature deaths from inappropriate, starchy diets.
Veterinarians are taught to treat illnesses created by commercial pet foods by prescribing steroids, antibiotics, and prescription diets, all of which support their practices. They are not taught to advise owners to feed a diet of raw-meaty-bones, which keeps pets well. The fact that most vets feed their own pets junk foods is testimony to their faulty education and their financial dependence on the pet-food industry.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
We were invited to bring a dog to the pot-luck gathering, an appropriate way to celebrate Gale's life. As we chatted over lunch, with most dogs behaving nicely, I heard familiar stories of curing dogs of allergies and more serious maladies by changing their diets from commercial pet foods to raw feeding. Gale was a passionate advocate of raw feeding. She influenced a lot of pet owners to try raw-meaty-bones and Honest Kitchen dehydrated foods.
Gale taught me about raw feeding 8 years ago. She came to my kitchen and showed me how to mince various raw veggies and combine them with eggs, yogurt, cooked brown rice and how to add raw meats and meaty bones for a compete diet. I followed the BARF diet for 6 years, and my dogs thrived. Gale decided that all that mincing and cooking was too much trouble, when a commercial dehydrated, raw diet was available, and she became a distributor of Honest Kitchen foods. Pet owners were able to buy dehydrated raw meat-and-vegetable foods from Gale, and to stop feeding kibble and canned mush.
In recent years, I realized that wolves don't eat vegetables unless they are starving and that dogs don't need vegetables to thrive. I feed my dogs raw-meaty-bones, which require no mincing or cooking . Gale always fed her dogs raw meaty bones, with a smattering of Honest Kitchen foods, but she realized that many pet owners cannot tolerate that much contact with raw meat, so Honest Kitchen was a compromise.
While sitting next me me on the grass, a fellow with a very handsome Japanese Spitz volunteered his story. His dog had a dull coat and itchy skin, before he changed the dog's diet to raw-meaty-bones and Honest Kitchen foods. The dog's teeth gleamed, and he called my attention to how healthy the dogs mouth is. I had not met this man before, and he gave me a good talk about the benefits of raw feeding. I invited him to join the Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op.
An agility competitor with two Golden retrievers volunteered her story. She used to feed the kibble her vet recommended, which she bought from the vet. Her dogs both suffered from allergies that the vet treated with steroids and other medications. The older dog's health was declining rapidly, and the vet told her not to expect her to live more than another year or two. She said her dogs were on so much medication, she knew something was wrong. When she took the younger dog to an agility class, she met Gale. Gale taught her about raw feeding. Almost instantly, she said, all the dogs' allergies disappeared. She was amazed at how much more energetic and happy they are. The older dog, who was declining rapidly, has regained her health and is now an energetic companion.
I told the Golden retriever owner that I hoped she tells her story to as many people as possible, because hers is the prototypical tale. Her story is that of many thousands of pet owners, who discover how a species-appropriate raw diet cures the ills created by commercial pet foods. I invited her to join Kona Raw for wholesale prices on the raw meats and meaty bones she now feeds her Goldens.
Many people admired the 13-year-old Papillon that accompanied me to Gale's celebration. I took Ben, because I first met Gale when her dog Sadie and Ben were puppies in a basic obedience class. Twelve years later, Ben is still a handsome, peppy little dog with a healthy mouth, thanks to Gale's guidance. As I shared my experiences with Gale, many others shared similar experiences. She touched many people's lives and even more dogs' lives.
Aloha, Gale, and Mahalo nui loa.
Friday, November 13, 2009
In Hawaii, we have pig hunting year round, because pigs tear up native forests, house yards, and farmers' crops. A lot of dogs are fed on wild pork. Archers bring down wild turkeys, which are very numerous on the Big Island of Hawaii, where I live. In North and South Kohala, plentiful wild goats, sheep, and cattle can be hunted. Because our pets evolved to eat whole prey, spoils of the hunt are great food for them. If you suspect wild game may have parasites, freeze the meat and meaty bones for 30 days to eliminate parasites.
Fall brings another source of great RMB savings: Turkeys. I don't know how your grocery stores lure customers in for holiday shopping, but in Hawaii chain stores use hugely discounted turkeys. Although the limit is two turkeys per day, a bird of 17 pounds or less goes for $3.97, and a larger bird for $5.97. Focusing on birds of about 16 pounds, I buy two turkeys daily at $0.25/ pound. By Thanksgiving, my freezer will be groaning with turkeys to last till the New Year. My 10 Labs, one Papillon, and Maine coon cat consume a turkey a day. That's a lot of savings in November.
Poultry is an excellent carnivore food, because all bones and organs are easily consumed by even small dogs and cats. Chickens and turkeys (ducks and geese, if available) are high in minerals and vitamins pets need. And, let's not forget, chewing on raw-meaty-bones keep their mouths healthy and prevents a lot of chronic diseases.
So, enjoy fall savings on raw-meaty-bones, whether hunted in the wild or in supermarket aisles.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
For a niche pet food company to promote raw feeding may seem public-spirited, but not entirely. Wysong markets a line of dehydrated raw food products, some just meats with supplements and some meats, supplements, and vegetables. For hiking and camping trips, their line of dehydrated meats is convenient. For owners who cannot tolerate handling raw-meaty-bones, dehydrated meats are better diets than other pet food options. As treats and training aids, dehydrated meats are great -- they break into tiny bits, are not greasy or sticky, as are the baked liver treats I make at home. So, I am willing to sell Wysong's dehydrated meats for certain purposes.
Dr. Wysong promotes varied pet feeding -- some kibble, some canned foods, some dehydrated raw, and some fresh foods not produced by Wysong. The Wysong-recommended pyramid for healthy pet diets starts with whole prey for carnivorous cats and dogs -- a leap ahead of other pet food manufacturers. Wysong does not sell whole prey, so promoting whole prey as the best pet diet does not generate profits for his company. Not many pet owners can feed whole prey, however, unless they are avid hunters with large freezers.
Next best is a diet of raw-meaty-bones, with fresh veggies and fruits (Dr. Wysong seems to be a BARFer, believing that carnivorous pets benefit from eating vegetable matter). Worse diets include cooked foods, and the worst pet diets of all are just kibble and canned mush, both of which Wysong sells. I do find it remarkable that this company calls its own products the worst diet for pets.
It is admirable that Dr. Wysong promotes appropriate carnivore diets that his company does not sell. Unfortunately he blurs a very important distinction between raw-dehydrated foods and raw-meaty-bones. Dehydrated raw meat products contain ground bones that provide appropriate minerals in the diet but do little to clean pets' teeth. Raw-meaty-bones that dogs and cats gnaw and chew clean pets' teeth as Nature intended. Wolf/dogs and cats require raw meaty bones to keep their mouths healthy. Most "raw" pet meat products, such as Wysong's, are minced meats and ground bones.
For 30 years, Dr. Wysong has campaigned against high-starch diets for pets (see August blog). Starchy kibbles and canned foods are the main source of many pet allergies and serious chronic diseases, he says, because wolf/dogs and cats did not evolve to digest high-carbohydrate diets, which are excreted in huge piles of malodorous poop. If a kibble can be produced without starches and other carbohydrates, pet owners would have to be educated to recognize that starches are inappropriate foods for carnivorous pets. When a company produces lines of starchy kibbles and canned mush, what authority do they have to debunk kibble and the complete-and-balanced diet myth?
To educate owners to feed appropriate diets, the entire commercial pet food myth -- that pets can best be fed manufactured foods -- must be debunked. Some commercial pet foods, such as dehydrated meats -- have a place as treats and convenience foods, but dogs' and cat's principal diet must be raw-meaty-bones. Pet owners need to be educated to shop for raw meats and meaty bones and to avoid commercial pet food altogether. Pet owners can shop for all family members in raw meat and fresh food aisles of their grocery store and avoid the pet food aisle like the plague it is.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Watch a friend's chocolate Labrador retriever devour a chicken leg quarter at
Feeding raw chicken bones seems to be something of a turning point for pet owners who are new to raw feeding. They don't resist feeding raw, meaty beef bones or even raw chicken meat, but chicken bones are such a long-held taboo, it's harder to overcome. When they watch a puppy chew up a chicken drumstick or larger dog gnaw and chew a half-chicken, they are amazed. How can this be okay, when grandmothers, mothers, and veterinarians told them not to feed chicken bones to dogs?
The biggest hurdle for many pet owners to leap into raw feeding is unlearning what they have been taught for decades about pet diets. Experts -- professionals, family and friends with pets -- told them manufactured pet foods are perfectly balanced for perfect nutrition. Cans and bags of kibble are perfect pet food. Don't feed table scraps -- they'll upset the perfect balance of nutrients in manufactured foods. Don't feed raw meaty bones -- feed nylon chews and rawhide -- to clean pets' teeth.
Well, the results are in. 85% of dogs have rotting teeth and gums. Obesity is epidemic among pets. Many dogs suffer allergies to commercial pet foods, leading to itchiness, ear irritations, and more serious chronic diseases. Cats have urinary track stones that threaten their lives. Perfect kibbles and perfect chews are not producing healthy pets.
Thousands of owners have switched their pets' diets to raw meats and meaty bones. Teeth and gums are healthy, allergies disappear, and overall health improves dramatically.
Once pet owners realize that raw meats and meaty bones are a complete and appropriate diet for carnivorous pets, they have passed the highest hurdle. Feeding raw chicken bones is part of this new understanding.
Yes, chicken bones, really!
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Pet food advertising shows human foods -- juicy steaks, whole chickens, glasses of milk, blocks of cheese -- going into bags of kibble. The truth about pet food ingredients is quite different.
Randy Wysong, DVM, produces lines of dehydrated meats, canned pet foods and kibbles for dogs and cats. His more honest description of pet food ingredients:
Notice that pet food labels may list such things as corn meal, meat and bone meal, soy mill run, wheat middlings, whey products, and the like. The descriptive words are different from what you would find in a grocery store because most pet food ingredients are food fractions left over after human food elements have been extracted. Or, they may be industry by-products, believed to be unfit for human consumption. The slick advertising portrayal of pet food ingredients, as if they were just like what would appear on a Thanksgiving Day table, is misleading.
Pet food labels deliberately mislead. Pet food advertising cements the mis-understanding. When a label says "chicken", it does not mean the chicken you would buy for yourself. Think again.
Because "chicken" in kibble is not recognizable (and hardly there), buyers don't have to imagine that feathers, feet, beaks, and entrails are the "chicken" in the bag.
If you want your pet to have real food, buy fresh foods and feed them to your pet! How hard is is to buy whole chickens, beef heart, blocks of cheese, and fresh eggs? Your dog will thank you for real foods that are so much healthier than garbage in a bag.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Why do pet owners feed their carnivorous dogs and cats cooked, starchy kibble, instead of raw meats and meaty bones? Hmm, that doesn't make sense, right? Why do 85% of dogs and 70% of cats have rotting teeth and gums by the age of three years? The short answer is commercial pet foods that coat pets' teeth with gummy sludge that harbor bacteria, that infect gums and drain into the blood stream, creating chronic diseases of major organs.
The longer answer is a tale of global food giants investing $ billions to buy the loyalty of small animal medicine, control government regulators, and silence animal welfare organizations. Pet food players are household names, because they manufacture processed foods for people -- Mars, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, Heinz, and Del Monte.
Thanks to generous funding of veterinary schools' research and training, small animal vets are taught to recommend and sell manufactured foods to pet owners. Pet-food companies fund research they want, pay hundreds of vet as consultants, and support all manner of small animal medical events. AAFCO, the major regulatory agency, is funded and staffed by pet-food companies. Animal welfare organizations depend on pet-food companies to support their activities.
Okay, so how is this scenario fodder for Mike' treatment? Major pet-food payers are global food giants, Mars, Nestle-Purina, Proctor & Gamble, Heinz, and Del Monte. Pet food is where they dispose of waste from their human food businesses. The synergy is obvious and very profitable. Grain fractions and other starches go directly into pet foods. Waste animal parts, 4-D (down, dying, dead, and diseased) animals, and euthanized pets, go to the rendering plant. Rendering plants cook and dry animal fats and protein fractions that are used in food-animal feeds and in pet foods.
Don't get me wrong. Animal by-products are not necessarily bad nutrition, despite their origins. It's disgusting to think about what goes into rendered by-products, but if animal waste were not rendered, communities would be innundated with rotting carcasses. The scandal of using euthanized pets in pet food was exposed some years ago. Drugs used to kill the pets, which are not destroyed by cooking, are harmful to pets who eat them. Pet food companies promise they do not use pets in pet food, but it's very hard to track what goes into rendering vats and where it ends up.
So, returning to our global pet food companies, picture executives at Mars, Nestle, P & G, Heinz and Del Monte explaining why cooked starches are good diets for dogs and cats. Really? The rationale for manufactured pet chow is ridiculous on its face. They can't make meat and bones out of starches, rendered fats, proteins, and nutrient fragments.
Think of Deans of veterinary schools explaining why they don't teach the evolution of carnivorous pets and their natural diet of whole prey (not kibble). Why do pet-food company representatives teach pet nutrition courses? Why are the textbooks on pet diets written by pet-food company employees? Why do vet students become employees and representatives of pet-food companies from day 1 of their training? What do Deans have to say about the pervasive influence of pet-food companies on vet education?
Let's see the American Kennel Club CEO explain why the premier organization devoted to welfare of purebred dogs and their owners pushes junk pet foods that make pets sick, instead of raw-meaty-bones. Does Eukanuba come to mind? Why does the AKC partner with Royal Canin (a Mars brand) to produce training materials on pet diets for vet students? Collusion is extensive and begs to be exposed.
And think of AAFCO, the primary government regulatory body for pet food, revealing its membership and sources of support. Embarassing! The fox is in charge of the hen house.
There are a lot of Rogers out there in pet-land with a lot of explaining to do. GM is big, but global pet food is bigger -- a $50 billion a year business that is growing faster than human food and beverage businesses. In 2008, pet food was a bright spot in these companies’ annual reports. Commercial pet food is spreading into developing markets, replacing homemade meals for pets. Remember the Nestle scandal of infant formula, marketed to developing countries to replace breast-feeding? A lot of babies died. Replay the tape for pet food.
Pet owners are bombarded with false advertising to feed "100% complete and balanced" pet foods that are primarily extruded starches, sprayed with manufactured nutrients. Labels such as "natural", "meaty", and "healthful" conceal the obvious fact that kibble is primarily starch, extruded from machines. Picture the product blowing out of giant extruders and being sprayed with manufactured nutrients to make it sustain life at all.
Starches are not appropriate food for carnivorous pets that need meaty bones to stay healthy. Pet-food claims of complete and balanced nutrition are endorsed, however, by AAFCO, small animal vets, and animal welfare groups, whose loyalty has been purchased. They’re all in this profitable scam together.
Pets and their owners suffer the consequences -- pets with poor health and shorter lifespan, and owners who spend $ millions to treat illnesses from the pet foods vets recommend and sell.
Mike, you’ve tackled GM, hospitals, doctors, and capitalism. You’ll have a ball examining pet food operations at Mars, Nestle-Purina, Proctor & Gamble, Heinz, and Del Monte.
Please, pets around the world need your help.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Next he shops for dog food in a store aisle lined with giant bags of kibble. He selects a huge bag of a brand labeled “Mostly Garbage”.
Sadakis explains he has other bills to pay. Mostly Garbage, he says, is good enough for a dog. Sadakis poses beside the Mostly Garbage bag and tells viewers he feeds this stuff to his dog, because in these tough economic times, he wants to heat the house and feed his children. How healthy is Mostly Garbage? He doesn’t know, but it’s fortified with 8 essential vitamins and riboflavin. Bag says "Complete Nutrition".
As with most Saturday Night Live skits, the Mostly Garbage message about dog food is complex and stinging. The juxtaposition of loving owner, playing with a beautiful, purebred dog in an idyllic park, followed by feeding him garbage is pointed satire on pet food. Although kibble does not appear to be garbage, viewers are reminded of what’s really in the bag – garbage fortified with vitamins and riboflavin.
The message that feeding garbage to your pet is okay, because he’s “just a dog”, reminds viewers of how they feel about their dogs. Their dogs are family members, not to be dismissed as “just a dog”. So why are they feeding him vitamin-fortified garbage in a bag?
Will feeding the dog garbage save enough money to heat the house and feed the children? Of course not! So, why are they feeding their beautiful, expensive Golden retriever garbage?
Is kibble good food for dogs? No, it's not. Badly nourished, desperate dog is foraging in garbage and eating cat poop.
The garbage dog food skit follows directly after the Ryan Reynolds opening and the now-famous parody of President Obama reviewing accomplishments of his first year in office. The President ticks off a list of things he has not done and says he has accomplished nothing, nada. This skit, and the whole SNL episode, will doubtless receive an enormous number of viewings.
Yes, kibble is mostly garbage – not the unprocessed trash shown in the video but garbage nonetheless. Thank you, Jason Sadakis and Saturday Night Live, for bringing this fact to pet owners’ attention.
The public is not yet aware of how rotten the pet vet enterprise has become. Veterinarians who care for people's pets are trusted advisors on health matters for four-legged family members. Vets have much the same role pediatricians have for young, two-legged family members. Parents rely on pediatricians to help them promote children's healthy development. Pet owners rely on veterinarians to promote pets' healthy development.
What will happen when pet owners realize the vet-recommended diet of cooked starches rots pets' teeth and gums, and leads to myriad chronic diseases?
How will pet owners feel about vets when they learn that most steroids and antihistamines prescribed for allergies, expensive dental treatments, and most anitbiotics given to fight repeated infections are prescribed for disorders attributable to a diet of commercial pet foods?
How will people feel about vets' diet advice when they connect commercial pet foods to their pets' diabetes, cancers, congestive heart disease, or renal failure?
What will happen when pet owners realize that starchy kibbles and canned mush don't deserve the name, food, for carnivorous dogs and cats?
Here's are some ways pet owners will wise up about vets.
- First, they will realize they are paying enormous sums to treat illnesses their pets should not have. Increasing numbers of pet owners already question the too-numerous maladies their pets suffer.
- Second, they will learn more about the true nature of carnivorous pets and their natural diet of whole prey. Pet owners are already helping each other to feed raw diets. Internet raw feeding groups are growing in size and number, despite veterinary opposition.
- Third, they will ask why pediatricians want children to eat fresh, whole foods, while vets want pets to eat a processed, synthetic diet. It does not compute.
- Fourth, they will learn that manufacturers cannot make healthy food from dissected nutrients -- anymore than chemists can create life out of molecules in a petri dish.
Real carnivore foods, such as slabs of beef ribs and whole chickens, are exceedingly complex organic matter. No one knows how to synthesize flesh and bones. No one has analyzed the many thousands of constituents of flesh and bones. Charred remnants of living matter, extruded with processed starches, are not food for carnivorous pets.
Small animal medicine today is owned by pet-food companies, which sponsor all of its activities -- student support, nutrition teaching, research, and practice. The $50 billion/ year pet food industry has infiltrated every corner of the edifice. To have a future, small animal medicine must rid itself of this blight.
A few suggestions:
- Small animal medicine accepts zoological and genetic research findings on the classification of dogs as a subspecies of gray wolf and domestic cats as close relatives of wild desert cats.
- Small animal medicine accepts the dietary implications of dogs', cats', and ferrets' carnivore classifications;
- Small animal medicine accepts the fact that the ideal carnivore diet is a varied selection of raw, whole prey. Whole prey provide all the nutrients carnivores need for healthy development and chewy texture to clean teeth.
- Veterinarians endorse raw-meaty-bones as a second-best but appropriate diet for carnivorous pets, with whole prey included when possible.
- Veterinary medicine partners with meat producers to transform the pet food chain. Rather than sending all waste meats to rendering plants, perhaps 20% of cattle, sheep, and pig carcasses could be diverted into a new, raw pet food market.
- A raw meaty bones pet food section is set up in supermarkets and pet store chains to feature vet-recommended raw food selections.
- Veterinarians educate pet owners to feed rmb, recommend and sell selected rmb in their clinics.
- Veterinarians insist that a natural diet based on raw meaty bones is required to prevent dental disease in dogs, cats, and ferrets. Ground bones and minced meats are not acceptable substitutes for raw meaty bones.
- Meat producers supply a portion of their revenue from pet sales to support to veterinary education and research.
It is unlikely, however, that meat producers could keep the small animal veterinary enterprise in the style to which kibble-and-can, pet-food manufacturers have accustomed them. If pet-food funds are lost, who will fund small animal medicine?
Pet vets are not the only enterprise that could suffer financially from the demise of kibble and canned mush. Pet-food manufacturers support animal welfare organizations, purebred dog and cat organizations, and spend $$ millions to advertise kibbles and cans in print, television, radio, Internet and other media. Displacement of commercial pet foods could create serious financial problems for many pet-related organizations.
The demise of pet-food companies is, however, unlikely. It is safe to assume that Proctor & Gamble, Mars, Nestle-Purina, Heinz, DelMonte, and their like, have contingency plans to transform their extruded and canned mush business into raw frozen and dehydrated products. These companies produce similar processed and frozen products for the human market. They know exactly how to capture markets for frozen and processed foods. And they know the day is coming when they can no longer pass-off kibble and canned mush as healthy foods for carnivorous pets.
As their junk pet-food business becomes obsolete, they will likely market attractively boxed, foil-wrapped, and cello-packed frozen and dehydrated raw pet meats and meaty bones. A lot of pseudo raw and pseudo meaty bones will be thrust into the pet market. The same players will fund vet schools, students, teaching, research, professional meetings and organizations. Life could go on as before, or the foundation of small animal medicine could be reinforced and rebuilt.
The intellectual-educational shift from manufactured pet foods to raw-meaty-bones offers small animal medicine an opportunity for salvation. Honest teaching and scholarship can co-exist with financial investments from commercial raw-meaty-bones, if the terms of engagement are changed. Veterinary schools and professional organizations must maintain intellectual independence from pet-food companies and meat producers. If commercial interests threaten to encroach, their influences must be resisted. Intellectual and professional integrity must be maintained.
Remember -- pet-food purveyors need veterinary endorsement just as much as vets need pet-food funds. The challenge for small animal medicine is to set the standards for appropriate pet foods that deserve their endorsement, and that standard must be raw-meaty-bones for carnivorous pets.
The scenario outlined here could save small animal medicine from intellectual and institutional collapse. By accepting the nature and dietary requirements of carnivorous pets, vets can greatly improve their health and longevity. They can save pet owners many millions of dollars, now spent to treat chronically-ill companion animals. Small animal vets' roles can be transformed to preventive care, lifestyle consultation, honest dietary advice, and treating accidents and illnesses that are not caused by inappropriate diets.
Perhaps, when pet diets promote health, fewer small animal veterinarians will be needed. That's the price dentistry paid for switching from filling cavities in children's teeth to responsible caries prevention. Fewer dentists were needed. That's the price veterinary medicine paid when inoculations and antibiotics stopped widespread animal epidemics. That's how the marketplace for services works.
The alternative -- continuing to promote heath-destroying, commercial pet foods -- leads to a collapse of consumer confidence and the end of small animal medicine as it is currently practiced. If small animal medicine fails to protect its clients and continues to do harm, another professional group will be licensed to replace it.
Friday, October 30, 2009
First, of course, there's the usual guild reason to make simple feeding complicated. Only guild members' expensive advice can keep pets healthy and heal sick ones. Guild secrets keep professionals (and alchemists, who promised to turn lead into gold) in business. The more mysterious and hidden the information, the more they can charge to provide that information. Guild secrets have been jealously guarded since the Middle Ages.
Veterinary nutritionists are today's alchemists, turning pet diets into personal gold. For them pet nutrition is an exceedingly complex balancing act, with hundreds of nutrients to be juggled in each formulation, which they say must be concocted specifically for individual pets.
Here is how Dr. Korinn Saker, DVM and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, puts it:
"Owners who want to prepare their own pet food cannot just provide pets with people food. It is very difficult to ensure the pet's diet is nutritionally balanced if the receipe has not been appropriately evaluated. The Internet, articles, or self-help books cannot be relied upon for this information, because your individual pet has specific requirements for protein, carblydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins. The wrong combination of human foodstuffs fed to your pet can create nutritional deficiencies or excesses that result in disease. If the animal is young and growing, the wrong diet can negatively influence musculoskeletal development."
Dr. Saker's first lesson is don't try to feed your pet yourself, because you'll get it wrong and do harm . Second lesson is don't trust what you read anywhere about pet diets, because no sources of information can be trusted. Further, pets are individuals with specific dietary requirements that owners cannot assess.
If inflicting that amount of self-doubt on pet owners is not sufficient to drive them to a dietary alchemist, requirements for preparation and storage of homemade diets will.
"Another issue is food preparation and storage. Ingredients should be thoroughly cooked to keep bacterias from forming and creating concerns such as Salmonella or E.Coli. Unless food is prepared fresh for each meal, appropriate freezing followed by proper thawing, heating, and then serving at room temperature are other steps that must be followed."
Remember, this advice is given for healthy pets. With the time-consuming consultation and exacting preparation of pet diets they say is required, it's a wonder any dogs or cats survived evolution. For many thousands of years, wolf/dogs ate whole prey and scavenged off rotting carcases -- not cooked, not balanced by a nutritionist, and not frozen or thawed properly to retard bacteria formation. In more recent centuries, dogs ate human leftovers, caught and ate small game, and scavenged in human garbage. How can so robust a species be so vulnerable to dietary imbalances and bacteria?
Dr. Saker is not alone in warning pet owners not to tinker with pets' diets without expert advice. Rebecca Remillard, PhD, DVM, DACVN is a maven of dietary experts. For a hefty fee, her consulting business at petdiets.com offers tailored cooked meat. starch, veggie recipes with corn oil and vitamin/mineral supplements. Supplements are to be purchased from the granddaddy of veterinary nutrition consulting groups, DVM Consulting, out of the University of California -- Davis.
Dr. Remillard's home-cooked diet instructions for healthy pets run to three pages of gram-measured components, excruciating storage, heating, and monitoring requirements. In fact, ingredients in these professionally formulated diets are few and simple, but measuring and combining them precisely, as prescribed, would be nerve-wracking and time-consuming.
So, here's the second, and more important, reason veterinary nutrition "experts" make pet diets appear to be so complex and burdensome to pet owners: They are all paid consultants to commercial pet food companies. The first recommendation of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and its members is to feed pets "100% complete and balanced" commercial pet foods.
In the midst of the enormous 2007 contaminated pet food recall, in which thousands of pets died from renal failure, Dr. Remillard publically warned pet owners not to switch from kibble to homemade diets. On behalf of the ACVN, she raised spectres of dietary imbalances that were hard to accept, given the enormous harm commercial pet foods did to North American pets that year. And the 2007 pet food recall for melamine contamination was just one in a long and frequent series of pet food contaminations and deficiencies that have killed and sickened tens of thousands of dogs and cats in this decade. Nonetheless, the ACVN and it members swear by "100% complete and balanced" kibbles and canned mush.
Opening a bag or can and pouring junk into a pet's bowl is easy, time-saving, and requires no thought. By making it appear that only an alchemist can formulate a healthy substitute for kibble and mush, pet owners are deterred from feeding a better diet. As I have said many times, feeding raw-meaty-bones is quite simple and fast. All you have to do is hand your pet an appropriately sized hunk of meaty bone. Varying meaty bones from day to day gives pets all the varied nutrients they need, and keeps their teeth clean -- a claim the dietary alchemists cannot make.
The diet experts' message is: Let pet food companies do the thinking and formulating; they have hundreds of veterinary nutrition experts (like us) on their payrolls. Ignorant pet owners cannot compete with the nutrition expertise of pet food companies, nor can they find reliable information in books, articles, or on the Internet, a message I find most offensive. If owners dare try to choose foods themselves, we warn you of the harm you may do and, as a last resort, charge you a lot of money to concoct a cooked mush diet for your carnivorous pet.
As a University of Pennsylvania veterinary nutritionist said in the Pet Food Institute webinar, she questions clients who want to feed "unconventional" diets, discovers what motivates their preferences, and guides them back to commercial pet foods. Failing that, she gives them a homemade diet recipe that takes a great deal of time to prepare and store. No doubt, her clients soon return to kibble and cans.
There must be pet owners with sufficient self-doubt to engage the services of these contemporary alchemists. Let's remember, however, they are not turning boneless, skinless chicken breasts into solid gold nutrition for pets, who need raw-meaty-bones. They are turning cooked chicken & rice recipes into gold for themselves and for giant pet food companies.
Some pet owners feed companion animals like other family members. Although they may recognize pets do not need starches and sweets, the meals they feed pets are much like their own plates of meats and vegetables. Other pet owners view carnivorous pets as different from human omnivores and honor pets by feeding an appropriate carnivore diet of meats and meaty bones. In both cases, however, what owners consider to be food directly affects their choice of food items for pets.
When I learned how much beef goes to the local landfill, because 50% of cows is not considered human food, I realized that some of these parts could be raw pet food. The USDA inspector at the local meat packing plant agreed and offered to approve some beef parts as healthy for pets only -- spleens, lungs, tracheas, esophagi, noses, ears, and tendons. With enthusiasm, the meat packing manager and I set out to popularize waste beef parts as raw pet food. I fed my own dogs spleens, lungs, tendons, tracheas, esophagi, noses, and so forth. Through Kona Raw, my local raw-meaty-bones co-op, I offered samples of these parts to pet owners free of charge.
A few pet owners tried tendons once. No one would even try to feed their pets the other beef parts, because they find them disgusting. The idea of feeding lungs, spleens, and tracheas was just too revolting, even if they recognized their pets might find them perfectly edible. Even tendons were found to be too disgusting to feed more than once, because you can see the cow's five toes that hide inside the hoof (which fascinated me -- mammalian evolution retains the basic form, even where outer adaptations have changed feet into hooves). Problem is these beef parts are not human food, and many people cannot bring themselves to feed pets foods they would not eat themselves.
Commercial raw pet food companes grind meats and bones into an unrecognizable mince. By grinding up bones, they destroy their teeth-cleaning function -- a major benefit of feeding raw-meaty-bones. That aside, by grinding up all meaty parts into an amorphous mince, they destroy the identity of the parts. More people can accept the idea of lungs, spleens, and tracheas in pet foods if they can't recognize the parts.
Green tripe is a good example of how grinding makes the food acceptable. I feed my dogs raw green tripe, cut into large hunks they have to chew. Kona Raw Co-op members feed ground tripe, but not whole tripe, because it's texture and appearance are disgusting to them.
They feed raw beef hearts and livers, because these are human foods. Spleens and lungs are not food, even though their appearances and textures are not very different from items they consider edible. Nutritionally, spleens and lungs are good organ meats and less expensive than hearts and liver. Intellectually, co-op members agree they should be able to feed spleens and lungs, but they just can't.
Tracheas are featured in Indian cuisine, but not in European or Polynesian cooking. Indian pet owners probably can bring themselves to feed their pets raw beef tracheas, whereas most Americans cannot. Cooking also helps to reduce the identifiability of parts not considered edible, although most people want to know the identity of what they eat.
The mindset required to feed pets foods we don't eat is that dogs and cats are not human family members but carnivorous pets with different dietary needs. If they could picture wolves feasting on the carcass of a cow, they would see wolves tearing open the abdomen and consuming the internal organs -- all of them. Fido and Fifi would do the same, if given an opportunity.
I have to figure out how to desensitize my fellow pet owners to raw pet foods they would not eat themselves. The probems are not intellectual or informational. Emotional reactions to food are powerful feelings that define edibles and inedibles very early in life. A more positive approach is to differentiate pets's diets from our own by categorizing pets (accurately) as carnivore species that will eagerly eat foods we would not consider edibles.