Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Not Kid Kibble?

Today I listened to a Pet Food Institute virtual conference on pet nutrition. Webinar sponsors were international manufacturers of nutrients and pet food ingredients, mostly European companies. They are proud of their contribution to pet nutrition. Since wheat and corn are the major ingredients in processed pet foods, adding minerals, vitamins, fats, and proteins is a good idea.

Acceptance of manufactured pet food as the nutritional standard for companion animals is illogical and absurd on its face. How can carnivorous pets be well-fed on cooked carbohydrates, even if the nuggets are sprayed with manufactured nutrients?

Human food manufacturers produce cereals and nutrition bars that are conceptually close to pet kibble. Many cereals and nutrition bars are advertised as nuritent rich, healthy foods. To wheat and corn bases, they add vitamins and minerals to increase the nutritional value of the food. Manufacturers promote cereals and nutrient bars as healthy -- perhaps, best considered as healthy alternatives to potato chips and candy bars.

Children are not supposed to eat processed cereals and bars at every meal, every day. Doctors, nutritionists, and grandmothers advise they also eat fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, and fresh meats. Grains are only one component of an omnivore diet.

To my knowledge, no food manufacturer has had the audacity to propose that children be fed an exclusive diet of Kid Kibble. Even if reinforced with an enormous array of manufactured vitamins, minerals, and other additives, cereals are not a complete omnivore diet. Even if nutritionists showed the nutritional equivalence of Kid Kibble to a complete omnivore diet, most people would not accept grains as the only food children should eat.

So, why would we think that cooked starches are an appropriate, exclusive food for carnivorous pets? Carnivore foods are raw meats and bones. Even though wolves and dogs can survive starvation by eating some vegetable matter, the natural diet for wolves and feral dogs is whole animals. Two studies of feral dogs in African communities showed their stomach contents were 92 to 96% remains of small prey they caught. Very little vegetable matter was found. Wolves and dogs eat whole prey, unless none is available.

Pet kibble is an even more absurd concept than Kid Kibble. For omnivore children, grains are at least a natural part of their diet. For carnivore pets, grains are not a natural part of their diet, yet grains and/or other starches are the primary ingredients in the food they are fed, day in and day out. The National Research Council, which sets pet food standards, says that cats and dogs have no demonstrated need for carbohydrates at all. Yet, they approve minimally sustaining pet diets, based on grains and other starches.

It probably helps to spray pet kibble with manufactured nutrients, which by the way is a very profitable part of the pet food industry. Still, the resulting diet is a poor substitute for real food. Real food for carnivorous dogs and cats is raw-meaty-bones. Children should not be fed exclusively on Kid Kibble. Pets should not be fed kibble at all.

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