Friday, November 27, 2009

Adding Up Ingredients in Pet Food

You probably know that ingredients in pet food must be listed on the label, in descending order of weight.  That's weight before processing.  In another blog entry, I talked about how moisture-laden meats, often listed first on the label, virtually disappear in kibble, because they are 3/4 water that is removed in processing.  Dry starches keep their original volume after processing, because they were dry to start.

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

How Can Pet-Food Manufacturers' Control of Vet Training and Practice Be Exposed?

How have veterinary authorities been able to exclude information about natural pet diets of whole prey or raw-meaty-bones from veterinary education? How have pet-food companies so completely captured veterinary education, research, and practice on all aspects of pet nutrition?

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.

The Kona Raw Experience

A few months ago, I decided to share my knowledge of raw-meaty-bones and provide other Kona pet owners with access to wholesale meaty bones.  I formed a co-operative pet food group that buys meats and meaty bones from a local meat processor.  Co-op members put in orders online and pick them up at my farm.  Hawaii Beef Producers delivers beef, pork, and poultry to us weekly.  I compile orders and keep the books.  As we have gotten used to the schedule and procedures, orders and deliveries have become routine.

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

What Do Veterinarans Feed Their Own Pets?

Believe it or not, most veterinarians feed their own pets kibble and canned mush, often the expired bags and cans from their own clinics. They are not embarrassed about feeding carnivorous pets diets heavy in cooked starches, because they don't know any better.

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.

Veterinarians are taught to focus on nutrient analysis, to look for minimal dietary requirements, and not to look at any alleged quality of ingredients.  By veterinary criteria, "Old Boots", concocted literally from old boots, wood shavings, and motor oil, passes all tests.  The fact that Old Boots would kill any pet that ate it escapes their analysis.

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

Familiar Stories among Agility Fans

I don't compete in agility trials, but a good friend was the local founder, teacher, and sponsor of agility competitions in Kona.  Gale was a remarkable woman with a passion for dogs -- her own German shepherds and the welfare of all dogs.  She always seemed exceptionally healthy, but she died suddenly.  Her friends and admirers gathered yesterday to pay tribute to her and to her contributions to the canine community.

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

Seasonal Bargains in Raw-Meaty-Bones

Fall hunting season for deer, wild turkeys, wild pigs, and other game can bring huge savings over buying raw-meaty-bones at local stores.  Of course, you've found the less expensive meats and meaty bones that are not prized for human consumption, but fall brings another source of excellent foods for your carnivorous pets.

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

What's Raw, What's Meaty, and What's Bone?

"I feed raw.  Shouldn't you?" -- a slogan for Wysong Pet Products, to be printed on tee-shirts.  As a distributor of Wysong's raw-dehydrated foods, I can order 8 tee-shirts free of charge.  I'm ambivalent.

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

Chicken Bones, Really?

Nearly every pet owner I tell about the raw-meaty-bones diet are most alarmed about feeding raw chickens.  "I was always told, 'Never feed your dog chicken bones, they splinter and can perforate intestines.'"  Well, yes, don't feed COOKED chicken with bones, because cooked chicken bones splinter.  Raw bones do not splinter.  Dogs and cats crunch the bones with the meat. Bones provide minerals and vitamins pets need.

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

What's Really in Bags of Pet Food

Pet food labels are very misleading, much less truthful than labels on human foods.  Pet food regulations are written to favor manufacturers; human food regulations aim to protect human consumers, at least to some extent. 

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.

The starches in pet foods are unlikely to be whole grains.  More likely, pet food starches are brewery wastes, hulls, and other human food wastes.

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

Calling Michael Moore To Expose Global Pet Food Scam

Hey Mike,

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

Mostly Garbage

In mid-October, Saturday Night Live did a skit on commercial dog food. Skit opens with Jason Sadakis and his Golden retriever in a park, playing, cuddling, and enjoying time together.

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”.

At home he opens the Mostly Garbage bag, and assorted garbage (egg cartons, banana peels, paper trash) falls out into the dog’s bowl. Dog’s bowl is 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".

How does it taste? He doesn’t know – it's dog food!  Is Mostly Garbage good for his dog?  He doesn’t know. But, heck, this morning, he says, the dog ate real garbage, and then he got into the cat litter box and ate poop. He thought about stopping him but, oh well, he seemed to be enjoying it. He feeds his dog Mostly Garbage, because he’s just a dog.

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.

A Future for Veterinary Medicine

From my observations, companion animal medicine is a termite-ridden edifice verging on collapse.  Commercial pet food influences have so undermined the intellectual foundation of teaching, research, and practice, there are no solid pillars to shore up.

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.
To elaborate on the last point: pet-food companies cannot create wholesome food from nutrient fragments.  It is an astonishing conceit that pet nutritionists pretend they can take bits and pieces of grains, rendered by-products, and synthesized nutrients and create wholesome pet food.  How preposterous! 

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.