Wednesday, June 16, 2010

American Kennel Club Diet Advice

Given the outrageous advertising exposure and endorsements the AKC gives its members for commercial junk foods, it seemed interesting to see what "expert" advice they offer dog owners in their less commercial pages.  Here's the essence of AKC's advice on how to feed your dog./

Broadly speaking, the first choice you need to make is whether to feed your dog a homemade diet or a commercially prepared diet.
Homemade Diets
Homemade diets are meals you prepare at home for your dog that usually include meat, grains, vegetables and supplements such as bone meal, minerals and vitamins. With homemade diets, you have more complete control over each of the ingredients that you feed your dog than you would if you were feeding your dog commercially prepared food. In addition, the ingredients in the homemade diet will likely be fresher and have undergone less processing. Many dog owners also feel that preparing food for their dog is a bonding experience that helps them feel closer to their dogs. Advocates of homemade diets claim that homemade diets make dogs more energetic and promote healthier teeth, skin and coats.
There are also some drawbacks to preparing homemade diets. First, and most importantly, creating a healthful and balanced homemade diet is not that simple. You must educate yourself and consult with a veterinarian or nutritionist to make sure that you are giving your dog meals that include all essential nutrients in the proper amounts. Both undersupplying or oversupplying certain key nutrition building blocks can have adverse consequences for your dog. Second, preparing a homemade diet requires a consistent time commitment to prepare meals for your dog. It also makes traveling with your dog more difficult as you will have to prepare many meals in advance and make sure that the meals are kept fresh during the journey.
Commercially Prepared Diets
Commercially prepared diets generally fall into three categories: kibble (dry food), semi-moist food and wet food. The most common method for producing kibble is to grind up and mix the ingredients and then put them through an extrusion process in which the ingredients are mixed with liquid (usually fat or water) and then the moistened ingredients are pushed through a cylinder that self-generates friction and heat to further mix and bake the kibble. At the end of the cylinder is a mold that gives the kibble its shape. Upon completion of the extrusion process, the kibble is cooled and dried and then often coated in flavor enhancers. The flavor enhancers usually include vitamins and minerals that may have been destroyed in the cooking process.....  
Many veterinarians will generally recommend giving your dog kibble as crunching the kibble helps to keep your dog’s teeth clean and in shape (sic; kibbles coat dogs' teeth with gunmmy sludge)....
Reading Commercial Dog Food Labels
On many dog food labels you will find one of the following AAFCO statements: “___ brand dog food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for [specific stage of dog’s life];...
... Manufacturers are required by law to list ingredients by weight. However, watch out for these two little tricks. First, the weight of each ingredient includes the moisture in each ingredient. Second, manufacturers can break up each less “desirable” ingredient such as rice into its component parts (rice, ground rice etc.) so each component part can be positioned further down on the ingredient list even though the ingredient should, by overall weight, be at the top of the list. In general, items that you prefer not to see on the list of ingredients include artificial colors, artificial flavor, artificial preservatives and by-products...
You should also understand what the guaranteed analysis listed on your dog food signifies. The guaranteed analysis is a table with the percentages of important nutrition building blocks such as carbohydrates, fats and protein. Like with the ingredient list, the guaranteed analysis does not take into account the amount of moisture contained. ...In addition, the guaranteed analysis does not differentiate between the different digestibility levels of ingredients. For example, commercial food A could have a higher level of protein than commercial food B, but commercial food B’s protein source may be more readily digestible and thus more useful to your dog.
If your head isn’t spinning already, you should at least be aware of where your dog’s food is manufactured...
 Raw Diets
Finally, it is worth mentioning raw diets. Raw diets, though the ingredients vary, all contain raw meat or raw, meaty bones. Raw diets can be prepared from scratch, or you can now buy commercial raw diets that are fresh frozen and then packaged. Proponents of raw diets claim that raw meat provides the optimum and most easily usable source of important nutrients for dogs, and most closely replicates the ideal diet dogs lived on for generations in the wild.

Critics of the raw diet believe that the raw diet can be potentially harmful to your dog and to you because of various parasites within the muscle meat along with bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that are present in raw meat. There is no doubt that bacteria does exist in raw meat and, although some people claim dogs have the ability to safely ingest the bacteria, especially if your dog is geriatric or weakened by another condition, feeding a raw diet is generally not a good idea.

If you do decide to use a raw food diet for your dog, you must keep the food frozen until it is ready to eat, throw out any food not eaten after each meal and clean your dog’s food and water bowl in hot, soapy water after each meal. You will also need to take precautions to make sure you and other household members do not accidentally come into contact with the bacteria. Washing your hands and any surfaces or objects that come into contact with raw meat with hot, soapy water is essential. Do not allow young children or weakened or sick household members to touch the raw meat or any objects or surfaces that have come into contact with the raw meat prior to cleaning."
At the bottom of the AKC's diet advice is the following commercial message:

Having been a cook all my long, adult life, I am amazed at the hysteria veterinary nutritionists display.over raw meats.   Do they ever grill chicken or steaks in the backyard?  Do they prepare meals for anyone?  Are they all vegetarians or vegans?  

What causes this unreasonable fear of handling raw meat?  Does their fear apply only to meat and meaty bones intended for pets, or do their cautions apply to the human diet and kitchen? 

Of course, one should wash one's hands and surfaces used to prepare raw meats.  My grandmother knew that.  She taught my mother, who taught me, who taught my children, to clean up after handling raw meat, for the reasons cited.  But none of us though it was dangerous to handle raw meat.

I own dozens of cookbooks that tell me how to prepare hundreds of meaty meals. Not one of the recipes begins with dire warnings about the dangers of raw meat or stern commands to clean my hands and surfaces the meat.touches.  I guess cookbooks just assume that people raised in homes where meals are prepared learn how to handle raw meat.  It's part of the culture that does not require endless admonition. 

Handling raw meats for pets is no different from preparing meals for one's family.  Last evening, I fixed a tasty Italian chicken dish for people and handed the dogs other parts of the same birds.  What's the difference?

Yes, pets eat it raw, which is no problem for them, unless, as the AKC says, they are very old or seriously ill.  I don't eat raw chicken myself, because laboratory tests show it is likely to be contaminated with salmonella (from poor growing and processing conditions).  Dogs and cats, however, are well-equipped by Nature with strongly acidic and short guts to eat raw poultry without a problem.

 I wash my hands and clean all surfaces that chicken touches with anti-bacterial soaps and a 10% bleach spray.  I am not casual about handling poultry, whether intended for myself or my pets.

Other meats are not so often contaminated as chickens.  Here in Hawaii we often eat raw fish in the forms of poke and sushi.  This, too, is a cultural pattern.  One learns early in life that raw fish should be fresh and carefully refrigerated from ocean to plate. 

I have often eaten raw beef as  steak tartar and carpaccio, especially in Europe. 40 years ago, I got very ill from eating raw oysters (Hepatitis A) in Paris.  I have eaten raw oysters dozens of times since.  Yes, there are risks to humans from consuming raw meats, but then many other daily activities are also pretty risky.

Feeding raw-meaty-bones to pets is no cause for hysteria about raw meats.  My grandmother knew how to handle raw meats safely, and so do the nation's cooks.  It's easy -- just wash.  I suspect veterinary nutritionists, most of whom are paid consultants to pet-food companies, are merely using another ploy to scare pet owners away form the best diet for carnivorous pets.

I give credit to the AKC for including raw-meat-bones in their list of dog diets and for not damning it as unbalanced or incomplete.  Of course, rmb is the diet Mother Nature intended for carnivorous pets to eat.  And it can be safely done.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Watch Dog

Whether you own a dog or not, you must  appreciate
 the efforts of this owner to sell her dog.  
Read the sales pitch below!

Free to good home. Excellent guard dog. Owner cannot afford to feed him anymore, as there are no more drug pushers, thieves, murderers, or molesters left in the neighborhood for him to eat.  Most of them knew Jethro only by his Oriental street name, Ho Lee Schitt.

Raw-meaty-bones takes on a whole new meaning! 

AKC Lauds New Iams Junk Food, and Iams Recalls Bad Batches

The American Kennel Club, those self-proclaimed advocates for the welfare of purebred dogs and their owners, sent out this advertisement for Proctor & Gamble's Iams kibble and canned mush this morning.

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is a natural ingredient that promoted healthy digestion. It does
this by nourishing the bacteria found in the digestive tract. The good bacteria crowd out the bad bacteria, promoting healthy digestion.
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PreBiotics and ProBiotics are ingredients that are supposed to make digestion of the other stuff in the bag or can easier and more complete,  Even though your carnivorous dog or cat did not evolve to be fed primarily on cooked starches, Iams is now adding "nutrients" to the formulae to help your pet digest the inappropriate diet.  How nice!

In the same few minutes it took to read AKC's pandering notice, the following announcement of a pet-food recall arrived in my Inbox from Public Enemy Number One, the Pet Food Institute.  The Pet Food Institute is the lobbying arm of commercial pet-food companies.  They make sure Congress and regulatory agencies do not interfere with the huge profits to be made from junk pet foods.
Procter & Gamble recalls select Iams brand canned cat foods
Release Date: Thursday, June 10, 2010
Procter & Gamble voluntary recalled cans of its Iams ProActive Health cat and kitten foods due to concerns over low thiamine levels.
"Diagnostic testing indicated that the product may contain insufficient levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1), which is essential for cats," Procter & Gamble said. "Cats fed these canned products as their only food are at greater risk for developing signs of thiamine deficiency." 
The recalled products are the 3 ounce and 5.5 ounce cans, with dates between September 2011 and June 2012 printed on the bottom. The company advised cat owners who purchased the food to throw it out.
 No refunds?  No apologies from P & G for mis-formulating their Iams-brand, manufactured "food"?  Just another error in the pet-food chemistry lab, it seems.  Oh, well.... 

There are so many recalls of tainted and mis-formulated pet foods, it's impossible to keep up.  Please remember that these are the same people who promise your pet "100% compete and balanced" nutrition in every bag and can.  Too bad for pets and pet owners that they make so many mistakes.

That a nonprofit animal welfare organization, like the American Kennel Club, blatantly advertises commercial pet foods is shameful and should be illegal.  How can the AKC use their nonprofit lists of purebred dog owners and breeders to advertise the products of profit-making companies, such as P & G, and keep their nonprofit status?   Nonprofits are usually forbidden to engage in for-profit enterprise, or they have to keep the profit making at arms length.

The AKC has a profit-making affiliate ( that sells canine products, such as leads, crates, shampoos, and the like.  They don't promote any one company's junk food.  It is quite legal for profits from to support AKC's nonprofit mission, as long as pays taxes on its profits.

I would consider filing a complaint with the IRS about AKC's blatant advertising of Iams products, but I am sure the Pet Food Institute has that angle covered, to protect the AKC and other nonprofit groups they co-opt with generous funding.   It's disheartening to know there are no independent groups one can trust to stand up for pets.  They've all been bought.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

AKC Defeats Initiatives to Create Healthier Purebred Dogs

This month's Whole Dog Journal contains a story about Dalmatians that will shock dog lovers.  Although I have been around purebred dogs all my life, I was not aware that Dalmatians in the US and UK, and probably around the world, all carry defective genes that predisposes them to form life-threatening urate bladder stones.  Some Dalmatians have repeated surgeries, while many others suffer and are euthanized.  Genetic testing found that no Dalmatians in the US and UK carry the normal gene -- all are homozygous defective for urea processing.

No one has explained how this terrible defect was carried and spread throughout an entire breed.  The most likely explanations are: (1) the defective gene for urea metabolism has other desirable effects on Dalmatians' characteristics (pleiotropy), or (2) the locus of the defective gene is closely linked (located at short distance on the same chromosome) to a desirable gene (close linkage).  In either case repeated selection for a desired trait brought along the defective urea gene that became universal in the breed.

In 1973, Dr. Bob Schaible, a geneticist and Dalmatian breeder, cross-bred a Dalmatian to a champion Pointer with normal urea processing genes.  Through multiple  generations, he was able to develop Dalmatians that look like others of the breed but with normal genes.

In 1981, Dr. Schaible gained approval of the Dalmatian Club of America and the American Kennel Club to register two dogs from the fourth generation of this backcross.  When the general membership of the Dalmatian Club found out about the registration, however, they caused such an uproar, the AKC refused to register any offspring from these dogs.  Thus, the AKC stopped the introduction of normal genes into a known, studied, defective breed.

Far from making progress toward healthier Dalmatians, the breed club banned any discussion of the topic for 22 years!  In 2008 the membership of the Dalmatian Club of America again voted against registering Dalmatians with normal genes, therefore ALL registered Dalmatians in the US carry the defective gene that causes high uric acid levels and life-threatening bladder stones.

One can despair at the genetic and evolutionary ignorance of average dog breeders, whose misplaced priorities value appearance above health.  But whose responsibility is it to educate breeders and dog owners about canine genetic health and how to improve breeds with major genetic defects?  Most breeds have a few serious genetic threats to their health.  Doesn't the AKC's mission include working for the welfare of purebred dogs and their owners?  Surely, canine health is a major component of that mission.

Mary Straus, writing in the Whole Dog Journal, says "It's time for the AKC to take the lead in improving the health of purebred dogs -- and for breed fanciers to put the health of their dogs above an insistence on genetic purity".    I would add that evidence of "genetic purity" in breeds is arbitrary and illusory.  Most dog breeds have been isolated in registries for less than 100 years, some for less than 25 years, a very short time in dog's evolution.  Dogs are wolves; all dogs share most of the same genes and share 99.8% of their genes with wolves.  What nonsense to talk about breed purity when health is at stake.

In 2008, a British documentary, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" was aired by ITV.   The shocking video highlighted serious genetic problems in several breeds  -- problems so serious to dogs' health the public was outraged.  How could dog breeders be so irresponsible as to perpetuate these defects?  Public anger toward The Kennel Club and the venerable Crufts Dog Show caused major changes in breed standards and judging, as well as a commitment for The Kennel Club to consider registering dogs from outcross and inter-variety matings to improve dogs' health.  The Kennel Club now registers Dalmatians with normal urea genes.  Not so the AKC.

Here's the bottom line for the AKC:  Genetic testing for major health defects in canines is far advanced over even 5 years ago.  Genetic detection of canine disorders is advancing rapidly. It is now possible to test for many serious disorders that are CARRIED by dogs that appear normal and populate show rings.  Carriers of recessive genetic disorders are the greatest threat to good health in purebred dogs.  Dominant genes can be weeded our by not mating obviously affected individuals.  Affected dogs with two recessives can be removed from the mating pool.  Carriers of recessive defects do not usually show any symptoms but will pass the defect on to half their offspring.  When carriers become champions, thereby desirable mates, the frequency of defective genes in the breed multiplies.

In some cases -- Cavalier King Charles spaniels are the gravest example -- affected individuals are entered in shows and judged winners, when their stunted skulls and growing brains will soon cause them horrible pain and early death. Before the winner dies, however, he will be mated to dozens of females and pass on his defects to many in the next generations of Cavaliers.  How does this make any sense for the health of a breed?  Grossly misshapen muzzles, hips that fall out of their sockets, knees and elbows that freeze or wobble, eyes that go blind -- the litany of avoidable genetic defects in purebred dogs is alarming. -- and most are preventable through sound breeding.

The AKC can vastly improve the health of purebred dogs simply by requiring genetic testing and publishing results of testing for every dog that enters an AKC event.  I am sure the AKC knows such a plan would affect some great show people, some great supporters, members of their governing body, and so forth.  Their reluctance to act on behalf of canine health is political and financial.  Is that a good enough excuse?

Perhaps, for the first 5 years, affected dogs and carriers could be shown, but information about their genetic profiles for significant breed defects would be published in the show program.  After 5 years, the AKC should prohibit dogs affected by or who are carriers of serious health disorders from being shown in AKC events.

Dog shows are designed to select the best  breeding stock for the next generations of the breeds.  Surely, the AKC and breeders want the healthiest dogs to produce the next generation of every breed.  As long as genetic testing is ignored and excluded from consideration, the AKC is not fulfilling its mission.

In Britain, public opinion and loss of sponsors moved Crufts and the Kennel Club to a more informed and proactive stance.  The AKC is not ignorant; it simply lacks the guts to lead ignorant breeders and force malicious breeders into a better practices.

Shame on you, AKC!  Shame on you, breed clubs!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why Is There No Outrage or Adjudication of Veterinary Corruption?

In the last post, I documented the use of pet-food dollars to hire credentialed professionals to teach veterinary students Commercial Pet Food 101, rather than an unbiased course on the evolution of pet species and natural diets of carnivorous pets.  These same professionals hold offices in veterinary associations, hold faculty positions at veterinary schools, and populate regulatory commissions dealing with pet foods. 

In sum, pet-food dollars buy biased instruction in veterinary schools, favorable treatment in professional associations, and toothless  pet-food regulations.  The scope of pet-food corruption in veterinary medicine is breath-taking.  Pet-food companies completely control those aspects of veterinary medicine that concern them -- pet nutrition, internal medicine, and research on diseases associated with bad diets.

Pet-food money is not seen as tainted, of course, because veterinary authorities are on the take.  Pet-food endowed chairs in university departments seem legitimate, until one looks at the control pet-food companies retain over the selection and activities of the chair-holder.  Endowed buildings and research programs look legitimate until one sees that the scope of activities is defined by pet-food donors.  There's no free lunch in pet-food/veterinary relations -- although pet-food companies do often sponsor "free" luncheons and dinners for their hired hands.

Veterinary schools and professional associations thank their pet-food donors for their generous support, which sums to tens of millions of dollars per year.  Pet-food companies reap billions of dollars in profits from the veterinary endorsements they purchased for about ten-cents-on-the-dollar.

Why is there no outrage about pet-food companies' control of pet nutrition and associated health issues in veterinary medicine?  In recent correspondence, Australian Tom Lonsdale, DVM likened corruption in veterinary medicine to crooked police:
Currently there's a TV program on here about the Wood Royal Commission. Basically all the cops
were corrupt and engaged in massive scams, rape, murder and etc. The Commissioners got a corrupt detective to roll over and film his colleagues in corrupt activity.

It would be good if we found either a champion or reformed crook in the system who would help this along.
There are veterinary crooks quite openly on the payroll of pet-food interests, paid to promote commercial pet foods, while holding office in professional associations and faculty positions at universities.  For US examples, please see the last bog post.

Why authorities don't see this cozy arrangement as conflict-of-interest, at the least, or bribery is baffling.  How can a faculty member at a veterinary school be permitted take payments from a pet-food company or pet-food front to teach pet nutrition to veterinary students?

The ongoing scandal in medical schools is faculty members at leading universities taking large fees from pharmaceutical companies to promote off-label use of drugs in their lectures and appearances.  That's shocking and undermines public trust in physicians.  Authorities -- professional and legal -- are looking into the matter.

We can identify plenty of vet crooks in the system, whose activities are quite open.  Unlike crooked police, who hide their illegal activities and are discovered only when a reformed crook blows the whistle, crooked vets are practicing their corruption in public, and authorities seem not to care.

Here's why: Commercial pet food is the unchallenged right-way to feed pets, so no one sees the harm in allowing pet-food companies to pay faculty, support research, and provide income to vets in practice.  It's not corruption or biased instruction, until other theories/concepts of pet nutrition are seen as valid options.

Thus, we need, first, to define pet-food payments to veterinary faculty as corruption, because there are valid pet-feeding options that are omitted from their biased courses.  Second, we need to persuade the public and authorities to accept this definition of corruption.  Otherwise, no one is outraged, except those of us who believe that small animal nutrition ought not to be taught as Commercial Pet Food 101.

Imagine if the only "vegetable" served in school lunch programs was ketchup.  (Ronald Regan once agreed that ketchup could be considered a vegetable in school lunches.)  Suppose that Heinz and Del Monte, the largest ketchup manufacturers, funded instruction for school nutrition programs, endowed chairs and buildings in human nutrition programs, and hired a cadre of nutritionists to promote ketchup as the only vegetable children need for a complete and balanced diet (sound familiar?).

If ketchup companies spread enough dollars and bought enough expertise, they probably could have ketchup enshrined as the only vegetable in school lunch programs.  Anyone who suggested kids need green and yellow vegetables and unprocessed tomatoes would be confronted by research showing ketchup has sufficient nutrients (ah, the key word) to replace all other vegetables.  Ketchup would flow through the nation's school lunch rooms, while ketchup dollars bought all the professional support they need.  All it takes is money.

Why is no one within the veterinary medical establishment publicly blowing the whistle on commercial pet-food corruption?  There are dissident voices, but they remain largely anonymous, for fear of professional reprisals.  At the very least they would be excluded from honors and offices in professional associations and could lose their livelihood.  An inquiry into pet-food corruption must come from outside, because virtually no one inside the veterinary establishment has clean hands.  They are all on the take in one manner or another.

Motivation for reform is lacking within grassroots veterinary medicine, for economically understandable reasons.  Vet students are taught Commercial Pet-Food 101.  After graduation, they establish pet practices in which sales of junk pet foods contribute up to 40% of their incomes.

Even better, commercial pet foods create periodontal problems that require expensive veterinary treatment and chronic diseases that generate lots of income for vets.  Laboratory tests, according to Idexx -- the leading veterinary laboratory -- are the most profitable revenue stream in veterinary practice.  Chronically-ill pets require lots of lab tests.  Prescription drugs, dispensed by vets, are marked up by hundreds of percents, generating enormous profits.  Chronically-ill pets require lots of medications.

Commercial pet foods are the gift that keeps giving.  By undermining pets' health, kibbles and canned mush not only generate profits from their sales but their exclusive use as pet diets creates patients that need extensive and expensive veterinary treatments.  Why would veterinarians voluntarily surrender such a gift?

The pet world is changing, however,  and vets no longer have an exclusive hold on pet owners'  purses. In the US, most vets require owners to pay for pet examinations and heartworm tests annually, before inoculations or other treatments will be offered.  Vets charge handsomely for mandatory exams, tests, and inoculations. That racket is about to change.

Prescription flea/tick and heartworm medications are now available online at less than half the price charged in vet clinics.  If one buys them from Australia, no prescription is needed.  Heartworm tests are completely unnecessary for pets routinely given heartworm medication.  Vaccines for routine inoculations are available online and at local feed stores and pet shops.  Vaccines can be purchased for about $5; vets often charge $40 to $50 to administer the same shots.  Owners of healthy pets can now avoid veterinary clinics for routine drugs and inoculations and save themselves a fortune.

Owners of sick pets are wising up to the junk pet-food - illness connection.  Against veterinary advice, many are switching pets to raw diets and marveling at the pet's improved health.   Even if the sick pet dies, they vow never to feed junk foods to the next pet.  By promoting junk pet foods, veterinarians are losing credibility in pet owners' minds.  

When the public recognizes the stranglehold pet-food companies have on small animal veterinary medicine, there will be reform.  Pet owners are the most likely force to push authorities to inquire into pet-food funding and control of veterinary medicine and to demand change.  Disseminating information on appropriate diets for carnivorous pets is beginning to change the world.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How To Feed Pets -- As Taught by Hill's Pet Nutrition

To understand why veterinarians recommend and sell cooked, processed starches as "food" for meat-eating cats and dogs, one must delve into relationships between veterinary medicine and pet-food corporations.  Hill's Pet Nutrition (Science Diet and prescription products) were the pioneers in corrupting veterinary medicine.

Mark Morris founded Hill's Pet Nutrition in his garage in 1948.  Morris was a veterinarian, whose son also trained as a veterinarian.  Mark Morris's son carried on the family business.  Their products, Science Diet and Hill's prescription diets, expanded into factories and ultimately were sold to Colgate-Palmolive for several billions of dollars in 2003.

From the outset, Mark Morris believed that convincing veterinarians to believe in Science Diet and Hill's prescription products was the key to the company's success.  He was absolutely right.  Hill's Pet Nutrition invested heavily in veterinary education, pet nutrition research, and helping new graduates to set up small animal practices with Hill's products on the shelves.

Hill's representatives infiltrated veterinary schools, aiding students with donated pet foods, teaching pet nutrition courses, giving research grants supporting commercial pet foods, providing funds for student activities, summer interneships, and many other initiatives.  Morris enjoyed a three-decade lead over other pet food companies in corrupting the veterinary profession.

By contrast to other pet-food companies, such as Mars and Nelstle-Purina, Hill's Pet Nutrition spends a pittance on advertising to pet owners and focuses their funds on veterinarians.  Once purchased by Colgate-Palmolive, however, advertising of Hill's pet products accelerated, but their focus is still on controlling veterinary medicine.  Hill's investment in controlling pet nutrition teaching, research,and practice has paid off very handsomely for the company, which is now a high-profit unit of global Colgate-Palmolive.

Rich from the sale of the family business to Colgate-Palmolive, Morris's son endowed the Mark Morris Institute in his father's honor.  What does the Institute support?  Teaching small animal nutrition in veterinary schools, of course!
  • They write the textbook (Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 5th Edition) that is used in nearly every pet nutrition course in every veterinary school.  
  • They teach the pet nutrition course.  
  • The Mark Morris Institute pays a dozen veterinarians, whom they send, free of charge, to veterinary schools to teach pet nutrition and to consult with veterinary students about setting up successful pet practices.
  • Most Mark Morris Institute Fellows are current and/or former employees of Hills Pet Nutrition and the Morris Animal Foundation.  They speak about nutrients, not food, and teach vet students to believe that commercial formulations are the best nutrition Father Manufacture can concoct.  Mother Nature is nowhere to be found.

Mark Morris Sr. and Jr., with hundreds of millions of Hill's dollars behind them, also founded an interlocking set of self-congratulatory professional associations in veterinary nutrition and  internal medicine.  By controlling memberships, they bestow Diplomate status and honors on each other and exclude those who do not pledge allegiance to commercial pet foods.

The Mark Morris Institute, Morris Animal Foundation, and Hill's Pet Nutrition have interlocking directorates. One can easily see the lines of communication and conspiracy in the faculty biographies below.   Even more alarming is the extensive penetration of these pet-food entities into leading veterinary schools.

Although lengthy, the evidence is worth reviewing in detail.  Here is what the Mark Morris Institute says about its University Teaching Program and the faculty who carry their message.

University Teaching Program

Have a look at the Hired Guns the Mark Morris Institute sends (free of charge) to veterinary schools to teach pet nutrition.  I highlighted their pet-food positions, but please note their positions in leading veterinary schools and professional associations.:
The individuals providing this professional education program are the equivalent of an academic faculty of clinical nutrition. MMI faculty are involved in veterinary nutrition health studies, clinical service, publication, education, and continuing education.
Debbie Davenport DVM, MS, DACVIM

Dr. Davenport received her DVM from Auburn University in 1981. She completed an internship at Louisiana State University and a medical residency and master’s degree at The Ohio State University.
Dr. Davenport was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine where she was the recipient of the University Teaching Award for instructional excellence. She is currently the Director of Professional Education at Hill’s Pet Nutrition and the Executive Director of the Mark Morris Institute. In addition, she holds an adjunct professorship at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine and serves as a Trustee and Scientific Liaison for the Morris Animal Foundation.
Dr. Davenport is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Her major professional interests are gastroenterology, oncology and clinical nutrition.
S. Dru Forrester DVM, MS, DACVIM

Dr. Forrester received her DVM from Auburn University in 1985. She completed an internship and residency in internal medicine, and received a Master of Science degree at Texas A&M University.

Dr. Forrester was a faculty member in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine for 13 years and a professor at the Western University College of Veterinary Medicine in southern California for 2 years. She has received many awards in recognition of teaching excellence, including the national Carl Norden/Pfizer Distinguished Teacher Award in 2004.
Dr. Forrester's professional interests include urology and nephrology. She joined Hill’s Pet Nutrition in 2005 in the Department of Scientific Affairs and is a Mark Morris Institute Fellow.
David Hammond DVM, MS, DACVIM

Dr. Hammond received his DVM degree from Washington State University in 1980. After owning and operating a mixed-animal veterinary practice, he returned to academia where he completed a medicine residency at Mississippi State University.

Dr. Hammond was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania before joining Hill's Pet Nutrition as a Veterinary Affairs Manager. He is currently the owner of Horizon Veterinary Services, Inc.
Dr. Hammond is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. His major interests are endocrinology and clinical nutrition. He is an adjunct professor at Colorado State University, the University of Minnesota, and Washington State University as well as a Mark Morris Institute Fellow.
Michael S. Hand DVM, PhD, DACVN

Dr. Hand received his DVM from Colorado State University in 1968. After ten years of private practice in Wyoming, he returned to Colorado State University where he received a PhD in nutritional physiology.

Dr. Hand was a faculty member at the School of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University for three years before joining Mark Morris Institute in 1985. He was the Vice President of Research at Hill’s Pet Nutrition Center until his retirement in 2000.
Dr. Hand is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. He has authored over 60 research publications and book chapters and holds two patents. He is a co-author of the textbook, Small Animal Clinical Nutrition III and editor of Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, 4th Edition. He is an adjunct professor at North Carolina State and Kansas State Universities and Chair of the Board of Directors of Mark Morris Institute.
Claudia Kirk DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN
Dr. Kirk received her DVM degree from the University of California-Davis in 1986. She completed an internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York City and medicine residency at University of California-Davis. She remained at the University of California-Davis as a Hill's Fellow in Clinical Nutrition where she also completed a Ph.D. in Nutrition.
Dr. Kirk joined Hill's Pet Nutrition as a Veterinary Clinical Nutritionist in 1994. She is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.  Dr. Kirk is currently Associate Professor of Medicine and Nutrition and acting Department Chair of Small Animal Clinical Sciences of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
Dr. Kirk's major professional interest is small animal clinical nutrition, with special interests in feline nutrition, lower urinary tract disease, geriatrics, and endocrinology. She is a Mark Morris Institute Fellow. She has served as president of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. Dr. Kirk is currently Associate Professor of Medicine and Nutrition and acting Department Chair of Small Animal Clinical Sciences of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
Ellen Logan DVM, PhD
Dr. Logan received her DVM degree from Kansas State University in 1988. She spent five years as the University Veterinarian for Kansas State University providing veterinary care to a wide range of animal species. She also instructed students, inspected university laboratory animal facilities, and provided consultation to university researchers. She completed a Ph.D. in oral pathology in 1994.
Dr. Logan joined Hill's Pet Nutrition as a Veterinary Scientist in 1994. She is currently the manager of the Veterinary Consultation Service.  Dr. Logan's major professional interests are pathology, dentistry, and clinical nutrition. She is an adjunct associate research professor at the University of Kansas, an adjunct assistant clinical professor at Kansas State University, and a Mark Morris Institute Fellow. She has served as president of the American Veterinary Dental Society and national spokesperson for Pet Dental Health Month.
Chris L. Ludlow DVM, MS, DACVIM
Dr. Ludlow earned his DVM from Kansas State University in 1986. He worked in general practice in southern California for five years. He then completed a combined internal medicine/small animal clinical nutrition residency and masters degree at Kansas State University.
Dr. Ludlow was a faculty member at Kansas State University for one and half years before joining Veterinary Information Network in internal medicine and nutrition.
Dr. Ludlow is a Diplomate of the American Veterinary College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. His professional interests include gastroenterology, endocrinology, cardiology, and clinical nutrition. He is a consultant for the Veterinary Information Network in internal medicine and nutrition, and a Fellow for Mark Morris Institute.
Richard C. Nap DVM, PhD, DECVS & DECVCN
Dr. Richard Nap received his DVM from Utrecht University (NL) in 1979. After graduation he worked in both small and large animal practice (2 yrs), at Utrecht University (13 yrs) and in a corporate environment (11 yrs). Since 2005, Dr. Nap has owned an independent private consulting firm, Uppertunity Consultants. He is also co-owner of Vetstart International Ltd. His special areas of interest are Clinical Nutrition, Orthopedic Medicine & Surgery, Practice Management, and international student programs.
Dr. Nap is a Diplomate of the European Colleges of Veterinary Surgery (ECVS) and of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition (ECVCN). As consultant he supports international companies around the world. Dr. Nap has a passion for supporting veterinary students around the world by providing support during the transition from student to practitioner.
Dr. Nap is the chairman of the international specialist group on hip dysplasia that advises the scientific committee of the FCI (international kennel club) on the hip dysplasia screening protocol. He is also a member of AO-Vet and ESVOT.
Phil Roudebush DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Roudebush received his DVM degree from Purdue University in 1975. After two years in a private small animal practice in Denver, he completed a medical residency at the University of Missouri.
Dr. Roudebush remained at the University of Missouri for two years as a faculty member before joining the College of Veterinary Medicine at Mississippi State University. He was a faculty member at Mississippi State for eight years before joining Mark MMI in 1989. While at Mississippi State, he served as Chairman, Department of Clinical Sciences, for three years and received three college or university awards for teaching excellence. He is currently a Director of Scientific Affairs at Hills Pet Nutrition, Inc.
Dr. Roudebush is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. His major professional interests are clinical nutrition, veterinary education, cardiopulmonary disease, and dermatology. He is an adjunct professor at Kansas State University and a Mark Morris Institute Fellow.
Meri Stratton-Phelps DVM, MPVM, DACVIM (LA), DACVN
Dr. Stratton-Phelps graduated from the University of California, Davis with her DVM in 1996, and completed her MPVM degree in 1999. After working as an intern at San Luis Rey Equine Hospital, Dr. Stratton-Phelps returned to U.C. Davis for an equine emphasis large animal medicine residency. She proceeded to complete a nutrition residency and PhD at U.C. Davis. Her research interests include the dietary management of small ruminant urolithiasis, equine enteral nutrition, and the effect of dietary management on the microbial profile of the equine gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. Stratton-Phelps was a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Large Animal Medicine at the University of Georgia from 2005-2006, and remains an adjunct professor in the Department. In 2004 she started a clinical nutrition consulting business, and currently works full time as a multi-species clinical nutritionist. She is a Mark Morris Institute Fellow.
Dr. Phil Toll DVM, MS
Dr. Toll received his DVM degree from Kansas State University in 1986. He spent two years in private practice working with large animals and racing greyhounds.

Dr. Toll returned to Kansas State University and completed an M.S. in physiology in 1990. He remained in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology for another year as a research associate before joining Hill's Pet Nutrition in 1991. He is currently an Associate Medical Director.
Dr. Toll's major professional interests are exercise physiology, metabolism, acid-base balance, and clinical nutrition. He is an adjunct assistant professor at Kansas State University, past president of the American Canine Sports Medicine Association, and a Mark Morris Institute Fellow.
Todd Towell DVM, MS, DACVIM
 Dr. Todd Towell received her veterinary degree in 1990 from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. She completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at North Carolina State University in 1991 and a residency in small animal medicine at the Virginia-Maryland in 1994. Dr. Towell also received a Masters degree in Veterinary Medical Science from Virginia Maryland in 1994.
Dr. Towell practiced as in internist in both referral specialty and general practices for 5 years. In 1999, Dr. Towell became a clinical trial coordinator for Heska Corporation. She joined Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. in 2002 as a Veterinary Affairs Manager and is currently a Scientific Spokesperson.
Dr. Towell is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. In 1996, she received the Jersey Shore Veterinary Medical Association’s Veterinarian of the Year Award and received the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association’s Up and Coming Veterinarian Award in 2000. In 2005, Dr. Towell served as President of the CVMA.
Dr. Steve Zicker DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DACVN
Dr. Zicker received his M.S. in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1982, his DVM degree from the University of California-Davis in 1986, and his Ph.D. in Nutrition from the University of California-Davis in 1993.
Dr. Zicker also served an internship in medicine and surgery at Texas A&M University and a residency in medicine at the University of California-Davis.
Following his graduate education, Dr. Zicker spent one year as a lecturer and postgraduate researcher at the University of California-Davis and 18 months in private practice in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He joined Hill's Pet Nutrition in 1996. He is currently a Principal Nutrition Scientist in the Department of Advanced Research at the Hill's Pet Nutrition Center. In 2007, Dr Zicker received a Fulbright award to teach Veterinary Medicine in Ethiopia.
Dr. Zicker is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine and the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. His major professional interests are protein and amino acid nutrition, neonatal nutrition, nutrition and behavior interactions, and general comparative nutrition. He is a Mark Morris Institute Fellow.
This who's-who list of credentialed, veterinary nutritional professionals are all paid to promote commercial pet foods, specifically Hill's Pet Nutrition.   The fact that so many are university faculty or consultants, that so many have Diplomate status in professional associations, that so many have held office in professional associations -- is breathtaking.

Surely, the close, financial relationships of university faculty with commercial interests deserves more public and legislative scrutiny.  Given the extent of interlocking university-professional-commercial entities, an outside investigation is essential. No veterinary group could begin to conduct an independent inquiry, because too many leading members are involved in the corruption.

Before doing this research, I would not have believed that veterinary medicine was so completely corrupted by pet-food interests.  Now, there can be no doubt.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

ASPCA Warns Dogs Should Not Eat Avocados

Amidst its warnings against feeding chocolate, alcohol, and coffee to pets, the ASPCA also proclaims that avocados contain dangerous chemicals, and their seeds can cause choking, if swallowed.

What's next?  Many dogs in Hawaii and California, where avocados fall off trees, eat avocados regularly without ill effects. Veterinarians in Hawaii accept pets' avocado-eating in moderation.  They even see benefits from dog's eating avocados -- healthier coats and fewer skin problems. 

Putative problem is avocado leaves, skin, and to a lesser extent flesh, contain a fatty chemical, called persin.  The Merck Manual of Veterinary Medicine lists avian, rodent, and ungulate species that are susceptible to organ damage from persin in avocado leaves, stems, seed, and to a lesser extent fruit.  Dogs and cats are not among the known species adversely affected by avocado fruit.  The warning against dogs eating avocados rests on one case report of 2 dogs that were said to develop cardiomyopathy after injesting avocados.

Avocados are not a main food for my dogs, but they love to eat one they find on the ground in my orchard.   I have seen absolutely no problems in almost 9 years  from their eating the occasional avocado.  Each of the 10 dogs may find one or two avocados a week.  Avocados have a lot of vegetable fats, which are healthy for dogs' coats and energy levels, but too much of any good thing is undesirable.  Dogs can get quite fat from eating large numbers of avocados regularly.

The warning about a dog swallowing and choking on avocado seeds applies to all small, round objects, such as golf balls, ping pong balls, parts of toys, seeds of other fruits, etc.  I have not observed this phenomenon, but evidently some dogs try to ingest anything that is vaguely nutritious to supplement their inappropriate kibble diets.  It is said that kibble-fed dogs will eat cat poop, and feces of other dogs.  I supposes avocado seeds may be appealing to kibble-fed dogs for the same reason -- any bit of extra nutrition will be eaten.

Dogs choke on kibble and Greenies, too.  My dogs don't swallow or chew on avocado seeds. They also don't eat the cat's poop or each others' poop.  My dogs have raw meats to eat and meaty bones to chew.

On the same page on which the ASPCA issues dire warnings about avocados, they post the following bad advice:
Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.
There is so much misinformation in this paragraph, one hardly knows where to begin. The warning about raw eggs applies only to egg whites fed alone, not to whole eggs.  How many pet owners separate egg whites from yokes to feed them to pets? The yoke of eggs contains plenty of biotin to offset avidin in egg white. Whole raw eggs are very healthy additions to pets' diets.  I feed my dogs and cat raw eggs (not just the whites) with crushed egg shells (calcium carbonate) two or three times a week.

The raw meaty bones they warn against should be the principal food in dogs' and cats' diets.. Raw bones don't splinter; cooked bones splinter. Bacteria?  How many times do they have to be told that dog/wolf and cat digestive system are highly acidic and short -- they are designed to handle bacterial loads that could make their human owners ill but do not adversely affect healthy pets.

Perhaps, the best warning I can issue is to remind readers the ASPCA is brought to you by Nestle-Purina, Mars, and Colgate-Palmolive. Any advice they give pet owners is filtered through their corporate sponsors. Unfortunately, the ASPCA is against feeding pets anything not produced by their corporate sponsors, including avocados, raw meats, eggs, and meaty bones. Enough said.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Do Wolves/Dogs Eat the Vegetable Contents of Herbivores' Stomachs?

A major argument to justify vegetable matter in dogs' diets is the claim that wolves eat the stomach contents of their herbivore prey. The stomach contents of wild herbivores are partially digested and undigested gasses.

Do wolves, in fact, eat the stomach contents of prey? Not according to David Mech (1), who has studied wolves in various parts of the world for more than 30 years. Mech observed wolves attack large herbivores, such as moose and elk. When wolves open the abdominal cavity and begin to eat digestive organs, they shake out the contents of stomachs before eating the organs. Thus, according to Mech, wolves eat a small amount of  digested grasses that cling to the rough lining of stomachs, but they shake out large volumes of undigested grasses from herbivores' stomachs.

I feed my dogs green tripe, as well as many other raw meats and meaty bones. Green tripe is the stomach of cattle that, when grass-fed, closely resembles the stomachs of wild herbivores. Fortunately my dogs eat  grass-fed beef from local ranches.

I noticed a curious phenomenon: When first handed a whole green tripe, my dogs shake it, before settling down to eat it. Why on earth would they shake green tripe? There is nothing inside the tripe to shake out. It's contents were shaken out at the meat-packing plant. The dogs don't shake other meats, even other organ meats, such as heart, kidney, lung, and spleen. They shake only green tripe.  Yesterday, I asked a friend to take rough videos of the phenomenon with my small digital camera.  The quality is not good, but the dogs' behavior is clear.  As I handed dogs green tripe, he filmed what they did with it.  Here's the video.

My hypothesis about shaking green tripe is that dogs and wolves are hard-wired for the behavior  Dogs are hard-wired for certain behavioral sequences in hunting and shepherding.  The Coppingers (2) detail the selection of dog breeds for specific, hard-wired behaviors.  Before you become outraged over genetic determinism, I hasten to add that all mammalian behaviors have learned elements.  Dogs must be raised with sheep to become good shepherds.  Hunting dogs need early experience on hunts to develop their hunting skills.

Natural and artificial selection for specific behaviors simply predispose some dogs to show the behavior and to learn the behavioral sequence more readily than other dogs.  Here's an important caveat: The desired behavior must appear spontaneously, before it can be reinforced with experience.  If the dog never shows the behavior, there is nothing to reinforce, and the dog cannot learn how to use the behavior. So, gene-based wiring for a behavior to appear at some point in development is essential for continuing and shaping the behavior.

In an earlier blog entry, I cited a specific Labrador retriever behavior that was selected in a breed specialized for bird hunting: Dogs dive into the water to retrieve ducks and geese, and when they return are pulled into the boat by other dogs, thereby allowing the hunter to continue firing.  The behavior of pulling other dogs from water shows up inappropriately when my Labs try to pull each other out of the swimming pool -- a behavior that is not much appreciated by other dogs.  Yet, they are "driven" to do it.

I think wolves and dogs evolved to shake the contents from ruminant's stomachs before eating the organs.  Carnivores are not equipped to use vegetable matter as food, unless the vegetable matter is predigested.  Digested grasses that cling to the stomach lining of green tripe are perfect for wolves and dogs' diets.

When confronted with an herbivore stomach, dogs shake it, even though the green tripe is empty.  It's curious to observe behaviors that have no function in their present context.  The fact that they appear at all suggests they were hard-wired in evolution.

The implication of this discovery is that wolves and dogs do not need or want large amounts of vegetation in their diets.  They are carnivores who eat prey.  A little bit of digested veggies is sufficient.

(1) L. David Mech & Luigi Boitani (Eds.) Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation,Chicago: U. of Chicago Press, 2003.
(2) R. Coppinger & L. Coppinger, Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origins, Behavior, and Evolution, Chicago: U.of Chicago Press, 2001.
It is most unfortunate that the Coppingers' book was written before wolf and canine genetic mapping was completed.  They exaggerate genetic differences between dogs and wolves.  Their observations of wolf and dog behaviors, however, are extremely valuable.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pets Thrive on Environmentally Friendly Raw-Meaty-Bones

Recent discussions on of my review of Nestle's and Nesheim's bad book on pet diets include familiar points that are worth summarizing here.

I want to address four issues raised cogently by commentators: (1) what's in various kinds and prices of pet foods?, (2) forgotten issue of TEXTURE in pet food, (3) genetic resemblance and evolutionary history of dogs/wolves, and (4) is feeding pets the raw-meaty-bones diet wasteful, contrary to a sustainable planet?

(1) Discussing what's in various bags and cans of commercial pet food is unproductive, because all these products are COOKED and consist mostly of STARCHES. Certainly, pet-food companies do their utmost to differentiate their products in consumers' minds and to achieve branded status. Brands are much more profitable than generic products in any consumer category.

I agree that a variety of foods is the best safeguard for a complete diet, for both human owners and their pets. For humans, a variety of whole, fresh foods is recommended by physicians and nutritionists. For pets, veterinarians and animal nutritionists recommend feeding a monotonous diet of a single cooked, starchy junk food. How can this make sense? Feeding a variety of cooked, starchy foods does not exactly address the nutritional problem, however. Despite branding and advertising, all kibbles have pretty much the same nutritional profile.

Kibbles must be primarily cooked starches that are required to manufacture dry foods that keep their shapes. Deceptive labeling regulations allow pet-food companies to put meats first in the ingredient list, implying meat is the primary ingredient, which is false. Ingredients' weights are measured prior to processing. Meat is 75% water. Corn, wheat, and soy fractions are dry to start. The final product has very little meat, compared to the amount of starch.

Deceptive labeling also allows pet-food companies to divide starches into several ingredients, such as wheat bran, wheat gluten, wheat protein, etc., so wheat does not appear first on the ingredient list. Corn can appear four or five times in the ingredient list. If consumers add up the amount of starch in the product, they would be outraged that companies are permitted to advertise kibble with whole chickens and rib roasts falling into the bag.

If you want to know how pet foods are made and why there is so little difference among kibbles that cost a pittance and those that cost three and four times as much, look at an excellent video ( made by Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, Esq, and Marion Smart, DVM, Professor at University of Manitoba School of Veterinary Medicine. They show exactly why all kibble is pretty much the same cooked starches, whether based on corn, wheat, rice, potatoes, or tapioca. They also show how useless AAFCO guidelines really are.

(2) A very important point, often omitted from discussion of pet foods is TEXTURE. Commercial pet foods leave a gummy sludge on pets' teeth. Pets who are deprived of meaty bones to gnaw have no way to clean their teeth. Teeth become coated with plaque, leading to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Periodontal disease afflicts 85% of dogs and 70% of cats over two-years-of-age. Untreated, gum disease challenges the animal's immune system and pours infection into major organs. Heart, liver, kidney and other chronic diseases follow. These facts are publicized by veterinary organizations to lure pet owners into expensive dental treatments. If pets are simply allowed to gnaw on raw meaty bones, they do not develop dental problems in the first place. It's that simple. Food texture is critical to pets' health.

(3) Some (most) veterinarians are not informed about genetic and evolutionary research on canids in the past decade. They cling to convenient untruths that allow them to continue feeding carnivorous pets cooked starches that are literally killing them. Here's brief summary of recent research:

The genetic structure of wolves and dogs was finally mapped from 2000 to 2004. The origin of domestic dogs from wolves is firmly established. Dogs are related more closely to East Asian wolves than to European or North American wolves (1). All wolves and dogs belong to the same species. Other canids, such as coyotes, jackals, and foxes, are genetically more distant and distinct from wolves and dogs.

By tracing mitochondrial DNA, inherited only from mothers, researchers found several wolf origins for contemporary dogs. The study looked at the DNA of 654 dogs from 83 dog breeds and 38 Eurasian wolves. Three maternal DNA patterns accounted for more than 95% of dog genotypes, and these three sources came from East Asian wolf populations. Based on number of mutations found in the DNA sequences, researchers estimate that dogs became domesticated in several events (at least 5 unique mothers), beginning about 15,000 years ago.

Another group of researchers (2) studied 96 gene loci in 414 purebred dogs representing 85 breeds. They plotted the genetic relatedness of contemporary dogs and wolves. They found that genotypes of ancient Asian and Arctic breeds more closely resemble contemporary Eurasian wolves than they resemble other dog breeds. Specifically, Shiba Inu, Chow Chow, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Basenji, Shar-pei, and Siberian Husky breeds cluster with contemporary wolf genotypes more closely than with other dogs breeds. Afgan Hound, Saluki, Tibetan Terrier, Llasa Apso, Samoyed, Pekingese, and Shih Tsu breeds are intermediate, sharing genotypes with both contemporary wolves and with other dog breeds.

Most dog breeds were created by human selective breeding for specific tasks or appearances. Breed isolation, however, is a relatively new phenomenon. Most dog breeds have existed as isolated breeding populations for less than 200 years, many for less than 100 years. Following wars, famines, and natural disasters, some dog breeds that became nearly extinct were re-established by interbreeding several related breeds.

Few pet owners look at their Poodles, toy terriers, and Chihuahuas and think "wolf". Yet, these small dogs are just as much wolves as dogs that bear more obvious resemblances to species-brothers. Small size in dogs is caused by a single gene (3) that has been imported into many breeds to downsize them. Dwarfism depends on a single gene and has been used to create the dwarf profile in dachshunds, basset hounds, bulldogs, and so forth. The rest of these dogs' genotype is still wolf.

Dogs would thank their owners for thinking "wolf" when they consider how to feed them. Perhaps, it is obvious that an Alaskan Malamute or a German Shepherd would appreciate the whole-prey diet their wolf-brothers thrive upon. It is not as obvious that toy dogs need the same diet, scaled down to their size.

Don't let "experts" in veterinarian clothing, or minced-veggie purveyors online, tell you dogs are omnivores, whose diet has been shaped by human leftovers. Wolves and dogs are "opportunistic carnivores", who kill and eat whole prey and scavenge off other predators' kills. They will eat human garbage, but a healthy diet for wolves and dogs is principally meats and meaty bones. Pet owners can easily provide a wolf-diet in appropriate amounts and sizes for their friendly domestic wolves.

(1) Savolainen, P., Zhang, Y, Luo, J, Lundeberg, J., & Leitner, T. (2002). Genetic evidence for an East Asian Origin of Domestic Dogs, Science, 298, 1610-1613.

(2) Parker, H., Kim, L.V., Sutter, N.B., Carlson, S., Lorentzen, T.D., Malek, T., Johnson, G.S., DeFRance, H.B., Ostrander, E.A., & Kruglyak, L. (2004). Genetic structure of the purebred domestic dog. Science, 304, 1160-1164.

(3) Sutter, N.B.and 20 coauthors, (2007). A single IGF1 allele is a major determinant of small size in dogs. Science, 316, 112-115.
The argument that dogs evolved distinctly from wolves more than 100,000 years ago is false. Domestication of dogs BEGAN only 15,000 years ago, and dogs and wolves continue to be cross-fertile populations.

The argument that dogs and wolves evolved to eat different diets because of human contact is false. Both wolves and dogs scavenge at human garbage dumps in many parts of the world. Garbage is not the preferred diet of either dogs or wolves, but they will eat whatever they can find when game is short. Domestic wolves are just as much predators as their wild brothers. Studies of feral dogs underline this point.

The argument that small breeds are less wolf-like than larger breeds is false. Toy and dwarf breeds have one or two gene loci that make them extremely small or dwarfed. 99.9999 % of their genes are the same as larger breeds and wolves.

There is much evidence from many perspectives to lead to the conclusion that dogs and cats thrive on whole prey or its equivalent -- raw-meaty-bones. Dogs/wolves can eat human waste materials, but they do not thrive in the long run on a grain-based diet.

(4) Some commentators argue that feeding pets meats and bones that from food animals is wasteful, competes with human consumption, and is inconsistent with good earth stewardship. First, consider that 50% of every cow raised for human consumption is waste. 40 to 50% of sheep, pigs, chickens, and turkeys are deemed waste. Second, pets are largely fed on human waste, whether through byproducts processed in rendering plants that make up the bulk of animal ingredients in commercial pet foods, or by feeding pets parts of animals humans do not prefer. Let me speak to the latter.

I live in Hawaii. We do not have a rendering plant in the state. Of beef raised on the Big Island (grass-fed, no hormones or antibiotics), 50% was going to the local landfill, before we founded a raw-pet-food co-operative. Now co-op members can feed their cats and dogs beef tracheas, kidneys, spleens, lungs, back-ribs, neck bones, liver, and other parts that are less popular on the human table. The beef producers are delighted to have a pet-food market, pets are thriving on real carnivore foods, and we are keeping huge amounts of animal waste out of the landfill. I think raw pet-food co-ops, which exist all over the US and the world, are very environmentally friendly.

Rendering plants are also essential to public health. Without them, communities would be inundated with wastes from food animals and euthanized pets. However unsavory rendered products may seem, they are a mainstay of commercial pet foods. One could certainly argue that pets help to rid the world of human wastes. I prefer to feed my own dogs and cat with raw meats and bones that would go to a rendering plant elsewhere or to a landfill here. No apologies needed.