Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog?

<Updated 11SEP16>

< A version of this article was published in the June 2016 issue of Downeast Dog News>

<This topic was also discussed on The Woof Meow Show on 4JUN16 – click to listen>

Don and Muppy-Fall 2015-1Most of you know that I own Green Acres Kennel Shop and that we sell pet food. As such, it is not uncommon for someone to walk into the store and ask me, “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” Based on experience, I find that many people expect me to say “I feed my dog brand X because it is the best food for all dogs!” Sadly, when asked the same question, this is often the answer they hear from pet stores, breeders, shelters, and even veterinarians. Since that is not what they will here from me, and since my response will not be that simple, I thought I would answer it here.

If someone sells or even gives away pet food, he or she has a financial interest in which food they recommend. Green Acres’ sells pet food, and we gain financially when you purchase pet food from us. However, one of the things that I believe makes us different from many purveyors of pet food, is that once people get to know us they understand that all of us in the store care greatly about nutrition and want to help you find the food that will be the best for your dog and your budget. In fact, because we all have different dogs, with different needs, if you ask each staff member what they feed their dog you will discover you will get different answers. There is no single food that is the best choice for all dogs and all situations.

So when I am asked this question I typically respond with; “I feed Muppy, a variety of foods from a variety of manufacturers with a goal of rotating the primary protein source every time I purchase food.”

Twenty years ago I predominantly fed my dog’s kibble. Additionally, I have fed; canned food (wet food), homemade diets, frozen raw diets and freeze-dried raw diets. In 2002, we started selling Steve’s Real Food for Pets, a commercially prepared, frozen, raw food in the store. At the time, we had five dogs, so economics dictated that we fed a raw meal once a day and kibble once a day. When we were down to two dogs, we switched to feeding 100% raw. I made this choice after a great deal of research.

My fundamental reason for feeding a raw diet is that it is primarily composed of muscle meat, organ meat, and bone. Depending on the brand there is very little or no soluble carbohydrates in these foods. A diet with little or no carbohydrates is the natural diet of a carnivore like a dog or a cat. Even the best kibble is going to be high in carbohydrates which are not a necessary nutrient for dogs or cats. Our Golden Retriever Tikken lived to be 16, and I attribute that was partially due to the nutritional choices that we made for her.

When Tikken passed, we decided that we would down-size for our next dog. Our target was a dog weighing between 20 and 30 pounds. We did that for two reasons. One, both my wife and I have some back problems and carrying a 50lb dog (Tikken) up and down the stairs the last year of her life was not always easy. However, even more importantly to me, I wanted to make sure that we would always be able to afford to feed our next dog the best diet possible throughout her life. That is easier with a small dog who eats less.

Since the day Muppy joined us, just over three years ago, she has been fed a commercially prepared, frozen raw diet, which we occasionally supplement with canned food or freeze-dried food.  She is fed a variety of frozen raw foods made by Bravo, Steve’s Real Food for Pets, and Vital Essentials. We rotate the primary protein source every time we purchase food and also rotate between brands because each has advantages. Vital Essentials and Steve’s both offer their formulas in small nuggets which make portion control easier. We also keep freeze dried diets from Bravo and Vital Essentials on hand for those occasions when we fail to defrost Muppy’s frozen ration in advance of meal time. We vary protein sources at every purchase, rotating between beef, chicken, pork, turkey, and turducken. Additionally, we supplement her meals with freeze-dried green tripe, coconut oil, a probiotic and Wysong Dentatreat.

So that is how I answer the question; “Don, what food do you feed your dog?” Is that what I would suggest you feed your dog? What I recommend will depend on your dog’s nutritional needs and what you are looking for in a dog food because there is and never will be a single brand of food that will be the best food for every dog.

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/09/11/pet-nutrition-should-i-feed-my-pet-a-raw-diet/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/06/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-1/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2012/05/04/nutrition-why-rotating-diets-makes-sense/

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/16/book-review-ruined-by-excess-perfected-by-lack-the-paradox-of-pet-nutrition-by-richard-patton/

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Foodhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

 

What do you feed your pets?http://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow2016-06-04-What_do_you_feed_your_pets.mp3

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/03/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Podcast – Raw Diets and the Carnivore Meat Company-Vital Essentials-Dee Ferranti and Jodi Langellottihttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/17/podcast-raw-diets-and-the-carnivore-meat-company-vital-essentials-dee-ferranti-and-jodi-langellotti/

Podcast – The Rationale for Feeding Pets Raw Foods with Bette Schubert from Bravo Pet Foodshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/03/podcast-the-rationale-for-feeding-pets-raw-foods-with-bette-schubert-from-bravo-pet-foods/

Podcast – Bravo’s Raw Pets Food, Treats, Chewables and Bones with Bette Shuberthttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/10/podcast-bravos-raw-pets-food-treats-chewables-and-bones-with-bette-shubert/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Gary Bursell of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/16/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-gary-bursell-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Nicole Lindsley of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/23/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-nicole-lindsley-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Books

Beginnings – Getting Your Dog and Cat Started on a Raw Diet by Melinda Miller and Honoring Your Cat’s Natural Diet by Terri Grow <Click here for a free download>

Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats – The Ultimate Diet – Kymythy Schultze

Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – Dr. Richard Patton

See Spot Live Longer – Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

The Truth About Pet Foods – Dr. Randy Wysong

Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet – Steve Brown

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©10SEP16, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – Raw Diets and the Carnivore Meat Company-Vital Essentials-Dee Ferranti and Jodi Langellotti

< Click to listen>

Kate discusses raw pet food diets; frozen and freeze-dried, with Dee Ferranti of the Carnivore Meat Company, maker of Vital Essentials Pet Food, and Jodi Langellotti, from pet food distributor, Pet Food Experts.

16APR16-Raw Diets and Vital Essentials 400x400If your pet has health issues that may be related to nutrition (food allergies, digestive difficulties, obesity, chronically underweight, diabetes, kidney disease) or if you just want to learn more about pet nutrition and how you can do the best for your pets nutrition and your wallet, you will not want to miss this show.

Key discussion points include: the benefits and objections to feeding pets a raw diet, food safety issues and why feeding a commercial raw diet for your pet may be safer than feeding yourself or your pet from what you buy from the meat department at the supermarket, the economics of feeding raw and how combining raw food with kibble can benefit your budget and your pets health, why raw food is a healthier and more nutritious choice, the differences between VE_Logo_Primary_webfrozen raw and freeze-dried raw diets, how to transition a pet to a raw diet, the history of the Carnivore Meat Company, how Vital Essentials sources its ingredients to ensure quality, and the numerous products in the Vital Essentials line.

 

< Click to listen>

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 12 Noon on Saturday. If you’re not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show, and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

Recommended Resources

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://traffic.libsyn.com/woofmeowshow/WoofMeowShow2016-04-02-Pet_Nutrition_with_Dr_Richard_Patton.mp3

 

Web Sites

Vital Essentials Websitehttp://www.vitalessentialsraw.com/

 

©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton

< Click to listen to the podcast>

02APR16-Pet Nutrition w-Dr Richard Patton 400x400If you want to learn how you can improve your pet’s health and extend their life just by changing what and how you feed them, you do not want to miss this show.

Kate and Don Interview animal nutritionist Dr. Richard Patton, author of Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack, the Paradox of Pet Nutrition and discuss the best way to feed our pets for optimal health. Don first heard Dr. Patton speak in the fall of 2015 and was not only impressed by Dr. Patton’s passion and breadth of knowledge on pet nutrition, a subject we are passionate about as well, but was equally impressed by Dr. Patton’s ability to take technical concepts about nutrition and explain them from a common sense perspective.

We start our discussion from these three points; 1) nutrition is never a crisis, but poor nutrition often impacts health and then can cause a medical crisis, 2) we need to accept that we can either have optimal nutrition or convenience and economy, but not both, and 3) we should never be afraid to feed less. From there we move to what Dr. Patton calls the 900lb gorilla in the room; the presence of excess soluble carbohydrates in pet food. As Dr. Patton states “The majority of our nutrition problems can be traced back to the feeding of excess soluble carbohydrates. So until we fix that, it’s kind of esoteric to get into an involved discussion about whether salmon is better than trout or kangaroo is better than alligator. My mantra is to reduce the caloric intake, particularly from soluble carbohydrates and starch and sugar.”

You can hear The Woof Meow Show on The Pulse AM620, WZON, and WKIT HD3 at 12 Noon on Saturday. If you’re not near a radio, listen on your computer at http://www.wzonthepulse.com or your smartphone or tablet with the free WZON 620 AM app. A podcast of the show is typically posted immediately after the show, and can be downloaded at www.woofmeowshow.com and the Apple iTunes store.

< Click to listen to the podcast>

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/03/16/book-review-ruined-by-excess-perfected-by-lack-the-paradox-of-pet-nutrition-by-richard-patton/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/06/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-1/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sensehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2012/05/04/nutrition-why-rotating-diets-makes-sense/

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/

 

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

Pet Food Myths – part 1 (Click to listen) – In part one of this two part series, Don and Kate discuss several myths and conceptions pet guardians have about pet food. The fact is that not all pet foods are the same and the quality varies greatly. Kate and Don reveal these myths and guide the listeners on how to evaluate their pet’s food so that they can provide their pet with optimal nutrition that fits their budget. First Air Date: 6JUN11

Pet Food Myths – part 2 (Click to listen) – In part two of this two part series, Don and Kate discuss several myths and conceptions pet guardians have about pet food. The fact is that not all pet foods are the same and the quality varies greatly. Kate and Don reveal these myths and guide the listeners on how to evaluate their pet’s food so that they can provide their pet with optimal nutrition that fits their budget. First Air Date: 13JUN11

©2016, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Book Review – Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition by Richard Patton

Ruined By Excess-Perfected By Lack

<Updated 27JUN17>

If your pet has food allergies and intolerance’s, digestive difficulties, is overweight or obese, suffers from chronic diseases such as kidney disease or diabetes, or if you simply want to be sure you are doing the best for your pet nutritionally, you should read this book! While the first edition of this book, the one reviewed here, is out of print, the second edition is available from Dogs Naturally Magazine at this link <click here>

I first heard Dr. Richard Patton, the author of Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack – The paradox of pet nutrition speak in the fall of 2015. Since then I’ve read his book, interviewed him for my radio show The Woof Meow Show and had him come to Maine to speak to area veterinarians and my clients at Green Acres Kennel Shop. Dr. Patton takes a complex, technical and important subject and translates it into common sense.

The book is best described in its closing paragraph: “The premise of this book is that mammals are exquisitely perfected to be able to survive in the face of intermittent and temporary lack of food. Mammals are poorly adapted to deal with constant excess, particularly calories and especially calories from sugar and starch. Feeding a dry expanded food [kibble] as the only source of nutrition to a dog, and especially a cat, provides excess soluble carbohydrate, contributing to obesity and ill health. It is a paradox that over a hundred million pets are fed a diet that is not optimum for them.” In the book, Dr. Patton explains how one can feed their pet for optimal health.

You can listen to our interview with Dr. Patton on April 2nd, 2016 edition of The Woof Meow Show at http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/03/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

In April of 2016 Dr. Patton visited our facility in Maine to present his lecture The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition to interested clients and veterinarians. You can read about that presentation and view a video of the presentation at http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/09/10/pet-nutrition-the-science-and-dogma-of-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Recommended Resources

Articles on Don’s Blog (http://www.words-woofs-meows.com)

What Should I Feed My Pet?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/06/04/pet-nutrition-what-should-i-feed-my-pet/

What do you feed your dog?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/05/31/pet-nutrition-what-do-you-feed-your-dog/

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gushttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/03/pet-nutrition-some-myths-and-facts-part-1-my-story-with-gus/

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 2 – In the Spring 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine, Coming here soon!

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 3 – Look for this article in the Summer 2017 issue of Maine DOG Magazine, Coming here soon! –

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/09/11/pet-nutrition-should-i-feed-my-pet-a-raw-diet/

Video – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton – A video of animal nutritionist, Dr. Richard Patton’s presentation, The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition, presented for Green Acres Kennel Shop in Bangor, ME on April 28th, 2016. – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/09/10/pet-nutrition-the-science-and-dogma-of-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/11/23/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-changes-in-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-1/

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/12/15/reflections-on-20-years-as-a-pet-care-professional-pet-food-and-nutrition-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/06/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-1/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/07/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-2/

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/08/01/nutrition-which-brand-of-pet-food-is-the-best-part-3/

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sensehttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2012/05/04/nutrition-why-rotating-diets-makes-sense/

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2008/11/08/nutrition-determining-true-pet-food-costs/

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food?  – http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2014/10/12/pet-nutrition-how-much-fat-is-in-your-pets-food/

Pet Nutrition – New Zealand dog diet study a wake-up call for dog nutritionhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/05/19/pet-nutrition-new-zealand-dog-diet-study-a-wake-up-call-for-dog-nutrition/

Pet Nutrition –Vital Essentials® Pet Foodhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/14/pet-nutrition-vital-essentials-pet-food/

Shared Blog Post – FDA on a Witch Hunt Against Commercial Pet Food? A Little Spritz of This Makes Pet Food Far Saferhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/11/28/shared-blog-post-fda-on-a-witch-hunt-against-commercial-pet-food-a-little-spritz-of-this-makes-pet-food-far-safer/

Pet Nutrition – From Dr. Karen Becker – A Vegetarian or Vegan Diet Is Not Healthy For Your Dog or Cathttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2015/09/27/pet-nutrition-from-dr-karen-becker-a-vegetarian-or-vegan-diet-is-not-healthy-for-your-dog-or-cat/

Podcasts from The Woof Meow Show (http://www.woofmeowshow.com)

What do you feed your pets?http://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/04/22/podcast-encore-what-do-you-feed-your-pets/

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/03/podcast-pet-nutrition-with-dr-richard-patton/

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harringtonhttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2017/05/06/podcast-pet-fooled-a-look-inside-a-questionable-industry-with-kohl-harrington/

Podcast – Raw Diets and the Carnivore Meat Company-Vital Essentials-Dee Ferranti and Jodi Langellottihttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/04/17/podcast-raw-diets-and-the-carnivore-meat-company-vital-essentials-dee-ferranti-and-jodi-langellotti/

Podcast – Holistic and Complementary Wellness for Pets – Nutrition and Raw Food for Pets with Bette Schubert from Bravo Pet Foodshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/10/02/podcast-holistic-and-complementary-wellness-for-pets-nutrition-and-raw-food-for-pets-with-bette-schubert-from-bravo-pet-foods/

Podcast – The Rationale for Feeding Pets Raw Foods with Bette Schubert from Bravo Pet Foodshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/03/podcast-the-rationale-for-feeding-pets-raw-foods-with-bette-schubert-from-bravo-pet-foods/

Podcast – Bravo’s Raw Pets Food, Treats, Chewables and Bones with Bette Shuberthttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/08/10/podcast-bravos-raw-pets-food-treats-chewables-and-bones-with-bette-shubert/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Gary Bursell of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/16/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-gary-bursell-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Podcast – Feeding Your Pet A Raw Diet with Nicole Lindsley of Steve’s Real Food for Petshttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2013/03/23/podcast-feeding-your-pet-a-raw-diet-with-nicole-lindsley-of-steves-real-food-for-pets/

Podcast – Pet Obesity with Dr. Chris Barry – Kindred Spirits Veterinary Clinichttp://www.greenacreskennel.com/blog/2016/08/24/podcast-pet-obesity-with-dr-chris-barry-kindred-spirits-veterinary-clinic/

©2017, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

 

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Pet Food and Nutrition – part 2

Don and Muppy - July 2015
Don and Muppy – July 2015

< A version of this article was published in the December 2015 issue of Down East Dog News>

My wife Paula and I have been part of the pet care services industry for over 20 years and in that time we have seen many changes. Last month I started writing about the changes we have seen in pet food and pet nutrition. I discussed how brands have changed, the need for consumers to be knowledgeable, the verbiage used by pet food companies, protein choices, and industry consolidation. Pet food is a big topic, and there have been many more changes that I address below.

Gus’ Story – Last month I started a story about how our Cairn Terrier Gus’ issues with UTI’s and crystals initiated our journey with learning about pet nutrition. It was not until after I sent my column off to the editor that I realized that I had not finished the story.

We eventually found a brand of food, Wysong, and some Wysong supplements

Playing Tennis Ball with Gus
Playing Tennis Ball with Gus

that cured Gus’ UTI and crystal issues. It was our first experience with what at the time was classified as an ultra-premium pet food. We learned a great deal from Dr. Wysong and his distributor here in Maine, the late David Hinson. Their commitment to quality nutrition should be an inspiration to all pet food companies.

Formula Proliferation – Twenty years ago the most common form of pet food was dry kibble, still the number one choice for food. Pet food companies offered kibble formulas for puppies, adult dogs, and overweight dogs. Then came senior and a few years after that we started seeing the large breed puppy formulas and in some cases, food for specific breeds of dogs. Many experts in pet nutrition, like Dr. Wysong, argue that the proliferation of formulas is more about SKUs, marketing and shelf space than nutrition. I believe their position is quite sound if we look at what and how canines eat in the wild. The nutritional rationale for all of these formulas is not necessarily based in science or good nutrition and often makes it harder for the consumer to make a good decision.

Recalls – We have seen numerous pet food recalls in the past twenty years just as we have with human food. As long as good quality food remains perishable, which I suspect will be forever, there are going to be recalls. A recall in itself as not a bad thing, but a lot depends on how the company handles the recall. The companies the handle recalls the best are the ones that offer full disclosure early in the process, and that keep their distributors and retailers informed. It is always our goal to contact our clients to let them know about a recall before they hear about it on the internet.

Misleading Advertising – Pet food advertising is made to appeal to people because let’s face it, your dog or cat is not making the decision of what food you will buy. Unfortunately, advertising can make any food look and sound wonderful. What makes it even worse is when the claims made in those ads are false; as has been the case with the ads by a pet food company that many would argue currently have some of the most appealing ads on television. Those ads claim this company never uses low-grade ingredients like poultry by-product meal and insinuates that food made by other companies do use low-quality ingredients. This company was first sued in the spring of 2014 and has now admitted in Federal court that they are indeed guilty of using the low quality ingredients they claimed not to use. What makes this even more incredulous is that the company is not accepting responsibility for their actions but instead is blaming the companies that make their food and their suppliers.  Yes, you read that correctly. There are companies out there that only market pet food and subcontract the development and manufacture of their food to other companies. In my mind, that is not a real pet food company but instead is an accident waiting to happen. That is why we prefer dealing with small, family-owned companies that buy raw ingredients from suppliers that they know, manufacture their food in their own plant, and then market it to independent stores like ours.

Dietary Rotation – For years, the standard recommendation from pet food companies and many veterinarians has been to find a food that your pet does well on and then NEVER change it, as any change could upset your pets digestive system. It is easy to understand why a pet food company would like this approach; it keeps profits going into their coffers.

One of the first things we learned from Dr. Wysong was his belief in the benefits of dietary rotation. Wysong produces a puppy and senior formula, as well as a couple of adult formulas; however, rather than feeding them strictly by age Dr. Wysong recommends you rotate among the diets. We would feed our dogs growth in the summer, when they were more active, and senior in the winter when they were less active, and standard adult formulas in the spring and fall. If one studies how wild canines eat, the concept of dietary rotation also makes perfect sense as what they eat varies widely, day to day. We are glad to see that in the past few years some of the pet food companies that we deal with now offer multiple adult diets and now also recommend dietary rotation.

Raw Diets & Homemade Diets – In 1998 Paula and I attended a seminar to hear Dr. Ian Bilinghurst talk about raw diets for dogs. The Australian veterinarian and author of Give Your Dog A Bone was one of the first veterinarians to discuss the benefits of feeding what he called BARF; Biologically Appropriate Raw Food. What Dr. Bilinghurst was saying is essentially what experts on human nutrition have been emphasizing; eat fresh whole food (meat, dairy, fruits and vegetables) and avoid highly processed food. Dry pet food, no matter who makes it, is one of the most highly processed foods on the planet.

Don and Tikken-1with text 600x903Paula and I sought more knowledge about raw pet food, and eventually started feeding our pets a raw diet in 2001. Green Acres began selling commercial, raw frozen diets at the beginning of 2002. At first, we fed one raw meal per day and a meal of kibble for the second meal of the day. When we started to see the changes in our dogs we switched to 100% raw, which is what we continue to do today. We practice dietary rotation, switching proteins every time we purchase food and readily switch between brands. I cannot prove it, but I do believe that a raw diet played a significant role in our Golden Retriever Tikken living past her 16th birthday.

What Does the Future Hold?

The only thing I can predict with any certainty is that the pet food world will continue to change and that we as consumers will need to remain diligent. More and more people are considering feeding raw diets or at least fresh whole food. I expect that trend to continue to grow. The pet food world is threatened by the same thing as the world of human-food; industrialization and consolidation. Hopefully as we become more aware of the importance of fresh, whole, locally-sourced food for ourselves that will change for pet food as well.

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Other Posts You May Find Interesting

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costs – <Click Here>

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food? <Click Here>

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Reflections on 20 Years as a Pet Care Professional – Changes in Pet Food and Nutrition – part 1

Don and Muppy - July 2015
Don and Muppy – July 2015

< A version of this article was published in the November 2015 issue of Down East Dog News>

My wife Paula and I have been part of the pet care services industry for over 20 years and in that time we have seen many changes. Last month I wrote about dog training. This month I will begin to address pet food and pet nutrition.

Paula and I became interested in pet nutrition long before we purchased Green Acres. Gus, our Cairn Terrier puppy, joined our family in the spring of 1991. Within a year, he was exhibiting serious health issues that his veterinarian attributed to his diet.

Gus had recurring urinary tract infections aggravated or caused by crystals that formed in his urine. One type of crystal even formed into a bladder stone that was removed surgically. Gus’ case was further complicated by the fact that he had more than one type of crystal in his urine. One was normally found in acidic urine, the other when the urine was base. The pH of his urine would swing

In Memory of Gus
In Memory of Gus

wildly throughout the day, from acid to base and back, which was very abnormal.

We were constantly in search of the “perfect” food for Gus. At one point, our veterinarian had us buying multiple brands of kibble and counting the numbers of each type of kibble we fed Gus on a daily basis, all in an attempt to stabilize his urinary pH. We eventually found, purchased and read a book; Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, that included several recipes for making homemade dog food. Shortly after that, Paula was making food for Gus every week. By the time we moved to Maine, about 14 months later, Gus still had UTI’s and crystals, and we were still searching for a brand of food that would cure him.

Changing Brands – When we became the owners of Green Acres Kennel Shop, we sold six brands of pet food. Our two biggest sellers were Hill’s Science Diet and IAMS/Eukanuba; however we also sold Nature’s Recipe, Bench and Field, and ANF. Eukanuba was considered to be one of the top brands, and the others were all better than what was available at the grocery store.

Green Acres’ no longer offers any of the brands of pet food we did twenty years ago. Pet foods and pet food companies change, like everything else, and not always for the better. We now offer seventeen brands of pets food from; Bravo, California Natural, Fromm, Eagle, Evanger’s, Evo, Holistic Select, Innova, Merrick, NutriSource, Natural Planet, Pro Pac, Pure Vita, Steve’s Real Food, Wellness, Weruva, and Wysong. Some of these brands were around twenty years ago and many were not. The brands we carry twenty years from now will depend on what happens with individual companies and brands. We are constantly evaluating the pet food marketplace and change products when we find something better.

Need for Knowledge – Based on our experiences with pet nutrition we knew that knowledge was important, so we scheduled training sessions with representatives from Hill’s and IAMS within the first few months of ownership. That is when we first learned that the training that companies provided to retailers such as ourselves was essentially the same program they offered to veterinarians. Paula had received the same training while working at the veterinary hospital. We have continued our education about pet nutrition through training providing by the food companies but also by reading books and attending seminars. One of the biggest myths about nutrition, whether human or pet, is that we know all there is to know. The fact is things are changing all the time, and it is our goal to be current so we can always provide clients with the latest information.

Premium, Super-Premium, and Ultra-Premium – Twenty years ago pet foods were pretty much divided into grocery store brands and premium brands. The big difference then and now, was that premium brands were made to a set formula whereas the ingredients in a non-premium brand changed with commodity prices. The premium brands typically used higher quality ingredients. Today we also have brands that label themselves as super-premium and ultra-premium. The problem with all of these labels is that they have no legal definition, so one has to be knowledgeable about pet food, ingredients, nutrition, and the people behind the company in order to judge whether or not the way a brand labels itself is deserved.

Protein Choices – Most pet food that was made twenty years ago used chicken as its base protein. Poorer quality foods used poultry which just means there was more in the mix than just chicken. The first novel protein source was lamb, which was introduced as an alternative food for pets that were allergic to chicken. Unfortunately, most companies promoted their lamb based formulas as the “best new thing” and pretty soon many of people were feeding lamb, and it lost its value as a novel protein source. That is why today we see things like duck, turkey, bison, venison, salmon, trout, whitefish, pork, beef, ostrich and kangaroo as protein sources for pet food.

Industry Consolidation – It is estimated that 70% of all of the pet food sold in the US comes from one of three companies; Nestle, Mars Candy or Smucker’s. Most people do not realize the huge number of pet food brands owned by these three food giants. I believe that bigger companies seldom produce better products. These conglomerates own so many brands that it is difficult for me to understand how any of those brands are differ from one another. Our preference at Green Acres is to offer foods that are made by small, family-owned companies that know their suppliers personally and that are committed to producing a quality product. Selecting pet food whether as a retailer or consumer involves trust and I find it easier to trust the smaller companies.

It has not just been the food companies that have been merging and buying each other. We have seen the same thing happen with the distributors that sell the food to retailers like Green Acres. When we first bought Green Acres three of the distributors, we purchased pet food from were Maine-based companies. Sadly today there are no pet food distributors in Maine.

Pet food and nutrition has seen many changes in the last twenty years. Next month I will discuss the proliferation in pet food formulas and SKUs, Pet Food Recalls, Misleading Advertising, Dietary Rotation, Raw Diets and more.


 

Other Posts You May Find Interesting

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 1 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 2 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3 – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense – <Click Here>

Nutrition – Determining True Pet Food Costs – <Click Here>

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food? <Click Here>

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Can You Trust What You Read on the Internet?

Words-woofs-Meows-High Res with TM 755x800As the internet has grown, blogging has become very popular. It’s a great medium for a writer to share their thoughts and an easy means for a reader to learn something new. However, as we’ve learned from that famous commercial for State Farm Insurance just because it’s on the internet does NOT mean it’s true. Likewise, just because someone writes about something and posts it online does not mean that they have any qualifications to be posting on a particular topic. Lastly, some bloggers, like myself, write to share information and do so freely. I get no financial remuneration for anything that I post on my blog unless after reading something you decide to utilize the services of my business. However, some bloggers are compensated every time you read their work or are compensated by companies for posting articles that promote certain companies and products. For example, my wife and I, and Paula is not a blogger, recently received the following email:

Dear Don & Paula,

We are reaching out to you to invite you to participate in our sponsored paid post program. While conducting research we identified your company’s blog as an excellent fit to help us create awareness of our brand and product. We’d love to inform your readers about how Company with Questionable Ethics [NOTE: I changed the company name for the purposes of this post] can be used to help keep dogs safe in the home and yard. We are limiting participation to 10 bloggers on a first come, first serve basis.

As a sponsored host, you will receive a payment of $225 USD via PayPal upon publication of an article on invisible fencing options. Additionally, we will give you a $25 Amazon gift card for one winner to serve as an incentive for your readers to engage by either commenting or sharing the post on social media.

Because we want our messaging to be aligned to your readership, you may choose to either write an article from your perspective as a pet services provider, or you may choose to post an article provided by us and specifically crafted for your blog [emphasis added].

If you decide to participate we do need the post to be published no later than August 7 and the giveaway winners selected no later than August 14. If we find that you are an influencer, we will add you to our list of preferred bloggers and invite you to participate on additional paid and sponsored blogging activities.

The small print:

The article must include several do-follow links to informational material on our website. You may indicate this is a sponsored post.

We are happy to help you by engaging in conversation with your readers and addressing concerns regarding dog fences.

Attached is a sample sponsored post. If you agree to participate, we will provide you with more specific guidelines for posting. Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you.

Now obviously this company did not research me or Green Acres Kennel Shop very well or they would have discovered that the likelihood of me posting anything on my blog recommending shock collars is non-existent. However, I suspect that they use this approach because it works and unfortunately for dogs and the people who love them, found 10 bloggers who played along and just like Judas received their 30 pieces of silver, or in this case $225.

The point to this post: Be careful out there, not everything you read is true, and not everyone will be honest with you. Endorsements by celebrities and less-than celebrities are often far from honest and nothing more than paid advertising made to appear as sincere belief.

Not sure why I wouldn’t recommend a shock collar? <Click here>


 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Pet Nutrition – How Much Fat Is In Your Pet’s Food?

Overweight Cat
Overweight Cat

Pet obesity, with both cats and dogs, is a serious problem and one that dramatically affects the health and quality of our pets’ lives, as well as their longevity. Since we control what our pets eat, we can help them stay fit. One way we can do that is by paying attention to the fat content of the food they eat.

The first step in understanding the fat content of your pet’s food is to learn some basic rules of thumb; a gram of protein contains four calories whereas a gram of fat contains nine calories, over twice the number of calories for the same weight. When you look at the label of a can of cat food, and you see 10% protein and 5% fat, you logically think it has twice as much protein. However, from a caloric perspective you are getting 45 calories from fat versus 40 calories from protein. With that food, your pet would be getting over half of their calories from fat. That is simply too much fat!

Now you might think, yes but the canned food I purchase is labeled 95% meat so it must be equivalent to the 95% lean ground beef I buy for myself at the supermarket. Take another look. That can of 95% meat food may be only 6% protein and a whopping11% fat which means that 75% of the calories are coming from fat! Now who would buy that?

The following table illustrates the differences between 3 canned cat formulas. Remember, the %fat should ideally be much less than the %protein.

Weruva Green Eggs & Chicken Wellness Chicken Formula Blue Buffalo Chicken Entrée in Gravy
Protein (min) 10% Protein (min) 10% Protein (min) 9%
Fat (min) 1.6% Fat (min) 5% Fat (min) 4%
Fiber (max) 0.5% Fiber (max) 1% Fiber (max) 1.5%
Moisture (max) 85% Moisture (max) 78% Moisture (max) 82%
Ash (max) 1.2% Ash (max) 1.95% Ash (max) Not Available

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>

Nutrition – Which Brand of Pet Food is the Best? – Part 3

<A version of this article was published in the August 2014 issue of Down East Dog News>

Last month Don discussed how to evaluate the brands of food with a company’s offerings. This month he talks about the ingredients panel.

After you have selected a few companies and brands that you feel you can trust and that are right for your pet, then it’s time to start looking at the information on the bag. The new buzz word is “grain-free,” and while the foods labeled as grain-free are in most cases, better than the dry dog foods of twenty years ago, the whole “grain-free” phenomena has become more marketing hype than sound nutrition. When lamb was first introduced as a protein source it was erroneously marketed as “the best” protein source and everyone wanted their dog on a lamb based diet; the same thing is now happening with the “grain-free” craze.

Grains are not inherently bad. The ingredients that have replaced them in dry pet food (potatoes, various legumes, etc.) are still basically carbohydrates. That being said the grain free formulas, depending upon the manufacturer, do often have fewer carbohydrates than the standard formulas that do contain grain. However, keep in mind that dogs and cats have absolutely no need for any carbohydrates in their diet. That is why the “Guaranteed Analysis” panel on a bag of pet food does not list carbohydrates. Pet foods contain carbohydrates because they are required by the process used to manufacture kibble. The carbohydrates are the glue that holds the fat and protein together, and in order to do so the food must typically be at least 40% to 60% carbohydrates. Also recognize that carbohydrates, whether from grains or other sources, are also added to commercial pet food to keep the cost down; the carbohydrates used in dry pet foods are always less expensive than meat.

The most important information on a bag of pet food is the list of ingredients. By law, all ingredients must be listed in order, by weight. This portion of the label must indicate if the food is preserved and if so, how. One loophole here however, is that the preservatives only need to be listed if the ingredient is added at the manufacturing plant. For example, meat meals such as chicken meal, which is simply the chicken processed once to remove the water, may arrive at the manufacturing plant typically in a powder formula. If there has been a preservative added to this meal at a different facility which processed the meat meal, the preservative does not have to be listed on the bag. Often people wonder why meat meals are in dry formulas; they are necessary to get the protein levels sufficiently high for the optimal health of the animals. All ingredients on the list are defined by AAFCO, a quasi-regulatory body for pet foods.

When recommending a dry pet food we always look for a clearly identified protein source as the first ingredient. Foods with a single protein source are most appropriate for pets with food intolerances or allergies. They also make more sense with our rotation philosophy. We avoid dry foods that contain by-products in whole or meal form, as well as animal digest.

Another thing to be wary of are foods that list the same ingredient in multiple places on the label. This process, known as fragmenting, makes a food look better than it is. For example an ingredient panel that reads as “Lamb Meal, Ground Rice, Rice Flour, Rice Bran, Sunflower Oil (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of natural Vitamin E), Poultry Fat (preserved with mixed Tocopherols, a source of natural Vitamin E), Natural Flavors, Rice Gluten, Dried Egg Product, Dried Beet Pulp” creates the impression that Lamb Meal is the predominant ingredient, clearly what the manufacturer would like us to believe. However, if we were to add the weight of the Ground Rice, Rice Flour, Rice Bran and Rice Gluten together, they could very easily outweigh the lamb, making rice the main ingredient in this food.

Finding the right pet food can sometimes feel like a daunting task and requires a willingness to learn and constant diligence, but is well worth the effort. All of us at Green Acres are always ready to discuss pet nutrition and to share what we know; all you need to do is ask

______________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop (greenacreskennel.com) in Bangor. He is a Bach Foundation Registered Animal Practitioner (BFRAP), Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), Associate Certified Cat Behavior Consultant (ACCBC) and a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA). He produces and co- hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show heard on The Pulse AM620 WZON and streamed at http://www.wzonradio.com/ every Saturday at 9 AM. A list of upcoming shows and podcasts of past shows can be found at www.woofmeowshow.com. Don also writes about pets at his blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.

 

©2015, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved <Click for Copyright and Use Policy>