Pet Nutrition Facts – Do You Want Optimal Nutrition, Low Cost, or Convenience? You CANNOT Have It All

< A version of this article was published in the MAY 2021 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< Updated 01MAY21 >

< A short link for this page – http://bit.ly/PetNut-Opt-Cost-Con >

One of my favorite authors and experts on pet nutrition is animal nutritionist Dr. Richard Patton. I recently interviewed him on The Woof Meow Show [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/WfMw2wPattonAPR21 ]. I appreciate that Dr. Patton can break down a complex subject like pet nutrition into some basic principles. When he first appeared on the show in April of 2016, he stated, “You can have convenience and economy, or you can have best nutrition. You can’t have all of those things.” In this column and my next, I’ll break down that statement to help you evaluate what you feed your pets.

What Is Best Nutrition?

If you ask any person to define optimal nutrition for a person or any other animal, you will likely get a multitude of contradicting opinions. Whether you believe every animal was placed on earth by a creator or that it exists due to evolution, it is clear that each species developed to find and consume nutrients that ensured their survival naturally. Since these species were evolving as humans evolved, they discovered their optimal source of nutrition without human intervention.

Both the domestic dog and cat evolved over tens of thousands of years from species that were carnivorous predators. They were animals that hunted and survived by consuming other living species that were their prey. The prey they ate were comprised mainly of water, fat, and protein, basically meat. These meals were often consumed fresh, although caching of food to eat later also occurred. When times were tough, the dog also adapted to survive as a scavenger. However, the closest living wild relatives of our pets continue to survive by eating prey animals. Some of us have both cats and dogs that will readily hunt, kill and consume a mouse if given the opportunity. It is the food mother nature provided for them.

I would not encourage anyone to turn their pets loose on wildlife or domestic livestock to get the food they need to survive. However, if we want to feed our pets the optimal diet that nature intended, we need to provide them fresh meat. In my next column, I will discuss how we need to balance that with cost and convenience.

If we want to feed our pets an optimal diet, we have two choices. We can educate ourselves to make our pets food [ FMIhttp://bit.ly/PetFoodMyths-Facts-4MAR21 ] or avail ourselves of the many commercial products now available. These include frozen raw diets, lightly cooked & frozen diets, and freeze-dried and dehydrated diets that primarily consist of meat. Canned diets composed of 90% or more meat are close to what our pets would choose for themselves; however, they are not as natural as non-cooked meat because they are cooked.

What Is ‘NOT’ Best Nutrition?

The most common type of pet food fed to cats or dogs is kibble or dry food. In full disclosure, it is also the biggest seller in my store. I also feed kibble to my dog along with many other types of food.

If you spend any time watching television, you know that dry pet food is advertised heavily. According to statista.com, in 2013, pet brands spent almost $891 million on advertising.  That amounts to $2.4 million/day! Much of that advertising is an attempt to convince us that dry pet food or kibble is “natural” and has been developed to provide optimal nutrition for our pets. Based on what I know about how canines and felines evolved and just plain old common sense, I find the proposition that kibble is an optimal source of nutrition incredibly deceptive.

Pet food companies have formulated kibble to include ingredients that provide all of the nutrients that AAFCO standards state our pets need to survive. These ingredients are all put together in a “recipe.” They are then processed at high temperatures and pressures and formed into the brown/gray bits we know as kibble. If you read the ingredient list and look at what you place in the bowl of your pet, you will realize it is hardly equivalent to a diet of fresh meat. Yes, pets survive eating kibble; however, there is a significant difference between surviving and thriving from a health perspective!

Dry pet food was developed because it is less expensive to make and sell and more convenient to sell and feed than fresh food. Dry pet food benefits the manufacturer, the distributor, the retailer, and the consumer; everyone but the pet.  Nutritional science tells us that an optimal diet for our pets would consist of fresh food.

Kibble is a highly processed food. Human nutritionists tell us that we should eat fresh, whole foods (dairy, meat, fish, fruits, & vegetables) and severely limit or avoid eating processed foods. Why would our pets be any different?

Next month I will address the economic and convenience aspects of Dr. Patton’s statement and provide you with some tips on how you can balance all of these factors so that your pet will not only survive but can thrive.

Recommended Resources

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

Richard Patton with link to 1-hour video http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

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 – Pet Food Myths & Facts – No. 1, MYTH – Only a Board-Certified Veterinary Nutritionist is qualified to formulate pet foodhttp://bit.ly/PetFoodMyths-Facts-4MAR21

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil

Which Companies Are Behind Your Pet’s Food?  – http://bit.ly/PetFoodComp

What I Feed My Dog and Why I Feed What I Do https://bit.ly/WhatIFeedAndWhy

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

Podcasts-Two Conversations with Animal Nutritionist Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://bit.ly/WfMw2wPattonAPR21

What We Feed Our Pets and Why, with – Don Hanson, Kate Dutra, and Linda Case  – https://bit.ly/WfMw-WhatWeFeed-11JUL20

 

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, Maine, where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. He is also the founder of ForceFreePets.com, an online educational resource for people with dogs and cats. Don 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 is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG). Don is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. He serves on the PPG Steering Committee and Advocacy Committee and is the Chair of The Shock-Free Coalition ( shockfree.org ). Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://bit.ly/WfMwPodcasts/, the Apple Podcast app, and Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©1-May-21, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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Pet Nutrition – Which Companies Are Behind Your Pet’s Food?

Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware

< A version of this article was published in the October 2019 issue of Downeast Dog News>

< A short link to this page – http://bit.ly/PetFoodComp >

As a pet food retailer, I am part of an industry that many believe; myself included, has a well-deserved reputation for being deceptive. Many companies practice “legal’ marketing practices that any well-informed consumer would find intentionally unsettling. Some of the schemes used in the pet food industry make me hang my head in shame. I try to make up for that by learning everything I can and providing people with the information they need to feed their pets for optimal health. [  http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil ]

In her book Dog Food Logic: Making Smart Decisions for Your Dog in an Age of Too Many Choices, author and animal nutritionist Linda Case states. “We find that more than 50 % of dog owners do not distinguish between the brand name of a food and the company that produces (owns) that brand. This confusion is not the fault of owners, by any means, since it is in the best interest of large companies to keep consumers in the dark regarding exactly how many brands of food they produce and market.” I believe that if you want to do the best for your pet, this is information you need to know — caveat emptor.

Before you even consider specific brands of food, it is essential that you understand the companies behind the pet food industry.

Pet food is big business. According to data provided by Petfood Industry magazine, pet food companies had revenues of over $44 billion in 2018 for North America alone. Six companies, accounting for 106 different pet food brands took in over $39 billion or 89.3% of all pet food revenue. It is essential to understand that all of those different brands you see advertised and see on retail shelves may not be as different as they would have you believe.

Leading the list of multi-national conglomerates in the pet food business is Mars Petcare, part of the Mars Candy company. Mars accounted for 41.08% of all the pet food sold in North America across their 41 pet care brands. Brands owned by Mars include; Cesar, Dreamies, Eukanuba, IAMS, Nutro, Pedigree, Royal Canin, Royal Canin Veterinary Diets, Sheba, Temptations, Waltham, and Whiskas.

Mars also owns the following corporate veterinary practices, which I find equally alarming. They include Banfield Pet Hospitals, bluepearl, Linnaeus, and petpartners. I don’t know about you, but I find the thought of a pet food company owning a chain of veterinary clinics and hospitals akin to a drug company owning medical clinics and hospitals; the antithesis of what is beneficial to health and a consumers finances.

Sometimes these conglomerates find the best way to deal with a competitor is to buy them and shut them down. In 2014, Mars purchased IAMS, Eukanuba, and Natura brands (California Natural, Evo, Healthwise, and Innova) for $2.9 billion. The Natura brands were, decent foods, but today they no longer exist thanks to Mars.

Nestlé Purina PetCare claimed the second position and 29.98% of pet food revenues across their 30 brands. Pet food and treat brands owned by Nestlé include: Alpo, Bakers, Beggin’, Beneful, Beyond, Busy, Castor & Pollux, Cat Chow, Chef Michael’s, Deli-Cat, Dog Chow, Fancy Feast, Felix, Friskies, Frosty Paws, Gourmet, Just Right, Kit & Kaboodle, Mighty Dog, Moist & Meaty, Muse, Purina, Purina ONE, Purina Pro Plan, Pro Plan Veterinary Diets, Second Nature, T-Bonz, Waggin’ Train, and Zukes.

Like Mars, Nestlé has also entered the veterinary practice market with its investment in Independent Vetcare Group International. How would you react if the primary source of food you buy for your family was also trying to control where you seek healthcare for your children?

At the third position on the list is J.M Smuckers, the jam company. They are relatively new to the pet care industry, having purchased several companies over the past few years. They are a food company but not known for producing food that is good for you. They control 6.6% of the pet food market in North America with 14 brands accounting for $2.9 billion in sales in 2018. Pet food and treat brands owned by Smucker’s include: 9 Lives, Canine Carry-Outs, Dad’s,  Gravy Train, Kibble ‘n Bits, Meaty Bone, Meow Mix, Milk-Bone, Milo’s Kitchen, Natural Balance (Dick Van Patten), Nature’s Recipe, Pup-Peroni, Rachael Ray Nutrish, and Snausages.

Colgate-Palmolive, the toothpaste and dish soap conglomerate, owns Hill’s Pet Nutrition, also known as Science Diet, and is number 4 on the list. They control almost 5.3% of the North American market with four brands, accounting for $2.3 billion in sales for 2018. Their brands include; Science Diet, Prescription Diet, Ideal Balance, and Healthy Advantage.

Number five on the list is Diamond Pet Foods who makes their own food but is primarily this high on the list because they are a co-packer and manufacture food for a wide variety of other companies. They account for 3.4% of the North American Market with $1.5 billion in sales for 2018. Brands owned by Diamond include Diamond, Diamond Naturals, Diamond Naturals Grain-Free, Diamond Care, Nutra-Gold, Nutra-Gold Grain-Free, Nutra Nuggets Global, Nutra Nuggets US, Premium Edge, Professional, and Taste of the Wild. Brands made for other companies were not disclosed.

Last on our list is General Mills, best known for brands like Cheerios, Pillsbury, and Betty Crocker. Primarily a processed food company, not known for fresh, healthy food, General Mills entered the pet food business in 2018 with the purchase of Blue Buffalo. That gives them almost 3% of the North American market with $1.3 billion in sales for 2018. Blue Buffalo currently has six brands: Life Protection, Freedom, Basics, Wilderness, Carnivora, and Natural Veterinary Diet. Blue Buffalo is probably best known for television commercials that claim they include specific quality ingredients in their food and never use certain low-quality ingredients. Blue Buffalo has faced several lawsuits over these claims and in one was required to pay $32 million for false advertising, as Blue Buffalo pet food did include lower quality ingredients they claimed were not found in their products

You might think, well I eat food from all of these big companies and feed it to my children. What’s the harm in feeding it to my pet? The difference is that you probably consume a tiny percentage of food made by Mars, Nestlé, Smuckers and General Mills, and it is not your primary source of nutrition. In many cases a pet’s entire diet may come from one of these companies.

 

Top 6 Pet Food Companies in North America – 2018 2018 SALES
COMPANY (million USD) % TOTAL # BRANDS
Mars Petcare Inc. 18,085.00 41.08% 41
Nestlé Purina PetCare 13,200.00 29.98% 30
J.M. Smucker 2,900.00 6.59% 14
Hill’s Pet Nutrition 2,318.00 5.26% 4
Diamond Pet Foods 1,500.00 3.41% 12
General Mills (Blue Buffalo) 1,300.00 2.95% 5
Top 6 Pet Food Companies in North America – 2018 2018 SALES
COMPANY (million USD) % TOTAL
Mars Petcare Inc. 18,085.00 41.08%
Nestlé Purina PetCare 13,200.00 29.98%
J.M. Smucker 2,900.00 6.59%
Hill’s Pet Nutrition 2,318.00 5.26%
Diamond Pet Foods 1,500.00 3.41%
General Mills (Blue Buffalo) 1,300.00 2.95%
Everyone Else 4,725.20 10.73%
TOTAL 44,028.20 100.00%

Recommended Resources

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

Green Acres Pet Nutrition Resources Page – http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Home

GAKS Philosophy on Pet Nutrition http://bit.ly/GAKS_Nut_Phil

Pet Foods We Offer At Green Acres Kennel Shop http://bit.ly/GAKS_PetFood_Brands

Things I Wish I Had Known… The Importance of What I Feed My Pets  – http://bit.ly/Things-Nutrition-1

Pet Nutrition: Some Myths and Facts – Part 1 – My story with Gus – Maine Dog Magazine – Winter 2017 http://bit.ly/Gus-Nutrition

Pet Nutrition – What Should I Feed My Pet? http://bit.ly/What-Should-I-Feed-My-Pet

Pet Nutrition – What Do You Feed Your Dog? – WWM-JUN2016 – http://bit.ly/WhatDoYouFeedYourDog

Pet Nutrition – Should I Feed My Pet A Raw Diet? http://bit.ly/ShouldIFeedMyPetARawDiet

Pet Nutrition – The Science and Dogma of Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Patton with link to 1 hour video http://bit.ly/Video-Dr-Richard-Patton

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Dr. Richard Pattonhttp://bit.ly/DrPatton-Podcast

Podcast – Pet Fooled – A Look Inside A Questionable Industry with Kohl Harringtonhttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Pet-Fooled

Pet Nutrition – Why Rotating Diets Makes Sense http://bit.ly/DietRotation

Pet Nutrition – The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet – Part 1 http://bit.ly/DietRotation1-30JUL19

Pet Nutrition – The Wisdom of Rotating Your Pets Diet – Part 2 http://bit.ly/DietRotation2

Shared News Story – An Exposé on Prescription Diets from WJLA ABC7 Newshttp://bit.ly/Nut-RXDiets-WJLA-24MAY19

FDA Update on Heart Disease in Dogs & What Should You Do? – 7JUL19  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-7JUL19

Shared Articles – More on the FDA, DCM and Pet Food – 10JUL19 –  http://bit.ly/FDA-DCM-Food-10JUL19

Shared Articles – Do the Vets Behind the FDA Investigation Have A Conflict of Interest?http://bit.ly/DCM-FDA-Conflict

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

Podcast – Is Feeding A Grain-Free Food to Our Dogs Dangerous?, with Linda Case, MS – http://bit.ly/Podcast-FDA-Grain-Free-LindaCase-29SEP18

Podcast – Pet Nutrition with Kymythy Schultze Author of Natural Nutrition for Cats: The Path to Purrfect Health http://bit.ly/KymythySchultzeCatNutrition-Podcast

Podcast – An Eastern Approach to Pet Nutrition with Dr. Michael Munzer from All Creatures Acupuncturehttp://bit.ly/WfMw-Munzer-EstrnNut-2018

Podcasts – Interview with Steve Brown about Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diethttp://bit.ly/WfMw-SteveBrown-2010

Podcast – DCM, the FDA, and Dog Food-the Science and the Hype with Canine Nutritionist Linda Casehttp://bit.ly/Blog-DCM-FDA-8AUG19

Podcast – Pet’s in the News–No. 4 Pet Food, DCM and The FDA http://bit.ly/WfMw-DCM-FDA-20JUL19

Other Online Resources

Pet Fooled on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/petfooled/

Pet Fooled Webpage https://www.petfooled.com/pet-fooled-part-1.html

Wysong – The Truth About Pets Foods PDFhttp://bit.ly/WysongTheTruthAboutPetFoods-pdf

________________________________________________________________________
Don Hanson is the co-owner of the Green Acres Kennel Shop ( greenacreskennel.com ) in Bangor, ME where he has been helping people with their pets since 1995. 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). Don is a member of the Pet Professional Guild (PPG) and is committed to PPG’s Guiding Principles and the Pain-Free, Force-Free, and Fear-Free training, management, and care of all pets. Don produces and co-hosts a weekly radio show and podcast, The Woof Meow Show, that airs on Z62 Retro Radio WZON (AM620) and WKIT 103.3-HD3 and is streamed at http://bit.ly/AM620-WZON every Saturday at 9 AM. Podcasts of the show are available at http://woofmeowshow.libsyn.com/, the Apple Podcast app, and at Don’s blog: www.words-woofs-meows.com.  The opinions in this post are those of Don Hanson.

©1OCT19, Donald J. Hanson, All Rights Reserved
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