But what about "Organic", "Natural" Kibble - isn't that ok?
all know that the more artificial ingredients, the less nutritious the
food, with most people well versed to avoid E-numbers and other
artificial ingredients in their own foods. So of course, it
follows that many times we are told "my dog is fed on the very best
kibble, organic, with all natural ingredients and prime cuts of meat"
with the inference that "best", "organic",
"natural" and "prime" are all that is needed to be an
optimal diet for the dog.
Sure, these "5 star" foods are better than the cheaper foods, yet if the
food contains carbohydrates and is cooked, then it will never be
optimal, not to mention the additional strain on the liver and kidneys
that the digestion of kibble creates. Little wonder there is so
much liver and kidney disease in our dogs of today!
|In fact, vet Russell Swift, D.V.M.
feels that grains suppress the immune system. Grains are mucous
forming and provide an ideal environment for parasites to thrive
in. Grains also contribute to the formation of dental plaque and
tartar on the teeth, as well as bad breath and flatulence. Dr.
Swift details how cats and dogs have no dietary requirements for
carbohydrates nor are they equipped with the teeth to process
We discovered that our newly rescued stray dogs at
struggled for health on
a kibble diet, yet their health quickly transformed once switched to raw
food, and this led us to promote rawfeeding to all of our adopters.
For many people, switching from a diet where they don’t have to think
about it at all, to embracing a raw diet that is full of controversy due
to the veterinary profession’s resistance to it, can be both alarming
and nerve wracking. There
are several major ways that kibble and raw diets differ in terms of
their effect on the body and health:
1. Kibble usually contains grain content (wheat, corn,
barley, oats, rice) that is more plentiful (read cheaper) than the meat content. This
is a problem for dogs for 2 reasons:
- they have no nutritional requirement for grain
- they do not produce enzymes to digest grain or obtain nutrients from
2. Kibble diets contain cooked meat and meat by-products
which are also hard to digest and absorb nutrients from. Enzymes
are destroyed in the cooking process.
3. The actual cooking process itself creates carcinogenic
toxins simply because of the extremely high temperatures pet food is
cooked at.... see here for more detail
4. The nutritional analysis information listed on every bag
of kibble is based on laboratory test results. The food sources
present in the kibble may contain the appropriate nutrients but
the bioavailability (digestion and absorption) may be poor.
There has never been a bioavailability test done on any brand of
kibble. This means that no one knows if our dogs are actually
absorbing adequate nutrients from the food they are eating.
There are no long term studies conducted for how dry foods
affect dogs over their entire lifetime. Usually test trials are
short, under 1 year and are conducted on younger animals and
there are also no control dogs, fed on a completely different
diet (i.e. not commercial food).
5. Because the pancreas of the dog is so small, it must work
hard to break down commercial dog food. This means that
pancreatic enzymes are depleted quickly and used to break down
food with inadequate nutritional content. In turn, the body uses
an unfortunate survival tactic: it begins to absorb enzymes and
other essential nutrients from its own tissues to maintain the
equilibrium of the body. This can only remain an equilibrium
for so long and may prove to shorten the life span of the dog. It is also worth noting that one very
theory regarding the development of cancer is the slow down
of the pancreas ability to produce enough pancreatin to both
digest food and fight cancer protein cells.
6. Kibble is systemically dehydrating to dogs, as their
bodies are designed to absorb water from their prey. To
compensate, they must drink large amounts of water to stay
hydrated. This puts an extra strain on the kidneys.
7. Dogs do not have the ability to digest grains properly, so
instead, an extra strain is put on the liver as it has to
produce more bile to break down the insoluble fibre.
8. Kibble and canned dog foods often contain toxic fillers
like preservatives and dyes. Sugar and other taste enhancers are
also found in some commercial foods to entice animals to eat it.
Eating these substances daily can pose health risks.
9. Often, synthetic vitamins are added to commercial canine
diets. These vitamins are not molecularly/nutritionally equal to
the natural source vitamins found in raw food sources. Kibble
has only been formulated in the last 90 years. It is absurd to
assume that dogs have evolved to eat kibble based diets in this
short amount of time. Evolution of physiological and anatomical
proportions takes hundreds of thousands, if not, millions of
The Whole Dog
Why Manufactured Foods Should Not Be Fed To
Cats And Dogs
by Dr. Michael Fox DVM on May 31, 2011
of the spring of 2007 largest ever pet food recall that resulted in the
poisoning and deaths of thousands of dogs and cats across North America,
my answer to this question, unlike many of my veterinary colleagues, I
have come to believe that dogs and cats should not be fed most
manufactured pet foods as their main or only source of nutritional
I have come to this conclusion because of
the dramatic clinical improvement in dogs and cats suffering from a
number of chronic, debilitating, and costly health problems once they
have been taken off highly processed commercial pet foods and are given
naturally formulated, organic whole food diets appropriate for their
species, age, physical condition, and activity level.
Scientifically formulated, manufactured pet foods are packed with
chemical supplements used to ‘fortify’, i.e. make up for deficiencies in
the basic ingredients that are slaughter house and food and beverage
industry waste byproducts, and other chemical additives to
flavour/taste-enhance, stabilize, preserve, colour and ‘texturize’ (
appear like meat and gravy rather than a grey mush). According to a CNN
News report on July 20, 2007, such supplements that are put into
processed foods for human consumption as well as in to pet foods are not
subject to any FDA inspection or oversight, and the government has no
records as to country of origin of these additives/supplements.
Many micronutrients are destroyed by processing, excessive exposure to
heat and/or water denatures proteins, destroying essential amino acids,
vitamins C, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and some of the essential
fatty acids. Acidification of the diet can destroy acid-sensitive
micronutrients like vitamin K, biotin and B-12.
Acidification has been done for several years by pet food manufacturers
to help control struvite crystal formation in the urine that becomes too
alkaline when dogs and cats are fed high cereal diets. This can lead to
the development of calculi/stones in the urinary tract that cause
painful and even fatal urinary blockage. Such artificial alteration of
the acidity/alkalinity of the animals’ food can cause metabolic acidosis
and kidney failure. These are common emergencies, along with urinary
retention, in veterinary practice. Acidification of pet foods also
resulted in an increased incidence of calcium oxalate uroliths/stones.
Oxidation/rancidification of pet foods and their ingredients during
storage and transport is another problem. Most pet food manufacturers
have recently phased out using BHA and BHT that were used for many years
as preservatives in both human and pet foods. Animal tests have linked
BHA to stomach and bladder cancer, and BHT to thyroid and bladder
cancer. Pet food manufacturers now use ‘mixed tocopherols’ (a claimed
source or form of vitamin E), citric acid, beta-carotene and Rosemary
extract as preservatives. High levels of vitamin E, the most widely used
antioxidant in pet foods today, can disrupt the activity of the other
fat soluble vitamins, namely vitamin K (menadione), vitamin A (retinol),
and vitamin D (calciferol), so these are often added as supplements to
the formula, which is not without risk since vitamins A and D can be
toxic at biologically excessive levels in the food.
There are additional chemical contaminants not listed on the pet food
label that were associated with the production, processing, and
preserving of the original sources of the primary ingredients like
animal fat, chicken meal and corn meal, including pesticide residues,
animal drugs, ethoxyquin ( a known carcinogen) to prevent tallow from
becoming rancid, and polyacrylamide used to coagulate slaughter house
waste. Mercury compounds in fish products, and dioxins and PCBs in most
animal byproducts are additional concerns, as is the lower nutritional
value of conventionally grown crops compared to organically grown*.
To claim that manufactured pet foods are scientifically formulated and
are therefore safe and provide complete nutrition for growth and health
maintenance is as incorrect as contending that genetically engineered
crops and foods are ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional crops and
foods and are therefore as safe and as nutritious. The former claims
have proven, year after year, to be patently false and misleading, as
exemplified by the many animals becoming ill because of deficiencies in
taurine and essential fatty acids, and from imbalances in calcium and
phosphorus and essential trace minerals.
container labels include such statements as ‘Animal feeding tests
substantiate that this product provides complete and balanced nutrition
for all life stages’, or ‘for growth and maintenance’. The science
supporting the pet food industry is based not on veterinary nutritional
science but on the animal production science of livestock feed
formulation that relies on simplistic ingredient analysis and
formulation as per the ‘Guaranteed Analysis’ on pet food labels that
shows the percentage of crude protein, fat, carbohydrate, fibre and ash.
The list of supplements/additives is always longer than the list of the
basic ingredients such as chicken meal, meat byproduct and corn meal.
Veterinary clinical nutrition is essentially applied after the fact,
once feeding trials are conducted on basic low-cost ingredient
formulations and then potential and reported health problems are
corrected by the inclusion of various additives/supplements. Feeding
trials to determine safety and nutritional values are not cost-effective
and so are not done on a regular basis but should be with every new
formulation and when ingredients from different sources are used.
In actuality, standardization in terms of quality can be better
established for synthetic, manufactured chemical additives/supplements
than for the basic food ingredients. Yet this is not without risk
considering the recent recall of pet food containing toxic levels of
Vitamin D that caused systemic calcinosis in cats. Standardization of
supplement/additive amounts, in terms of the quantity added to each
batch of manufactured pet food cannot be established without knowing
what is in the basic food ingredients, and that can vary widely
according to supplier, time in storage, degree of prior processing etc.
Plant ingredients, often contaminated with aflatoxin and other toxic
molds, can be deficient in iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, vitamin A
and C, and lysine, among other essential nutrients and high in
phytoestrogens, endocrine disrupting agrichemicals, dioxins, and PCBs,
the latter being a serious problem because of bioaccumulation in
animal-derived food ingredients.
Aside from bacterial
contamination, notably with Salmonella and E. coli, animal derived
ingredients can throw off supplement calculations when high in calcium,
a common result of de-boning; high in contaminants like mercury, lead,
cadmium, and arsenic; deficient in essential fatty acids like omega 3,
but high in omega 6; and deficient in zinc, selenium and magnesium.
Fewer tests of primary ingredients would be needed for known-source and
inspected, humane and organically certified producers and marketers of
agricultural commodities for human and animal consumption. Tests on
organic produce, both vegetable and animal-derived, have shown
consistently higher levels of vitamins, trace minerals and other
essential nutrients compared to conventionally grown crops.
The difference between naturally constituted whole foods and
scientifically concocted manufactured pet foods can be seen on the pet
food labels with a plethora of synthetic vitamins, amino acids and trace
minerals of dubious nutritive value and origin (as from China) deemed
essential because of the poor quality of lowest-cost basic ingredients,
and because of the destruction/denaturing of essential nutrients due to
processing, storage and cooking. Aside from the fact that major pet food
companies are still selling predominantly cereal-based cat foods (e.g.
combinations of corn meal, corn gluten meal, brewers rice, wheat, and
soy flour), as ‘complete and balanced nutrition for all life stages
according to AAFCO animal feeding tests’ which, for documented health
reasons, is unethical, dog and cat foods can include the following
Manufactured pet foods can contain umectants like sugar/sucrose, corn
syrup, sorbitol and molasses; antimicrobial preservatives like propionic,
sorbic and phosphoric acids, sodium nitrite, sodium and calcium
propionate and potassium sorbate; natural coloring agents like iron
oxide and caramel, and synthetic coloring agents like coal-tar derived
azo-dyes such as Yellow 5, Red 40, Yellow 6, and Blue 2; emulsifying
agents used as stabilizers and thickeners, such as seaweed, seed, and
microbial gums, gums from trees, and chemically modified plant cellulose
like citrus pectin, xanthan and guar gum, and carrageenan; flavor and
palatability enhances include ‘natural’ flavors, ‘animal digest’, and
even MSG (monosodium glutamate); natural fiber like beet pulp, and
miscellaneous additives like polyphosphates that help retain natural
moisture, condition and texture of manufactured pet foods.
Red 2G food coloring has been identified by the European Food Standards
Authority as a carcinogen, and other coal-tar and petrochemical-derived
Azo dyes used as food (and beverage) coloring agents are now being
Gimmicky additions to pet foods include
marigold and chicory extract, and touting chicken byproduct meal as a
‘source of chondrotin and glucosamine’ in reality means that much of
this ingredient is probably of low protein value because it contains a
lot of cartilage and bone from the remains of ground up chicken parts
not considered fit for human consumption.
It would be
prudent for all pet food manufacturers, especially after the massive pet
food recall in the U.S. in the spring of 2007 that resulted in the
suffering of uncounted numbers of dogs and cats, to clearly indicate on
the pet food container labels how they can be reached by pet owners and
veterinarians with product related questions and concerns. Every new
batch of untested pet foods containing either new ingredients or the
same ingredients but from new sources should be appropriately numbered,
and annual reports of any adverse food reactions should be available to
veterinarians upon request, and filed with the appropriate governmental
regulatory authority. All labels should also indicate the form of
nutrient supplements, organic chelated minerals, for example, being
better assimilated than inorganic minerals.
notorious for becoming addicted to dry foods, and such foods, generally
condoned by veterinarians because they believe the manufacturers’ claim
that the food is scientifically formulated and balanced for health and
maintenance, and helps keep cats’ teeth clean, can result in several
serious diseases, from obesity and skin problems to diabetes and urinary
tract problems. (See Elizabeth Hodgkins, DVM, Esq, “YOUR CAT”, published
by St Martin’s Press, NY 2007 for further documentation).
Both dry and canned dog and cat foods contain ingredients that can cause
food-allergy or hypersensitivity, and may also lack essential nutrients
that lead to various skin and other health problems. But because most
veterinarians believe in what the pet food manufacturers claim, (and
recent graduates are no exception when one looks at the funds provided
to State and private veterinary colleges by the pet food industry), they
rarely suggest changing their sick animals’ diet. Instead they practice
iatrogenic medicine, first by endorsing the continued feeding of
potentially harmful diets, then by prescribing potentially harmful drugs
and costly special prescription diets that are all too often useless and
Following the initiative of drug
companies, major pet food companies now also endow Chairs and fund
departments, lectureships and student fellowships and prizes at every
veterinary college in the US, and around the world in countries where
profits are to be made.
It is no coincidence that one
of the biggest American pet food manufacturers in the U.S. is now
selling Pet Health Insurance policies.
As a more
informed consumer populace says ‘no’ to junk/fast/convenience foods, so
the days are numbered for the other agribusiness food and beverage
industry subsidiary, namely the main-stream commercial pet food
manufacturer, unless it chooses to meet the rising public demand for
safe and nutritious food for all. And that, surely, would be an
ethically enlightened business decision, since continued resistance to
change, denial, lack of accountability, and defence of the status quo
are ultimately counterproductive and self-defeating regardless of the
$15 billion annual income enjoyed by U.S. pet food manufacturers. But
public trust will be hard to regain after the debacle of the largest pet
food recall ever in the U.S. in the Spring of 2007 of some 60 million
containers bearing scores of different manufacturer and supplier labels,
including all the big brand names, that left an estimated 8,500 dogs and
cats dead, and harmed hundreds of thousands of others.
There is a new generation of commercial cat and dog foods, from raw to
freeze-dried, canned to dry, that contain organically certified, whole
food ingredients* properly formulated and balanced, (i.e. not loaded
with cereal and meat industry byproducts), that are now appearing on
grocery shelves, and being marketed by local and national supply
networks. Also several good books are available for preparing home-made
cat and dog food. This trend goes hand in hand with increasing consumer
demand for organically produced, minimally processed foods as more
health and environmentally conscious shoppers vote with their dollars
and sense: And with veterinarians recognizing and the harmful
consequences of most manufactured pet foods, and treating their animal
The words of health and fitness
guru ninety-three year old Jack LaLanne are as relevant to what we eat
ourselves as to what people feed to their cats and dogs. He asserts,
quite simply, “If man makes it, don’t eat it.”
Genetically engineered food ingredients and by-products from genetically
engineered crops are put in to pet foods and livestock feed, and can be
hazardous for many reasons, notably herbicide residues and endogenous,
(plant manufactured) insecticides. For details, see M.W.Fox, ‘Killer
Foods: What Scientists Do To Make Better Is Not Always Best’. Guilford,
In the news: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1315145/Is-pet-food-poisoning-dogs.html