A Letter to the Editor from Sheri Gould DVM in response to a recent column has brought up a few questions that I think need public discussion. Over my next 2 installments, I would like to discuss the issues.
Dr. Gould brings up some interesting points. Pet nutrition is more than just an interest for me, it is a primary focus of my occupation. The health and wellbeing of my customers animals is the focus of my business, and providing the best possible advice and products is my job. Our nutritional recommendations are made based on the entire industry, not just a few exclusive brands.
For every claim someone has, there is science to back it up. Climate change deniers can cling to a few reports, rather than face the overwhelming majority that represents the truth. The truth of the matter here is that yes, kibble will not kill your dog. Laboratory studies paid for by billion dollar companies prove that, lab studies in which thousands of animals were harmed or even died in. But is kibble the best food for your dog? That is something that there is no scientific proof for.
Kibble is convenient, inexpensive, and in most cases, can meet the AAFCO standards for a balanced diet. A bowl of cereal, a vitamin pill, a candy bar, an energy drink and a fast food burger and fries would meet a standard for human nutrition roughly equivalent to the standards put up by AAFCO. Would anyone recommend that diet over a balanced one of fresh meats, fruits and vegetables? Then how can we expect a bag of processed and preserved pebbles made mainly of plant material to provide a better source of nutrition than a balanced diet of raw meat for a carnivore? I don't think so.
Dr. Gould states: "there is no scientific evidence that raw food diets are healthy for pets". The fact that dogs and cats exist, while kibble pet food has only been here barely 100 years, is scientific evidence that raw works. Dog eat meat, cats have to eat meat. She mentions that cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they eat only meat, yet the foods she would recommend have carbs and plant proteins.
She states "there are no known carbohydrate requirements for dogs". If there are no need for carbs, why are we making foods that are more carb than protein or fat? Because carbs are cheap, and necessary to form kibble. She further claims that those little brown pebbles are the best way to provide the correct amount of protein. The vast majority kibble contains proteins primarily from plant source. These are not the appropriate proteins for carnivores. Yes, dogs are carnivores, and cats obligate carnivores. Dogs are Canus Lupus, the same genotype (genetics) as a grey wolf. The phenotype (appearance) has been changed through selective breeding, giving us Yorkies and Mastiffs, but genetically they are still wolves, and no evolutionary change has happened to make them omnivores. From teeth through the digestive tract, they are carnivores. Cats, as obligate carnivores, need meat even more.
Most importantly, every diet requires balance. We would never recommend feeding an unbalanced diet, raw or kibble, and most commercially prepared raw diets take that into account, and are formulated to exceed AAFCO standards, not just meet it like kibble. If you make your own, there are many resources you can access that can help you prepare a balanced diet, utilizing species appropriate ingredients, that contain a rich supply of natural nutrition, all the vitamins and minerals mother nature has provided us, and none of the chemicals, colours and preservatives that are used in most kibble. Some that are still allowed to be used in pet food, but have been banned from human use.
There are kibbles out there that derive a majority of their protein from meat, and do not contain these dangerous ingredients. Unfortunately, these products represent a tiny percentage of the kibble produced today, and are also the most expensive. Most of these are made by smaller companies, that own their own production facilities, and buy their own ingredients. I would be glad to help you discover why some of these kibbles are so much better than others. Or, if you can invest a little more time than scooping food out of a bucket, we can show you how to provide a balanced, natural raw diet.