Category Archives: Healthy Tips for Healthy Pets

>What is Pet Health Care?

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A question we get on a daily basis from our clients and customers, and even some vets is “How often do I need to take my pet to the vet and do I really need all the things they recommend?” Many variations of this question often include foods, flea preventatives and treatments, heartworm products, supplements and topicals like shampoo and grooming products.
This poses an interesting challenge. We know that pet owners and lovers are looking for the best information available to keep their pet healthy and yet not throw away their hard earned dollars on items that are unnecessary.
Let’s start with the questions you need to ask yourself.
You get a reminder in the mail that “Fluffy” is due for a check-up. Ask yourself, what does this mean? Has your pet been suffering and your provider is doing a follow up to track your pets’ progress? Is your pet due for a test for a condition or for license purposes?  Is it a tool to get you back to the clinic to sell you new products and services? These can all be legitimate reasons and it’s sometimes difficult to choose what to do.
You must remember that your vet or clinic is in the business of selling you the products and services they provide. Are these all needed and necessary? Well, since they sell these products and services, they think they are absolutely necessary, and their approach can resemble that of the car salesman that needs to meet their quota.
You need to define your goals and needs and then ask them to fill those parts you cannot do yourself. There are books, videos, seminars, and unlimited information available on line that can help guide you in your search. The more informed you are the better consumers you will be.
Let’s look at diet as an example. This is easy for me because it’s a major component of our programs but it wasn’t always so. Today we are advocates for feeding real, biologically appropriate diets, for all out pets. However, for most of my professional life, I too believed much of what the pet food representatives told me. I even worked for one and introduced hundreds of products to my customers. Then I started to realize that the claims for many of these products were to help problems that didn’t even exist years ago. Claims like “will add two years to your dog’s life”, does that compare to the food they sold me last week or on to their natural expectancy of my pet. What about “sensitive stomach diet?” What were you feeding before that caused this condition?
Same is true of vaccinations. If we have been vaccinating for any disease for many generations, shouldn’t that disease cease to exist? How do I know that my pet is really protected? Have you ever vaccinated for “kennel cough” before you board you’re your pet, only to get him back coughing? Did that vaccine perform as claimed? If it doesn’t, will your vet give you your money back and pay to correct the problem? You’d expect that of your car dealer or most retailers.
We offer guidance to all our clients but the responsibility still belongs to you! Your care providers, regardless of how compassionate or caring they appear to be, have no real vested interest in your pet. They are there to provide specialized services for you.
You can visit us on the web at the Pet Health Café. Com and expand this question on our radio show or email, or just visit us at Fiesta Pet Deli.

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>“Natural” Pet Foods

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It seems like everywhere I turn today, new and old products alike are splashed with banners, starbursts, and names proclaiming them “holistic” and “natural”. And if you’re familiar with us, you know that we are all for and about truly natural and holistic products.
Today’s question for you is “Is this product really “natural” or “holistic” and how can I tell?”
According to the Natural Products Association, “anyone could claim their product was ‘natural’ even if it’s 100 percent synthetic or petroleum based.” You see, for most categories of products, there is no legal definition for “natural”. In pet food, for instance, AFFCO guidelines say that companies may use the term “natural” as long as the ingredients are derived from natural sources. What does this mean? In essence, if I take a bushel of corn and extract all the major nutrients and useful parts from it, whether mechanically or chemically processed, the remaining “by-product” would still be considered “natural”. Sound like something you’d like in your diet?
And what about “holistic”? A quick Google search gave me at least 20 different definitions, the most common trend being a “total or complete approach”. In our case, this would be the approach to both nutrition and it’s affect on the whole body. In the pet food industry, AFFCO has NO guidelines or recognition of the term “holistic”.  What does this mean for you? It says that anyone can take a bunch of ingredients and chemicals, mix them into a food or cookie, package them into a beautifully designed package and call them “holistic”. And on the service side, what does the term “holistic Veterinarian” really mean? Does this raise a red flag?
When you look at a “natural or holistic” pet food, let a little common sense sneak in. If it is a kibble or dry food, how natural are the actual ingredients? Is beet pulp or gluten meal naturally found in nature? Is the extrusion (baking) process of 5 hours at 450 degrees natural? How can it stay in that bag “fresh” for up to 2 years without preservatives? Since all pet foods claim to be meaty, I assume that that bag is full of meat. Why then, does the meat in my refrigerator go bad in a matter of days and the meat in the dry pet food stays fresh forever?
When we think of commercial pet foods today, with all the graphic packaging and commercials, we believe we are feeding our beloved pet a product that is really made from those fresh ingredients we see pictured.
Take a good look at that kibble you just poured in their dish. The product is probably a very hard, greasy, brown colored nugget (although some now have added colors). Does that look like anything that you would find in your kitchen or in nature?
Now take a deep breath and smell it. Does it smell like roast chicken or beef, smothered with baby carrots, new potatoes, and a tasty gravy?
When we talk about natural foods, there is nothing natural about kibble. The only animal on the planet that would take industrial waste products, develop special equipment to reprocess these wastes, add secret chemical flavoring sauces and call it a meal is man. Animals in a wild and natural setting, including man, do not eat processed food. The only animal in nature to cook any food is man.
The cooking process alone renders the food “dead”. We destroy the live enzymes we need to digest the food, most of the vitamins we need, degrade proteins to worthless compounds, and change the essential fatty acids into cancer causing agents.  We then attempt to improve these destroyed foods with man-made, synthetic chemical substitutes.
Why then, do we believe that feeding any animal, our precious dogs and cats, horses, parakeets, and hamsters, an artificially processed and prepared food to be in any form natural?
In nature, dogs and cats eat meats, fowl, and fish. Horses, rabbits, and deer eat natural grass. Nature has provides a system and a product, so unique, that every piece of raw fruit, grass, meat and fish is packed full of the life giving nutrients that body needs and that provides a guidance to lead that animal to the proper foods.
Next time you pour that rancid, stale, artificial, synthetic food into your pets’ dish; ask yourself, would they feed you a meal like this if they were your caregiver?
If you want to provide truly natural products, for yourself and your pet, let’s use the “pure” definition of natural food, which would be the biologically appropriate diet, or what this animal would normally eat in nature!
As always, there are many more questions about going “natural” than there are answers.

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>Veterinarians… Business or Profession?

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In our continuing quest to find safe, effective ways to keep and improve our pets healthy, we are taking a different look because of today’s economy. As I’ve read in several news stories and have seen on TV, pet owners by the thousands are abandoning or eliminating their loving pets as they can no longer afford the high price of veterinary care. Let’s look at what’s happening.
I remember as a kid growing up in a cold, snowy, windy city in western New York, yes, it’s Buffalo, and having pets all my life. Back in the ‘60’s, dogs were mostly relegated to the back yard and cats, being as independent as they were, came and went as they pleased. Our usual contact with our vet was the arrival of a new puppy or kitten, who we took for a physical exam, a puppy shot, and maybe, if the test indicated, a worming. Our next visit to the vet was usually because our beloved pet decided to bite the tires of a moving car, tried to make friends with a porcupine, or ate “something” indescribable.
Our pets’ did not have annual or bi-annual checkups, multiple vaccines, or for that matter, pet food. Dogs and cats ate our food, real food! Mom fixed us eggs for breakfast, always perfect, yolks intact, never broken. Was mom always that perfect? Why do you think your pet had such a perfectly shiny coat? Gee, what happened to all those imperfect eggs mom messed up? “Fido” was right there to help YOUR MOM, and was all so pleased to do so. Those broken yokes provided the fatty acids your dog or cat needed to build that healthy skin and coat to survive those New York, New England, and Midwest winters.
Now back to our question, is your veterinarian advising and prescribing for your pets’ optimal health or for their personal gain?
Let’s look at the facts. Vaccination is a multi-billion dollar industry. Let’s look at just one. Canine Distemper is the dog version of measles in us. I ask clients daily how many measles vaccines have they had in their life. Most say one, a few say none. If one is good enough for us, then why do our professional Veterinarians give the average canine (dog) as many as ten (10) in their first year of life?  Over a ten year life span, with recommendations of twice a year boosters, which by the way do not booster or add to immunity, your pet will have thirty (30) sets of vaccinations! The fact is the vet and the pharmaceutical company sold you a lot of product for a lot of profit with little or no documented value to your pet.
Now, as a question to ask your vet, why do they use the same size vaccine on a 2 lb. Maltese and Yorkie as they do on a 40 lb. Rottweiler puppy. They may tell you that the antigen won’t cause a problem. I ask you, but what about the chemical carriers such as Aluminum, Mercury, and the other preservatives in the vaccine? It just seems to me, if I inject my puppy with 2cc of vaccine that contains Mercury, a known toxin, the effect on my precious 2lb. Maltese will be far greater than on the next patient with the 40lb. Rottweiler.
Why would your vet do this? Is it because they believe the sales presentation from the drug company? Or are they looking after your interest as a pet owner and that of your pet?
I once offered a product line to a prominent vet in our area a whole food, with a natural health benefit to YOUR pet, only to be turned down only because it was not prescription. Further discussion revealed that his PROFESSIONAL advice for my newly acquired puppy,  for its optimal care for me was to go to a major pet chain, buy what the 16 year old kid in the dog department suggested and if problems arise, come see this vet to “cure” the problems.
Is this a Professional answer or a business decision based  on a need to produce a good income?
We hear these kinds of questions and problems every day! We ask pet owners why you are subjecting your trusting pet to someone that you really know so little about.

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>Superfoods!!

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Hair analysis allows us take a sample of your pets’ hair (it works on yours too!) and run a test on it and see things like mineral balance or imbalance, the presence of metal toxins, and then monitor the changes as dietary and therapeutics are added or removed. Over time, we can actually map the real physiological changes in the body that blood tests and treating symptoms does not.
The natural way we accomplish these physiological changes is with the use of “superfoods”.
 So what are some of these “superfoods” and where do we find them?  They are called “superfoods” for the extraordinary benefit our pets’ (and we) can derive from them and are usually given as whole foods, unprocessed, and in their natural form. Many of these are used in treatments for cancers, cleansing toxins and many other challenges.
The first superfood that I have used most in my 40 years in animal health is whole raw milk. This is not the highly processed milk you buy in the supermarket. This is the milk we (those of us over 50) drank when we were kids, as it comes directly from the cow or goat, unpastuerized, unhomogenized, packed full of natural vitamins, minerals, probiotics, natural antibodies, enzymes, amino acids, and much more. Some may question if in the wild, how a wolf, wild dog, big or wild cat would drink milk. Well, they do, every time the kill and eat a lactating prey.
In that same group of superfoods is natural colostrums, or sometimes referred to as mothers’ first milk. This has many of the same benefits as whole raw milk, but is supercharged. Both these superfoods also aid in hydration, making it supportive for many digestive challenges.
Another major group of “superfoods” are some of the simplest plants in the world. They are found in puddles, ponds, streams, and canals, all the normal places in nature that animals would drink. It is that “slimy, green gunk” that turns the water green. They are algae’s with names you may have seen in supplements and health food stores. Names like spiralina and chlorella. These fresh water algae’s soak up heavy metals like the mercury and aluminum that are found in many drugs and vaccines, help balance mineral levels which corrects hormone levels, and aids in detoxification of the body.
Then there are marine algae’s like nori and kelp that do similar tasks and add valuable minerals in usable and bioavailable forms.
All these “superfoods” are easy to administer, as simple as adding to your real food diets and letting the body use what it needs to heal itself. You see, doctors and veterinarians, nutritionists, and care givers do not heal our pets’ Our pets’ heal themselves when we give them the tools. That includes the real foods that their bodies were designed to digest and use, the natural sources for vitamins, minerals, and yes, even cleansing agents.
While all these items can be obtained without prescription and should be used in their natural forms (not processed in tablets of pills), you may have to search a bit. Visit, call, or email us for more detail on these and other “superfoods” and their specific uses.
Dealing with both health and behavior problems can sometimes be very challenging but as we’ve discovered, with the right tests and the right foods and diets, the true problems reveal themselves and allow us to help the body heal.
Bill Piechocki and Diane Sudduth are co-owners of Fiesta Pet Deli in Festival Flea Market Mall at 2900 W. Sample Road, Pompano. Bill Piechocki has a degree in animal science and 40 years experience in the pet industry including working as a pet nutritionist. He has raised show dogs and also trained dogs. Dr. Diane Sudduth has a DVM as well as master’s degree in Parasitology and Public Health. She also served as a Veterinary Medical Officer for the FDA and USDA for 10 years. Currently she consults for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. You can contact them at: 954-971-2500, petdeli@BioVanceAH.comor www.realfood4pets.com

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>Special Needs Diets

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(commonly referred to as Prescription Diets and Therapeutic Diets)

The use of special needs diets in the therapy of specific conditions is common practice but also highly overused.
First and foremost “Prescription Diet” is not a prescription, but rather the brand name of a line of foods marketed by Colgate-Palmolive that has controlled distribution through a select market sector: animal hospitals. Therapeutic diets are also foods available only through veterinarians. They are designed and formulated primarily to assist in the treatment of problems associated with specific ailments. Foods do not contain any drugs, supplements, or additives to treat the problem. Any of these products, if used beyond the original therapies, can and do cause other nutritionally-related problems and conditions. 
So why does your veterinarian sell these products? Plain and simple: Money!
Let’s look at the process of selling you these products. Does the veterinarian state that it’s part of an immediate therapy or does a vet tech (salesperson) advise you? Does the vet offer other alternatives that are more in line with the NATURAL diet of the animal? Do they offer benchmarks in seeing visible benefits to this diet? Will it ever “cure” your pet or does it just mask a symptom to a larger problem?
Dogs and cats are carnivores, meat eaters, with a specific physiology for digesting and utilizing this meat diet. The digestive system is very short and acidic, with specific enzymes and digestive fluids for breaking down animal and meat proteins and nutrients. It is totally different from that of a human (an omnivore) or a cow (an herbivore). We certainly would not feed cows steaks or chicken wings, so why do we feed our dogs grain?
Look at the label of “so called prescription diets” and you will see the same ingredients listed as you would find on a bag of the cheapest generic food. Things like corn meal, brewers rice, animal by-product meal, chicken fat, soy flour, wheat gluten, most of which your dog and cat cannot digest and are by-products (scrap or “garbage”) from the processed food industry. When you see chicken as an ingredient in food, you probably think plump boneless chicken breast. Most often, it’s ground backs, necks, and other scrap…with very little meat attached.
Animals in true need of therapy need the highest level of nutrition possible to aid their recovery. The most efficient foods are usually the most natural. If the animal eats meat in nature, then its digestive system is designed to best utilize meats. The more processing involved, the further from the natural diet we get, the more stress we place on the animal.
The body is a magnificent machine, able to draw many nutrients from most of their natural diets, which is exactly the reason they need to be offered the widest selection of foods as possible. For example, beef has a higher amount of omega fatty acids, highly needed in the recovering body, than does chicken. Organ meat, such as heart, is higher in taurine, liver is rich in iron, bluberries are high in antioxidants, and all these contain useful enzymes to help strengthen the body. In heavily processed foods, like most dry kibble, bioavailability for long-term health and healing…the cooking process itself destroys many of the enzymes and nutrients the recovering body needs.
If your pet is currently on or advised to use a “prescription” or “therapeutic” diet, you NEED to ask your veterinarian, not the vet tech or counter person, to point out what in these expensive diets is “treating” your pet. Also ask what and how your veterinarian knows about nutrition, natural diets, and food components. If they point to generic items such as protein, fiber, vitamins…are these from sources natural to the animal? Are they highly digestible by your pet? What is the quality of the ingredients? Are they bio-available to your pet? For example, is the protein from a bioavailability source such as whole muscle meat, or from an indigestible product like soy? Do they really know the product and why are they recommending this product?
If the answers don’t fully explain your questions or justify the higher cost, you should probably look for a new caregiver that will be honest or truly interested in helping your pet. Nutritional counsellors and nutritionists may be more qualified and expert in the nutritional needs of your pet. Remember, your pet does not speak any of our understood languages, and as such is dependent on your decision concerining his or her life.

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>Detox Info

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A Healthy Start

(Detoxification Information)

When changing the diet, your pet may experience symptoms termed “detox.”
Like the majority of pets in this fast paced world of convenience items, your pet has probably been fed a commercial dry diet from a major food company for most of its life to date. Commercially manufactured foods are filled with grains, additives, sugars, preservatives, dangerous chemicals, etc. to make it palatable and extend its’ shelf life. In addition, perhaps your pet has been sick for a while and has been given antibiotics or medicine. Remember your dog or cat is a carnivore, a meat eater and most of the commercial diets you have been feeding are cereal grains, corn, rice, wheat and oats that are difficult for them to digest. Now you are going to start feeding a fresh food, “natural” diet.
During the transition and for a short time period afterwards, you may notice that your pet may exhibit symptoms which may lead you to believe he is sick. Symptoms such as loose stools, vomiting or diarrhea may be exhibited during this period. All pets react differently to the new diet depending on their age, health, and how long they were given commercial diets. Your pet’s symptoms may range from non-existent, to mild to severe. These reactions are the body’s way of ridding itself of accumulated toxins. Some symptoms you might have noticed prior to changing the diet are: diarrhea, vomiting, itchy skin, oozing skin, ear infections, eye discharge, anal gland problems, etc. The body was already showing signs of accumulations and toxicity and the change of diet may exaggerate these. Now is the time to take charge!
Do not be alarmed if you notice some or all of these things happening to your pet at first. This is a classic example of something that must get worse before it can get better. The body is healing itself from the inside out. When this process begins, it is important to assist your pet in the cleaning process by completing the process. Once the detoxifying process is concluded, these symptoms will disappear and you will have a healthier, happier pet. The symptoms should not last more than 2 weeks, provided your pet is relatively disease-free at the beginning. Pets with histories of health related problems may experience longer episodes of detox. If these detoxification symptoms should persist or become violently worse it is important to seek the help of your holistic veterinarian or your nutritional consultant. There are many holistic and herbal products that can assist in this process.
During the detox time, it is also important to bathe your pet weekly or even more often if the skin is badly infected. Bathing is a good way to clean the skin and wash the toxins away. Use a soap and detergent free-shampoo and remember to rinse very well.
During this period, it is recommended that a probiotic supplement be added to the diet. This product aids in the digestion of the new foods you are feeding, alleviating some of the detox symptoms.
Always keep fresh, pure drinking water, vitamin or electrolyte water available.
The following information is from Dr. Pollak’s article titled “Healing Episodes” (also sometimes referred to as Healing Crisis). It covers the detoxification process well:
“Upon switching to a more nutritious diet, physical and behavioral improvements can be dramatic or gradual depending on the state of the animal’s health. Severe nutritional deficiencies and toxic states have been known to mimic almost every known disease in veterinary medicine. In chronic conditions, some developing over several generations, improvement in health can take months or years. A pet’s ability to respond to high protein diets may require the individual animal “transitioning” through periods of purification or detoxification. Malnutrition and the toxic condition of the animal fed commercial diets can result in the inability to digest and assimilate basic food components of the fresher, more wholesome type we are describing here. The body will sometimes expel these accumulated poisons during periods of diarrhea, hair loss, or scaling of skin. These periods are known as Healing Episodes. Though these situations are not necessary, they are not uncommon. The body will cleanse itself of these toxic agents before it can assimilate more healthful nutrients to regain a higher state of balanced health.
During these Healing Episodes, the animal’s immune system continues to react to remaining toxins and poisons until a gentler, balanced diet can complete the transition to a more resilient internal state. These periods, during which time the animal can have diarrhea, loss of some of its coat, and appear transiently sick, are really signs of a more vital life force finally shedding disease more completely. The situation is an important sign indicating a transitioning to a state of greater Wellness. The frequency, intensity and duration a Healing Episode is totally dependent on the individual animal’s health, nutritional state, age and breed. Each animal will react differently during the transitioning to a more nutritious healthier diet. Not always will there be signs of purification. We can rest assured that as long as the animal is clear eyed, bright and full of energy of life, these periods (should there be any) will quickly pass and the need for medical intervention is almost never. As concerned pet owners seek out these more wholesome natural food sources, we can anticipate occasional brief detoxification episodes. Finding professional or lay support that understands the process of Healing Episodes will help make the transition for the owner easier and less filled with fear and doubt.”
The detox process is going to be much more stressful to you as the owner than your pet. The body is a magnificent machine that compensate for all kinds of variations and mistakes. The body is designed to heal itself. You just need to give it the tools (varied nutritional components). While it’s a major challenge for us to miss a meal and fast, the natural order of animals is to do that on a regular basis. It gives the body a chance to cleanse itself. When your pet exhibits the symptoms described above, this is perfectly natural and normal as the body has to eliminate the toxins, chemicals, and inappropriate ingredients that are put into foods for no other reason than profit. They are not eliminating that piece of rawhide or the last meal they ate, but rather are eliminating the harmful ingredients that are stuck in the body.
Nutrition is not about one meal, but rather the cumulative assimilation of a lifetime of meals. The goal is a healthier animal for life – not for a day!

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>Is Your Flea & Tick Product Killing Your Pets?

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Did you know………
News Releases – Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals
U.S. and Canada to Increase Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Pet Products
Release date: 04/16/2009
(Washington, DC – April 16, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is intensifying its evaluation of spot-on pesticide products for flea and tick control for pets due to recent increases in the number of reported incidents. Adverse reactions reported range from mild effects such as skin irritation to more serious effects such as seizures and, in some cases, the death of pets. 

Flea and tick products can be appropriate treatments for protecting your pets and your family’s health because fleas and ticks can transmit disease. While many people use the products with no harm to their pets, EPA recommends that pet owners take precautions when using these products. People should carefully follow label directions and monitor their pets for any signs of an adverse reaction after application, particularly when using these products for the first time. Pet owners may also want to consult a veterinarian about the responsible and effective use of flea and tick products.

Incidents with flea and tick products can involve the use of spot-on treatments, sprays, collars and shampoos. However, the majority of the incidents reported to EPA are related to flea and tick treatments with EPA-registered spot-on products. Spot-on products are generally sold in tubes or vials and are applied to one or more localized areas on the body of the pet, such as in between the shoulders or in a stripe along the back. This advisory pertains only to EPA-registered spot-on flea and tick products; these products have an EPA registration number on the label. 

Health Canada has identified similar concerns about the use of spot-on flea and tick products. Health Canada and EPA will meet shortly with spot-on product manufacturers to address the issue, including whether further restrictions are necessary to protect the health of pets.


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>The Doctrine of Signatures

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The Doctrine of Signatures is a very old notion. Simply put it states that the physical form and characteristics of a plant will give clues to the healing properties and purposes of that plant.  Before we had the science to analyze everything so completely, people would carefully observe the plants growing around them.  They would assess all the different factors that make the plant uniquely what it was and use things like the form, size and texture of the leaves, stems, roots of a plant, where it grew, how and when it flowered, what the flowers looked like, their color and shape,  the plant and flower’s aroma, what  the plant tasted like etc.   All of these variables gave them clues as to what could be considered the “essence” of the plant and by knowing these they could use this information to match it up with conditions that ailed man.

Some Basics used in the Doctrine of Signatures include:
The roots of the plant have their influence on the brains of a human being; plants with impressive roots are good to ground airy people.
The stem and leaves represent the middle part in a human being; think of the breast, heart and lungs. Further the stem is analogous to our skeleton.
The flowers mostly work on the lower belly and the genitals.
Upward growing plants fully open up to the force of the sun, and therefore bring optimism and enthusiasm.
Downward pointing plants with hanging flowers harmonize people who feel down or depressed; so here Like-cures-like.
Horizontally growing plants symbolize contact and exchange and therewith promote the circulation of blood and lungs.
A round stem is associated with femininity, harmony and softness.
A square stem points at the masculine qualities of immunity and strength.
A hollow stem reveals that the plant may relief complaints with the hollow organs in a human being, like the lungs or the gullet.
A hairy stem and leaves show action on the skin, hair and mucous membranes.
Thorns and stings show that the plant promotes regeneration and immunity.
Small and divided leaves show a contracting force in the plant, but have a relaxing effect on a human being.
Large leaves on the other hand have contracting power in a human being and may help stop profuse bleedings or increase muscle contractions.
Dark-green leaves work calming and vitalizing.
Yellow-green leaves promote the metabolism.
Dark yellow flowers stimulate the life force and the liver
Light yellow flowers are good for internal cleansing of the body.
Red flowers work on the heart, blood circulation, energy and vitality.
Orange flowers work on the solar plexus and bring enthusiasm.
Pink flowers work softening and harmonizing.
Blue flowers cool down heat complaints like fever, inflammations or an irritable character.
Purple flowers Relax the nervous system and make a person more introvert.
White flowers work soothing in inflammations and have their special working area on the female organs.
The color brown brings inner calm and strength, especially in case of exhaustion.
Sun-plants have long strong stems and upward flowers in the colors white, yellow or orange.
Moon-plants are watery and have large leaves.
Mercury-plants grow horizontally and easily move along with the wind.
Venus-plants are soft-colored and smell deliciously.
Mars-plants have thorns and stings.
Jupiter-plants are big and grow abundant, like in the jungle.
Saturnus-plants are the strong ones that survive scarce conditions, like cactae.
Uranus-plants are the radio-active ones.
Neptune-plants are poisonous in the bad case, or have purple flowers and bring relaxation to the mind in the positive case.
The plants of Pluto are the toad-stools and mushrooms.
To modern science the Doctrine of Signatures may appear to be very unscientific and based on pure superstition however it is very interesting to note how often research seems to confirm rather than disprove the theory that we have been provided with a guide from the Divine if we would just open up our eyes and hearts to see it.  In order to draw information from the Doctrine of Signatures we need an open mind, imagination and intuition.
Why would be consider using this when choosing essential oils for our synergies?  Well understanding the Doctrine of Signatures for individual plants may well give us a tool to help us decide which oil is best for the individual in question.  For instance a lot of people in today’s modern world are coping with stress. Stress is a condition for which we have a lot of essential oils to choose from for including: Bergamot, Chamomile, Clary Sage, Cypress, Geranium, Juniper, Lavender, Marjoram, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang.  How do we decide on which oil/s are most appropriate for the specific client?   The Doctrine of Signatures might actually give us some clues here.  If we understand the energy patterns of the plant from which the oil is derived we can compare this with the energy patterns we observe in the individual for whom we are blending.  Choosing oils this way can sometimes bring about profound shifts.

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Why Vets Recommend ‘Designer’ Chow

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, MONDAY NOVEMBER 3, 1997
By TARA PARKER-POPE
STAFF REPORTER of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
NEW YORK – Shopping at a pet store here, Meredith Kane grabs a 4-pound bag of
Hill’s Science Diet. At $9, it is nearly double the price of cat food sold in
supermarkets. But Ms. Kane is unswerving in her devotion to this “designer”
brand for her cats, Cecily, Oscar, Kit Kai and A.J.
Why? “My vet recommends it,” she says.
Every year, millions of people spend a total of $9.4 billion on pet food – and
many, like Ms. Kane, choose brands solely on a veterinarian’s recommendation.
Over examining tables across the country, more pet doctors lately are trashing
trusted brand names like Purina and Kal-Kan, calling them “junk food,” and
directing people to shell out an extra $20 or so for a month’s supply of super-
premium “high science” foods.
The biggest beneficiaries: Hill’s Science Diet lines, made by toothpaste giant
Colgate-Palmolive Co., and Eukanuba and Iams brands from Iams Co. of Dayton,
Ohio. Sold only through pet stores and veterinary clinics, the designer brands
pack more calories per bite and promise higher-quality ingredients based on
“pioneering research in animal nutrition” tailored to a pet’s “life stage”
or age.
The result: Vet suggestions ringing in their ears, many pet owners have
switched brands – and the life-stage category has amassed a Doberman-sized
$2 billion chunk of the market.
But few pet owners know just how far premium-market-leader Hill’s has gone
to sew up the vet endorsements.
‘Vets Trust Them’
Borrowing a page from the pharmaceuticals companies, which routinely woo
doctors to prescribe their drugs, Hill’s has spent a generation cultivating its
professional following. It spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year
funding university research and nutrition courses at every one of the 27 U.S.
veterinary colleges. Once in practice, vets who sell Science Diet and other
premium foods directly from their offices pocket profits of as much as 40%.
“Vets trust them,” says Janil Norris, a fresh graduate of the School of
Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. While she was in
school, a Hill’s program allowed the struggling student to pay just $3 a bag
for a special prescription brand for her cat, Buffalo Sean. A bag normally runs
about $25. She also received a small stipend, courtesy of the Hill’s program,
to study orthopedic surgery with a Los Angeles vet. “Hill’s was just always
around,” she adds.
A little too much, perhaps, for makers of supermarket brands. During the past
five years, Hill’s sales have surged more than 20%, and now make up an 8% share
of the market – half that of No. 1 Ralston Purina Co., according to Davenport
& Co. in Richmond Va. For the same period, sales of pet-food giant Ralston grew
11% but its market share fell one percentage point; sales at Mars Inc.’s
Kal-Kan unit tumbled 28% and its share slipped three percentage points.
Nabbin Tabby Early
Hill’s marketing strategy is especially potent since pets are among the world’s
most loyal consumers. Nabbing Tabby early is critical: once a pet takes to a
particular brand, a later switch can sometimes cause gastrointestinal troubles;
and because a lot of felines are finicky about the look of their vittles, many
brands come in distinct shapes, like X’s and triangles. Since almost everyone
asks their vets what to start feeding a new pet, Hill’s cleverly has managed to
steer billions its way with that all-important early recommendation.
By chasing after the nation’s 126 million cats and dogs through the backdoor of
vet offices, Hill’s has emerged as a crown jewel at Colgate. Hill’s sales –
which last year were nearly $900 million, up from $40 million 15 years ago –
reflect the power of word-of-mouth marketing. While some competitors spent
between $40 million and $90 million each to advertise last year, according to
Davenport, Hill’s paid $1.9 million. Chicken feed.
Part of the Family
“The bulk of our expenditure goes to the veterinary community,” says John
Steel, who just retired as Colgate’s senior vice president of global marketing
and sales. The company won’t reveal its marketing and promotions budget. He
adds: “It’s just like taking drugs: You go to the doctor and he prescribes
something for you and you don’t much question what the doctor says. It’s the
same with animals.” Pet-food marketers also say the rise of high-science
vittles has to do with American consumers’ obsession with their own health.
“People think of pets as an extension of the family,” says Robert C. Wheeler,
Hill’s chief executive.
But the reliance on vet endorsements has its critics. “Consumers think they’re
getting a better product because veterinarians are recommending it,” says Ann
Martin, author of a new book, “Foods Pets Die For, ” She notes that many pet
doctors are “brainwashed into thinking they have to recommend these commercial
foods,” having been so heavily exposed to them in vet schools. Adds Francis
Kafifelz, professor of nutrition at Cornell University’s School of Veterinary
Medicine in Ithaca, N.Y., “I’ve never seen any research to prove animals fed
premium products all their lives have fared better than animals fed standard
products.” More definitive research would require “a lot of animals and a lot
of time,” he says, and it is too early to say there is one best pet food.”
Despite that, he feeds his golden retriever Hill’s Prescription Diet.
Science and Sales
Pet-food marketers insist it is science, not salesmanship, that ultimately
sways many of the estimated 36,000 small-animal veterinarians in the U.S.
At the Hill’s research center in Topeka, Kan., scientists proudly point to
Cocoa and Brandy, two 18-month-old Labrador retrievers. Since she was a pup,
Cocoa has munched only Hill’s products, while Brandy ate a Brand X food that
Hill’s won’t name. Brandy is fat and has a dull coat. Cocoa is bright-eyed and
slim, with a lustrous coat. “The products do what we say they do,” Mr. Wheeler
says. “We’re not selling dog food. We’re selling nutrition.”
Makers of supermarket pet foods disagree. Ralston Purina, which now sells two
premium lines and is reaching out more to veterinarians, says even its lower-
priced foods such as Dog Chow and Puppy Chow provide the same basic nutrients
as the super-premium brands. “What you’re hearing from veterinarians might be
colored somewhat by the products they have for sale,” says Larry McDaniel, a
vet himself, and Ralston’s director of veterinary marketing.
But Hill’s has a long history with the veterinary community. Hill’s Pet
Nutrition was founded in 1948 by Kansas veterinarian Mark Morris, who, in his
own kitchen, cooked up a special diet for treating kidney problems in dogs;
20 years later the company introduced its Science Diet brand, touted as a
healthier alternative than the table scraps commonly used or low-priced foods
sold in supermarkets.
The company – which never was more than a niche player in pet food and began
to diversify into other pet products, such as flea shampoos and sprays – was
acquired by Colgate in 1976, when Hill’s was part of Houston-based Riviana
Foods. Several years later when Colgate, of New York, decided to shed all
noncore business and put Hill’s on the block, a senior executive named Reuben
Mark, who would later become Colgate’s chairman, argued to keep the fledgling
company.
“I was struck by the similarity of our world-wide toothpaste business, with the
endorsement of the dentists being so important,” Mr. Mark says. “I knew if we
did the same thing with Hill’s, it could be an enormous global brand.”
So, similar to Colgate’s spadework in dental schools, Hill’s now funds a
nutrition professorship in nearly half of the nation’s vet schools. Hill’s
employees wrote a widely-used textbook on small-animal nutrition that is
distributed for free to students. Hill’s also sends practicing veterinarians to
seminars on wringing more profit from clinics and offers the only formal
nutrition-certification program for clinic technicians. In a savvy marketing
coup now being copied by other pet-food companies, Hill’s each year donates
tons of free food for the pets of cash-strapped veterinary students.
Hill’s also beefed up its sales force, which has grown to more than 500 people
from just 16 in the early 1980s, including many who are vets. Outside
universities, Hill’s is believed to be the country’s single largest employer of
veterinarians. One is Tony Rumschlag, a territory manager for Hill’s in
Indianapolis. Last month, he arrived at the Post Pet Hospital armed with framed
posters to hang on walls, post-it notes for the reception desk and free samples
of Hill’s dog treats for the clientele.
Weight Watchers
“Dr. Tony” headed for Exam Room Three, where he met with hospital veterinarian
Scot Harbin to talk about recommending Hill’s diet foods for the fat cats and
pudgy dogs that visit the clinic. Today, Hill’s is launching a special two-
month promotion to pay the clinic $3 per animal it puts on a diet. “We’re
offering a bounty to get pets on a weight-management program,” Dr. Rumschlag
says.
Dr. Harbin likes the idea, and sets a goal of putting one dog and one cat on
a diet each day. The money raised might be used to host a pizza party or even
dinner at a fancy restaurant for the staff, he says.
Later, Dr. Harbin concedes that for years Hill’s “sort of had a lock on the
veterinary market.” But now, he says, competition has increased. “At 12:30,
– the Eukanuba rep is coming in to give her spiel,” he says.
Dr. Rumschiag moves on to the Broad Ripple Animal Clinic, where he hands over
200 custom-printed coupons for pet owners to receive a discount on Hill’s food.
He also pledges about $1,200 worth of free puppy and kitten food, about 175
bags, to dole out to new pet owners who visit. Not only will the help the
clinic sell more food, but the coupons could help get pet owners back into the
clinic for a checkup, he figures.
David Brunner, who owns the hospital, says the marketing push sometimes makes
him uneasy and adds that he is careful to tell clients they can always find the
same foods at the pet store. “I don’t want to be perceived as a food salesman,”
he says. “We don’t want it to enter clients’ minds that “Oh, you’re just trying
to sell me dog food.”
Junk-Food Diet
Yet he and other vets say they are convinced premium foods are far better than
cheaper brands. One doctor compared using cheaper supermarket pet foods to
feeding a child potato chips and pizza every day. Dr. Kallfelz of Cornell says
the basic ingredients in most pet foods are the same, but the difference lies
in the amount, quality and concentration of ingredients. In general, he says,
standard foods have a higher concentration of vegetable proteins, while premium
foods have a higher concentration of animal proteins. Premium foods are
generally the same from bag to bag, while the formulation of standard foods can
change, depending on market prices for ingredients.
But Dr. Brunner says his trust in Hill’s products stems mainly from the success
he has had in treating animals with urinary tract infections, kidney disease
and other problems with the specially blended Hill’s Prescription Diet foods.
The diets can only be prescribed by veterinarians and are more than twice the
price of supermarket foods.
Other pet-food makers that have launched their own premium brands, including
Purina’s Pro Plan and Mars’s Waltham brand, have also tailored their products
to tempt vets. Ralston Purina, for instance, offers 13 “therapeutic” diets,
which can only be prescribed by vets, to compete with Hill’s popular
Prescription Diet brand. The company also now has free food programs at a
handful of U.S. veterinary colleges, and this year “significantly increased”
its veterinary-marketing budget to provide coupons for vet students to receive
big discounts on Purina foods.
To compete with Hill’s stature in vet schools, Purina last year announced a
$550,000 endowment for a professorship in small-animal nutrition at the
University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine in Columbia, Mo.
The company also provided a $175,000 grant to the American College of
Veterinary Nutrition to develop a “noncommercial” nutrition curriculum for all
vet schools to follow.
‘Share of Mind’
“We feel strongly if the playing field is leveled in the veterinary colleges,
it will go a long way toward unbiased education, and it will only benefit us,”
says Purina’s Dr. McDaniel. “We feel we’re making significant inroads into
‘share of mind’ of the veterinarian.”
Not to leave anything to chance, the company is hoping to grab a share of
consumers’ minds. In new ads for a blend of Purina One, a dog visiting a
neighbor’s house prefers the Purina One food served up there. The reason? The
main ingredient is lamb, the ad says, tastier than the corn in that “designer
dog food.”
For its part, Mars has hired a public-relations firm to tout its Waltham
pet-nutrition-research center in England, and is running ads saying its foods
are “developed by vets” at the research facility. Last year, Mars spent $50
million on advertising –  a 50% jump from 1995, according to Davenport.
The rivals are clearly nipping on Hill’s heels. New York vet Harold Zweighaft
says a sales call from a Purina representative persuaded him to start stocking
Purina food along with Hill’s. “Now I have as much Purina as I do Hill’s” he
says. When New York interior designer Christiane Lernieux got her frisky
Labrador pup Jake six months ago, she was all too happy to snap up some
Eukanuba Lamb & Rice, on her vet’s recommendation. “It has coat enhancers,” she
says, stroking jake’s smooth amber fur. “My vet says it’s the highest quality
brand.”


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Filed under Healthy Tips for Healthy Pets

What’s Really In Pet Food?

Plump whole chickens, choice cuts of beef, fresh grains, and all the wholesome nutrition your dog or cat will ever need.

These are the images pet food manufacturers promulgate through the media and advertising. This is what the $11 billion per year U.S. pet food industry wants consumers to believe they are buying when they purchase their products.
This report explores the differences between what consumers think they are buying and what they are actually getting. It focuses in very general terms on the most visible name brands — the pet food labels that are mass-distributed to supermarkets and discount stores — but there are many highly respected brands that may be guilty of the same offenses.
What most consumers don’t know is that the pet food industry is an extension of the human food and agriculture industries. Pet food provides a market for slaughterhouse offal, grains considered “unfit for human consumption,” and similar waste products to be turned into profit. This waste includes intestines, udders, esophagi, and possibly diseased and cancerous animal parts.
Three of the five major pet food companies in the United States are subsidiaries of major multinational companies: Nestlé (Alpo, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Mighty Dog, and Ralston Purina products such as Dog Chow, ProPlan, and Purina One), Heinz (9 Lives, Amore, Gravy Train, Kibbles-n-Bits, Nature’s Recipe), Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s Science Diet Pet Food). Other leading companies include Procter & Gamble (Eukanuba and Iams), Mars (Kal Kan, Mealtime, Pedigree, Sheba, Waltham’s), and Nutro. From a business standpoint, multinational companies owning pet food manufacturing companies is an ideal relationship. The multinationals have increased bulk-purchasing power; those that make human food products have a captive market in which to capitalize on their waste products, and pet food divisions have a more reliable capital base and, in many cases, a convenient source of ingredients.
There are hundreds of different pet foods available in this country. And while many of the foods on the market are similar, not all of the pet food manufacturing companies use poor quality or potentially dangerous ingredients.

Ingredients

Although the purchase price of pet food does not always determine whether a pet food is good or bad, the price is often a good indicator of quality. It would be impossible for a company that sells a generic brand of dog food at $9.95 for a 40-lb. bag to use quality protein and grain in its food. The cost of purchasing quality ingredients would be much higher than the selling price.
The protein used in pet food comes from a variety of sources. When cattle, swine, chickens, lambs, or other animals are slaughtered, the choice cuts such as lean muscle tissue are trimmed away from the carcass for human consumption. However, about 50% of every food-producing animal does not get used in human foods. Whatever remains of the carcass — bones, blood, intestines, lungs, ligaments, and almost all the other parts not generally consumed by humans — is used in pet food, animal feed, and other products. These “other parts” are known as “by-products,” “meat-and-bone-meal,” or similar names on pet food labels.
The Pet Food Institute — the trade association of pet food manufacturers — acknowledges the use of by-products in pet foods as additional income for processors and farmers: “The growth of the pet food industry not only provided pet owners with better foods for their pets, but also created profitable additional markets for American farm products and for the byproducts of the meat packing, poultry, and other food industries which prepare food for human consumption.” 1
Many of these remnants provide a questionable source of nourishment for our animals. The nutritional quality of meat and poultry by-products, meals, and digests can vary from batch to batch. James Morris and Quinton Rogers, two professors with the Department of Molecular Biosciences, University of California at Davis Veterinary School of Medicine, assert that, “There is virtually no information on the bioavailability of nutrients for companion animals in many of the common dietary ingredients used in pet foods. These ingredients are generally by-products of the meat, poultry and fishing industries, with the potential for a wide variation in nutrient composition. Claims of nutritional adequacy of pet foods based on the current Associationof American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) nutrient allowances (‘profiles’)do not give assurances of nutritional adequacy and will not until ingredients are analyzed and bioavailability values are incorporated.” 2
Meat and poultry meals, by-product meals, and meat-and-bone meal are common ingredients in pet foods. The term “meal” means that these materials are not used fresh, but have been rendered. What is rendering? Rendering, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary , is “to process as for industrial use: to render livestock carcasses and to extract oil from fat, blubber, etc., by melting.” Home-made chicken soup, with its thick layer of fat that forms over the top when the soup is cooled, is a sort of mini-rendering process. Rendering separates fat-soluble from water-soluble and solid materials, removes most of the water, and kills bacterial contaminants, but may alter or destroy some of the natural enzymes and proteins found in the raw ingredients. Meat and poultry by-products, while not rendered, vary widely in composition and quality.
What can the feeding of such products do to your companion animal? Some veterinarians claim that feeding slaughterhouse wastes to animals increases their risk of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. The cooking methods used by pet food manufacturers — such as rendering, extruding (a heat-and-pressure system used to “puff” dry foods into nuggets or kibbles), and baking — do not necessarily destroy the hormones used to fatten livestock or increase milk production, or drugs such as antibiotics or the barbiturates used to euthanize animals.

Animal and Poultry Fat

You may have noticed a unique, pungent odor when you open a new bag of pet food — what is the source of that delightful smell? It is most often rendered animal fat, restaurant grease, or other oils too rancid or deemed inedible for humans.
Restaurant grease has become a major component of feed grade animal fat over the last fifteen years. This grease, often held in fifty-gallon drums, may be kept outside for weeks, exposed to extreme temperatures with no regard for its future use. “Fat blenders” or rendering companies then pickup this used grease and mix the different types of fat together, stabilize them with powerful antioxidants to retard further spoilage, and then sell the blended products to pet food companies and other end users.
These fats are sprayed directly onto extruded kibbles and pellets to make an otherwise bland or distasteful product palatable. The fat also acts as a binding agent to which manufacturers add other flavor enhancers such as digests. Pet food scientists have discovered that animals love the taste of these sprayed fats. Manufacturers are masters at getting a dog or a cat to eat something she would normally turn up her nose at.

Wheat, Soy, Corn, Peanut Hulls, and Other Vegetable Protein

The amount of grain products used in pet food has risen over the last decade. Once considered filler by the pet food industry, cereal and grain products now replace a considerable proportion of the meat that was used in the first commercial pet foods. The availability of nutrients in these products is dependent upon the digestibility of the grain. The amount and type of carbohydrate in pet food determines the amount of nutrient value the animal actually gets. Dogs and cats can almost completely absorb carbohydrates from some grains, such as white rice. Up to 20% of the nutritional value of other grains can escape digestion. The availability of nutrients for wheat, beans, and oats is poor. The nutrients in potatoes and corn are far less available than those in rice. Some ingredients, such as peanut hulls, are used for filler or fiber, and have no significant nutritional value.
Two of the top three ingredients in pet foods, particularly dry foods, are almost always some form of grain products. Pedigree Performance Food for dogs lists Ground Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, and Corn Gluten Meal as its top three ingredients.9 Lives Crunchy Meals for cats lists Ground Yellow Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, and Poultry By-Product Meal as its first three ingredients. Since cats are true carnivores — they must eat meat to fulfill certain physiological needs — one may wonder why we are feeding acorn-based product to them. The answer is that corn is a much cheaper “energy source” than meat.
In 1995, Nature’s Recipe pulled thousands of tons of dog food off the shelf after consumers complained that their dogs were vomiting and losing their appetite. Nature’s Recipe’s loss amounted to $20 million. The problem was a fungus that produced vomitoxin (an aflatoxin or “mycotoxin,” a toxic substance produced by mold) contaminating the wheat. In 1999, another fungal toxin triggered the recall of dry dog food made by Doane Pet Care at one of its plants, including Ol’ Roy (Wal-Mart’s brand) and 53 other brands. This time, the toxin killed 25 dogs.
Although it caused many dogs to vomit, stop eating, and have diarrhea, vomitoxin is a milder toxin than most. The more dangerous mycotoxins can cause weight loss, liver damage, lameness, and even death as in the Doane case. The Nature’s Recipe incident prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to intervene. Dina Butcher, Agriculture Policy Advisor for North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer, concluded that the discovery of vomitoxin in Nature’s Recipe wasn’t much of a threat to the human population because “the grain that would go into pet food is not a high quality grain.” 3
Soy is another common ingredient that is sometimes used as a protein and energy source in pet food. Manufacturers also use it to add bulk so that when an animal eats a product containing soy he will feel more sated. While soy has been linked to gas in some dogs, other dogs do quite well with it. Vegetarian dog foods use soy as a protein source.

Additives and Preservatives

Many chemicals are added to commercial pet foods to improve the taste, stability, characteristics, or appearance of the food. Additives provide no nutritional value. Additives include emulsifiers to prevent water and fat from separating, antioxidants to prevent fat from turning rancid, and artificial colors and flavors to make the product more attractive to consumers and more palatable to their companion animals.
Adding chemicals to food originated thousands of years ago with spices, natural preservatives, and ripening agents. In the last 40 years, however, the number of food additives has greatly increased.
All commercial pet foods must be preserved so they stay fresh and appealing to our animal companions. Canning is a preserving process itself, so canned foods contain less preservatives than dry foods. Some preservatives are added to ingredients or raw materials by the suppliers, and others may be added by the manufacturer. Because manufacturers need to ensure that dry foods have a long shelf life to remain edible after shipping and prolonged storage, fats used in pet foods are preserved with either synthetic or “natural” preservatives. Synthetic preservatives include butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), propyl gallate, propylene glycol (also used as a less-toxic version of automotive antifreeze), and ethoxyquin . For these antioxidants, there is little information documenting their toxicity, safety, interactions, or chronic use in pet foods that may be eaten every day for the life of the animal.
Potentially cancer-causing agents such as BHA, BHT, and ethoxyquin are permitted at relatively low levels. The use of these chemicals in pet foods has not been thoroughly studied, and long term build-up of these agents may ultimately be harmful. Due to questionable data in the original study on its safety, ethoxyquin’s manufacturer, Monsanto, was required to perform a new, more rigorous study. This was completed in 1996. Even though Monsanto found no significant toxicity associated with its own product, in July 1997, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine requested that manufacturers voluntarily reduce the maximum level for ethoxyquin by half, to 75 parts per million. While some pet food critics and veterinarians believe that ethoxyquin is a major cause of disease, skin problems, and infertility in dogs, others claim it is the safest, strongest, most stable preservative available for pet food. Ethoxyquin is approved for use in human food for preserving spices, such as cayenne and chili powder, at a level of 100 ppm– but it would be very difficult to consume as much chili powder every day as a dog would eat dry food. Ethoxyquin has never been tested for safety in cats.
Some manufacturers have responded to consumer concern, and are now using “natural” preservatives such as Vitamin C (ascorbate), Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), and oils of rosemary, clove, or other spices, to preserve the fats in their products. Other ingredients, however, may be individually preserved. Most fish meal, and some prepared vitamin-mineral mixtures, contain chemical preservatives. This means that your companion animal may be eating food containing several types of preservatives. Federal law requires preservatives to be disclosed on the label; however, pet food companies only recently started to comply with this law.

Additives in Processed Pet Foods

  • Anticaking agents
  • Antimicrobial agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Coloring agents
  • Curing agents
  • Drying agents
  • Emulsifiers
  • Firming agents
  • Flavor enhancers
  • Flavoring agents
  • Flour treating agents
  • Formulation aids
  • Humectants
  • Leavening agents
  • Lubricants
  • Non nutritive sweeteners
  • Nutritive sweeteners
  • Oxidizing and reducing agents
  • pH control agents
  • Processing aids
  • Sequestrants
  • Solvents, vehicles
  • Stabilizers, thickeners
  • Surface active agents
  • Surface finishing agents
  • Synergists
  • Texturizers

While the law requires studies of direct toxicity of these additives and preservatives, they have not been tested for their potential synergistic effects on each other once ingested. Some authors have suggested that dangerous interactions occur among some of the common synthetic preservatives. 4Natural preservatives do not provide as long a shelf life as chemical preservatives, but they are safe.

The Manufacturing Process

How Pet Food Is Made
Although feeding trials are no longer required for a food to meet the requirements for labeling a food “complete and balanced,” most manufacturers perform palatability studies when developing a new pet food. One set of animals is fed a new food while a “control” group is fed a current formula. The total volume eaten is used as a gauge for the palatability of the food. The larger and more reputable companies do use feeding trials, which are considered to be a much more accurate assessment of the actual nutritional value of the food. They keep large colonies of dogs and cats for this purpose, or use testing laboratories that have their own animals.
Most dry food is made with a machine called an expander or extruder. First, raw materials are blended, sometimes by hand, other times by computer, in accordance with a recipe developed by animal nutritionists. This mixture is fed into an expander and steam or hot water is added. The mixture is subjected to steam, pressure, and high heat as it is extruded through dies that determine the shape of the final product and puffed like popcorn. The food is allowed to dry, and then is usually sprayed with fat, digests, or other compounds to make it more palatable. Although the cooking process may kill bacteria in pet food, the final product can lose its sterility during the subsequent drying, fat coating, and packaging process. A few foods are baked at high temperatures rather than extruded. This produces a dense, crunchy kibble that is palatable without the addition of sprayed on palatability enhancers. Animals can be fed about 25% less of a baked food, by volume (but not by weight), than an extruded food.
Ingredients are similar for wet, dry, and semi-moist foods, although the ratios of protein, fat, and fiber may change. A typical can of ordinary cat food reportedly contains about 45-50% meat or poultry by-products. The main difference between the types of food is the water content. It is impossible to directly compare labels from different kinds of food without a mathematical conversion to “dry matter basis.” 5 Wet or canned food begins with ground ingredients mixed with additives. If chunks are required, a special extruder forms them. Then the mixture is cooked and canned. The sealed cans are then put into containers resembling pressure cookers and commercial sterilization takes place. Some manufacturers cook the food right in the can.
There are special labeling requirements for pet food, all of which are contained in the annually revised Official Publication of AAFCO. 6 The use of the terms “all” or “100%” cannot be used “if the product contains more than one ingredient, not including water sufficient for processing, de characterizing agents, or trace amounts of preservatives and condiments. “Products containing multiple ingredients are covered by AAFCO Regulation PF3 (b) and (c). The “95% rule” applies when the ingredient(s) derived from animals, poultry, or fish constitutes at least 95% or more of the total weight of the product (or 70% excluding water for processing).
Because all-meat diets are usually not nutritionally balanced, they fell out of favor for many years. However, due to rising consumer interest in high quality meat products, several companies are now promoting 95% and 100% canned meats as a supplemental feeding option.
The “dinner” product is defined by the 25% Rule, which applies when “an ingredient or a combination of ingredients constitutes at least 25% of the weight of the product” (excluding water sufficient for processing) as long as the ingredient(s) shall constitute at least 10% of the total product weight; and a descriptor that implies other ingredients are included in the product formula is used on the label. Such descriptors include “recipe,” “platter,” “entree,” and “formula.” A combination of ingredients included in the product name is permissible when each ingredient comprises at least 3% of the product weight, excluding water for processing, and the ingredient names appear in descending order by weight.
The “with” rule allows an ingredient name to appear on the label, such as “with real chicken,” as long as each such ingredient constitutes at least 3% of the food by weight, excluding water for processing.
The “flavor” rule allows a food to be designated as a certain flavor as long as the ingredient(s) are sufficient to “impart a distinctive characteristic” to the food. Thus, a “beef flavor” food may contain a small quantity of digest or other extract of tissues from cattle, without containing any actual beef meat at all.

What Happened to the Nutrients?

Dr. Randy L. Wysong is a veterinarian and produces his own line of pet foods. A long-time critic of pet food industry practices, he said, “Processing is the wild card in nutritional value that is, by and large, simply ignored. Heating, cooking, rendering, freezing, dehydrating, canning, extruding, pelleting, baking, and so forth, are so commonplace that they are simply thought of as synonymous with food itself.” 7 Processing meat and by-products used in pet food can greatly diminish their nutritional value, but cooking increases the digestibility of cereal grains.
To make pet food nutritious, pet food manufacturers must “fortify” it with vitamins and minerals. Why? Because the ingredients they are using are not wholesome, their quality may be extremely variable, and the harsh manufacturing practices destroy many of the nutrients the food had to begin with.

Contaminants

Commercially manufactured or rendered meat meals and by-product meals are frequently highly contaminated with bacteria because their source is not always slaughtered animals. Animals that have died because of disease, injury, or natural causes are a source of meat for meat meal. The dead animal might not be rendered until days after its death. Therefore the carcass is often contaminated with bacteria such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli. Dangerous E. Coli bacteria are estimated to contaminate more than 50% of meat meals. While the cooking process may kill bacteria, it does not eliminate the endotoxins some bacteria produce during their growth and are released when they die. These toxins can cause sickness and disease. Pet food manufacturers do not test their products for endotoxins.
Mycotoxins — These toxins comes from mold or fungi, such as vomitoxin in the Nature’s Recipe case, and aflatoxin in Doane’s food. Poor farming practices and improper drying and storage of crops can cause mold growth. Ingredients that are most likely to be contaminated with mycotoxins are grains such as wheat and corn, cottonseed meal, peanut meal, and fish meal.

Labeling

The National Research Council (NRC) of the Academy of Sciences set the nutritional standards for pet food that were used by the pet food industry until the late 1980s. The NRC standards, which still exist and are being revised as of 2001, were based on purified diets, and required feeding trials for pet foods claimed to be “complete” and “balanced.” The pet food industry found the feeding trials too restrictive and expensive, so AAFCO designed an alternate procedure for claiming the nutritional adequacy of pet food, by testing the food for compliance with “Nutrient Profiles.” AAFCO also created “expert committees” for canine and feline nutrition, which developed separate canine and feline standards. While feeding trials can still be done, a standard chemical analysis may be also be used to determine if a food meets the profiles.
Chemical analysis, however, does not address the palatability, digestibility, or biological availability of nutrients in pet food. Thus it is unreliable for determining whether a food will provide an animal with sufficient nutrients.
To compensate for the limitations of chemical analysis, AAFCO added a “safety factor,” which was to exceed the minimum amount of nutrients required to meet the complete and balanced requirements.
The digestibility and availability of nutrients is not listed on pet food labels.

The 100% Myth — Problems Caused by Inadequate Nutrition

The idea of one pet food providing all the nutrition a companion animal will ever need for its entire life is a myth.
Cereal grains are the primary ingredients in most commercial pet foods. Many people select one pet food and feed it to their dogs and cats for a prolonged period of time. Therefore, companion dogs and cats eat a primarily carbohydrate diet with little variety. Today, the diets of cats and dogs area far cry from the primarily protein diets with a lot of variety that their ancestors ate. The problems associated with a commercial diet are seen everyday at veterinary establishments. Chronic digestive problems, such as chronic vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel disease are among the most frequent illnesses treated. These are often the result of an allergy or intolerance to pet food ingredients. The market for “limited antigen” or” novel protein” diets is now a multi-million dollar business. These diets were formulated to address the increasing intolerance to commercial foods that animals have developed. The newest twist is the truly “hypo allergenic” food that has had all its proteins artificially chopped into pieces smaller than can be recognized and reacted to by the immune system.
Dry commercial pet food is often contaminated with bacteria, which may or may not cause problems. Improper food storage and some feeding practices may result in the multiplication of this bacteria. For example, adding water or milk to moisten pet food and then leaving it at room temperature causes bacteria to multiply. 8 Yet this practice is suggested on the back of packages of some kitten and puppy foods.
Pet food formulas and the practice of feeding that manufacturers recommend have increased other digestive problems. Feeding only one meal per day can cause the irritation of the esophagus by stomach acid. Feeding two smaller meals is better.
Feeding recommendations or instructions on the packaging are sometimes inflated so that the consumer will end up purchasing more food. However, Procter & Gamble allegedly took the opposite tack with its Iams and Eukanubalines, reducing the feeding amounts in order to claim that its foods were less expensive to feed. Independent studies commissioned by a competing manufacturer suggested that these reduced levels were inadequate to maintain health. Procter & Gamble has since sued and been counter sued by that competing manufacturer, and a consumer complaint has also been filed seeking class-action status for harm caused to dogs by the revised feeding instructions.
Urinary tract disease is directly related to diet in both cats and dogs. Plugs, crystals, and stones in cat bladders are often triggered or aggravated by commercial pet food formulas. One type of stone found in cats is less common now, but another more dangerous type has become more common. Manipulation of manufactured cat food formulas to alter the acidity of urine and the amount of some minerals has directly affected these diseases. Dogs also form stones as a result of their diet.
History has shown that commercial pet food products can cause disease. An often-fatal heart disease in cats and some dogs is now known to be caused by a deficiency of the amino acid taurine. Blindness is another symptom of taurine deficiency. This deficiency was due to inadequate amounts of taurinein cat food formulas, which itself occurred because of decreased amounts of animal proteins and increased reliance on carbohydrates. Cat foods are now supplemented with taurine. New research suggests that supplementing taurine may also be helpful for dogs, but as yet few manufacturers are adding extrataurine to dog food. Inadequate potassium in certain feline diets also caused kidney failure in young cats; potassium is now added in greater amounts to all cat foods.
Rapid growth in large breed puppies has been shown to contribute to bone and joint disease. Excess calories and calcium in some manufactured puppy foods promoted rapid growth. There are now special puppy foods for large breed dogs. But this recent change will not help the countless dogs who lived and died with hip and elbow disease.
There is also evidence that hyperthyroidism in cats may be related to excess iodine in commercial pet food diets. 9 This is a new disease that first surfaced in the 1970s, when canned food products appeared on the market. The exact cause and effect are not yet known. This is a serious and sometimes terminal disease, and treatment is expensive.
Many nutritional problems appeared with the popularity of cereal-based commercial pet foods. Some have occurred because the diet was incomplete. Although several ingredients are now supplemented, we do not know what ingredients future researchers may discover that should have been supplemented in pet foods all along. Other problems may result from reactions to additives. Others are a result of contamination with bacteria, mold, drugs, or other toxins. In some diseases the role of commercial pet food is understood; in others, it is not. The bottom line is that diets composed primarily of low quality cereals and rendered meat meals are not as nutritious or safe as you should expect for your cat or dog.

Copyright © 1997-2002 Animal Protection Institute.


Reproduced with permission – Click here to visit the Animal Protection Web Site and check for updates to this information!

References

  • Association of American Feed Control Officials Incorporated. Official Publication 2001 . Atlanta: AAFCO, 2001.
  • Barfield, Carol. FDA Petition, Docket Number 93P0081/CP1, accepted February 25, 1993.
  • Becker, Ross. “Is your dog’s food safe?” Good Dog! , November/December 1995, 7.
  • Cargill, James, MA, MBA, MS, and Susan Thorpe-Vargas, MS. “Feed that dog! Part VI.” DOG World , December 1993, 36.
  • Case, Linda P., M.S., Daniel P. Carey, D.V.M., and Diane A. Hirakawa, Ph.D. Canine and Feline Nutrition: A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals . St. Louis: Mosby, 1995.
  • Coffman, Howard D. The Dry Dog Food Reference . Nashua: PigDog Press, 1995.
  • Corbin, Jim. “Pet Foods and Feeding.” Feedstuffs , July 17, 1996, 80-85.
  • Knight-Ridder News Syndicate. “Nature’s Recipe Recalls Dog Food That Contains Vomitoxin.” August 28, 1995.
  • Morris, James G., and Quinton R. Rogers. “Assessment of the Nutritional Adequacy of Pet Foods Through the Life Cycle.” Journal of Nutrition , 124 (1994): 2520S-2533S.
  • Newman, Lisa. What’s in your pet’s food? Tucson & Phoenix: Holistic Animal Care, 1994.
  • New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. 1994 Commercial Feed Analysis Annual Report . Albany: Division of Food Inspection Services, 1995.
  • Parker, J. Michael. “Tainted dog food blamed on corn.” San Antonio Express News , April 1, 1999.
  • “Pet food activist.” Pet food Industry , September/October 1991, 4.
  • Pet Food Institute. Fact Sheet 1994 . Washington: Pet Food Institute, 1994.
  • Phillips, Tim, DVM. “Rendered Products Guide.” Pet food Industry , January/February 1994, 12-17, 21.
  • Pitcairn, Richard H., D.V.M., Ph.D., and Susan Hubble Pitcairn. Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats . Emmaus: Rodale, 1995.
  • Plechner, Alfred J., DVM, and Martin Zucker. Pet Allergies: Remedies for an Epidemic . Inglewood: Wilshire Book Co., 1986.
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Division of Agriculture. 1994 Report of the Inspection and Analysis of Commercial Feeds, Fertilizers and Liming Materials.
  • Providence: Division of Agriculture, 1995.
  • Roudebush, Philip, DVM. “Pet food additives.” JAVMA , 203 (1993): 1667-1670.
  • Rouse, Raymond H. “Feed Fats.” Petfood Industry , March/April 1987, 7.
  • Sellers, Richard. “Regulating pet food with an open mind.” Petfood Industry , November/December 1990, 41-44.
  • Smith, Carin A. “Research Roundup: Changes and challenges in feline nutrition.” JAVMA 203 (1993), 1395-1400.
  • Strombeck, Donald. R. Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Foods: The Healthful Alternative . Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1999.
  • Winters, Ruth, M.S. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives . New York: Crown, 1994.
  • Wysong, R. L. “The ‘complete’ myth.” Petfood Industry , September/October 1990, 24-28.
  • [Wysong, R. L.] Fresh and Whole: Getting Involved in Your Pet’s Diet . Midland: Wysong Corporation, 1990.
  • Wysong, R. L. Rationale for Animal Nutrition. Midland: Inquiry Press, 1993.

    Notes:

  1. Pet Food Institute, 2
  2. Morris, 2520S.
  3. Corbin, 81.
  4. Cargill, 36.
  5. The conversion is: ingredient percentage divided by (100 minus moisture percentage).
  6. Official Publication, Regulation PE3, 114-115.
  7. Wysong, Rationale , 40-41.
  8. Strombeck, 50-52.
  9. Smith, 1397.

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