The following is a letter from Robert Abady, of the Robert Abady Dog Food Company:
Debate About By-Products
Dogs have reached us over the millennia unchanged. Their nutritional requirements are also unchanged. What has changed is their diet. It is the dietary changes that are responsible for virtually every condition that afflicts the domestic carnivore today. Any condition having reached epidemic levels that crosses breed lines and is manifest everywhere has to be dietary in origin.
Breakdown conditions such as allergies, interminable itching, autoimmune conditions, gastrointestinal disorders including “sensitive stomach,” irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, bloat, torsion, breakdowns during growth including: pano, HOD, OCD, Hip Dysplasia, reproductive disorders (including failure to conceive, shrinking litter sizes, resorptions, abortions, many birth defects, uterine inertia, agalactia, weak puppies at birth, lack of avidity in males, and low sperm count), as well as kidney and heart problems all fall into this category.
With an ongoing attack on by-products by marketers and groups of poorly informed individual companies who are rejecting by-products in favor of what they perceive to be better accepted substitutes such as “human grade” chicken, etc. . . have caused a disaster of unprecedented proportions.
Here’s why: By-products (internal organs and other body parts) constitute the largest percentage of the animal-based ingredients in the wild carnivore’s diet. These, combined with flesh, fat, and bone in specific amounts and ratios, are the core nutrition that ensures the survival of carnivores without breakdowns. Those ratios and amounts have been carefully addressed in Abady’s Formula for Maintenance and Stress – a formula capable of preventing all the breakdown conditions listed earlier in the text.
By-products vary in quality. The very best are those with the best nutritional characteristics and consist of poultry by-products meal and chicken by-products meal. Poultry by-products meal includes a variety of birds, making it particularly desirable. From a biological value assessment, the chicken by-products meal is equivalent. Nutritionally both are the equivalent or near-equivalent of flesh, but the by-products meals are far less expensive, making it possible for them to be included in vastly larger quantities in a formula. Meat meal, beef meal, and lamb meals are also by-products meals but of a lower order. They are nutritionally valuable nevertheless. “Human grade” chicken solids, for instance, can cost up to 17½ times more than the equivalent amount of poultry or chicken by-products meals. There are no other ingredients that are of such great value nutritionally that can be substituted for them. The high cost of the “human grade” ingredients is what makes it impossible to include more than a thimbleful in a formula. A quarter-pound (113.5 grams) of chicken by-product meal costs the same amount as 6.19 grams of “human grade” chicken solids!
To make matters worse, the ingredient “chicken” includes 75% moisture but is counted as if it were solids, artificially allowing it to be placed at the head of an ingredient panel. To make matters even worse the regulation allows chicken skin to be listed as if it were chicken flesh!
Gluten is the protein of grain. It is nearly worthless nutritionally and as a side effect, it can permanently destroy the ability of the small intestine to absorb nutrients. Abady’s Formula for Maintenance and Stress derives 93.3 percent of its protein from valuable internal organs (by-products and other body parts) and flesh. The only side effects are soundness, good health, and complete safety.
-Robert Abady, President
Robert Abady Dog Food Company, LTD
WDJ Editor Nancy Kerns responds:
Respectfully, we disagree with Mr. Abady about numerous points, but we’d like to confine this discussion to his disagreement with our stand on by-products.
At one point in the seven-year history of our dog food reviews, we approved of the inclusion of fresh meat by-products and poultry by-products in pet foods. After all, as Mr. Abady points out, dogs have eaten every bit of their prey for millennia, and it’s absolutely true that a batch of by-products can be mixed so as to offer the same (or even better) nutritional profile as a batch of whole meat or poultry. We stated, however, that we preferred to see these products play a supporting role to named species of meat or poultry (muscle tissue). And we balked at recommending foods that contain by-product meal (meal made by rendering by-products), as this is two steps away from what we consider the ultimate: fresh muscle or organ tissue.
The past few years have seen a steady increase in the number of companies making dog foods for the top end of the market. Where we were once hard-pressed to find enough products to make up a list of 10 really superior dry dog foods, we have most recently found ourselves looking for ways to make our food selection criteria more restrictive, to winnow the list of candidates down to a manageable few dozen. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this was to begin eliminating products that contain by-products, not because they are bad; in our opinion, these ingredients are just not the best, which is the object of our reviews.
Understand that “best” is a subjective term. Almost every dog food (not all . . . surprised?) is formulated to guarantee a minimum of certain nutrients – the “nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials” referred to on most dog food labels. A pet food maker can formulate its products to meet the required nutritional levels with a vast array of ingredients. (Famously, one critic of the “nutrient profile” system once designed a food that met all the AAFCO nutrient profile requirements using old shoe leather, sawdust, motor oil, and a vitamin/mineral supplement.) Equivalent nutritional values do not make foods equal; so a food’s “nutritional content” cannot serve as a sole selection criterion.
We decided to use ingredient quality – a term encompassing the nutritional content, wholesomeness, and palatability of the food ingredients – as our major selection criteria. Higher-quality ingredients (like whole meats and poultry) enjoy a wider range of uses than less-appealing ingredients (such as by-products), so they command a higher price. In fact, cost is one of the few tools consumers have at their disposal to gauge the quality of the ingredients in their dogs’ food.
Of course, a high price doesn’t guarantee quality, but it does help the products elicit the utmost in respect, inspection, and attention during manufacture and transport. Products with a lower economic value (such as by-products) don’t always receive this same care. This helps explain why, as Mr. Abady suggests, the quality of by-products can vary.
The high cost of “human-grade” ingredients does not preclude their use as primary ingredients in the products that we recommend – far from it. The makers of the products on our “approved” food lists readily admit that their products cost more because of the high-cost ingredients they use. Cost is not an object to the majority of our readers, who are, frankly, obsessed with quality. The more closely the ingredients of their dogs’ food resembles the type, quality, and safety of the food they eat themselves, the more peace of mind they enjoy.
For these reasons, foods that contain by-products do not meet our current selection criteria, whereas foods that contain whole meats and/or poultry, such as Abady’s New York Natural Lamb and Rice Kibbled Dog Food or New Frontier Chicken Meal-Based Kibbled Dog Food, do.
More about colostrum and transfer factor
Though I think highly of WDJ, I was disappointed in the January 2004 article, “Immune Boosters: Bovine Colostrum and Transfer Factor.”
I perceived a strong bias in the article for colostrum over transfer factor. Many experts recognize that the benefit of colostrum comes from the low molecular weight portion that contains what are known as transfer factors, which are immune-regulating molecules that are identical (safe and compatible) for all species.
Transfer Factor™, produced by 4Life Research™, has been tested for the activation of our first line of defense: the immune system’s natural killer cells (NK cells) by an independent laboratory. Bovine colostrum increased NK cell activity by 23 percent. Transfer Factor increased NK cell activity by 103 percent. Transfer Factor increases NK cell activity, and is the only true immune system regulator (balancer) that is all natural and has no side effects. The second generation product of 4Life Research, Transfer Factor Plus™ increased NK cell activity by 248 percent.
Therefore, when evaluating products that help support the immune system, I urge WDJ readers to learn more about the immune system products produced by 4Life Research, including the products specifically produced for dogs. The result could be lower vet bills if the Transfer Factor Canine Products™ are used daily for prevention.
The best way for readers to obtain our products would be to ask their own veterinarians. Or, readers can call the company at (888) 454-3374, and a representative will direct them to a distributor in their area.
I almost forgot to mention that a veterinarian told us we had a “decision” to make about the future of our Bichon Frise who had been diagnosed with kidney disease. After 90 days on Transfer Factor Canine all signs of the disease were gone.
I was very pleased to see your article on immune boosters and stimulants in the January 2004 issue. I wish to inform your readers that we are an alternate source of colostrum and transfer factor products with direct sales to the public and other retailers. Information about our products can be seen at www.oramune.com or readers can call us at (310) 914-5191.
-Said Youdim, Ph.D
Immune Therapy Research Laboratory
Los Angeles, CA
Seven years of thanks
I read your heartfelt editorial in the last issue of WDJ, and felt moved to thank you for the work you’ve been doing.
It was the January 1999 issue that put Eddie’s Wheels for Pets on the map. You published my letter about our budding canine wheelchair business, and from then on it’s been history. One of your subscribers formed an online support group for people with dogs who have degenerative myelopathy, which alone must have generated 100 orders over the course of the next year. In the first quarter of this year, we will have built as many carts as we built in our first two years in business. We have representatives in Japan and the U.K. and have sold carts in Greenland, Tasmania, and Brunei.
I like to think that we are all part of a new consciousness in acknowledging the responsibility we have toward our animal companions. When my Doberman, Hardy, became quadriplegic a couple of years ago due to severe Wobblers, we cured her without surgery, with network chiropractic, acupuncture, neck immobillization, and nutritional supplements. My vets thought I was crazy not to euthanize her, but she was willing to try, and recovered totally after 12 weeks down. From her we learned all about Wobblers, how to build carts for dogs with weak front legs, cervical spine injuries, and front leg paralysis.
We recently rescued our fourth Dobie, a female found emaciated, infected, and suffering with mammary tumors. I followed your nutritional guidelines to build her up as quickly as possible. My other two dogs totally accepted her since everyone’s diets improved dramatically with her arrival into the household! Five months later, Autumn is totally healed and healthy, bounding through the snow.
Thanks again for all you do to help all of us be the kind of guardians and friends that our dogs deserve.
-Leslie Grinnell, Eddie’s Wheels
Shelburne Falls, MA
(888) 211-2700 or www.eddieswheels.com