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What’s In A Name?

Why pet food industry lobbyists spend small fortunes to influence regulators about the definition of chicken.

The Ancestral Dog Food Diet

Dog food as we know it today – that is, either crumbly bits of kibble packaged in bags and boxes or gloopy meat-based concoctions sealed into cans – was invented in 1860. Think about that for a moment. Our great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents raised dogs completely without the benefit of Purina. Before 1860, no one poured a pile of chow from a bag marked, Dog." Everyone who had a dog knew what dogs ate and how to feed them. "

Raw Meat-Based Dog Food Diets

There are some very high-profile illnesses that can result from handling raw meat – scarifying things like E. coli, salmonella, and trichinella. The mere idea of these threats prevents many people interested in “raw feeding” from giving this type of highly beneficial diet a try. So, we’re going to demystify everything that could go wrong with raw meat (but probably won’t). We’ll describe some horrible diseases, and how they would affect a person who got them, and how they would affect a dog.

Finding The Best Dog Foods on The Market

The maker of Health Food For Dogs, Breeder’s Choice of Irwindale, California, has a much better food on the market: Pinnacle, one of our favorite foods. Despite the optimistic name and cold claims on the front label (“Finest Meats & Grains . . . Nutritionally Superior”) this entry falls somewhere in the middle of their offerings in terms of quality; they have better, they have worse. We far prefer the use of chicken meal to their mixed ingredient “poultry meal,” especially as a number one ingredient, but appreciate the use of lamb meal and fish meal to offer a rounded complement of amino acids.

Veggies Yes, Onions No

Too many onions can cause a condition called “Heinz body anemia” in dogs, and though it actually takes quite a whopping dose of onions to cause harm, they are not recommended for dogs in any amount. An editing error saw the inclusion of onions on the list of vegetables that can be added to a dog’s diet. We apologize for the error. Dr. Richard Pitcairn states that chopped parsley, alfalfa sprouts, finely grated carrots, and finely grated zucchini are dogs’ favorite raw vegetables, and corn, peas, green beans, and broccoli are best fed cooked.

Benefits of BARF Raw Food Diet

Recently, I had the great fortune to meet Dr. Ian Billinghurst, who may be described as the modern father of the “bones and raw food” diet for dogs. Dr. Billinghurst was kind enough to take time away from a vacation in San Francisco to talk over lunch. I had a lot of questions for the Australian veterinarian, given that I had just finished editing the article about feeding bones that appears on the previous pages. Dr. Billinghurst was patient, helpful, and full of encouragement for me and all other dog owners who are “sitting on the fence” of the bones issue.

Toxins That Can Arise in Dry Dog Food

For those of you just coming on board: In the July 2000 issue, we published an article called Hidden Killer in Dog Food." The article was inspired by a "case history" we received from a reader who had been through a harrowing experience with her dog. It took the reader several months – and a small fortune – to determine that the sudden onset of very strange and serious neurological problems with her dog was caused by a naturally occurring toxin in her dog's food. As we stated in that article

Hidden Killers in Dog Food

I own a beautiful German Shepherd named Xeus. He comes from very well-known, healthy, wonderful lines. Xeus is sound, has personality galore and a wonderful temperament – he’s just an all-around great German Shepherd. One Saturday in late June 1999, a really nice, hot summer day, my entire family was hanging out in our back yard, enjoying our pool, as we watched Xeus enjoy his kiddie pool. All of a sudden, Xeus jumped out of his wading pool and made a bee-line for the house. I watched him go in, thinking he was just looking for another toy to bring out, but he didn’t come back out.

When Feeding a Raw Diet Use Safe Meat Handling Practices

One of the greatest concerns many people have about switching their dogs to a raw diet is the fear of bacterial infection, either in themselves or their pets. News reports of people dying from E. coli and salmonella poisoning have no doubt fanned the flames of that fear. But most people who have successfully transitioned their dogs to a raw diet report no problems are delighted with their dogs’ health and appearance. The secret, advocates say, is in good food handling practices. Dog owners who neglect safe handling techniques are certainly more at risk of infection from any pathogens (a list of the usual suspects is discussed in great detail in “What Evil Lurks Within,” page 9) that happen to be present in raw meat. This is especially true of children, whose immune systems are immature and inexperienced, and people with compromised immune systems. But keeping your meat safe and your kitchen clean is not exactly rocket science, folks! Anyone can learn to do it.

Natural Balance Dog Food

We selected Natural Balance as a Top Dry Food in our February 2000 issue, but the food was recently reformulated and bears almost no resemblance to its former self. This incarnation is very impressive. The food now has three major protein sources – chicken (appearing first on the list of ingredients), duck (number third), and lamb meal (fourth), providing a nice complement of amino acids. The makers have also omitted corn, soy, wheat, eggs, white rice, dairy products, and sunflower oil from the food, in an effort to avoid many ingredients that allergic dogs have problems with. Like many companies jumping on the nutraceutical bandwagon, NB has included glucosamine (beneficial for arthritic conditions) and extra vitamin C (for general immune health) in the food. However, without any information as to the amount present in the food, there is no way to say whether the inclusion is at all beneficial.

Raw Food Diet Does the Trick

When Deanna Cuchiaro of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, set out to adopt an Irish Setter, she had no idea the rescue would change her entire perspective on animal health care. Cuchiaro already had one Irish Setter, Brandy, who had recently turned 10, and she wanted to get another so that Brandy could help pass his positive influence around the house to the newcomer. She considered getting a puppy, but decided to adopt a rescue dog from the Irish Setter Club of Central Connecticut rescue program. She met representatives of the rescue group at a local Irish Setter show who told her there was a large two-year-old male Setter available for adoption.

When it Comes to Dog Food – What Does the Term “Natural” Really Mean?

Maybe it’s partially our fault, but the word “natural” is getting a lot of exposure on dog food labels these days. The problem is, it doesn’t mean anything in particular; there is no official definition of the word. It just sounds good, and companies like Pet Products Plus, Inc., makers of Sensible Choice, like to use it a lot. A bright yellow banner on the front of the bag says, “100% All Natural.” And the back of the label explains, “Sensible Choice dog foods are all-natural products. . . In other words, if it’s not found in nature, you won’t find it in Sensible Choice.” But that just doesn’t explain something like “natural flavor,” the sixth ingredient listed on the label of the Sensible Choice Lamb and Rice food. Natural what flavor?

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