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View Full Version : THE PET FOOD INDUSTRY AND YOUR PETS HEALTH (vol 1)


WalterNY
February 8th 04, 04:21 PM
There is a parallel to humans and pets in the area of nutrition. Not
all of these parallels are good for you or your pet. Here is a look
at how evolution got us here, what happens when you go against
evolutionary norms, and a look at how science related to dog nutrition
works.

For several million years, humans existed on a diet of animals and
vegetation. It was only with the advent of agriculture 10,000 years
ago (a fraction of a second in evolutionary time) that humans began
ingesting large amounts of sugar and starch in the form of grains (and
potatoes) into their diets. In fact the first appearance of milling
stones was in the Middle East roughly 10-15,000 years ago. These early
milling stones were likely used to grind wild wheat which grew
naturally in certain areas of the Middle East. Wheat was first
domesticated in the Middle East about 10,000 years ago and slowly
spread to Europe by about 5,000 years ago. Rice was domesticated
approximately 7,000 years ago in SE Asia, India and China, and maize
(corn) was domesticated in Mexico and Central America roughly 7,000
years ago. Consequently, diets high in carbohydrate derived from
cereal grains were not part of the human evolutionary experience until
only quite recently in terms of evolutionary development. This is one
of the reasons why so many folks have intolerances to grains which
surface as allergies, intestinal problems, and depression. The
reason for all the problems with grains in humans is because the human
genome has changed relatively little in the past 40,000 years since
the appearance of behaviorally modern humans, and as a result our
nutritional requirements remain almost identical to those requirements
which were originally selected for stone age humans living before the
advent of agriculture.

The fact is that 99.99% of our genes were formed before the advent of
agriculture. In biological terms, our bodies needs in the area of
nutrition are still those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Fossil
records indicate that early farmers compared to their hunter-gatherer
predecessors had a myriad of negative changes as a result of the
change of diet. They had a characteristic reduction in stature, an
increase in infant mortality, a reduction in life span, an increased
incidence of infectious diseases, an increase in iron deficiency
anemia, an increased incidence of such disorders as osteomalacia
(softening of the bones from a loss of the mineral calcium) porotic
hyperostosis (a bone mineral density disorder), a niacin deficiency
called pellagra, and an increase in the number of dental caries and
enamel defects. An example of a society that demonstrates just how
bad the switch to grain dependant diets were the American Indians. In
the published work "Porotic hyperostosis in a marine-dependent
California Indian population. " ( Walker PL Am J Phys Anthropol. 1986
Mar;69(3):345-54) we see such an example. In the paper the author
states "A maize-based iron- and protein-deficient diet is commonly
cited as the most important cause of porotic hyperostosis (bone
density disorders) among American Indian agriculturalists." The
science also shows us what a grain based diet did to humans in the
short run during the depression of the 30's. Pellagra ( a niacin
deficiency) afflicted many Southern populations during the
depression. Pellegra is a disease that affects the nervous system
and the digestive system. The effects of pellegra are commonly
referred to as the three D's: dementia, diarrhea and dermatitis. All
of these conditions have become prevalent in both human and pet
populations today. Could there be a relationship to the heavy grain
based diets humans and our pets consume? There's more.

To understand how grains have adversely affected human and pet
populations I go back to the understanding that contemporary humans
have not suddenly evolved mechanisms to incorporate the high
carbohydrates from starch- and sugar-rich foods into their diet. In
short, we are consuming far too much bread, cereal, pasta, corn (a
grain, not a vegetable), rice, potatoes and Twinkie snack cakes, with
very grave consequences to our health. Making matters worse, most of
these carbohydrates we consume come in the form of processed food.
That 65% of Americans are overweight, and 27% clinically obese, in a
nation addicted to sesame seed buns for that hamburger, with a side of
French fries and a Coke, is no coincidence. It is not the fat in the
foods we eat but, far more, the excess carbohydrates from our starch-
and sugar-loaded diet that is making people fat and unhealthy, and
leading to epidemic levels of a host of diseases such as diabetes. We
all know that dogs have been our sidekicks for the last 10,000-12,000
years savaging what we eat. In fact science now theorizes that it was
our garbage dumps and the accessibility to food that helped make the
domestic dog what he is today. And cats who originally developed in
deserts and ate complete diets of protein have even less of a design
for eating and properly assimilating grains, yet look at nine out of
ten bags of cat food and notice that there is little to no meat
sources of protein only high-scratch grain laden ingredient lists.

What anthropologist such as Sara Johnson, Ph.D. Of The California
State University at Fullerton teach budding anthropologists in such
courses as "Culture and Nutrition"¬* is the fact that societies that
were more like our ancestors (hunter gatherers) had longer life
expectancies and less disease than those societies that relied on
grains such as corn as staples in their diets. In fact anthropologists
like Ms. Johnson teach students that early agriculture did not bring
about increases in health, but rather the opposite. It has only been
in the past 100 years or so with the advent of high tech, mechanized
farming and animal husbandry that the trend has changed. Why? And more
importantly, is that increase in health really an increase or a
band-aid?

One thing we do know about humans is that when their caloric intake of
cereal grains approaches 70% their health decrease greatly. Is it no
wonder that in our processed world where grain is in most everything
you buy in a box, that disease in humans has grown exponentially? We
know that too many carbohydrates cause weight gain in humans. We also
know that simple sugars and starches which are prevalent in our diet
cause diabetes. And we know that those same sugars are the fuels that
drive cancer growth. Isn't it interesting that our pets are suddenly
sharing the same statistical increases in their overall weights,
diseases and cancers as humans? Have you noticed the ingredient list
of a can of dog food these days? If you do, you'll see that pet food
manufacturers have made entire ingredient lists from grain with little
meat, a natural component of human and of dog diets for the last
40,000 years. How did pet food manufacturers do this to both dogs and
cats? How did they switch to grain based diets for dogs? And at what
cost?

Perhaps some of you are old enough to remember such introductions to
the processed breakfast as Quisp cereal, puffed rice, and Sugar Pops.
All of these new fangled cereals came into existence in the 1970's.
And all of these cereals presented grains in shapes and configurations
that did not exist prior to their introduction. Prior to that time,
cereals were mostly whole grains and looked like grains, not like
puffed wheat or shaped like green clovers. It was the invention of the
grain extruder changed the way you and your dog eat food today.

Before someone invented the extruder pets had to be fed the only food
that they could naturally biologically assimilate, meat proteins. If
you don't know, an extruder is the huge, expensive piece of equipment
that uses steam and high pressure to force ground ingredients through
a tiny orifice.¬*¬*When enough heat, pressure and steam are used, the
starch molecule in the grain is broken down (it is gelatinized) and it
becomes digestible. Obviously it is not a natural way of making a food
'good' for a dog, but for a manufacture it meant less overhead and
more profit.

Before the invention of the extruder in the late sixties and it's mass
production in the early seventies, you wanted to feed a dog or cat
grains in their diet they had to be cooked at very high temperatures
and for long periods to the point of mush and even then dogs and cats
could not assimilate them well. This was not profitable for pet food
manufacturers and they discovered that dogs and cats simply did not
get the proper nutrition form these inferior ingredients. But once we
figured out how to extrude grain, we cheated nature and made it
possible for us and our pets to digest a substance that they
themselves, like humans can not digest in it's natural state. You know
what I mean if you eat a cob of corn on a summer day. A day later
you'll notice it comes out of you just as it went in. The reason is
twofold, we don't have enough of the enzymes necessary to break down
these grain products. If we were designed to break down grains very
simply, we would have the proper means to digest them raw. In fact any
food you can eat raw and digest is a food source that you were
naturally designed to eat. You see in nature grains need to protect
the seed. With the elements mother nature doesn't want that grain to
spout at the wrong time. So it encases that grain in a protective cell
and gives that grain chemical enzyme inhibitors so that even when that
grain falls into the ground, it doesn't sprout until it's had time to
get settled in the soil. The high pressure extruder broke down the
grain enough for us and our pets to better assimilate the nutritional
aspects of grain that we were not designed for.


Did you know that to this day there is limited science related to the
digestion of grains in pets? What is out there is science funded near
entirely by feed food companies to demonstrate that given the right
conditions, dogs and cats 'seem' to be able to digest grains. I say
'seem' for two reasons. Much of the science isn't what is called in
vivo but in vitro. In vivo means that it occurs naturally in an animal
and in vitro means it occurs in a test tube and we assume that under
the same conditions in the body, the same or similar results would
occur. And the science that does actually test animals does so in
experiments of only 2 to 6 animals, for short durations of days to a
week. As a pet companion, is is safe to say your pet acts just like
every other pet out there? In addition these experiments don't look
at the whole animal but only the effects in the places in the animal
that they deem important to the experiment. In other words, when they
do a lot of these tests on digestion for instance, they don't measure
what happens to the assimilated food, or follow-up with long-term work
looking at what happens to feeding a food source over time. In many
cases, as I'll show you they simply stick a tube in an animal, feed it
and see what drips out of the tube and call that digestion. Let me
quote some of the limited science related to grains and digestion in
pets to show you how little fact there is and how much guessing and
supposition there is.

Take the published paper "The Use of Sorghum and Corn as Alternatives
to Rice in Dog Foods". This was funded by a pet food company as most
all this research on how our pets digest food is. And remember one
important fact, it was done in 2002. In this paper the following is
stated; "Sorghum and corn are known to contain starch that is less
digestible in the intestinal tract because of a strong starch-protein
matrix ". What that says to me is if your dogs diet is composed mostly
of corn and sorghum it is going to take a lot more science and
cheating of your dogs system in order to make that unnatural food more
digestible by your dog. In fact because proteins sources and
carbohydrate sources are not naturally eaten together by a dog or cat
in the wild, the combination of starches and proteins actually
disturbs the natural process of assimilation. This is even true for
humans.

Prior to us sitting down at a table to eat our meat and potatoes
(which in evolutionary times is far less than a blink of the eye),
humans hunted and gathered food sources; hence the term I used before
of "hunter/gatherers". We didn't catch a wild animal and wait till
someone gathered berries and vegetables so we could have a meal.
Rather we either caught something and ate it, or some other time
during the day we discovered berries or grasses and ate them by
themselves. This is reflected today in how our digestive system works
and how the mixture of certain starches with protein crates improper
assimilation of those ingredients in our digestive system. The authors
go on to say this; " the extrusion process involved in the manufacture
of dog food is likely to gelatinize the starch and make it more
digestible". Likely, as in someone asking you to marry them and their
response is "likely". It is certainly not a conclusion but an
assumption, based on an educated guess no less, but an assumption. The
authors can not use a more definitive term because they based that
statement on another piece of peer review science which makes it clear
that we simply do not have an answer, only an educated guess. In fact
let's look at the paper I am referring to, It is titled "Chemical
changes during extrusion cooking. Recent advances." (Camire ME, Adv
Exp Med Biol. 1998;434:109-21). Want to read something scary? Lets
quote the authors abstract;

"Cooking extruders process a variety of foods, feeds, and industrial
materials. Proteins, starches, and non-starch polysaccharides can
fragment, creating reactive molecules that may form new linkages not
found in nature."

Wow!! To think that all that processed grain you and your pets are
eating might be introducing molecules into your body that don't even
exist naturally is scary. Scary because we do not know how the body
will react to these molecules. Could they trigger cancers? What effect
do they have on digestion? What happens when such unnatural molecules
enter our bodies?

One line in this published paper really says it all:

"Little is known about the effects of extrusion parameters on
phytochemical bioavailability and stability"

There you have it folks. All the science on the methods used in
extrusion, the method that makes up 60%-80% of the ingredients in your
pets food (if you are feeding commercial diets) has not a single bit
of science that actually knows if it is actually good for your pet or
for you for that matter.

Let's take a look at some more of the science related to grains and
your pet. This time we'll look at a published paper that was sponsored
by a pet food manufacture. IAMs sponsored this study. We'll be
referring to "Evaluation of Selected High-Starch Flours as Ingredients
in Canine Diets by S. M. Murray, G. C. Fahey, Jr.*, N. R. Merchen, G.
D. Sunvold‚Ä*, and G. A. Reinhart.

The authors begin by admitting the obvious:

"Cereal grains represent 30 to 60% of the [ingredients] of many
companion animal diets. Once incorporated into a diet, the starch
component of these grains can provide an excellent source of [energy].
"

Already two sentences into the paper we see a problem:

"However, crystallinity and form of starch are variable and can cause
incomplete digestion within the gastrointestinal tract."

And a few sentences later we once again see how little is actually
known about the grain-based diets we feed our pets.

"the difference in utilization and digestion of the starch component
of cereal grains when incorporated into the diets of dogs has not been
extensively researched, even though the majority of dog diets in the
United States are extruded as part of their preparation."

So even though pet manufacturers have jumped completely on the
grain-based diet, the science itself admits that they really have
little clue as to what all this means in terms of supplying nutrition
to your dog and cat and more importantly, long-term health.

In this experiment the purpose as the authors state is :

"the majority of the objectives of this study were 1) to quantify the
amounts of starch fractions in cereal flours alone and as part of an
extruded dog diet and 2) to determine the effects of selected cereal
flours on nutrient intakes, digestion before the terminal ileum, and
total tract digestibilities by dogs."

In other words, we want to see which grains flours seem to be digested
best by a dog.

They did this experiment with six unfortunate dogs. I say unfortunate
because when the experiment was over the dogs were killed. They used
a process called "ileal cannula". A cannula is a T-shaped device made
of PVC tubing that is implanted in a small hole that they cut into a
living dogs small intestine. They stick the tube in the hole and sew
it up. Now anything that passes through the small intestine comes out
the tube instead of the dog naturally and allows scientists to see if
what goes in the mouth comes out the intestine. This site in a dog is
called ileal digesta. In the end this is a very raw and incomplete
method of seeing if something is digestible by a dog. Once again we
see that science doesn't look at the entire process but merely a stop
in that trip which it bases it's assumptions on.

In addition as the science itself admits this method of testing has
serious problem in terms of producing authentic results. The presence
of the microbes in the digestive tract complicates the interpretation
of total tract digestibility values, as nearly 50% of fecal matter
excreted is composed of these microbes. Thus, total tract
digestibility measurements do not differentiate between undigested
nutrients in the food and substances produced by the bacteria in the
large bowel. In other words a lot of interpretation and supposition
is needed.

We know that another method of measuring digestibility called the
"fecal digestibility method" results in higher apparent digestibility
estimates compared to those of the ileal digestibility method but the
folks at IAMs only need to show the appearance of digestibility so
this method works perfectly fine for them. In end they measured how
much dry matter went in and how much matter came out of the tube. And
there you have the experiment. From that they determined that these
six dogs could eat grain flour and between 1.6% and 83% (depending on
the type of grain used) dripped out of the tube reflecting what they
consider proper digestion of starch. Or said in their own words:

"Any of several flour sources tested
may be used in dog diets without large negative effects on digestion
at either the terminal ileum or in the total gastrointestinal tract."


So we have a simple experiment of six dogs and from that a supposition
which says if we put some grain in a dog, it passes through their
system and seems to be digested. Of course they don't measure what is
absorbed by the dog and what the effects of this absorption are or how
that effects the dogs in the long term. In fact this test was one week
week in duration. That is certainly no measure of feeding a dog over
the lifetime of the animal.

I equate such an experiment to putting laundry detergent in a washing
machine full of water. I could do an experiment to see what that
detergent does to the dirt and grime in the fabric, or I could simply
say that when I put the powder in, it dissolves so I can assume it is
working on removing the dirt and grime from the cloths. See how little
the science knows or cares to explore? This is one of the problems
with such science. By it's own nature it is biased. Dogs don't walk
the earth with tubes sticking out of them. Rather digestion is a
complex equation and looking at one simply point in that route is not
a determination of how well a dog digests food, nor a reliable method
at looking at how well dogs digest food over the lifetime and what the
long-term nutritional outcome is. It's like your city transportation
system measuring how many buses are on time at only one stop and using
that number to tell you how reliable the entire system is. This is the
limitations of science that doesn't look at the entire animal only
what they need to in order to prove their point.

Remember the science I mentioned before "The Use of Sorghum and Corn
as Alternatives to Rice in Dog Foods"? It turns out that even when
results of tests show things you might want to question, it matters
little. As the authors state in that paper:


"The nutrient digestibility's of the corn and sorghum diets were lower
compared with that of the rice diet. "

So while rice was digested well, corn was not digested as well. Okay
so far. We can assume that rice is the better of the three.

"Because fecal quality is one of the most important factors by which
dog owners judge the quality of a dog food, and the nutrient
digestibility results were above the accepted industry standard,
extruded sorghum and corn are good alternatives to rice as the primary
cereal grain in dog foods."

So even though one grain was actually digested better, because
consumers like certain types of stool, we suggest another type. Sure
our baselines for nutrient percentages are met but I want to know if
those baselines are an accurate measurement for all dogs and not
averages. We all know form our pets that they are not all alike. This
is a problem with the pet food industry, it looks at pets as all the
same reacting all the same way. Let me ask you, is your pet like all
the others in the way it eats and what it likes? I want to know that
you use ingredients that don't just look good as poop, but are giving
my dog or cat all more nutrition than you deem necessary. I want all
not just some. And I want to know it's best for my pet not everyone
else's because I can tell you that my pet does not like things like
every other pet.

The real question one asks is all of this unnatural way of making a
food source digestible by a pet really good for a pet over it's
lifetime. There is no published science that has ever been done since
the invention of the extruder that proves that creating a grain based
diet is healthy for the life of a pet. Only small equations that are
part of the big picture have been looked at. In fact there is no
published science related to pets and nutrition that looks at feeding
and the outcome that lasts more than a month. The only testing
required of a food company chooses to follow AAFCO guidelines is a
simple test that feeds a pet a food source and sees if after a short
period of time that pet has maintained its weight. So in effect we
really know nothing about what feeding our pets a biologically
unnatural food source does to them. We do know what grains do to
humans though. It is estimated that one in two hundred people have
negative reactions to grains. Those reactions can be in the form of
allergies, skin problems, gastric problems, and immune response
problems. Does this sound familiar to what affects our dogs today?

Last year I did extensive work looking up information about dog
records pre 1900. I went back as far as 1710. I looked at literature
about people and their dogs, records, diaries, biographies, and
anything I could find relating to the birth and death of dogs. In
total I found some 700 references to the birth and death of specific
dogs, from George Washington's animals to breeders of the time, What I
found was that dogs back then (prior to the processed pet food age)
who lived comfortable lives with humans lived nearly twice as long as
dogs do today. I found records of dogs living well into their
twenties. The longest living dog I could find on record was an
Australian Cattle Dog that lived to the age of 29. He was born in
1971. What I found that interested me was that dogs of the time were
fed mostly remains of human meals composed of fresh meats, and some
vegetables and some whole cooked grains. The key to 'grains' is 'the
word some' as in quantity and not to the degree today where over 90%
of the energy in a can of pet food is from a starch source.

How long do our pets live today? What could be the difference in the
fact that companion animals lived longer lives in the past? Sure
modern medicine has increased the quality of life after the
infiltration of disease, but what about the time when disease in pets
wasn't as prevalent as it is today. Today our pets are developing the
same diseases as we do, diseases that simply did not exist in pets
thirty and forty years ago.

We have a movement in this country that is begging us to ask questions
about the relationship to how our pets are fed and how their health is
related. Many folks have found that feeding a natural home-cooked meal
has reversed many of the problems our cats and dogs face. From skin
disorders, to diabetes, to cancers, it is clear from thousands of
folks who speak of tremendous changes in their dogs overall health and
the recent changes in the way many individual veterinarians think in
regards to processed foods and their negative effects on health that
the source of food clearly makes a difference.

The response by the pet food industry has been to fund science that
shows feeding a pet a home-cooked meals is not only wrong but
dangerous. These biased, clearly political pieces of 'science' have
huge gaps in logic and in scientific method. In fact may vets who now
suggest home-cooked diets say this science is clearly an attempt by
the pet food industry at maintaining market share. I personally do not
suggest a home-cooked diet without the pet companion doing their
homework. You could make a pet food at home that is not a complete and
balanced nutrition so a bit of study of the many sources of education
regarding home cooked meals is in order. Today there are many books
and websites dedicated to home cooked meals if you are interested.

What is clear from the recent change by many pet companions to home
cooked diets is that their pets health improved dramatically once
processed pet food was removed from their diets and the pets are fed a
diet that is not processed and grain based. One can not ignore these
findings as they are being repeated over and over all around the world
through pet companions switching to home cooked meals. I could easily
relate it to your diet. Eat a Mediterranean style diet, high in
natural food sources and low in processed food and you will not suffer
the same instances of disease as do societies that eat mostly
processed food.

What this all says is says is clear, pet food manufacturers need to
begin to change the way they produce food. We need to do something to
make them accountable for what they produce. It's not good enough for
them to say a group of nutritional experts has designed their lines of
pet food or that their food is veterinarian approved. A nutritionist
designs the food served in hospitals too and have you ever seen now
bad the diet usually is? There have even been articles published
showing how improper many of the diets found in hospitals are, and
those diets are put together by licensed dietary nutritionists. We
need accountability form the pet food industry . We need government
regulation of the industry, not the self-policing policies that exist
now, and we need consumer education so that they will realize just
what is wrong with the pet food industry. I hope this first
exploration which will be one of many educate you as to what is really
going on when it comes to your pet and processed pet food.

Based on using the human model for disease we can certainly see a
relationship to the unnatural consumption of grains in dogs to the
increases in the instances of diseases that parallel human consumption
of too many carbohydrates. Our goal is simple, education. Our agenda
is also simple. We serve to gain noting monetarily in our stand. As
pet companions who have seen the incredible differences in the health
of our pets after eliminating high-grain processed foods form our pets
diets, we are dumbfounded that most consumers are not aware of how
little the pet food industry is concerned about your animals health,
but rather, the cost of making a can of pet food.

Education is the first step. A change in the industry will be second.
There should be no need in the world for pet companions to have to
switch to producing their own food at home, but the trend is growing
exponentially. We need pet food manufacturers to change their ways and
to produce pet foods that are more biologically correct for our pets
and not some concoction that takes a team of scientists, high tech
machines, and vitamin enrichment to produce.

mooninpappa
February 22nd 04, 10:03 AM
go on Walt, very well written and informative.

mooninpappa
February 22nd 04, 10:03 AM
go on Walt, very well written and informative.