How Nutritionism Corrupts Commercial Dog Food


Misleading Dog Food Consumers

Today, many pet food manufacturers use low quality agricultural by-products, slaughterhouse waste, toxic preservatives and less meat to produce dog food.

Yet these same companies promote their inferior products using deceptive packaging and claims their foods have been designed by experts to be complete replacements for a dog’s natural diet.

Welcome to what best-selling author Michael Pollan1 refers to as the Age of Nutritionism.

What Is Nutritionism?

Unlike nutrition, nutritionism is not a science. It’s an ideology. A religion-like philosophy, complete with believers who blindly follow each other off a cliff of common sense.

Nutritionism is an ideology that includes the misguided belief that scientists can engineer a food that’s better than that of Mother Nature

Followers of nutritionism believe the source and condition of the ingredients used to make any pet food have nothing to do with the quality of the finished product.

They insist that so long as the numbers and nutrient content of those ingredients meet certain criteria, a kibble can be designed to be a perfect replacement for fresh, real food.

Kibble — Better Than Nature?

But how can a factory-made food pellet be superior to a dog’s natural diet?

To begin to see the questionable science of nutritionism, let’s compare the nutrient content of a dog’s natural ancestral diet2 with a typical dry dog food.3


Notice the dramatically higher carbohydrate content of the kibble compared to a dog’s natural ancestral diet.

And the lower protein and fat content, too.

What’s more, pet food carbohydrates are frequently sourced from nutritionally empty cereal grains, menu items a dog’s ancestors would never have naturally consumed.

It looks like the pet food industry may have taken advantage of the dog’s remarkable ability to survive on just about anything.

Why a Protein Source Does Matter

Many nutritionists insist that protein is simply protein. And that it makes no difference from where that protein is sourced.

Yet to a dog, meat-based protein possesses a higher digestibility than plant-based protein.4

And animal protein has a higher biological value, too.

Dogs Eat Food — Not Nutrients

Today, thanks to nutritionism, instead of discussing food, pet food designers talk about nutrients. But when taken away from their whole food source, nutrients can behave differently.

For example, in humans, researchers have long observed that fresh fruits and vegetables can bestow a notable anti-cancer effect.

Yet when subjects are fed isolated vitamin supplements, scientists have been unable to consistently reproduce the same protective effect conferred by the whole food.

Why is this so? Why does whole food offer better health benefits than their component nutrients?

Do individual nutrients interact with each other in some unknown synergistic way?

Are the more favorable health effects of whole food related to the presence of other minor nutrients. Like enzymes or bioflavonoids?

Or to some other yet undiscovered micro-nutrient?

The Problems with
Many Commercial Dog Foods

Compared to fresh whole food, kibbles can frequently be…

The Bottom Line

If you believe — like I — there’s something inherently wrong with using cereal mill rejects, floor sweepings, fatty meats, toxic preservatives and vegetable oil to make dog food, then here are a few things you can do to improve your dog’s meals…

  • Practice diet rotation
  • Favor meat-rich dog foods
  • Avoid carbohydrate-heavy formulations
  • Use canned or fresh meat toppers mixed with kibble
  • Reject recipes spiked with plant-based meat substitutes
  • Choose dog foods that mimic a dog’s natural ancestral diet

And don’t be an unquestioning follower of the cult of nutritionism.

Simply use your logic and common sense to see the shortcomings of this flawed philosophy.

As one of our blogging regulars used to say, it’s food — not rocket science.


  1. Michael Pollan, “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto”, The Penguin Press, 2008, New York
  2. Brown S., Taylor B., “See Spot Live Longer”, 2007 Creekobear Press, Eugene, OR USA, pp 51-61
  3. National Research Council, National Academy of Science, “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats”, 2006 Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, p 317
  4. K Neirinck et al, “Amino Acid Composition and Digestibility of Four Protein Sources for Dogs”, Veterinary Faculty, State University, Belgium, 1991, Journal of Nutrition, 121:11 Suppl S64-S65
  • Pattyvaughn

    I really think you should. Subtitle it “Hubris.” Even if you edit out the unpleasant connection, it is still a real eye opener about the arrogance of the pet food industry and what they are doing to our pets, if we don’t educate ourselves.

  • Thanks, Patty. I had forgotten all about this unpleasant exchange dating back a couple of years ago.

    Maybe we can use this covert vet’s insensitive remarks and my response to him as the theme for a future editorial.

    Thanks again for the reminder.

  • Pattyvaughn

    I know this is old, but I just found it. Parts of it should be required reading before getting a dog. With a little editing, it should be it’s own article. I enjoyed reading about the pet food industry’s hubris.

  • Wolfgang

    Well, think again Steven……A wolf in the wild has to fight for their food and fend themselves against the elements of nature, no visits to the vet when they are sick. And you are comparing this to a domestic pet dog that gets fed and watered. Kept warm when its cold outside and vet visits when necessary? Therefore eating fresh meat is not the reason why wolves in the wild live shorter lives than pet-dogs, plain common- sense! BTW, ARE YOU A PRODUCER OF DOG FOOD & WANT TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS?

  • Toxed2loss

    GFETE, naw Mikey! You are the best darn doggie daddy/pally Wally! Jubles is one lucky girl!!

  • Mike P

    Thanks Toxi I knew I could count on you for advice.I now have my plan in place.Your the best…

  • Toxed2loss

    Hey Mikey!
    Your doing a great job, and it shows! Your good on the enzymes and I’d brobablymgive half the coconut oil at the same rate. 🙂 Instead of a tablespoon, 1 – 2 teaspoons. The rest looks good. But I’d defer to Shawna, if she recommends anything different. Especially concerning balancing omega 6 & 3s.

  • Mike P

    I have recently added Beckers enzymes and now have started to add organic unrefined coconut oil.I always add a topper to her dry dog food.The only commercial topper is tripett tripe.The other toppers are sardines,fresh meat,liver,pureed veggies.I  lightly cook her meat and eggs and now am using coconut oil instead of water.Can anyone help me on how to use the coconut oil and enzymes?My plan was to cook twice a week with coconut oil and give a table spoon of the oil twice a week after meals.The enzymes twice a week with her cooked meals and add the enzymes twice a week to a table spoon of yogurt 4 hours after her meal.Is this a good plan or am I being an idiot and screwing her diet up? I also alternate fish oil and tumeric every day and milk thistle twice a week.Comments anyone??

  • Hi Sharon… Between the two, I prefer wet raw better than dehydrated. However, when you’re traveling or lack refrigeration, dehydrated makes a great choice. Hope this helps.

  • Sharon

    What are your thoughts on the dehydrated products you buy and just add water and your own meat such as chicken, beef, turkey, etc.


  • Tim

    This article annoys me greatly. Why? Because I agree with the message of the article but hate the fact that the author hands “Nutritionism” over to the big brand multi-national companies producing inferior products. Nutritionism can (and should) encapsulate everything the author want to see in a modern kibble (or any other food with some level of processing), but instead it’s killed off.

  • And I came across this. Maybe when people pat about their pets dermitis and paw licking (etc.) the first question should be about their vaccination schedule?

    “When a perfectly healthy individual is given viruses that cause illness, the animal is going to manifest illness-related symptoms.  This healthy individual is asked to maintain a low-level stimulation of a state of distemper, a low level state of parvo, a low level state of rabies, and so on.  As long as you are in a low level state of illness you are not in a high level state of health.  Therefore, the vaccines provide protection by keeping the body in a diseased state of health.  Often the animal will not manifest the illness it is vaccinated for, at least not in its acute form, but it will manifest in other conditions.  Usually these conditions are inherited weaknesses. 
    Chronic symptoms look very much like the acute illnesses but they are often not life-threatening unless allowed to continue for years and years.

    For distemper we often see:

           Watery fluid dripping from the nose
           Conjunctivitis, eye discharge, entropion
           Chronic gastritis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, appetite disorders
           Recurrent diarrhea
           Sensitivity to food with resultant diarrhea
           Epilepsy, rear leg paralysis, spondylitis
           Lip fold dermatitis
           Excessive licking of feet, eruptions between the toes, allergies
           Kennel cough, chronic bronchitis
           Chronic skin eruptions, especially lower half of body
           Failure to thrive, abnormally thin

    For rabies we often see:

           Restless nature, suspicion of others, aggression to animals and people
           Changes in behavior:  aloofness, unaffectionate, desire to roam, OR clingy, separation anxiety, ‘velcro dog’
           Restraining can lead to violent behavior and self-injury
           Self-mutilation, tail chewing
           Voice changes, hoarseness, excessive barking
           Chronic poor appetite, very finicky
           Paralysis of throat or tongue, sloppy eaters, drooling
           Dry eye, loss of sight, cataract
           Eating wood, stones, earth, stool
           Destructive behavior, shredding bedding
           Seizures, epilepsy, twitching
           Increased sexual desire, sexual aggression
           Irregular pulse, heart failure
           Reverse sneezing

    Some of the illnesses you are familiar with include any auto-immune disease such as lupus, red cell aplasia, auto-immune hemolytic anemia cardiomyopathies; neoplasias such as fibrosarcomas, mast cell tumors, thyroid tumors, etc.; inflammatory bowel disease, eczematous ears, any dermatological condition, warts, lipomas, poor hair coats, stomatitis, periodontal disease, thyroid disease, and the list goes on and on. 
    Now you could be wondering why I am so bold to ‘blame’ all these and more on vaccines.  The reason is simple:  I have an empirical, call it experimental lab where I visit daily and watch the animals, year after year.  In the short years of my career I have seen the incredible increase in all these illnesses, some we never even learned in vet school.  In fact, my vet school is now primarily an oncology treatment center!  This was not the case a short 20 years ago.  I have also spoken with many vets who have practiced longer than I and their response is the same.  They did not see the level of chronic illness, nor the resistant and concretized type of illnesses that we see today. ” by: Dee Blanco who is a holistic veterinarian practicing in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • Hi Shawna,

    Nice turn of conversation. 🙂 vaccines are a significant and very real vector for impaired health in our pets. Here’s a coupe of excerpts… Note the first one is on humans but multiple resources stated that adjuvants for humans are safer than for livestock…  These examples are just a peek…

    “A Glimpse into the Scary World of Vaccine Adjuvants
    By Edda West  – Published in VRAN Newsletter – Winter 2005
    Adjuvants are formulated compounds, which when combined with vaccine antigens intensify the body’s immune response.  They are used to elicit an early, high and long-lasting immune response.  “The chemical nature of adjuvants, their mode of action and their reactions (side effect) are highly variable in terms of how they affect the immune system and how serious their adverse effects are due to the resultant hyperactivation of the immune system. While adjuvants enable the use of less *antigen to achieve the desired immune response and reduce vaccine production costs, with few exceptions, adjuvants are foreign to the body and cause adverse reactions”, writes Australian scientist Viera Scheibner Ph.D,   (1)

    The most common adjuvant for human use is an aluminum salt called alum derived from aluminum hydroxide, or aluminum phosphate. A quick read of the scientific literature reveals that the neurotoxic effects of aluminum were recognized 100 years ago.  Aluminum is a neurotoxicant and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. Prior to 1980, kidney patients undergoing long term dialysis treatments often suffered dialysis encephalopathy syndrome, the result of acute intoxication by the use of an aluminium-containing dialysate. This is now avoided using modern techniques of water purification.  In preterm infants, prolonged intravenous feeding with solutions containing aluminum is associated with impaired neurologic development. Scientists speculate that aluminum neurotoxicity may be related to cell damage via free radical production, impairment of glucose metabolism, and effects on nerve signal transduction. (2) Vaccines which contain both aluminum adjuvants and mercury based preservative, greatly magnify the neurotoxic effects. (3)…”

    Immunology and Cell Biology (2004) 82, 488–496 Special Feature Vaccine adjuvants: Current state and future trends NIKOLAI PETROVSKY1 and JULIO CÉSAR AGUILAR2 1 Autoimmunity Research Unit, ANU Medical School, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2061, Australia and Vaccines Division, Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Ave. 31 e 158 y 190, Cubanacán, Apdo 6162, Ciudad, Habana, Cuba 2 Summary 

    “… In addition, alum has the potential to cause severe local and systemic side-effects including sterile abscesses, eosinophilia and myofascitis, although fortunately most of the more serious side-effects are relatively rare. There is also community concern regarding the possible role of aluminium in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. ..

    …Adverse reactions to adjuvants can be classified as local or systemic. Important local reactions include pain, local inflammation, swelling, injection site necrosis, lymphadenopathy, granulomas, ulcers and the gen- eration of sterile abscesses. Systemic reactions include nausea, fever, adjuvant arthritis, uveitis, eosinophilia, allergy, anaphylaxis, organ specific toxicity and immunotoxicity (i.e. the liberation of cytokines, immunosuppression or auto- immune diseases).22,23 Unfortunately, potent adjuvant action is often correlated with increased toxicity, as exemplified by the case of FCA which although potent is too toxic for human use…

    …Adjuvant regulatory requirements Regulations for the human use of adjuvants are far more rigorous than those applied to veterinary vaccines..

    …Quil A has been used successfully for veterinary applications. 44 It is a natural product composed of more than 23 different saponins and is generally considered too toxic for human use…”

    Anybody miss that? They’re putting known poisons in animal vaccines that are too toxic for humans! Now, take another look at the list of the known toxic effects from adjuvants that are deemed safe enough for humans!!

  • Shawna

    I don’t know if anything has been proven or disproven since the below was written in 2004 but at that time they were considering vaccines as a common cause of kidney disease in cats.

    From Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine
    “The vaccine companies are doing a great job making pure and effi cacious vaccines,” said Dr. Lappin. “However, when FVRCP vaccines are made, each dose is contaminated with just a little bit of cell culture. What we discovered recently was that cats not only develop antibodies to the viruses in the vaccine, which is our intent, but they also develop antibodies to the cell culture – a culture based on a feline kidney cell line. And that’s where we have to begin to ask some very intriguing questions. In particular, is it possible that overvaccination induces antibodies that are associated with immune-mediated feline kidney disease?”

  • Steven Andrews,

    I’ve read over the comments, twice. I am astounded by the amount of misdirection you attempt to use! I mean really? “wolves live a 1/4 of the lifespan of dogs…” did you even look that up? Both dogs and wolves have lifespans of 20 years.
    Wolves, in the wild survive about 10 years. Not bad for an animal that hunts, scavengers and fights to survive, with no veterinary intervention. Now, here’s the shameful part. Dogs live 8-12 years on average. Don’t you think if vets were doing a better job of proving medical care, recommending specie appropriate nutrition to pet owners and beneficial pest management practice, that domesticated dogs would have a dramatically longer life span? But the fact is they don’t!! That tells me there is something dramatically wrong with the standard practice of veterinary care and animal nutrition!!

    When I took an FBI course entitled “How to Tell When Anybody Else is Lying,” they had a saying, “Little Lie, Big Lie.” It means if you’ll lie over a little thing, you’ll lie on the big things… Lying by omission and inference is still lying. It makes everything you have to say suspect…

    I’d like to point out something else. For human doctors, the CDC reports that data from 2004 attributed 250,000 deaths to correctly prescribed medication, and listed ‘death by doctor’ as the fourth leading cause of death in the US. I wonder what results would turn up if they actually tabulated deaths in animals attributed to veterinarians? How about health harm from prescription drugs given to pets? You can argue about protein, +/- causing KD all you want, but there is no argument, even by pharmaceutical companies, that many routinely prescribed veterinary medicines cause KD. How many cases of KD by Rx have you omitted mentioning the cause to the pet owner? How about seizures? If you’re a vet you should know the incidence of seizure due to applying top line flea & tick control like “Advantage” or “Frontline.” Yet, vets routinely prescribe this and say nothing. Then, when the pet starts having seizures, the vet prescribes more toxic meds. Most vets never tell the pet owner that it was due to the pesticide that they prescribed. Lying by omission is still lying…

    How can you wonder why we don’t trust vets like you that wallow in their arrogance like a pig in the mire? Did you even read any of the many excellent references provided to you here with an open mind? If you would, you could learn something and become a better vet, and nutritionist.

    I am very proud of everyone here who mounted these very factual, honest defenses to your multiple fallacious charges. You could have entered this discussion, and contributed positively to it. Instead, you attempted to beat everyone into submission by misrepresenting the truth. *shaking my head from side to side* /:-(

  • Michelle

    Dr. Mike, great response to “Steven Andrews” . Consult your doctor before buying your next box of Corn Flakes. LOL 😉

  • Judy Zellers

    Steven stated that renal failure is the #2 cause of death in dogs and cats. Could that be at least in part because so many dogs and cats are being fed inferior quality, overly processed, and species-inappropriate food?

    Thanks for your excellent, objective work on this site, Mike. And thanks for your reference to “In Defense of Food.” I recommend this book to everyone who eats.

  • Marie


    My point with the cat anecdote was that just because they are fed by ME doesn’t mean they will stop hunting. Wolves, if fed by people, will not stop hunting – especially if given Ol’ Roy, as was your first example. 😉

    Digestion does indeed start with mastication, and absorption does indeed take place in the intestines! However, cats utilize this method. I utilize this method. A cow utilizes this method. The majority of vertebrates do indeed chew their food and absorb said food in their intestines! It is a process not unique to just carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores.

    Most scientific authorities would disagree with your assertion that wolves are omnivores.

  • Shawna

    Lectins in corn

    “The main reason that corn causes obesity is the lectins (antibody-sized proteins/glycoproteins) it contains directly stimulate fat production. Here is a great primer on lectins for you- . As the article describes, these lectins can do a number of things when they attach to a tissue cell in our body. One of the reactions is for the cell to duplicate or hypertrophy, which is what fat cells do in response to corn lectins. The glaring example of this is how corn feeding cattle not only fattens them up but causes them to deposit fat directly into their muscle. Do you want fat in your muscle? Absolutely not….

    Finally, corn is now being closely studied for its damaging neurological effects, especially in the autistic individual. Once again, certain lectins are capable of killing neurons. We know that gluten can do this in sensitized individuals so we really should not be surprised that corn lectins can do the same thing.”

  • Shawna

    I also wanted to mention that plant based proteins (like soy or corn gluten meal) are going to be a significant source of omega 6 fatty acids — certainly not renal friendly.. Granted certain meats (corn fed) are problematic as well. I feed exotics like buffalo and venison as well as grass finished beef. The 6:3 ratio is ideal if the information in nutrition is accurate.

    Lectins can be problematic in potato and grain proteins as well. This site is also directed to humans but holds true for our pets too. The site is run by doctors. The article is entitile
    “Lectins — A Little Known Trouble Maker
    While most of the world seems to be touting the benefits of whole grains these days, a few people are insisting that grains are not as healthy as we think.

    One of the reasons grains may be a problem in human nutrition is because they contain lectins, a class of molecules called glycoproteins (molecules that contain a protein and a sugar).

    While dietary lectins are known in the scientific and nutritional communities, most lay people and even many medical professionals don’t know about them.

    Lectins are involved in food allergies/sensitivities, inflammation and autoimmune disease, just to name a few. For instance, lectins are linked to celiac disease. Even weight gain and low energy can be linked to lectins.

    Whole grains, peanuts, kidney beans, and soybeans are high in lectins. Cow’s milk, nightshade vegetables (like potatoes and tomatoes) and some seafood also contain fairly high amounts of lectin.”

  • Shawna

    This is in humans and therefore more protein restriction but I’m interested in the amino acid comments in the quote — plant/plant or plant/animal creating more or excess amino acids for the kidneys to deal with.

    This is quoted from the Medical Dictionary.
    “Because of buildup of nitrogenous wastes from protein metabolism, dietary intake of protein may be severely limited. If any protein foods are allowed they should be of high quality; for example, eggs, milk, and cheese provide all of the essential amino acids in relatively small quantities.”

  • Shawna

    Steve Andrews,

    You wrote “I’m suggesting that HIGH protein diets, such as the ancestral diet (56% protein in this instance), is not conducive to good health in animals with renal compromise ( that is a lot of phosphorus and protein).”

    You would think. However, through personal experience, I have found that not to be true. Audrey (who is pictured in my avatar :)) as mentioned has been on high protein since weaning. I feed commercial raw, lower fat (so higher phos) diets like Bravo, Primal (before high pressure pasteurization) and premixes with meats I purchase at Trader Joe.

    I do know at some point I will have to limit her phosphorus. I’ll do so by giving higher fat meats to start and feeding lower phos foods like egg whites and tripe.

    I will admit — in addition to “quality” proteins, I checked the CDC on products I use around the house and eliminated all those that are not kidney friendly (as best could). I also give protomorphogens to help as an oral antigen. As well as nitrogen trapping as mentioned before. We haven’t had to do sub Q fluids to date either.

    Five years with the disease and Audrey’s symptoms are still only polydipsia and polyuria. Once in a while she will get halitosis. I add apple cider vinegar (in drops) to her raw food and start prebiotic acacia fiber and it clears up quickly.

    If I can do it with a dog that the Merck vet manual says shouldn’t live with the disease past age 2 (if I remember the wording correctly), I think others should be able to do it too..

    I would agree that arginine is arginine whether derived from animal or plant. My understanding however is that when combining (either animal/plant or plant/plant) and excess is more common unless carefully planned. Would you disagree with this?

    I don’t think anyone here objects to quality by-products. As a raw feeder I’ve fed liver, kidneys and other organs. As mentioned the supplements I use are derived from animals organs and glands. However, quality does come in to question. When we read data like 4D and pentobarbitol contaminated feeds — it does call into question the ethics of some manufacturers. I recently read that they are considering hydrolyzed feathers as a protein source for pet foods…??

    Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough :)…

  • Steven Andrews — I provide this website free of charge to all who care to use it. And to allow both lay and professional members of the Internet community to post their comments and express their opinions with complete freedom.

    Even covert veterinary nutritionists like you who choose to conceal their real identities (for whatever reason) from the rest of us by using fake names and bogus email addresses.

    Unlike you, and in every one of the more than 600 articles posted on this website, I always identify myself using my real name.

    Every blog, every editorial (like this one), every comment and every review on the Net is always assumed to be the opinion of the author. That’s why I was surprised when you ended your comment by saying, “You are entitled to your opinion, but you should present it as such.”

    Just the same, in my Disclaimer and Disclosure link located in the footer of every page on this website, I say:

    “The views and opinions expressed in the articles posted here are presented in good faith and are strictly my own.”

    What’s more, regarding your charge I “chose to leave this out”, I provided an active link directly to Dr. Bovee’s article which was clearly identified on its destination page as a publication of the proceedings of the 1998 Purina Nutrition Forum.

    By the way, the article I referenced is factual, profusely documented (47 footnotes) and, as you well know, a detailed summary of the peer-reviewed scientific literature presented by a respected veterinarian. And it cannot be impugned simply because of where or how it was presented.

    Incidentally, and contrary to your made-up fears, no email marketing has ever been conducted from this website.

    There’s nothing here for you to buy, even if you wanted to.

    So, why do you choose to leave a false email address when you post your comments?

    After all, every blog and every public forum on the Net requires its users to enter a legitimate email address as a minimum requirement for posting a message.

    Steve, you obviously have a distorted understanding of the objectives of The Dog Food Advisor.

    Today, books, music, physicians, dentists, veterinarians, lawyers and yes, even pet food, are all reviewed freely on the Internet.

    And as I state on every one of the more than 600 reports on this website, my reviews are based upon an analysis of the company’s published label information only.

    And nothing more.

    My reviews are accurate. And based on fact. Not on a product’s appropriateness for delivering certain results or treating specific conditions. And they’re never designed to be a substitute for sound professional advice.

    In helping my readers to choose dog food, I’m only doing what you should be doing.

    In your previous comment you challenged me to “please share with us” some of the reasons so many vets promote foods containing low quality ingredients.

    So, consider this…

    Like some physicians who routinely receive much of their drug prescribing information from the pharmaceutical industry, it’s common knowledge that many veterinarians get a significant amount of their own pet food education directly from pet food manufacturers themselves.

    And much of that that information can be notably biased.

    For proof, I refer you to this recent comment posted on our review of Hill’s Prescription Diet I/D Canine formula by one of your colleagues, a practicing veterinarian…

    Hi Mike,

    I am a veterinarian. Though I see that you are not, I share your views regarding the low quality ingredients in Hills’ foods. This was not always the case. Once upon a time, they were a great, much smaller company. However, in veterinary school most of our nutrition education comes from these big companies who “brainwash” us and schmooze us by offering free food for reading their “educational material” and taking quizzes. I think what you have done here is a good thing in trying to make people more aware of these ingredients. I personally try not to recommend any food that I would not feed to my own pets and this includes all of Hill’s diets and most of the other highly commercialized brands. Most holistic veterinarians have taken extra time to become more knowledgeable about food since what an animal eats can have a tremendous impact on their health, much the same as humans.

    Elisa Katz, DVM

    No, Steve. Hubris isn’t a non-vet trying to make it a little easier for other human beings to find better products and good value for the beloved pets they care so much about.

    Hubris is when members of ANY profession arrogantly believe they (and they alone) are the only ones who are capable of understanding something as simple as dog food — or its cryptic labeling.

    Hubris is when an unbridled pet food industry becomes nothing more than the waste disposal arm for the human food industry.

    And then uses fancy packaging, deceptive advertising and phony science to take advantage of naive consumers — to cover up the rip-off.

    Hubris is the misguided belief that scientists, veterinarians and nutritionists have the ability to engineer a pet food equal to or better than Mother Nature.

    Hubris is believing the source and condition of the ingredients used to make any pet food have nothing to do with the quality of the finished product.

    And insisting that so long as the numbers and nutrient content of those ingredients meet certain criteria, a factory-engineered food pellet can be designed to be a perfect replacement for fresh, real food.

    And finally, hubris is using a network of trusted veterinary care providers to distribute, promote and profit from the sale of these cheaply made and overpriced products to unsuspecting consumers and clients.

    Who are you, “Steven Andrews”? What’s your REAL name?

    Why not come out of the closet, identify yourself and announce to the world you’re a bona fide, card-carrying “professional” member of the cult of Nutritionism.

    You know, I can’t help but wonder what your clients would think if they knew how you REALLY felt — if they knew their own trusted veterinarian (you) was the one who was here passionately defending such low quality, overpriced dog foods.

    Talk about audacity! In the mean-spirited comment you posted here (and I chose to delete), did I hear you call ME a “marketeer”?

    Steven, since it’s obviously your opinion that only a veterinarian could have the special training needed to judge the contents of a pet food label, don’t forget to check with your family physician before you buy your next box of corn flakes.

    After all, he went to school to be able to do that. Right? And besides, what could a veterinarian possibly know about reading a human food label, anyway?

  • Steve Andrews


    I am not suggesting putting animals with renal disease on a low protein diet. I’m suggesting that HIGH protein diets, such as the ancestral diet (56% protein in this instance), is not conducive to good health in animals with renal compromise ( that is a lot of phosphorus and protein).

    Amino acids are “utilized in groups” by cells in the body. They are absorbed/transported into the blood stream as free AA’s or small peptides. Biological value refers to the overall AA CONTENT of a protein, not the quality of the AA. Animal protein sources have all of the amino acids present, therefore is of high BV. Plant proteins are of lower BV because some AA’s are lacking. That is why you should always have vegetable proteins complimented with animal proteins. Once the plant protein or the animal protein is digested, the individual AA’s are treated identically. Arginine is arginine, regardless of it’s source, etc.

    I’m happy to hear that your dog is doing well. That takes serious dedication.

  • Steven Andrews

    Oh, two more things.

    How long do wolves who eat an ancestral diet live? About 1/4 that of most dogs.

    I didn’t share my email address because I don’t want to be marketed to, for whatever it is that you were going to try to sell me.

  • Steven Andrews


    Cats are carnivores and will always hunt.

    Your Ol’Roy comment made me laugh. If I was a wolf I wouldn’t go for that crap either. But, I might prefer another bag food over chasing an elk for miles and risk getting gored or kicked, just for a meal.

    Wolves and dogs are omnivores. Digestion starts with mastication in the mouth, absorption takes place in the intestines.

  • Shawna

    Steven Andrews,

    Your information is incorrect and misleading — at best..

    “Protein” DOES NOT CAUSE kidney disease nor does it contribute to kidney disease once renal failure has set in…. In fact, the recommended diet for a kd dog (or cat) is a “high quality” protein.. PHOSPHORUS is what damages kidneys and grains are a significant source of phosphorus. The ONLY grains that should be fed to a kd dog is sushi rice (aka glutinous rice) or Cream of Wheat (Farina).

    High quality probiotics and prebiotics acts as a “nitrogen trap” which causes some of the blood urea nitriogen and creatinine to be rerouted and eliminated via the stool sparing the kidneys. This allows for an even higher protein diet to be fed.

    Lower quality proteins (like by-products) as well as vegetable and grain proteins actually contribute more to kidney disease then high quality meat sources. Why, because the amino acids are used in groups by the cells of the body. The amino acids in meat have a better biological value then do those of plant sources. No matter how well you combine there will be extra amino acids that are not utilized and become BUN for the kidneys to filter.

    By the way — my puppy was born with kidney disease. We noticed polyuria and polydipsia before she was even weaned. She was weaned onto raw meat hamburger and has been on a high, raw meat protein her entire life. She wasn’t officially diagnosed with chronic kidney disease til her one year blood work. She turned 5 years old the end of June 2011 and NEVER requires veterinary interference. We manage her disease with diet and with whole food, glandular (animal source) vitamins and nutraceuticals.

    Quality, animal based protein does not cause kidney disease and dogs with kidney disease do not benefit from reduced “protein” amounts unless uremic — phosphorus yes. This information has been out for over 10 years and by this time should be mainstream information…

  • Steven Andrews

    Oh, where to begin….I’ll take them one by one.

    1. “There are many reasons other than science that compel so many vets and commercially employed pet food nutritionists to promote foods containing low quality protein sources such as meat by-products, not the least of which is cost (and profit)”
    Please share with us these numerous reasons! Many pet food nutritionists work for universities, like Penn State.

    Look up the definition of by-product, then refer to the actual law, FDA and AFFCO guidelines. Also, are you suggesting that we should NOT use all of the nutritious part of animals that have been killed for human consumption? Perhaps we should kill additional animals to feed our pets? Is that healthy for our environment? Sustainable? Realistic? I can promise you that it is not affordable.

    2.”However, dog food is not made from free amino acid molecules (like arginine) but rather from raw, unbroken chains of protein (amino acid polypeptide sequences) sourced from animal and plant tissues of varying levels of quality”

    How does this differ than the protein sources you recommend?

    3. I am familiar with the Bovee article from 12 years ago….which is sponsored by PURINA! (why did you choose to leave this out?) That is ONE summary article, from one vet from one respected university that was sponsored by one VERY LARGE PURINA!

    4.”The hubris you displayed in your comments here makes your endorsement of the flawed philosophy described in my article obvious to all. Followers of the cult of nutritionism (like you, Steven) have a difficult time placing value on the quality of the raw materials used to produce pet food.

    By seeing commercial dog food as just a collection of amino acids and nothing more, your views make you a living, breathing example of the very blind devotee I attempted to characterize in this article.”

    LOL! No, it makes me a well educated realist who actually understands science, AAFCO, FDA and animals nutrition.

    “One can only hope you’re only a misinformed visitor and not a veterinarian or a nutritionist charged with dispensing professional advice to some trusting pet parent.”
    I am not a misinformed visitor…and, I am both.

    Hubris is a dentist acting like he knows more about pet nutrition than veterinarians and researchers. You are entitled to your opinion, but you should present it as such.

  • Marie

    Steven, I feed my cats all sorts of nice things and they still manage to catch (and devour) a few rabbits every week. And just because social structure is conductive to hunting behavior doesn’t mean a readily available food source will stop that behavior. And given the horrendous quality of Ol’ Roy, I doubt any cessation of hunting would occur.

    Wolves are not omnivores. Look at their dentition. Compare it to that of a bear, which IS an actual omnivore and yet in the same order.

  • Steven Andrews — There are many reasons other than science that compel so many vets and commercially employed pet food nutritionists to promote foods containing low quality protein sources such as meat by-products, not the least of which is cost (and profit).

    True, an arginine molecule is the same no matter its source.

    However, dog food is not made from free amino acid molecules (like arginine) but rather from raw, unbroken chains of protein (polypeptide amino acid sequences) sourced from animal and plant tissues of varying levels of quality.

    And these tissues don’t just contain isolated protein alone but also both fat and minerals, too.

    Once an animal has been slaughtered, those by-products deemed “unfit for human consumption” are used to make pet food. These low-grade ingredients have frequently been mishandled, unrefrigerated or even sourced from dead-on-arrival, diseased or dying cattle.

    You also said, “Wolves and dogs intestinal tracts are consistent with other omnivores. They are omnivores and can, therefore, digest & benefit from both meat & plant matter.”

    Really? Wolves are omnivores?

    Wolves and their descendents (dogs) retain the digestive systems that clearly confirm their natural carnivorous bias. Wolves and dogs have no capability for lateral jaw movements. And they lack flat molar teeth. So, their oral structures are typical of any other carnivore.

    In addition, wolves and dogs are deficient in certain enzymes (like amylase) to aid in digesting carbohydrates. And the list goes on to include many other features unique to creatures with a notable carnivorous dietary bias.

    Regarding your attempt to blame high protein diets for canine kidney disease, your may wish to confirm your outdated beliefs with more modern scientific sources.

    In an important important article entitled, “Mythology of Protein Restriction for Dogs with Reduced Renal Function” written by Dr. Kenneth C. Bovée (DVM, MMedSc) professor of Clinical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and published in the Compendium on Continuing Education for the Practicing Veterinarian (1998), the author states:

    “The continued use of protein restriction in the absence of scientific evidence deserves thoughtful consideration. I would suggest that the dogma and mythology of a possible benefit are so embedded in the thought process of veterinarians and owners that these cannot be easily dislodged despite the scientific evidence. I would refer to this as the myth of dietary protein and characterize it as a negative myth.”

    Please be sure to check out that article. And of course, the numerous references Dr. Bovee uses to support his position.

    The science-trumps-nature hubris you displayed in your comments here makes your endorsement of the flawed philosophy described in my article obvious to all.

    Followers of the cult of nutritionism (like you, Steven) have a difficult time placing value on the quality of the raw materials used to produce pet food.

    By seeing commercial dog food as just a collection of amino acids and nothing more, your views make you a living, breathing example of the very devotee of blind science I attempted to depict in this article.

    What’s more, your covert attempt to conceal your identity using a bogus email address makes me suspicious of your real intent.

    One can only hope you’re only a misinformed visitor and not a veterinarian or an animal nutritionist charged with dispensing professional advice to some trusting pet parent.

  • Mike P

    Steven,so what foods do you recommend?What do you feed your dogs??

  • Steven Andrews

    Renal disease is the #2 non accidental cause of death in dogs and cats. This kidney disease is typically not identified until their kidneys have lost 65% of their function! If you feed your pet a “higher protein” diet, and he/she has undiagnosed kidney disease (hasn’t lost 65% of kidney function yet), your pet will decline at an accelerated rate.

    For your readers…if you want the truth on by-products and other ingredients in your animal’s food, order a copy of the AAFCO manual or check out the information on the FDA website.

  • Steven Andrews


    Your information is misleading, as well.

    Protein sources do not matter as long as the animal receives all of the necessary amino acids. These AA’s can be gained from both carbohydrate and meat sources. AA’s from carbs are just as digestible and valuable as those from other protein sources. An animals body cannot tell the difference between an arginine (AA) molecule from oatmeal vs. an arginine molecule from chicken. Meat does have all of the essential AA’s, so is considered a complete protein. A pet food would need to contain animal protein, or a combination of vegetable and animal protein to meet their AA requirement. A vegetarian diet will not do it.

    “A dog’s natural ancestral diet”? My assumption is that you are referring to wolves. Wolves eat meat because that is what is available! That, combined with the fact that their social structure means the pack is less likely to survive if they must rely on berries, roots, plant matter, etc. If you dump a bag of Ol’Roy in the middle of a pack of Alaskan wolves on a regular basis, you will develop a pack that will cease to hunt.

    Wolves and dogs intestinal tracts are consistent with other omnivores. They are omnivores and can, therefore, digest & benefit from both meat & plant matter.

    If you took the time to understand the science instead of marketing your view, perhaps you would have a better understanding of why 98% of vets, pet nutritionists and animal scientists feed and recommend high quality foods that fall outside of your recommendations.

    I hope this helps your readers pets.

  • Peter Danish


    Thanks for fighting the good fight! Keep up the good work, we appreciate it!

    Peter Danish

  • I am president of Arusha Pet Foods Inc., manufacturer of premium quality raw cat and dog food. Noticed mention of where to find raw in Ontario. The Dog House in Toronto carries our line and Katoby Distribtion is starting to distribute our products to all of Ontario later this month. 5 years ago there were over 200 retailers carrying raw food in Ontario.

    Wishing you the best health for your pets.

  • Shawna

    No problem Mike.. Mine were nothing important 🙂

    I mentioned to Toxed that I’d help in any way she needed with the excitotoxin paper..

  • Hi Shawna… I was trying out a new comment service called Disqus. And even though it’s feature rich, there were numerous problems.

    So, unfortunately, when I uninstalled it, the software deleted about 4 comments, or so.

    Not sure how to get ’em back. I’m so sorry. 🙁

  • Shawna

    Count me in!!  Let me know how I can help…

    LOVIN the new look/feel Mike!!!!!

  • Mike, I’ve started gathering data on it, I can’t remember how many I’ve collected. (I made a mistake though, its not 5 grams..I’ve now got data that supports reactions at 5 mM.) it’s fascinating. Which is why I pursue all this stuff.

    I may write a paper for you yet. 🙂 Maybe Shawna and I will collaborate!

  • Hi Toxed2loss… Thanks for understanding the challenges of dealing with suspicious ingredients like “natural flavors”. However, I’m glad you were able to find those 3 studies implicating MSG in dogs. That’s why it might be important to still write an article about MSG and list any suspected places it could be hidden. If you decide to do this, just let me know. 🙂

  • Sure, e you on the down low! 😀

  • Shawna

    Hey Toxed – could you email those to me? I’m almost done prepping for my vaccinations seminar tomorrow. Then I’ll be around more again. I owe you (and others) a couple emails.

  • Thanks Mike for taking so much time to clarify your position. I see your dilemma. I did not have quite the right perspective.

    In actual fact, people can already get lists of ingredients that are known to cause MSG reactions. That info can be obtained from Jack’s site, Jack is an associate of Dr. Russel Blaylock, Neurosurgeon and author of “Excitotoxins, the Taste That Kills, and of Dr. George Schwartz, Toxicologist, the author of “In bad Taste, The MSG Syndrome Complex” Adrienne Samuels, who co-authors the site, is a Ph.D. It is very well done, with extensive citation. The lists are broken down by degree of reaction. It’s not so much about wether it’s in there, as to how sensitive the individual is. So the lists classify ingrediants that Ellicite an adverse response in all MSG sensitive individuals, those ingredients that cause reactions in more sensitive individuals and those that cause reactions in the very sensitive. Incidently, natural flavor is listed in the second group. So, there is no reason for me to duplicate that material.

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this very important topic, and for your integrity to what you are doing. I sure appreciate it.

    P.S. I did find 3 very reputable, peer reviewed studies documenting brain lesions caused by low dose glutamic acid exposure in dogs… They noted for the duration of the study, nothing close toa lifetime, that .5 grams was significant to see a reaction. One is on Jack’s site already. Just so you know. 🙂

  • Shawna

    Yes, yes makes perfect sense Mike!! Looking forward to the new hybrid blog 🙂

  • Sheila

    You might want to try some Canadian Companies such as Petcurean (Go& Now), Champion Pet foods, Horizon. I don’t know if you have to have canned only or dry or raw? I am sure there are some Holistic Vets in Toronto and some places like Trailblazers (a chain), perhaps go on some of the websites and see what might suit you. Yes, lots of raw food companies to choose from on the Mainland, in Vancouver, however I live on Vancouver Island, so some things are limited.
    Take care and good luck in your search.

  • Hi Shawna… You’re right. There can be many vague items on any ingredients list. However, just because something (like a broth or a flavoring) CAN contain a pollutant (like MSG) doesn’t necessarily mean it does.

    In my opinion, there are insufficient grounds to paint every ingredients list with wall-to-wall red ink.

    My suggestion, focus on writing about the controversial contaminant, not what contains it.

    For example, fish meal. Fish meal (by US Federal law) must contain ethoxyquin (or some other more natural anti-oxidant). But I’ve not red flagged fish meal.

    That’s because not all fish meal does. Things are changing rapidly in the industry. And companies are recognizing the controversy over ethoxyquin. So, they’re procuring more and more ethoxyquin free fish meals every day.

    It would be alarming to red flag fish meal for this reason. So, I made the editorial decision not to do so more than 2 years ago.

    My suggestion to Toxed2loss is to focus on the contaminant — MSG. Not the potentially innocent vehicle — natural flavors.

    Simply submit an article presenting the facts (unbiased, both sides) about MSG. And then just list any ingredients that could possibly contain this chemical.

    Hope this makes sense. 🙂

  • Hi Shawna… After much consideration, I’m no longer planning to add a forum, but rather a hybrid. Look for a significant upgrade to The Dog Food Advisor blog within the very near future. 🙂

  • Shawna

    Hi Mike,

    I posted before I read your post.. However, my post is directed to all, consumers, not you in general. 🙂

  • Shawna

    I think this is an example of where a forum could come in handy. I see Mike’s point here and I certainly see Toxed’s point here..

    As a person that has diagnosed brain damage due to excitotoxins like MSG and aspartic acid, I take the conversation very seriously…

    I started having symptoms at age 12 — I frequently would black out – lose vision in both eyes (ocular migraine). I was taken to neurologists and MDs but no diagnosis ever made. The neurologist that ordered the MRI (in my early 30’s) discovering the brain damage diagnosed it as idiopathic (no known cause). It wasn’t til several years later when I started seeing a new M.D. that had read the book “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills” by Neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock was the connection made.. I hope that got the attention of some the taste that KILLS.

    The thing that I question with “natural flaroring” — what the heck is so proprietary about “broth” and “liver” that it can’t be disclosed? Is it that the liver is hydrolyzed — which makes it just like MSG? The definition Mike lists absolutely wreaks of freed glutamin and asparatic acid. It may not be in EVERY suspect ingredient but I bet it’s in most. Why the big secrecy if its not?

    Insignificant amounts — because it bioaccumulates, even insignificant amounts can add up (Dr. Blaylock discusses how in the CBN link below). It is KNOWN to be in Brewer’s or Nutritional Yeast — a fact, likely to be in carrageanan, natural flavor etc. Small amounts from multiple ingredients can add up too.

    My sister-in-law gets migraines from only small amounts of MSG. My chiropractors wife gets gout a day or two after consuming MSG. Christy Pooschke runs the website “Compltely Nourished”. MSG caused her fibromyalgia. Aspartame is discussed in Janet Starr Hull’s book “Sweet Poison”. She developed hyperthyroid due to aspartame. Her doctor was ready to irradiate her thyroid. She made the connection, quit diet sodas, and her uncurable disease was miraculously cured…. hmmmm (methanol is in aspartame too so not sure if methanol poisoning could have been an influence as well?). I’ve already left science based research articles on its link to multiple sclerosis, cancer, dementia etc.

    The symptoms and disease conditions can be very diverse. In fact, in this CBN news article a connection to stroke, heart attack, asthma, heart arrhythmia etc is discussed.

    Its up to the consumer to get these disease causing ingredients out or our and our pets food supply. The only way to do that is through awareness.

  • Hi Melissa… Thanks for posting a link to this article. Please notice that MSG in this study was “10% of the amount of food given”! That’s simply nowhere near a typical amount of MSG found in a flavoring added to a dog food recipe.

    Based upon their lower position on virtually every list I’ve seen, the actual amount would likely be only a fraction of 1%.

    Again, my main objection to focusing on the unknown content of MSG possibly present in a vague item described only as “natural flavors” would be exaggerating its importance in the finished product.

    With so many other larger issues associated with factory-made food pellets, it would be irresponsible for us to create undeserved anxiety amongst consumers for such a common food ingredient.

    I hope everyone will forgive my retirement from this discussion (for now). 🙂

  • melissa

    Manuel, M.F., J.H.A. Abalos, and C.D. Solis (2002). Some acute behavioural and physiological effects observed in local Philippine dogs voluntarily fed with monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the diet. Philippine Journal of Veterinary Medicine 39(1): 50-51. ISSN: 0031-7705.
    NAL Call Number: 41.8 P53
    Abstract: Twelve 4- to 7-month-old Philippine nondescript dogs of both sexes were fed monosodium glutamate (MSG) in the diet in quantities varying from 0, 5 and 10% of the amount of food given, using the Latin square design. Both physiological and behavioural parameters were examined in all animals an hour before and after feeding. Doses of MSG as high as 10% did not induce any noticeable change in the behaviour of the dogs. On the other hand, some temporary physiological changes such as tachycardia, vomiting and excretion of dark-coloured faeces were observed in 10 of the dogs.
    Descriptors: adverse effects, monosodium glutamate, poisoning, toxicity, dogs.

  • Hi Toxed2loss… I really do see your point. And I would always welcome good content for The Advisor.

    However, due to the thousands of visitors consulting this website daily, I’m also compelled to act responsibly in what I allow to be published here in the form of an article.

    An article is perceived as the official opinion of the editor of the website itself — whereas remarks posted here in the comments section are usually taken to be the personal viewpoint of the individual writing them.

    What’s more, asking a leading question can be suggestive of an expected and implicit answer. It can bias the mind of the jury (in this case, our readers) with unreasonable suspicion.

    Asking a question like, “How much of the MSG found in natural flavors can be considered clinically significant” implies that all natural flavors contain MSG.

    And based on my own assessment, that does not appear to be true.

    It’s almost like asking someone, “So, how long have you been beating your wife?” The question itself automatically implies inherent guilt.

    Since The Advisor is obviously not a peer-reviewed scientific journal and because my only stated mission is to define ingredients and estimate meat content, it’s important for us not to allow this website to become just another source of misinformation and rumor.

    Toxed2loss, I truly DO appreciate your good intentions in making this generous offer. And you are certainly welcome to submit an article for publication.

    However, please be sure you understand that if what you write creates unreasonable and unprovable suspicion with an ingredient as broadly defined as “natural flavors” (as I believe is quite possible in the case with natural flavors), I cannot post it here on this website.

    In addition, if I decide to publish it, your article cannot be anonymous. You must be willing to identify yourself using your real name and provide a brief bio to provide legitimacy and credibility to your effort.

    What may be a better idea is to submit an article outlining the facts (both sides) about MSG and then simply list any ingredients that could possibly contain this chemical.

    Be sure you know I truly value your opinion, especially in matters of toxicity. And I hope my remarks here (in some way) make reasonable sense.

  • Mike,
    I have heard your point. You don’t wish to throw the good out with the bad. Neither do I. Its a good pointnand one that I have wished there was more information available on. Which is why I called manufacturers of dog foods that had otherwise, good ingredients and asked them if they had free glutamic acid. My experience has taught me that “all the human food that listed Natural Flavors, that I’ve checked, has been harmful. But, there are those that could be acceptable… I couldn’t taste test them all! Too risky & painful!!!

    You stated, “…is the amount clinically significant?” That struck me as a very important concept and valid question. My offer to write a report would be targeted on providing the information to your viewers as to ,

    “what percentage of glutamic acid would have to be present such that it would be clinically significant.”

    That way, if they felt it was important to them, they could call and inquire as to the actual percentages of free glutamate in a specific food. You wouldn’t have to add it to all your articles. No one gets thrown under the bus!

    The good manufacturers get recognition, and pet owners who are struggling with health problems that could possibly be related to free glutamic acid, have access to info that helps them make an educated choice. Doesn’t that seem like a valuable addition to your site?

    Of course, this is predicated on the assumption that the manufacturers have run a quantitative analysis….

    Anyway, I also saw your comment about needing research that was dog specific as relevant to “apprpriate clinically significant values.”

    I am listening. 🙂

  • Toxed2loss… Again, the issue here isn’t the potential toxicity of MSG. That’s not what’s in question.

    For me, the problem is about making a sweeping condemnation of the phrase “natural flavors”. Look at how the FDA defines this ingredient in Title 21 of its own Code of Federal Regulations:

    “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

    Talk about vague. This is obviously a very broad description and could include almost anything.

    And that’s precisely my point.

    It would be wrong to assume the term “natural flavors” should automatically be interpreted to mean MSG. This would unfairly incriminate a very significant number of otherwise decent dog foods.

  • Hi Mike,

    I was just off reviewing updates on It’s a site run by Jack Samuels and his wife Adrienne. Jack used to work for the FDA and out of his inside knowledge of the misinformation campaign concerning MSG, vs. the facts, began the site. He cites many peer reviewed studies and states that the original testing was on animals.

    That’s something that surprises me that people forget. Research doesn’t have to be specie specific to be accurate. Jack even posted a couple of letters he received from pet owners relating their dogs reactions to MSG. I’m well aware of the FDAs statement on MSG. It’s similar to the FDAs regs that allow corn and wheat in dog food because they are GRAS. There is so much in depth, documented evidence on the FDA complicity in promoting MSG that can be accessed on Jacks site. You can also find cited research on the known toxic effects. I would use additional citations from reserch that I already have as well as being willing to search for more.

    The one thing that my paper won’t do is spend the time to convince you of the industry/FDA bias. That is already very well done on Jack’s site. If you’re interested, (in your spare time, TIC) you can find it there.

    I shall accept your challenge! I’m off to find a peer review article on MSG reactions in dogs! LOL

  • Dave M

    I have been told that Toronto is not as dog friendly as Western Canada and especially with raw etc. Not sure if that is true but Vancouer seems like a dog’s paradise.

  • Dave M

    I spoke to the western Canadian distributor and they said it was a problem with the old distributor and Eastern Canada does not have a distributor anymore. They Western distributor offered to ship it to me on Greyhound so I may take him up on that offer next time. I called Natures Logic as well and they said it will be a while before they can get it back into Eastern Canada.

  • Sheila

    I don’t know why you can’t get Natures Logic there, we can get it here, canned and kibble, not raw though. Try their website and you might be able to find out who carries it in Toronto area.

  • Sheila

    Hi Dave,
    I think that there are many more Holistic/Naturopathic Vets in the Toronto area than I would have here in Victoria. I lived in Torana many moons ago and there were not many then, however that being said because it’s soooo big (I call it concrete city now), depends on where you live in Toronto.
    If you go online and search Holistic Vets. in Toronto, you are bound to find someone who advocates raw feeding or dehydrated raw. You should have some pet food chains that carry raw foods like Pets4Life, Tilson farms(?) Arusha, Carnivoria. Also if you check out raw dog food suppliers in Ontario, there should be alot and you won’t have to import.
    If you want dehydrated raw you can get NRG, Honest Kitchen, Canisource (check the raw food section on this website).
    Good luck, S.

  • Dave M


    I am from Seattle but I am working in Toronto – since last Jan.(was supposed to be temporary almost a year later) That is why I asked where you found your holistic vet. I have struggled to find some of the foods I like and have to pick them up in Buffalo or buy online (I paid 110 in shipping on my last order of natures logic canned and that hurt). Although Ziwipeak is readily available and that is great.

  • Your Welcome! And I certainly respect the logistics. How about an article along the same lines, giving the readers the information that they can make an accurate comparison to, when they call and inquire with the manufacturer, themselves?

    I’ll write it and you can edit, or even veto it if you don’t like it or want to include it on your site. (as long as you realize, it will take me some time to put together as I have multiple irons in the fire too.)

  • Hi Toxed2loss… Thanks for the offer. And I may take you up on this in the future. Unfortunately, due to my current workload for maintaining this website, this simply has to be delayed for now.

    In a given week, I research and update at least a dozen (or so) reviews, maintain hundreds of comments, post 2 to 4 new reviews and now I’m working on videos for The Advisor. And all this in addition to seeing my human patients and running my professional practice.

    Now, imagine the complexity of red flagging hundreds of dog foods on this site all at one time and then having to manually go to each review to explain the significance of the flags. It’s simply not possible to introduce this new wrinkle right now. Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention.

  • Those are good reasons, and I understand what you’re saying. Unfortunately, they don’t list it on the bag. And they get beligerent when you call them and ask for a quantity. The reason I bring it up is that previous to being pesticide poisoned I developed MSG sensitivity. EVERY item that I tried, that had ‘Natural Flavor’ elicited a major MSG response. Trust me, back then, I didn’t want to give up my tasty food items any more than the next naive guy. But every single one eliciting a reaction, (even when I really didn’t want them to)?! There’s more than a trace of MSG in “Natural Flavor.” There’s enough to keep people (and pets) addicted whether you have an obvious reaction or not.

    If I can get a quantity for you on how much free glutamic acid content is equivalent to how much MSG, and we can get a few responses from producers, would you consider red flagging it?

  • Hi Toxed2loss… Even if “natural flavors” do contain or can be converted by the body or processing to glutamic acid, the question remains, is this amount clinically significant?

    MSG directly added to a product would be notably more relevant than would be finding a trace amount contained within or associated with a processing by-product.

    What’s more, I don’t want to exaggerate the importance of this issue by red flagging this item based solely upon its potential and without a known and provable content.

  • It does Mike,
    however, before I found your site I just did the digging myself. I called several of the manufacturers of otherwise excellent looking kibbles and talked to them about what and how they arrived at their claim that their natural flavor contained No MSG.

    Here’s the skinny, L-glutamate is a naturally occuring substance in carbs and proteins. As long as the amino acid bond remains intact, the glutamate’s chyrality remains safe, or life building. Once the amino aid bond is broken, it becomes free glutamic acid or D-glutamate, aka MSG. D-glutamate is an excitotory neurotoxin. The way the bond is broken is by processing. In the body, hydrochloric acid, etc. in the gut unbinds it. However, the gut doesn’t unbond very much. Just a trace. Just like its supposed to, to supply just what we need. In industry, they discovered that if they process with high heat, including with pressure, or long heat or enzymolisis, they can release a substantial amount of free glutamic acid. This is an addictive substance which makes you crave/eat/buy more.

    Now, by law they don’t have to label it as MSG, because they didn’t purchase it as MSG. It can legally be labeled as “natural flavor” and they can ‘legally’ state that here is no MSG. The question that you must ask is, “What are your levels of free glutamic acid?” or “Does your product contain any free glutamic acid?” I have called several companies that list “natural flavor”, both dogfood and human food. There is free glutamic acid present, every time. They will concurrently tell you that their product contains ‘no MSG.’ But they either don’t know they are the same or are just playing word games that the labeling laws allow. The same process releases Aspartic acid, also an excitotory neuro-toxin, aka aspartame. You don’t have to take my word for it. I’ll be more than happy to provide expert toxicologist and Neuosurgeons citations. Dr.s Swartz and Blaylock. I believe I’ve even got the appropriate US Code of Federal Regulation archived around here somewhere.

  • Jan (Mom to Cavs)

    I just emailed Natura today to ask about the “natural flavors” in their California Naturals grain free chicken kibble. They emailed me back saying that it is a proprietary thing, however, there is not msg or gmo ingredients in it at all. They implied that it is just mostly a broth or something like chicken liver. Idk, but this food looks like one I might like to add to the rotation, eventhough it’s made by P&G.

  • Hi Toxed2loss… Thanks to your comment, I’ve changed this sentence to include the word “micro-nutrient”. However, it’s always been my understanding that the phrase “natural flavor” is vague and non-specific and does not necessarily mean the item is always a glutamate.

    So, I didn’t include it on my list (which was never meant to be all-inclusive, anyway). Hope this makes sense. 🙂

  • Hi Mike loved the article! I thought it was very well done. Nicely laid out. I had a couple of minor comments. One, did you consider listing “natural flavor” under problems. I can give you the citations for showing that it is MSG, if you’d like. And, Under “Why does Whole food….” and “…some other yet undiscovered nutrient?” I think that’s an excellent hypothesis. Someday, someone will eventually “discover” “micro-nutrients”…

    Just my 2 cents. 😉

  • Sheila

    Dave M………
    Where do you live ?

  • Dave M

    Sheila where did you fid your holistic vet?

  • Sheila

    Thanks Mike,
    If only I could convince some people and Veterinarians that I know!. It’s like tunnel vision and the most frequent comments I encounter are,” My Vet. said my dog should eat the same food all it’s life” ( usually a low grade Vet kibble), my dog will die from raw food because of the EColi and Salmonella. I have heated conversations with my conventional Vet. (he has emergency night service), he seriously thinks because large breeds are living to what he considers a “ripe old age” of 11-12, it’s the foods like Royal Canine, Science Diet or Purina that are doing it.( he gave me a blank look when I said they probably should live to be 14-16 on more meat and less grain) When I showed him a bag of ” Acana Light and Fit” last year that I had my Norwich on when she had a weight problem ( by the way he wanted me to use his Prescriptive Grain laden stuff), his comment was ” Now where would they get free run chicken”, no company could afford to buy that! I was thrilled that the food worked and I felt comfortable feeding it to her. As you know from my previous comments I am doing a rotation of NRG Maxim, she (the dog) looks great and for me it’s the step toward raw when I can find one I am really comfortable with, although I can make my own with Dr. Becker’s book and a few others I have. I also go to a Holistic Vet who is very much in tune (likes NRG and promotes it) with raw feeding, he had several cases that he could not rectify when he did just conventional medicine and when he tried alternative (raw, chinese med. accupuncture), he saw amazing results. Not to say it’s for every dog, as with people, but it’s more in tune to my way of thinking, these days anyhow. In case you are not aware I believe that they ( some raw dog/cat food companies) here in Canada are trying to form together for better practices and possible regulations covering raw dog/cat foods, ( see Mountain Dog Food?) so perhaps we are getting there slowly!

  • Mary Lou

    Wonderful article, Mike!! Well done!! 🙂

  • Hi Gordon… Oops! Thanks for finding that typo. 😮

  • Shawna

    Awesome article Mike!!!!! Couldn’t agree more!

  • Gordon

    Great article! Only one thing Mike….you’ve got 2 consecutive “from”‘s in the first paragraph under the heading “Dogs Eat Food — Not Nutrients”. Or should I say, you had 2 consecutive “from”‘s, at the time I read it, lol.

    aimee – Does this article resonate with you? 😛