Any thoughts on a good brand of frozen (or freeze dried) raw food (grain free) with fairly limited ingredients? My dog is allergic to carrots, green beans and sweet potatoes, so I need to avoid those, plus I’m nervous about similar vegetables because the allergy test didn’t cover many foods. And because he recently started having seizures I am avoiding rosemary for now. I would also prefer no calcium or sodium phosphate additives, but may have to give in on that one.
I was feeding Stella and Chewy’s, but it contains ingredients that don’t work.
I also tried Primal, but am not crazy about all of the seeds in the ingredients.
I have been feeding Vital Essentials but a recent inquiry to the company left me feeling less positive about them. Also, my dog likes their freeze dried foods but will not eat the frozen. According to Vital Essentials the ingredients are identical for both. My dog loves raw meat, turkey necks, etc. but won’t eat the raw frozen Vital Essentials. He ate it at first but then wouldn’t. Weird.
I recently tried We Feed Raw, but it doesn’t seem to agree with my dog at all, even though I introduced it very slowly.
The one I’m considering trying now is Steve’s Real Food. Any thoughts on that one? Or others I haven’t mentioned?
Can you please share what led you to not trust feeding Vital Essentials freeze dried. I am on a rotation between them Primal and at times Small Batch. A little nervous feeding Small Batch consistently with the added garlic for my small dogs’.
Thanks for the reply Patricia A. I feel a little uncomfortable going into details about Vital Essentials, but I guess that is what this forum is for. It started with the online vitamin and mineral information, which is really important to me and I rely heavily on it. For one of the foods I found what I assumed was an error. The Vitamin E was REALLY high for one of the recipes. Like 20x higher than the other recipes. So I inquired about that and someone from Customer Service emailed me a more recent analysis, and there were huge differences in various vitamins and minerals – between what is online and what was emailed to me. Then I didn’t receive a reply when I asked about it. So at this point I don’t have any confidence in the online information.
I had fed Primal in the past. I stopped feeding the freeze dried because it has rosemary as an ingredient. One of my dogs has seizures, so I’m being extra cautious about anything that could trigger one. I stopped feeding the frozen too recently because of the sunflower seeds, which makes for high Omega 6 content. I’m trying to keep the Omega 6 content fairly low for my dog because of inflammation issues. But I’m now thinking that I feel better about Primal than Vital Essentials. I haven’t noticed any flakiness in the Primal online vitamin/mineral information. It looks very professional.
So, I’m very frustrated at this point. I ordered some Steve’s freeze dried. Hopefully it will agree with my dogs, but the goat’s milk makes me nervous.
I’m having trouble navigating this forum. I had been checking for replies to my post the last few days, by going to the original post, but there were none. I only saw your reply today when I did a search on Vital Essentials. Strange.
Thank you for sharing your interactions with the company. I understand your lose of confidence when such a big discrepancy is not acknowledged by the company.
My three little dogs’ do well with Primal in certain proteins. I stay away from the higher in fat to protein ones since causes diarrhea in one. I just really wanted one other freeze dried for rotation with one just comprised of meat and organs vs. Primal with the added veggies.
I loves the ingredients in Small Batch and was on the Susan Thixton list of transparency if you’re familiar with her work.. However, just VERY nervous about the added garlic. If some of the reasoning for adding is builds up in coat for flea protection, then worried with my very small dogs will also build up to cause damage to red blood cells. Don’t want to take the chance.
Funny you mention Steve’s. Thixton has that one this year on her list also. So was looking into that company also for rotation List is a starter for me at least, although don’t NOT feed a brand necessary because it’s not recommended by her. However, when looking at reviews on this site DFA someone just recently wrote about contaminated food (bugs?) and very poor customer service. UHHH always something that turns me off. lol
Yes, this forum is not very active as it once was. If you look under my posts there is a lady AIMEE who has been VERY helpful and informative and is active on this forum . Maybe she will read and chime in here with her take on Vital Essentials. I’ve been waiting patiently for her to say “Patricia these are the two freeze dried foods to rotate with.” “Their customer service is excellent, they are transparent, their analysis lines up what’s on the bag and online for each recipe, they have the perfect nutritional levels with no risky or inferior ingredients AND it’s affordable.” lol Is that too much to ask??? All I get is which one is the lesser of two evils. lol
Have a Happy New Year.
- This reply was modified 11 months ago by Patricia A.
Hi Patricia A. Sorry for the delayed reply. I continue to have trouble knowing that there has been a reply to my posts.
Since I first posted I have definitely decided to give up on Vital Essentials. The Customer Rep I was communicating with won’t even reply to my emails anymore. I kind of softened the extent of my concerns about their online data for my posts here. The more I think about what I found, plus the lack of replies now, I don’t feel good about the company at all.
But, some positive news, I tried Steve’s and both of my dogs like it and seem to be doing well with it. I was concerned that the Goat’s Milk wouldn’t agree with them, but they seem to be ok with it. I’m feeling pretty good about Steve’s online information and their customer service too. Their online vitamin/mineral information looks professional and reasonable, and it appears that they keep it current with updates. I think there are some companies out there who do an analysis one time and just keep that info online forever.
I also like that I can order both frozen and freeze dried Steve’s from rawpetfood.com. The shipping is free if you subscribe to auto renew. The customer service there has been really good too.
You mentioned Small Batch. A local store sells the frozen Small Batch Base Blends, which is just meat, organs, and bone. I bought some of that a couple months ago and one of my dogs loved it and the other would have nothing to do with it. I too would be hesitant to feed a food with garlic. But there seem to be differing opinions out there on whether it is a good thing for dog food or not. I had one of my dogs tested for food allergies recently and he is not allergic to any meats, but is allergic (IgE reaction) to every vegetable they tested for (which unfortunately was only 5). So I assume he is allergic to many more vegetables and that makes it pretty limiting for choosing foods for him. Garlic would make me particularly nervous as I am allergic to it (IgE, from a blood test) and eating it really does cause trouble for me – much more so than my other IgE positive foods.
A couple freeze dried brands that I am feeding mostly as treats are: K9 Natural and Bixbi Rawbbles. Both of my dogs really like them. For the Bixbi, they have both dog and cat, but I feed the cat turkey recipe because the ingredients are better for the dog with allergies, plus no phosphate additives. From the online vitamin/mineral info the cat recipes appear to me to be ok for a dog – especially in small quantities. For the K9 Natural, I limit how much I feed because the Vitamin A and Iodine contents are higher than I like.
Another ingredient that I am steering clear of for now are phosphate additives (dicalcium, trisodium, etc). I’ve read that the artificial forms of phosphate are absorbed MUCH more readily than phosphate from meat, so can interfere with the dog’s Calcium to Phosphate ratio. May or may not be true, but for now it is a worry of mine – it’s always something 🙂 So all of the foods that I mentioned do not include any of those.
Well, sorry this got so long. I will do better at checking for replies in case you do.
I’m glad I still frequent this board even though not as active in the past. So glad I singed in today to learn about Steve’s. Will look into that brand because I always like to rotate the freeze dried with others. Glad to hear you had good experience with customer service also.
I wish Small Batch didn’t put the garlic in. I have the three Chihuahuas’ so hard for all three to well with. But they love the Turkey Small Batch and never digestive issues. So I have a small bag available and feed infrequently still. For what it’s worth this is what they wrote me back.
All of our diets are formulated in partnership with veterinary professionals to ensure safety of ingredients and ratios for nutrients – including garlic. There is a lot of misinformation surrounding this ingredient, which in small doses is actually highly beneficial for our pets. We use just 1lb of raw, organic garlic in every 1,500lb batch of food, and have been successfully incorporating this ingredient in our recipe for 17 years. Like many things, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, and garlic falls into this category, which is why there is so much controversy out in the world when it comes to feeding it to our canine family members. Rest assured that the amounts we use are extremely minimal and safe, and just enough to lend nutritional benefits to our formulation for the dogs eating our diets.
Yes, I give Bixbi as treats. I’ll write with my experience with Steve’s.
Patricia A – I have read in articles from sources I consider reputable that garlic is beneficial to dogs in small amounts, as Small Batch explained to you. It does seem to me that the Small Batch customer service is quite good, in that they took the time to give you a detailed reply. I actually didn’t realize that Small Batch made freeze dried. I thought they only made frozen and the local store that carries frozen only carries their Base Blends, not the Meals.
I just now hopped on the Small Batch website and their dog meals won’t work for me because of allergy ingredients (and the garlic, but I’m softening on that), but the cat meals would work. I also notice that the cat meals don’t contain garlic. So maybe those would be nice treats for your Chihuahuas – if you aren’t already. I’m going to request the vitamin/mineral data for the cat meals and see how that looks. I’m surprised they don’t have it online. Or maybe they do and I missed it.
I like to feed a variety of brands. I feel like it reduces the risk just in case one of the brands is not as good as it seems. I’ve become pretty untrusting of dog food manufacturers, but I just can’t quite take the leap to making my own.
I hope Steve’s works for you. I don’t think I mentioned previously that I also feed the Steve’s Cat (Quest) freeze dried as treats. My dogs REALLY like that. The Cat nuggets are smaller than than the Dog, and crunchier, so might be perfect for your Chihuahua pack. To me the Quest looks fine for a dog (vitamin/minerals) if it is not the only thing they eat. The Niacin is considerably higher than a dog’s requirements, but I haven’t done any reading yet on how much Niacin is too much.
I’ll let you know if I decide to try the Small Batch Cat.
Nice having you to chat with.
Patricia A – Just thought I would follow up with you on Small Batch. I reached out to customer service for vitamin/mineral information. Here is the reply:
Unfortunately, we don’t have a shareable analysis document at this time simply due to it being in the process of being routinely updated brand-wide (we’ve had new proteins and products introduced and are due for updates to ensure accuracy).
We anticipate having these values available to share again with our customers in the coming months if you’d like to check back with us at a later date.
I like the fact that they are on top of updating their online info, but disappointed that there is nothing available now. But, I will keep checking for the new information.
Hi Mutts and Cats,
Thank you for posting Smallbatch’s reply to you. I recently contacted Smallbatch and asked for nutritional information. They were very prompt in sending it. However, based on what they sent, it appeared that not every formulation met the AAFCO profile for the labeled lifestage. As I recall, their explanation was that the analysis reflected an average taken over several years. I replied that I found that alarming since it appeared that for years their products may have been falling short of AAFCO and that the apparent problem appears to have not been addressed. I asked for further written explanation, yet after repeated inquiries I have not received any response.
I found it most interesting that just a few weeks later they replied to your inquiry by saying they do not have a sharable analysis.
- This reply was modified 10 months, 1 week ago by aimee.
Hi aimee – thanks for sharing that experience with Small Batch. Sounds like you called a problem to their attention. Or, maybe they knew about it and were hoping it wouldn’t be noticed. At least they seem to be making changes to address the problem. Although I was a little surprised that in the reply to me they indicated it would be months before they have data available again.
I have to say that I’m getting worn down by my interactions with dog food manufacturers. Since I became intensely interested in the vitamin/mineral analysis information I sure have found a lot of anomalies in the online data, or what they provide when I request it. And sometimes when I call it to their attention I get a lame response that tells me the person doesn’t understand the data and has no intention of following up on it. So, they become another company that I won’t buy from.
It also bothers me when I see that the online data never changes. When I first started looking at it I assumed that companies would be retesting every few months, or even every year, and then update what is online. But I’m realizing now that I had unrealistic expectations.
From what I’ve seen in my reviews of Steve’s online data in the last couple months, it seems that they are at least keeping the online data current. And, when I ask questions I get an immediate response from someone who actually seems interested in the problem. I just hope that continues. I don’t want to be disappointed again. 🙁
Is there a company that you have decided you have great confidence in – overall and in regards to the integrity of their analysis data?
Hi Mutts and Cats,
My experience with the nutritional information companies provide mirrors yours. It is concerning when a company purportedly producing a complete and balanced pet food appears to have no clue when it comes to very basic nutritional concepts.
I have seen companies change recipes/ingredients and yet there is no change in their posted nutritional analysis. I’ve seen companies whose nutritional analysis are identical across all formulations. ( The company told me that they actually only tested one formula and then just copied the results into each formula while changing a few numbers here and there.) I’ve come across companies who change their on line information based on what numbers I’ve told them it needs to be to meet AAFCO.. The list goes on and on. Like you they become companies I won’t buy from
I’m have more confidence in the larger companies: Purina, Iams/Eukanuba, Royal Canin and if someone wanted a raw/freeze dried option Natures Variety
Hi aimee. Your experiences bring back memories of some of mine, and sends my blood pressure up. Thanks for sharing those companies. I’m surprised actually, that you like Purina, Iams, and RC. I had written those companies off long ago as “you have got to be kidding” (regarding the ingredients). But I can see from your posts that you are quite knowledgeable, so maybe I should take another look at their premium lines. I really doubt that they are going to offer the kind of transparency that I insist on regarding % meat ingredients or % protein from meat. But maybe things have changed and I should at least explore.
I’ve gone back and forth on whether I have more confidence in large companies or small ones. In theory, I think a small company could produce a better food, but in reality I think some of them may be developing their foods without a dog nutritionist and despite their good intentions they may not have a good quality control program. Plus, a small company would be more likely to pull some of the online info stunts that you mentioned, whereas a large company with a good reputation is not going to take that risk, and what they put online is more likely to be accurate. But, all things considered, I still lean toward the smaller companies, but ones that have been around awhile.
I used to factor cost into my decisions about which dog food to feed, but now, with one of my dogs in poor health, I don’t. Whatever you want to charge me is fine, IF I feel good about your product. Sadly, I can’t say that I feel great about any of the foods I’m feeding now – even after all of my research. Fairly good about them, but not great. 🙁
Hi Mutts and Cats,
Meat is defined by AAFCO as striated muscle with attached connective tissues (skin ,fat, blood vessels, tendons etc). I asked my feed control official if anywhere in the AAFCO definition does it specify what % of “meat” has to be striate muscle or if tissue that is 99% non-muscle and 1% striate muscle can legally be called “meat”?
The answer I got was that AAFCO does not specify, and it would be up to each individual state feed control official to interpret. In other words, my theoretical mix with only 1% striate muscle could be considered “meat”
Knowing that, for me it is a moot point if a company claims X % of protein comes from “meat” because while we assume striate muscle when we hear the term meat, it seems, based on legal definitions, the protein may be from skin, tendons and other tissues of lower quality. Therefore, I personally see those types of claims as too easily subject to marketing department manipulation, it all goes back to how much do I trust the company?
I understand your surprise at my feeding choices. I suppose it really comes down to feeding philosophy. Every ingredient has pros and cons. I tend not to vilify ingredients. That isn’t to say I don’t look at ingredients on the label because i do but I may just be using that information differently than someone else.
Hi Aimee. Interesting information regarding the legal definition of meat and good food for thought for me (bad pun). It really does come down to trusting the company. However, transparency is a must for me and I feel that any company that doesn’t want to state the percent protein from meat (or just percent meat ingredients) is not transparent enough for me. But you absolutely make a good point that I need to dig in and make sure I trust the company enough to believe their claims.
After my revelations following the 2018/2019 DCM vs grain free horrors, I became very untrusting of dog food companies in general. After a lot of research, my take was that the situation wasn’t what FDA was initially suggesting (grain free = DCM), but it did uncover something really ugly in the pet food industry. That many companies were using peas/legumes to lower the meat content so they could make more money. Plus ingredient splitting came on my radar. I refuse to go back to the guessing games based on order of ingredients. I feel my blood pressure spiking just thinking back on how angry I was at those revelations. Deep breaths . . .
Thanks for the food for thought. To be added to my VERY LONG LIST of dog food concerns. M&Ccrazy4catsParticipant
Hi Mutts and Cats-
Here is a helpful link that contains some of AAFCO’s ingredient definitions. Unfortunately, you have to pay to get them all!
I find this information very interesting and useful! Hope it helps. 🙂
Hi Mutt and Cats,
I’d consider your need to know % of protein from meat to be a feeding philosophy. We all hold philosophies that are important to us. For me I’m not so much concerned if the nutrients come from meat vs plant. I’m concerned that nutrients are available to the dog, come from well researched ingredient sources and are in the proper formulation.
FDA has IMO been very conservative and has never suggested or claimed grain free= DCM and putting my scientist hat on,that on the information just isn’t there. We do have a strong correlation between foods high in pulse ingredients and possible potato and DCM.
Personally, even way before the DCM alert I avoided OTC foods with legumes and potatoes because IMO they were not well researched ingredients. Now we have a situation in which companies whose product formulas were made with the now suspect ingredients were in a bind. We all witnessed the pet industry swiftly pivoting and the companies that vilified grain were now rushing to market grain inclusive diets. But apparently to still embrace their marketing strategy that grains like corn and wheat are detrimental to pets, marketed “ancient grains” But IMO these new products have the same fundamental problem as the original diets have, made from ingredients that have not been well researched.
Years ago, I asked a major company how their diets were formulated a what process bringing to market a new diet entailed. I was told a min. of 5 years from the concept of a new formulation to finalizing that formulation and they listed out for me all the different branches of nutritionists, food scientists, toxicologists etc they had on their formulation team. Compare that to how quickly companies flooded the market with new formulations after the FDA alert. IMO this was just jumping out of the pan into the fire.
Based on my experiences, “transparency” has become a red flag for me. I’ve found the most egregious errors, misrepresentations, outright lies and refusal to provide information from companies that shout out about how “transparent” they are.
Thanks crazy4cats for that link. Very interesting stuff. Think I had better abstain from paying for a prescription though. I already spend way too much time obsessing about dog food. 🙂
Hi Aimee. Yes I acknowledge that my dog food protein philosophy (obsession even?) is not shared by all. Many company reps have tried to convince me that it is not important that dogs get their protein from meat. Other ingredients in the right combination are just as good . . . etc. I think it was because I got so angry when I first started researching the DCM vs diet issue (just after my dog died) when I realized that the fairly expensive brands I had been feeding appeared to be very guilty of ingredient splitting and almost certainly most of their protein was coming from peas and other legumes. So I have really dug in my heels on the issue. But I do respect your point that there is a big difference between one company who may be producing a food by looking at combinations of plant based amino acids to meet a dog’s protein needs vs. another who says “hey – we could make a lot more money if we just start using less meat and more peas”.
I wish that I could get comfortable with the idea that my dogs could thrive on less meat. I personally am such an animal lover that I don’t like to eat them. But because I have a soy allergy I decided years ago that I just wasn’t getting enough protein while eating vegetarian. So now I draw the line at fish, and do eat that regularly. But, despite how much it grosses me out, I cut up turkey and steak for my dogs because I strongly believe that they need it.
And although you have made good points about the value of transparency, I feel that given my time constraints for thorough research of companies, transparency is one of the best indicators I have for evaluating a company. My conclusion that the company appears to be transparent from their website, packaging, my correspondence with reps, and product reviews – not their claims. And if they are not willing to disclose the percent protein from meat, or percent meat ingredients, then that’s just a non-starter for me. Why would they not want to disclose it if they are producing a good product?
I wasn’t suggesting that FDA claimed a link between grain free and DCM. I was just typing quickly and I guess it came across that way. I’m certainly glad that FDA started releasing information pretty quickly and probably even before they had a theory as to what was going on. I’ve read articles by conspiracy theorists who think FDA was trying to do damage to the small companies that were promoting grain free, and given my slight conspiracy-theory-distrust-of-Gov’t-agencies outlook, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some truth to that (ironically, I’m a retired fed.) Maybe FDA had nothing to do with that issue getting spun into a connection between grain-free foods and DCM, but somehow that is what happened.
On the subject of “… strong correlation between foods high in pulse ingredients and possible potato and DCM.” – what are your thoughts on the why? At the point that I mostly stopped reading on the topic, well over a year ago, there was still much speculation about whether peas/legumes might be acting as an anti-nutrient, or if it was just a case of the dogs not getting enough quality protein, or some other reason. At that point it was looking like potatoes were become an ingredient of less concern. No?
Aimee and crazy4cats – if you guys care to weigh in on this other obsession of mine too – maybe help me see errors in my thinking – that would be great. Reading on the AAFCO page from the link crazy4cats provided, the definition of “meat” clearly states that it does not include bone. I was pretty sure that was the case, and most companies who add bone either state “including bone” or list the bone parts as individual ingredients. This got me thinking about another topic that has been bothering me. I mentioned earlier in this post how I lost my trust in a certain company because of anomalies in their online vitamin/mineral data, and my suspicions that the data didn’t jive with the ingredients.
One of my big concerns was the high variation in calcium and phosphorous content (between different recipes and between what is online vs additional info provided by a rep). That, plus my feeling that just based on the ingredients listed on the packaging I can’t figure out how these high calcium and phosphorous numbers are even possible. But, I’ve just recently become interested in the gory details of dog nutrition, so I’m probably missing something.
For example, for their Duck recipe, the dry matter values for calcium and phosphorous are 3.91% and 3.15%. These were provided by a company rep as the most current info and are much higher than what is currently on the website (1.79% and 1.52%). The large increase is disturbing, given there has been no change in the ingredients, but even more disturbing to me is how the heck could that food even have 3.91% and 3.15% given the ingredients? Seems to me they would have to be including bone and even then it’s pretty hard to get to 3.15% phosphorous just using meat with some bone included, isn’t it? I can’t help but suspect they are using something like dicalcium phosphate, but not listing it as an ingredient. Or, there is something terribly wrong with their analysis methods.
Duck, duck gizzard, duck heart, duck liver, herring oil, mixed tocopherols (preservative), vitamin E supplement, zinc amino acid complex, iron amino acid complex, copper amino acid complex, manganese amino acid complex
Hi Crazy 4cats and Mutts and Cats,
AAFCO recently made all ingredient definitions public. You can access them here.
I’ll address your concern about the high mineral content of certain recipes as I understand the issue. It dovetails with the explanation I gave prior regarding % meat in a recipe.
The AAFCO definition for poultry is different than for non poultry “meat” The definition for Duck “is with or without accompanying bone” So while you may envision muscle when you read that ingredient it could be racks stripped of most muscle and therefore have high bone content. Th high mineral content of the formula gives you a tip off that the duck may be have a lot of connective tissue in relation to muscle tissue.
The meat definition doesn’t mention bone and like you I assumed that meant no bone. But the definition doesn’t specifically exclude bone either. I talked to 2 different manufacturers. One told me the “venison” they used had a mineral content of 25% ! This is reflected in the mineral content of the diet
Mutts and Cats,
Apparently, though I hit “edit” after I accidently submitted, I must not have edited it quick enough, and my original post was posted.
What I added was that the second manufacturer also confirmed that there was significant bone in their “meat”. It could be that as a commodity, striate muscle may be reclaimed by grinding and then passing a bone /muscle mixture through a screen. The bone that passes through the screen then becomes part of the mix and accepted as a “measure of good processing”. But honestly, I do not know in what forms these commodities are available to manufacturers.
IMO if a manufacturer desires to formulate for high protein from striate muscle they may accept as trade off a high mineral content if using a product of that type.
Personally, I tend to avoid foods with high mineral content.
Thanks Aimee for the link and additional info on meat. I guess I didn’t read far enough to learn that the meat vs. bone rules are different for poultry.
It’s still bugging me that the 3.15% figure for phosphorous seems too high if they are using just meat, organs, and bones for the ingredients. It seems like the phosphorous can’t be that high without the calcium being even higher than 3.91%.
From my research on the calcium and phosphorous content of meats and bones, the duck meat should have a phosphorous content of only about 0.6% (dry matter) and the organs a little higher, but still barely over 1%. And of course very little Ca for the meat and organs. The Ca:P ratio of bone is generally between 2.0 and 2.5. So when I crunch numbers I just can’t figure out how they could have gotten to 3.91% and 3.15%. If they are using bone to get the P that high then the Ca should be much higher, yet they have conveniently ended up with a 1.2:1 Ca:P ratio. But, I’m probably missing something, and my comps are fairly crude, especially for the organs. So . . . it’s probably possible with the listed ingredients, but I have a nagging feeling that things don’t add up. Please speak up if you see any flaws in my numbers/logic.
Even if the 3.91% and 3.15% figures are possible with the listed ingredients, they are still high enough to possibly be a health concern in my mind, even though they have kept the Ca:P ratio at 1.2:1. They are way over the AAFCO maximums of 1.8% and 1.6%. Welcome your thoughts. M&C
Aimee – thanks for the second reply too. I didn’t see that one until after I sent my reply. I continue to be baffled by this forum website. I’m often not seeing replies to my posts until I move around within the website, or log out then back in. I guess thus refreshing things. Weird.
So you did kind of answer my second question in your second reply. As I understand your reply, you do seem to think that such high Ca and P numbers (and high mineral contents in general) are a concern, even though the Ca:P ratio is where it should be.
I really should just let go of my first concern that something fishy is going on with the numbers, but letting go is not just not me I guess . . . Plus, I do want to understand this stuff better. Thanks for helping me with that. M&C
Hi Mutts and Cats,
I’ll give you my perspective on the other issues you brought up.
Transparency. Like you I’d judge this on the company’s actions not on what they claim.
You asked why wouldn’t a company disclose % protein from meat? I think it could be a difficult question to answer and one that could open a company up to litigation. I previously brought up what is “meat” from the perspective of an AAFCO definition and what is meat from a consumer perspective may be different. And then there are organs, are those “meat”? They have been referred to that way. Is smooth muscle from intestines “meat” ?
As a manufacturer buying a commodity how are they to know how much of the “meat” is striate muscle and how much is connective tissue? Or how much of meat meal is organ vs other tissue, is smooth muscle meat? It might be easier for a company to answer what % of protein comes from animal tissue. But since the quality differs widely I’m not sure of the value of knowing this.
In general I’d consider the bioavailability of AA higher in muscle and organs higher than from plants, but It all goes back to formulation. What is the dog getting out of the food.
- This reply was modified 10 months ago by aimee.
Mutts and Cats,
I have no idea of the why there is an apparent correlation between DCM and pea/legume /potato ingredients. It could be a antinutrient factor, a metabolite, a toxin, possible related to growing conditions, something about the overall formulation, all of the above or none of the above some combination of the above creating the perfect storm. If it was simplistic, like not enough protein from meat, we’d have had the answer by now, but we don’t and who knows if it will ever be discovered. Many years later, the causation of chicken jerky /Fanconi like syndrome hasn’t been found. It is interesting how the pet industry embraced that association, possible because of the “from China” tagline and that it came on the tails of the melamine crisis. but seems they are fighting this one (DCM) with the same vigor the tobacco industry fought the association between its products and cancer.
The idea that FDA was looking to damage small companies never made any sense to me. I suspect the larger companies hold a greater market share of the “grain free” offerings. I think the association just caused so much cognitive dissonance in some people that they had to come up with a way to resolve that.
Hi Aimee. You have really given me much to think about and I am changing my perspective a bit and reevaluating what my priorities should be when assessing the quality of a food and trustworthiness of the company. Your points on the quality, and even definition, of meat are definitely sinking in. I feel now like I had blinders on in thinking that as long as the percentage of meat was high in a food then all was good.
I’m starting to feel that maybe I should just bite the bullet and start making my own food.
Right now I’m in a transition period where my dogs get about 1/2 their caloric intake from fresh meat and turkey necks and the other 1/2 from commercial (raw frozen and freeze dried). I recently started keeping track of all the vitamins/minerals they are getting from everything they eat. I was previously just focusing on calcium, phosphorous and a few other things – hoping everything else was ok. But now that I have been moving toward more meat and less commercial (because I’m not sure I trust the brands I’m feeding), it’s getting to the point I’m going to have to add supplements or add more ingredients to the fresh food. To make things more challenging, I recently had one of my dogs tested for food allergies and he is allergic (IgE reaction) to every vegetable they tested for (but, oddly, not allergic to any meats), so this further limits what I can feed him. But, I also can’t decide if I trust the allergy testing . . .
I’m getting very frustrated and anxious. Thanks for taking the time to post with me. You have helped me a lot. M&C
Aimee – thanks for the additional discussion on the DCM/food issue too. It is interesting that 4 years later there is still no agreement by experts on the issue. My conspiracy theory brain is going crazy. 🙂
Mutts and Cats,
Like you, I hate when I can’t make sense of things. As I recall mineral analysis is fraught with error so there are limits in the methodology that could account for some of the discrepancy.
I think there is movement away from thinking that the 1.2:1 ratio is most important and moving towards actual amounts as being more important. I’d suspect a lot of interplay here but yes I’m overall not a fan of high ash/mineral diets and I won’t feed them. I don’t know that there is a lot of literature on this in adults. As I recall there is a paper looking at high calcium diets in adult dogs and no adverse effects were found during study duration and there is research in cats with high phosphorous which appeared to result in kidney damage in adult cats.
Based on the ingredients, I think I found the diet you are discussing. If so, it
appears to be labeled as being formulated to meet AAFCO. With mineral content that high they would seem to be in violation of that statement. Did you bring this up to the rep and what was the response? If a company gave me that type of data in a food labeled to meet AAFCO, it would be reason for me to choose a different company.
I have seen companies claim to meet AAFCO through feeding trials when they have foods this high in mineral content. I don’t like to see companies using a feeding trial to get around the profile. I think AAFCO is trying to close the loophole a bit on that at least in relation to growth. In one case the company told me they never did any feeding trials but they just label that they did one, telling me AAFCO said it was Ok for them to do so. I contacted AAFCO.. they disagreed… Lot’s of nonsense out there..crazy4catsParticipant
Hi Aimee and Mutts & Cats-
Thank you for the link Aimee. I took a look and it’s very overwhelming! Too bad they don’t let me copy any part of it.
Also, M & C, I agree that there is something wrong with the forum. I also have to log in before it shows the up-to -date version. It always reverts back a few months. You wouldn’t know if someone posted unless you log in with username. I’m not sure who to contact to get this fixed as it did not use to be this way.
I’m impressed you are trying to do all the calculations. Not an easy task and not one I want to take on! I just stick to the big companies now that do all the research for us. Here is a recommended list of questions that the WSAVA believes are important things to know about a company. Maybe some of them could be helpful during your search of good and safe food for your pets!
Hi Mutts and Cats,
Meat ( striate muscle) other than protein, is very devoid of nutrients. I think it is good that you are looking at overall content because I suspect the mix you are making with half calories coming from necks and meat is not meeting nutritional needs. Are you comparing your final mix to NRC recommendation on a metabolic weight basis or some other parameter?
IgE tests for food allergy are like flipping a coin. Dogs can react to items they test “negative” for and not react to items they test “positive” for. Overall, I think the test has little value and I think the money spent on them could be put to better use.
Yes, I too was disappointed that I couldn’t download the AAFCO OP chapter. I took screenshots of the pages with definitions that were of the most interest.
I also notice the forum issue. Even though I click the “keep me logged in” box it keeps logging me out and the side bar then reflects posts from months ago instead of the recent conversations.
Aimee and crazy4cats – I’m glad you guys have problems with the forum website too, so I don’t feel it is just my ineptness.
On the AAFCO Chapter 6 – I was able to download it from the link Aimee provided. They just asked for my email address and why I was interested and I checked “pet owner” and then was taken to the document. I haven’t QUITE finished reading the entire chapter yet though. 🙂
And thanks for the WSAVA link crazy4cats. Patricia A had called my attention to WSAVA earlier and I’m glad she did. The link you provided is a nice summary and I just downloaded it.
On food allergies – I did start another topic under Diet and Health. I know now how Aimee feels, but if you guys want to weigh in more over there that would be great.
Hi again Aimee. Regarding my analysis of my dog’s diet, I look at both the NRC recommendations and AAFCO. I tend to look more at AAFCO (using dry matter basis ppm or %) because of ease in comparing to the vitamin/mineral data I get from companies. I just use an Excel spreadsheet to add up the total of all vitamins/minerals from all the foods they eat. This is the only descent exercise my retired brain gets now.
I do realize that I am going to have to add more variety to the self-prepared portion soon. Because of my dog’s (alleged) food allergies, I have ended up feeding almost a Prey Model diet for the last couple months, but I’m not sure that I think this is a healthy way to feed. As I imagine you have picked up on – I’m not sure about a lot.
Regarding that certain company I have become disenchanted with – they have evidently blacklisted my email. I don’t get a reply any more, and I’ve decided that I’m done with them. I really tried hard to talk myself into trusting them, because I hated to put my dogs through yet another food change. Plus, unfortunately, Chewy had a big sale on their foods a couple months ago (right before I started becoming suspicious) so I now have a very large stockpile of food I don’t feel good about.
The company does claim that the food “… is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO …”. The vitamin/mineral data that they have on their website does, from what I had looked at. The disturbingly high calcium and phosphorus numbers came from data emailed to me by a rep when I asked a question about what was online. What she emailed me was significantly different in many ways from what is online. For both the Duck and Turkey recipes. When I asked about that the communications stopped. As I said, I’m done with them. There is no point in pushing the issue any more, plus I don’t want to get the rep who sent me the updated data in trouble. She was just trying to be helpful.
Well I had better sign off and take the mutts for a walk. M&C
Hi M &C,
Glad to hear that you ‘re aware of what the final mix ends up being. For any nutrients that are near the AAFCO levels you might want to look at level on a metabolic body weight basis. I say this because if you have an “easy keeper”, meaning energy needs lower than average, the diet may meet AAFCO but the nutrient intake may not. I’ve had to use a fortified diet meant for weight loss for my easy keeper to make sure all her needs were met.
I’ve been “ghosted” by many a company. I find a discrepancy, ask a question and they just disappear….. Have you ever read the thread in the forums in which I wrote about by experience with the company that makes No Hide? It is a long one and I have been updating it for over 4 years now.
Hi Aimee. I’m still struggling a bit to understand the difference in approach between NRC and AAFCO, but I think that I’m getting there and maybe I should be relying more on NRC.
I realize now that those AAFCO max values that I quoted yesterday are evidently outdated. I have been using a document that was proposed revisions for 2014, which is all that I have been able to find online (for free), and I thought those were what was approved, but maybe not. The online Merck Veterinary Manual includes what I think is the most current AAFCO table and the max values are different there. From my 2014 AAFCO revisions document, these are the maximum values for adult maintenance: Ca 1.8% P 1.6%. From the Merck AAFCO table they are Ca 2.5% P 1.6%.
I also stumbled across an interesting document from FEDIAF (national pet food industry associations in the EU and from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Norway, Russia, Serbia and Switzerland) which seems to use NRC, with some tweaks, and they also show the max as Ca 2.5% P 1.6%. Huge document with a lot of good discussion on dog and cat nutrition, downloadable for free.
I haven’t been able to find an NRC table online that shows maximums for Ca and P. I’ll bet you can tell me if those exist. I’ve been using recommended 2006 NRC values out of a book (K9 Kitchen), but no maximums are provided for Ca and P. Merck has an NRC table online too, but no maximums for Ca and P. I found in my notes (I neglected to note the source of that info) that the NRC maximums per 1,000 kcal are Ca 6.25 g and P 4.0 g. Does that sound right? My notes could very well be wrong. I think those maximums would translate to about 3.1% and 2.0% on a food content basis. I used an assumed food with 5,000 kcal/kg DM for that computation. But I barely understand what I’m doing, and these computations are starting to challenge my poor old brain.
Boy I can’t believe how I can go down dog nutrition rabbit holes and burn up hours of time. I need to get a life right?
Your No Hide thread certainly sounds interesting and I will look for that next time I’m here. M&C
Hi again Aimee. I realized right after my last post that what I thought were NRC maximums per 1,000 kcal of Ca 6.25 g and P 4.0 g are actually just the AAFCO maximums of 2.5% and 1.6% converted using a food with 4,000 kcal/kg. So I think the source I got those from just took AAFCO maximums and converted them. Or, maybe AAFCO and NRC maximums are the same for Ca and P. ???
ok – now I’m definitely done thinking about this for the day. M&C
Hi M & C
I’ve gone down many a rabbit hole over the years. Hunting down accurate information can be a frustrating endeavor. Here is my take on NRC. NRC numbers are based on high bioavailability, something that in the real word doesn’t necessarily occur. AAFCO takes the info from NRC and pads the numbers to account for bioavailability.
AAFCO tables are by kg DM, assuming 4000 kcals/kg and they also report nutrients/ 1000 kcals . NRC does this too, but NRC also provides amounts based on body size. For example, NRC rec 3.28 grams of protein/ kg bw to the .75 power.
AAFCO tables are in Mins and Maxs. NRC has 4 columns: min, adequate, rec and safe upper limit. For many nutrients a SUL is not given because there is not sufficient research as to where to draw that line. For adult dogs there is no reported SUL for CA or Phos. For growth the SUL is 1.8% with a 4000/kcal/kg DM diet. This was based upon large breed puppy growth.
Currently I believe AAFCO table for MAX Calcium is 2.5 % EXCEPT in the case of growth of large breed puppies in which case it is 1.8%. This is why an AAFCO statement may say formulated to meet all life stages except growth of large breed puppies.
The point I was trying to make, and didn’t explain well, is that when AAFCO sets its tables it assumes that the dog is eating an average amount of calories but doesn’t define what this amount is. They leave it up to the manufacturer to determine feeding recommendations. This is a huge weak link.
It is known that when calories are calculated, any individual dog can vary by 50% from this number. So, for example, if calculated calories are 500, one individual may need 250 and another 1000.
When diets just meet AAFCO min there is an underlying assumption that the dog will be eating 500 kcals. But for those dogs that only need 250 kcals that AAFCO min may not meet the dog’s nutrient needs on a weight basis as given by NRC.
I think FEDIAF addresses this by having two data sets with one being for “inactive ” pets, but I haven’t checked to verify this. I believe this is what Susan Thixton is trying to petition the FDA to address.
That may be the easier way to address this because actually determining caloric needs is fraught with a lot of variation. But I see it as imperfect as well because it still leaves it up to the manufacturer and I’ve found considerable errors with this approach. I’ve found multiple instances in which when using the nutritional information provided by the manufacturer and using the manufacturer’s feeding recommendations the dog would not consume enough nutrients to meet NRC rec. or sometimes even min. values.
I have only found this in high cost, small company products. IMO feeding amounts are set low to make the food look more affordable. IMO, one of the most egregious examples I’ve come across was in a freeze-dried product made by a company that apparently did have by a PhD in animal nutrition on staff. So apparently even having someone with an appropriate background in nutrition in the company doesn’t insulate the consumer from errors of this type.
On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve seen companies who boost all nutrients to well above AAFCO min to better cover these “easy keepers” AND have feeding recommendations that will meet the animal’s nutrient need.
I’ve seen as a rule of thumb that if your dog needs to eat 80% or less of the recommended amount you need to switch foods to something with a higher nutrient density. The problem is that assumes the original feeding recommendations are accurate and unfortunately, they in many cases, are not.
Hi Aimee. Well my dog nutrition education is coming along, and thank you for your part in that. I appreciate that you are taking the time to help educate me. I could have educated myself a lot quicker if I had just taken the time to read the 2014 AAFCO document that I have instead of bolting straight to the table.
I think I now understand how it can make a difference whether the vitamin/mineral content of foods is evaluated based on actual calories consumed (or actual caloric content of the food), vs the presumed content used by AAFCO. I don’t pay much attention to the feeding guidelines of companies, and my dog is probably an average keeper, but the way I was using the AAFCO data was problematic. I was converting the AAFCO food content (ppm or %) data to total daily needs for my dog. The foods I feed seem to average about 5,000 kcal/kg so I was using that when doing the conversion. But I realize now that I should have been using 4,000 and by using the larger number I was essentially lowering the AAFCO recommended levels. So when I was comparing the total vitamin/mineral content consumed by my dog in a day to my computed AAFCO daily, it was not a valid comparison. Plus, a food might look like it is barely meeting AAFCO, but is not when it comes down to what my dog is actually getting. Am I thinking straight now?
Does AAFCO conduct any oversight of companies who claim that their foods meet AAFCO standards? Does AAFCO require that they submit a quality control plan and submit lab reports periodically? I suspect there is only so much AAFCO can do and therefore the oversight may be minimal.
How about the calorie content of foods? Who regulates that to insure that what is stated on the bag is accurate? I guess if there is some regulation of that then it would be of some comfort that a company couldn’t get too carried away with adding bone to their recipes because then the caloric value would get very low. Right?
I sure have changed my thinking on how I evaluate the quality of a commercial food, and I’m very thankful for the information you have provided me that nudged me to rethink.
And speaking of that, I noticed something discouraging (heartbreaking, really) about Steve’s online data. I recently started feeding Steve’s and was hopeful that this was going to become the food that I finally could feel good about. But they recently put some updated data on the website and the Ca and P increased dramatically. Not quite as bad as what I had mentioned previously about Vital Essentials, plus I do applaud Steve’s for actually keeping their online data current. But, I’m realizing now that very high Ca and P are troubling to me. Especially since I feed turkey necks too.
This is how Steve’s Turkey recipe changed. The frozen and freeze dried are supposedly the exact same recipe and all data is dry matter basis.
Ash 2.13% 10.8%
Calcium 2.2% 2.9%
Phosphorus 1.7% 1.8%
C/P 1.3 1.6
Turkey Freeze Dried
Ash 8.01% 9.2%
Calcium 2.06% 3.83%
Phosphorus 1.59% 2.31%
C/P 1.3 1.7
This bone content issue is starting to feel a little like the pea scandal. Companies increasing the bone content more and more to increase their profits.
What is the Topic name for the No Hide thread you mentioned? I see that you are a very busy poster. Looks like a lot of good reading in your Topics, to be explored when I have more time. Sorry to bombard you with so many questions in this post. M&C
Hi M& C,
I think you’ve got it! The best way to compare foods is on a caloric basis. This takes into account water, fiber, ash and energy density. You’ll note on this site there is a table for each diet and that the macronutrients are given in an as fed. dry matter, and caloric basis.
AAFCO requires that for any diet over 4000 kcals/kg DM a conversion factor be applied. If the diet you are feeding is 5000 kcals/kg that conversion factor is simply 5000/4000 X the number in the table. So many times, I’ve found that companies overlook this. Recently, I got a nutrient analysis table for a diet labeled for ALS. The Ca content was listed as 1.3% DM and AAFCO’s min is 1.2%, so that looks good right? Well, they also reported the kcals as 5400/kg for that diet. Calculating through 5400/4000 X 1.2 = 1.6. The diet needs to have 1.6 % Ca to meet AAFCO min and they are reporting 1.3%. Got ‘ghosted” after inquiring about the apparent discrepancy.
AAFCO writes a model food law which most states adopt in some form, but they do not do any type of regulation. There is no oversite by AAFCO. Oversite is done by your state feed control official and the FDA. IMO for all practical purposes, oversite is nonexistent in most areas. It seems to me that areas that effect humans, like pathogens in food, are monitored via spot check cultures of foods. Some foods may be tested to see if they meet their GA.’s, but overall, no one is checking to verify information on a label is correct.
In regards to high bone content in foods, it could just be a reflection of what sourcing the company has access to and an acceptance of high fat and mineral content in the products available to them.
I didn’t see calorie content listed for the diet to see what mineral content is on a caloric basis. But I found their marketing very oft putting and reckless. They write “Turkey meat is one of the leanest proteins available making it a great option for pets that are sensitive to fat content, such as those with pancreatitis.” which can be true esp turkey breast. BUT their turkey diet is a whopping 35% as fed fat diet! Using their information and doing some rough calculation that would mean ~63% of the calories are coming from fat! This appears to be a very high fat diet being marketed as being appropriate for dogs with fat intolerance. For me that makes me see red and would earn them a spot on my not recommended list.
Just as an aside.. did you mention your dog is having seizures? I’m asking because you mentioned a 5000kcal/kg diet and to reach that high of caloric density fat has to be significant component of the diet. I might get my details wrong on this because it is awhile since I read the literature. But as I recall some dogs have low levels of tissue lipase. This results in prolonged clearance of fat from their blood and the outcome is high triglycerides. High triglyceride can trigger seizures.
A friend’s dog was having horrible cluster seizures several times a month, was seeing a vet neurologist and on 3 different drugs. Her reg. vet noticed that on each blood panel gotten back from the neurologist, the triglycerides were high, and the sample was always reported as “lipemic,” meaning visible fat in the blood. The reg vet called the neurologist and the neurologist said paraphrased “yeah they are high, but not high enough to cause seizures.” The reg vet told her there is no downside to trying a lower fat diet. So, the diet was changed, triglycerides returned to normal, and the dog went from having multiple cluster seizures a month to never again having another seizure. Apparently, the dog didn’t read the medical book.Raven DeptoParticipant
For raw dog food recommendations, consider the following:
Quality of ingredients: Look for products that contain high-quality meat, such as chicken, beef, or lamb, as the main ingredient. Avoid filler ingredients like corn, wheat, or soy.
Nutritional balance: Make sure the food includes a balanced ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as essential vitamins and minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
Source of ingredients: Choose brands that use locally sourced and humanely raised animal products.
Safety and sanitation: Make sure the food is manufactured and packaged under strict safety and sanitation guidelines to reduce the risk of contamination.
Customer reviews: Read customer reviews and check for any reported health issues related to the food.
Some popular and well-regarded brands of raw dog food include Stella & Chewy’s, Primal Pet Foods, and The Honest Kitchen. It is important to talk to your veterinarian to ensure a raw food diet is appropriate for your dog and to get specific recommendations based on your pet’s individual nutritional needs.
Hi Aimee. Thanks, as always, for the good information. You must chuckle to yourself at people like me who are struggling to grasp the AAFCO/NRC data, and dog nutrition in general. I’m finally taking the time now to better understand what I’m doing, but when I look back at where I’ve been, my bumbling is amusing. And, I still have a long way to go . . .
It’s disappointing to learn that there really isn’t much regulation over the dog food industry. So companies can claim about anything and get away with it. I imagine the small companies tend to be even more protected, because no one bothers to go after them for false claims. I notice that all of the foods I feed use the exact same language on the bags “… formulated to meet … AAFCO…” Lawyer approved language that protects them. But, thankfully people like you remind some of these companies that there are some very educated consumers out there who are keeping an eye on them.
Yes, my dog had his first seizure in August and I’ve been obsessing about his diet ever since. I’ve worked myself into a state of high anxiety thinking that what I’m feeding him may be contributing. Although thankfully the seizures have been less frequent lately (last 2 were 18 days apart).
Thank you for bringing up triglycerides. I just looked back at my dog’s lab reports and that was not tested for. Cholesterol was normal, but he was not fasting so I guess the results are not particularly valid. After reading your post I of course went on a Googling spree on cholesterol vs triglycerides but came away with a frustrating lack of understanding, and wondering why his bloodwork included cholesterol but not triglycerides. He is scheduled for bloodwork again on 3/1 so I will have him fasted for that and ask that triglycerides be included. Thanks again for bringing it up. I’m always willing to explore any possibility.
I have been purposely feeding him a high fat diet, even including some MCT Oil, as my research indicated that some seizure dogs do well when fed this way. He was eating high protein and moderate fat before the seizures started. He has never seemed to have a problem with fat (that showed in his poop anyway). Before I started making changes to his diet, and starting supplements, his poop looked great. He did develop diarrhea a few weeks ago that I think was either reaction to a new food or to starting Milk Thistle. I discontinued both. The diarrhea went away but ever since then his poop has remained too soft. He was on CBD Oil too, which I thought was probably contributing to soft poop. TMI on my dog’s poop, right? Sorry, I get carried away. I think reducing his fat intake is a really good thought, and I will definitely get the triglycerides checked.
Thanks for adding some discussion about Steve’s. I need to take my education to the next level to understand some of what you have presented (I’m really lacking in understanding regarding how to interpret calories from fat, etc.), but I do get the point you are making. I think Steve’s has some data presentation issues on the website too. Did you notice that they show the Vitamins being presented As Fed but the Minerals being Dry Matter? And yet it looks pretty apparent to me that the Vitamins are Dry Matter too, particularly when I compare the frozen to the freeze dried. I raised the question and got an answer that was really perplexing – something about using the freeze dried data (even for the frozen), so the As Fed was actually close to Dry Matter. Yikes! The rep seemed thankful for the input, but the website hasn’t changed. My once hopeful thoughts are starting to turn . . .
I probably need to take a time out for a few days before deciding what to do, regarding his diet. I’ve made SO MANY changes in the last 5 months, which I know is not a good thing. I need to be settling in on something and stick with it. Thanks again, for your time. I REALLY appreciate it. M&C
Hi again Aimee. I found your No Hide thread. It was surprisingly difficult to find. I tried yesterday, while logged in, and couldn’t find it because I was unable to go to the second page of the Topics you have created. Then this morning I got on the website on my backup laptop but was not logged in and it popped up on the left side of the screen in the “Latest Replies” column. Showing that there had been replies in the last few hours. But of course when I went to that topic, the last reply was in December. So I continue to be baffled by bizarre occurrences like that on this website. Of course there is a good chance the problem is me.
Anyway – NICE WORK! Thank you for putting information like that on this website. I will certainly remember the Earth Animal company name and will never buy anything from them.
A related question for you. Would the vitamin/mineral content of turkey tendons be similar to turkey meat? My dogs are very fond of turkey tendons, as treats, and eat several per day. Beef esophagus too. The caloric contents are 4,585 kcal/kg and 3,720 kcal/kg. I have assumed that both have some nutritional value, but maybe not. I don’t know the fat content either, and that might be much higher than I assumed. I haven’t been able to find an online resource for nutritional information on things like turkey tendons. I mostly use nutritiondata.self for information on meat (and some organs).
Thanks Raven Depto. Appreciate your contribution.
Hi Aimee. If you have time to help me along some more with my dog food nutrition education, that would be great. A few posts ago you Commented that Steve’s Turkey appeared to have ~63% of the calories coming from fat, which you feel is quite high. How do you like to see the % calories distributed? For some reason, in the past I have had a mental block regarding evaluation of foods on a caloric basis. I have always just looked at the protein and fat percentages and made sure the protein was plenty high and had tried to keep the protein to fat ratio at something close to 2:1. But, as I learn more, I realize that I should start thinking in terms of % of calories.
I’m glad you raised the fat issue because I think that I have been really overdoing it with high fat content foods. My dog seizure research had taken me that direction. Plus a holistic vet that I took my dog to for a couple months suggested increasing his fat intake. But even before you brought it up I was starting to feel that this was not a good move, and both of my dogs will probably end up with other health problems if I continue down that path.
Also, if you feel comfortable weighing in this, that would be great.
I had formerly purchased Susan Thixton’s List each year, but then skipped a couple of years because I lost some confidence after some of my own research and contact with a couple companies on the list. But, I just bought the 2023 List. Something that occurs to me this time around is that The List does explore some important issues and at least gives an idea of the quality of ingredients used, plus provides what the company says their testing program is. But, from what I can tell, the overall nutritional suitability of the food is not addressed at all. So the companies might be using quality ingredients but not necessarily making a food that is nutritionally sound. Or maybe that is considered but just not specifically addressed in the report. Would love to know your thoughts.
Hi M & C,
I never chuckle. I learn so much through other’s questions and perspectives.
There are a lot of pet food regulations but IMO little verification that manufacturers are following them. I brought an issue of concern to a regulator and was asked “How many confirmed deaths” which gave me insight to where their focus lies. When I asked about truth in labeling, honesty and integrity the response was a sigh and “yes, there is always that” with an underlying context of “we don’t have the luxury of worrying about things like ingredient substitutions”.
It seems then, that holding companies accountable for labeling is falling to the courts and lengthy class action lawsuits. I agree with you that smaller companies probably are given a bit of a pass in that context.
Triglycerides are not normally part of a standard blood panel. Cholesterol in the blood is clear but triglycerides in high numbers give a cloudy appearance to the serum. The lab usually enters the appearance of the sample on the blood report.so look for that and see if the word lipemic appears. Lipemia is normal after eating but lipemia in a fasted sample would be a potential concern.
It could be that the roots of the high fat advice for seizers was based on the ketogenic diet use in people as a treatment for seizures. .A family friend’s story successful experience with a ketogenic diet was made into a movie “First Do No Harm” with Meryl Streep. However, dogs are less likely to enter a state of ketosis through diet compared to people. I believe using MCT oil was found to be a partial workaround, but my understanding is that a significant proportion of the total fat in the diet has to be MCT and this would not be easily achieved simply by adding MCT to an otherwise C and B diet.
Hi M &C,
Every company uses spin and I’ve learned to tolerate a certain amount but when it veers off into misinformation, I pull way back and when it ends with behavior I see as reckless animal endangerment I’m out. That is where I ended with SRF. Looking at the posted NA, I’d agree with you that the “as fed “vitamin information for the frozen looks to be incorrect. I think what they may have meant with their reply was that the data posted is “as fed” for the freeze dried option and since there is little moisture in the freeze dried it is close to DM basis.
The nutrient profiles IMO highlight numerous problems in formulation with some formulas not appearing to meet AAFCO min or exceeding AAFCO max. AAFCO does not list a Max copper, something veterinarians have been calling for since copper storge disease is being diagnosed with increasing frequency. I believe Europe standards call for no more than 28mg/kg. SRF has reports levels as high as 80.5 It appears they are completely disregarding this health concern.
The company describes their beef diet as “low-fat, nutrient dense……..”, a very direct statement. I see this as an egregious unforgivable marketing error. This diet appears to have a min of ~51% fat calories. To put that into context, a low fat therapeutic diets, Hill’s GI low fat has ~17% fat calories. The general consumer isn’t educated on evaluating nutritional information. An owner with a fat intolerant dog may find this diet marketed as low fat, see an 8% min fat level similar to the low fat diet their vet recommended and purchase it, not realizing that 8% as fed in a moist diet is very different from 8% min fat in a dry diet. I personally am aware of this exact situation occurring.
I’ve found that % calories from fat typically ranges between 25-60% in commercial diets with raw diets on the high end. and some far exceeding that 60% I’d consider low fat to be not more than 25% fat calories, moderate fat up to 40% fat calories and high fat over 40% fat calories. I personally don’t like to exceed ~35% calories from fat for my dogs and for my fat intolerant dog 25%.
You can estimate % calories from macronutrients from the GA alone by using the converter at the balanceit website, or hand calculating. SRF reports a min of 8 grams fat in every 100 grams (140 kcals). 8 grams X 9 kcals/gram /140 kcal in 100 grams ~51% calories from fat.
BINGO! Quality ingredients does not = quality food.
Hi M and C,
Didn’t mean to send you on a snipe hunt. Glad you eventually found the No Hide thread i commented on. Did you use the search forums option? That is how I find it.
Going through that has really been a life changing experience. I lost trust in the regulatory process and the pet industry as a whole. Several months ago, I watched a presentation titled something like finding balance between sales and ethics as a pet retailer. It was both fascinating and disheartening at the same time. A discussion about being faced with compromising your ethics so that you have product you could sell to pay the bills, and finding and establishing where you will draw your personal line in the sand.
I have no idea what the vitamin and mineral content of tendons or esophagus would be. To reach a caloric count of 4585, I ‘d suspect approx. 15 % fat as fed basis.
Hi M and C,
I have ST’s 2022 list and find the choices baffling. I don’t understand the inclusion of a company whose FDA inspection report was one of the most atrocious that I’ve ever read. or companies who promote misinformation. It is almost as if the claimed ingredient sourcing blinds her to other issues.
I suspect that nutritional information is not evaluated or perhaps it isn’t given the same weight that I put on it when evaluating a company.
I can’t see what a company’s knowledge base is in regard to proper sourcing, handling and testing of ingredients or cleaning protocols or pathogen control but I can see the nutrition information they provide. If I find apparent deficits in understanding in that area, then I lose confidence in that the company has the needed knowledge in other areas to make a safe product.
Hi Aimee. Thanks for sharing more information and especially for the quick education on converting to energy basis. That balanceit calculator is great, and I did finally grasp your manual calculation (my brain heated up significantly, but I got it). At first I was puzzled by the 9 in your calculation, but thankfully the footnote on balanceit gave me a hint and I now understand where it came from. What I don’t really understand is how the balaneit calculator is able to do the calculation without the caloric value of the food, since that is not one of the entries. But, I don’t really need to know. Your calculation method is quick.
On triglycerides: My, you are quite knowledgeable when it comes to lab reports too. If there is a limit to the scope of your dog knowledge, I haven’t found it yet. The Lipemia Index was reported on 2 of his 3 lab reports and it shows N, with the footnote: “Index of N, 1+, 2+ exhibits no significant effect on chemistry values.” All 3 of the blood draws were done 7-8 hours after he ate breakfast. So not officially fasting, but quite a while after a meal.
This probably is unrelated, but the Lipase level was within range all 3 times.
Interesting about the movie “First Do No Harm” – I’m going to see if Netflix has it.
You raised the high copper issue and that is the very thing that got me so focused on vitamin/mineral content. Very early in my dog seizure research I stumbled upon an article about a concerning trend of high copper content in dog foods along with a trend of rising liver disease in dogs. So then I started looking at the nutrient profiles for dog foods and was horrified to see some foods with around 100 ppm copper (I also get concerned about Vitamin A around 150,000 iu/kg, even though I know the AAFCO upper limit is 250,000). I had been using foods that were pretty high in both, plus my dog was getting quite a few freeze dried liver treats daily. Going forward, I was very careful that the foods I chose had reasonable contents of both. But now, since I have started feeding so much fresh meat and keeping track of everything on my spreadsheet, I realize that my dog’s diet is getting close to copper deficient. So, he is getting a couple small liver treats a day, which is a change he is very happy about.
I did notice that the SRF Beef is quite high in copper, so I stayed with poultry recipes. When I first started being so concerned about copper I was appalled that some companies were putting food out there with such high levels, and it made me think less of those companies. But that seems to be so common with beef recipes that I had to let it go and just pretty much go with poultry recipes. The SRF issue of high fat recipes being touted as low fat on their website is troubling too. So much trouble for my brain to deal with . . .
And speaking of troubling – the “How many confirmed deaths?” reply you mentioned is so sad I don’t even know what to say. Depressing comes to mind. THANKS. M&C
Hi again Aimee. On the No Hide thread, I do realize now that the search function is the best way to find Topics. I can certainly see why that was a life changing experience. I’m glad you hung in there and although the outcome of the FDA investigation was disappointing, I’m sure Earth Animal isn’t celebrating a victory. I imagine a lot of people changed their outlook on the company from reading that thread. I’m glad there are people like you out there who have the knowledge, and take the time, to keep some of the bad actors honest. Hope you don’t get discouraged and stop.
Plus, taking the time to help people like me see some inconvenient truths about foods they are feeding, or considering, is SOOOO valuable. As I’ve said many times, I really appreciate it.
And, a big amen to this: “… then I lose confidence in that the company has the needed knowledge in other areas to make a safe product.”
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