Are you confused about diet and nutrition? There are many new and ever changing facts and opinions about diet and nutrition and pet health. One of the more recent concerns is regarding heart disease associated with grain free diets, specifically in dogs. This heart disease seems to be associated with “BEG” diets. These include the Boutique diets, those with Exotic ingredients, and those that are Grain free.
- What is a BOUTIQUE diet: made by a pet food manufacturer who does not employ an appropriately qualified team of experts to study and formulate their diets. These companies often rely on marketing trends rather than testing and nutritional research.
- What is an EXOTIC ingredient: ingredients not classically found in pet foods and consist of animal proteins such as kangaroo, buffalo/bison, ostrich, alligator, duck, lamb, salmon, venison, and rabbit.
- What are GRAIN free diets: diets that are free of ingredients such as barley, buckwheat, corn, oats, quinoa, and rice. More recently, these traditional grains have been replaced with pulse ingredients (legume seeds such as peas, lentils, various beans and chickpeas).
Our goal is to try to help you in your product selection. There are many good pet food diets out there. How do we determine if we have a quality dog food product? We use the guidelines brought forth by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Nutrition Committee (https://www.wsava.org/WSAVA/media/Documents/Committee%20Resources/Global%20Nutrition%20Committee/English/Selecting-the-Best-Food-for-your-Pet.pdf)
Some of these guidelines would include:
- A nutritional adequacy statement: The pet food label’s nutritional adequacy statement provides important factual information. A nutritional adequacy statement is required on every pet food label in the United States and Canada This statement confirms three important facts:
- Whether the diet is nutritionally complete and balanced according to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Model Bill and Regulations.
- If the food is complete and balanced, for what life stage is it intended?
- If the food is complete and balanced, did the company determine this by formulation (either analysis or calculation) or by feeding trials (preferred).
- Other important information needed to make an informed decision about a pet food is not on the label and must be obtained from the manufacturer. Important facts that can help select a pet’s food include:
- Does the manufacturer employ a full-time qualified nutritionist (e.g., a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition or European College of Veterinary Comparative Nutrition, or a PhD in animal nutrition)?
- Does a qualified nutritionist formulate the diets?
- Where are the foods manufactured?
- What specific quality control measures are used to assure the quality of ingredients, consistency, and nutritional value of the end product?
- Can the manufacturer provide information on any requested nutrient or the caloric value for the pet food in question?
- Has product research been conducted?
Thankfully we have help from the Pet Nutrition Alliance’s Manufacturer Report (https://petnutritionalliance.org/chart/index.php/manufacturer-report)
- Search by manufacturer name, you can see their answers (if provided)
- If you decide you do want to change your pet’s diet, your veterinarian would be happy to help. Please call to schedule a dietary consultation.
- As you will see in this document link provided above, MANY companies would not provide information. Of those that did, the companies that answered these questions with the answers we were looking for were very few. Purina and Royal Canin come the closest. These remain solid choices for safe and high quality pet nutrition. Does it mean they will never have a recall or a problem? No it doesn’t.
We also have the Clinical Nutrition Service from Cummings (Tufts) Veterinary Medical Center headed up by Dr. Lisa Freeman, DVM, PhD, DACVN. Her Pet Foodology blog is a great resource (https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/petfoodology/)
Owners with pets affected by this heart disease have established some websites and Facebook groups that have gained in popularity with veterinarians, including veterinary cardiologists; https://taurinedcm.org/
Pet Nutrition Alliance website (https://petnutritionalliance.org/)
Consider WHY you have chosen your current diet. Many dogs who started on Grain Free diets did so because they actually needed a Limited Ingredient Diet to help with potential food allergies.
If your pet does have a need to avoid common allergens in foods, one of the 2 following diets may meet your needs ( depending on the ingredient causing sensitivity) . Again – please contact your veterinarian for further questions and specific dietary recommendations.
- Royal Canin Maxi Sensitive Skin Care Adult Large Breed
- Purina Pro Plan Focus Adult Sensitive Skin & Stomach Salmon & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
Newest release from the FDA 6/27/19:
* Information compiled by Veterinarians at Highland Pet Hospital