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19 June 2010


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I'm pretty sure the pet food companies would be against making any claim (even 10%) that other, real and actual, foods should be fed to pets in addition to their products.

And I suppose, if they want to claim "complete and balanced", they technically have to feed that food exclusively, even if it's not how most pets get fed. Otherwise, it could be claimed that the food is not complete and balanced but that the table scraps (or what have you) make up for the deficiencies int he product.


Set the sites up in conjunction with veterinary teaching colleges, dog training programs and shelters are the best thing which we can do for the pet.


While I do understand the reason for making the food the exclusive diet during the testing, I can't help but feel that is inhumane in a sense. And I don't know how to resolve that issue except to do what I know the pet food companies will never do: eliminate the "complete and balanced" claim from their labels. I'm not anti-kibble but I don't believe there is any food, especially not a highly processed one, that should be relied upon as the only food a pet ever needs. That just goes against the very core of my food beliefs. (I have core food beliefs? - whoa, just realized!)

I would like to see pet food label claims move in the direction of human food labels, e.g. "part of a balanced breakfast". And while I'm dreaming, I'd like to see them *encourage* owners to include healthy table scraps so that pets are eating at least some fresh (or minimally processed) foods.

Christie Keith

Yeah, I'd like to see that too. Right now AAFCO does have the "supplemental" label claim, which I believe some of the raw commercial foods use.

And Randy Wysong may be a creationist whacko, LOL, but he does recommend that people feed processed foods as only PART of their pets' diets -- I think that's actually on the labels of the food, but if not, it's in the company literature. Just wish I felt better about that food, but it's loaded with soy, which IMO is not fit food for "man nor beast."

Christie Keith

Here's a thought -- I don't have time to check right now (lost two days this week due to the stomach plague and have to work all weekend to catch up) but I think there is some statistic somewhere that shows that something like 10 percent of the average dog's calories comes from treats, table food, scraps, etc? (Must be more than that, actually.)

And I know commercial foods tend to be over-supplied with calcium, and you can add a certain percentage of protein foods without disrupting the sacred "complete and balanced" ratios. (*eye roll*)

So why DOES it matter if the test dogs get a small amount of other foods? That would more carefully match real life, wouldn't it?

Christie Keith

ALL pet food companies wouldn't... some of them, including Honest Kitchen and Wysong and some others that I can't bring to mind right now, already say that on their packaging and/or company literature. This would be a completely third-party program, not to replace AAFCO but like the CCOC or Oregon Tilth programs... voluntary, with their own standards. Consumer-driven, not industry-driven.


Ingrid, I have to speak up here.

Using a vitamin/mineral supplement in addition to an artificially supplemented kibble is asking for trouble. AAFCO standards outline some very wide ranges in regards to vitamin supplementation. For example, cat recommendations for zinc range from 75mg/kg to 2,000mg/kg. Vitamin A ranges from 5,000IU/kg to 750,000IU/kg. Vitamin D from 500IU/kg to 10,000IU/kg.

With ranges like this (I should point out that only the above supplements have maximums - the vast majority of supplements only have minimums) you are risking dangerous over-supplementation of vitamins and minerals by adding an additional supplement.

Not to say that some things can't be supplemented (vitamin C and vitamin B are popular ones) or that nutritional supplements such as a tiny amount of kelp or a sprinkling of bee pollen are not beneficial - but complete multivitamins should be used for diets that do not contain artificial supplementation, such as raw diets or home cooking rather than commercial fare that is already fully supplemented.

Or at least, that's how I see it.


Ingrid King

Great food for thought. (Pun not intended!)

I, too, think that the "complete and balanced" claim should go away. Why do we, as humans, not expect to be able to eat the same thing, day after day, and remain healthy, but yet, we expect this from a pet food? I also think it's reasonable that we should consider using a good multi-vitamin/mineral supplement along with any type of food we feed our pets, even if we (hopefully) feed a wider variety than just one type of food.


Comment by Christie Keith — June 19, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

Yeah sorry I didn't clarify that I was giving my opinion on pet food companies *in general* - that is, I think MOST would be opposed. If consumers could influence more companies besides Wysong and Honest Kitchen to drop the "complete and balanced" claim, I'd be thankful.

Gina Spadafori

I would bet cash money that the "complete and balanced" line was made up by the marketing folks -- along with the myths that "table scraps" and "people food" are bad and that pets must be brand loyal or dire G-I consequences will result.

Jessica Hekman

My vet school already has a colony of teaching beagles. They are taken in after being released from research. We keep them for 2-3 years, and let students practice non-invasive procedures on them. (I have used them to learn to restrain, give physical exams, etc.) At the end of this time, they are rehomed. Other schools have similar programs. It doesn't seem to me that it would be too hard for these programs to be extended to include feeding trials. One problem might be the small number of dogs currently being used for teaching purposes, of course.

I am *really* enthusiastic about the idea of a consumer-driven feeding trial program. It seems like if some big brains got together they might even be able to figure out how to use pets in homes. Did you have ideas about who to get talking? Who would organize/develop/run such a thing?

Ingrid King

Kim, I agree that you shouldn't randomly supplement. You need to understand supplements and which ones are and aren't possible to overdose (and this goes for human supplementation, too).

I had no idea AAFCO's ranges were that wide.


@Ingrid - one of the criteria I try to use while picking food companies is EU certification. The EU standards are not perfect either, but their min/max scales are much smaller.

@Christie - what about involving company employees/reps? Have them sign a contract stating that they will only feed their dogs the food provided. Treats should be permissible, as long as the quantity is limited.

In exchange, complete bloodwork should be done say, every six months. Any and all medical issues must be reported, as must any digestive hiccups.

Upon the pet's death, a necropsy should be performed, and then the cremated remains should be returned to the owner.

ALL costs associated with the trial (including food), as well as with any issues arising from the food, will be covered in full, up front, by the company.

I realize the necropsy part may be hard for some owners to sign off on, but personally I would be content to participate knowing that the data gathered will potentially answer hundreds of questions and help millions of pets.

It would be difficult for any company or customer to have ethical concerns about this type of "study".

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