The DOG FOOD TEST & General Dog Food Info

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You may- approach.
Purred: Mon Jun 21, '10 2:47am PST 
Well if they can set a "tolerable" intake of cyanuric acid, why not melamine? Obviously, the World Health Organization is more concerned about the health of industries than people and animals.


Tolerable levels of Melamine?
Written By: Susan Thixton6-2-2010

International experts of the World Health Organization said they have/had set a "tolerable daily intake for melamine". Confusing; a "tolerable daily intake" for a industrial compound used to make plastics and pesticides? Common sense seems to say there should be NO tolerable level allowed in any food. But that's common sense which all too often has nothing in common with health experts.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director for Food Safety Jorgen Schlundt said the allowable 0.2 milligrans per kilograms of body weight will "better guide the authorities in protecting the health of their public". Yet at the same time, experts of WHO stated it is not yet possible to set a "safe" level of the chemical.

WHO experts also set "tolerable daily intake of cyanuric acid, a related chemical, is 1.5 mg per kilogram of body weight." All too familiar with thousands of pet owners, WHO experts admitted "when both chemicals are in food the effect seems to be more than merely additive." 'More than merely additive' other words the effect of both of these chemicals could have disastrous results. Yet there is no mention from WHO experts about a 'tolerable' amount of melamine and cyanuric acid. vels+melamine+food/1038214/story.html#ixzz0pWnYqk1d

The FDA sets a 2.5 parts per million of melamine and melamine-related compounds. 6960.htm

Again, common sense would say that there should be NO tolerable level of an industrial chemical allowed in food, any food; especially an industrial chemical known to destroy normal kidney function in those that consume it. Where is the common sense in our food safety officials?

Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Truth about Pet Food
Petsumer Report


Where's the- Ball?! Throw- the ball!!!
Purred: Fri Jul 9, '10 6:24am PST 
I'd never heard about this issue, aggression being caused by diet, except for the myth that killing livestock and tasting the blood makes contintue killing, when it is the thrill of chasing the livestock that keeps dogs at it.

B-Naturals Newsletter - July 2010
Can Diet Cause Aggression in Dogs?
By Lew Olson, PhD Natural Health

Last month we dispelled the myth about raw diets being dangerous. This month we're going to address diets causing aggression in dogs. As always, I'm scouring the internet for valid information and research and I read a variety of responses and recommendations on this issue from the perspective of many different authors. These recommendations included reducing protein to control aggression, blaming aggression on not having enough fat in the diet, and current research trying to prove that adding tryptophan to the diet will curb aggression. There were recommendations stating more vegetables should be added to the dog's diet and one suggestion stating you should add 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which is a derivative of tryptophan, to a dog’s diet.

What I would like to do here is examine each of these theories, and look at how a diet may or may not change a dog’s behavior.

Many sources report reducing protein in the diet helps lessen aggression. But the best study I found doesn’t show that: :
Effect of dietary protein content on behavior in dogs.

“Results of this study suggest that a reduction in dietary protein content is not generally useful in the treatment of behavior problems in dogs, but may be appropriate in dogs with territorial aggression that is a result of fear.”

This study doesn’t state what type of food was fed, although inference from the total article leads me to believe a commercial, dry dog food was utilized. In that light, the research is limited to this one type of diet, which is a processed food that is heavily laden with starches and carbohydrates.

Newer studies are trying to prove that tryptophan (an amino acid) can help reduce aggression. The idea is that tryptophan helps with the production of serotonin, which in turn helps produce calmness. However, a glitch in the current studies is that tryptophan must be consumed with soluble fiber and the actual production of serotonin occurs during the fermentation process in the gut. Studies have been done with pigs and rats, but the study with dogs was inclusive:

“Aggressive behaviour, as well as anxiety or fearfulness in dogs, can sometimes lead to dangerous situations for the public. By changing diet composition to ensure a high enough tryptophan level and a more constant blood glucose and insulin concentration might reduce these types of behaviour. It is known that fermentable carbohydrates result in lesser fluctuations in insulin levels in the blood and that it can reduce activity in group housed pigs.

The aim of this project is to investigate which carbohydrates (in combination with tryptophan) can be added to dog’s diets without negatively affecting faecal quality (smell, volume etc.), and to investigate whether this can result in reduced undesired behaviour. “

Effect of dietary protein content and tryptophan supplementation on dominance aggression, territorial aggression, and hyperactivity in dogs.

“For dominance aggression, behavioral scores were highest in dogs fed unsupplemented high-protein rations. For territorial aggression, [corrected] tryptophan-supplemented low-protein diets were associated with significantly lower behavioral scores than low-protein diets without tryptophan supplements. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: For dogs with dominance aggression, the addition of tryptophan to high-protein diets or change to a low-protein diet may reduce aggression. For dogs with territorial aggression, tryptophan supplementation of a low-protein diet may be helpful in reducing aggression.”

While no description of the diets is revealed, my assumption is that these studies are limited to commercially processed dog food diets, which are already high in carbohydrates, use poor quality protein sources and may contain added preservatives. Their conclusion on these types of diets is that they ‘may’ reduce aggression, with no firm conclusive evidence to show that this is the case.

Further, tryptophan may not work the same in dogs as studies done with pigs, rats and humans, who have longer digestive tracts. See effects of 5-HTP on dogs (tryptophan converts to 5-HTP, and 5-HTP converts to serotonin):


“When 5-hydroxytryptophan is administered to animals, it is rapidly taken up by most tissues and is converted to serotonin wherever 5HTP decarboxylase occurs. Brain levels more than 10 times normal have been reached and maintained for several hours. At these levels laboratory animals exhibit marked central disturbance, the effects being similar to those observed after administering the hallucinogenic drug, lysergic acid diethylamide.”

“Symptoms and signs of the serotonin syndrome include confusion, agitation, diaphoresis, tachycardia, myoclonus and hyperreflexia. In addition, hypertension, coma/unresponsiveness, seizure, and death may turn out if the syndrome is not promptly recognized and treated. There are no reports of the serotonin syndrome occurring near use of 5-HTP in humans. However, it could transpire and the combination of 5-HTP with another serotonergic agent can increase the risk of it occurring. As a side document, there are 21 cases of 5-HTP toxicosis reported contained by dogs. Accidental ingestion of 5-HTP by dogs resulted in a serotonin-like syndrome. Three of the dogs died.”

What isn’t explained is that serotonin needs to be fed with soluble carbohydrates and fermented in the gut to excrete serotonin. But dogs are carnivores, and since they wouldn’t eat carbohydrates in the wild, it wouldn’t make sense that they would require serotonin, at least in this form. Why would dogs need this nutrient when their anatomy has trouble digesting large amounts of soluble fiber? What most studies have concluded is that diets with the high levels of carbohydrates creates fecal and gas problems in dogs. The volume of stool is increased significantly, and dogs struggle to ferment and digest soluble fiber in large amounts.

The most logical answer is that dogs don’t need it. What dogs do need, being carnivores to remain calm and keep blood glucose levels stable, is high quality animal protein. In a process called glyconeogenesis, amino acids and fats are converted to glucose. When dogs are fed low amounts of animal based protein, they use carbohydrates for energy. But this type of energy is not consistent and the blood sugars fluctuate, by going up and then falling. This, in turn, creates mood swings. Creating glucose from animal based proteins and fats creates a stable blood sugar level, which keeps a dog calm and focused.

Amino acids are found in proteins, and dogs, as carnivores, specifically need animal based proteins. Plant proteins lack some of the amino acids, which dogs, as carnivores specifically need. This includes l-taurine (for heart health), and l-carnitine (also for the heart and organ health). When dogs get a full complement of amino acids, it is not only calming to them, but helps support their organs, skin, coat, eyes and brain. Meat is also rich in B vitamins and minerals, including iron (which is lacking in plant based foods).

To further substantiate this, William Campbell, author of “Behavior Problems in Dogs”, reports using high quality protein has helped stop hyper-activity in dogs, and used it in his training techniques with success:

Feeding a dog a diet high in carbohydrates, especially starches and grains, will simply create less focus and blood sugar spikes. Additionally, when carbohydrates are higher than 35% of the diet, they have the potential to ‘protein starve’ the dog, in that the dog, being a carnivore, is not getting all the amino acids necessary to sustain and maintain healthy organs, brain function, and healthy coat and skin.

Fats are also a component needed for calmness. Not only is fat satiating (helps make a dog feel full) and helps ward off dehydration, but it also contains essential fatty acids. Most importantly, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Research has shown dogs that display more aggressive tendencies have lower blood serum levels of DHA. rinarians/articles/aggressive-dogs-may-benefit-from-omega-3-fatty-ac ids/

It is important to give dogs animal based sources of DHA (such as fish oils), as dogs have difficultly converting the ALA found in plant based oils. I give my dogs 180 EPA/120 DHA of fish oil per 10 to 20 lbs of body weight daily. Omega 3 fatty acids are fragile and difficult to find in food. I would also suggest using fish oil capsules, rather than bottled oil, as fish oil is fragile and easily destroyed by heat, light and air.

In conclusion, I would recommend a diet of high bioavailable animal proteins, fat and Omega 3 fatty acids to help dogs remain calm and stable. It is important to offer a variety of proteins, to make sure the dog is getting all the amino acids needed, for healthy organs, brain, nervous system function, and healthy skin, coat. If you are feeding a raw or homemade diet, it is easy enough to offer a variety of proteins. If you are feeding a commercial diet, change protein sources often and be sure to add fresh protein sources to the food, such as yogurt, eggs, meat and canned fish such as mackerel or salmon. Please note, not all aggression issues are due to diet. It is always a good idea to fully socialize any puppy or young dog through group training classes and by allowing the dog to experience numerous situations. Good food, good socialization and good training help make a calm, happy and healthy dog!

♥ - Ko Min - ♥

the Original- Scruff-Muffin.
Purred: Fri Jul 9, '10 5:50pm PST 
having not read all 7 pages here, I'm wondering if anyone has seen this list, and if so, what do you think of it.    I've used it as a general guideline.    having looked through the sight it seemed to me they've put a good deal of effort into it.    But I'm no nutritionist or chemist, so maybe I'm clueless.

all i know is that I never want to make my baby sick with the food I'm feeding her.    if it's already been discussed just tell me, and I'll go digging for it.


You may- approach.
Purred: Sat Jul 10, '10 7:45am PST 
We think that web site is very useful, too, Ko Min!
Mom rotates our kibbles among foods that are rated 4. This level is about what she can afford. Once in a while we might get a 5. She rotates our kibble every two months or so, after reading in 'The Whole Dog Journal' that amounts of vitamins and minerals vary from company to company. That way we won't go through life constantly getting too little or too much of a nutrient.

There's another thread that touches on fish oil. Opinion is divided on whether vegetable oils like flax are as good as fish oil for omega 3.
On page 2 of this thread, I posted DNA an EPA level equivalents of Grizzly Salmon Oil in the bottle per pump for any pup wanting to compare oil in a bottle dosage to capsules. We've gone to human grade capsules to get fresher oil.


Where's the- Ball?! Throw- the ball!!!
Purred: Wed Aug 25, '10 5:52am PST 

Quoted from the TruthAboutPetFood newsletter:

"The Purina OM Canine formula (Overweight Management) lists the following ingredients: "Whole grain corn, corn gluten meal, soybean hulls*, soybean germ meal, soybean meal, pea fiber, wheat gluten, poultry by-product meal, animal digest, powdered cellulose, tricalcium phosphate, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), salt, choline chloride, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, Vitamin E supplement, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, calcium carbonate, copper sulfate, brewers dried yeast, calcium pantothenate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 supplement, thiamine mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 supplement, riboflavin supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite." 27

By definition (of ingredient) there is no meat in this dog food; according to AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials), Poultry by-product meal is not meat. Worse yet, the only animal protein sources in the food are listed 8th and 9th on the ingredient list (Poultry by-product meal and Animal Digest); Animal digest is one of 'those' ingredients determined by FDA testing to be likely to contain the lethal drug pentobarbital and thus likely to contain a euthanized animal. This soon to be Veterinarian recommended weight loss dog food contains no chelated or proteinated minerals (for better absorption) or probiotics (for a healthier immune system). But it does contain a wealth of grains.

Dr. Karen Becker looked at the ingredients of the Purina Veterinary Diets and said:
"1. The ingredients are of very poor quality and include impossible to pronounce additives and preservatives, not to mention known allergens, and the every-popular 'meat byproducts.' And don't forget the locust bean gum.
2. These diets are about as far from canine or feline species-appropriate nutrition as it gets." is-the-fox-guarding-the-henhouse-purina-launches-project-pet-slim-do wn-for-pets.aspx


You may- approach.
Purred: Tue Sep 21, '10 9:04am PST 
Great common sense advice we try to follow! applause

Protein and Variety in the Diet
By Lew Olson, PhD Natural Health

Whatever diet you are feeding your dog, it is important to use several animal protein sources. This is what we call variety, and variety helps to make sure a dog is getting all the nutrients they need. Proteins are made from amino acids and each protein source offers different amounts of the 11 amino acids provided by food. Locking your dog into one or two animal protein sources may cause your dog to have deficiencies in one or more of these. Let's look at what amino acids are, why they are important for your dog, and how to keep a good variety of them in your dog's diet.

Amino acids are found in all proteins. But not all proteins are equal. Some amino acids have decreased absorption when fed with a high fiber, plant based (carbohydrates) diet. Plant based proteins are missing some amino acids that are only found in animal based sources. These include l-taurine and l-carnitine. These amino acids are essential for your dog's heart health and these amino acids are easily destroyed by processing and long term, high temperature cooking.

Unlike plant based proteins, animal based proteins contain a complete amino acid profile for dogs. And each type of animal based proteins contains different amounts of each of these. For instance, red meat and heart contain higher amounts of taurine and l-carnitine. While animal based proteins (red meat, organ meat, poultry, dairy and fish) contain all the amino acids needed by dogs, they each have varying amounts of these amino acids. Thus, it is important to use variety of these animal based proteins in the dog's diet.

Animal based proteins are also rich in the minerals zinc and iron, and vitamin B12. Dogs need iron from animal based sources. Foods rich in iron include red meat, eggs and organ meat such as liver and kidney.

If you are feeding a raw diet, please use at least four protein sources, preferably six. An example of a good variety could be chicken, beef, pork and fish. The fish source can be fresh fish (NOT fresh water NW pacific salmon, which can contain parasites) or canned mackerel, sardines or salmon. Additional sources could be yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, turkey, lamb, duck, venison, elk or buffalo. Be sure to add liver or kidney, at about 5% of the daily diet.

For cooked diets, be sure not to overcook the meat. I don't recommend crock pot cooking, or roasting meat for long periods. High, sustained heat in cooking can destroy many of the amino acids. Cook the meats lightly. You can freeze recipes for daily portions and it will not harm the amino acid or mineral content in the meats. The same protein sources used in raw diets can also be used for cooked diets.

For those feeding commercial pet foods, be sure to rotate brands of food to insure several protein types. If you are using a chicken based food, switch to a beef based food for the next bag, and rotate with a fish protein food a couple of days of the week. Switching brands frequently means getting more variety in your dog's diet. Ideally, I would suggest adding some fresh protein foods to dry kibble, such as yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, canned fish, pork and more, to help obtain all the amino acids needed, plus sources of iron, zinc and B12.

To complete the diet, for whatever method you feed, I recommend adding EPA fish oil or Salmon oil capsules to your dog's diet, at one capsule per 20 lbs of body weight daily. This gives your dog the omega 3 fatty acids it needs for healthy coat and skin, immune system support, and renal, heart and liver protection. For additional nutrients that are harder to find in foods, I would also add the Berte's Daily Blend vitamins. This contains vitamins C, E and B complex, plus vitamin D and A, with kelp and alfalfa added for trace minerals. The Berte's Daily Blend is flavored with powdered chicken liver, which makes this powder tasty and enticing for your dog.

Providing a variety of proteins in your dog's diet ensures they are getting all the amino acids they need for good health and keeps meal times more interesting with a variety of flavors and textures.


You may- approach.
Purred: Fri Oct 29, '10 8:04am PST 
A quick look at why dogs and cats should NOT be vegetarians!
(with a little humor thrown in laugh out loud )

Quoted from the online newsletter, FullyVetted:

Can dogs and cats EVER go vegetarian?

A version of this question hits my e-mail inbox at least once a month. They come mostly from concerned vegans or political foodies looking for alternative solutions to feeding animal protein to their pets. So it’s not so kooky a question as you might originally assume. Yet despite warm feelings with respect to my correspondents’ good intentions, the query does, however, deserve a definitive answer in the negative.

OK, so here’s where I earn myself the wrath of pet owners who are going to send me angry e-mails and heartfelt testimonials about how their vegan cat lived for twenty years (inexplicable unless lots of household rodents got knocked off along the way), and how their chocolate Lab’s allergies went completely away after a new vegetarian diet (I can explain that one, though I’d never recommend a long term veggie food trial).

Sure, I’ll heartily agree that dogs and cats can live without animal protein. The question is … for how long and how well?

But first, let’s compare apples to apples. Because many of the so-called vegetarian pet diets on the market do not completely eschew animal protein. Rather, they limit them to eggs and dairy, which I view as a significantly less draconian diet change than the vegan approach. And yet I’d still never recommend it.

So what’s my trouble with these diets?

Well, first up, the obvious: Cats are obligate carnivores. Offering them a vegan approach is about as biologically appropriate as feeding them granola bars. OK, so I exaggerate, but it’s not too far off.

For dogs, our understanding is murkier, given that studying wild dogs' anatomy, physiology and behavior tells us one thing (i.e., that they’re mostly carnivorous), and studying what domesticated lab-reared beagles can digest tells us another (i.e., that dogs digest vegetable protein better than we previously thought).

That said, even the beagle-wielding commercial pet food nutritionists who champion the benefits of soy protein and corn gluten are nowhere near recommending exclusively veggie diets. Most veterinary nutritionists have concluded that dogs are solidly omnivorous, with an emphasis on the kinds of foods their dentition would indicate they’re built to consume - that is, both cuspids for tearing and molars for grinding. Hence, a meat-based diet with other stuff thrown in.

Which is why I’ll not be pushing the dietary envelope with my patients, thank you very much. In fact, beagles being the most digestively capable example of any organism (with the possible exception of flesh-eating bacteria), in this case I think I’ll stick to what observing the natural world sans human intervention can teach us.

But what about people with religious issues, you ask?

It is one thing to source kosher or halal foods for your pet. It’s quite another to expect our pets to subsist on a vegan diet because we have a personal or political issue with consuming animal proteins.

After all, if you really want a vegetarian pet you can adopt a rabbit, get a goat, consider horses or buy a guinea pig. There are plenty of vegetarian options for those who really want to share the experience with their pets. There is no need to inflict a biologically stressful condition on another species just because you happen to feel inclined towards such a diet for yourself.

Apples ... and oranges.

Dr. Patty Khuly


You may- approach.
Purred: Sat Oct 30, '10 2:07pm PST 
Well worth the read for those who want to know when the truth will come out. The videos of pets being dumped in rendering pits ARE out there, I've seen one.

Quoted fro the FullyVetted, PetMD vet blog:

The Scary Truth About Rendered Pet Foods
OCTOBER 27, 2010

Urban legends are one thing. The fact that the FDA seriously studied the levels and origins and clinical significance of barbiturates in pet foods fifteen years ago is quite another. Slow to the party, I’ve only just come to appreciate the veracity of all those presumptive urban legends about pets, rendering plants, and pet food.

Sure, I figured. There are bad actors at the margins of every industry. So I always believed in the salacious rumors. As in: Dr. X and Shelter Y in backwoods Z sell surgically extracted gonads and dead pets to the local rendering plant for inclusion in pet foods! Is your pet eating ovaries, testicles, and drug-tainted dead pets?

It probably happens, I figured. I just never took it too seriously as a pervasive issue. Yet over the years it’s been a significant enough issue for the FDA to think it a worthwhile area of study with respect to barbiturates.

And here, included in a 2004 report to Congress on the rendering industry, is how it happens at the level of the independent rendering plant:
These plants (estimated by NRA at 165 in the United States and Canada) usually collect material from other sites using specially designed trucks. They pick up and process fat and bone trimmings, inedible meat scraps, blood, feathers, and dead animals from meat and poultry slaughterhouses and processors (usually smaller ones without their own rendering operations), farms, ranches, feedlots, animal shelters, restaurants, butchers, and markets. As a result, the majority of independents are likely to be handling "mixed species." Almost all of the resulting ingredients are destined for nonhuman consumption (e.g., animal feeds, industrial products). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates animal feed ingredients, but its continuous presence in rendering plants, or in feed mills that buy rendered ingredients, is not a legal requirement.
(My bolding, btw.)

So how has this continued to pass under our radar? Those generic, unspecified proteins and fats included in your pet's food? They may well — legally — include canine and feline bodies. This may seem shocking to us in 2010, but this is business as ususal for the rendering industry.

If it’s always been done, why wring our hands over it now?

There are several reasons:

As a society, we no longer think it’s acceptable for our pets to eat other pets (especially of the same species). Our animal companions are too close to us, emotionally, to consider them cannibalistic.
Then there’s this emergent view: Those poor shelter animals! After what we’ve done to them, this is just pure insult.
Two words: "Mad cow." We now understand that some disease transmission is possible via rendered animal protein, heavily processed though it may be.
Back to the barbiturates:

Ten or so years ago there was this nagging question in companion animal veterinary medicine: Why do our barbiturates (back then employed as often for anesthesia or sedation as for euthanasia) seem to be losing their punch?

Then came a slew of articles about destroyed shelter pets getting tossed into the rendering plant and ending up in pet foods. The dirty secret was out of the bag. Yes, some shelters were all too happy to save money by having the carcasses carted off instead of having the expense of incinerating the animal remains. Never mind that most shelter pets were being euthanized via lethal injection using a barbiturate.

Which is when the vet community put two and two together and formed a hypothesis: that pets ingesting low levels of barbiturates in pet foods over a prolonged period of time might actually become resistant to these drugs. Could that be the answer to the diminished potency of barbiturates?

Though it was only an anecdotal finding, this diminishing drug potency issue, the FDA thought it merited a significant look-see, so they devised an experiment to 1) find out how much barbiturate was in pet food, and 2) whether dog and cat carcasses were actually comprising a significant percentage of what ends up in pet food.

Here’s what the report concluded:
The scientists purchased dog food as part of two surveys, one in 1998 and the second in 2000. They found some samples contained pentobarbital...

Because pentobarbital is used to euthanize dogs and cats at animal shelters, finding pentobarbital in rendered feed ingredients could suggest that the pets were rendered and used in pet food.

CVM scientists, as part of their investigation, developed a test to detect dog and cat DNA in the protein of the dog food. All samples from the most recent dog food survey (2000) that tested positive for pentobarbital, as well as a subset of samples that tested negative, were examined for the presence of remains derived from dogs or cats. The results demonstrated a complete absence of material that would have been derived from euthanized dogs or cats. The sensitivity of this method is 0.005% on a weight/weight basis; that is, the method can detect a minimum of 5 pounds of rendered remains in 50 tons of finished feed. Presently, it is assumed that the pentobarbital residues are entering pet foods from euthanized, rendered cattle or even horses.
For starters, I've never heard of a cow being euthanized via barbiturate — except one downer cow in vet school that was later used for anatomy class. The large quantities of barbiturates required make it an expensive and impractical option for cattle — especially for those destined to enter the pet food supply. Same goes for horses. Because, if you’ll recall, we used to slaughter horses in the U.S. So why would you sell your beloved horse to a rendering plant after the expense of a private veterinary euthanasia?

I’m not saying the FDA’s finding are wrong, just highly suspect in their ultimate conclusions. Something here doesn’t quite add up. As if the FDA is working a little too hard to talk us animal-activist busybodies down off this uncomfortable ledge we've collectively perched ourselves on.

Yet ultimately, this issue isn’t about whether there’s at least five pounds of protein in 50 tons of feed. Nor is it that the levels of barbiturates, as the FDA explains, are insufficient to render a drug less potent. Rather, it’s about the fact that any pet remains might be in our pets’ food. And that, the FDA concedes, is not up for discussion. This we already know.

Dr. Patty Khuly


You may- approach.
Purred: Sun Dec 5, '10 5:40am PST 
Our mom believes that better eggs exist and do taste better. She gives us EggLands Best Cage Free eggs, 'cause she hopes that "cage free" will help a few chickens live a less miserable life. And no, she doesn't think they are running around in a sunny field, but at least they're not in battery cages.

Mom bought EggLands Best for the first time 'cause she had a coupon and was so happy with the taste that that's all we get now. She'd go for the organic eggs, but they really are expensive in our store.

So that's how we vote:

from the online newsletter PetMD, FullyVetted:
Two dollar eggs vs. four dollar eggs ... How do YOU vote?
NOV 30, 2010

Almost every time you go to the supermarket for a big haul, you’ll be treated to a modern dilemma: Do I buy the cheapo two dollar eggs, or the "cage-free" ones that tend to cost twice as much per dozen?

Do the more expensive eggs taste better? Are they healthier? Does it mean the egg-laying hens’ lives are more comfortable and humane? Even if we can credibly say yes to all of the above, is that difference worth the two-buck premium?

The answer I received from a veterinary student at Western University last week was, effectively, not really:

When you see these eggs side by side on the supermarket shelf they look exactly the same. Why would someone [like me] pick the one that costs twice as much?
Just ahead of this query, I’d spent an hour lecturing to the "Vet Issues" class at our nation’s newest veterinary college on a wide variety of poultry concerns: animal welfare, animal economics, green marketing, U.S. food policy, human health, and human nature, among others. If it affects the birds we grow for food, I tried to fit it in.

Which is probably why I didn’t have a good answer, so tunnel visioned was I from attempting to sustain a 35,000-foot vista on my subject. Hence, I’d be mulling it over for more than a week before a decent reply could be managed.

Not that I didn’t try. Here was my first attempt:

You think $4 is expensive? Living with laying hens, as I do, I will never ever make the mistake of believing supermarket prices have anything to do with the real price of eggs. We have lost touch with what food really costs due to farm subsidies, a vertical integration system that shorts its animal entities, and a variety of practices designed to streamline production — which are often detrimental to animal welfare, the environment, and sometimes to human health, as seen in last August’s egg recall.

Paying $4 for eggs when a two-dollar dozen is right next to it is just like voting. Every single time you buy those $4 eggs, you inform the egg industry that you care about what those four-buck eggs stand for: animal welfare, food safety, and environmental sustainability, among other social concerns.

And what’s a $2 difference anyway? You’re likely to be spending a buck on a high-fructose corn syrup-based beverage at least a couple of times over the course of those eggs-in-your-fridge lifespan. Care to compare the true value of these two disparate offerings? Ultimately, it's the fact that we're so out of touch with what food really costs and how it's made that we actually believe $4 is a pricey dozen —when indeed the American egg is perhaps the cheapest protein on planet Earth.
OK, so that’s roughly what I said (though it no doubt sounds neater in print). Yet it didn’t sound quite right when it came out of my mouth. Perhaps it wasn't the whole story, and maybe it wasn't really addressing the heart of the matter.

At first, I worried about the issue of "voting" for the right thing. After all, the labels on these cartons are so confusing! And no one wants to pay extra for something that isn’t what they think it is, right?

To that end, I’ve compiled a quick (and USDA-referenced) guide to what the common labels mean:

Organic : Here’s what the USDA’s Amber Waves publication (on the economics of the ag industry) has to say:

While eco-labels for poultry and eggs — such as free range, natural, cage-free, and no antibiotics — have proliferated for years, only the organic label is regulated by USDA and addresses the range of concerns cited by consumers.
This statement asserts that USDA’s regulatory muscle is brought to bear with respect to the minimum standards and compliance issues related to organic labeling. But it also says "free-range" and "cage-free" are voluntary labels that are neither required nor vetted by any regulatory body or third-party source.

Too true. All those "cage-free" labels? They may or may not be indicating what you think they are, the fickly unregulated definitions of "cageless" and "freedom" being what they are in animal agriculture these days.

Humane Certified: This label is akin to the "Good Housekeeping" seal of approval. It’s designed and delivered by the AHA (American Humane Association), which attempts to set standards for the humane treatment of animals via this free market. Voluntary vehicle producers can choose to apply these labels to their cartons or not. Whether these AHA standards make the grade is another issue, but let it suffice to say that I believe any standards above the USDA’s milquetoast regs (even for organic products) can only be a good thing.

Yet even after evaluating these consternation-inducing issues, I came to the conclusion that it didn't rightly matter whether the carton says cage-free or home-grown or happiest-birds. The bottom line is the same. You are informing the number-crunchers of this world that you care about hens and how they, their eggs and even their waste are treated. And these pencil pushers are telling the rest of the world how YOU vote...

These choices will inevitably trickle down to even the lowest common denominator producers and will ultimately inform the kind of oversight producers are subject to.

So you should buy those $4 eggs if you believe in what they represent, not only because casting a vote is a good thing, but because it's the right thing to do. This is what I think was missing from my original answer:

Buying $4 eggs is a moral choice. Unless you truly cannot afford an extra $2 a week (and not because you're investing in Dunkin' Donuts and Coke), believing in more humane, more sustainable, healthier eggs means you are morally obligated to pay the premium.

What if the $2 eggs are right next to the $4 eggs and you can't resist?

Well, you wouldn't steal the cheaper dozen if you knew you wouldn't get caught, right?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Edited by author Sun Dec 5, '10 5:41am PST


You may- approach.
Purred: Wed Dec 29, '10 7:16am PST 
Mom has recently read some disturbing stuff about digestive enzyme supplements, the kind of which many of us use.
Please keep in mind that this is from only one author, Dr. Susan G, Wynn, DVM, CVA, CVCH, AHG.

Even before Mom read Dr. Wynn's views, she started thinking that enzymes with every meal might be unnecessary and not good for a normal dog. Since Mom can't find any info to support Dr. Wynn's thoughts on the subject, we still get digestive enzymes, but only with breakfast when we get the most of our supplements, kind of sitting on the fence.

Quotes from Dr. Wynn:

'The Whole Dog Journal,' October 2010
"The job of the pancreas is to produce enzymes to digest fats, proteins, and starches. During pancreatic inflammation (e.g., pancreatitis), those enzymes are released and cause inflammation and damage to the pancreas and surrounding organs and tissues. To suppress production of
the enzymes, veterinarians suggest that you reduce the fat in the dog's diet and feed a diet that is high in carbohydrates. Dr. Wynn cautions that feeding digestive enzymes daily as a supplement can downregulate the pancreas' own production of proteases - not necessarily a good thing."

(Tessa - To illustrate the term "downregulate", it well know that the more vitamin supplementation that a human gets, if that supplementation is withdrawn, the body has to readjust to start normal vitamin uptake again. During that adjustment period, the body is not getting the correct amount of nutrient it needs.)

From the book Manual Of Natural Veterinary Medicine, Science and Tradition, by Susan G. Wynn and Steve Marsden:
derived from the section on therapies for dermatological disorders:
"Enzymes: frequently recommended as an adjunct treatment for allergic dermatitis. Whether digestive enzymes enhance digestibility and increase absorption of dietary nutrients, leading to an effect similar to improving the diet, or whether another mechanism is at work is unknown. Some veterinarian claim that enzymes are absorbed systemically and actually destroy circulating immune complexes, although no direct evidence has been found for this theory."

So, if anyfur comes across such related info on digestive enzyems, we hope you'll pass it on to us!

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