Fooding Guidelines and Calculators

Pet parents often inquire as to feeding or fooding guidelines. It is important to understand that there is NO international standard defining how feeding and fooding indexes are calculated. In the McKibble and McCan world, manufacturers take different approaches, using different assumptions, even the basic guidelines differ between the US and the European industries and legal requirements. You will find that different McKibble and McCan offerings will have different recommended feeding amounts of energy for the same animal, and often result in either and over- and under-estimate of their energy needs.

The closest guideline we have available today, is some of the work and research offered through the Waltham Institute, funded by McKibble and McCan. The basic principle that does apply, whether for huumans, masters, muggles, mutts, pups or nobles, is that real food contains predictable energy values. One can mathematically calculated these values using one of two energy calculations . In the raw fooding world, a simple system of percentage of body weight was adopted, but as with the McKibble and McCan world, can often result in either and over- and under-estimate of their fooding needs.

At Raw Food for Pets, we have taken all these anomalies into account, and use a combination of the global methods, as well as years of adjustment to the formulas based on feedback from our pet parents. We have not published our database yet, simply lacking funds at this point in time. However, we have created simple online calculators that will assist you with your initial assessment of the fooding requirements, or as we like to call it, consumption guidelines.

Our basic assumptions, principles, and variables, that apply are:

  1. Real food contains an energy value that is based on both the bioavailability of the food as well as the nutritional value of the food.
  2. Real food can be rated based on the “energy density” of the food. For example, real lamb is less energy dense than real beef. Real quail and rabbit has the highest energy density of food available to huumans and pets. In science, this principle is expressed in terms of joules or calories.
  3. The size of your pet determines how much energy would be needed for them to run, roam and play. Depending on the source of research you read, this requirement is either referred to as Maintenance Energy Requirements (MER), or Daily Energy Requirements (DER), or some publications refer to it as the Estimated Energy Requirements (EER).
  4. When calculating energy needs, one also need to factor in the energy requirements at rest. There are many formulas and names available here;- Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), Resting Energy Expenditure (REE), Resting Daily Energy Expenditure (RDEE, Resting Energy Rate (RER), etc. Simply put, when resting, the body still consume energy.
  5. Your pets’ activity levels also determine energy burn rates. An ADULT couch potato will require less energy than an ADULT sight hound playing at an airport landing strip, even if they weigh the same and are the same age.
  6. Your pet’s size and age also influence energy levels. For instance, a small dog at seven years, for example a Boston Terrier, will require more energy proportional to its size than a larger dog, for example a German Shepherd, at the same age. Both will burn energy at the same rate (activity levels), when considering their maintenance energy requirements, but when the energy requirements are expressed as a percentage of their body weight, then the smaller the breed, the higher the percentage.
  7. The final variable that apply is the state of the gut. To demonstrate, take the most healthiest huuman consuming a boiled egg. Even though the egg is 100% bioavailable, 100% nutritional, only roughly 85% of the egg is processed by the gut, and between 8% and 15% waste created. The same is true for our pets. An unhealthy gut might only be able to retain or process 60% of the fooding value, a healthy gut perhaps 85%. So when calculating the daily energy requirements, we need to factor in that, even though 100% bioavailable, only roughly 85% of the fooding value will be retained.

The most common formula that apply to daily energy needs require two calculations::

Resting Energy Needs (RER or kcal per day) = 70 (kcal) * (Bodyweight in kg) to the power of 0.75. This the total energy needs for the day at rest.

Maintenance (or Daily) Energy Needs = Resting Energy Needs (RER) * Activity Factor (X). Once we know the energy requirements at rest, we apply an activity factor to determine the total daily energy estimation.

There are more complicated dependencies that should enter the discussion, such as thermal neutral zones, etc, but we will address these in another article about fooding working dogs.

How do we define the X Activity Factor? There are many offered on the internet today, but for the purpose of our article, let’s assume the following (based on energy needs):

  • Low Activity (playing or walking for at least 1 hour per day), would mean 95 kCal of energy is needed.
  • Moderate Low Impact Activity (playing or walking for at least 3 hours per day), would mean 110 kCals of energy is needed.
  • Moderate High Impact Activity (playing or walking for at least 3 hours per days), would mean 125 kCals of energy is needed.
  • High Activity (working dogs, sheep dogs, playing, walking or working between 3 to 6 hours per day), would mean between 150 to 175 kCals of energy is needed.
  • High Activity Under Extreme Conditions (racing sled dogs, extreme cold), would mean between 860 kCal to 1240 kCals of energy is needed.

None of the above address the requirements for growth though. Many of the assumption that apply to the concept of maintenance is of course not relevant of the energy needs for growth. Essentially, the energy needs for growth is tied to “weight-for-age” based on breed size energy needs, to which an activity factor needs to be applied. In the “percentage of body weight” system which most raw feeders use, this translates to having some knowledge of the specific breed in question. The simple system assumes, for demonstration purpose, that at month one, 10% of the TARGET body weight would be need as the daily energy need, at month two, 8% of the TARGET body weight, etc. Hence, most online calculators require you to identify the breed of the animal. This system does not factor in breed growth curves though to reach skeletal maturity. For example, a Yorkie will reach skeletal maturity at around month ten, whereas a Boerboel will only reach skeletal maturity at around month 36. Some Mastiff breeds only reach skeletal maturity at around year 5. Skeletal maturity simply indicate that the animal is now mature, and we can switch the energy calculation from growth to maintenance.

Once the total daily energy needs have been established, we then take this information, and based on the energy value of the food or feed, calculate the total consumption of food based on weight. To demonstrate, assume our Floyd is an adult medium size breed weighing in at 13.5 kgs, in good shape, so ideal body score, and low activity – meaning he walks or play around for no more than 1 hour per day. Based on the food he eats, the total energy density being 3585 kcal/kg, he would need roughly 186 grams of food per day. How did we get here? For moderate activity, we assumed that 95 kcals of enery is needed as the X factor. 95 kcals x 13.5 kgs to the power of 0.75 = 95 x 7.04 = 668 kCal maintenance energy needs. We assume that the food contains 3585 kCal per Kg, and then apply 668 x 1000 / divided by the energy value of the food, 3585, resulting in total consumption needs of 186 grams.

Maintaining a healthy pet requires constant monitoring, as all of the maths and science available to us as pet parents only provide you with a crude guideline to estimate their daily consumption or fooding needs. Their needs, just as ours, change over time. It is therefore extremely important that you will need to remember to observe and adjust their daily allowances to keep it in a healthy, moderate body condition score. You can read more here about managing your fur kids weight.

Raw Fooding Resources

Domesticating Dogs and Huumans

Republished from PrimalPooch (https://primalpooch.com/raw-feeding-resources/) with permission, and content updated for South Africa.

There is a very large and diverse base of resources available on the internet today for the new and established raw fooding pet parents. While we strive to cover the basics and expand where necessary throughout the blog and FAQ sections of our site, we do not have all the answers. We encourage you to educate yourself on the topic, you can so so by reading and learning as much as you can from multiple sources, on the topic of real fooding. We strongly recommend that you question conventional wisdom, and using common sense, come to your own conclusions.

Please email us at [email protected] if you have any resources to add or would like us to include your website or content.

Raw Feeding Informational Websites and Blogs

Veterinarians Blogs that supports Raw Fooding

The blogs we have listed here, are run by licensed vets (some practising and some retired) that support real fooding, raw diets, and natural health and healing for dogs and cats.

Raw Feeding Websites and Blogs

Blogs and websites we follow:

Original Raw Feeding Websites

A small selection of the original Raw Feeding Websites (some no longer being updated).

Raw Feeding and Natural Health Facebook Groups

Raw feeding Facebook groups can be insightful. It also assist pet parents and guardians that that need quick advice and / or support. As a social media platform, Facebook allows for quick response if the community or group is active..

General and Local

Raw Feeding Books

Nothing beats the feel of a book in hand (or Kindle). While there are many books available in various formats to pet parents today, many complicate the concept of fooding. The books we have listed, keep it simple and make the concept understandable.

Youtube Channels

What is Really in that McKibble or McCan?

Fooding Picky Eaters

The Truth is Out There ..

Many pet parents and guardians have been convinced that the “healthy“, “natural“, “premium” and “recommended by” labels on pet feed MUST mean that the stuff inside the bag is good for your fur kids. Alongside these words, we often find claims of 100% “complete and balanced” that leave us to assume we are providing the best food for our dogs and cats;- feeding the same dry cereal based diets day in and day out. Yet, most pet parents and guardians do not fully appreciate what goes into these feeds, even their own food. BigPetFood place images of fresh cut chicken breast, fresh fruits and vegetables and wholesome grains on their packages, but, this is rarely what is actually inside the bag.

The truth is out there, but it takes a little time and effort to find. Even reading our article, and references below, you should know that the McKibble and McCan you are feeding contains many more than one of the ingredients we discussed here. BigPetFood has a broad range of unsavoury options available to them when it comes to what substances may be used in pet feed, and the freedom to print enticing pictures, however misleading, on the packaging. It is only when your pet’s health begins to decline, and eventually fail, that most pet parents and guardians begin to question why. Dogs are NOT what they eat, but what they eat, impacts their healthfulness forever. After all, a healthy body can only be as good as what is put into it. To help your pack thrive, and not just survive, read and understand the uses of the common ingredients below, learn who uses them, and make sure to always read your labels!

Corn, Corn Meal, or Corn Gluten Meal

Years ago, BigPetFood discovered that pets adore the sweet taste of corn. Corn is one of the most heavily subsidized crops in agriculture around the world, making its market price lower than the cost of producing the corn, and therefore an attractive ingredient for pet feed. The gluten in corn is used as an inferior protein source in commercial pet feed. Corn protein in itself is not a complete protein source and must be balanced with animal proteins to create a usable amino acid profile for pets. Corn protein used exclusively results in muscle loss in carnivores ​1​ .

The AAFCO definition for corn gluten meal is (was) “The dried residue from corn after the removal of the larger part of the starch and germ, and the separation of the bran by the process employed in the wet milling manufacture of corn starch or syrup, or by enzymatic treatment of the endosperm.” (see: What is in Pet Food, (AAFCO)).

Unfortunately corn is often abused as the single most abundant ingredient in many pet feed, contributing to the many diseases linked to high carbohydrate diets, including obesity, chronic inflammation, diabetes and cancer ​2​ . The quality of the corn used in pet feed is also a concern, as many pet feed use low quality corn that could contain toxins, including mycotoxins ​3​ and mold, which cause damage to a pet’s liver and kidneys (see: The Invisible Toxin With Life-Threatening Outcomes – Be Watchful, Dr Becker (Mercola)).

Carnivores, including our facultative fur kids, were never designed to obtain the majority of their energy requirements from carbohydrates. In fact dogs, cats and ferrets have zero nutritional requirements for carbohydrates or grains (see our article on this topic). Even veterinary text books agree upon topic. Low and behold, the mass of pet feed on the market regularly consist of 50% or higher carbohydrate content?

Corn is also more often than not, genetically modified and although many people call corn a vegetable, it is actually a grain. It also converts to sugar in the body, which has a negative affect on your pet. Sugar puts stress on the organs, and causes GI tract upset.

Wheat

Hand-in-hand with corn, wheat is another ingredient found in abundance in many pet feed. The repetitive and persistent exposure of wheat to our fur kids’, we believe and observe, has resulted in allergies and intolerances to wheat gluten. Wheat gluten is also used as an inexpensive protein source in pet feed (see: Why Grain Free Cat Food May Not Always Be the Best Choice, (PetMD)). Wheat contains high amounts of gluten, which damages the small intestine, alters gut flora, and can lead to autoimmune disease. It can also cause inflammation leading to joint pain. There is little to no nutritional value in wheat, so we feel it has no place in your pet’s diet.

Soy

Along with corn and wheat, soy is one of the most common allergens in companion animals. Soy is one of the most genetically modified foods on the planet (see: Genetically Engineered Crops in Pet and Human Foods (Advocacy for Animals)). While their crops are covered in pesticides, everything dies, except for the soy. It is left to absorb all of those chemicals that were sprayed onto the crops. And, if it’s in the soy – it will go into your pet.

Soy also wreaks havoc with the endocrine system causing problems for thyroid function. Soy has been falsely advertised as a health food, but in our opinion, it is most definitely NOT. Carnivores were never meant to eat soy, it is commonly used in pet feed as an inexpensive substitute for meat protein.

There is a large body of knowledge being created around the concerns of GMO food stuff in our daily lives. A growing body of research suggests that genetically modified organisms may be doing more harm than good when it comes to human health and the health of the environment.

Powdered Cellulose, Dried Beet Pulp, Rice Hulls

Love Parmesan cheese? Best you check the label. Cellulose or Powdered Cellulose is essentially nothing more than 100% filler. “Powdered cellulose is purified, mechanically disintegrated cellulose prepared by processing alpha cellulose obtained as a pulp from fibrous plant material. In other words, sawdust.” Cellulose is commonly used in attic insulation. Don’t think it’s just being used in your pet feed. Most Parmesan cheeses use cellulose to “bulk out” the cheese – you pay the same (or more), and you get less (see: Why Wood Pulp In Your Parmesan Won’t Kill You (Article)). Or maybe your favourite creamy Ice Cream (see: Why Wood Pulp Makes Ice Cream Creamier (Article)). Gotta love the “trash to cash” approach to feeding ourselves and our pets.

The other common “ingredient” is dried beet pulp. Another misnomer. Dried Beet Pulp is the left over residue from the extraction of sugar in the production of table sugar. It is used as a filler. Note that the source of dried beet pulp is from sugar beets, not red beets.

And the “rice” used? Rice Hulls (or rice husks) are the hard protecting coverings of grains of rice. In addition to protecting rice during the growing season, rice hulls are put to use in toothpaste, as building material, fertilizer, insulation material, or fuel! (see: Rice hulls (or rice husks) are the hard protecting coverings of grains of rice (Wikipedia)).

By-Products

By-Products are left over waste from human food production. By-Products come in two forms: named and un-named. Examples of named by-products include “chicken by-products” and “pork by-products” (see: Pet Food (What You Need to Know) for Your Pet’s Sake (PetMD)). As defined by AAFCO, “Chicken by-product meal consists of the ground, rendered, clean parts of the carcass of slaughtered chicken, such as necks, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, exclusive of feathers, except in such amounts as might occur unavoidable in good processing practice.

Un-named by-products include “meat by-products“. The AAFCO definition, “Meat by-products consist of the non rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to, lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low-temperature fatty tissue and stomachs and intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth and hooves.

By-products are not classified as meat; in many pet feed the exclusive use of by-products creates a food-like that does not contain any actual meat content, all to minimize costs while depicting premium or healthy imagery through marketing. By-products, in many cases, are also derived from “4-D” meat sources – defined as food animals that have been rejected for human consumption because they were presented to the meat packing plant as “Dead, Dying, Diseased or Disabled.

Animal Fat

Unlike “chicken fat” (named animal source), un-namedanimal fat“, as defined by AAFCO – “Animal Fat is obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial processes of rendering or extracting. It consists predominantly of glyceride esters of fatty acids and contains no additions of free fatty acids. If an antioxidant is used, the common name or names must be indicated, followed by the words “used as a preservative”.

Again in many cases “animal fat” includes meat sources from the “4-D” class – defined as food animals that have been rejected for human consumption because they were presented to the meat packing plant as “Dead, Dying, Diseased or Disabled.

Ever wondered what that unique, pungent odour is when opening a new bag of dry pet food – what is the source of that smell? It is most often rendered animal fat, or vegetable fats and oils deemed inedible for humans. For example, used restaurant grease was rendered and routed to pet foods for several years, but a more lucrative market is now in biodiesel fuel production. (see: Rendered Products in Pet Food (DNM)).

Meat (or Bone) Meal

As defined by AAFCO, “Meat Meal consists of the rendered product from mammal tissues, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices.” What this definition does not mention is the “4-D” class of meat sources may still be legally used in “meat meal”. (see: Meat vs. Meat Meal, The Dog Food Project (Article)).

The rendered product from mammal tissues, including bone, exclusive of blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. Recently, many pet feed companies and rendering plants have undergone scrutiny over their inclusion of euthanized pets in “meat and bone meal“. Ann Martin, in her book “Food Pets Die For”, exposed this revolting practice and the detection of sodium pentobarbital in pet foods, a veterinary drug used in the euthanasia of pet animals.

There is no such thing as “human grade meat meal“, since meat meal is never produced for human consumption and the facilities producing it are not licensed or certified to manufacture human-edible products that meet US FDA standards. If you are looking for the closest comparable thing, it would be something like meats that are freeze-dried after cooking, such as for backpacking and emergency food rations. These are made by manufacturers whose processing facilities fall under the regulatory requirements of the human food industry though, not the pet food industry!

Chemical Preservatives: BHA, BHT, Propyl Gallate, Ethoxyquin, Sodium Nitrite/Nitrate and TBHQ

These powerful chemicals are used as preservatives and to prevent rancidization of fats.

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) are petroleum derived preservatives used in food and hygeine products. TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) is another petroleum derived preservative. BHT has been banned from use in baby products in the United States and both BHA and BHT are banned entirely from use in human products in many countries throughout the world. Our pets do not receive the same protection.

Ethoxyquin is used as a food preservative and a pesticide. In pet foods it is typically found in meat and fish based ingredients. Ethoxyquin has been banned from use in human products because it is believed to cause cancer. It is important to note that when a manufacturer obtains an ethoxyquin preserved ingredient from a supplier or if it is added to pet food ingredients prior to food manufacture, the manufacturer is not required to list ethoxyquin on the pet food ingredient panel. The same applies to the other chemical preservatives.

Propyl Gallate is used in foods, cosmetics, hair products, adhesives, and lubricants (Wikipedia).

The use of these harsh chemicals are known to cause cancer, organ toxicity and are considered neither inert nor “safe”, yet are widely used in pet foods. Powerful preservatives provide an inexpensive means of providing long product shelf-life. Naturally preserved products may utilize tocopherols (Vitamin E), citric acid and rosemary extract to prevent rancidity.

These natural preservatives are common in truly healthy pet foods as the manufacturers realize that the small additional expense is worth it when it comes to our pets safety. It is also important to note that pet food manufactures are not required to list ethoxyquin in their ingredient listings when utilizing “meals” or ingredients obtained from their suppliers that used the chemical to preserve the meals prior to delivery.

Sugar

Sugars are added to dog foods because dogs, like humans, like them. Sugar as an ingredient can be listed in a number of ways (sugar, caramel, syrup, sucrose etc.) and can come from a wide range of sources (corn/maize, wheat, sugar cane, sugar beet etc.). Unfortunately, too much sugar can have the same effects in dogs as it does in people. High sugar diets have been linked to hyperactivity, hypoglycemia, obesity and tooth decay amongst other conditions and should therefore be avoided (see: How Hidden Sugars in Your Dog’s Food are Making Him Sick (DNM)).

Even more concerning, is the linkages between sugar and cancer. Cancer cells love sugar! That is why refined carbs like white sugar, white flour, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are extremely dangerous for pets and humans trying to prevent or reverse cancer.

Propylene Glycol

For those unfamiliar with the substance, here is the data on propylene glycol from the US Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (TATSDR) (see: Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR)):

Propylene glycol is a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water. Propylene glycol is also used to make polyester compounds, and as a base for deicing solutions. Propylene glycol is used by the chemical, food, and pharmaceutical industries as an antifreeze when leakage might lead to contact with food. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified propylene glycol as an additive that is “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. It is used to absorb extra water and maintain moisture in certain medicines, cosmetics, or food products. It is a solvent for food colors and flavors, and in the paint and plastics industries. Propylene glycol is also used to create artificial smoke or fog used in fire-fighting training and in theatrical productions. Other names for propylene glycol are 1,2-dihydroxypropane, 1,2-propanediol, methyl glycol, and trimethyl glycol. Propylene glycol is clear, colorless, slightly syrupy liquid at room temperature. It may exist in air in the vapor form, although propylene glycol must be heated or briskly shaken to produce a vapor. Propylene glycol is practically odorless and tasteless.

Like sugar, propylene glycol is used in many pet foods and treats as a flavour enhancer due to its sweet taste. It is also found in many semi-soft or moist pet products and is another questionable ingredient in pet feed. In human uses it is a common ingredient in stick deodorant and make-up as a humectant (see: Should You Avoid Dog Foods With Propylene Glycol? (Article)).

Sugar and spice … all things nice … NOT! Dogs have a palate very similar to humans. For this reason, many pet feed manufacturers load up their feeds with sweeteners (sugar, sucrose, propylene glycol, etc) – to increase the palatability and to mask low quality ingredients. Problem is, like some of us, dogs can even develop a type of addiction to sweetness and the result is that they refuse, at first, to eat a healthier food when presented!

Concerns About GMO

We highlight this topic simply due to the fact that much of the pet feed your fur kids consume through McKibble and McCan, may contain GMOs. We don’t want to open the proverbial Pandora Box, but you really should take note (see: Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food (Mercola)).

Many crops (wheat, soy, corn and others) used in pet feed today, come from GMO sources. GMOs are organisms that have been created through the application of transgenic, gene-splicing techniques that are part of biotechnology. These methods for moving genes are also referred to as genetic engineering (GE). This relatively new science allows DNA (genetic material) from one species to be transferred into another species, creating transgenic organisms with combinations of genes from plants, animals, bacteria, and even viral gene pools. Mixing genes from different species that have never shared genes in the past makes GMOs and GE crops unique. It is impossible to create such organisms through traditional cross-breeding methods. Because of this uniqueness, there are many unknowns about genetically engineered (GE) crops and GMOs.

  • Organ failure (rats): A study analysing the effects of GE foods on mammalian health linked three GE corn varieties to organ failure in rats. The researchers led by Gilles-Eric Séralini of CRIIGEN and the University of Caen in France found new side effects linked with GE corn consumption that were sex- and often dose-dependent. These effects mostly occurred with the kidney and liver, while other effects were noticed in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen and hematopoietic system. The researchers concluded that these data highlight signs of hepato-renal toxicity, possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GE corn ​4​ .
  • Glyphosate and birth defects: Research published Aug. 9, 2010, confirms that glyphosate-based herbicides cause malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses significantly lower than those used in agricultural spraying and well below maximum residue levels in products currently approved in the European Union. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup. Publishing the research were researchers led by Professor Andrés Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and member of Argentina’s National Council of Scientific and Technical Research. “The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy,” Carrasco reported at a press conference during the 6th European Conference of GMO Free Regions. He explained that most of the safety data on glyphosate herbicides and GE soy were provided by industry and are not independent. Carrasco began researching the embryonic effects of glyphosate after seeing reports of high rates of birth defects in rural areas of Argentina where GE Roundup Ready soybeans are grown in large monocultures sprayed regularly from airplanes (see: Why Glyphosate Should Be Banned, (Science in Society)).
  • Impacts on animal health. Researchers from Greece reported that animal toxicology studies of GE foods indicate they can have toxic hepatic, pancreatic, renal and reproductive effects. Also, the use of recombinant growth hormones or its expression in animals should be re-examined since it has been shown that it increases IGF-1 which may promote cancer ​5​ .
  • Serious human health risks. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine, in a 2009 Genetically Modified Foods Position Paper, called for a moratorium on GE foods and warned that “GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health.” This position paper cites animal studies that indicate such health risks associated with GM food consumption as infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system. “Because of the mounting data, it is biologically plausible for genetically modified foods to cause adverse health effects in humans,” the report notes, listing citations for numerous peer-reviewed studies as backup (see: Genetically Modifeid Foods (American Academy of Environmental Medicine) (AAEM)).
  • Bt toxin in human blood. Most recently, a study  accepted for publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology conducted by scientists at the University of Sherbrooke in Canada reports the presence of Bt toxin, widely used in GE crops, in human blood. Although scientists and multinational corporations promoting GE crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein, Cry1Ab, breaks down in the human gut, the findings from this study show this does not happen. Instead, it was found circulating in the blood of pregnant and non-pregnant women. The study also detected the toxin in fetal blood. Cry1Ab toxin was detected in 93 percent and 80 percent of maternal and fetal blood samples, respectively, and in 69 percent of tested blood samples from non-pregnant women ​6​ .

Our Conclusion?

Why not take the guess-work from feeding your pets, and turn meal time into a fooding experience for your pets instead? With real food – food made with care by our manufacturers (Doggobone, Raw Love Pets, Dogmatters and Simply Pets) with real ingredients.

Articles and Videos

  • AAFCO Guidelines are now sold for profit (AAFCO);
  • Focus on Nutrition: Cats and carbohydrates: implications for health and disease (PubMED);
  • Mycotoxins (PubMED);
  • The Invisible Toxin With Life-Threatening Outcomes – Be Watchful (Mercola);
  • Do Dogs and Cats Need Grains? (Mercola);
  • Why Grain Free Cat Food May Not Always Be the Best Choice (PetMD);
  • Genetically Engineered Crops in Pet and Human Foods (Britannica);
  • Why Wood Pulp In Your Parmesan Won’t Kill You (Bonappetit);
  • Why Wood Pulp Makes Ice Cream Creamier (WSJ);
  • Rice Hulls (WikiPedia);
  • Pet Food (What You Need to Know) for Your Pet’s Sake (PetMD);
  • Rendered Products In Pet Food (Dogs Naturally Magazine);
  • Meat vs. Meat Meal (Dog Food Project);
  • Propyl gallate (WikiPedia);
  • How Hidden Sugars In Your Dog’s Food Are Making Him Sick (Dogs Naturally Magazine);
  • The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry TATSDR (CDC);
  • Should You Avoid Dog Foods With Propylene Glycol? (I Love Dogs);
  • Doctors Warn: Avoid Genetically Modified Food (Mercola);

Dr. Becker and Kohl Harrington on Pet Food Industry

References and Research

  1. 1.
    Wakshlag J, Barr S, Ordway G, et al. Effect of dietary protein on lean body wasting in dogs: correlation between loss of lean mass and markers of proteasome-dependent proteolysis. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2003;87(11-12):408-420. doi:10.1046/j.0931-2439.2003.00452.x
  2. 2.
    Laflammme D. Focus on Nutrition: Cats and carbohydrates: implications for health and disease. Compend Contin Educ Vet. 2010;32(1):E1-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20473847.
  3. 3.
    Bennett J, Klich M. Mycotoxins. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2003;16(3):497-516. doi:10.1128/cmr.16.3.497-516.2003
  4. 4.
    de V, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini G. A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health. Int J Biol Sci. 2009;5(7):706-726. doi:10.7150/ijbs.5.706
  5. 5.
    Dona A, Arvanitoyannis I. Health risks of genetically modified foods. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009;49(2):164-175. doi:10.1080/10408390701855993
  6. 6.
    Aris A, Leblanc S. Maternal and fetal exposure to pesticides associated to genetically modified foods in Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. Reprod Toxicol. 2011;31(4):528-533. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2011.02.004

Don’t be Label Fooled ..

Decoding Pet Food Labels

Never judge a bag by its cover!

Demand drives the market, and as a result, BigPetFood is starting to incorporate some of the pet parents and guardians concerns into their marketing and “production” capabilities. Nutritional awareness and understanding is changing the way informed pet parents and guardians are evaluating McKibble and McCan diets.

Informed pet parents are looking for alternatives, and if we consider insights into some of the research driving these trends (Petfood Industry.com), then 83% of “new age thinking” pet parents are willing to spend extra on their pets’ diets to ensure the wellness of their pets. The same research also indicates that 75% of pet parents are now of the opinion that natural / organic pet foods are more nutritious than regular McKibble and McCan.

Enter the BigPetFood Marketing Engines

A good source of protein is, by far, the most expensive ingredient required for your fur kids to thrive. It should form the biggest part of the meal. Real protein that is – biologically, species appropriate, digestible and bioavailable.

However, to meet the “demands” of concerned pet parents and guardians, BigPetFood is “changing” formulas to include “fresh” or “real” produce in kibble. Right? If you read our post on deciphering pet food labels, then you will understand that they must list ingredients by weight before the kibble is produced. Perfect right – kibble now include real chicken?

You see, lately the advertising of kibble has been changed to include the words “Real”. You can take most of the new kibble offerings, and find “Made with Real [protein]” or “Real [protein] is the #1 ingredient” … you can substitute [protein] with chicken, turkey, lamb .. etc.

However, you should be aware that “Real” is not defined within AAFCO, and thereby implying, South African legislation, pet food definitions. Despite that, many kibble companies proudly state their pet foods are made with “real” ingredients!

More importantly, you should also be aware that no ingredient is affected by water weight more than protein!

Take that new bag of kibble that boasts it’s made with “real chicken as the 1st ingredient”. Now, if we check the USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (see: USDA FoodData Central Search (Search)), then we realise that a whole chicken raw contains roughly 66% water (70% for the purpose of our hypothetical scenario below). Considering its weight, it will of course make the first ingredient before the kibble ingredients are rendered or extruded. But, once the kibble is processed, this kibble will end up as a dry feed – and most of the other ingredients that are added to the feed are also dry. The idea is to make it look like it has more protein that it really does, and that it’s made from “natural” or “real” ingredients.

Continuing with our hypothetical scenario – let’s assume that when this feed is made, they add 40% chicken, 25% green peas, red lentils, pinto beans, chickpeas, green lentils, yellow peas, lentil fibre, 15% butternut squash, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, carrots, apples, pears, 10% chicken by-product meal, 5% freeze dried liver, and 5% chicory root, sarsaparilla root and althea root.

While the chicken contains water, all the other ingredients are probably added dry. Once the kibble is processed and dried, the chicken will lose 70% of its weight. Therefore, if the chicken was added as 40% of the ingredients, then the amount of chicken in the final product after drying will be just 12%. The result is that there is very little actual chicken (or animal) protein in the feed, this meal is primarily lentils and peas! Of course, this is a hypothetical scenario, as BigPetFood do not have to declare the make-up of their formulas.

But, the net result is a kibble with 29% crude protein minimum in the bag, based on the label! Great – you did say protein is important. Indeed, but based on the hypothetical scenario, the protein is now no longer based on animal protein, but instead on plant protein (lentils and peas). So, what’s wrong with this, you ask? Protein is made up of little building blocks called amino acids – and your mutts, pups & nobles uses these amino acids for their health and nutrition.

There are several amino acids that are essential for their health. That means that mutts, pups & nobles cannot manufacture them and absolutely need to get them through their diet. Plants and grains does not contain all the amino acids that your pack rely on. And on the flip side, they might not be easily digested and used as the animal proteins your pack evolved to eat.

Consider the cost of animal protein, BigPetFood love plant-based proteins because they are much cheaper than animal protein. If you spot any grain or starch ingredient on the label that ends in meal, gluten or protein, then you know it is a protein booster of sorts. Examples such as “Corn Meal”, “Flax Meal”, “Pea Protein”, “Wheat Gluten”, “Corn Gluten Meal”, and so forth … it’s there to improve the label ratings.

To satisfy the amino acid debate, BigPetFood will try and supplement the plant-based proteins with synthetic or artificial amino acids. Look at the label again, and if you see words that sometimes start with L and always end in “ine”, then you know they are trying to fill the gaps. Examples include “L-lys ine”, “DL-methion ine”, “L-cyst ine”, “L-tyros ine” and “L-carnit ine”. These are amino acids that BigPetFood is adding back into McKibble and McCan to fill some gaps. There are 22 amino acids in total, based on research to date (actually, it depends on which reference source you use). All these amino acids are important for our mutts, pups and nobles, but 10 amino acids are considered essential (Arginine, Lysine, Tryptophan, Histidine, Methionine, Valine, Isoleacine, Phenylalanine, Leucine and Threonine). For our masters, one additional amino acid is added to the list, namely Taurine, or perhaps two, depending on the research referenced. This means that they cannot manufacture them, so these amino acids must be provided through the diet.

However, plugging the holes on the label does not solve the problem either. Those added amino acids are just little chemical buildings blocks, or as science calls it – food fragments. Point is that they are not food. It still means that the expensive kibbles with the “fresh” and “real” ingredients are just that – dead food. The single most important benefit of fooding with real pet cuisine is “life energy”. Food that is whole, fresh, and uncooked, helps the body fend off ageing, improve cell oxygenation, metabolism, and renewal, helps fight off diseases, and are easily digested!

Don’t be Label Fooled, and make the switch to REAL FOOD instead.

References and Research

  • What is Real Meat? By Susan Thixton from the Truth About Pet Food (Truth About Pet Food);
  • 3 Bull$hit Moves Revealed: How Pet Foods Hide Crappy Proteins, by Dana Scott from Dogs Naturally Magazine (Dogs Naturally Magazine) ;
  • Meat in kibble petfood, Anton Beynen (Research Gate);
  • Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (2005), The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NAP) ;
  • Essential Amino Acids for your Cat, Robin Mudge from SlimKitty (SlimKitty) ;
  • The significance of the Amino Acids in Canine Nutrition, from The Science Magazine (The Science Magazine) ;
  • Natural, Organic, and Eco-Friendly Pet Products in the U.S., 6th Edition (Packaged Facts);

Reading Pet Food Labels with Dr. Morgan

Preventing Bad Hair Days ..

Shampoo for Dogs and Cats

We hear this question all the time – “what’s the difference between my shampoo and my dog’s shampoo?” You may be surprised to learn that there is a substantial different. Of course, if you run out of your fur kids’ shampoo and you use your own to wash your dog a couple of times, nothing will happen. Your fur kid’s hair won’t fall out and life will probably go on as normal.

But there are areas in which human and dog shampoos differ that you should be aware off. You may not notice the ill effects of human shampoo if used only a couple of times, but after repeated use, you’ll start to see.

Things you didn’t know about your dog’s skin …

  • As delicate as a baby … your fur kid’s skin is actually very different from human skin. The pH of human skin is around 5.5 (acidic), while that of dogs is around 7 (neutral) to 8 (slightly alkaline). That’s why canine shampoo has to be specially formulated for dogs with a balanced pH to prevent drying out and itching. Babies also have a more neutral skin pH like dogs, which becomes more acidic over time – hence why babies need special shampoo too.
  • A tough cookie but thin skinned … your fur kid’s skin is only three to five cells thick; where as a human’s is between 10 to 15 cells. Damage to those fragile outer layers can lead to infections, irritation and inflammation. This means that shampoos and skin products formulated for humans will be far too harsh for even the most macho of dog breeds.
  • Sweaty feet for a speedy getaway … contrary to popular belief, dogs DO sweat and they DO have glands located on their bodies, just like humans. However, it is only the glands in dogs’ paws that act to reduce heat by releasing a substance equivalent to sweat in humans and the glands on their bodies mainly produce pheromones for scent marking. These paw glands are also activated in nervous or frightened dogs which is thought to help doggies in danger make a quick getaway!
  • The hair of the dog … unlike humans, your fur kids have three types of hairs: a soft undercoat for warmth (secondary hairs), longer guard hairs for protection (primary hairs) and whiskers (tactile hairs) – although puppies lack primary hairs. Whereas human hair also tends to be the same colour for its whole length, dog hair can have a range of colours throughout its length, known as ‘banding’. 
  • Not all bacteria are bad … it is normal for dogs to have a level of bacteria living on their skin which actually has a protective function. A common bacteria found on the healthy skin of dogs is Staphylococcus (Wikipedia) which usually doesn’t cause a problem. However, when the skin barrier or immune system is compromised, such as by other disease or an allergy, these typically harmless microbes can multiply and cause a bacterial infection. A healthy, well cared for fur kid is better able to maintain that balance of healthy bacteria and fight off unwelcome invaders. 
  • Good grooming – more than just skin deep … just as people may have preferences for bobs, perms or mullets, dogs can be clipped professionally in different styles such as the teddy bear, lamb cut or lion cut. General brushing and grooming spreads the skin’s natural protective oils across its surface, it also increases circulation and blood flow – all of which help to maintain sumptuous skin. The average dog has between 100 and 600 hairs per square centimetre over its body.
  • Dogs don’t tan … unlike humans, your fur kids don’t have the ability to tan with repeated exposure to the sun. It is the substance melatonin that provides the skin with sun protection and gives it its colour which is lacking in lighter skinned dogs putting them at increased risk of burning. However, the coat also provides an effective screen against the sun, so hairless dogs or those with sparse coats are also more likely to burn. Whatever the skin color or coat of a dog, shade should always be readily available. Supplements high in iodine and iron, such as elderberry and nettle extract may help maintain healthy skin pigmentation.

Key points to remember …

All mammals have what is called an “acid mantle” (Wikipedia) – a thin layer of acidic oil that covers the top layer of skin and protects it from bacteria, viruses, and other harmful elements. When humans bathe, we wash away that protective mantle. Human shampoos and soaps are typically formulated with oils and moisturisers that replace that acidic layer until the body is able to rejuvenate it on it’s own … usually within 12 hours. If that acid mantle is not replaced, we see irritated, dry, flaky skin, or even a bumpy rash. That acidic layer is what determines the relative pH of both human and canine skin. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 (Wikipedia), with levels more than 6.4 considered high alkalinity, and with levels less than 6.4 considered high acidity. Human skin falls into a pH range of 5.2 to 6.2, fairly acidic, and human shampoos and soaps are made to maintain that balance.

Canine skin, on the other hand, can range from 5.5 to 7.5, moving into more of an alkaline range depending on the breed, sex, and size of the dog. The climate of where the dog lives also factors into skin balance. Canine skin has several layers, including an outer epidermis that is constantly being replaced and an inner dermis that contains nerves and blood vessels. Canine skin is thinner and much more sensitive than human skin.

Canine fur grows from hair follicles in the skin. Dogs have compound hair follicles, with a central (guard) hair surrounded by 3 to 15 secondary hairs growing out of the same pore. Sebaceous (oil) glands within the skin lubricate the hair, keeping the coat shiny and water resistant. Hair growth is controlled by several factors, including nutrition, hormones, and time of year. In general, dogs shed at a slow steady rate all year round, with periods of increased shedding in the spring and fall. Shedding replaces hair gradually, without bald patches (which can be a sign of illness and should be investigated).

The main functions of the hair coat are to protect the skin and to help regulate temperature. Fur traps air, which provides a layer of insulation against the cold. Small muscles attached to the guard hairs allow dogs to raise these hairs, which improves air trapping. Dogs also raise their hackles as a threatening gesture in response to danger. Different breeds of dogs have different types of hair coats. Breeds from northern climates (such as Huskies and Malamutes) have a soft, downy undercoat that provides better insulation in cold weather. Water breeds (retrievers, for example) have more long and stiff guard hairs to protect the skin and undercoat from harsh environmental conditions. Water breeds also have ample oil secretions to lubricate the hair. Breeds from warmer climates have shorter coats designed only to shade the skin. Poodles have very fine, curly hair that sheds far less than that of other breeds.

What do I look for in doggy shampoos?

Dog’s have different problems than what their pet parents do. We usually don’t sit around and scratch our heads as much as dogs scratch. This is because dog’s eliminate toxins differently than we do. We can sweat them out. Since dogs really don’t sweat, their toxins are eliminated through their kidneys and bowels. Shampoos containing natural, colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera, and tea tree oils will replace your dog’s natural skin balance more quickly than shampoos made with chemical components. Shampoos and rich conditioners with natural fragrances such as lavender, peppermint oil, or eucalyptus not only replenish skin oils and keep your pet smelling nice, they can also work as insect repellents.

Contrary to popular belief, you can wash your dog every week to every month (depending on the breed). Keeping your fur kids’ clean means washing away allergens that can make him or her itchy. And if you (the human) have allergies you really want to keep your fur kids’ allergen free. Buying a good quality, all-natural doggy shampoo, such as the brands we support, may mean digging a little deeper into your pockets than it does when you purchase your own shampoos and soaps – but one bottle can last 6 months and can save your fur kids from the incessant itching and scratching that comes from using a cheaper, human product.



References and Research

There is little written on this topic available across the net.

  • Evaluation of the effect of pH on in vitro growth of Malassezia pachydermatis (PubMED);
  • Structure of the Skin in Dogs (Merck);


All Natural Dog Shampoo

Pets Skin Problems and Baths Part 1

Pets Skin Problems and Baths Part 2