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Great advice on pet food

A couple of posts back I suggested there should be a TV show like Chopped, except the chefs would be cooking dishes for dogs and cats, who would serve as the judges.

My LJ friend cougarfang, who is studying in Boston to become a veterinarian, immediately posted a comment explaining why cooking for dogs and cats isn't good for them, despite our best intentions.

If you have a dog or a cat, her comments are worth reading:

"It's really freaking hard to home-cook a truly nutritionally complete diet (and don't even get the veterinary nutritionists started on the horrors of "raw food" diets). In an adult animal you can usually get away with some trace deficiencies here and there, at least for a while - and note the "trace", like, seriously some people think they can feed their animals nothing but chicken and rice or browned hamburger meat, and those are the animals that come in with terrible rickets and pathological bone fractures. And with young growing animals like puppies or kittens, you can't ethically leave them deficient in anything at all because they haven't built up the stores that adult animals have.

"As a general rule of thumb (or so the nutritionists teach us), look for the AAFCO statement on the animal foods you're purchasing; if it's formulated or tested to meet the nutritional needs of the life stage of the animal you're feeding it to, you're definitely safe. With other foods that don't have that statement, it's caveat emptor - they could be perfectly fine foods, or they could be totally off. And of course, home cooking has no AAFCO statements whatsoever, but if formulated by a boarded veterinary nutrition specialist (not some Joe Schmoe or Mrs. Animal-Lover off the Internet) it'll suffice. This is usually the gold-standard method of choice for people whose pets are allergic to multiple common commercial diet ingredients. I suppose if your show featured a boarded nutritionist talking about how s/he balanced each meal being cooked (tailored towards the particular needs of each individual pet) and the importance of good nutrition for pets in general, it'd be educational *and* entertaining?"


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2013 02:40 am (UTC)
*blush* Aw, I'm flattered! :3

Addendum: The AAFCO statement will tell you if the diet is for "adult animals" only or for "all life stages" which includes young growing animals (puppies/kittens) and pregnant/nursing females. Some brands have specific "large breed puppy food" which is for large breed puppies only and is supposed to be fed until they're at least 1 year old. Those diets have fewer calories but proper amounts of all the other required nutrients (amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc.) because if the puppies grow too rapidly they get bone disorders; they'll still reach their full size, but at a more healthy and less taxing pace.

Note that only the AAFCO statement is regulated on pet foods. "Natural", "holistic", "human-grade", "premium", even "organic", all those terms mean nothing in the pet food trade other than marketing buzzwords that any food can slap onto their label. Again, caveat emptor.

Also, cats have particular metabolic quirks which mean they're less tolerant of deficiencies in certain nutrients (for instance, taurine deficiency predisposes them to potentially fatal heart disease) so there's even less leeway to mess around with their diets.

(P.S. Minor nitpick - I'm out in Central Massachusetts, which is where the Tufts vet campus is (an hour out from Boston where the Tufts undergrad and medical campuses are). Which was a blessing in disguise this past week...)
Apr. 22nd, 2013 05:16 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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