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Is Change in Pet Food a Good Thing?

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  1. Janice

    How has Champion been linked to the investigation of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in dogs? Is it through the legume content of their food? Or is there more (something I missed)? I was told by Champion that they were not contacted by the FDA regarding its investigation into DCM. I don’t disagree with your other points, Susan–just want to know if I missed something. There has been a lot written on the DCM issue since the FDA statement came out; I don’t think we should panic until we know more. It might, however, be a good idea to check the amounts of amino acids in your dog’s food, and compare these to what your dog should have. You’d need to have the complete nutrient profile of the food and also the NRC chart that allows you to calculate your dog’s needs. Some foods give the nutrient profile on their website (for example, Honest Kitchen, Evermore, Petcurean, Champion), some give it by request (e.g., Open Farm) but unfortunately some refuse to provide it. It would be helpful if taurine were listed separately but also check methionine and cystine, which are needed to make taurine.

      1. Janice

        As I read that document, the authors used one Acana food (pork singles) as an example of a food that is grain free with a lot of legumes, but they show no link between that food and DCM. Certain kinds of foods besides legumes and potatoes have been linked, such as lamb and rice diets; beet pulp also: see Jean Dodds: I think we have to look at the science very carefully.

  2. Mary Sue

    Thanks, Susan. As far as replacing salmon with smaller fish, I see that as a good thing, as long as the smaller fish are providing the right amount of protein, fat, omegas, etc. Smaller wild fish will usually have less contamination from heavy metal and other ingredients, as they are lower on the food chain. As far as all the other changes and relatively recent switch from grains to beans, I question those. Grain free does not mean low carb which for cats is important. They’re just replacing one carb with another. I prepare most of the food I feed to my cats and don’t feed dry food, but i do worry about all the pets whose humans aren’t getting the information they need to know what’s best for their cats and dogs.

    1. Leanne

      When a pet food company uses that many legumes, which are high in protein, they can decrease the amount of animal protein, while maintaining the overall protein levels. But it is poor quality protein compared to animal protein. Also much cheaper. When they split the legumes into that many kinds, they can keep the meat ingredients at the top, whereas if they used all one kind of legume, it could well be the first or second ingredient.

  3. Leanne

    Please note that alfalfa is also a legume. It was high on the ingredient list of the orijen foods in 2010

  4. Hope

    Superb research Susan. Thank you.

  5. Cindy T

    Fascinating. When my dogs had trouble with the 2018 Orijen last summer, I called Champion and they told me that taurine was not necessary because it was in the food. I stopped feeding Orijen.

  6. T Allen

    Great research Susan as always. Thanks for your hard work!

  7. Christine

    After losing 2 Shelties to Acana Pacifica’s toxic dog food, we researched extensively with our new baby. We were giving her Whole Paws chicken and rice (with my added fresh cooked chicken). Then all of a sudden Whole Paws disappeared from the shelves and we were told Amazon bought Whole Foods. Now it is back, but obviously is changed by appearance, so who knows what else has changed. I’m trying to find out if there is a manufacturer/production change like with Acana (from Canada to a plant in Kentucky). I’m obviously very wary of dog foods now and do great research with Dog Food Advisor, Truth about Dog Food, and Clean Label Project and others. Do you have any information on the “new formula” involved? Thank you for any help you can give.

  8. Ian

    impressive comparisons !

  9. Teresa

    Very interesting indeed! My memory isn’t what it use to be but I wonder, and maybe someone out there can answer, do the changes to Iam’s occur about the time Proctor and Gamble goaded the family operation to sell to them? I fed Iam’s cat food, dry and canned, to my hedgehogs. After the P&G buyout, first thing I noticed on the canned labels was “now with more broth” and a 10 cent price increase. Really? 10 cents more for water? What else lowered the quality? I stopped feeding it.

  10. tag

    My dogs eat what i do which is organic, grass and pasture raised and things I grow myself. Years ago one of my babies had bladder stones and required surgery. The food they wanted me to feed was ridculosly expensive and nothing but cheap garbage. Until we as animal lovers quit supporting garbage for food, they will keep producing it.

  11. Peter

    Many foods are also re-formulated to reduce the amount of overall “food” itself, most simply, by texturizing them. Merrick changed its formulas to “improve” them, and as part of that, now many are no longer “pate” or “loaf” but “minced” or “shredded,” which really only introduces opportunity to bring air pockets into the can. Merrick’s other line, “Whole Earth,” is formulated with a “foam-y” texture that is so air-ated that it is difficult to get it out of the can. These changes were made well before the company was purchased by Purina.

  12. Christine

    I’d like to point out that the removal of salmon from the list was something we strongly pressured the company to do, and we were relieved when they did it. As an environmentally friendly pet supply store, we choose our products with sustainability in mind. When we first brought in Champion foods to our store in the early days (2005 perhaps?) we did it due to their strict sourcing rules, including their dedication to sourcing only wild fish from sustainable fisheries. Wild Salmon populations have become less and less sustainable, but if a company chooses to use salmon, we still insist on it being wild salmon, as farmed salmon is such a disaster for the environment, and such a terrible health risk for our animal companions to eat on a daily basis. (
    Several years ago I was scrolling through Champion’s FAQ section, and in it was a statement that they were sometimes substituting farmed salmon for wild when wild salmon was scarce. We were very upset but not surprised to find out about that change in that accidental way (most pet food companies change ingredients without sending out notifications to retailers, which is why we check sourcing every year from each company we carry). But, more importantly, we were also upset us that they violated what they had previously stated as their policy for sourcing fish. Farmed salmon actually poses significant threats to wild salmon right in the waters of British Columbia (where their factory is), and it shocked me that they would be either contributing to the demise of their own local wild salmon population knowingly, or that they could be sourcing salmon without even being aware of the environmental problems in their own back yard. We and a few other Pacific NW stores challenged them to stand up for wild salmon and against farmed salmon for the health of the environment and the health of our pets. We have a strong policy against carrying any product that uses farmed salmon, and will drop any products that use it (as we are right now with any flavors of KLN brands that have started using farmed salmon – Nutrisource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet). We don’t just drop a line though, first we try to convince the company to change their minds – we believe that it’s important to try first to protect the health of all pets that may be eating that food, not just the customers of our store, then we drop them. To their credit, Champion agreed to drop salmon and to continue to be committed to sourcing more sustainable populations of fish. The species they chose are not only more plentiful, but are smaller-bodied, carrying less risk of accumulated metals and other contaminants such as PCBs, PBDEs, dioxins, and chlorinated pesticides that are often present in larger fish. When our small bodied animal companions are eating the same exact meal every single day of their lives, it becomes critically important to be careful about chemical contaminants that can accumulate in their bodies.
    Do challenge them for any other reasons you see fit – I don’t love the 8 legumes either. We didn’t necessarily hate peas as an ingredient when they first entered the market, but we do hate that peas then swept the industry almost entirely, making them almost impossible to avoid if your pet has a sensitivity, and becoming such a significant percentage of the protein content, sometimes displacing meat. We do believe that Champion is still very meat-forward, but it’s important to ask every company how much of their protein % is from meat vs peas.

  13. Leanne

    Feeding raw is not scary, folks. And cheaper to make yourself, I think, than a high end commercial dog food. Check out Prey Model Raw. Having small dogs helps with the cost of the food, and the fact that we have no vet bills. No allergies, skin problems, diabetes, obesity, musculoskeletal problems. I just checked my 6 year old dachshund’s teeth. This breed is supposed to be notorious for dental disease. There is not a speck of tartar on any of his teeth. Never had his teeth brushed, never had a dental.

  14. Leanne

    Sample prey model raw meals for a smallish dog, feeding once a day: 1) whole chicken thigh, chunk of beef liver, or lamb organs 2)chicken neck, and my own frozen ground raw mix (beef heart ground, beef kidney, canned salmon, maybe some other freezer burnt meat, maybe some pumpkin, maybe some freezer burnt pureed frozen veggies, raw eggs with shells, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, brewer’s yeast, some olive oil, some yogurt 3)Frozen Honest kitchen base mix with added ground meat of choice (we seldom feed pork) 4)Large raw, meaty bone from the butcher, usually beef trim. 5)Cornish game hen 6)pork ribs 7)Raw green tripe 8)Pork or lamb tongues sliced, chicken neck. It’s really not a lot of effort.

  15. Martha Glew

    If people are interested in learning more about the taurine crisis in dog foods, there are 2 Facebook groups. There are “files” that include several helpful documents, including taurine blood test results on multiple dogs.

    New members must read some important information prior to joining, and we ask that everyone be courteous and respectful to each other. Multiple people have lost their dogs recently to low tau DCM, and people are highly sensitive to the subject.

    **** Taurine-Deficient Dilated Cardiomyopathy (all breeds)

    ***** Taurine Dificiency in Golden Retrievers (golden retrievers only please)

  16. Ms. B Dawson

    Just published in Pet Business magazine:

    ‘Is “Clean Protein” the Next Big Thing in Pet Food?’

    The article states in part:

    ..”Cultured meat is front and center in Bond Pet Foods’ attempt to innovate the pet food category. The company is working to produce the proteins found in chicken by genetically modifying microbes and then feeding them sugars and other nutrients in a fermentation tank. The resulting harvested protein would reportedly come out in a consistency close to baby food, and would be dried and added to pet food and treat recipes. “…

    The human food industry is playing with this as well.

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