Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position. One of the many attempted attitude changers of Big Pet Food is their pitch that pet food feeding trials actually produce a better, safer, healthier pet food. What are pet food feeding trials and do these trials produce better, safer, healthier dog and cat foods?
Almost as if scripted, practicing veterinarians are often quoted in press releases telling unknowing pet owners that pet foods which are developed through AAFCO feeding trial protocol are better, safer, and more nutritious. As example, in a recent press release Dr. Carla Case-McCorvey of Case Veterinary Hospital stated “Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate” that the pet food “provides complete and balanced nutrition” for the specific life stage of your pet, rather than “all life stages.”
This same press release (which is very similar to countless others) went even further and stated “Checking the pet food label for the method used to establish nutritional adequacy,…will give you peace of mind that the food you are feeding your pet on a daily basis is made with your pet’s health and well-being as a top priority.” This particular press release, titled “Not All Pet Food Is Created Equal” implies that pet foods formulated through feeding trials “are a cut above” other pet foods.
Though a practicing veterinarian was used to feed the pitch to pet owners, it appears this message comes from a pet food manufacturer. The press release shared “To learn more about your pet’s food, visit www.hillspet.com.”
On to the truth about pet food feeding trials. Pet foods sold commercially must meet nutritional requirements established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or they must have passed a pet food feeding trial, requirements of feeding trials are also established by AAFCO. Below are the basics required of a pet food feeding trial…
Dog food and cat food feeding trials that would prove the food provides proper nutrition for an adult dog/cat has the requirement “the test shall run for a minimum of 26 weeks.” In other words, a pet food feeding trial runs only for six months; it is doubtful that many/most nutritional inadequacies or excesses would be shown in the dog/cat in just six months (26 weeks).
All dogs in the trial are given a complete physical examination at the beginning and end of the test. This ‘physical examination’ can be provided by any veterinarian including the pet food manufacturer veterinarian; a clear opportunity for bias.
Up to 25% of the dogs/cats that begin the test, can be removed and the reasons why the dogs/cats were removed are not required to be included in the final results.
The “diet fails if any dog shows clinical or pathological signs of nutritional deficiency or excess.” However, the only stated clinical signs of nutritional deficiency and excess are…
1. “No individual dog/cat shall lose more than 15% of its initial body weight.”
There is no requirement for dogs that experience weight gain; nothing that would cause a pet food to fail the test if the dog/cat gains 15% or more body weight.
2. There are minor blood test minimums required for hemoglobin and serum alkaline phosphatase values, and with cat foods there are minimum requirements for taurine levels in the bloodwork.
Dr. Cathy Alinovi (certified in veterinary food therapy) shared with me her thoughts on these blood tests…
“They are testing minimal things: number and size of blood cells, one type of protein, and one general measure for liver/bone levels. Very non-specific. They are not measuring vitamin or mineral levels, they aren’t measuring body pH, a modern indicator of true health.
In cats, they add taurine levels, but, how about B vitamins just to pick one?
They aren’t looking for physical signs of health – like coat quality, body fat, energy levels, water consumption, or, like I said, tissue pH.”
I have to wonder, if Dr. Carla Case-McCorvey of Case Veterinary Hospital and the hundreds of others that tout the benefits of a pet food feeding trial has ever read the AAFCO feeding trial requirements. I suggest to these veterinarians, get involved. Start with reading the AAFCO Official Publication, read the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (understand the law) and then read the FDA Compliance Policies that apply to animal food (allowing hideous waste to become pet food ingredients). Please stop relying only on information that pet food manufacturers give you. Please don’t allow yourself to be used as a spokesperson for something you know little about.
Pet food feeding trials provide little to no assurance the dog food or cat food is healthier or safer. Just as (holistic veterinarian and non Big Pet Food spokesperson) Dr. Cathy Alinovi stated, the requirements for pet food approval through a feeding trial are minimal, non specific, and not utilizing modern indicators of true health. Don’t believe the propaganda; a pet food is not better, safer or healthier if the food passed a feeding trial.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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