Report from ABKA meeting…
I just returned from speaking at the American Boarding Kennel Association Spring Meeting. Wow am I glad to be home. The meeting was held in Louisville, KY – home of the greatest 2 minutes in sports – the Kentucky Derby, and home to 10 inches of snow that arrived the day before I got there. I used to live in Louisville – but I’ve lived in Tampa for the past 7 ½ years – and I have to tell you I DON’T miss snow and cold weather!
But…the real news I want to share is the interest I found from pet professionals and soon to be pet business owners regarding pet food. The speech I presented was not on pet food – however after my presentation was complete I left a 30 minute time frame for questions. And much to my surprise, after I got a couple of questions on my speech topic – all the rest of the questions (about 25 minutes worth) was about pet food. And I was cornered the rest of the event by one pet professional or another asking me more questions on pet food. I was thrilled at their interest.
I spoke to a room of about 50 to 60 soon to be pet professionals (soon to open a boarding kennel) with only two or three that had a prior understanding of pet food. I made a strong point with these soon to be pet business owners the importance of educating their future customers and the need of their business to retail only quality foods (from a business stand point – it’s a no brainer for a retail sales product!). My point to all this rambling is that I felt it was very good news to see so many soon to be pet business owners that ‘get it’ about pet food. This is great news for the pets of their future customers. Sharing the ‘truth’ about pet foods is what it’s all about. I left the meeting knowing that many new pet businesses all over the U.S. and Canada will be helping and improving the health of many pets.
One thing at the meeting that amazed most of the pet pro’s I spoke with and as well that I have noticed some confusion on in blogs and articles online – is the human grade/quality statement. First…everyone should know – AAFCO rules clearly state that no pet food manufacturer is allowed to make claims to grade or quality of ingredients on product labeling. This is not a guess or assumption on my part or any other person – this is the rules of the industry. It is a grey area with regards to advertising of pet foods – the AAFCO regulations do not mention pet food manufacturers websites or other means of advertising. Since most of the pet food manufacturers that do use human grade ingredients do NOT mention the grade on their website or advertising – I am guessing those that do make the statement of human grade ingredients are crossing the line a bit. Don’t get me wrong – I completely feel they SHOULD be allowed to make such a statement! But the point is that it is illegal for manufacturers to make any claim to quality or grade of ingredient on a pet food label – and for those companies that follow the rules to a ‘T’ – you won’t see it mentioned on their websites either. Don’t let anyone tell you any different – and don’t feel a pet food manufacturer is not providing human quality ingredients if they don’t blazon the words across their website. To me, I have to give those that do use all human grade ingredients and don’t advertise it some credit. They are following the rules – probably to the detriment of their profits. I’m sure sales would improve if they did tell customers and potential customers the grade of their ingredients – but they don’t because they are not supposed to. I give them credit for sticking to the rules regardless of the bottom line.
Now…knowing the above – here is a quote from the AAFCO manual on pet food labels…
“Regulation PF7. Nutritional Adequacy”
“(a) The label of a pet food or specialty pet food which is intended for all life stages of the pet or specialty pet may include an unqualified claim, directly or indirectly, such as “Complete and balanced”, “perfect”, “scientific”, or “100% nutritious” if at least one of the following apply”
(1) The product meets the nutrient requirements for all life stages established by an AAFCO-recognized nutrient profile; or
(2) The product meets the criteria for all life stages as substantiated by completion of the appropriate AAFCO-recognized animal feeding protocol(s); or
(3) The product is a member of a product family which is nutritionally similar to a lead product which contains a combination of ingredients that has been fed to a normal animal as the sole source of nourishment in accordance with the testing procedures established by AAFCO for all life stages,….”
What this all basically means is this – a pet food can say ‘Perfect Dog Food’ or ‘100% nutritious Cat Food’ as long as they use the ingredients approved by AAFCO. ‘Perfect’ can be chicken feet and cow intestines. Or ‘Perfect’ can be human grade chicken meat. Read the regulation above again and pay attention to the words “unqualified claim”. AAFCO allows a pet food manufacturer to make “unqualified” claims. What a deal for some. The only way to know which you are getting is to look at the ingredient listing on the food and by calling the manufacturer and asking about the grade of ingredients. Yes, a pet food manufacturer is NOT allowed to say they use human grade ingredients but they are allowed to say words like ‘complete and balanced’ or ‘perfect’ even if they are using chicken feet and cow intestines. I know – it makes no sense what so ever. But those are the rules. You can understand why so many pet owners are confused out there.
Just as I was wrapping up this email, I received an email from a pet owner whose pet had become very ill – here is her email in its entirety….
“We have been feeding our 3 year old Bernese Mountain dog, Race, Blue Seal natural 26 for about a year.
A month ago, Race’s health was failing and was detetiorating more and more every day and his list of symptoms continued to grow.
Over the last 3 weeks, we have been to the vet’s office so many times, he stopped charging us for the office visits and only charged us for the diagnostic testings.
Race’s symptoms are as follows:
enlarged liver, elevated white cell count in blood, Elevated white cell count in urine, Severe diarrhea, Dry skin, Crying out Heavy breathing at night, Not gaining weight, Bloodshot eyes, dull coat, increased appetite drinking and urination, massive shedding, heavy panting, restlessness, disturbance of the sleep/wake pattern (increased sleeping during the day, restlessness at night, lethargy/decreased activity. Joint pain, Loss of muscle tone, then out of no where he stopped eating entirely.
Race’s diganostic testings over the past month:
Hip X-Rays: Fair
Knees – fine
Spine – Fine
No signs of arthritis
Loss of muscle in right hind leg
Cushings Disease – Negative
Diabetes Testing – Negative
Giardia snap test – Normal
Fecal exam (flotation) – Normal
Lymes (done twice) – Negative
Ehrlichiosis – Negative
Rocky Mtn Spotted Fever – Negative
Ophthalmologic exam – Normal
Laboratory evaluation – Normal
CBC, chemistry profile – elevated white cell count, dehydration
Urine – elevated white cell count & crystals in the urine
UTI – Negative
Kidney & Liver function – normal
Platelets – Fine
We had no idea what could possibly be causing all of his symptoms and considered euthanasia because he had a poor quality of life. All of the tests came back normal and Race was still getting worse day by day. Our veterinarian suggested changing Race’s food just to see if he would eat again. We were in the process of scheduling an ultrasound of his digestive system, liver and kidneys as well as an endoscopy to look for Cancer.
I changed him to Nutro Natural choice Herring meal, Rice & potato, just to get him to eat something. He started to willingly eat and within a week, more than half of the symptoms went away. The diarrhea was gone, after 8 days the liver was no longer enlarged, his skin is no longer severely dry, his coat looks great, eyes are clear, he is not drinking excessively, shedding is within normal limits, he is more active, His white cell count is no longer elevated in the blood and is no longer elevated in the urine. He gained 3 pounds in 7 days after changing his food. His most recent urine test (on Monday) shows crystals in the urine. Both our vet and I are convinced that the natural 26 was “poisioning” my poor boy. The vet suspects the food was toxic to him and since the liver filters everything, thats what caused the liver enlargment as well as the rest of the symptoms.
I have spent over $2,000 this past month at the vet because Natural 26 was slowly killing my dog. Not to mention the emotional stress and devastation this has caused.
Blue Seal is a food that will NEVER again enter my home. I am posting my story on every pet message board & email group that I can find. I have all of the test results and a letter from my vet stating that the diet (natural 26) was the reason for Race’s symptoms. I am taking copies to every local feed store in my area and posting it on their bulletin boards
I am going to make a website with my story, all of the symptoms, test results, letters and pictures of my dog while on Blue Seal and now that he has been off it. The difference is clear.
Do you know where else I can post our story?”
My first thought when I read the email was to look at the pet foods ingredients – here is what I found…(first five ingredients)…
Blue Seal Natural 26
Ingredients: “Porcine Meat and Bone Meal, Ground Corn, Wheat Flour, Corn Gluten Meal, Poultry Fat (Mixed Tocopherols Preservative),…”
This pet food would be rated with a No Score in Petsumer Report. In other words, there is no quality ingredient in the first five ingredients – the majority of the food. And the porcine meat and bone meal would be considered a red flag ingredient. The Natural Choice pet food contains the following first five ingredients…”Herring Meal, Whole Brown Rice, Rice Bran, Ground Rice, Rice Flour,…” This pet food would be rated with a 3 paw print rating (out of a possible 5 paw prints). The herring meal, whole brown rice and rice bran are quality ingredients. Ground rice and rice flour are not red flag ingredients – but they don’t provide much in the way of quality nutrition. But it does prove (if the ingredients in the Blue Seal pet food prove not to be tainted) that better nutrition does improve a pets health.
After looking at the ingredients in the pet owners food (Blue Seal Natural 26) I do wonder if the grains have any contamination with mold (aflatoxin – very deadly) or if the gluten might be contaminated with melamime – unless the pet food is tested, we do not know. I suggested to this pet owner to have the food tested and if I hear back from her, I will let you know. But regardless, ingredients themselves tell us a great deal. Stay clear of all by-products, meat and bone meals, any type of animal digest, meat meal (not chicken meal or turkey meal – just the ingredient ‘meat meal’), and animal fat – in your pet’s food and treats.
Keep reading the labels and keep sharing the truth! Glad to be home and communicating with you again!
Wishing you and your pet the best,
Truth About Pet Food
More articles on pet foods and pet treats can be found here: http://www.TruthAboutPetFood.com/PawsClub.html
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