New Study Finds BPA in Canned Dog Food May Harm Pets

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In recent years, we’ve become much more aware of the toxins in our everyday environment. One that has gotten a lot of attention is Bisphenol A, aka BPA, a chemical found in common items like plastic water bottles, thermal paper, and can linings. BPA is described as an endocrine disruptor and it also mimics estrogen. It’s been linked to a wide range of health issues, including various reproductive-related problems and cancer.

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A recent study suggests that the canned food our pets eat may contain unsafe levels of BPA as well. Researchers conducted a study of 14 dogs who regularly ate bagged dog food. They were then fed canned food (even a so-called “BPA-free” brand) and their blood was tested. The results showed that, even after just 2 weeks on the canned food diet, their BPA levels almost tripled. The researchers were able to link the BPA to changes in the dogs’ metabolisms and in microbes in their digestive systems.

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Besides the health issues that our pets themselves might be experiencing, the researchers note that animals are also very good indicators of the health risks humans face from the various environmental contaminants that we are exposed to on a daily basis.

Check out the full story, including a link to the study, on the Time magazine website.

 

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What Will Be the Top Pet Industry Trends for 2017?

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When it comes to caring for our dogs, cats, and other pets, many devoted pet owners will do just about anything to make sure that our fur kids lead healthy, happy, and pampered lives. Trends in the pet industry reflect our continuing interest in providing the best food, products, and care for our four-legged friends.

What will be the hottest trends in the pet business in the coming year? Industry experts predict the pet industry will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Here are the top projections:

Natural Pet Products

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Consumers will continue to be aware of the safety and sustainability of the products they buy, and that goes for pet food and other supplies. More and more of us will be seeking out natural pet food, cat litter, flea and tick products, grooming products, and toys.

Specialty Pet Services

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We also will continue to provide our pets with the best care we can. The market for upscale pet services will continue to grow. Areas include training, grooming (and other “spa” services), behavioral consulting, photography, and boarding/pet sitting.

Pet-Friendly Business

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Other pet trends to watch for include the growth of mobile dog and cat grooming services, more businesses like stores and restaurants that welcome pets, pet-friendly travel and hotels, and the growth of pet health insurance.

 

Sustainability in the Pet Products Industry: How Your Pet Can Go Green

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It’s getting easier to incorporate good sustainability practices into our lives as consumers. More and more of us are recycling waste, buying products in eco-friendly packaging, and bringing our own reusable bags to the grocery store. Pets can be eco-conscious too, thanks to innovative practices in the pet products industry. The organization Pet Sustainability Coalition seeks to implement environmental and social sustainability in the pet industry. Here’s a list of things you can look for when you go shopping for pet food and other products, courtesy of the PSC website:

  • Pet food and treats with natural, minimally processed ingredients, made with sustainable manufacturing processes and eco-friendly packaging.

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  • Pet hygiene and bath products made with healthy, natural ingredients, also manufactured and packaged in sustainable ways.
  • Environmentally-friendly and (of course) pet-friendly household cleaning products and pest control products.
  • Pet product brands that use locally-sourced ingredients to minimize the negative impact of long-distance transportation of materials.
  • Cat litter box filler that is all-natural and biodegradable in landfills.

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  • Pet bedding made from upcycled textiles, both the covering and the filler materials.
  • Bowls, toys, litter boxes, and leashes made from post-consumer recycled materials, such as recycled inner tube rubber.

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  • Bird and small animal products made from recycled, fair-trade, and organic materials.

 

Science Explains Why Cats are Finicky Eaters

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Remember those 9 Lives commercials back in the 1970s featuring a big orange tabby named Morris the Cat? Morris was a notoriously finicky cat who turned up his nose at all kinds of tempting foods…except 9 Lives cat food, of course.

Why exactly are cats such fussy eaters? According to a new British and Australian study, while cats may be drawn to food that tastes and smells good to them, they also instinctively choose foods with the optimal protein to fat ratio.

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Scientists gave 50 domestic cats meals that were flavored with fish (positive), rabbit (neutral), and orange (negative). Researchers varied the protein to fat ratio in the differently flavored foods over the course of the study. As expected, the cats preferred the flavor of the fish, followed by the rabbit, and disliked the orange.

Despite their flavor preferences, overall the cats seemed to consistently self-regulate their protein to fat intake to the appropriate levels for a good feline diet. The cats naturally consumed 31-32 g protein and 13-14 g fat across 3 control groups.

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Not surprisingly, cats prefer fish flavored foods that are high in protein. But left to their own devices, they will choose to eat foods that contain the right amounts of nutrients as opposed to choosing things that simply taste good.

So if your cat is a finicky eater, chances are it’s more about nutrition than just taste. Be sure to choose a high-quality, well-balanced commercial cat food for your favorite feline!

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Guest Blog: How Do I Choose My Pet’s Food?

We hope you enjoy this very informative article by veterinarian Dr. Kathy Boehme on choosing the right food for your pet. It was originally posted on the blog of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care, one of FACE’s valued veterinary partners. You can check out the original HERE.

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Deciding what to feed your pet is important, but can be a very confusing decision. There are a plethora of diets and even more opinions on what you should and should not feed your pet. Feeding options have become complicated by a mixture of science, hype, human diet fads, marketing and convenience. There are literally thousands of different pet foods with new ones every week. There is a lot of good information available but there is also a lot we do not know about nutrition. Just look at how the recommendations for humans have changed over the years and there is lots of research being done on human nutrition.

There are some very good pet nutrition companies who do provide information backed with feeding trials on both standard pet nutrition and more specific medical diets. These feeding trials with both normal and ill animals have provided us with immense amounts of information which has been lifesaving with many dogs and cats. These companies deserve credit for doing the research needed to further our understanding of pet nutrition.

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We are asked this question frequently, and there is rarely just one diet option. This can be disappointing, but there is no way to know the “best” diet for a particular pet. The only way to know is to break down the health concerns, see what we know about nutritional requirements with these concerns and then feed the diet and monitor what happens. Dogs and cats are individuals and what the same food does in different bodies varies highly, as many people already know. You may go through 10 diets before you find “the diet”.

If your pet is healthy and can seemingly handle any diet, then it may even be a good idea to rotate diets and see which diet seems the best for your pet. Generally, keeping your pet on a diet for 8 weeks should be an appropriate amount of time to determine if your pet does well on a particular diet. If you find a few diets that your pet likes and does well on, it is fine to rotate the diets. If your pet has a sensitive stomach, and develops diarrhea or soft stool easily, pick one manufacturer and protein type. Be consistent, unless your vet suggests otherwise.

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What You Should Consider for Healthy Pets:

  1.    There is very little standardization in the pet food industry. For example, one company’s senior diet can have completely different nutrient amounts than another senior diet. In order to know what the company has changed in order to call it “senior”, you have to ask. A senior diet basically means nothing. Some companies have great websites that explain their diets and some do not. Forget about the ones that do not. In this day and age there is no reason to have a website with pretty pictures and no information. Know what is in the diet you are feeding and why it’s in there.
  2.    The caloric density is highly variable between diets. One diet might have 300 calories per cup and another 500 calories. Diets that are high in protein and lower in carbohydrates are usually higher in calories as well because they tend to be higher in fat. This is very important depending on what the weight goals are for your pet. Know how many calories your pet is eating so it can be adjusted depending on their weight.  This information should be readily available on the website.
  3.    Pets are genetically different from one another. Pet foods are formulated for generic norms but individual micro and macro nutrients are variable between foods. Nutrient level requirements for one healthy individual can be very different from another healthy individual. This is why it can be helpful to vary the diet over time, hoping to make up for these differences. It is not enough to change flavors within the same company. Change manufacturers. Also, some manufacturers make several brands. Know the parent company so you can change to a different one as you vary the diet. For instance, Diamond, Taste of the Wild, Canidae, Chicken Soup for the Pet Lovers Soul, some Solid Gold varieties and Kirkland brands are all from the parent company Diamond Pet Foods, Inc. There are only 5-6 major parent companies for the majority of the foods at the pet store. There are some private labels as well. It is very interesting to me to learn who is making the food on the shelves. See graphic below to learn more about who owns what:

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  1.    Nutritional knowledge is constantly changing. It is important that a pet food company stay current. They should have a veterinary nutritionist on staff working with them to formulate their diets and change them as knowledge and understanding change. Ideally they should perform diet trials so that they know what the food does in actual bodies. Any health claims the company makes should be substantiated by feeding trials. The diet should have AAFCO certification at a minimum. AAFCO is currently the only national standard for commercially prepared pet food. It is far from perfect but it’s all we have.
  2.     Pet food companies aren’t perfect and bad things happen including contamination and recalls. Think the melamine adulteration in 2007 which involved many companies. If you want to know how frequently a company has had their food recalled you can find it with a simple Google search. This doesn’t make a company good or bad but if there is a trend of increasing recalls be wary. There are plenty of foods available with few or no recalls. Is there clear contact information on the box/ bag so you can call someone if you have a problem or question about the food?
  3.    There are now many non-kibble options in addition to canned food and these appeal to many people. These manufacturers should be held to the same standard as the others including having the ingredients, nutrient profiles, calories and contact info readily available. I also avoid very young companies without a proven track record. This does not mean I would not use them in the future though if they consistently turn out a quality product.
  4.    Other strategies appeal to some people like local or domestic sourcing, organic ingredients, fresh ingredients, etc. If you have a particular interest, there is likely a diet available, just do your homework. Keep in mind that many terms on the label have no actual definition like natural, holistic, ancestral, wild, etc. Diets that use this type labeling might be great diets but it’s not going to be the label that tells you that. The label is simply marketing. Other marketing verbiage with little to no meaning include celebrity endorsements, veterinarian recommended and Top Breeder recommended.  It takes one veterinarian or one breeder to make this claim. I love celebrities as much as the next person but they are not nutrition experts and they have a stake in the sale of the product they are endorsing.  
  5.    Does the company support veterinary nutrition research? This is probably beyond the resources of smaller companies but not the larger ones. Do they help add knowledge to nutritional health through ethical research?
  6.    If you have a healthy pet, I would stick to “normal” ingredients like beef, chicken, fish and save the novel protein ingredients like rabbit, duck, and bison in case they need a novel diet later in life. 
  7.    Home cooking a diet is a viable option if you like to cook and probably good for your pet. Make sure you trust the recipe you are using. A balanced diet can be formulated from a veterinary nutritionist. Here are a couple resources: balanceit.com, petdiets.com.

 If you want a kibbled diet but like to add “a little something fresh” consider antioxidant and phytonutrient rich cooked or finely chopped raw vegetables. Fruit is ok if your pet is not overweight. The rule of thumb is ¼ cup of veggies per 10 pounds of body weight. Work up to this amount and start with only one new veggie a week. Avoid grapes, raisins and the onion family.

A few of my personal favorites for healthy pets (in no particular order):

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As for pets with health concerns…well that’s a whole other story and a good discussion for a veterinarian that knows your pet.

 We are excited to announce that we will now be offering a new service here at The Drake Center! For those who are confused about what to feed their pet we have designed a nutritional consultation. Let integrative medicine expert, Dr. Kathy Boehme, guide you in providing the best possible diet for your pet- based on factors including breed, age, weight, and more.

The Drake Center Team

The Drake Center Team

 Here’s to happy, healthy eating!