Diets for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Body Condition Scoring (BCS)
- Home-Prepared Diets
- Choosing a Diet Specialist
- Heart-Healthy Supplements
- Obesity Medications
- Research News
- Related Links
- Veterinary Resources
This article focuses on providing cavalier King Charles spaniels the dietary nutrition they need to best prepare them for fighting the genetic disorders they may be expected to develop.
The quality and types of foods cavaliers are fed can be very important for their genetic health. Since CKCSs are pre-disposed to some very serious progressive health conditions -- mitral valve disease being the primary one -- we believe it is advisable to feed our cavaliers the best diets aimed at strengthening their hereditary weaknesses, such as their hearts, kidneys, liver, and blood circulatory system.
For these reasons, in this article, you will find that we recommend feeding cavaliers home-prepared diets, including raw meat and vegetables when possible, under the guidance of veterinarians who are knowledgeable about canine nutrition and, most importantly, are not biased against home-prepared meals. By preparing your cavaliers' meals yourself, with proper supplements for heart-health, you can assure that they are getting the best nutrition possible.
Avoid dry dog food -- kibble -- entirely
If you cannot deal with preparing your cavaliers' meals from scratch, at the very least we urge you to never feed them dry foods, such as extruded pellets called kibble, as any part of their daily diets. Dry dog foods are particularly inappropriate for our cavaliers, and all dogs, because dry foods require a high percentage of carbohydrates just to bind the other ingredients together. The Association of American Feed Control Officials' (AAFCO) 2010 Pet Food Nutrient Profiles shows that dogs do not require carbohydrates in their diets, and according to the National Research Council's Committee on Animal Nutrition 2006 report, "there appears to be no requirement for carbohydrates provided sufficient protein is given." So kibble is designed for the convenience of the manufacturer and contrary to the best health interest of the dog.
Feed biologically appropriate commercially-prepared frozen or canned dog foods
So, if you cannot prepare your dogs' food at home, we recommend that you feed biologically appropriate commercially-prepared frozen or canned dog foods with ingredients which are primarily human-grade* real meats, followed by fresh vegetables. Biologically appropriate dog foods are often rich in protein or meat-first in their ingredient listings, and low in carbohydrates or preferably grain-free. Then add to those meals, cardiac supplements designed to keep the dogs' hearts strong. Canned foods we like include Merrick Thanksgiving Day Dinner and Merrick Cowboy Cookout.
* "Human-grade" means that the food has been subject to USDA inspections and is deemed edible by humans. It therefore does not consist of "by-products" from rendering plants, diseased animals, road kill, or rendered "animal fat".
In a video primer on how to tell if a particular dog food is wrong for the species, here is Dr. Karen Becker explaining how to interpret the ingredients list on a bag of dog food.
Obesity is the most common nutritional disease in dogs and can lead to a range of illnesses and diseases. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are pre-disposed to obesity, according to evidence garnered in a 1986 veterinary research study of dogs in the United Kingdom and confirmed more recently in a 2007 report and a 2013 presentation, among several others.
Joseph Demers, DVM, CVA, CVH, a renowned holistic veterinarian, states:
"Another reason for overweight pets is what we feed our pet friends. Commercial pet food is anywhere between 45 percent to 65 percent carbohydrates (grains). Grains are the least expensive part of pet food and can fill the animal quickly. Dogs and cats are more carnivores than we humans are, and we are feeding them almost as much grain (or more) than we humans eat. I feel that this high carbohydrate commercial pet food is the worst food we can feed our pet friends. Our pet friends need fresh meats, not dehydrated meat by-products. I also feel vegetables are an excellent source of fiber and moisture as well as sources of natural vitamins and minerals for our pet friends."
"I feel most commercial foods use poor quality proteins, and destroy even those with high temperature cooking."
Canine obesity commonly is measured by a scaling system called Body Condition Scoring (BCS). BCS is used to evaluate the relative proportions of animal fat, called adiposity, at specific body locations and compare those to a lean musculoskeletal system. The 5-point BCS scale ranges from 1 point (emaciated) to 5 points (obese), as follows:
1 = Emaciated. Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all body prominences evident from a distance. No discernible body fat. Obvious absence of muscle mass.
2 = Thin. Ribs easily palpated and may be visible with no palpable fat. Tops of lumbar vertebrae visible. Pelvic bones less prominent. Obvious waist and abdominal tuck.
3 = Moderate. Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from side. This usually is the ideal BCS score.
4 = Stout. General fleshy appearance. Ribs palpable with difficulty. Noticeable fat deposits over lumbar spine and tail base. Abdominal tuck may be absent.
5 = Obese. Large fat deposits over chest, spine and tail base. Waist and abdominal tuck absent. Fat deposits on neck and limbs. Abdomen distended.
There is also a more complex, 9-point BCS scale, which veterinary nutritionists are more apt to use.
There are advantages and disadvantages to feeding cavaliers home-prepared meals. The advantages include being able to feed the best foods and supplements for the particular health needs of the dogs. For example, nearly all CKCSs may be expected to develop mitral valve disease (MVD). Home-prepared meals can be tailored to provide ingredients which help strengthen the heart, kidneys, and liver to enable the dog to better compensate for the damage which MVD can cause. The less processed a dog food is, the easier it is for the dog to digest it, and the more dehydrated a food is -- such as dry food -- the more stressful it is upon the dog's kidneys and liver to assimilate it. Also, by selecting the ingredients -- particularly organic ones -- of your dog's diet, you can avoid the genetically modified foods (GMO, for Genetically Modified Organism) that compose substantially all of commercial dog foods. By feeding kibble, we are allowing our dogs to be "lab rats" for these under-tested grains known to cause cancers in the real lab rats.
Disadvantages to home-prepared foods include the risk of not offering well-balanced meals with proper supplements. That is why it is important that any home made diets be reviewed by nutrition specialists, such as well-qualified holistic veterinarians. Home-prepared foods also can be time-consuming to prepare, and the ingredients can be more expensive than commercially-prepared foods.
If you are a cavalier owner who may be interested in feeding your dog home-prepared meals, whether cooked or raw foods, we strongly recommend that you begin by researching recipes in books on the subject, such as:
Natural Dog Care: A Complete Guide to Holistic Health Care for Dogs, by Celeste Yarnall. You may order it on-line by clicking the book cover at the left or click here.
Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard H. Pitcairn D.V.M. and Susan Hubble Pitcairn. You may order it on-line by clicking the book cover at the right or click here.
The BARF Diet (Raw Feeding for Dogs and Cats Using Evolutionary Principles, by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. You may order it on-line by clicking the book cover at the left or click here.
If, after doing your research, you are determined to feed your cavalier a homemade diet, then, before you prepare that first meal, be sure to consult with a well-qualified, licensed veterinarian who practices holistic care, or a veterinary nutritionist*, to develop recipes which are both well-balanced and suitable for the health needs of your cavalier. A list of holistic veterinarians may be found here. A list of board certified veterinary nutritionists may be found here.
* Most "board certified veterinary nutritionists" appear to be irrationally biased against feeding raw food diets to dogs, so care must be taken when consulting with any of them, that you are being given objective advice which does not sound like it is being given by kibble-peddling marketeers for pet food manufacturers which fund most all research conducted by veterinary nutritionists.
Another option is to contact Monica Segal (above left), a certified animal health nutrition consultant and author, who also happens to own cavaliers herself. She moderates the Yahoo! Group K9Kitchen and has an interactive website for providing nutritional advice on home-prepared diets for your dogs and other pets.
Dr. Karen Becker (right), who authored Dr. Becker's Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats, above, has written an excellent summary of how to make sure you are feeding balanced nutrition to your dog. She writes:
"There should be four primary components in a nutritional program for your dog or cat, including:
•Meat, including organs
•Veggie and fruit puree
•Homemade vitamin and mineral mix
•Beneficial additions like probiotics, digestive enzymes, and super green foods (these aren’t required to balance the diet, but can be beneficial for vitality)
"A healthy dog’s diet should contain about 75 percent meat/organs/bones and 25 percent veggies/fruit (this mimics the GI contents of prey, providing fiber and antioxidants as well). For healthy kitties, the mix should be about 88 percent meat/organs/bones and 12 percent veggies.
"Fresh, whole food provides the majority of nutrients pets need, and a micronutrient vitamin/mineral mix takes care of the deficiencies that do exist, namely iron, copper, manganese, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, folic acid, taurine and Biotin (for cats).
"Keep in mind that just because nutritional deficiencies aren’t obvious in your pet doesn’t mean they don’t exist. A considerable amount of research has gone into determining what nutrients dogs and cats need to survive. At a minimum, you do a disservice to your pet by taking a casual approach to insuring he receives all the nutrients he requires for good health. The kitten who is the subject of this article is a good example of a pet whose breeder meant well and didn’t see any immediate damage to the animal, yet the kitten became acutely ill on the raw chicken-only diet.
"If you’re preparing homemade food for your pet, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of insuring the diet you feed is nutritionally balanced. It doesn't matter whose recipe you follow, but it does matter that it's balanced."
Dr. Sean Delaney (left), a board certified veterinary nutritionist, provides a list of his pros and cons about feeding home-prepared diets:
"Homemade recipes have several advantages over commercial food, but they also have several disadvantages. (In general, this author recommends commercial foods as a first method of feeding pets.)
"Advantages of home-prepared diets:
• Highly digestible
• Create recipe appropriate for multiple diseases ...
• Meet particular client’s needs
• Increased knowledge about ingredient sourcing
"Disadvantages of home-prepared diets:
• Generally more expensive
• Can be time consuming to make
• Food data may not match food used
• Experimental, no feeding trials
• “Diet drift” – client changes recipe
"Homemade recipes can be successfully used for pets, but there are many nutritional issues that the client and veterinarian must be aware of. Recipe evaluation with clinical nutrition software and/or a board certified veterinary nutritionist is recommended as are frequent health checks to ensure appropriate performance of the diet and client compliance with the specific recipe(s)."
The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) provides this advice for handling raw food diets:
"For the protection of both you and your pet, the FDA
recommends the following when handling or using raw meat, poultry or seafood,
for use in a pet’s diet:
• Keep raw meat and poultry products frozen until ready to use.
• Thaw in refrigerator or microwave.
• Keep raw food diets separate from other foods. Wash working surfaces, utensils (including cutting boards, preparation and feeding bowls), hands, and any other items that touch or contact raw meat, poultry or seafood with hot soapy water.
• Cover and refrigerate leftovers immediately or discard safely.
• For added protection, kitchen sanitizers should be used on
cutting boards and counter tops periodically. A sanitizing solution can be made
by mixing one teaspoon of chlorine bleach to one quart of water.
• If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through the dishwasher after each use."
There are many well-qualified holistic veterinarians who specialize in canine dietary nutrition. See their search webpage here. But there are very few board certified veterinary nutritionists in the United States and Canada -- only about 77 by our last count (see list here) -- and few, if any, may be supportive of home-prepared meals comprised of human-grade ingredients. For most of these nutritionists, objective advice about non-commercial diets is not their forte. Many of them are willing tools of the commercial dog food manufacturers. Just read their website's Frequently Asked Questions section and find out for yourself.*
* For example, the FAQ page includes this obviously false statement: "At this time, the vast majority of purported benefits of feeding raw foods remain unproven, while the risks and consequences have been documented."
A typical example of the bias of veterinary nutritionists is the recently published Home-Prepared Dog and Cat Diets, Second Edition by Dr. Patricia A. Schenck. In that book, Dr. Schenck starts off in the first chapter stating:
"Some recipes call for the use of raw ingredients. Raw ingredients often contain bacteria that would normally be destroyed by cooking (see Chapter 2, Food Safety). The practice of feeding uncooked diets should be discouraged."
Thus, as far as Dr. Schenck is concerned, the case for a raw diet is closed. Her logic is that (a) raw food may contain bacteria; therefore (b) owners should not feed any raw food to their pets. So, clearly to the those interested in feeding raw food diets, her book would be a waste of money. It is very unfortunate that as late as 2010, veterinary nutritionists such as Dr. Schenck can be so ignorant and closed-minded about raw diets.
A predictable argument these anti-raw-diet nutritionists raise, as Dr. Schenck makes above, is that uncooked food is a health hazard. It is as if these "experts" are unaware that pet owners would actually handle uncooked food on a daily basis even if they had no pets at all. Further, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration found in 2012 that outbreaks of Salmonella infections in humans have been linked to commercial dry dog foods.* In the four month period from April through July 2012, over sixty commercial brands of dog and cat food were recalled, nearly all for "possible Salmonella contamination".
* Read report here. Also, consider this: "The starches, rancid fats, and sugars in kibbled foods provide much better food sources for bacteria than the proteins in raw meat." http://rawfed.com/myths/bacteria.html
An extreme example of bias against homemade raw food diets is veterinary nutritionist Dr. Sherry Lynn Sanderson (right) of the University of Georgia veterinary college. In her un-referenced 2009 paper, "Raw Diets: Do They Make You Want To BARF?" -- a clever-by-half title by which she sophomorically conveys her bias -- she tosses objectivity aside and ridicules, as misguided simpletons, dog owners who feed raw food to their pets. This paper is such an unscientific attack that it could make you wonder if grants from dog food companies could be her department's only source of research funding.*
* "Hill's [Pet Nutrition, the maker of Science Diet kibble] provides financial and educational support to nearly every veterinary college in North America, as well as to veterinary students attending those institutions. This commitment to the profession includes Hill's sponsored teaching programs, residencies and faculty programs in veterinary schools and teaching hospitals all over the world." DVM Newsmagazine. Aug. 2004;35(8):38.
For example, in her paper she denies that the high intensity pressure process (HPP) of turning raw food into dry kibble can destroy the nutritional value of the food. Side-stepping the vast evidence that it does*, she defends the commercial dog food companies by stating that "It is well known that antioxidants are more available in cooked foods, such as tomatoes or carrots, compared to the same foods that are uncooked." When was the last time you saw tomato or carrot listed among the top ingredients of typical dog kibble?
* See http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/choosing-dog-food/high-pressure-processing-raw-dog-food/ (""Proteins are denatured. High levels of pressure, such as those used in the HPP process, have been shown to result in the denaturation of proteins. Beneficial bacteria are destroyed. Unfortunately, the HPP process doesn’t differentiate between disease-causing and beneficial bacteria. Risk of recontamination remains. Most (if not all) pet food recalls are due to recontamination — meaning the bacterial contamination occurs sometime after processing. HPP will destroy bacteria present in the food prior to processing but cannot protect the food against recontamination after processing." And, also, see: http://rawfed.com/myths/cookedfood.html Most dry dog foods are cooked twice: once when the protein is dehydrated and processed into meal), and a second time when the mixture is extruded to form bite-sized kibble. This extreme processing also changes the structure of proteins and destroys vitamin A, vitamin E and the B-group vitamins. The lack of natural moisture in dry food requires the dog’s body to provide sufficient moisture to reconstitute the food in the digestive tract. This unnaturally stresses the kidneys, liver, and metabolic system. Click here for citation.
Dr. Sanderson's fervent defense of the over-use of corn as a main ingredient in many commercial foods demonstrates how little scientific evidence she has to work with. She writes:
"If one considers that corn was a main staple in the diet of Native Americans* for many years, it is difficult to understand how critics can claim that corn is a filler used in pet foods."
Her point? She offers no clue. Chickens eat more corn than the American Indian ever did, but neither humans nor fowl are dogs. Corn is not a natural source of food for dogs, is very difficult for them to digest and assimilate, and is of little nutritional value to them. In the short digestive systems of dogs (and cats), plant proteins are far less digestible than meat proteins. Dr. Sanderson ignores the well established, scientific fact that canines need a lot less grains and a lot more meat protein than humans do.
* Dr. Sanderson's un-documented statement that American Indians subsisted mainly on corn demonstrates ignorant stereotyping. This type of claim is evidence that board certified veterinary nutritionists are biased (Who seriously believes that corn is a better protein for dogs than meat?) and that these "specialists" really have nothing of value to offer dog owners concerned about healthful nutrition for their pets. Their "professional opinions" may border on malpractice.
Dr. Sanderson concludes her attack by confidently stating: "There is no scientific evidence that raw diets are superior to any commercial canned or dry diets. In contrast, the literature is full of decades worth of research supporting the health benefits of commercial pet foods." That simply proves the point that nearly all research into dog foods is funded by commercial pet food companies, and that objectivity in this area of veterinary research loses to those who issue the grants.
And, Dr. Sanderson is not unique. Another board certified veterinary nutritionist, Dr. Lisa M. Freeman (right) of Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, also sings the praises of commercial dry dog foods in which corn and soybeans are the major sources of protein, instead of real meat. She writes in "Answering Owners' Questions About Pet Foods" (as if she actually is trying to be helpful to those owners), this incredible statement:
"Some owners are concerned about using diets that contain any vegetable-based proteins, such as soybean or corn. These are NOT added as fillers and contain important nutrients. There is no reason why 'grain free' foods are better for either dogs or cats."
Another example of the alternate universe of veterinary nutritionists is Dr. Joseph Wakshlag (left) of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, who absurdly said in an interview about dog food that: "... often by-product is as good, maybe even a better source of over-all nutrition ... better off eating by-product than chicken breast."
Elsewhere, he also wrote: "My preferred method of feeding presently is kibble." The ignorance about canine nutrition in that one sentence is breath-taking, but it neatly summarizes the mindset of most veterinary nutritionists.
To the contrary of all this pro-kibble hype from these so-called "nutritionists", research studies that have not been funded by commercial pet fund manufacturers have reached the opposite -- and more obvious -- conclusion that balanced home-prepared meals are much more healthful for our dogs than commercial diets prepared by pet food conglomerates. For example, in a 2003 Belgium study of 522 dogs, the researchers found that dogs fed a species-appropriate homemade diet lived 32 months longer on average than dogs fed commercially available dog foods.
In 2006, another rare insightful research article on this topic focused on what motivates cat owners to feed their cats vegetarian diets. The conclusion reached was, "Vegetarian diets are fed to cats primarily for ethical considerations." In other words, cat owners do not feed their cats meat because those owners (or more likely, their veterinarians) have an emotional aversion to either killing livestock or to eating meat themselves. Perhaps this sort of personal psychological analysis would explain the absurdly irrational advice of veterinary nutritionists that corn, grains, and by-product kibble diets are better for our carnivorous dogs than real meat.*
* By the way, prior to 2013, Hill's Science Diet kibble cat food did not contain any meat, either.
On August 3, 2012*, the American Veterinary Medical Assn. (AVMA) voted overwhelmingly to condemn the feeding of human-grade raw diets to dogs and cats. Not surprisingly, the AVMA's meeting was heavily funded by Hill's and by Purina, two producers of junk dog food. So, if you are serious about developing a homemade diet and seek the advice of a dietary specialist, be very careful if you decide to ask a veterinary nutritionist for that advice. Most holistic veterinarians will have a much more receptive attitude towards your request.
* According to the AVMA website, in just the four months preceding this AVMA vote, over 60 commercial brands of dog and cat food were recalled, nearly all for "possible Salmonella contamination". Despite these massive recalls of kibble and canned pet foods, AVMA chose to condemn only pet owners for feeding healthful, human-grade raw food diets to their dogs and cats. Pet owners have been feeding raw diets to their dogs and cats for decades, yet to date, not one documented case of raw pet food causing illness in humans has been reported.
However, even a board certified veterinary nutritionist occasionally will let a nugget of "raw" truth filter through. Dr. Jennifer Larsen (right) at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, stated in August 2012 that:
"Raw diets are very popular and have their advantages and disadvantages, she said. They are palatable, highly digestible, the owner can control the ingredients, and the high fat content supports a nice skin and coat. Disadvantages are questionable nutritional adequacy and food safety."
We do not dispute that raw diets, or all home-prepared meals, should be properly balanced. And, as with any home-prepared foods, for humans and pets alike, hygiene rules should be followed. But speaking of diets being properly balanced, in a June 2013 report examining 129 dog food recipes prepared by veterinarians (!), only 8 of them -- just 6.2% -- met at least one of three essential nutrient guidelines. The results confirm that most veterinarians have been ill-trained in companion animal nutrition.
Heart-healthy supplements to consider giving to cavaliers include:
►Antiox-Ultra 5000 by Sogeval Laboratories (a nice all-in-one blend of antioxidants in a chewable tablet.)
►Bio-Cardio, a Thorne Veterinary Products multi-vitamin, mineral, and herbal extract supplement (which includes Vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, L-Carnitine, L-Taurine, coenzyme Q-10, Hawthorne extract, Eleuthero extract, and Arjuna extract).
►Canine Cardiac Support, and human-grade supplements, including Cardio-Plus, Cardiotrophin PMG, Cataplex E, and Vasculin, which are nutritional whole food supplements offered by Standard Process, Inc.
►Vetri-Cardio Canine Chews, a Vetri-Science chewable supplement (which includes L-Carnitine, L-Taurine, Arginine, Hawthorn [Crataegus oxycantha], Berry Extract, Magnesium [Mg Oxide], N,N-Dimethylglycine HCl [DMG], Berberine [Hydrastis Canadensis] HCl, Coenzyme Q10, Folic Acid, and Potassium [K Citrate]). Vetri-Science also offers Vetri-Science Cardio-Strength capsules.
►Flavonex, a salvia and gingko extract herbal supplement made by Health Concern.
►Natural supplements which may help to strengthen and energize the heart of a dog with severe MVD include D-Ribose (Corvalen Ribose or Pure Encapsulations Ribose), also known as alpha-D-ribofuranoside, which reportedly improves ventilatory efficiency in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). See 2009 report. It also reportedly boosts the energy level of heart muscle cells, improving cardiovascular function and the flow of blood.
Holistic supplements should be taken only if prescribed by a licensed veterinarian who also is holistically trained. A search webpage for finding holistic veterinarians in the United States is located at www.holisticvetlist.com.
Dirlotapide (Slentrol) -- see 2007 study -- is a diet drug approved by the FDA for canines that are at least 20% overweight. It is a selective microsomal triglyceride transfer protein inhibitor, which blocks the assembly and release of lipoproteins into the bloodstream. The drug induces the dog to eat less, because it causes reduces fat absorption and sends a signal from lipid-filled cells lining the intestine that the dog's appetite is satisfied.
After the dog has reached its goal weight, the drug's manufacturer, Pfizer Animal Health, recommends continued use for up to three more months, while appropriate levels of food intake and physical activity are determined to maintain the dog's optimal weight.
Adverse reactions associated with this treatment include vomiting, loose stools, diarrhea, and lethargy. It should not be prescribed for dogs with liver disease or in dogs receiving long-term corticosteroid therapy.
►February 2014: Pet food specialist links dry kibble to increase in pets' cancer. In a December 2013 article in Food Safety News, Barbara Royal, D.V.M., of The Royal Treatment Veterinary Center in Chicago, is concerned about how dry kibble is processed:
“The extrusion process (a high heat processing), creates two potent carcinogens, a heterocyclic amine and an acrylamide, which will be in every extruded kibble food, but certainly not be on the label. It is a byproduct of the extrusion process, and because it is not an ingredient that is added, it need not be put on the label,” she explains.
“So owners are unaware that, with every bite, they are feeding a potent carcinogen. I believe that this is one reason we are seeing such an increase in cancers in our pets.”
►December 2013: Obesity negatively affects dogs' cardiopulmonary function, study confirms. In a December 2013 report, an international team of veterinary researchers (Australia, Belgium, and Italy) confirms what long has been suspected, that obesity in dogs significantly harms cardiopulmonary function, including heart rate and blood oxygen saturation. The study included twelve overweight dogs, including one cavalier King Charles spaniel and six lab Beagles. They concluded:
"Therefore, results of the present study allow us to strongly recommend owners of obese dogs to target an ideal BW [body weight of] BCS 5/9* for their dogs."
*BCS 5/9 refers to the Body Condition System 9 point scale above.
►December 2013: Wild-eyed hysteria reigns among veterinary nutritionists over feeding healthful raw diets. In a December 2013 JAVMA screed in which they admit a total lack of any substantive factual research, "board certified veterinary nutritionists" Lisa M. Freeman, Marjorie L. Chandler, Beth A. Hamper, and Lisa P. Weeth, all ardent first defenders of their programs' big money financiers -- the crappy kibble manufacturers like Hills and Purina -- parade out a list of "potential" horrible consequences of daring to feed our dogs a healthful diet of home-prepared raw meats and vegetables. They also warn veterinarians to "counsel" raw-feeding pet owners on the "risks" (which they admit they do not know).
So, we may expect these baseless scare tactics to spread exponentially each time we take our dogs to gullible vets who chose not to do their own research about the extraordinary health advantages of feeding properly balanced, home-prepared diets of fresh meats and vegetables. The Bottom Line: do not count on these so-called "board certified veterinary nutritionists" for knowledgeable, objective advice about formulating well balanced raw diets for your dogs.
►October 2013: Obese dogs exercise less! SHAZAM! In an October 2013 study of 39 dogs, the researchers reached the totally unsurprising "preliminary" conclusion that "obesity is associated with lower vigorous intensity physical activity". This comes on the heels of the April 2012 study finding that dogs' weight gain is tied to their quantity of food intake, and the June 2012 study finding that the quality of life is reduced in obese dogs, but improves after weight loss.
►September 2013: Dry dog food manufacturers continue to lie about ingredients in their prescription allergen diets. In a May 2013 study of twelve dry (kibble) dog foods especially marketed for dogs with food allergies, an Italian research team found that ten of the kibbles (83.33%) contained protein and/or fat sources not disclosed in the ingredients lists. While the report does not disclose the names of the manufacturers or the brands of the kibbles, the researchers state that they came from five international dog food companies and consisted of eleven novel protein diets and one hydrolysed diet.
Examples of false advertising included two advertised as containing only duck but were contaminated with fish and mammal proteins; two advertised as containing only rabbit but were contaminated with bird and fish; one advertised as containing only deer but was contaminated with bird and fish proteins; and one advertised as containing only lamb but was contaminated with bird proteins.
The researchers conclude:
"The discovery that commercial limited antigen diets contained ingredients not declared on the label is discouraging because feeding an actually food-hypersensitive dog a product unpredictably contaminated with a potentially allergenic protein may preclude significant remission of symptoms and mislead the clinician in diagnosing AFR. The observation that more than 80% of the selected diets were contaminated signifies that the risk of a dog failing to recover during the dietary elimination trial is high, and this raises questions regarding the diagnostic validity of the products used. ... The results of our study suggest that feeding dogs commercial limited antigen diets may not prevent them from ingesting potential allergens. ...
"In conclusion, the use of ten of twelve pet foods tested herein as limited antigen diets may not reliably rule out a diagnosis of AFR, and the use of home-cooked diets should be considered whenever the dog fails to respond to dietary restriction."
This very disturbing report is consistent with a similar study published in August 2012 in which was found that ten of twenty-one commercial dog foods had falsified their ingredients. See a summary of that 2012 report here.
►June 2013: Only 6.2% of vet-prepared dog food recipes met minimum essential nutrient guidelines. In a June 2013 report, US researchers examined 129 veterinarian-prepared dog food recipes and found only 8 (6.2%) that meet at least one of three essential nutrient guidelines. The results suggest that most veterinarians have been ill-trained in companion animal nutrition.
►March 2013: US researchers find false crude fiber percentages reported on commercial dog food ingredients lists. A team of University of California at Davis nutritionists studied 20 canned and 20 dry dog foods for fiber concentration. They reported in their April 2013 article that ingredients lists on the packages were unreliable as indicators of the actual fiber concentrations and compositions of the dog foods.
►August2012: 10 of 21 tested commercial dog foods falsified their ingredients. In an August 2012 report, ten of twenty-one tested commercial dog foods either contained ingredients specifically excluded on the label or did not contain ingredients specifically advertised on the label. For instance, a food labeled as containing venison instead contained beef and pork and no venison or deer meat at all; a food labeled "lamb" contained pork instead of lamb; a food labeled "chicken meal" contained pork instead. Foods labeled "no gluten" or "grain-free" in fact contained gluten and grain levels four times higher than allowable amounts. Commercial pet food companies are notorious for switching main, advertised ingredients, depending upon costs of those ingredients. This August 2012 report clearly substantiates that fact.
►August 2012: Netherlands' obesity in show dogs study finds cavaliers in the 4 to 5 "ideal" range of the 9-point BCS. In an August 2012 Netherlands study of 1,379 show dogs (128 breeds), including 18 CKCSs, the cavaliers averaged a 9-point Body Condition Score of 4.67, which puts them squarely in the middle of the "ideal" range of 4 to 5. The 18 cavaliers were scored between 3 and 6. Overall,18.6% of the show dogs had a BCS >5, and 1.1% of the show dogs had a BCS>7.
►June 2012: Royal Veterinary College (RVC) conducts study of the influence of diet on improving seizure control. The RVC is working with a small animal health and wellness company to confirm the efficacy and safety of a novel diet in the management of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy being treated with phenobarbitone and/or potassium bromide. To confirm the efficacy of this new diet, RVC seeks to recruit dogs which are suspected of having idiopathic epilepsy, with these qualifications: (a) dogs which have a seizure frequency of at least three seizures in the last three months; and (b) dogs receiving phenobarbitone and/or potassium bromide treatment. For more information, contact RVC by clicking here, and/or downloading this brochure.
►June 2012: Another duh! UK research paper title says it all: "Quality of life is reduced in obese dogs but improves after successful weight loss." See summary of the report here in the Veterinary Journal, again.
►April 2012: Well, duh! UK study concludes dogs' weight gain is tied to quantity of food intake. A team of UK veterinary dieticians with nothing more pressing to do, spent 4.5 years studying the diets of 33 dogs and found that limiting weight gain was directly related to limiting food intake. See the summary of this report in the Veterinary Journal.
►February 2011: Four out of four venison diet dog foods also contained common pet food proteins. In a US diet study report, manufacturers of four (out of four tested) commercial dog foods that claim to contain only venison as a protein really included other common pet food proteins.
►May 2010: The Heart Diet. UK cardiologist Simon Swift noted at a 2010 symposium that:
"Interestingly, asymptomatic dogs fed a 'heart diet' had a reduction in heart size. The 'heart diet' included decrease sodium, increased levels of arginine, carnitine and taurine as well as supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids. Whether this translates into a delay before heart failure develops remains to be proven."
The Heart Diet was reported in a 2006 article by Drs. Lisa M. Freeman (board certified veterinary nutritionist) and John E. Rush (board certified veterinary cardiologist), and by Peter J. Markwell (senior veterinary nutritionist at a UK dog food company). They fed "a moderately reduced sodium diet enriched with antioxidants, n-3 fatty acids, taurine, carnitine, and arginine" for four weeks to fourteen dogs, including cavaliers, with asymptomatic mitral valve disease. Another fifteen asymptomatic dogs, including cavaliers, were fed a placebo. They found that the dogs on the heart diet had measurable reductions in heart size, including the left-atrial dimension and left-ventricular internal dimension.
A downside of this 2006 study was that, as might have been expected when veterinary nutritionists are involved in the research, the food fed in both diets consisted of "commercial, extruded, dry dog foods", i.e., kibble. Another downside, as expected, is that the study was funded by Mr. Markwell's employer, a kibble manufacturer.
►November 2007: The Satiety Control diet, a diet both high in protein and fiber reportedly was most effective in satisfying appetite and thereby reducing the dog's inclination to begging and scavenging. The diet was developed by a team of veterinarians at the University of Liverpool's Small Animal Teaching Hospital, and the Royal Canine Research Centre in France, which studied various diets for satiety, digestibility and palatability. Read portions of their report here.
►August 2007: In a study sponsored by Pfizer, Inc., the manufacturer of dirlotapide (Slentrol), a weight-loss product for overweight canines, the researchers found that "dirlotapide ... was effective in reducing body weight in client-owned overweight dogs in the absence of dietary restriction or increased exercise. Dirlotapide treatment was found to be clinically safe, and although emesis and diarrhea occurred in a few dogs, all cases resolved spontaneously." Of the 245 dogs involved in the study, 5% were CKSCs.
Obesity in pet dogs. E. Mason. J.Vet.Rec. 1970;86:612-616. Quote: "In a survey of 1000 dogs over one year of age attending as outpatients in a hospital clinic, 28% were obese. The incidence of obesity was higher in females (32%) than in males (23%). In both sexes the incidence increased as the dogs approached middle age, from 12 to 34% in males and from 21 to 41% in females. Incidence differed among breeds. Dogs given proprietary dog biscuits or meal as part of their diet showed a higher incidence of obesity than those which were not. Dogs getting table scraps or other home-prepared food as the main part of their food showed a higher incidence of obesity than those fed on proprietary canned dog meat. The incidence was higher (44%) among dogs owned by obese people than among dogs owned by people of normal physique (25%) and was higher (34 to 37%) among dogs of people in middle and elderly age groups than among dogs owned by people under 40 years of age (20%). The owners of 31% of the dogs classified as obese considered their dogs to be normal, not obese."
Study of obesity in dogs visiting veterinary practices in the United Kingdom. Edney, A.T.B., Smith, P.M. Veterinary Record, 118:391–396 (1986). Quote: "A total of 8268 dogs were surveyed in 11 veterinary practices in the United Kingdom during a period of six months in 1983. The primary purpose of the survey was to assess the level of obesity on a five point scale with properly identified criteria. Information on the clinical condition of each dog was also recorded as well as proportions of food types fed, particulars of breed, sex, age, sexual status and the dog's name. Results showed that 21.4 per cent of dogs in the survey were judged to be obese and 2.9 per cent gross; 1.9 per cent were judged as thin, 13.5 per cent lean and 60.3 per cent were optimum. Labradors were found to be the most likely breed to become obese. Neutered females were about twice as likely to be obese as entire females. The same trend was evident with neutered males. Circulatory problems were associated with dogs over 10 years old and those which were gross, rather than obese. A similar trend was discernable with articular/locomotor problems. Skin and reproductive problems showed little relationship with age or obesity. Neoplasia was much more prevalent in dogs over 10 years old but had little relationship with either sexual status or obesity rating. There was a high rate of usage of prepared food for all categories. The amount of fresh food fed decreased rapidly as the proportion of canned food increased, but the obese and non-obese dogs showed very little difference in the type of food fed."
Body Condition and Energy Intakes of Dogs in a Referral Teaching Hospital. David S. Kronfeld, Susan Donoghue, Lawrence T. Glickman. J.Nutrition. Nov. 1991;121(11):S157-S158. Quote: "Our aim was to assess body condition in dogs presenting to a veterinary hospital and compare that to dogs in the same hospital receiving nutrition support. ... The data suggest that body condition scores from a population of dogs presenting to a large referral teach ing hospital vary with breed and age. These differences should be considered when assessing nutritional status of patients and when prescribing energy intakes for sick dogs."
Relations Between the Domestic Dogs’ Well-Being and Life Expectancy. Lippert, G., & Sapy, B. Prince Laurent Foundation Price, 2003. Quote: "Study of the influence of food served to the dog on the average age of death: We took into consideration three categories of food: (1) Home made; (2) Mixture (A mix of home made and industrial food); (3) Industrial (Retail sold dog food). The difference between the 2 extremes amounts to more than 32 months (approximately 3 years). This difference is important (F Value: 6.67; Pr>F: 0017). Food is consequently of great importance for the life expectancy of the dog. We can consider that home made food is a protection factor for the domestic dog."
Prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by Australian veterinary practices and the risk factors involved. P. D. McGreevy, P. C. Thomson, C. Pride, A. Fawcett, T. Grassi, B. Jones. Vet.Rec. May 2005. Quote: "A study was undertaken to determine the prevalence of obesity in dogs examined by veterinary practices across Australia, and to determine the risk factors involved; 1700 practices were asked to complete a veterinarian opinion survey, and of the 428 practices that responded, 178 were selected to complete an RSPCA Australia Pet Obesity Questionnaire, together with additional practices selected by Australian State and Territory RSPCA societies. This questionnaire was sent to a total of 209 practices which were asked to record details of eligible dogs, and the reason why they had been examined during the previous month. Fifty-two (24·9 per cent) of the practices responded and provided data on 2661 dogs, of which 892 (33·5 per cent) were overweight and 201 (7·6 per cent) were obese. A further 112 dogs (4·2 per cent) were classified as thin or very thin, but these were excluded from subsequent analyses. Of the remaining 2549 dogs, approximately half were female and 1905 (74·7 per cent) were neutered. The dogs’ weight category was influenced by several factors. Breed influenced the importance of sex and neutering as risk factors. The prevalence of overweight and obese dogs combined was 41 per cent; the prevalence increased with age up to about 10 years old, and then declined. Rural and semirural dogs were more at risk of obesity than urban and suburban dogs. ... Breeds of dog with a high risk of becoming obese include cocker spaniels, labrador retrievers, collies (Mason 1970), long-haired dachshunds, Shetland sheepdogs, Cairn terriers, bassett hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and beagles."
Aflatoxicosis in dogs and dealing with suspected contaminated commercial foods. Katherine A. Stenske, Joanne R. Smith, Shelley J. Newman, Leslie B. Newman, Claudia A. Kirk. JAVMA June 2006;228(11):1686-1691. Quote: "Despite protective measures and protocols to ensure safety of food components and accuracy of recipe preparation, food contamination and misformulation accidents have resulted in morbidity and fatalities of animals. ... An outbreak of aflatoxicosis was reported in at least 100 dogs consuming a commercial food manufactured [by Diamond pet food] in the southeastern United States. Of the dogs examined at our university facility, 8 were confirmed with aflatoxicosis and served to illustrate the variability in clinical signs of acute aflatoxicosis as well as to highlight the appropriate steps for appropriate notification of the manufacturer and regulatory agencies, documentation for each animal, and confirmation of the involved toxin."
The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats. Alexander J. German. J. of Nutrition. July 2006;136(7):1940S-1946S. Quote: "Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excessive amounts of adipose tissue in the body, and is the most common nutritional disorder in companion animals. Obesity is usually the result of either excessive dietary intake or inadequate energy utilization, which causes a state of positive energy balance. Numerous factors may predispose an individual to obesity including genetics, the amount of physical activity, and the energy content of the diet. The main medical concern of obesity relates to the many disease associations that accompany the adiposity. Numerous studies demonstrated that obesity can have detrimental effects on the health and longevity of dogs and cats. ... The effect of genetics is illustrated by recognized breed associations in both dogs (e.g., Labrador Retriever, Cairn Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Scottish Terrier, Cocker Spaniel) and cats (e.g., Domestic Shorthair). ... The problems to which obese companion animals may be predisposed include orthopedic disease, diabetes mellitus, abnormalities in circulating lipid profiles, cardiorespiratory disease, urinary disorders, reproductive disorders, neoplasia (mammary tumors, transitional cell carcinoma), dermatological diseases, and anesthetic complications. The main therapeutic options for obesity in companion animals include dietary management and increasing physical activity. Although no pharmaceutical compounds are yet licensed for weight loss in dogs and cats, it is envisaged that such agents will be available in the future. Dietary therapy forms the cornerstone of weight management in dogs and cats, but increasing exercise and behavioral management form useful adjuncts. There is a need to increase the awareness of companion animal obesity as a serious medical concern within the veterinary profession."
Evaluation of cats fed vegetarian diets and attitudes of their caregivers. Lorelei A. Wakefield, Frances S. Shofer, Kathryn E. Michel. J.Am.Vety.Med.Assn. July 2006;229(1):70-73. Quote: "Objective: To determine motivation and feeding practices of people who feed their cats vegetarian diets as well as taurine and cobalamin status of cats consuming vegetarian diets. Design: Cross-sectional study. Animals: 34 cats that had been exclusively fed a commercial or homemade vegetarian diet and 52 cats that had been fed a conventional diet for ≥ 1 year. Procedures: Participants were recruited through a Web site and from attendees of a national animal welfare conference. Caregivers of cats in both groups answered a telephone questionnaire regarding feeding practices for their cats. Blood was obtained from a subset of cats that had been fed vegetarian diets. Blood and plasma taurine and serum cobalamin concentrations were measured. Results: People who fed vegetarian diets to their cats did so largely for ethical considerations and were more likely than people who fed conventional diets to believe that there are health benefits associated with a vegetarian diet and that conventional commercial cat foods are unwholesome. Both groups were aware of the potential health problems that could arise from improperly formulated vegetarian diets. All cats evaluated had serum cobalamin concentrations within reference range, and 14 of 17 had blood taurine concentrations within reference range. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Vegetarian diets are fed to cats primarily for ethical considerations. Results of this study should aid practitioners in communicating with and providing advice to such clients."
Effects of Dietary Modification in Dogs with Early Chronic Valvular Disease. Lisa M. Freeman, John E. Rush, and Peter J. Markwell. J Vet Intern Med, Sep 2006;20:(5)1116–1126. Quote: "The potential benefits of nutritional modification in early canine cardiac disease are not known. We hypothesized that echocardiographic, neuroendocrine, and nutritional variables will differ between dogs with asymptomatic chronic valvular disease (CVD) and healthy controls, and that a moderately reduced sodium diet enriched with antioxidants, n-3 fatty acids, taurine, carnitine, and arginine will alter these variables in dogs with CVD. Echocardiography was performed and blood was collected. After baseline comparison with healthy controls, all dogs with CVD were fed a low-sodium run-in diet for 4 weeks, reevaluated, and then randomized to receive either the cardiac diet or a placebo diet for 4 weeks. RESULTS: At baseline, dogs with CVD (n = 29) had significantly lower circulating sodium, chloride, arginine, and methionine concentrations and higher plasma concentrations of atrial natriuretic peptide compared to healthy controls. In dogs with CVD, plasma aldosterone concentration and heart rate increased significantly after 4 weeks of eating the run-in diet. The cardiac diet group (n = 14) had larger increases in levels of cholesterol (P = .001), triglycerides (P = .02), eicosapentaenoic acid (P < .001), docosahexaenoic acid (P < .001), total omega-3 fatty acids (P < .001), vitamin C (P = 0.04), alpha-tocopherol (P < .001), and gamma-tocopherol (P < .001) compared to the placebo diet group (n = 15). The cardiac diet group also had larger reductions in maximal left-atrial dimension (P = .003), left-ventricular internal dimension in diastole (P = .03), and weight-based maximal left-atrial dimension (P = .03). CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: Observed changes in both blood variables and echocardiographic measurements warrant additional studies on dietary modifications in dogs with early CVD."
Hey Doc, What Do You Think of My Home-Prepared Diet? Sean J. Delaney. No. American Vet. Conf. 2006.
Evolutionary Nutrition for the Dog. Sarah Godfrey, David Ruish. Going to the Dogs Inc. 2006. Quote: "Since cats and dogs are carnivores, we can conclude, in this case, that the more processed/cooked/rendered the food is, the less valuable it is, as is all naturally occurring food."
Obesity Management in Dogs. Sherry Lynn Sanderson. NAVC Clinician's Brief. April 2007:27-33. Quote: "Certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to obesity, including Labrador retriever, dachshund, sheltie, cocker spaniel, beagle, basset hound, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, and cairn terrier dogs. The incidence of obesity in dogs increases after 2 years of age and plateaus at about 6 to 8 years of age. Obesity is more common in females than males."
Prevalence of obese dogs in a population of dogs with cancer. Lisa P. Weeth, Andrea J. Fascetti, Philip H. Kass, Steven E. Suter, Aniel M. Santos, Sean J. Delaney. Am.J.Vet.Research, April 2007;68(4):389-398. Quote: "Breeds of dog with a high risk of becoming obese include cocker spaniels, labrador retrievers, collies (Mason 1970), long-haired dachshunds, Shetland sheepdogs, Cairn terriers, bassett hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels and beagles."
Developments continue in recall of pet food. Veterinary Research News. Am J Vet Res June 2007; 68(6):579–80.
Managing Canine Obesity: a New Therapeutic Approach: Canine obesity – an overview. J. Gossellin, J. A. Wren, S. J. Sunderland. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 30(1): 1-10, August 2007.
Managing Canine Obesity: a New Therapeutic Approach: An evaluation of dirlotapide to reduce body weight of client-owned dogs in two placebo-controlled clinical studies in Europe. J. Gossellin, J. A. Wren, S. J. Sunderland. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 30(1): 73-80, August 2007.
Dietary Energy Restriction and Successful Weight Loss in Obese Client-Owned Dogs. Alexander J. German, Shelley L. Holden, Thomas Bissot, Rachel M. Hackett, and Vincent Biourge. J. Vet. Internal Med. Vol. 21(6): 1174–1180 (Nov.-Dec. 2007). Quote: "This clinical study demonstrated body composition changes during weight loss in dogs. Conventional programs produced safe weight loss, but marked energy restriction was required and the rate of loss was slower than in experimental studies."
A High-Protein, High-Fiber Diet Designed for Weight Loss Improves Satiety in Dogs. Mickaël Weber, Thomas Bissot, Eric Servet, Renaud Sergheraert, Vincent Biourge, and Alexander J. German. J. Vet. Internal Med. Vol. 21(6): 1203–1208 (Nov.-Dec. 2007). Quote: "Hypothesis: A diet formulated to contain a high content of both protein and fiber is more satiating than diets that contain only high fiber or high protein. ... Methods: Three diets (high protein [103 g/1,000 kcal] high fiber [60 g/1,000 kcal] [HPHF]; high protein [104 g/1,000 kcal] moderate fiber [35 g/1,000 kcal] [HP]; moderate protein [86 g/1,000 kcal] high fiber [87 g/1,000 kcal] [HF]) were tested. Voluntary food intake was measured in 5 sequential crossover studies, and palatability was assessed with food preference tests. ... Conclusions and Clinical Importance: The HPHF diet had a satiating effect as evidenced by reduced voluntary intake compared with HP and HF diets, and has the potential to lead to greater compliance in weight-loss programs."
Determining the optimal age for gonadectomy of dogs and cats. Margaret V. Root Kustritz. JAVMA; 12/1/07; Vol. 231(11):1665-1675. Quote: "Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder of dogs and cats, with a reported incidence of 2.8% among the entire dog population. It is a multifactorial problem. Risk factors include breed, with an increased incidence of obesity in ...Cavalier King Charles Spaniels... ."
Complications of Overnutrition in Companion Animals. Alexander James German. NAVA Clinician's Brief. March 2008. Quote: "Breed associations include the retriever breeds (Labrador, golden retriever), Cairn terrier, cavalier King Charles spaniel, and cocker spaniel for dogs; domestic shorthair cats are also overrepresented. Neutering is an important risk factor because it may lead to behavioral changes that result in increased food intake and decreased activity (ie, overnutrition). "
AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. Kimberly Baldwin, Joe Bartges, Tony Buffington, Lisa M. Freeman, Mary Grabow, Julie Legred, Donald Ostwald, Jr. J. Amer. An. Hospital Assn. July 2010 46(4): 285-296.
ELISA testing for common food antigens in four dry dog foods used in dietary elimination trials. D. M. Raditic, R. L. Remillard and K. C. Tater. J.Anim.Physiology & Anim.Nutrition. Feb 2011;95(1):90-97. Quote: "This study evaluated four over the counter venison dry dog foods available from one on-line retail vendor for potential contamination with common known food allergens: soy, poultry or beef. An amplified, double sandwich type enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test of soy, poultry and beef proteins were performed by an independent accredited food laboratory. The ELISA test for poultry protein was found to be unreliable when testing in dry dog foods because false negatives occurred. ELISA testing of control diets for both soy and beef proteins performed as expected and could be useful in antigen testing in dry dog foods. Three of the four over the counter (OTC) venison canine dry foods with no soy products named in the ingredient list were ELISA positive for soy; additionally one OTC diet tested positive for beef protein with no beef products listed as an ingredient list. One OTC venison diet was not found to be positive for soy, poultry or beef proteins. However, none of the four OTC venison diets could be considered suitable for a diagnostic elimination trial as they all contained common pet food proteins, some of which were readily identifiable on the label and some that were only detected by ELISA. Therefore, if the four OTC venison products selected in this study are representative of OTC products in general, then the use of OTC venison dry dog foods should not be used during elimination trials in suspected food allergy patients."
Obesity in dogs, Part 1: Exploring the causes and consequences of canine obesity. Christopher G. Byers, Cindy C. Wilson, Mark B. Stephens, Jeffrey Goodie, PF. Ellen Netting, Cara Olsen. Vet.Med. April 2011. Quote: "Breed predisposition: Recent data in various animal species provide new insight into the genetic basis of obesity.19-21 A significant breed predisposition to obesity has been shown in certain breeds including Cairn terriers, West Highland white terriers, Scottish terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, basset hounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, dachshunds, beagles, cocker spaniels, and Labrador retrievers."
Oxidative Stress in Dog with Heart Failure: The Role of Dietary Fatty Acids and Antioxidants. Emmanuelle Sagols and Nathalie Priymenko. Vet.Med.Int'l. Apr. 2011;2011:180206. Quote: "In dogs with heart failure, cell oxygenation and cellular metabolism do not work properly, leading to the production of a large amount of free radicals. In the organism, these free radicals are responsible of major cellular damages: this is oxidative stress. However, a suitable food intake plays an important role in limiting this phenomenon: on the one hand, the presence of essential fatty acids in the composition of membranes decreases sensitivity of cells to free radicals and constitutes a first protection against the oxidative stress; on the other hand, coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and polyphenols are antioxidant molecules which can help cells to neutralize these free radicals."
Pet food recalls and pet food contaminants in small animals. Bischoff K, Rumbeiha WK. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. March 2012;42(2):237-50. Quote: "There were 11 major pet food recalls in the United States between 1996 and 2010 that were due to chemical contaminants or misformulations: 3 aflatoxin, 3 excess vitamin D3, 1 excess methionine, 3 inadequate thiamine, and 1 adulteration with melamine and related compounds and an additional 2 warnings concerning a Fanconilike renal syndrome in dogs after ingesting large amounts of chicken jerky treat products. This article describes clinical findings and treatment of animals exposed to the most common pet food contaminants."
Long-term follow-up after weight management in obese dogs: The role of diet in preventing regain. A.J. German, S.L. Holden, P.J. Morris, V. Biourge. Vet.J.; April 2012; 192(1):65-70. Quote: "Regain after weight loss is widely reported in humans, but there is little information on this phenomenon in dogs. The current study aim was to determine long-term success of a weight loss regime and those factors linked with regain. Thirty-three obese dogs, that had successfully lost weight, were included, all enrolled between December 2004 and May 2009. After weight loss, dogs were switched to a maintenance regime and follow-up weight checks were performed periodically. A review of cases that had completed their weight programme was held during the summer of 2010 and a follow-up check was subsequently conducted, where dogs were reweighed and information was collected on current feeding practices. Median duration of follow-up was 640 days (119–1828 days). Fourteen dogs (42%) maintained weight, 3 (9%) lost >5% additional weight, and 16 (48%) gained >5% weight. Dogs fed a purpose-formulated weight loss diet regained less weight than those switched onto a standard maintenance diet (P = 0.0016). Energy intake at the time of follow-up was significantly higher in those dogs fed a standard maintenance diet, compared with those that had remained on a purpose-formulated weight loss diet (P = 0.017). These results suggest that weight regain occurs in about half of dogs after successful weight loss. Long-term use of a purpose-formulated weight management diet can significantly limit regain in the follow-up period, likely by limiting food intake."
The Controversy Between a Raw Food Diet and a Kibble Diet: Is a Raw Food Diet Healthier for our Pets? Jody Freeland. Spring 2012. American College of Applied Science. Quote: "...dogs are carnivores and should eat raw meat."
Quality of life is reduced in obese dogs but improves after successful weight loss. A.J. German, S.L. Holden, M.L. Wiseman-Orr, J. Reid, A.M. Nolan, V. Biourge, P.J. Morris, E.M. Scott. Vet.J. June 2012;192:428-434. Quote: "The current study aim was to use a questionnaire to determine health-related quality of life (HRQOL) both before and after weight loss, in obese client-owned dogs. Fifty obese dogs were included, and represented a variety of breeds and genders. Prior to weight loss, owners were asked to complete a validated standardised questionnaire to determine HRQOL. Thirty of the dogs successfully completed their weight loss programme and reached target, and owners then completed a follow-up questionnaire. The completed questionnaire responses were transformed to scores corresponding to each of four factors (vitality, emotional disturbance, anxiety and pain), and scored on a scale of 0–6. Changes in the scores were used to explore the sensitivity of the questionnaire, and scores were correlated with responses to direct questions about quality of life and pain, as well as weight loss. Dogs that failed to complete their weight loss programme had lower vitality and higher emotional disturbance scores than those successfully losing weight (P = 0.03 for both). In the 30 dogs that completed, weight loss led to an increased vitality score (P < 0.001), and decreased scores for both emotional disturbance (P < 0.001) and pain (P < 0.001). However, there was no change in anxiety (P = 0.09). The change in vitality score was positively associated with percentage weight loss (rP = 0.43, P = 0.02) and percentage body fat loss (rP = 0.39, P = 0.03). These results indicate demonstrable improvement in HRQOL for obese dogs that successfully lose weight."
Effects of Surgical Sterilization on Canine and Feline Health and on Society. MV Root Kustritz. Reprod Dom Anim 47 (Suppl. 4), 214–222; Aug. 2012. Quote: "Surgical sterilization of dogs and cats is a well-accepted measure for population control in some countries, but is considered unethical as an elective surgery in other countries. This is a review of what is known regarding positive and negative effects of gonadectomy surgery on individual animals and on societal management of unowned dog and cat populations. ... Metabolic Disorders: Obesity: In retrospective studies, up to 2.8% of the canine population has been demonstrated to be obese, with up to 50% of gonadectomized dogs and cats designated as obese (Mason 1970; David and Rajendran 1980). Increase in indiscrimate appetite was reported in spayed bitches in one study but in another study of spayed and castrated dogs, no change in food intake or depth of back fat was reported by 15 months of age (O’Farrell and Peachey 1990; Salmeri et al. 1991a). Risk factors other than gonadectomy include housing of the animal; increasing age; ownership by an overweight person or a person over 40 years of age; and breed, with the beagle, cairn terrier, cavalier King Charles spaniel, cocker spaniel, dachshund and Labrador retriever among those breeds at greatest risk (Mason 1970; Edney and Smith 1986; Crane 1991; Sloth 1992; Colliard et al. 2006)."
Are your pet food labels accurate? Laura K. Allred. August 2012. Petfoodindustry.com Quote: "The need for increased attention to identifying animal proteins and grains was highlighted in a recent survey of 21 commercial dog foods performed by our laboratory in Florida. Ten of the foods were purchased in local grocery stores and 11 were purchased in local specialty pet stores. Five of the foods were chosen specifically because they claimed to be gluten-free, while the remainder was an equal mix of large and small brands. All the products were tested for the presence of beef, pork, poultry, turkey, sheep, horse and deer content using the US Department of Agriculture protocol, which is a qualitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) method that can detect both muscle and organ tissue from the designated species. The samples were also tested for gluten using a quantitative ELISA. The test results were then compared to the ingredient label on the package. We found eight foods that tested positive for an animal protein not listed on the ingredient label: two instances of undeclared beef/sheep, five of pork and one of deer. Conversely, in two instances, foods claiming to contain venison tested negative for deer content but positive for beef, sheep or pork. Two foods used a general term, meat and bone meal, rather than listing a specific protein source. Both of these foods tested positive only for pork content, but these were not considered instances of mislabeling. Twelve of the 21 foods tested listed no gluten source (wheat, rye, barley or related grains) in their ingredient list, and five were specifically labeled as gluten-free or grain-free. Five of the 12 foods with no listed gluten source, including two of those foods promoted as gluten- or grain-free, tested positive for gluten at greater than 80 ppm. This level is far above FDA’s proposed limit of 20 ppm for gluten-free labeling in human foods. Overall, there were 12 instances of mislabeling in 10 of the dog foods tested; two foods had more than one labeling issue."
Effect of Weight Loss in Obese Dogs on Indicators of Renal Function or Disease. A. Tvarijonaviciute, J.J. Ceron, S.L. Holden, V. Biourge, P.J. Morris and A.J. German. J.Vety.Inter.Med. Dec. 2012. Quote: "Background: Obesity is a common medical disorder in dogs, and can predispose to a number of diseases. Human obesity is a risk factor for the development and progression of chronic kidney disease. Objectives: To investigate the possible association of weight loss on plasma and renal biomarkers of kidney health. Animals: Thirty-seven obese dogs [including three cavalier King Charles spaniels] that lost weight were included in the study. Methods: Prospective observational study. ... A weight management protocol was then instigated, using either a high protein high fiber [Royal Canin's Satiety Support, a dry food with sawdust as the primary ingredient] (35 dogs) or high protein moderate fiber [Royal Canin's Obesity Management] (2 dogs) weight loss diet. ... Three novel biomarkers of renal functional impairment, disease, or both (homocysteine, cystatin C, and clusterin), in addition to traditional markers of chronic renal failure (serum urea and creatinine, urine specific gravity [USG], urine protein-creatinine ratio [UPCR], and urine albumin corrected by creatinine [UAC]) before and after weight loss in dogs with naturally occurring obesity were investigated. Results: Urea (P = .043) and USG (P = .012) were both greater after weight loss than before loss, whilst UPCR, UAC, and creatinine were less after weight loss (P = .032, P = .006, and P = .026, respectively). Homocysteine (P < .001), cystatin C (P < .001) and clusterin (P < .001) all decreased upon weight loss. Multiple linear regression analysis revealed associations between percentage weight loss (greater weight loss, more lean tissue loss; r = −0.67, r2 = 0.45, P < .001) and before-loss plasma clusterin concentration (greater clusterin, more lean tissue loss; r = 0.48, r2 = 0.23, P = .003). Conclusion and Clinical Importance: These results suggest possible subclinical alterations in renal function in canine obesity, which improve with weight loss. Further work is required to determine the nature of these alterations and, most notably, the reason for the association between before loss plasma clusterin and subsequent lean tissue loss during weight management."
Nutritional Sustainability of Pet Foods. Kelly S. Swanson, Rebecca A. Carter, Tracy P. Yount, Jan Aretz, and Preston R. Buff. Advances in Nutrition. March 2013;4:141-150. Quote: "Often based on consumer demand rather than nutritional requirements, many commercial pet foods are formulated to provide nutrients in excess of current minimum recommendations, use ingredients that compete directly with the human food system, or are overconsumed by pets, resulting in food wastage and obesity. Pet food professionals have the opportunity to address these challenges and influence the sustainability of pet ownership through product design, manufacturing processes, public education, and policy change. A coordinated effort across the industry that includes ingredient buyers, formulators, and nutritionists may result in a more sustainable pet food system."
Evaluation of fiber concentration in dry and canned commercial diets formulated for adult maintenance or all life stages of dogs by use of crude fiber and total dietary fiber methods. Amy K. Farcas, Jennifer A. Larsen, Andrea J. Fascetti. J.Amer.Vety.Med.Assn. April 2013;242(7):936-940. Quote: "Objective: To assess differences among reported maximum crude fiber (CF), measured CF, and measured total dietary fiber (TDF) concentrations, and determine fiber composition in dry and canned nontherapeutic diets formulated for adult maintenance or all life stages of dogs. Design: Prospective cross-sectional study. Sample: Dry (n = 20) and canned (20) nontherapeutic canine diets. Procedures: Reported maximum CF concentrations were obtained from product labels. Concentrations of CF and TDF were measured in samples of the diets for comparison. For each diet, percentages of TDF represented by insoluble dietary fiber (IDF) and soluble dietary fiber (SDF) were determined. Results: For dry or canned diets, the median reported maximum CF concentration was significantly greater than the median measured value. Measured CF concentration was significantly lower than measured TDF concentration for all diets. Median percentage of TDF (dry-matter basis) in dry and canned diets was 10.3% and 6.5%, respectively (overall range, 3.9% to 25.8%). Fiber composition in dry and canned diets differed; median percentage of TDF provided by IDF (dry-matter basis) was 83.4% in dry diets and 63.6% in canned diets. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Among the evaluated diets, measured CF concentration underrepresented measured TDF concentration. Diets provided a wide range of TDF concentration, and proportions of IDF and SDF were variable. In the absence of information regarding TDF concentration, neither reported maximum nor measured CF concentration appears to be a particularly reliable indicator of fiber concentration and composition of a given canine diet."
Evaluation of recipes of home-prepared maintenance diets for dogs. Jonathan Stockman, Andrea J. Fascetti, Philip H. Kass, Jennifer A. Larsen. JAVMA June 2013; 242(11):1500-1505. Quote: "Two hundred recipes were obtained from 34 sources (133 recipes were obtained from 2 veterinary textbooks and 9 pet care books for owners [four of these sources were authored by board certified veterinary nutritionists], and 67 recipes were obtained from 23 websites). Of these, 129 (64.5%) were written by veterinarians, whereas the remaining 71 (35.5%) were written by nonveterinarians. ... Only 3 recipes provided all essential nutrients in concentrations meeting or exceeding the NRC RA, and another 2 recipes provided all essential nutrients in concentrations meeting or exceeding the NRC MR; all 5 of these recipes were written by veterinarians. Nine recipes provided all essential nutrients in concentrations exceeding the AAFCO nutrient profile minimums for adult dogs; 4 of these also met or exceeded the NRC RA or NRC MR. Of these 9 recipes, 8 were written by veterinarians. Overall, most (190/200 [95%]) recipes resulted in at least 1 essential nutrient at concentrations that did not meet NRC or AAFCO guidelines, and many (167 [83.5%]) recipes had multiple deficiencies. ... Most of the veterinarian-written recipes had at least 1 nutrient deficiency. ... Formulation of recipes for home-prepared diets requires expert input to minimize the risk of problems, and we recommend that recipes for home-prepared diets for dogs be obtained from or evaluated by board-certified veterinary nutritionists or veterinarians with advanced training in nutrition who are experienced and able to understand and address these concerns."
Behavioural Factors in Canine Obesity. Sarah Heath. WSAVA 2013 Congress. Quote: "Influencing Factors: It is known that a number of canine breeds are predisposed to develop obesity e.g., Labrador retriever, Cairn terrier, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Scottish terrier, cocker spaniel. Neutering is also an important risk factor by causing behavioural changes, which can lead both to an increased food intake and decreased activity. Gender itself is also a predisposing factor in some canine studies, with females over-represented. Other recognised associations in dogs include indoor lifestyle, inactivity, and middle age. Dietary factors can also predispose to obesity with both the number of meals and snacks fed and the feeding of table scraps being key. Behavioural factors also play a part in the development of obesity."
Identification of undeclared sources of animal origin in canine dry foods used in dietary elimination trials. R. Ricci, A. Granato, M. Vascellari, M. Boscarato, C. Palagiano, I. Andrighetto, M. Diez, F. Mutinelli. J.Anim. Physiology & Anim. Nutrition. May 2013;97(s1):32-38. Quote: "Failure to respond to commercial limited antigen diets can occur in dogs kept on a dietary trial for the diagnosis of adverse food reaction (AFR). The aim of this study was to assess twelve canine dry limited antigen diets (eleven novel protein diets and one hydrolysed diet) for potential contamination by ingredients of animal origin not mentioned on the label. The validity of the two methods adopted for the detection of such food antigens was also evaluated. Each dietary product was analysed by microscopy analysis using the official method described in Commission Regulation EC 152/2009 with the aim of identifying bone fragments of different zoological classes (mammalian, avian and fish) and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for the identification of DNA of animal origin. Discrepancies between the results obtained by PCR and/or microscopy analysis and the ingredients listed on pet food packages were found. Only in two pet foods did the results of both analyses match the ingredients listed on the label. In the remaining ten samples, microscopy detected bone fragments from one or two unpredicted zoological classes, revealing avian fragments in six of ten samples followed by those of fish in five of ten and mammalian fragments in four of ten. In two samples, microscopy analysis identified a contamination that would have otherwise passed unobserved if only PCR had been used. However, PCR confirmed the presence of all the zoological classes detected by microscopy and also identified the DNA of an additional unexpected zoological class in two samples. Dogs might fail to respond to commercial limited antigen diets because such diets are contaminated with potential allergens. Both PCR and microscopy analysis are required to guarantee the absence of undeclared animal sources in pet foods. Before ruling out AFR, a novel protein home-made diet should be considered if the dog is unresponsive to a commercial regimen."
Obesity in show dogs. R. J. Corbee. J.Anim. Physiology & Anim. Nutrition. Oct. 2013;97(5):904-910. Quote: "Obesity is an important disease with a growing incidence. Because obesity is related to several other diseases, and decreases life span, it is important to identify the population at risk. Several risk factors for obesity have been described in the literature. A higher incidence of obesity in certain breeds is often suggested. The aim of this study was to determine whether obesity occurs more often in certain breeds. The second aim was to relate the increased prevalence of obesity in certain breeds to the official standards of that breed. To this end, we investigated 1379 dogs of 128 different breeds [including 18 cavalier King Charles spaniels] by determining their body condition score (BCS). Overall, 18.6% of the show dogs had a BCS >5, and 1.1% of the show dogs had a BCS>7. There were significant differences between breeds, which could be correlated to the breed standards. It warrants firm discussions with breeders and judges in order to come to different interpretations of the standards to prevent overweight conditions from being the standard of beauty. [among the 18 CKCSs, the average BCS was 4.67 and the BCS range varied from 3 to 6.]
Associations between obesity and physical activity in dogs: a preliminary investigation. R. Morrison, V. Penpraze, A. Beber, J. J. Reilly, P. S. Yam. J.Sm.Anim.Pract. Nov. 2013;54(11):570–574. Quote: "OBJECTIVES: To assess whether obesity has any association with objectively measured physical activity levels in dogs. METHODS: Thirty-nine dogs wore Actigraph GT3X accelerometers (Actigraph) for 7 consecutive days. Each dog was classified as ideal weight, overweight or obese using the 5-point body condition scoring system. Total volume of physical activity and time spent in sedentary behaviour, light-moderate intensity physical activity and vigorous intensity physical activity were compared between body condition categories. RESULTS: Valid accelerometry data were returned for 35 of 39 dogs recruited. Eighteen dogs were classed as ideal weight, 9 as overweight and the remaining 8 as obese. All dogs spent a significant proportion of the day sedentary and obese dogs spent significantly less time in vigorous intensity physical activity than ideal weight dogs (7 ±3 minute/day versus 21 ±15 minute/day, P=0·01). CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Obesity is associated with lower vigorous intensity physical activity in dogs, as is also thought to occur in humans. These preliminary findings will help inform a future, larger study and may also improve our understanding of the associations between obesity and physical activity in dogs."
Current knowledge about the risks and benefits of raw meat–based diets for dogs and cats. Lisa M. Freeman, Marjorie L. Chandler, Beth A. Hamper, Lisa P. Weeth. JAVMA Dec. 2013;43(11):1549-1558. Quote: "Although commercial RMBDs [raw meat based diets] and ingredients are covered by FDA regulations and can be recalled if contamination or other problems are detected,the feeding of contaminated home-prepared RMBDs that include foods intended for human consumption may go undetected because foodborne illnesses in dogs and cats are rarely tracked unless associated with human disease. There are no data on the number of dogs and cats fed human foods that have been recalled, nor the number of dogs and cats that have become ill after eating a contaminated human food. Although data are available on the number of recalls, the lack of data on recalls because of contamination of commercial and home-prepared RMBDs does not mean that such diets are safe. ... The potential risk for human disease has been clearly documented. However, further research is needed to quantify the actual risk and prevalence of disease associated with feeding RMBDs to pet dogs and cats. ... Additional studies are needed to provide information that will allow a better understanding of the long-term health effects of RMBDs for dogs and cats. In the absence of reported studies, an animal eating a home-prepared diet (raw or cooked) should undergo an annual physical examination and health screening, which should include serum biochemical analysis (with thyroxine concentrations), hematologic analysis, and urinalysis. ... Owners that elect to feed a commercial or home-prepared RMBD should be counseled on the risks to themselves and their pets as a result of this feeding strategy, and the conversation should be documented in the medical record."
Effect of Body Weight Loss on Cardiopulmonary Function Assessed by 6-Minute Walk Test and Arterial Blood Gas Analysis in Obese Dogs. J. Manens, R. Ricci, C. Damoiseaux, S. Gault, B. Contiero, M. Diez and C. Clercx. J.Vet.Internal Med. Dec. 2013. Quote: "Background: Few studies show the detrimental effect of canine obesity on cardiopulmonary function (CPF). The 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) is a noninvasive exercise test easy to perform in clinical settings. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of obesity and body weight loss (BWL) on CPF assessed by the 6MWT and arterial blood gas analysis. Animals: Six experimental Beagles and 9 privately owned obese dogs [including one cavalier King Charles spaniel] were enrolled in a diet-induced BWL program. Methods: Arterial blood gas analysis and 6MWT were repeated in obese subjects (BCS 8-9/9), in the middle of BWL (overweight, BCS 6-7/9), and in lean dogs (BCS 5/9). Heart rate (HRp) and oxygen saturation (SpO2) were measured by pulse oximetry before the 6MWT, at midtest, and during a 5-minute recovery period. Results: Twelve dogs completed the BWL program (initial BW, 27.3 ± 2.9 kg; final BW, 20.85 ± 2.9, lsmeans ± SE, P ≤ .001). BWL caused a significant increase in 6MWT walked distance (WD; obese: 509 ± 35 m; overweight: 575 ± 36 m; lean: 589 ± 36 m; P ≤ .05). Resting arterial blood gas results were not influenced by BWL. Including all time points, obese dogs showed higher HRp and lower SpO2 compared to overweight and lean dogs. SpO2 at the end of the walk was significantly lower in obese dogs. Conclusion and Clinical Importance: Obesity negatively affects 6MWT performances in dogs. The 6MWT may be used to demonstrate the efficacy of BWL to improve CPF and quality of life in obese dogs. Although BWL induced significant improvement of cardiopulmonary parameters before ideal BW, WD improved until the end of the BWL program."