Saturday, January 2, 2016

This diet does not diagnose, cure, treat or prevent a disease!!!!!

I feel like putting that title statement on my website.   I am the first to admit and get in line to say a good diet can in fact "prevent" many diseases and certainly should be considered as a component of preventative medicine and disease treatment. I'll even go so far as to say that it should be considered in every clinical case, but it is not a Silver Bullet and it won't work overnight.

The most frustrating cases I work on include allergies, behavior problems/concerns and gut issues. These are very frustrating because if your pet has one, you want it gone and the cause or causes can be multi-faceted and difficult to identify.

Allergies: I have a dog with allergies and it's terrible.  She licks her feet (which are now brown stained), scratches and chews on herself.  I am a pretty good nutritionist but I CANNOT make her environmental allergies go away.  Although I have tried, I simply can't and believe me, I HAVE tried.  My dogs are always the "guinea pigs" for all the things you see and read on the internet. Everything from coenzyme Q10, to local honey to coconut oil, Trinkit has evaluated it.  Whether her issues are genetic or related to over-vaccination in her youth before she came to us, I cannot say (I do have my suspicions).  We have been successful managing her diet related allergies but the environmental allergies are a battle that even a good raw diet cannot win.  I have a wonderful graduate student currently evaluating some health factors in dogs fed raw diets and the dogs on study have genetic health concerns including allergies.  The dogs have never been fed raw diets previously (they are adults) and while their allergies have improved, they HAVE NOT gone away.  Unless you know for certain what foods trigger the response, diet may help but it won't necessarily fix allergy issues.

Behavior Issues: This one is a major frustration of mine.  Mostly because as a nutritionist and a fairly savvy dog trainer, I don't know in most cases what the roots of the behavior issues actually are.  There are nutrients such as thiamine, B6 and trypophan that are precursors or regulators of neurotransmitters.  These can affect mood.  Through the Holidays, most of us have experienced the amazing influence of tryptophan from turkey consumption.  It's a GREAT thing. Tryptophan is a biochemical precursor of Serotonin which is associated with feelings of well-being.  For that very reason, turkey often is a great addition for dogs with behavior issues. It can also be useful to use "Cool" foods along with manipulations of protein and carbohydrate in the diet; however, these changed WILL NOT FIX the issue because you'll need to include some good training, exercise, and behavior modification in that plan as well.

Gut issues: As with the above issues, I cannot determine if loose stools or vomiting are results of something genetic, acute, a major underlying inflammatory condition, or stress.  I hesitate to even mention the last trigger because we all get so weird about it.  The last thing any owner wants to believe is that they may be causing their pet stress.  My husband refers to this as "SOD" or Spastic Owner Disease and he can in fact quickly identify these owners.  He has a long history of working in the zoological field; therefore, has a pretty good handle on the long term impact of low grade stress on animals.  That's a very hard thing to stomach for most owners.  I'm not sure how well I'd take it if someone told me that my dogs were living under chronic stress that was causing low grade inflammation, resulting in inflammatory diseases down the road.  Is that possible?? ABSOLUTELY.  There is so much research documenting the effects of long term, low grade stress on inflammatory responses in the gut.  Please do NOT take this as my saying every dog's inflammatory gut issues are related to the owner, that's not what I'm saying at all.  BUT, I am saying it's possible and we should all be considering the stresses and pressures we place on our dogs. Dogs that get soft stools every time they travel or compete are the ones that make me nervous.  If you have one of those dogs, I urge you to consider altering the diet before you travel and compete. Adding a digestive enzyme and a good probiotic before you leave can help this process. Realize there is likely inflammation in the gut during these times which will open up opportunities for other issues to wreck havoc on the gut.   Rather than look for simple treatments and cures, we should always try to address the root cause if we can.

Diet and nutrition can be an amazing strength within any treatment and preventative plan.  A solid diagnosis from a veterinarian along with any medical treatments, plus a well balanced diet, can do wonders toward treating and curing diseases.  I love it most when I get to work as a team with a client and their WORKS so much better that way. Diet and nutrition are amazing and that's why I do what I do, but I will never underestimate the value of teamwork while working through health concerns. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Petfood Selections - Priorities for Kibble Dog Foods

How sad it's been well over a year that I've blogged.  I can only say that is truly indicative of how busy things have been and that is certainly a wonderful problem to have.

Every semester I give a lecture to my students about selecting petfoods.  This past weekend a friend forwarded me some questions and I realized I should blog my response rather than simply email back since others may have similar questions.

My favorite diets are certainly raw or home-prepared diets; however, I am the first in line to understand those diets are not appropriate for every home and every situation.  There are many fabulous kibble and canned foods for our beloved dogs and cats on the market today. So, I am going to share with you how I select kibble dog foods.  I want to preface this by saying these are my NORMAL recommendations for NORMAL and healthy dogs.  There are totally different selection criteria in play when we are dealing with clinical considerations which I am not addressing here.

First decision point is protein source.  This may or may not be a major decision for some people but if you know you want a fish diet for example, obviously that's where you start.  I RARELY suggest lamb or venison diets.  These are "hot" proteins (so is chicken) and most dogs I work with run "hot".  That's pretty easy to determine if your dog seeks cool places to lay, stretches out while sleeping and gets hot easily or is easily excitable or easily aroused.  These dogs are likely (but certainly not always) "hot"; therefore, cooling proteins are typically better options.  Those of you that know my little Keegan, he is my exception. Keegan is ALWAYS cold, even when it's 100 degrees outside.  He always sleeps curled up and most often buried under 5 pounds of blankets.  You can actually feel cool as you touch his ears and back.  Keegan is fed primarily lamb to "warm" him up.  If you work with a holistic vet, they can help you determine if your dog is hot or cold.  Fish, duck and turkey are good cool proteins, and beef and pork are neutral.

After I've decided if protein source is important to me, I look at fat content.  At minimum, fat concentration should be 15% for a kibble.  If it's below 15%, I don't consider it further.  I am of the strong opinion we have misunderstood the value of fat in diets of carnivores.  They are extremely efficient at using them.  Even overweight dogs do not need low fat diets, they simply need fewer calories...funny do we :).

Next, I consider protein concentration.  This needs to be in proper ratio with the fat.  I want an approximate 2:1 protein to fat ratio.  In the case of kibbles, if I've found one that has 15% fat, then the protein needs to be very close to 30%.  If the fat is 20%, then the protein needs to be 40%, etc...

If I'm happy with both protein and fat, then I look at ingredients.  I prefer the products that have higher protein and fat concentrations. This is because the higher those two, the lower the starch.  So, when I'm looking at order of ingredients I like to see 2, if not 3 protein sources at the top. If it says chicken (actual chicken meat with high moisture) then I want the following protein to say "meal" such as chicken meal (dried, rendered chicken).  Some of the worst diets in my opinion will have a high moisture meat ingredient like chicken at the top of the list but then quickly be followed up with a carbohydrate fraction that is dry such as peas or potatoes or a grain.  When you consider the entire diet on a dry matter basis, suddenly that high moisture chicken is no longer the top ingredient.  If you select your diets first based on fat and protein rather than ingredients you likely won't get fooled by this trick because those diets won't even reach the 30% protein and 15% fat minimum in the first place.

I'm pretty happy if I see something like: chicken, chicken meal, turkey meal.  You get a meat followed with a meal and your protein and fat will be higher.

I am also OK with "by products" and "by product meals" as long as I can identify the species from which said by products came from.  No poultry or animal by products as the quality then becomes rather sketchy in my opinion.

Grains - I'm totally OK with grains.  A funny thing, some grain-included foods are actually higher quality than a lot of the grain-free varieties.  Another reason I always start with fat and protein concentration before looking at ingredients. A lot of grain-frees won't actually reach 30% protein and 15% fat. Unless I have a known reason to avoid grains, I simply don't.  In fact, I use barley, quinoa or oatmeal in my home-made raw diet for my guys. I also will use rice on occasion.

Starches - even the grain-free diets must contain substantial (usually in the area of about 40%) starch to maintain the quality of the kibble itself.  So, they use potatoes, fractions of potatoes, peas, fractions of peas and tapioca.  Of those, peas are my favorite.  I prefer peas over potatoes because of the starch type and glycemic index.  The starch in potatoes is extremely digestible and has a high glycemic index. If I asked you if you should eat peas daily or potatoes daily, you'd probably know eating potatoes on a daily basis isn't your best's not for dogs either (although I'd gladly eat potatoes every day...I LOVE THEM).  There are fewer options that only use peas as the starch source; however, more petfood companies are utilizing them more extensively.

A note about plant proteins such as soybean meal and corn gluten meal - I avoid those.  I will not deny they are definitely proteins but I don't believe they are the quality for carnivores or have the appropriate amino acids for carnivores that animal proteins or egg proteins  have.

Hope that makes your decision making process a bit easier!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Warning - Don't Eat That!

"Warning - Feeding these dog foods to your dog could be hazardous to his health"...when I saw this statement on a piece of my mail today, I had an internal dialogue.

Maybe that statement should have been on all the fudge, bottles of wine, gravy and mashed potatoes, cookies, pumpkin pie, and margaritas that I consumed in excess over the past two weeks? I laughed and pondered the thought for a moment then giggled and said...nope, wouldn't have helped one tiny bit. I would have enjoyed all those things in excess regardless of any silly warning statement provided.  Why? Because I LOVE and ENJOY those foods (and drinks). Key words there: ENJOY & LOVE...and consumed in the last 2 weeks, not ALL THE TIME.

So here it goes, I'm sure many of you will be shocked and dismayed to find out that on occasion, I commit the most horrible of dog-mom sins...I let my dogs indulge on crap food or treats.  I even indulge Mr. Keegan in a few M&M's every now and then.  They are to him what margaritas are to me...God's gift to the taste buds.  I've always said the best thing about having a Ph.D in nutrition is the ability to justify eating ANYTHING!

What I've never been able to justify is how did it come to be that we decided there were "certain" ways we should feed our dogs and certain foods that we should or shouldn't feed our dogs? My favorites are the statements like "you can't feed raw and kibble at the same time" and "dogs are carnivores and should only have meat" and "by-products are crap", "you should never give your dogs bones" and "you can't feed raw eggs to dogs" and "raw is the only way to go if you want a healthy dog" of course the list goes on and on. 

When did we figure there was a "right" and "wrong" way to feed an animal that evolved with us? This is where I struggle.  We know that the "right" way for a human to eat is to eat a variety of foods including proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and limit processing as much as possible.  Does it not make sense that dogs should eat that way as well? The only difference I see is that the dog is anatomically a carnivore and has a very short digestive tract compared to ours.  Dogs do need more animal protein but shouldn't be fed ONLY meat.  An "only meat" diet may be the natural history for the African Hunting Dog but certainly not that of the dog. 

When we consume a healthy and varied diet the majority of time, guess what happens when we over indulge during the holidays? NOTHING...isn't it beautiful?  I just love that! Truly nothing.  The more balanced our guts are, the greater the ability to re-balance when we decide to pig out on cookies and candy.  I have watched the same thing with my dogs.  My dogs have an extremely varied diet from day to day.  They are fed raw, kibble, cooked meat, dehydrated, canned, commercial raw frozen, and sometimes I even mix them all up at once.  I also have chickens and the dogs do eat raw eggs (and cooked eggs) regularly.

Are there products out there that our dogs should not be fed as a regular and major component of their diets? Of course.  I can't imagine what my health would be like if I ate pumpkin pie and drank margaritas every day.  Nor could I imagine what my gut would be like if I only ate grilled chicken and rice every day.  It certainly wouldn't be strong enough to allow me the enjoyment of indulging during the holidays without some pain and discomfort involved. Both scenarios are dangerous for the human and canine gut alike.

I challenge you to consider the natural history of the animal you are feeding and think about what actually does make sense for you and for your pet.  Just because your training partner feeds raw, doesn't mean that your choice to feed kibble is wrong.  Both of you can have healthy animals if you provide them the right balance and variety to support an optimal environment in the gut. 

Monday, July 15, 2013


My new obsession is dietary choline.  Choline is classified with other vitamins; however, doesn't quite act like other vitamins and can really cause problems in formulations due to stability (or lack thereof).  It is currently giving me gray hairs in supplements for large felids and Fishing cats. 

Fishing Cat  (Photo by Cheryl Morris)

I find choline so intriguing because it is extremely complicated.  Not only do mammals synthesize it, but it interacts with several other nutrients such as B12, folate and methionine.  In other words, their status will impact the status of choline and vice versa.  Choline is synthesized from the two amino acids serine and methionine through a reaction dependent on S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). The later may be a compound you have seen on supplements, particularly for joint health.

A deficiency of choline will result in fatty liver and renal hemorrhage, along with potential cognitive loss or deficiencies in learning. Additionally, choline deficiency also has been documented to promote spontaneous development of cancer of the liver.  In other words, a deficiency of choline is an ugly thing but it's a difficult one to asses because folate, B12, and methionine status also should be considered.  Another compound called betaine and dietary methionine can actually replace some dietary choline in the diet. That said, a combination of high dietary methionine along with deficient choline likely results in elevated concentrations of plasma homocysteine, that in humans is a risk factor for vascular diseases.  To say the least, choline is a complicated and fascinating nutrient.

Unprocessed and whole foods contain some choline.  This is certainly one of those compounds that makes me happy I feed raw and makes me appreciate differences among species.  When it comes to total choline concentrations, the best sources include beef liver (418 mg/100 g), lecithin (300 mg/100 g), chicken liver (290 mg/100 g) and eggs (251 mg/100 g).  When it comes to muscle meats only, pork is the protein with the highest concentrations (>100 mg/100 g) compared with other proteins (Zeisel et al., Journal of Nutrition, 2003). The requirements for dogs and cats are set at approximately 1,700 and 2,500 mg per Kg of diet on a dry matter basis, or more simply...approximately 15 - 20 mg per pound of body weight for dogs and 20 - 30 mg per pound of body weight for cats.  A typical egg is going to contain about 174 mg of choline (assuming it is 60 grams). Since my 35 Lb border collie eats 2 eggs daily, well over half of his choline requirement is coming from eggs.  It is unlikely that raw diets including eggs and liver in the formulation will be deficient in choline.

There is indication in literature that perhaps choline requirements increase during exercise. Of course this hasn't been studied as it relates to agility dogs.  Additionally, choline concentrations aren't documented in relation to raw meats typically fed to pets and carnivores.  I've been on the fence about studying concentrations of choline in various meats and ingredients we typically use for carnivores, but it looks like we may head down that road.  Somehow I always find questions that need answered regarding our sport dogs and raw diets...not to mention the exotic carnivores I continue to work with.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Carbohydrates 2: Dietary Fibers

Dietary fibers in my opinion are the most important carbohydrates to consider in diet formulations for animals, particularly for our pets.

Fiber often gets labeled as "filler" although some people refer to all carbohydrates in pet foods as fillers and that's just silly (especially to those of you reading this blog).  Now, if you are feeding a food like Ol Roy (don't tell me if you are!), yes, you are feeding way too carbohydrate and your dog (or cat) will have the fecal output to show for it.

First off, dietary fiber is not a single or simple group of compounds.  In fact, they are extremely complex and diverse carbohydrates with diverse physical and chemical properties.  Structurally, some fibers are soluble and some are insoluble.  Some are viscous and have very high water holding capacity, while others are non-viscous.  Some are fermentable in the bowel and others are not. Lastly, they can be combinations of the above.  So, you can have soluble - viscous - fermentable fibers for example (those are my favorites), or you can have something like psyllium (Metamucil), which is actually a very soluble-viscous-non fermentable fiber.

The frustrating issue for me is that the label and analytics involved, don't necessarily tell you about those properties.  If you look on a label of food (for you) at the grocery store, you will see that perhaps it breaks down the fiber into Soluble and Insoluble, but often gives you the Total Dietary Fiber (TDF) amount.  On an herbivore diet such as for cows or horses, the label will likely (hopefully) include ADF (acid-detergent fiber) and NDF (neutral-detergent fiber).  The values of TDF, ADF and NDF and obtained through totally different analyses in a lab.  On our petfoods, we will see a value called "Crude Fiber" which also is a totally different analysis for fiber.  Unfortunately, crude fiber is a completely worthless value to use.  The assay destroys all of the soluble fibers and many insoluble fibers and only recovers portions of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin (totally insoluble, non viscous, non fermentable).  Therefore, a petfood might have a crude fiber value of 2.5% on the label but in reality, may have TDF values closer to 10% or even 20% depending on the ingredients used.

Ideally, I want fibers on the ingredient list that will provide some soluble characteristics.  Soluble - viscous - fermentable fibers can alter gastric emptying and transit time (this can be good and bad), aid in management of pH along the G.I tract, provide volatile fatty acids for energy to the cells lining the gut, and aid in the management of blood lipids and glucose. These fibers can be very good in appropriate concentrations.  In addition, many of these fibers provide prebiotic properties and help maintain optimal microflora populations that provide a strong basis for overall health and immunity.

Many folks like to use canned pumpkin in diets.  Canned pumpkin contains about 30% TDF.  That fiber is about 20% soluble and 80% insoluble; therefore, it does provide a nice blend.   Due to the high TDF concentration and the blend of soluble to insoluble, pumpkin is an ingredient that I can use effectively across a huge range of species including dogs and cats, bears, elephants and primates.

My dog's raw diet does contain grain (and quite often pumpkin).  I use oats and barley predominately at 10% of the the diet (as-fed).  Oats and barley contain 30 and 12% TDF, respectively.  Corn and wheat actually contain about 19 and 17% TDF while rice contains less than 2% (white rice).  Barley has the highest percentage of soluble fiber, consisting of 30% of the total TDF.  This gives barely some very viscous qualities or thickening properties.  Oats on the other hand only have about 10% of the TDF as soluble; therefore, combined, I get a very nice blend of fiber qualities in my diet.  Corn, wheat and rice contain 18, 14, and 20% of the TDF as soluble.  Rice has such a low TDF value overall, I tend to not use it much, especially because it also has a very high glycemic index.  Corn and wheat are definitely options for those animals that tolerate them.  I will use fresh corn in my diet because an additional 15 - 20% (as fed) will consist of  fresh fruits, greens and vegetables.  If you are wondering, the breakdown looks like this:

55 - 60% muscle meat
10 - 15% organ meat (mostly liver and heart)
15 - 20% Greens, vegetables, fruit (seasonal)
10% grain
I supplement with eggshells for calcium and feed raw meaty bones 2-3 times week.

No doubt, fibers have personality!!! I love them!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Carbohydrates 1 = Sugars and Starches

Next to "grains", sugars and starches are likely the biggest culprits of "anti-carb" propaganda in relation to petfoods.

Sugars are typically referred to as mono and di-saccharides and common examples  include glucose, galactose, fructose, sucrose (table sugar), lactose (milk sugar), and maltose.  They are typically included in foods to increase palatability, change viscous properties, alter texture, and/or provide color (browning reactions).  Honey is an ingredient in many of my recipes, specifically because of its balanced concentration of gluocse and fructose.  It provides a sweet taste that many dogs appreciate (or at least my Keegan thinks it's awesome).  Interestingly, I often hear performance dog handlers indicate that honey makes their dogs sluggish.  I do believe this is similar to some of the dogs that collapse during exercise (specific genetic diseases excluded).  Fructose metabolism is a bit more complicated than glucose metabolism.  It will either get used for energy or converted directly to fat (this is why high fructose corn syrup is so "fattening" for us humans if we don't use it for energy).  Therefore, in our performance dogs, if they have a high glucose demand that gluconeogenesis is not maintaining, then yes, honey may not be the best option and more rapidly available carbohydrate sources are  optimal.

Keegan (Photo by: Marsha Kingsley)
Starches are interesting ingredients as well.  Starch in its basic definition is just a lot of glucose molecules joined together in one of two patterns, linear (amylose) or branched (amylopectin).  Amylopectin is more rapidly digested and thus, higher concentrations result in higher glycemic index.  Food sources vary in the ratio of these two forms; therefore, one type of grain or carb does not equal another...hence all the confusion.  For example, low amylose and high amylopectin in rice, make it rapidly digested but also give it a very high glycemic index.  It is often used as the "go to" for many diets because of its high digestibility. I tend to not use it so much because of its very high glycemic index.  Instead I use primarily barley and oats in my formulations, or when I'm looking at petfoods. I like the fact that both have nice amylose to amylopectin ratios and they each have additional cooling (barley) or heating (oats) properties (a topic for later discussion), and viscous fibrous properties (...more on that later as well).

I would really love to see some studies related to glycemic index of grain-free petfoods.  Most of these are made with potato starch, because a good deal of starch is needed for the extrusion process in order to hold the kibble together.  I'd like to see this because I suspect that many of the grain-free foods made with potato, will actually cause a higher glycemic index (this may be a good thing for those of you with dogs that are prone to collapse at trials or during intense exercise but may be a concern for overweight cats prone to diabetes).   Interestingly, some groups in Canada are studying the increased use of peas and pea starch in petfoods.  Like barley and oats, peas have some really awesome fiber characteristics as well and the resulting glycemic index is much lower than rice or potato. I love peas (for me and the dogs!)

My dogs are fed extremely varied diets included raw, home-cooked (quite literally the only thing I cook), kibble, canned, dehyrated and combinations of all of the above.  I am fortunate they don't have issues with grains or carbs; therefore,  I can and do provide varied sources.  In my raw and cooked diets, 30% of the diet is a carbohydrate mix that includes fruits, vegetables, greens, and grains (barley, oats) in equal proportions by weight. I do not include potatoes in my blend but will on occasion include corn (especially in the summer when I can buy it fresh). I bet you wondered if I'd say the "c" word.  Absolutely, I will use corn in moderation just like the rest of my carb sources.  I try to add at least 3-5  different fruits and vegetables in every batch (typically 2 weeks worth of food).  I do buy what is seasonal (I am an Animal Scientist after all, and "least cost formulations" are important to me).

If any of my dogs seemed to have issues at trials or during exercise with hypoglycemia or collapse, I would actually utilize some of the higher protein and fat (maintaining a 2:1 protein to fat ratio) diets that have rice or potato listed in the top 5 ingredients (many many options).  I would use these throughout trial weekends, along with my raw diet and if the dogs were agreeable, I'd use them as treats (perhaps make meatballs with ground up kibble and raw meat...a little honey added if Keegan were the chef) throughout trial weekends. This might take some trial and error to see what worked best but that would be my plan A (I don't come up with Plan B until I need it)!


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Carbohydrates - totally misunderstood!

No other group of nutrients gets more grief than carbohydrates, especially in diets for carnivores.  Much of the misunderstanding is simply in the fact that carbohydrate compounds are lumped into one huge category and we don't have a specific requirement for them. Indeed, when you look through the NRC for Dogs and Cats, there is no requirement for carbs like there is for fats and proteins.  This leads people to believe that dogs and cats don't need them. I completely DISAGREE! In fact, I use carbohydrate blends all the time in raw formulations for carnivores and they are invaluable to me in most of my clinical formulations. Even our formulations for big cats at the zoo include some carbohydrate; however, we are very specific about the types and amounts.

Unfortunately, the term carbohydrate includes everything from sugars and starches to dietary fibers and prebiotics. Confusing? Absolutely.  Even dietary fiber isn't analyzed the same. The fiber included on the label of a pet food is what we call "Crude Fiber" and it means absolutely not one thing to a dog or a cat.  It's not even the value we see on human food products which is referred to as Total Fiber.  Oh yes, they are totally different analyses and give you completely different results.  There are even specific fiber assays that we use for herbivores that recover different fibrous compounds.

The crude fiber assay only recovers a very small fraction of  true fiber found in food as portions (not even all) of lignin, hemicellulose and cellulose (structural carbohydrates in plants).  Those fabulous soluble dietary fibers that we are  encouraged to consume and the wonderful long chain polysaccharides that act as prebiotics in the gut are destroyed in that assay; therefore, not included. So where do those get recovered in terms of pet food labeling? They don't. They wind up being lumped along with starch and sugar in the total carbohydrate calculation minus the Crude Fiber...or what we call Nitrogen Free Extract (NFE).

The calculation is based on subtracting out protein, fat, crude fiber and ash (total minerals) from the total dry matter in the diet and looks something like this: NFE = 100% - protein % - fat % - ash% (total minerals) - crude fiber %.  In other words, we are accounting for the minerals, fat, protein and the tiny bit of fiber; however, EVERYTHING else gets lumped into the "NFE" package including vitamins, starch, long chain polysaccharides, all soluble dietary fibers, most insoluble dietary fibers, FOS & MOS (prebiotics), and sugars...yes, the good the bad and the ugly all get lumped together.  I have come across many websites and blogs that refer to this NFE fraction as "carbohydrate" which is misleading.

It is frustrating to hear the misconceptions about carbohydrates because they have a purpose in pet foods.  For example, if you enjoy the convenience of a kibble pet food, then you are enjoying the benefits of starch because it must be there in substantial concentrations to hold the kibble together (including those grain-free foods).  Although there is no specific requirement for carbohydrates, they do provide benefit and provide nutrition.  That said, some types of carbohydrates are frequently overused in pet foods and that poses issues and concerns.

Over the summer I'll be writing a series on carbohydrates to hopefully answer some of your questions about their advantages, disadvantages and functions in foods. Hopefully, we'll also get to some vitamin issues as well (the group of nutrients I love to hate!).