Monday, April 8, 2019
My professional background and experience is in pet nutrition marketing. I am not a nutritionist. I do work intimately with the process of developing and manufacturing pet foods. I have developed numerous dog and cat foods (dry, wet and treats) that have been marketing around the world. I work closely with some of the top nutritionists and researchers at major US Universities. I have served on the board of a major pet food manufacturer, and currently serve on a nutrition innovation team with a major global ingredient supplier to the pet industry. I also work for Lucy Pet, a California based family-owned pet health company. We make dog and cat food and we are committed to truth, transparency and honesty in pet food.
Throughout my career I have visited nearly every major pet food manufacturing facilities, and numerous small ones too. I regularly attend professional conferences such as the Pet Food Forum, the annual meetings of AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), and stay current with official publications and pet food conference calls by the FDA, FEDIAF (the European Pet Food Industry body) and of course the National Research Council (NRC), the body that actually sets the nutritional requirements for animals. I have also spent extensive amounts of time on farms, fisheries and ranches where various ingredients are grown, raised or procured. Over the past two decades I have seen all sorts of things that have given me an education as to what can improve or diminish the quality of a pet food.
I am a fact based person, and leery of fads and trend diets (human or animal). I always prefer science over emotion, and look for long term feeding trials before judging a new food or ingredient. Last year I wrote an article here entitled: A Quick Lesson On Pet Food. Feel free check that out later.
What drove me to write this post is the latest trend of alternate forms of pet foods that have no proven science behind them. I welcome new innovation to the marketplace, provided it is proven as safe and made by experienced nutritionists. What alarms me is that trends such as "fresh pet foods" and "raw dog foods" are misleading consumers to think they are properly balanced. Many of these new companies are attempting to gain popularity and market share by making patently false and misleading claims about dog kibble and cat kibble foods. In order to scare consumers, they claim that dry kibble is cooked at such high temperatures, it "cooks out all the nutrients". This is false. Then they extol the virtues of gently cooked, or slow cooked, or raw diets as better. These statements are not only inaccurate but they are misleading. When a nutritionist designs a kibble diet, they take into account cooking temperatures, storage conditions and shelf-life timelines of the pet food and calculate the ingredients accordingly. The pet food formulation and the cooking anticipates how all the raw ingredients, when blended and cooked will react to ensure that your dog or cat has the proper levels of nutrition they require. The bottom line is that when made properly, by an experienced team of nutritionists, dog kibble and cat kibble offer consistent nutrition in every bite. Kibble is not deficient of nutrients, and in fact, some ingredients actually become more bio-available when cooked. So don't let anyone try to fool you into thinking that all the nutrients cooked out of kibble dog food.
Some of these fad diet companies hire a veterinarian who puts on their white coat, wears a stethoscope and pretends to understand nutrition. I am here to tell you that the overwhelming majority of veterinarians have little to no training and education in nutrition science. The next time a veterinarian tries to tell you what to feed your pet, ask them how many years of education in nutrition they have. Most will admit they had none, or maybe had an hour during one course of their degree. So just because a pet food brand has a vet talking about the food, that alone does not mean they understand nutrition and can vouch for the diet as properly balanced.
One major issue I have with these trendy "fresh" pet foods, or human-food looking pet foods, or raw pet foods is that they often times are not properly balanced, even when they claim to be "complete and balanced". The concern I have with these fad diets is that the people making them are not experienced nutritionists who understand the complex nature of food ingredients. For example, there are multiple amino acids that animals require at certain levels. In order to formulate correctly, it requires a thorough understanding of the natural chemical composition and functionality of proteins, amino acids, and all sorts of compounds with how they react when ingested and digested by the animal. There are considerable consequences to animal health and well being just when basic ingredient formulas are not balanced properly. Remember that your pet is depending on that meal for all of its nutrition, so feeding a diet that does not take into account the complexity of nutrition science can have an adverse effect on vital organ functionality and life span of the animal. The digestive system plays a very important role in animal health, therefore ingredients and the formulation really matter.
Many of these diets promote the fact that they include fresh vegetables or fruits, but this is merely for label appeal to the consumer. Consider that fruits and veggies are mainly water, so in order to derive the amount of vitamins and minerals the dog or cat requires, you would need to feed many times higher levels of those veggies to meet the requirements of the animal. Also consider that after veggies and fruits are picked, and as the age, they gradually begin to loose freshness and the nutrients degrade. So those foods made with fruits and veggies could have older, wilted veggies that are not as potent as when they were fresh. That variability in freshness and their potency, coupled with the fact that you would still need many times more than they are using, makes this aspect of fresh or raw less than desirable as a complete and balanced source of nutrients. I imagine that it is possible some of these new, small fresh made pet food brands are trying to do something better, but the problem is they don't know what they don't know. They created a pet food on a formulated basis only and not tested it or understand how that diet performs over time when digested, and how the vital organs are affected.
Raw pet food is even riskier because in addition to being imbalanced, they present significant health and safety issues to the pet and the consumer. Aside from the risks of documented studies showing that the gut of the dog or cat has dangerous bacteria that continues to grow and build over time. This has a negative effect on the animals' gut health and ph levels.
Despite what companies are trying to tell you in their marketing, your dog is not a wolf. Just as we as humans are not caveman anymore, we have evolved, over tens of thousands of years. And as a result our DNA has changed. Just look to science, yes science, not emotion for the facts. Science has documented that there are over three dozen different strands of DNA that are different between the dog and the wolf. Those DNA genome differences are significant because they relate to digestion. So while it may seem fun to think you should feed your dog the same way they would "eat in the wild" and therefore mimic a wolf's diet, the fact is your dog is NOT A WOLF. Keep in mind that that message has been perpetuated by pet food companies trying to sell you something. Personally I would never feed a raw pet food diet, ever.
The tough part for consumers is to figure out which brand of kibble is the best. There are so many brands of dog and cat food now, it can be overwhelming. Of course I have my opinion and preference. Go to a pet specialty store to do research, but don't just go with what the store employee or demo person says. They are paid or commissioned in some way sell a particular brand. My advice is buy the best you can afford, but read up on the brand. Look closely at the brand website, what are they emphasizing? What are they not talking about? Are they trying to fool you by only talking about the first few ingredients on the label, or do they talk openly about the entire formula? Do they share details about their nutritionist? Do they talk about the science behind their food? If they are mostly marketing "feel good" traits, and nothing else, then move on. Just because a food is organic, or natural, or humane, does not necessarily mean it is the best. Our pets only live a short time relative to human lifespan. Don't we owe it to feed them the best possible, so they can be healthy? I get frustrated by companies, large and small who literally lie and mislead consumers. I am merely advocating FACT and SCIENCE when it comes to nutrition. The point of this article is to assure you that kibble is still the best choice for dog and cat food.
In full disclosure I mentioned previously that I work with Lucy Pet, and we have a kibble dog food. However, even if I did not work for Lucy Pet, I would still be sharing the same information because what I am writing about is rooted in science and facts. I added a few links within this article to things we wrote about on the Lucy Pet Products website. I hope this helps shed some insights into what I have learned over my 23+ years in pet food. If you want to see my other article on A Quick Lesson on Pet Food, click here.
Thanks for reading.
Monday, October 15, 2018
TV Personality Randy Jackson Teams Up with Lucy Pet -- “The Dawg” is Doing Something Good for the Dogs
I'm thrilled to share this news about our new partners at Lucy Pet. American Idol's Randy Jackson and trainer Brandon McMillan, from CBS TV's 'Lucky Dog'. Check out this press release that went out today:
TV Personality Randy Jackson Teams Up with Lucy Pet -- “The Dawg” is Doing Something Good for the Dogs
|Randy Jackson and Surfin' Jack|
|Brandon McMillan with Surfin' Jack & Service Dog trainee Dahlia|
Thursday, October 4, 2018
One unexpected star is the cinematography itself; the natural beauty of the California Mojave desert provides gorgeous scenery and serves as a 'supporting actor' to Duke's plight in his epic walk.
The cast includes Ross McCall as 'Sebastion', who you love to hate, the beautiful Eileen Davidson, as Duke's wife 'KC', James Kyson as 'Wing', John O'Hurley as 'Walter', Willie Garson, as 'Danny' Jennifer Tilly, Chad Lowe and Lucas Bryant, who plays 'Chucky' a drug addicted Hollywood actor with a gambling problem.
They say laughter is the medicine, and this is just what the doctor ordered for us all. In short, I loved this movie, so don't miss it when it comes out. For now you can see the trailer for 7 Days to Vegas here. Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest news.
Tuesday, September 11, 2018
|Sheldon was my trusty assistant for the taste-test panel|
|The first batch of treats are made!|
Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Are euthanized dogs and cats ending up in your pet’s food?
YouTube link below:
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Lucy Pet Paws for Life Rose Parade 2018 KTLA5 Coverage from Lucy Pet on Vimeo.
As a side note, Lucy Pet is proud to honor these hero pets. It is part of the mission to help animals through their Lucy Pet Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) charity. Lucy Pet also has really great dog and cat food where proceeds go to help support the Lucy Pet Foundation. Check out Lucy Pet Formulas for Life dog and cat foods, at local pet stores or online too. Lucy Pet also has Cats Incredible litter, an awesome litter that actually stops ammonia from forming in the litter box.
Tuesday, December 26, 2017
Paws for Life Lucy Pet Rose Parade 2018
Visit https://www.lucypetproducts.com/rose-parade/2018-pawsforlife/ for more info
Saturday, September 23, 2017
|Ellie loves her Lucy Pet Formulas for Life food|
The reporter was interested in learning about the role the fiber plays in gut health. I explained that the key is in the variety of fibers used in the food. Since all pet foods contain some fiber, having a prebiotic fiber isn't enough to claim gut health. Lucy Pet is able to claim gut health benefits to dogs and cats because of the extensive research on fiber and gut health by one of the world's leading experts on gut health and fiber, Dr George C Fahey. Our pet foods truly are revolutionary because we combine a variety of quality fibers (soluble and insoluble) along with a range of very high quality proteins and fats to yield a remarkable result in pets. I explained to the reporter that people often misunderstand the role of fiber, and also complex carbohydrates. Those who view them as "unnecessary" are misinformed and have an outdated view about animal nutrition.
Consumers today are searching for the latest and best for their pets. All they seem to find are the endless range of useless things with slick marketing campaigns, claims of "meat first", "high protein" or those raw and dehydrated diets. Those offerings often miss the big picture of what truly improves the health of pets. The reporter was curious to learn more about why "meat first" wasn't the most important indication of a quality pet food. I explained that it is the combination of ingredients in a pet food, when digested contribute to the body in some way. To think that just the meat based ingredients alone are what matter most is highly misleading. For example, if you made a cake and only asked about the flour, and ignored the rest of the ingredients, you would not be fully understanding what went into the cake and how to evaluate it.
Experts agree that having a high quality protein is important, but what is equally important is the quality and role of the fiber, fats, vitamins/minerals, and even the complex carbohydrates as well. Carbohydrates can contribute many things to a pet food; such as a source of energy, fiber, protein, amino acids, etc. Again- anyone who dismisses carbohydrates as bad or unnecessary out of hand is clearly misinformed and does not understand nutrition. Carbohydrates- particularly complex carbs can be very beneficial to dogs and cats when used in conjunction with other quality ingredients.
The fact is that pets are living in domesticated environments with humans and need to consume food that provides the nutrition they need. Pet food has been formulated to provide what is best for the animal, while at the same time making easy to serve, easy to digest, and easy for the human to clean up when our pets poop. Today's pet food diets were developed to meet these needs, and carbohydrates play an important role in pet nutrition. Recently there was a wave of brands who started marketing against pet foods with carbohydrates, and it turned out to be nothing more than misinformed slick marketers trying to confuse consumers. Fortunately this has been addressed by regulators. AAFCO (The American Association of Feed Control Officers) who oversees pet food, recently ruled that there is no basis to make claims of glycemic levels in dogs and cats, and does not allow claims of "low glycemic" any longer on pet food.
So just having a meat first formula--even if it is high quality meat, may not be giving your pet what they need to truly excel and be healthy. What should consumers look for in the sea of confusing shelves at the pet store? Read labels, research the brand, and look for what they focus on in their message. Don't be fooled by brands that claim only "meat first" or "high protein" as their key benefits. Look for brands that have high quality ingredients AND formulas based on science. Read brand websites to see if the company is using the latest nutritional science available, or do they seem to be following outdated nutrition from 30-40 years ago?
As we have launched our Lucy Pet Formulas for Life pet food, we have been flooded with testimonials from people telling us how much their cat or dog loves our food. Anecdotally, many veterinarians are reporting that they are seeing cases of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) clear up in pets who started feeding Lucy Pet Formulas for Life. It is exciting to be part of a company that is helping animals and delivering great nutrition.
At the conclusion of the interview, I thanked the reporter for taking the time to hear our story. Lucy Pet is the only brand marketing gut health for pets, and it is exciting to be on the frontier brining years of nutritional research to benefit our dogs and cats. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Monday, August 7, 2017
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
There are so may great local independent pet specialty stores all across the US and Canada, who are competing with the Internet. We want to help support the little retailers by reminding consumers that shopping at your local pet store is the best option to find new and unique products for your dog or cat. Personally, I'm proud that Lucy Pet Products is leading the charge in the industry to help brick & mortar pet stores remain strong. After all, our country is built on many local businesses, and each of us needs to do our part to help locally owned businesses stay around.
Vote for your favorite local pet store from this link, and you may just win a bag of Lucy Pet Formulas for Life dog or cat food.
This blog is about life experiences & observations and stuff I am interested in. It is simply a side hobby and creative outlet; generally, with a tongue-in-cheek tone. I don't take it too seriously, nor should you. I do not profess to represent every point of view. Nothing on this site is a paid post.
It is for entertainment purposes only it, so just lighten up and just enjoy it. Life is short, live in the moment.
As the author, thoughts/views have no affiliation to my clients, business colleagues or my company.
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