WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif., June 3, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Independent university research now demonstrates that feeding dogs fresh, healthy, whole food diets instead of highly processed kibble and cans results in improvements in measures of health.
The results of a landmark study conducted by animal science researchers in California show that feeding a group of dogs a freshly prepared, whole food, lightly cooked, nutritionally balanced diet made from real food is scientifically shown to increase white blood cells and blood proteins that could benefit immune health. The groundbreaking research is being presented this week at the 14th Annual American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition's (AAVN) Symposium, held in conjunction with the 2014 American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) Forum in Nashville, Tennessee.
The study, which was conducted over 12 months, is the first time in veterinary nutrition history that the long standing practice of feeding dogs highly processed kibble diets, made from feed grade ingredients not allowed in the human food chain, is scientifically challenged. The results support what human nutritionists have been advising for decades – stay clear of heavily processed foods, and eat wholesome, balanced meals that are prepared fresh from the highest quality ingredients available, are lightly cooked, and have no preservatives. This same advice appears to be true for our canine best friends.
Dr. John Tegzes, VMD, diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology, professor of veterinary medicine at Western University Health Sciences, and co-author of the study, hypothesizes that the secret may be in the quality of the ingredients, "The USDA certification process is the best food handling and quality control process we have in this country, and among the best in the world. If you start with wholesome USDA certified ingredients and do not destroy their nutritious value with heavy processing, then it's fair to assume that you would have a more favorable result."
In short – these results suggest that it may be healthier to feed our dogs a balanced real food diet made with USDA certified ingredients, instead of a processed commercial dog food. Dr. Tegzes explains, "It's exciting to ponder that if the trends we saw in our data continue over the lifetime of the dogs, we may see a decrease in chronic diseases such as cancer, renal failure, kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, dental disease, etc. in our pets."
These findings shouldn't be a surprise. The USDA and US Department of Health publication, 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, specifically recommends a balanced whole food diet over heavy vitamin and mineral supplementation or processed foods for people. A recent report revealed that the FDA feels that the process by which ingredients are defined in the pet food industry "ultimately falls short" and that "the majority of ingredients that are included in the AAFCO official publication are neither approved food additives nor are they generally recognized as safe (GRAS)."
Yet, until recently mainstream veterinary recommendations for nutrition have been loyal to these heavily processed, shelf stable diets that are artificially supplemented with vitamins and minerals that are otherwise destroyed during the kibble making extrusion process.
"These results are game changing", says Dr. Oscar E. Chavez, veterinarian, professor of clinical nutrition, and member of the American Society for Nutrition. "I see a future where feeding your pets real food is the best medical recommendation. Our role as veterinarians will be to help support pet parents achieve this level of wellness by ensuring the diets are properly balanced for long term feeding." Dr. Chavez was a full time tenure-track faculty during the research; he was so impressed with the results of the food on his own Golden Retriever, Rey, that he has since joined the company behind the recipes full time as Chief Medical Officer. Rey celebrated his seventeenth birthday earlier this year.
Times are changing and modern veterinarians and pet parents are no longer comfortable reaching for a bag or can recommendation. "We've seen a definite shift in the market", says Shawn Buckley, founder of JustFoodForDogs LLC, the company behind the diets used in the study. "Some vets have shared with us that their clients are expecting a better quality offering from their clinics than the processed food they traditionally carried, which was once considered the healthiest option."
More information about the diets featured in the study are available on the company's website: www.justfoodfordogs.com