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Messages - David

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Re the Dog Food Directory: David has added carrageenan as a red ingredient to some of the wet foods that contain it. I don’t know if it is complete as yet.

Well spotted Dottie! All foods that are confirmed to contain carrageenan are now labelled as such on the site and are omitted from search results when the 'avoid all red ingredients' filter is selected on the directory. Unfortunately, a number of producers are still yet to confirm whether or not their foods contain carrageenan so the list may not be complete. If in any doubt, contact the manufacturer directly and if you spot any missing carrageenan info or any other inaccuracies at all, do let us know.

Dog foods / Re: Kibble questions
« on: Jul 29, 2019, 05:34 »
Hi elastic - great questions!

1. Traditionally, anything containing less than 20% NFE carbs on a dry matter basis has been considered low carb but now, with the increased popularity of raw foods which tend to have much lower carb levels, the bar is shifting.

2. Dogs need both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids from their diet but the ideal amounts and ratio of the two is still a matter of some discussion. It is clear that if the ratio of omega 6 : omega 3 is too high, it can cause increased inflammation so, for many dogs, the lower the ratio the better.

3. No ratio or feeding regime is best for all dogs. Just like us, some do better on one kind of diet while others will do better on another. All we can do is try the foods out and see how the individual dog does. You can find more info on our feeding guide.

4. I know some pet owners that stick rigidly to a set number of calories per day but they are a small minority. I always recommend starting out with the manufacturer's suggested feeding amounts and then adjusting depending on how the dog's weight responds. More info again in the guide.

I hope that helps.

Supplements / Re: GMO Ingredients in pet food
« on: Jul 15, 2019, 12:40 »
Great question Alex_Z. Since our nutritional ratings only take into account nutritional quality and since there are no indications that GMO ingredients are nutritionally inferior to their non-GMO counterparts, they do not currently factor into the ratings. Later, however, we will be introducing an ethical rating which may look at GMO credentials. Hope that helps

General discussion / Re: NEW RATING ALGORITHM... finally!
« on: Jun 12, 2019, 12:19 »
Thanks very much, David, I'll look forward to hearing what Tribal have to say on this.

Just to let you know that, thanks to enlightening info from Tribal, their nutritional ratings have come up considerably.

The biggest factor was the hydrolysed fish. The term hydolysed meat or fish has traditionally been used to identify digest, the not-so-desirable flavour enhancer used in a lot of dry foods. The hydrolysed fish used by Tribal, on the other hand, is quite distinct. Here's what they had to say:

Fish Hydrolysate. I have attached the specification of the product which we use and a study comparing the protein digestibility of our product [also attached here] versus fishmeal showing that it is more digestible than fishmeal. The specification shows that our fish product is extremely high quality, made from MSC certified Whole Blue Whiting so we’re using the whole fish (rather than offcuts/byproducts) and one specific species of fish so our product will always be consistent. It is hydrolysed using food grade quality digestive enzymes (rather than chemical hydrolysis) and then mill ground, so not subject to the damaging high temperatures that other fishmeals may be subjected to.  There is also some early stage research to suggest that fish hydrolysates (or fish protein powder) can also have health benefits. So a far cry from a traditional flavour enhancer.

I hope that helps.

General discussion / Re: NEW RATING ALGORITHM... finally!
« on: Jun 03, 2019, 08:14 »
Apologies for the slow reply Petmum but things here are manic of late. There are a number of factors at play but one of the main ones is the relatively high amount of fish hydrolysate which may be throwing the score out a bit. I'm talking with Tribal about this today so please bear with me.

General discussion / NEW RATING ALGORITHM... finally!
« on: May 28, 2019, 11:21 »
The LONG awaited new dog food rating system is finally here!

It has taken months and months of research and data gathering followed by several more months of coding and fine tuning but I'm really delighted with the results.

Based on the most up-to-date nutritional information, the new rating algorithm is able to delve far deeper into the true merits of a dog food, examining factors like bio-appropriateness of ingredients and nutrient quality, bio-availability, balance & synergy better than ever before.

The algorithm now also factors in how the food was processed (extrusion, pasteurisation, baking, cold pressing etc) and how that processing is likely to have affected the nutrients contained within the ingredients.

What you'll notice:
  • Nutritional ratings are now given as percentage scores
  • Every product has been re-analysed with the new algorithm and a new score awarded
  • The bar for the maximum score has been raised considerably so A LOT of products have come down relative to the maximum
  • I've also been making a few aesthetic changes to the directory and review pages to make them more intuitive and easier to navigate
As always I'd really like to hear your thoughts on any of the changes or on what you think the next changes should be!

More wet foods that DO contain carrageenan:
Cambrian (including all of their private label ranges - i.e. Europa, Ci, Country Kitchen, Huntland etc)

Natures Menu and Carnilove wet ranges are confirmed carrageenan FREE.

Brands that have so far confirmed that their wet foods are carrageenan free:

Barking Heads
Bob & Lush
Millies Wolfheart
Natures Menu
Soopa Pets

Millies Wolfheart and Bob & Lush wet ranges also confirmed carrageenan free.
Forthglade and Arden Grange wet foods do contain carrageenan.


Thanks to the recent upsurge in interest on the matter, Forthglade are now trialling alternative stabilisers so I'd say that's a great result.

Several companies that use carrageenan in their wet foods have pointed me towards this study which found that carrageenan is safe for animal consumption. Although this is certainly worth consideration, there are also a ton of studies that indicate the contrary (there's a good summary here) so it's really up to each of us to make our own judgements.

Personally, I have no confidence in the safety of the ingredient. The weight of evidence against it coupled with the numerous stories just like Shingigz's that I have come across over the years - digestive problems that grew worse on foods with carrageenan and better on foods that were carrageenan free, just make it too much of a risk, especially for dogs with any history of digestive upsets.

Results so far:

Wet ranges that are free from carrageenan: Ziwipeak, Feelwell's, Legacy, Aniforte, Trophy, Soopa Pets
Wet ranges that do contain carrageenan: Lily's Kitchen, Nature's Harvest

Obviously we're still waiting for confirmation from lots of other manufacturers

FYI I've just sent an email to all of the wet food manufacturers we currently have listed to ask whether or not their foods contain carrageenan and will update the directory as the information comes in. Thanks to all for raising this point

General discussion / Re: Types of dog food
« on: Dec 10, 2018, 11:26 »
Great question Marg67! I actually just wrote an article on all of the different types of food currently available and their various pros and cons here:

Hope that helps

After giving it some more though, I think I was too harsh in my original assessment. To its credit, the study does show:

1. It is possible to create a diet, albeit a complicated one, that meets all of the FEDIAF complete food criteria over time without the need for synthetic supplements. This is significant as the entire complete pet food industry is built upon synthetic vitamin and mineral supplementation but whether they are as beneficial for our pets as their natural equivalents has always been a contentious issue.

2. How important dietary variation is - a topic that is completely ignored by most pet food manufacturers.

The trouble is, as Dottie has mentioned, the headlines alone (which is of course all that most people will read) don't really convey these messages so it will be interesting to see how the findings were presented at the RFVS conference.

It’s always great to see research into pet nutrition and this study does provide some interesting findings but after taking a good look through, it doesn't seem to be nearly as clear cut as presented.

The company really wanted the study to prove that raw foods, without any synthetic supplementation, can definitively provide everything a dog needs throughout his or her life. If they had been able to prove that, it would have been quite something and would have silenced at least some of the criticism raw feeding has been receiving from the veterinary community and some parts of the established ‘processed’ pet food industry.

Unfortunately though, the data didn’t really bear it out so the findings are full of caveats.

The major problem is that for 17 of the 38 nutrients tested for, one or more of the recipes failed to meet the FEDIAF guidelines. These are presumably the most 'complete' recipes the Honey's team could come up with but on the basis of this data, you could just as well argue that the study proves that these recipes do not meet FEDIAF’s criteria for complete foods.

Honey's defence is that the five recipes are intended to be rotated and therefore the diet as a whole meets the complete food criteria over time. A fair point but for me the main insight here is how much planning and how incredibly diverse a menu must be in order to meet FEDIAF's nutrient guidelines. Unfortunately, the headlines alone won't convey this information at all.

The other caveats are largely based on criticising the data that has been used to create the FEDIAF criteria in the first place. This is a worthy criticism - since there is a fundamental lack of good research on pet nutritional requirements, FEDIAF has had to piece together its guidelines from all sorts of non-ideal, often heavily flawed sources over the years. But their self imposed target was to prove that the diet met FEDIAF’s criteria so simply choosing to ignore the criteria and their own goal whenever it was convenient seems fairly counterproductive.

The second part of the study was much more positive, showing that no dogs developed any signs of nutritional deficiency when fed the 5 diets in rotation over a period of 26 weeks. A good result but, as they themselves point out, 26 weeks is really too short a period since some deficiencies can take upward of two years to manifest.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for raw feeding and I personally have no doubt that raw foods, when done right, can provide everything a dog needs without the need for synthetic supplements and I would love to have some concrete, scientific data to prove that this is the case, but I'm not sure that this study is it.

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