Choice had a campaign about pet food ingredients. However, when my cat developed Diabetes, I realized that it is still very difficult to come up with a suitable low-carb diet by looking at the labels. Under the circumstances I had to turn to a Veterinary Diet. However, I am still unsure, whether it is really beneficial for the cat. I think there should be an independent body that approves such diets, so that consumers can be sure that they are doing the best for their pets.
Hi whbaird, I used to work in the pet care industry and can answer some of that.
Let me start with the idea of an independent body. The AAFCO provides certification for formulas like adult, puppy and light weight. Unfortunately, the AAFCO does almost no research on the side of medical issues in pets, and does not provide certification for special dietary needs. The leading researchers on this front are actually major pet care companies including Royal Canin, Hills and Purina.
Unfortunately of course these companies are for profit, so yes it’s hard to trust them at face value. The normal way they maximise profit here is by closely restricting the price and where these products are sold. At the end of the day they are the ones with the most research on these conditions though, so personally for my dog who requires a special gentle liver diet I feed Royal Canin Hepatic. A good vet will be happy to explain to you what the difference is with these foods.
The way you can save money on the special veterinary diets is by ordering them online with the ‘repeat delivery’ option. This is the one way these companies do allow discounts. I hope this information helps.
The very best way to research this for yourself is to enter the words u need info on followed by NIH eg best food and supplements for diabetic cats NIH. This will provide peer-reviewed research papers to show how diabetic cats should be fed and/or what shouldn’t be fed. My experience with pet-food information provided by a couple of the so-called reputable manufacturers provides minimal information of the critical ingredients contained in their vet diets. Some manufacturers have started to reassure us that they comply with AAFCO standards - and that should be a minimal standard. Some of the ‘big manufacturers’ do not state that they comply. When u look at the vitamin and mineral content provided on their packs - it is obvious that there r serious deficiences eg Taurine is CRITICALLY important to cats as they cannot manufacture it - the content of taurine in the food is ABSENT - as are folic acid (Vitamin B9), cobalamin (B12) and others. Is it any wonder that cat fertility, birth deformities in kittens, fading kitten syndrome and numerous health issues appearing in adult cats are happening at an alarming rate. The details that are provided on how much of some nutrients that are added does not state whether these levels are before or after the food has been ‘baked’ - if before it is utterly useless information as many of the additives will have been partly/fully destroyed by the process.
I now add all necessary nutrients and vitamins into every type of cat food I give to my cats and growth, health and fertility issues have disappeared !!!
I am so grateful that Choice has decided to investigate. I imagine that Choice will establish a Committee of informed members - hopefully not stacked with representatives of manufactures - as AAFCO has done. Information on nutrient needs of our pets must come from proven, published science NOT opinion or unpublished in-house testing and information. No doubt profit margins will be reduced - but prices should be consistent with claims - the additives I have referred to r not expensive
We - the Australian Public pay top-dollar to keep our pets healthy and we should have independent assurance that the health of our pets is assured by the ethics and honesty of manufacturers !
Hi Peterchu, I actually use Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Diabetic, but I noticed that the BG readings are not coming down. Thanks for your information. It was helpful.
Hi SusanCl, thanks for the information, I will follow it. However, there are still many variables, e.g. size of cat (mine is very big). I am not sure, what Choice will do. However, they had a petition going to ensure that pet food is clearly labelled. Parliament always seems to water legislations down. There have been a few scandals and pets died. I really think the situation needs to be improved.
Most manufacturers list partial ingredients (eg instead of listing the nutrients you mentioned, they’re just listed as ‘vitamins and minerals’). In my experience when I’ve asked manufacturers for details they’ve always been forthright with information and I have no reason to doubt its accuracy.
Any reputable manufacturer conducts regular testing to ensure their foods meet standards. For example Royal Canin informed me that every batch has a sample retained at the factory until best before, and these are regularly randomly tested for nutritional content.
Your best bet is to talk about this with your vet, and get a second opinion if you’re not happy with the answer given. Every animal is going to have different nutritional needs, and these can stack to make the situation more complex. It’s unlikely any answer on the internet can accurately address this. I suggest getting a second vet opinion if in doubt because although vets are knowledgable on the disease itself, nutritional knowledge can vary between vets as teaching isn’t uniform.
I am not referring to a search on the internet - NIH is the US National Institutes of Health - the major scientific body responsible for funding scientific research and monitoring compliance and scientific publications. Before scientists can publish their results - every scientific journal they submit their manuscripts to will scrutinise closely and if they r not satisfied it will be sent back for ratification or rejected outright. This is why I only search the topic with NIH in the subject line - I am not interested in opinions of vets or anyone else - some have never researched anything since graduation and some vets even get invited to the production facilities of the big, ‘reputable’ manufacturers ! Yes, there r extremely knowledgeable vets who keep up with research - but u should never assume that they are all up to date !
I know, perhaps I worded that poorly. The challenge is not everyone can interpret scientific articles. The other problem of course is every animal is a bit different so a general research study isn’t taking into account their individual needs.
You are correct that some vets are far less knowledgable than others though, so that’s why I say to get a second opinion if you’re in doubt. I was lucky enough to get to work with vets who developed products, so were constantly researching.
It is ridiculous to omit the the amount of one of THE most important components of a cat’s diet - taurine. Without taurine - a cat’s welfare can be seriously compromised - even to the point of seriously declining health. Almost impossible for the average vet to recognise - huge bills incurred by pet owners - vets looking for potential illnesses and infections - all those problems could be resolved by addition of an inexpensive amino acid to the diet. If pet owners cannot see it’s been added - then perhaps it hasn’t been? Word of mouth from pet manufacturers just does not cut it, the average consumer should not have to phone for reassurance.
Taurine is found naturally in animal protein, so all a cat needs will come from a proper diet of meat balanced with dry food.
Cats are carnivores and need meat.
Any reputable dry food will also contain protein, and added essential amino acids like taurine anyway.
AAFCO certification for cat food includes having sufficient taurine If it is AAFCO certified you’re good.
I would be ok with that - BUT there is nothing on the bag referencing that RC follows AAFCO standards - that is my concern - we have no assurance from them that they follow any standards but their own
If they have measured taurine - then the quantity should be listed. Heart muscle has the highest level of taurine - followed by muscles that use the most energy.
And it typically is listed on all dry and tinned catfood I buy.
Taurine is NOT listed on RC foods ! That is the substance of what I initially said
Oh I see. I don’t buy Royal Canin so my comment was about the food I buy for MY cats.
All of which mention AAFCO certification, or percentage of animal protein, or added taurine and usually omega 3 too. Sometimes all three.
Yes, I understand. I too always check the foods I buy for my cats and u r correct - most state that they r AAFCO compliant. I cannot work out why RC doesn’t. Also the coding they put on the back of the bags of their dry food is nonsensical to me .
The simple answer is they’re not required to. I agree I like to see the exact ingredients, but there’s no technical reason those individual vitamins, minerals and oils have to be listed. Personally, I lean towards Hills for that reason.
I am not a qualified vet this is just my opinion. I’ve grown up around animals all my life and what I find baffling is the number of vets recommending processed pet biscuits as ideal diet for dogs and cats. Convenient yes, cost effective yes but good for the animal ? Not so sure
Have you tried raw beef mince sardines fish meat bird chicken? The food a cat would naturally eat in the wild thousands of years ago …
And it bet that the recommended foods are sold by the vet. Potential conflict of interest.