The pet food debate goes beyond the question of "do
I feed my pooch dry or wet, regular or premium pet food?"
a question of philosophy.
a Norwich Terrier, small and cute. She has a
leash, nice toys, nice food bowls.
The Norwich Terrier was bred to
be a hunter of small animals, but Patti isn't that right now.
owner, Heather Topp, feeds Patti a strict diet of kibble a
cup a day.
Katz, on the other hand, feeds her Rotweiller, Beauty, a diet based
on raw vegetables, meat and bones.
says when she got Beauty, she was sick. The dog had dandruff and
worms. The raw diet, she says, turned Beauty's health around.
best known version of the raw diet is called the BARF
diet. Short for Bones And Raw Food. Pet owners and raw food makers
encourage each other and share information over the Internet.
Thomson manufactures "The Ultimate Diet" for raw pet
devotees who don't have the time to make it themselves. To design
her product, Kim thought like a wild dog.
would a dog catch in the wild? The perfect sort of size for a dog
in the wild would be a rabbit. And I took a rabbit apart, basically.
There's a certain amount of stomach, which has the vegetables and
the grains. There's a certain amount of bone. There's a certain
amount of meat."
can't buy frozen raw food at big pet supply marts and supermarkets.
Manufacturers like Hills Science Diet, Purina and Iams fill the
food advocates concede the diet costs more than traditional dog
food, but they argue it's worth it.
Abbat, a dietary consultant at a small pet boutique, is an advocate
of the raw diet. She says it may cost more, but it saves on trips
to the vet.
$100 a month versus $20 month for 40 pounds (of traditional dog
food). Premium is $40 to $50 for 40 pounds. But raw saves on vet
visits. After detox, you don't have to see a vet anymore except
for annual check ups."
Hilton, an expert in small animal nutrition and vice-president
research and development at Veterinary
Medical Diets, a Canadian pet food company, spoke to Marketplace
as a representative of the pet food industry.
evidence is anecdotal. I haven't seen any scientific basis for it
present a particular problem, particularly chicken bones. They
still stick in the throat whether they're cooked or not."
E. coli among potential problems
says there are other potential problems as well, including salmonella
and E. coli. He notes the findings of a recent study that found
that 10 to 50 per cent of chicken has salmonella. Not good for the
pet or the people preparing the food.
Buffett is an alternative veterinarian who makes house
calls. He is one of a small percentage of vets who don't believe
food is that good for pets.
just think you can't get the same quality of food out of a bag of
commercial food that you can if you do it yourself, picking the
ingredients yourself, making it yourself and serving it fresh. The
benefit of commercial foods is just the convenience
veterinarians are not supporters.
concerns me most is that people are trusting a diet that is not
formulated by a nutritionist, has not had any scientific study,
has not had
field trials," Heather Hanna told Marketplace.
Ian Buffett, doesn't believe the field trials done by pet food manufacturers
mean better nutrition.
have to do the processing, they have to put the preservatives in,
and the food's been sitting on the shelf for a few months. So there's
just no way they can get the same quality of food into the pet."
adds that diets other than those manufactured by large pet food
companies, don't get a fair shake at vet school.
he says, "we were taught by representatives of the pet food
veterinary colleges we spoke with said there is a shortage of vets
who specialize in small animal nutrition. When there's nobody qualified
on staff, nutritionists from the pet food companies are asked to
teach it. But they aren't interested in raw diets, so students don't
learn about them.