Dog food labeling, pt. 2 – What’s under the hood

In part 1, we learned that there are waaaay too many agencies with their fingers in our dog’s food, and not a lot to show for it.  The result is food that we believe is healthy and nutritious. But is it?

A great example is the Hill’s Science Diet line of foods.  So-called ‘prescription’ diets.  Because they are marketed as a prescription diet, labeling falls under the FDA rather than the other agencies which require more nutritional information be provided on the label. The truth is that Hills does not state that these foods require a prescription, however you would be hard-pressed to find a vet to sell them to you without one.

I realize that we are taught to trust our vets and when they recommend a specific food for a specific problem, we should not have to question that.  I am not slamming veterinarians because several of the dogs I’ve had and have now would not be with me if it weren’t for the expertise and skill of my local vet.  I even wish I had fulfilled my own childhood dream of becoming one.  In many ways they are not to blame for the misleading information we are provided. When you consider the fact that most veterinarian’s only exposure to dog nutrition is one short course over the entire career of their education, and that course is usually taught by someone from Hills or Purina, well… you see what I mean?

I don’t care what experts, researchers or vets tell me, though. I am not feeding my dog a food that contains corn, guaranteed to be GMO, no less.  And frankly, one can find much better quality foods on the market with similar ingredients to treat these ‘special’ health issues than Science Diet.  I have taken the liberty of borrowing from Susan Thixton’s data in which she recently rated three Hills diets (C/D, W/D, and D/D) with one star out of five.  I’ll let you read her analysis and basis of these ratings for yourself.

Hill’s Prescription Diet C/D Canine (dry)

Hill’s Prescription Diet W/D Canine (dry)

Hill’s Prescription Diet D/D Canine (dry)

There is no information provided by Hill’s on whether or not these dog foods meet or exceed a canine’s nutritional requirements.  Remember? Because they are ‘prescription’ they do not fall under the purview of the AAFCO.   In two of them the first ingredient is corn and on the other, three out of the first four ingredients are some sort of potato.  All are considered a PLANT-BASED food rather than meat-based, even though there are some kind of meat ingredients listed. Yes, your dog can digest corn and potatoes, but is that really what you want to be the bulk of your furry kid’s protein?

If you’re currently feeding a Hill’s Science Diet prescription diet and are not satisfied with the quantity of quality ingredients, I would be happy to recommend an alternative food with whole or no grains, a healthy protein source and most likely, a lower price.

The above information is my own opinion as someone who has studied canine nutrition and seen the results of both good and bad diets in my dogs.  Please consult your veterinarian if you think your dog should be on a special diet and be prepared to ask some essential questions about their recommendations if you feel these ‘prescription’ foods are still not to your pet’s best interest.

 

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