DEAR DR. FOX: I have two littermate cats whom I adopted as kittens in 1997. One was diagnosed with chronic renal failure (CRF) last March when he stopped eating dry cat food. He didn't eat much at all through April until I gave him Nature's Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diet chicken. He ate one to two medallions per day along with some Temptations treats and a little milk. He tried to eat high-quality canned food by licking the liquid, but he always went back to the raw. Now my non-CRF cat also prefers frozen raw.
Are my cats showing that frozen raw is a better cat food, especially for the CRF cat? Is it better for the kidneys? -- D.L, Maryland Heights, Mo.
DEAR D.L.: You can thank your cat for showing you what will help improve his health. He is exercising what I call his "innate nutritional wisdom," which is so often thrown off when cats become addicted to certain manufactured cat foods, especially dry kibble. Dry food has been implicated in some kinds of CRF and lower urinary tract problems. For more details, see the new paperback edition of "Not Fit for a Dog."
I have long advocated whole foods for cats and dogs, and that includes frozen raw and freeze-dried raw foods. Always give your pet probiotics, and transition him or her slowly over a seven- to 10-day period from conventional diets to the better ones, like those on my website, DrFoxVet.com.
Some believe that because of its close ties with some of the big pet food manufacturers that see the raw food movement as a threat, the American Veterinary Medical Association, of which I am an Honor Roll member, has come out in opposition to raw food diets because of alleged public health concerns over bacterial contamination. But the fact is that cooking does not kill all these potential pathogens, and most pet food recalls due to salmonella and other bacterial contamination are with dry foods and treats, and rarely with the frozen raw foods!
MANUFACTURED DOG FOODS MISLABELED
The following PetfoodIndustry.com statement was given after the industry posted findings from tests it conducted to determine the accuracy of content labeling. It calls for greater vigilance and accountability, especially when dogs need to be put on a single-protein diet or a rotational diet because of possible food allergy/sensitivity:
"As in the human food industry, this type of mislabeling is typically not intentional on the part of the manufacturer. Rather, it is most often the result of mistakes during formulation or the receipt of mislabeled product from a supplier."
Twelve formulas listed no gluten source on the label, and five were labeled either gluten-free or grain-free. However, five of the 12 -- including two labeled gluten- or grain-free -- contained gluten at greater than 80 parts per million (ppm), a level much higher than the Food and Drug Administration's limit of 20 ppm to qualify for labeling as gluten-free in human foods.
Eight formulas tested positive for an animal protein not listed on the ingredient label, with two foods containing undeclared beef or sheep, five containing pork and one containing deer.
Two foods labeled as containing venison tested negative for deer, but instead contained beef, sheep or pork.
Two foods labeled as containing "meat and bone meal" (rather than a specific protein source) tested positive for pork. Because pork can be considered meat, these formulas were not technically mislabeled.
One may wonder about the accuracy of labeling of cat foods and foods from companies without their own manufacturing plants that contract out and share facilities with others using different ingredients. For those foods, cross-contamination is another issue.
COMMERCIAL RESTRICTED DIETS MAY HAVE HIDDEN ALLERGENS Commercial diets advertised for dogs with allergies may not live up to their labels, according to a recent study by Dr. D.M. Raditic and associates. The team evaluated the content of four over-the-counter (OTC) dry venison dog foods and found each contained common food allergens, including soy and beef, despite claims to the contrary.
If these four OTC venison products are representative of OTC products in general, then OTC venison dry dog foods should not be used during elimination trials in suspected food allergy patients.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.com.)