Dog food – cat food – Pet podcast #14 – Interview with Prin
Pet podcast #14 focuses on an interview with Prin, (note: this link will only work if you are a registered (it’s free) Pets.ca bulletin board member) who is one of the most active members on the Pets.ca Bulletin board. Due to the current interest in pet foods because of the recent pet food recall, in this interview we talk with Prin who has done her own personal research on pet food. Pet food is a really complex issue and we tried to keep it simple. We discussed what to avoid and what to look for with regard to pet food ingredients, the differences between dry and wet pet food and other aspects on how to best feed your pet. You can download this pet podcast directly by clicking the preceding link or listen to it almost immediately, with the embedded player below.
Please note that this is an audio transcription. grammar and punctuation may not be perfect.
Marko Kulik: Hi there everyone and welcome to the 14th Pet Podcast on Pets.ca. My name is Marko. We are coming to you from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and today is March 25, 2007.
First off, I would like to thank some people for their recent comments with regard to our podcast. I would like to thank JanM. Jan put a really nice comment about the last podcast we had with Tenderfoot Training where they talked about their jumping problems. Jan found the information very useful as did I as I am sure did a lot of people, but she actually took the time to make a comment and I totally appreciate that. As well, I would like to thank Prin for her comment about Zak. As some of you may know, we recently lost Zak to cancer last week actually and it is still quite difficult, but I really want to thank the support I have gotten especially from the bulletin board members. Support has just been unbelievable and it was really good and cleansing, cathartic to kind of share a few of the feelings, even the sad feelings, on the bulletin board and to get such support from people that absolutely understand what we are going through. Thanks so much to Prin and all the bulletin board members, really, and other people on the site that sent me emails. I got personal emails from many people and many bulletin board members. Thank you so much. It really did help. It really helps. Thank you and in terms of comments in general, please you can always just send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can post comments on the bulletin board in the podcast section. You can post comments directly into the blog. We just love to get them. If you are into giving them, well we are into playing them on the air, talking about them, and it moves the conversation forward as they say. Thanks so much.
Well, speaking of Prin”s comment again, today”s podcast is actually an interview with Prin. Given the current pet food recall, a lot of members and a lot of people in general, pet owners, are really concerned about the foods that they are feeding their pets. Prin has quite a lot of information about dog and cat food based on her own readings and research. For those of you who do not know Prin, Prin is — I believe she is the top poster on our bulletin board and she really helps a lot of people out answering questions and we so appreciate it and we also appreciate having her here again sharing her knowledge about cat and dog food. We should say that Prin has no official credentials and anything like that, no degree in dog foodology or cat foodology. It is all based on personal research, which she is gracious enough to share with us today. Your views on this subject may differ and you can go to the bulletin board and get other views, but because we need or we would like to have some basic information about pet foods and a lot of people do not have any information at all or very bad information, we thought we would chat with someone that has done their own research. Rather than talk about what we talked about, let us get into it now!
For today”s show, we have a really special guest. It is Prin from our bulletin board. Prin has a load of information on dog food and pet food and she is also our top poster. She posts a lot. She helped so many people with her questions and answers and just general good-natured answering of everyone”s issues. I very much like to welcome Prin to our little podcast here. Hi, Prin.
Marko Kulik: Thanks so much for coming to do our little show today. I appreciate very much. Given the recent goings on about pet food recalls and things like that and people being nervous about what is in food, we thought that now might be a really good time just to talk about pet food in general. I know you have a lot of experience on that. In the nature of full disclosure, you have no specialty in dog foodology or anything like this. You just have done your own research, intense research, and you know a heck of a lot more about food than most people. Really, we just thought we would chat with someone that actually knows a little bit based on their own personal research.
Prin: Yes. I have two really, really difficult dogs to feed, so that is what started me in getting all of this information, to just try to find food for them.
Marko Kulik: How many foods have you gone through with them, let us say?
Prin: I would say at least a dozen and even right now we have got three bags open because I am kind of half and halfing it for both of them on different foods.
Marko Kulik: In terms of the ingredients on those foods, you basically just look at the ingredients and then you decide if you are going to feed them and then you do a little test run and see if they like it?
Prin: For me, it is a little bit more difficult because they both have sensitivities like allergies and intolerances, so it is as though looking at the ingredients, comparing them to the past ingredients they have had and trying to see if there is any overlap and what overlap there is and then testing out the food and seeing if there is a reaction. If there is no reaction, then I keep feeding it until maybe a reaction occurs and then I have to find a new one or things like that. It is just like when you do not have allergies and intolerances it is a lot easier. You can just look at the label and see if he finds it tasty, but in the case of allergies and sensitivities, it starts to get complicated. It is a long process.
Marko Kulik: We could still talk in very general terms then like what makes a good food or a better food and I guess, right off the bat, instead of deciding what is good, I know that there are some things that maybe people should be avoiding in foods. If someone is actually going to look at a label, which is something we recommend I guess — we do not just want people to buy based on advertising, we want people to buy based on good ingredients. That is a hard decision, too, but maybe it is easier to think about or discuss what we should avoid in foods. Are there particular things that should be avoided when you are looking at the ingredients in a cat or dog food?
Prin: For me, the number one thing to avoid is unspecified meat. That is the worst possible ingredient in a dog food. If it says meat and bone meal and does not specify what animal it is — I mean they have done tests on those foods and they found that they have the chemicals that are used to euthanize dogs and cats, you just have no assurance of what the meat is. It could be chicken. It could be crow. It could be road kill. It could be anything, any animal. That is number on the list. No meat and bone meal. No animal digest. No poultry meal or poultry fat. It is a bit more specific, but still, is it chicken or is it crow? You do not know.
Marko Kulik: It is not going to say unspecified meat as the first ingredient.
Prin: No. It is going to say meat and bone meal.
Marko Kulik: Okay, okay.
Prin: Things like that where it just says an animal part or it just is animal something-something like it has no animal name next to it.
Marko Kulik: Right.
Prin: No chicken, no salmon. None of that. it is just meat and bone meal.
Marko Kulik: Okay, meat and bone meal. Meat and bone meal, like you say, we are not really sure exactly what it is, where it comes from, which animal it comes from, so there is just way less assurance of what it is.
Prin: Yeah. We could be feeding our dogs and cats, dogs and cats. I do not think any pet owner, once they find out, would want to do that. You want a little bit better for your [unintelligible].
Marko Kulik: Right. I would say yes. Is that a fact? Has that been proven that actually some pet food manufacturers have put cats and dogs in their food?
Prin: Well, they say that there is no DNA evidence that there are dogs and cats in the food, but as they say, the chemical for euthanizing dogs and cats has been found. When you cook a food at 400 degrees and these crazy high temperatures that they do, there is not going to be any DNA. I mean even if there is beef in the food, you will not find beef DNA.
Marko Kulik: Right.
Prin: It is just too hot and the DNA will just fall apart and the protein is denature, you just have no way of knowing.
Marko Kulik: It is not that we know that there is — let us be clear. It is not that we know that there are cats and dogs in cat and dog food.
Prin: It is that there is a chance. There is a chance and for a lot of pet owners, that is enough.
Marko Kulik: Okay. I mean for me, it is more the not knowing of what it is.
Prin: That is it. We can only speculate what it is because there is just no label. If there was a name, then we would know exactly what it is. If it is chicken meal, we know it is chicken meal.
Marko Kulik: Right.
Prin: But if it is meat and bone meal, why do they not say what meat it is? Because they do not know or because it varies from bag to bag to bag. You never know. We just try to stay away from that.
Marko Kulik: Good call. If you do not know what it is, do not eat it and do not feed it to your pets I guess.
Prin: It also applies to grains. If you have unspecified grains like if it just says rice, what kind of rice is it? Is it brown rice, white rice? We have no idea and a lot of times that indicates that the food is cheap instead of actually putting in a quality ingredient on purpose, they kind of scrape of the scraps and throw it in there and that is rice.
Marko Kulik: In general, if the ingredient is more general than specific, that is less good.
Marko Kulik: If it says rice, we do not know what type, we do not know the quality, but if it is brown rice, at least…
Prin: Or whole brown rice is better than rice.
Marko Kulik: Okay, so the more specific, the better obviously.
Marko Kulik: Okay, because you know what you are getting.
Prin: Yes, exactly.
Marko Kulik: Anything else we should be avoiding or are those two main ones?
Prin: There is also byproduct you kind of want to avoid and a lot of people think that byproducts are just chicken feet, chicken beaks and things like that, but they are not just that. It goes way further than that. The bodies of decayed and dying animals in there, it is food not meant for human consumption. It is not just the byproducts that we do not eat, it is the byproducts that — it is just completely disgusting animals basically. It is kind of hard to explain, but they call them the 4D animals. Those are road kill and deceased animals and things like that that we just would never touch. They are rendered and put in dog and cat foods.
Marko Kulik: That falls under the title of meat byproducts.
Marko Kulik: Okay. It is definitely something that you want to avoid. Just so we know, before people get knowledgeable or get knowledge, they often make, not mistakes, but they just do not make the most informed decisions. People are going to say, “Well, I picked up brand X and the first product was meat byproduct and my cat devoured it. My dog loves it.” The animals, I mean our pets will still lap this stuff up.
Prin: The thing is though with the cheaper foods is they spray it with rancid fat like this old restaurant fat or bacon grease, things like that, so regardless of what is in the food, it is going to smell tasty. There is a little coating on there like a candy coating of nasty fat. Those smell really good to a dog and a lot of these foods also load them with sugar, which not only is bad for the teeth, but it is also really addictive. You feed a dog that once and they will be craving more of it.
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Prin: It is like us and chocolate.
Marko Kulik: Yeah, I am there. I am so there. All I need is one little piece and I want the whole box. Cool, cool. In terms of now we have talked a little bit about what to avoid, what should the first or second or third ingredients be for higher quality pet foods.
Prin: Well, ideally, you want at least one meat meal as the first ingredient, chicken meal, turkey meal, salmon meal, something like that as number one and maybe number two. You also do not want too many grains to follow. There is a big difference between a food with one meat and five grains and food with two meats and two grains.
Marko Kulik: Okay. Could we back up half a sec? What is the difference between chicken and chicken mean?
Prin: Chicken is the whole chicken including the moisture, which is about between 70 and 80 percent water in the chicken. Once you bake that, the water evaporates and you are stuck with 20 to 30 percent of the weight. What happens then is if you have chicken at the beginning of your ingredient list, when it has dried out, it falls to the bottom of the list. So, really, if you have chicken and then rice, rice is dry. You take out the moisture of the chicken and the rice bumps up to number one.
Marko Kulik: Okay, but yet on the actual can or bag, it is going to say chicken.
Prin: This is only for dry dog food or cat food. It is the dry foods. They dry the meat first before they weigh it and put it in the food because the thing is that if you count the moisture in there, then once you evaporate it, that is a lot of the mass gone. The dog food ingredients are put in by order of weight.
Marko Kulik: At the beginning, before they were processed.
Prin: Yeah, exactly.
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Prin: So, the…
Marko Kulik: No, no, no. I got it now. So, if the ingredients are counted or listed before they are processed and chicken is the first, by the time it is processed…
Prin: It falls down the list.
Marko Kulik: It is all evaporated basically because it is moisture lost during the processing. Even though it is the first ingredient…
Prin: Even though it was the heaviest going in the batch, it might not be the heaviest coming out, whereas a chicken meal or salmon meal, it is already dehydrated so once it goes in the food as number one ingredient, it stays number one.
Marko Kulik: Okay. So, the word meal in a sense, it just means dehydrated? Is that a rough synonym?
Prin: Yeah, exactly.
Marko Kulik: Okay. So, if it is already dehydrated, it obviously has more nutritional value than if it has a lot of water in it.
Marko Kulik: So, we are talking this for specifically, let us say, dry foods. Is that correct?
Prin: Yes. With canned foods, the meats are whole.
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Prin: Because they are wet. We do not take the water out of them. It is less important. You want just chicken at the beginning for canned food or salmon or whatever meat you want.
Marko Kulik: Or beef.
Prin: Exactly, yeah.
Marko Kulik: Okay, so chicken, salmon, beef, this is for canned.
Prin: Yeah, for canned food, you want the whole ingredient. Dry food, you want it in meal form.
Marko Kulik: That is a very good tip. I would suspect that a lot of people have no idea. They will just look at one or the other and I include myself because I have been doing a little bit of research recently as well and it is a complex issue.
Prin: Oh, yeah.
Marko Kulik: Even if there are some basic, basic guidelines that we can give people, it is definitely a good thing.
Prin: The pet food companies are counting on you to just look at that first ingredient and see it as a meat and buy the food based on that, but the other thing to consider too is that they say the bulk of the food comes before the first fat.
Marko Kulik: Can you explain that?
Prin: You look at the food and there are 10 grains before the first fat, that is a lot of grains. You divide everything up by the grains and you end up with a very grainy food and not very meaty.
Marko Kulik: Right.
Prin: Whereas if you have two meats and maybe one or two grains, it is a lot more meaty.
Marko Kulik: It is more balanced.
Prin: It is more — well, because dogs and cats digest meat a lot better than they digest grains and other carb, so you want more meat in there. When you get a food that is really grainy, you are basically paying for stool because most of it just acts as a fiber because they do not digest it. The ideal is feed them as much meat as you can, which meat is about 95% digestible for dogs and more for cats I believe. That is what you are striving for is for as much meat as they can digest.
Marko Kulik: This begs the question why do they put so many grains and is one of the possible answers grains are cheaper than meat?
Marko Kulik: Okay.
Prin: Exactly why. Grains are cheaper than meat and also some of the high protein meat and very little carbs or potato or whatever, those foods tend to cause constipation because of the lack of fiber. The dog food remedy for that is pump it up with grains and that works, then they started saying the grains have protein. So, instead of putting this much meat, we will put in this much protein from the grain, but that is kind of went off the tracks I think.
Marko Kulik: It is such a complex issue.
Marko Kulik: Even for human diets it is complex. For dog and cat diets, it is also complex.
Prin: It is changing now because people are going from the “just the dog” and “just the cat” mentality to “these are my babies and I want to feed them the best possible food I can.”
Marko Kulik: Right, or at least not the cheapest food possible.
Marko Kulik: Something at least in the middle. I know there are premium and super premium brands and sometimes the food can get really, really expensive actually and not everyone can afford it.
Prin: The thing with affording it though — I have actually done Excel spreadsheets of my dogs because they were on really bad food before and the cost of the food plus the vet bills before when they were being fed bad food is the same as now when they are being fed good food with the vet bills because the vet bills went down substantially. They were just less itchy, ended up with less rashes, less ear infections, things like that, and that dropping cost covered the cost increase of the food. Plus, you feed less of the good food, which helps too. My big dog was gaining 4-1/2 cups a day on the bad food and now he gets 2-1/2 of a good food.
Marko Kulik: Right, because the bad food was filled with more grains. Was it more filler?
Prin: Yeah, it was more filler. It was more stuff he could not digest. It took more food to give him what he needed instead of these good foods where they digest most of it, the stool is smaller. You feed a lot less and the dog is still way healthier, way shinier, way more active and all that.
Marko Kulik: You are what you eat, I guess. It is true for everything that lives. If we put better food in, we get less mess out.
Prin: Exactly. Eat your all-bran, you are looking for trouble.
Marko Kulik: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I guess for the last thing, this is just kind of really, really short podcast on what to look for in foods, just a little bit, if people want to do more research, of course there is the internet, there is the Pets.ca bulletin board or Prin and other members are quite active and very helpful in giving advice, you want to do more research, but this is just like really, really basics on what to look for and maybe what not to look for. For the last thing, I guess I just wanted to ask the difference between, in general, wet food, dry food, what is better, why are there two kinds. You have any opinion on that where people have heard that dry food is better for teeth and wet food has more meat in it or less in it? Why are there two different types? What is better? Is there a difference? Go ahead, Prin.
Prin: Well, for cats, it is a little bit more important because first of all, cats are pickier and canned food is tastier. It is also if you have a male cat, feeding wet food is important because you can get a buildup of crystals in the bladder and that can block the urethra. Wet food would just ensure that they get enough water if they are not drinking enough water on their own. There is that benefit there. As for teeth, for dogs and cats, it is old knowledge that dry food cleans the teeth [unintelligible] and wet food tends to make tartar build up and things like that, but newer research says that more the quality of the food than the type of food and the texture of the food, which makes sense. If you feed a poor quality food that is loaded with sugar, you are going to get more plaques. Also, usually, I would say about more than half of the dogs out there do not chew their food. At that point, it does not really scrape. You just kind of do not want any sugar leftover on their teeth, right?
Marko Kulik: So, it is really a matter of personal preference, I guess? We are not saying that one is better than the other. Is it just personal preference?
Prin: It is personal preference to a point. The canned foods and the dry foods both have different ingredients. You have to choose based on what your dog can digest and things like that. Canned food is also way more expensive in general than dry food. If you get a high-end dry food, it will be less per pound and you will feed less per pound than the canned food where my dog would get 2-1/2 cups of one food in kibble, the same food in can he would get about five cans a day. It starts to get really expensive.
Marko Kulik: Yeah, for sure, for sure.
Prin: But for little dogs, it is really a choice. Little dogs, they just get less food. So, to me it is more of a choice, it is more of an option to feed canned.
Marko Kulik: But for cats in particular like you said, there is that benefit of extra moisture, which helps with crystals especially maybe for older cats, male cats.
Prin: A lot of cat owners on the board, they feed some canned a couple of times a day and then leave the dry out there for nibbling on all day, things like that. There is always that benefit of mixing and a lot of dog owners also feed kibble, but then will supplement with a good canned food just to get more well-rounded nutrition.
Marko Kulik: That kind of makes sense as well. That gives possibly the best of both worlds, a little bit of dry for the teeth, if that helps, a little bit of well roundedness from both ends if both ends are quality ends or decent ends.
Prin: Yeah. That is the thing. You do not want to supplement with a really bad commercial canned food because that just defeats the purpose of feeding the really high quality foods. At the same time, for senior dogs and for dogs who have disorders that affect their appetite, sometimes the really bad foods are more palatable so they do come in handy once in a while anyway. You are just trying to get your little [unintelligible] to eat.
Marko Kulik: Right, right. For sure, for sure.
Prin: As for protein and things like that, there was back in the day the canned foods have more meat so they have more protein, but now if you take one brand and the dry and then the wet, generally there is varied comparables in protein. Obviously, a high protein canned food to match a high protein kibble will have more protein than a regular 23% protein kibble.
Marko Kulik: Right, right because it is already dry and more concentrated form.
Prin: Exactly, yeah. Every kibble company tries to have a corresponding canned to each kibble. If you go a step up in the canned which is what I do, then you are really supplementing with a good stuff. It is tasty and they enjoy it.
Marko Kulik: And it possibly is the best of both worlds that way, maybe do a little bit of both, both being higher quality.
Prin: Yeah, exactly. The ideal is high quality, so if you can afford the canned, which a lot of people cannot because it is really expensive, then go with the higher quality kibble instead.
Marko Kulik: You know what? I think we are going to leave it there. Like we said a few times already, it is a complex issue.
Prin: If people come to the board, we can get in some more details. I mean I have left a lot of things there, but also menadione, good fats and bad fats, and things like that. If they come to the board, we can help them choose food a little more specifically.
Marko Kulik: I agree. There are all kinds of little micro-ingredients that we could dissect as well, but I guess for this short podcast impossible to get into it in such depth. So, if people do have particular questions with regard to their pet, please, Pets.ca. We have two forums dedicated to food and people can ask all kinds of questions and get good answers from people like Prin and other great members as well that have a lot of knowledge with regard to pet food.
Prin: I just have to mention rainbow though. Rainbow really, really does a lot in the dog food forum too, the dog and cat food forum.
Marko Kulik: Yeah. We are getting a little bit of money from rainbow for mentioning her name.
Prin: There is also the raw forum too if people are interested in that as an alternative to kibble and canned.
Marko Kulik: That is right, yeah, especially now with the recalls, people are thinking again about nutrition and raw and the BARF diet. Biologically appropriate raw foods have become a pretty hot topic and we do have a forum on Pets.ca dedicated to that as well.
Prin: With its own set of gurus.
Marko Kulik: With its own set of gurus, correct, correct. Again, if people are considering that or considering getting more knowledge in that domain as well, please come on by and we will be happy to give you some good information.
Prin: We will try our best.
Marko Kulik: Yes. We always try our best. I very much like to thank you, Prin, for this. It was a real treat to actually do a podcast with you. I know a lot of bulletin board members are going to be listening. “Hey, what does that Prin sound like anyway?”
Prin: “You know, she sounds so nasal.”
Marko Kulik: No, no. She sounds good. She sounds very good and she is very knowledgeable and I think people are going to be impressed with the way you have expressed yourself really well, actually.
Prin: It is easier to type because you do not stutter and you do not have to think so hard.
Marko Kulik: After I am done editing this and making my voice sound so sexy like Wolfman Jack, we will try and make both of us sound as best as I can.
Prin: All right.
Marko Kulik: Well, thanks so much, Prin. I appreciate it. Maybe we will have occasion to do podcast on another topic in the near future.
Prin: Thanks, Marko.
Marko Kulik: Thanks, Prin. Bye for now.
Marko Kulik: That is going to end our interview with Prin this week. I would like to thank Prin again. Thanks so much for sharing your information and your knowledge. I know there was so much more you wanted to say. Food is such a complex issue that we really just touched the very, very, very basics today. Although those basics are going to be useful to some people, if they want more information as Prin suggested, please come to our bulletin board, the Pets.ca bulletin board. There are two forums dedicated to food and you can ask questions and have them answered by different people that are going to give you different advice. Of course, do other research as well on the net at other sites, wherever you need to get your research. It is just a matter of getting the best research possible, knowing the most you can to feed your pets the best way you know how, by gaining more information.
That is going to do it for us today. We will see you in about a week or 10 days or so and in the meantime, please give your pets a little scratchy under the chin from Marko. Bye for now.