Thursday, October 27, 2011

Three Common Pet Food Ingredients & Large Breed Puppy Growth

Every pet parent wants to feed their puppy a food that will help it grow to be healthy and happy, filling in all that loose skin. For large breeds, veterinarians and breeders often suggest a diet lower in protein, fearing the puppy may grow too quickly and develop skeletal issues. All dogs thrive on a diet rich in animal protein, and the real culprit in such cases may actually be the man-made vitamins and minerals routinely added to pet food.

The Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, has established nutritional profiles for pet foods. However pet food manufacturers have the ability to determine what they will put in their formulas to reach those recommended nutrient levels.  Because most pet foods are formulated from deficient feed ingredients, chemically-synthesized forms of vitamins and minerals are routinely added. This is cheaper than using high-quality, whole food ingredients to begin with, resulting in more profits for the company.¹ 

Skeletal Problems in Animals and Synthetic Nutrients

While this may be the least expensive way to make pet food, it is not the safest way. The potential toxicity from these unnatural forms of vitamins and minerals has been known for decades. The National Research Council and its Committee on Animal Nutrition has published two books on this topic: Vitamin Tolerance of Animals and Mineral Tolerance of Domestic Animals. The research identified skeletal and joint issues associated with three synthetic nutrients commonly found in pet foods²:  

1.      Vitamin A: Continued high doses of synthetic Vitamin A can cause cervical spondylosis, a degenerative joint disease affecting the cervical vertebrae, intervertebral disks and surrounding ligaments and connective tissue. This disease can also put pressure on the nerve root resulting in pain or a prickling sensation radiating down the arms. Synthetic Vitamin A can also cause proliferative gingivitis, incisor exfoliation, thin mandibles, bone changes, and depleted cartilage matrix.

2.      Vitamin B6: Excessive amounts have resulted in degeneration of posterior columns of the spine.

3.      Phosphorus: Over supplementation of man-made phosphorus have resulted in stiff joints, bone loss, bone porosity, and deposition of calcium in tendons and organs.

It may be tempting to dismiss these risks, since studies used high levels of Vitamin A, B6, and phosphorus, but synthetic nutrients are a common reason for pet food recalls.  Blue Buffalo’s October 2010 dog food recall is just one of many in recent years and was due to excessive Vitamin D. In 2006, Royal Canin recalled several of their foods because they also contained too much added Vitamin D. In 2009, Nutro recalled cat foods, citing the formulas contained “excessive levels of zinc.” At about the same time, 21 horses at the U.S. Open Polo Championship in Florida died from a supplement overdose of the mineral selenium. The common factor in all of these events was the use of added man-made vitamins or minerals³

Pet Food Nutrients from Whole Foods Safer

Pet experts may indeed be right that some pet foods are contributing to skeletal growth issues in large breed puppies, but it is likely that the reason is not protein, but the potentially-toxic brew of 20 to 26 chemically-synthesized nutrients. Even those marketed as “Natural” often carry the disclaimer, “with added vitamins and minerals.” This tells pet parents that the food is natural, but it contains unnatural (synthetic) supplements, similar to those tested by The National Research Council.

Nature’s Logic believes that a properly-formulated, whole-food diet rich in animal protein does not lead to skeletal-development issues in large breed puppies.  All nutrients in our foods, including the vitamins and minerals, are present naturally from the food ingredients. For more information about our 100% natural foods for dogs and cats, please visit

Have you ever had a large breed puppy with skeletal growth issues?


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