Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Taste of the Wild" is not Low-carb

In a few posts, I mentioned that I fed my dog a low-carb diet of Taste of the Wild dog food. A few posts on other blogs about animal chow piqued my interest (see this and this), and I looked up the dog food on the web. It turns out that despite bison, lamb meal, chicken meal and egg product being the first four ingredients in the High Prairie Canine Formula, the macronutrient blend is 32% protein, 18% fat, and presumably 50% carbohydrate. That's not low-carb by anyone's definition, and I apologize for my error.

The food is made of good ingredients as far as animal feed goes (certainly better than the sugar/casein/milk fat/etc. pseudo-food--I mean, "Western diet" that gave some of the lab rodents cancer--see links above). And it has several supplements, although I doubt if the Lactobacillus bacteria remain alive at room temperature.

Nevertheless, it's a high-carb, low-fat diet that I've come to believe is suboptimal at best and untenable at worst. (I'm making the assumption that dogs and humans have similar dietary needs, since we've been companions for thousands of years and we're both omnivores. But I could be off on that assumption.) In any event, Molly has been continually hungry and has put on a few pounds--a sign of too many carbs. Her time as a stray dog surely didn't do her metabolism any good. And I don't know what Molly's previous owner fed her, but considering that he or she didn't have her spayed and didn't get a $30 microchip for her, I'm guessing Molly ate crappy, grain-based dog food as a puppy.

Since Molly likes to eat as soon as I get home, I made the best high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb meal I could for her on short notice: 1/2 cup of dog food (instead of one cup), 2 T sprouted rice protein powder, a handful of soaked, roasted almonds, some olive oil, and some raw cauliflower (which I normally feed her). I'm guessing that knocked the carbs down to roughly 25% to 30% of the meal. She loved it (even the protein powder) and hasn't been begging for food. That she's full on a meal rich with fat and protein shouldn't surprise any low-carbers. We'll see if she loses the few pounds she's put on.


Anonymous said...

Try just meat. Is is a discussion group that advocates feeding dogs meat:

I have fed my older pound puppy (15 yr old mixed border collie) a raw diet for about 3 years. She is now leaner and still active. She can keep up (mostly) with our 18 month old mixed boxer. The boxer has had only meat since she was brought home at six weeks.

Check it out. If carbs are not good for you, they are sure not good for your dog.

Lori Miller said...

That's outstanding for a 15-year-old dog.

Molly is now getting eggs and meat (cooked), coconut oil, sprouted rice low-carb protein powder, raw vegetables, and half the amount of dog food I used to feed her. It's pretty much what I eat, but without cheese or anything sweet.

I've noticed she's not continually begging for food anymore.

Lori Miller said...

"Pretty much what I eat" as far as the "people food" goes.

Jeanne said...

Oh my Christ. (Sorry. I'm in shock.) I've been feeding my cats Taste of the Wild (yep, they have a cat food) for years now. I had had one of them on Evo Innova before that but she was always throwing it up. The TotW seemed easier on her insides. But after reading your post here I went and looked up the info and sure enough, the cat food's roughly 50% carb as well.

Sigh. I had suspected there was a bit too much carb--in a food for obligate carnivores, no less!--and had been toying with the idea of going ahead and putting them on raw. Now I see I'll have to do it, and preferably sooner rather than later. All the girls are spayed, and they look it, including being overweight. The boy is still a bit young to be neutered (though we'll likely have to do it soon) and he's sleek, for now, but he's going to go south as soon as they do the surgery. Poor kitties.

Lori Miller said...

Carbs in cat food? I thought cats were supposed to be total carnivores.

I'm planning a post on Molly's results on her new diet.

I don't know about cats, but I've read that wolves and unaltered dogs will go to great lengths to find a mate. I recently heard about a tagged wolf that traveled thousands of miles in search of a mate. I don't think people do their animals any favors when they don't spay or neuter them, even if they gain some weight.

Christine Stevens said...

I know this is an old post, but it came up on a Google search and I felt compelled to comment.

Dogs and people do not have the same nutritional needs. There is no one magical formula for canine nutrition anymore than there is one magical nutritional formula for people.

A low-fat, moderate-meat, high carb diet is actually recommended for dogs with pancreatitis (common in miniature schnauzers and a few other types, but all dogs can develop it). That combination puts the least strain on the pancreas. The duration the dog should be on that diet varies depending on how acute the pancreatitis is and dog owners should work closely with their vet or veterinary nutritionist to work out the best diet for their dog.

Lori Miller said...

Christine, I assume you know that a high carb diet forces the pancreas to produce a lot of insulin to cover the rise in blood glucose. So how does a high carb diet put less strain on the pancreas? Do you have any evidence, as in clinical studies--not appeals to authority--that a high-carb diet produces better outcomes than a low-carb diet for dogs with pancreatitis?

Christine Stevens said...

Two things you seem to have overlooked: I said that diet is treatment diet and not a long-term diet. It is only maintained as long as necessary. I also said that nutrition varies from animal to animal.

I am also guessing you don't know all the symptoms of pancreatits.

The critical factor is the low-fat for pancreatitis, but one of the symptoms is that the pancreas does not produce enough insulin while an animal is suffering from pancreatitis. You don't want to discourage insulin production in an already insulin-deprived animal. Diabetes mellitus is a side effect of pancreatitis in dogs (more so than in cats). You want stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin. In the most acute cases, dogs are actually taken off oral feedings and given insulin if necessary so that when feeding resumes, the body doesn't go into shock from the resumption of naturally producing insulin. If the diagnosis isn't acute, then the higher carbs keep the pancreas producing enough insulin. That diet is maintained until the pancreas stabilizes and the dog can resume a more normal diet, though they almost always have to stay on a low-fat diet.

It is the fat that is brutal on the pancreas, not the carbs, and the duration of that diet depends on the condition of the animal. Most do go back to a more balanced diet or a prescription diet.

As for "not appeals to authority," I assume you mean that veterinarians and veterinary nutritionists don't count as experts in your opinion. I am going off literature I received from my vet, the diagnosing vet, discussions with my grandfathers (both of whom were vets), and the veterinary nutritionist I spoke with.

I did look for clinical studies on diets for dogs with pancreatitis, but the current popular study topic seems to be the debate over total parenteral nutrition or enteral nutrition for acute cases. I did find a site where I could pay large sums of money for some studies that might have been on point, but since I just spent several hundred dollars to treat my dog's pancreatitis and get a rather thorough education on canine pancreatits, I wasn't inclined to do that.

Lori Miller said...

Christine, I am not familiar with pancreatitis, but I am very familiar with diabetes. So perhaps there is something I am missing. I understand why a sick animal that is producing insufficient insulin would need insulin injections, but not why it would be good to make the animal *require* more insulin by feeding it carbohydrate. And if you have information on fat being "brutal" on the pancreas (not sure if that's for healthy or unhealthy pancreases), I'd like to see it. I eat a high fat diet and would rather not ruin my own pancreas.

Perhaps this is your first foray into the world of low-carbing and paleo diets. If so, welcome. These communities are full of people who became sick, or sicker, following their doctors' advice to eat low fat, high carb diets full of "healthy whole grains" and the like. Diabetics in particular go downhill on such a diet. Sad to say, but a lot of "research" on nutrition is unreliable and unscientific, and actually flies in the face of biochemistry. (The Diabetes Update Blog and Richard Feinman's blog--see right--regularly post criticisms of such research.) So meaning no disrespect to your vets or grandfathers, we like to see either the mechanisms or reliable research for claims.

Anonymous said...

To correct an abundance of incorrect statements made. As a human medical professional, it is NOT fat which the pancreas is responsible for dealing with. That's the liver's job via bile. The PANCREAS deals with sugar. Carbohydrates ARE sugar in a complex form. So fat has very little to do with the pancreas. Unless your pooch has gallstone pancreatitis, which I'm not even sure dogs can get, then fat has very little to do with it. Insulin and fat are not related. Fat has numerous other bad things it does to the rest of the body when in excess, but it has very little to do with the pancreas. I realize this post is old, but if I came across these comments unknowning, I'd just believe it.