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Dog Coat Condition and Nutrition

by December 16, 2019

Dog Nutrition for a Healthy Coat
Check your dog’s coat…is it smooth and silky with lustrous fur? Or rough and brittle with dry flaky skin under?

Dogs are a pleasure to pet, especially when they’re blessed with healthy skin and lustrous fur. But some dogs are plagued with itchy, flaking skin and lackluster coats. What can you do to restore your dog’s shiny coat?

Essential Fatty Acids: Key to a Healthy Coat

Healthy fats play an important role in keeping your dog’s coat in good condition.
Reputable high quality meat-based dog foods typically contain enough nutrients, including essential fatty acids, to maintain healthy skin and a shiny coat.
In contrast, dogs on low-quality commercial dog foods or improperly balanced homemade diets — for instance, a dog that eats mostly chicken — may not get enough nutrients to keep a healthy skin and coat.
Low-fat diets are risky, too. The obvious coat problems from deficiencies would be a dandruffy, dull coat from an omega-6 deficit if the pet is eating an extremely low-fat diet. (Some pets require a low fat diet for other health reasons)
In fact, puppies that eat very low-fat diets develop coarse, dry hair and skin lesions that become prone to infection.

The dog foods we offer at Wholesome Pet Essentials in themselves can be helpful just to give a shine to the coat, add some luster back, and help replace the oils in the skin. Customers routinely tell us that their furry friends coats improved noticeably when they switch to one of our diets from the “big box” or grocery store brands.

We also offer a selection of supplements for these conditions. If these supplements improve your pets coat(s) it’s time to examine their diets!

“Safe” Food Recommendations

by December 1, 2019

Some of our customers have been telling us their pet health care providers are saying the only safe foods are the ones they are selling. Here is some history on those ‘safe’ foods:

Purina….  An FDA investigation in 2013 found “above the allowable level” of cyanuric acid and melamine in one of their lines of foods.   Cynauric acid and melamine are the deadly combination responsible for the largest pet food recall in history in 2007.     “Six samples collected contained ethoxyquin, however, the additive was not indicated on the product labeling.”   Purina told the FDA they perform “routine contamination analysis.”   The manufacturing facility was “unable to provide the actual content or weights of individual ingredients that went into the implicated lots.”  

Hills Science Diet….  How about their quality assurance program?   On January 31, 2019 Hills announced a recall for excessive levels of Vitamin D.   A bit of a let down in quality assurance testing on incoming ingredients, perhaps (Vitamin Premix)?   Or in the finished pet foods that your vet is selling.   Seven weeks later they announced another excess Vitamin D recall.   Very high amounts of vitamin D can have a number of serious health effects on dogs, including kidney disease and even death. Symptoms of vitamin D poisoning in dogs include vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, excessive drooling and weight loss.

Royal Canin and Eukanuba….   Both of these are Mars Petcare brands.   In 2017, FDA performed an inspection at a Mars Petcare manufacturing facility as a followup to a 2016 Mars Petcare recall.    That recall was due to plastic pieces discovered in pet food by consumers.   In the 2017 inspection the FDA stated as “Inspectional Observations” there was a “failure to inspect, segregate, or otherwise handle raw materials and ingredients used in manufacturing under conditions that will protect the animal food against contamination and minimize deterioration.   They also noted the “failure to take effective measures to exclude pests from your plant and protect against contamination of animal food by pests.”


So here are a couple dog foods ingredient lists.   Which would you rather feed based on the recipe?  

ACANA Meadowland features a rich variety of quality ingredients that are raised or fished by

people we know and trust, and delivered to our Kentucky DogStar Kitchen fresh or raw!

Deboned chicken, deboned turkey, chicken liver, turkey giblets, chicken meal, catfish meal, whole red lentils, whole pinto beans, whole green peas, pollock meal, chicken fat, whole green lentils, whole chickpeas, lentil fiber, whole blue catfish, cage-free eggs, rainbow trout, pollock oil, natural chicken flavor, chicken heart, chicken cartilage, whole pumpkin, whole butternut squash, mixed tocopherols (preservative), sea salt, zinc proteinate, dried kelp, calcium pantothenate, kale, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, whole carrots, whole apples, whole pears, freeze-dried chicken liver, freeze-dried turkey liver, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, copper proteinate, chicory root, turmeric, sarsaparilla root, althea root, rosehips, juniper berries, dried lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried bifidobacterium animalis fermentation product, dried lactobacillus casei fermentation product.

Typical Royal Canin Diet .

Brewers rice, chicken by-product meal, brown rice, oat groats, chicken fat, pork meal, natural flavors, powdered cellulose, dried plain beet pulp, wheat gluten, fish oil, vegetable oil, sodium silico aluminate, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, L-tyrosine, sodium tripolyphosphate, vitamins [DL-alpha tocopherol acetate (source of vitamin E), niacin supplement, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), D-calcium pantothenate, biotin, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin supplement, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), vitamin A acetate, folic acid, vitamin B12 supplement, vitamin D3 supplement], salt, monocalcium phosphate, hydrolyzed yeast, choline chloride, DL-methionine, taurine, glucosamine hydrochloride, marigold extract (Tagetes erecta L.), trace minerals [zinc proteinate, zinc oxide, ferrous sulfate, manganese proteinate, manganous oxide, copper sulfate, calcium iodate, sodium selenite, copper proteinate], magnesium oxide, green tea extract, chondroitin sulfate, rosemary extract, preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid.

Typical Hills Science Diet ….

High quality protein and thoughtfully sourced ingredients.  Hmmm….

Chicken Meal, Brewers Rice, Whole Grain Sorghum, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Wheat, Cracked Pearled Barley, Soybean Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Fat, Chicken Liver Flavor, Soybean Oil, Corn Gluten Meal, Fish Oil, Flaxseed, Lactic Acid, Pork Liver Flavor, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, DL-Methionine, Iodized Salt, Calcium Carbonate, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, L-Lysine, Oat Fiber, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Natural Flavors, L-Carnitine, Beta-Carotene, Apples, Broccoli, Carrots, Cranberries, Green Peas.

NONE of the dry, dog food kibble we sell has ever been recalled by the FDA!

DCM Keeping some Perspective

by July 2, 2019

I could literally write pages about the new scare thrust upon us regarding grain-free pet foods and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).   We do have several old posts on our website dating back almost 18 months related to the subject.    There are many downright falsehoods and misconceptions being perpetuated our there by the media and social media outlets playing on your emotions.     You love your pets and so do we so we understand your concern.   We have our own pets as well and that is the driving force behind Wholesome Pet Essentials!      So here’s an attempt to summarize what is known right now….

First a disclaimer:   We are not veterinarians at WPE and cannot diagnose or treat DCM and are not experts on the disease or any other disease.   We do, however, handle several complete lines of pet  foods developed and formulated by PHD Nutritionists.   Within our group we have many hours of study at ISU in Animal Science (Nutrition) and decades of work in the animal feed industry as well as hours of continuing study by all employees in pet nutrition and feeding management.   We are not influenced by the major players in most veterinary schools like Royal Canin (RC Veterinary Diet), Hills (Science Diet, Prescription Diet), or Nestle Purina (Pro-Plan Veterinary Diets).    

Much of the following is from the FDA information released to date:

DCM is generally recognized as a genetic condition in larger breed dogs such as Retrievers, Great Danes, German Shepards, etc.     Retrievers appear to be particularly susceptible.   

The number of cases reported to the FDA have significantly increased in 2018 and 2019.   The agency notes that most dogs in the US have been eating pet food without apparently developing DCM.  The increase does suggest a potential increase in cases not genetically predisposed. 

Most of the reports showed that the dogs were eating dry dog food.   Since the vast majority of dogs eat dry dog food that is not a surprise.   Chicken was the number 1 animal protein source identified in the foods.    That is also not a surprise since chicken is the most used ingredient in pet foods.  

                Does this mean dry dog food is the culprit?    No                (most dogs eat dry dog food)

                Does this mean chicken is the culprit?   No            (majority of dogs eat chicken based dog food)

                Some are claiming “exotic” meat sources are the problem?  So chicken is an exotic meat source?

Grain-free generally means a product does not contain corn, soy, wheat rice, barley or other grains and/or grain by-products.     A majority of the diets in the cases reported to the FDA were grain-free.   Peas, lentils, chickpeas and potatoes are a common replacement product for grain in grain-free diets.   Grain-free diets have been implicated as a possible contributor to the increase in DCM.  

                Do grain-free diets cause DCM?   No evidence to support that claim at this time

                Does all research point to grain free diets?  NO

DCM Diagnosed Dogs North Carolina State University 2015 – 2017
22 dogs – grain-free pet food
29 dogs – grain-based pet food

At a recent veterinary forum – American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) – some research was presented by Dr. Darcy Adin veterinary cardiologist of North Carolina State University. “Taurine and carnitine deficiencies are associated with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs.” The research states 49 dogs were diagnosed with DCM at the North Carolina State vet school between 2015 – 2017. Dr. Adin’s research found 22 dogs diagnosed were eating a grain-free diet, but…29 dogs diagnosed with DCM were eating a grain-based diet.

A few years back cats were dying from a similar condition that was ultimately attributed to taurine deficiency.   Taurine is an amino acid important to several body functions including eyesight and heart strength.   The addition of taurine to cat diets basically resolved the problem.   In dogs taurine can be synthesized from methionine and cysteine (two other “essential” amino acids…meaning they must be fed for a healthy diet).    Almost all our brands have been adding additional taurine to diets as a precautionary measure for some time now.  

                Has the addition of supplemental taurine helped?   Doesn’t appear so

                Are grains a good source of methionine, cysteine or taurine?   NO             

                What are good sources?   Meats, Fish, Dairy

The FDA published the names of 16 brands of dog food that have been fed to dogs reported to the FDA with DCM based on them having at least 10 events.    Here is a more complete list as I browse the actual FDA document:

                Hills, EVO, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Merrick, Earthborn Holistic, Natures Variety, California Natural, Zignature, Acana, Taste of the Wild, Kirkland Signature, Blue Buffalo, 4health GF, Halo, Purina One, Victor Hi Pro, Orijen, Fromm, Natural Balance, Go, Fromm, Nutrisource, Acana, Nutro, Canidae, Diamond Naturals,  Whole Earth Farms, Abound Natural, Wellness CORE, Petcurean, Castor and Pollux, Authority, Honest Kitchen, Weruva, Eagle Pack, Blue Wilderness,, Instinct, Farmina, Pine Forest, Pinnacle, Primal Raw,  Iams, Royal Canin, Sportmix, ProPac, Purina Grain Free, Nutro Max, Freshpet, Holistic Select, Redford Naturals           I may have missed some but it looks like most are on here, including the majors and prescription labels.   

The most frequently identified brands in the FDA DCM cases also are some of the largest sellers of grain-free foods.    Taste of the Wild is frequently considered the largest grain-free food sold in the country with nearly 29 million bags sold since September 2017.    They are near the top of the list.   In any list of this type I would expect them to be based on sheer volume sold.    (We don’t sell TOW but for other reasons!)

                Should I switch brands?   Nearly all brands are on the list

                Should I be feeding a grain-free diet?    Depends on why you are feeding it.   Most of our customers have legitimate concerns related to allergies and/or intolerences to grains.    Actual allergies to rice seem to be rarer than other grains, however.   Proteins seem to be more often a cause.  

There is no conclusion here right now to be drawn.   But with your peace of mind and your pet’s safety in mind here are some potential options out of an abundance of caution:

  1. Keep your routine vet visits to check on your pet’s overall health!
  2. With large breed dogs (especially Retrievers, Danes, Shepards, etc) in particular if they have no known issues with rice in their diets we have several options to consider allowing you to avoid grain-free foods but still avoid corn, wheat, by-products, etc. 
  3. We have several grain-free foods not based on lentils and/or peas or potatoes. They use an alternative starch source
  4. SWITCH to raw….Primal, Sojos, Honest Kitchen, Stella and Chewys, Nulo all have raw diets which we carry that do not utilize lentils, peas or potatoes.    Freeze dried or frozen
  5. Supplement additional taurine….although no evidence this helps
  6. Rotate foods…particularly protein sources if your pet can tolerate…you can even rotate brands if you’re feeding high quality diets
  7. Continue doing what you are doing until we can perhaps finally get some science based conclusions….which we have NONE currently.   

We promise to keep you as up to date as possible!   It can be a very overwhelming issue with many angles….most of which don’t appear to lead anywhere right now.    The media can’t begin to explain what is happening.   They don’t have the depth of background or information to work with.   

Champion Pet Foods on DCM and FDA

by June 28, 2019
June 28, 2019


To Champion Petfoods Distributors and Retailers:

From: John Frierott, Interim CEO and COO
Dear Trusted Partner,
I am writing today to provide you with an update on the important issue of Dilated Cardiomyopathy, or DCM, in dogs. On June 27, 2019 the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) posted an update on DCM which included reports it has received regarding pets with DCM. The update listed Champion Petfoods’ brands, along with many other pet food companies’ brands, as foods that some pets who were diagnosed with DCM had eaten.
The FDA’s announcement says it is “continuing to investigate and gather more information in an effort to identify whether there is a specific dietary link to development of DCM.” More specifically, its announcement today provides no causative scientific link between DCM and our products, ingredients or grain-free diets as a whole. We think it is misleading for the FDA to post the names of brands, while at the same time fully stating that they have no scientific evidence linking diet to DCM. 
We anticipate that this unfortunate decision by the FDA will only serve to further confuse Pet Lovers, which will in turn create challenges for you. It’s important that you know that Champion is not sitting idly as Pet Lovers struggle to understand this issue. Therefore, we are providing you with the attached document to inform you of the actions we are taking relative to DCM. Additionally, we will be responding to social media and other public commentary with stronger, more direct messaging, and will be working with Pet Lover publications to educate consumers with the facts.
We recognize that the DCM issue is disruptive to your business, but we want you to know that we have the right people and knowledge at Champion, and we assure you that our foods are safe. Many of our foods have been recently enhanced or reformulated where required. Our NorthStar ACANA Singles foods were updated with the addition of taurine, while our DogStar ACANA Singles foods were reformulated in 2018 with more meat inclusions. This enhanced meat inclusion will be made to our NorthStar Singles foods as well, in 2020.
I also want to thank you for your understanding and continued support as we, along with the rest of our industry, work to address this frustrating situation.
If you have any questions about this new FDA announcement or how Champion is handling it, please contact your Customer Engagement representative or our Customer Care team.
Thank you for your continued trust in Champion. We don’t take that trust lightly and will continue our work in providing the World’s Best Petfood.
John Frierott

FDA Issues Update on DCM

by June 28, 2019

The FDA released an update June 27 on its investigation into canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).  Concerns were raised last year on a possible connection to some diets labeled as “grain-free”.  Specifically diets containing a high proportion of peas, lentils and/or other legumes.     After reviewing the release it becomes apparent that they have reached no conclusions and they basically have no new evidence at this time to reach any conclusions.   They included the number of cases by breed of dog which as one would expect is dominated by Golden Retrievers and or Golden Retriever mixes along with Labrador Retrievers and Great Danes.    The diets that have been reported to the FDA were heavy with “grain-free” products and very heavy in peas and/or lentils as the carbohydrate source.   However,  potatoes were also included in the diets of 42% of the reported cases.   Potatoes are not a legume.  And there were still about 10% of the diets containing “grain” included as well.    Also of interest was that 348 of the 515 cases of DCM reported Chicken, lamb and fish were primary protein sources.   

Nutritional research indicates that taurine is generally not considered an essential amino acid for dogs, because these animals can synthesize taurine from cysteine and methionine. Nearly all the grain-free products had methionine-cystine values above the minimum nutritional requirement of 0.65 percent for adult maintenance food for dogs published in the AAFCO Official Publication (OP).

The FDA is still gathering information to better understand if (and how) taurine metabolism (both absorption and excretion) may have a role in these reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy.

The FDA concludes:

Based on the data collected and analyzed thus far, the agency believes that the potential association between diet and DCM in dogs is a complex scientific issue that may involve multiple factors.

We will keep you updated.  There are a lot of “irregularities” in the FDA update that have been  released so far.   Interesting to note that the Vet brands and a couple of majors (Purina, Hills, RC)  are not included in the list even though some of them utilize pea proteins and legumes in “grain free” foods.   The majors that pour buckets of money into vet schools.       However,  We understand if you are concerned and we have many alternatives to “grain free”.  

Least Cost Recipe

by May 17, 2019

A standard practice in the livestock feed industry is to formulate diets on a “least cost formulation”. In short the formulator for the feed manufacturer establishes a set of minimum nutrient standards for the diet (or recipe) and they may even set minimum and/or maximum allowable amounts of various feed ingredient restrictions. The various ingredients are priced to establish a value and then a computer program least cost formulates the diet. This means the lowest cost that meets the minimum specifications of the diet using the available ingredients. This may be fine for feedlot cattle and hogs on a finishing diet but many companies utilize the same strategy for your family pet foods. This is especially true of grocery store and big box store offerings which are merely focused on price. Do you want your family pet subject to ever changing formulas and the “cheapest” diet a manufacturer can produce?

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