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Ditch The Dry – Reason 5 – Kibble Clinical Trials Are Inadequate

Dr Nick Thompson

Author: Dr Nick Thompson
BSc (Vet Sci) Hons, BVM&S, VetMFHom, MRCVS

YouTube video

Dog Food Gold Standard Testing: why it’s not as reassuring as you may think

The cleverly created wording, and the use of specific phrasing on kibble packs is designed to offer reassurance that what you are putting in your dog’s bowl is of a certain nutritional quality.

But have you ever asked what dry pet food testing consists of?

We asked Dr Nick Thompson (aka The Holistic Vet) to share some facts on this topic and why he recommends you ditch the dry and choose a fresh, raw, natural diet instead.

Check out the video above or, for the readers among you; we’ve included a summary below of the main points. We’ve added the time stamp, too, so if you want to watch a snippet of the video covering the topic you’re particularly interested in, we’ve got you covered!

0:10  I just thought I would share with you some of the reasons why I really, really don’t want to feed kibble to cats and dogs.

0:23  I’m going to talk to you today about the AFCO food trial.  

0:27  This is considered the gold standard testing within the conventional kibble feeding community.

0:41 There are two other ways you can analyse it using a computer. You look at the ingredients, put them through a computer, and it will tell you roughly how much nutrition the food should contain. It’s an approximation, but gives you an idea.  

0:56  The next way is that you take the food and you send it to a laboratory, and they will analyse it for fat and protein and moisture, zinc, calcium and phosphorus etc. You then compare those against the guidelines in the ASCO guidelines. 

1:16   In the UK, it’s the FEIDAF guidelines; these are the pet food manufacturers, associations and supposedly overseers of the quality of the food.

1:34 The gold standard is you actually try the food

1:37 I just think this gold standard is completely inadequate; it’s just not fit for purpose.  

1:55  The minimum requirement for this test is just eight dogs.

2:05  So you’ve got eight dogs; they need to be put onto the diet for six months. All they can have is the diet and they can have water.

2:18  You are allowed to remove two dogs if they become sick during the trial. So actually, this test for a food which is then going to feed millions of various different dogs needs only to be done on six dogs for six months.

2:40  As long as they don’t get obviously sick or lose more than 15% of body weight (which is quite a lot of weight), the food is considered to be passed.

3:04  They will also take a blood test at the end and measure just four things. In contrast, if you take your dog in for a dental or for an operation, they will measure 9,10,12 blood cell parameters as well as biochemical parameters.  

3:27  Two of the four things measured are whether the dog is anaemic or not, i.e. the pack cell volume, how many cells you have per unit volume and how much haemoglobin there is within the blood and within each cell.

3:54  So that’s two things to do with red blood cells, because if you’re not eating a proper diet, then those triggers can decrease.

4:01 They will measure an enzyme called alkaline phosphatase which will indicate if the bones are releasing tissue because of malnutrition.  It will also give you an indication if the muscle is being eaten because of malnutrition, but it’s only one enzyme. Normally we would run a stack of enzymes in order to have a full appreciation of what’s happening with the body.

4:37  The final test that they do is called serum albumin.

4:41  Serum blood albumin is a thickener in your blood so that you can pump it effectively. If you are malnourished, that will drop.

5:02  So if the dogs haven’t lost more than 15% of body weight,  the manufacturers say, look, these six dogs on this food for six months means that we can feed all the dogs in America (it’s an American test)  for an entire life stage.

5:30  The adult life stage is about 6,7,8 years.  And they say this six-month test allows us to predict that all dogs eating this food are going to be healthy and well and will do brilliantly for an entire eight-year period.

5:56  What kind of madness is that?  I think it’s really dangerous and irresponsible, in my opinion.

After knowing that, do you really want to give your cat or dog dry kibble?

To read more about kibble production, check out Dr Nick’s blog “I Refuse To Feed Kibble: A Vet’s Perspective“. Plus, if you have landed on this video and not yet seen the other videos, you can head over to our ditch the dry page to catch the rest.

Explore our full grain free dog food range.

Dr Nick Thompson

BSc (Hons) Path Sci., BVM&S, VetMFHom, MRCVS. Founding President of the Raw Feeding Veterinary Society. Petplan Vet of the Year Nominee 2009, 2015, 2017, 2018 & 2020. The practice of the Year Nominee 2018.


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