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"The Thinking Person's Pet Food"™ – Since 1979

Wysong Critique Of Internet 'Rate Your Dog Food' List

A Wysong customer sent the following list that is being circulated among dog clubs on the Internet. She asked if we would rate Wysong.

First of all, we do not agree with most of the premises in the list since they are based on myth, not good logic or science. The ranking also implies that the goal of a pet owner should be to find a food that they can then feed with confidence meal after meal. This, not any of the items in the list, is the most dangerous pet feeding practice today. Untold thousands of pets have suffered and died from following the myth of one "100% complete and balanced" food in a bowl meal after meal. See: The Myth of 100% Complete Processed Pet Foods.

For a more thorough understanding of how to achieve health, people should read Dr. Wysong’s book, The Truth About Pet Foods, review the free How To Apologize To Your Pet brochure, and peruse the "Learn" section on the Wysong website. This information is composed by DVM/PhD level professionals on staff at Wysong with 30 years of experience in medicine, nutrition, and food technology.

Our critique (italicized) follows each item along with appropriate links:

Rate Your Dog Food

How to grade your dog's food: Start with a grade of 100:

1) For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points
(There is no scientific evidence that the components of food animals that are called "by-products" are dangerous or inferior nutritionally to muscle meat. In fact, since they include elements of various parts of the body such as organs, tendons, ligaments, and trimmings, they are usually superior. Are we to throw such nutritionally superior foods away because of a myth, and waste valuable food resources?)

2) For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points
(First of all, there would be no reason for a manufacturer to hide this information. That aside, naming the specific animal a meat comes from is of little health or nutritional value. If the concern is food sensitivity or allergy, then the cause—feeding one food meal after meal—should most certainly not be promoted as this list does.

3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
(This is true only if the food is properly stabilized by scientifically proven food antioxidants. Otherwise these synthetics would be better than nothing since oxidized food components are more dangerous than these antioxidants. So the best choice is proven natural antioxidants combined with light and oxygen barrier packaging. Next best are the synthetic antioxidants, such as those mentioned above. Worst is ineffective food antioxidants such as "vitamin C," "vitamin A," or the wrong epimers of "vitamin E." Worst of all is "no preservatives." See Wysong

4) For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points
(A relatively unimportant point since the main danger is feeding ANY starch source, meal after meal. This danger is ignored in these criteria.)

5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewer's rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points
(Another unimportant point since it is the danger of starch, not how many sources it comes from, that is the important point.)

6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
(Meat meals are cooked five different times. The authors do not seem to understand the vitiating effects of heat processing and its role in destroying vital food nutrients and creating toxins. Fresh meats are obviously superior to cooked meals, but this author only focuses on how much protein is in a food without regard for its quality or how it is processed. The Real Problem In Pet Feeding)

 7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
(Agreed. Colorants appeal to people, not animals.)

8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points
(This is a myth. Corn is superior nutritionally to many other starch sources. All kibble-type foods require starch to bind the ingredients into a nugget. To make pet food choices based upon where the starch comes from is to miss the point of nutrition altogether. See What Are The Healthier Grains?)

9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
(They are doubling up on the corn myth. Wysong has used corn in some of its products for nearly 30 years and the products have been fed to tens of thousands of animals through multiple generations. The spectacular results speak for themselves and show the myth, regardless of its popularity, to be the falsehood it is.)

10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points
(This would mean that the only fats a carnivore is genetically programmed for are fish oils. Watch any canine or feline in the wild and it will be clear that fish oil is not the only fat they consume. It would be a minor component if in the diet at all. Land carnivores get omega-3 fatty acids primarily from grazing herbivores, not fish. Carnivores require a balance of essential fatty acids. Fish oil would not provide that. Also, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are very fragile, degraded by the heat of processing, light, and air and thus subject to conversion to toxins in foods left on shelves for months.)

11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
(That has no scientific backing. The danger is feeding ANY combination of animal protein meal after meal. The Myth of 100% Complete Processed Pet Foods)

12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
(Why? Soy is no more dangerous than about any other plant ingredient used in any pet food. All plants contain natural toxins, but they only cause problems if fed constantly. Again, they miss the most important point and instead wish to perpetuate simplistic myths.)

13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points
(Any food with an ingredient that an animal is allergic to should be eliminated, of course. But they ignore the true cause of allergy—the continuous feeding of a heat processed food regardless of its ingredient composition. Wheat starch is no more dangerous to pets than rice starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, or any other starch. But it, like corn and soy, makes a convenient boogeyman ingredient if people wish to follow folklore, not reason or science. See: Allergen Free.)

14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog isn't allergic to beef), subtract 1 point
(See #13)

15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point
Natural salt can contain over 74 trace minerals that are commonly lacking in human and animal diets. Processed and refined salt should be avoided, but not natural salt. See Wysong Whole Salt

Extra Credit:

1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
(Organic foods are important, but no single food, organic or not, should be fed meal after meal. See Does Organic Mean Healthy?)

2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points
(Hardly is this true since some breed groups are notorious for perpetuating simplistic myths, and a breeder could be someone with no education at all. Nutritionists give no assurance either since they are responsible for coming up with the "100% complete" myth as well as meals like jello, diet pop, and instant potatoes for deathly ill people in hospitals. People must become informed themselves, not rely on so-called experts.)

3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
(Baking destroys more food elements and creates more toxins than HTST extrusion. The author does not understand basic food processing technology. Rationale For Animal Nutrition )

4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
(Agreed if they are of the right kind, in sufficient numbers, and have not been destroyed by processing. Wysong, incidentally, was the first pet food company to use probiotics and prebiotics.)

5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
(Agreed, with the understanding that any food should be fed in variety, and that fruit is not an essential element in a carnivore's diet.)

6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points
(Again, that terrible boogeyman, "corn." See #5, and #9 in the previous list.)

7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points
(Agreed provided the food is, again, not fed meal after meal.)

8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points
(Another myth evidently intended to promote some commercial product with barley in it. Barley is not a magic ingredient; it is just another starch (sugar) source. What Are The Healthier Grains? )

9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points
(Provided the flax is properly stabilized and given the same caveats mentioned above with regard to fish oil.)

10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
(Another myth. Oats are not a magic ingredient and have no merit over other grains fed in variety. They are just another starch (sugar) source. See #8)

11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
(Essential fatty acids are much better obtained from meats. But this author advocates no meat fats, but rather plant oil no carnivore would ever consume in the wild.)

12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "?" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
Different animal source proteins in the same food, fed continuously, are not a solution, they are the problem. The Myth of 100% Complete Processed Pet Foods

13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
(The author is not aware of pet food regulations. Some such ingredients are not permitted on labels. A properly formulated food with "by-product" cartilage and bone contains a bounty of Glucosamine and Chondroitin .)

14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point.
(That’s what organic is. No manufacturer tests every component of their foods for these chemicals even if they are using organics. Also, virtually no food is completely free of such chemicals. Thus this criterion is an impossible one, but it sounds good.)

15) 94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D 69 = F
(The problem is, the foods based upon myth get an A, while the most nutritious and health promoting foods could flunk!)

Here is a more rational, scientific, natural, and healthy way to rank pet food companies:

Start with a grade of 120.

• Deduct 10 points if the company promotes "100% completeness" and tries to get you to feed one food (maybe even theirs!) meal after meal.

• Deduct 10 points if the company promotes any of the myths outlined above.

• Deduct 10 points if they do not teach you how to feed fresh foods obtained from the grocery in combination with your packaged pet food choices
• Deduct 10 points if the people making the final decisions in the company are business people and marketers, not health, nutrition, and food technology experts.

• Deduct 10 points if they do not own and run their own manufacturing facilities.

• Deduct 10 points if they try to promote any magic ingredient or demonize any without good scientific cause.

• Deduct 10 points if they do not produce raw foods that have been rendered as safe as possible by anti-pathogen technology.

• Deduct 10 points if all their ingredients and processing methods are not centered on maximizing nutrition and health.

• Deduct 10 points if their literature and website do not contain extensive scientifically-based education materials free to the public.

• Deduct 10 points if their labels, literature, and ingredient listings are mere dressing to perpetuate myths and create sales.

• Deduct 10 points if they are not clear leaders in valid health innovations, but rather mere market followers.

• Deduct 10 points if they are not socially, humanely, and environmentally responsible.

  Don’t support companies that do not score at least 100.