Vegan diets for dogs, part SPAM

Woo–a milestone! My first comment from a ticked-off manufacturer! May it not be the last.

I will not approve the comment because the wording was wrapped in a super-long ad for the product. I also won’t reveal the brand involved. What I DO want to explore is a claim that this company makes about the benefits of its product.

I am ALL ABOUT natural health. I have a serious hate on quackwatch, I have all the Adele Davis volumes. My grandparents ran a health food store before there was such a thing as a health food store. I grew up eating carob and rice milk and I get twitchy if I am swallowing less than six vitamins a day. So this is NOT about me criticizing alternative medicine or naturopathy. This is about me getting seriously HACKED because people take good, important studies and use them to sell products.


“Our product is concentrated, so you can feed 30% less–According to the National Institute of Health your pet will live at least 30% longer by doing this.” (emphasis theirs, though I did not replicate their 24-pt font size)

WRONG. Here’s what the NIH, and other good researchers, have shown. If you keep an animal extremely lean–they did it by feeding a calorie level 30% lower than satiation–it lives longer. TRUE. When you restrict calories and keep an animal lean, genes get switched on that dramatically lower certain signs of aging including lipid levels and blood pressure. (By the way, you can largely replicate this by drinking red wine or taking a revastrol supplement; revastrol turns on the same gene.)

Feeding a concentrated diet, so there are the same number of calories in one cup of your food as there are in a cup and a half of the other guy’s food, is NOT what the NIH is talking about. In order to access these benefits, you have to restrict CALORIES, not volume. VOLUME HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. Enough caps lockage?

Whenever you are considering purchasing a product that claims to dramatically alter health, require that the company show at least a GLIMMER of substantiation. If they say that their product prevents the clogging of dog arteries, go out there and read up on whether dogs even GET clogged arteries (answer: no, they don’t, unless they’ve got something else very wrong with them; dogs are built to have a very high cholesterol level and in fact will synthesize it if they don’t get it in their diets). If they claim that your dog will live to be 19, ask for a control-based study that showed that their product increased lifespan beyond the control. If they claim that their product is better because there are no cloned animals in it, ask them how many cloned animals are in regular products. (None–but I can guarantee you that there are cloned plants in theirs. How do I know? Because virtually all modern grain crops are researched by cloning. Cloning plants is super easy; we did it in college to learn about cell growth. So far, none of us in Plant Biology have grown a third head.)

Be a wise, savvy, and careful consumer. Remember that your dog’s body evolved to handle a certain nutritional load. The evolutionary diet should always be the default–in other words, it should be considered the safest, the most ideal, the most automatically beneficial. Anytime somebody tries to scare you into thinking that the food dogs’ bodies were crafted by and for is not good for them, ask them to prove it.


5 thoughts on “Vegan diets for dogs, part SPAM

  1. Hi there,

    Interesting post. I especially like the part where you said that “The evolutionary diet should always be the default–in other words, it should be considered the safest, the most ideal, the most automatically beneficial.”

    This applies broadly to humans too, don’t you think?

    And thanks for the tip on red wine, too. I’m beginning to really love it.

  2. Pingback: Vegan diets for dogs, part deux « Ruffly Speaking: Railing against idiocy since 2004

  3. I just stumbled upon your website today and have already read a few articles (including this series) that just make SO much sense. Finally, someone who uses their common sense about dog-related issues! Thank you!

  4. Thank you so much for your sanity…and your sense of humour. I have been feeding a raw prey diet for over a decade now, and trying to ‘save the world one cat and dog at a time’ thru my store that sells raw food, supplements, and oils, mainly. No dry food. No tinned food. Over 5.000 happy 4-legged customers.
    Take care.

  5. Pingback: Ruffly Speaking = Blacksheep Cardigans » Vegan diets for dogs, part deux

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