Organic dog food and cat food – a scientific analysis

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Organic food and how it is controlled

Deciding on organic food principally means a search for a healthy diet and being educated concerning food wellbeing, but it also inevitably involves the issue of “control”. The organic option is in fact a way to try to maximize the whole supply chain, creating a system offering consumers more certainties and guarantees concerning the products they intend to buy. This is true also for dogs and cats, ie. for those who wish to pursue this option not only for themselves, but also for those who share their living space, habits and life itself.

This control extends from the sowing in the fields right up to the pet food itself, also involving breeding aspects. The animal feed must be biological and the animals themselves must enjoy some space, basically a certain square footage that allows them to scratch and scrape. Chickens must be raised on the ground. So no narrow sheds and a greater attention to animal welfare, as well as avoiding, as much as possible, any form of contamination with chemical substances.

But why all these rules? Let’s try to analyze this scientifically, keeping our focus on dogs and cats.

Organic dog food, organic cat food and breeding

With multiple raising in limited spaces, in so-called intensive breeding, nature applies a selection creating a continuation of biodiversity. The laws that govern the chaos of nature ensure a form of natural selection. In short, if 10 subjects share 1 square yard, epidemics develop. In order to avoid these phenomena, thus losing a given number of animals, drugs are used, among these an antibiotic named Oxytetracycline, which has been at the center of SANYpet – FORZA10’s studies for decades. The Oxytetracycline residues, ingested in drinking water, however remain in the animal’s bone and fat, and stay there up to the creation of the pet food. SANYpet’s Research and Development Department analyzed this, not only demonstrating in vitro the presence of residues within bone and chicken fat, but also their toxicity, including the possibility of epigenetic modifications in subsequent generations within a family group.

Applying an indicative calculation, mankind’s life corresponds to roughly 5 times that of a dog; consequently, we can observe a dog’s changes much more rapidly. Accelerated metabolism means that everything is expressed faster.

Instinctively, dogs and cats are thus much more in need, compared with humans, of organic products, as they are less evolved than humans in metabolizing toxic substances. Choosing organic food means reducing, as much as possible, the contamination from synthetic substances; ultimately this means a higher guarantee as to the healthiness of your pet’s meal.

Organic food and cereals

And agriculture?

Recently the center of attention has been cereals, accused of multiple faults, all causing damage to dog and cat health. The contamination which occurred a few years ago in the USA led the market to move towards grain free products, but also the idea that dogs, as descendants of the wolf, were not able to digest them.

The dog is a non-obliged carnivore and has become omnivorous with domestication. In fact, since Neolithic times, wolf domestication has evolved to protect man from the attacks of wild animals, actually converting the wolf’s specialization into its opposite.

When mankind became sedentary it began to also grow crops to feed the animals, which were fed with human waste, including cereals. The part of the genome that produced certain neurotransmitters has been modified, wolves have tried to understand mankind by developing different characteristics and an intelligence according to mankind. The genetic heritage has thus changed, and among others the “wolf-dog” has also “learned” to digest cereals.

In a research published in 2013 by the geneticists of the University of Uppsala, the entire genome of 12 wolves and 60 dogs of differing breeds was analyzed, identifying 36 areas of the genome that differentiate the former from the latter, though equivalent in all the breeds considered. Regarding genes involved in the production of amylase, scholars have found that dogs have between 4 and 30, wolves only two. The result is that the former are 5 times better in assimilating this food than the latter.

A study published in “Open Science” by the Royal Society of London and conducted by researchers from the Universities of Rennes and Grenoble and the Lyon CNRS, has extracted ancient DNA from samples of bones and teeth of the remains of 13 ancient wolves and dogs from archaeological sites scattered throughout Eurasia and dating back to differing eras. The result is a progression of the genetic patrimony of the irregular wolf / dog, with samples endowed with very different specific genes, which can only be explained by the different behavior of the human groups, ie. those who remained hunters or gatherers and those who dedicated themselves to agriculture. Interestingly, the only two dog breeds which still have only two copies of the Amy2B gene (the main enzyme for starch digestion) are Siberian huskies and dingoes, who lived with populations that until very recently fed on a diet based almost exclusively on fishing or hunting.

What has changed since then? Industrialization, chemistry, automation, factories. Definitive advantages in terms of production, but significant compromises in terms of well-being and food quality. Organic food is a purgatory attempting to bring us back in time; it cannot fail to be an industrial process – because pet food derives from it – but it tries to return to a rural economy, that mentioned previously where the dog fed on human waste. Human scraps that were once valuable, because they come from extensive farming, happily grazing cows and sheep, chickens and hens in farmyards, fields without pesticides and fertilizers, and so on. Precisely those strict and healthy principles that organic food makes its own and applies through the strict controls mentioned in the opening section of this article.

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