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Recently we have been seeing a significant increase in Mange (Sarcoptic or Demodex). The only common denominator between the dogs is that they all go to dog parks, and forest. Due to this we are advising our clients to avoid the dog parks, and to not take your dogs deep into the forest. This is just a precautionary measure. If you notice your dog itching more, or has bald spots developing please give us a call.
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Dr Malik brought back all kinds of exciting information from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association conference that he was at on Saturday! Stay tuned for some exciting food advancements!!

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Q: I have fed my dogs “diet A” in the past but have switched to “diet B” due to its higher meat and protein content. “Diet B” is also freshly made and contains no wheat, corn, or grains. Is this the better food for my dog or is a food like “diet A” that is chicken meal, corn gluten meal, and grain a better choice. I am not skeptical but I find it hard to believe that a food with grains and corn gluten meal can be better than a food with many meat sources and no grains. Would love to know you thoughts!

A: Here at we want to focus on nutrition. We are not here to promote one brand over another or discuss the merits of one product compared to another. Our goals are to help owners understand various ingredients, their benefits to your pet’s health, and aid in making the right decision for your pet. 

The most important factors of any formula include the nutrient profile it provides, whether those nutrients are relevant to your pet’s needs, and if they are digestible and available for the body to use. This information is not available on the bag of food you buy. Some companies will spend extensive time, money, and resources researching the nutrients required by individual dogs and cats, and source ingredients that provide these nutrients in the most digestible form. Other companies prefer to focus on ingredient names and build their nutrient profile based on the ingredients they want to use. 

Protein from any source provides amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks used by the body to perform its many critical roles involving the musculoskeletal system, enzymes, the immune system, bones, blood, and functions within cells of the body. Same amino acids from different sources are the same (for example, a methionine amino acid from chicken is identical to a methionine amino acid from corn); the body cannot tell if the amino acid originated from an animal or plant source. Therefore, the ingredients providing the amino acids (or any nutrient for that matter) are not the most important aspect of a food. It is the amino acid profile the combined ingredients provide and the total digestibility that will determine the benefits to your pet.

Fresh meat contains approximately 80% water, kibble contains a moisture content no greater than 10%. The ingredient list is based on ingredient weight prior to processing. Fresh meat will always weigh the most prior to having the water content removed and will be listed as the first ingredient. However, once it has been dehydrated it is not likely to be the ingredient in the greatest quantity within the kibble. I feel this is very misleading to consumers and creates an even bigger mystery of what the actual food composition is. 

In addition, if we consider what an ingredient name means the picture becomes even more confusing. Some companies in Canada choose to adhere to the ingredient naming guidelines set out by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO 2013), as equivalent guidelines do not exist in Canada. I’d like to provide you with the AAFCO (2013) definitions of meat and meat meal.

“Meat – is the clean flesh derived from the slaughtered mammals and is limited to that part of the striate muscle which is skeletal or that which is found in the tongue, in the diaphragm, in the heart, or in the esophagus; with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve, and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh. It shall be suitable for use in animal food. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind (ie: chicken, beef, lamb, etc.), it must correspond thereto.”

“Meat Meal – is the rendered (dried) product from mammal tissues, exclusive of any added blood, hair, hoof, horn, hide trimmings, manure, stomach and rumen contents, except in such amounts as may occur unavoidably in good processing practices. It shall not contain added extraneous materials not provided for by this definition. The calcium level shall not exceed the actual level of phosphorus by more than 2.2 times. It shall not contain more than 12% pepsin indigestible residue and not more than 9% of the crude protein in the product shall be pepsin indigestible. The label shall include guarantees for minimum crude protein, minimum crude fat, maximum crude fibre, minimum phosphorus, and minimum and maximum calcium. If it bears a name descriptive of its kind (ie: chicken meal, beef meal, lamb meal, etc.), composition or origin, it must correspond thereto.”

As you can see even with these definitions it would be difficult to decipher exactly what is contained in your pet food based on the ingredient deck. In addition, companies can choose to include or exclude any tissues from the definition in their raw materials, which can affect the nutrient profile and digestibility, but will not change the ingredient name. Finally, Canada currently does not require pet food companies to adhere to AAFCO labeling guidelines, companies have much more liberty with their naming practices. Yes a high quality meat source will assist in completing a balanced amino acid profile, however, reading the ingredient list alone will not tell you if the listed ingredient is of a high quality. When choosing a pet food company, ask them if they adhere to AAFCOs naming principles for their ingredient lists, and find out what measures they have in place to ensure they are receiving quality and consistency from their ingredient suppliers.

Corn gluten meal is an excellent source of two sulfur amino acids that play an important role in skin and coat health. Corn gluten also provides a concentrated source of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients help to support eye health and prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals.

Grains are a source of carbohydrates and, depending on the quality of the grain, many other beneficial nutrients. Other sources of carbohydrates include fruits, legumes and vegetables. Whether a grain, fruit, legume or vegetable is included in the diet, carbohydrates serve many valuable functions ( 

In order to be diligent about your food choices, call or e-mail a few companies and learn more about them. I think you will be surprised at the answers you receive in response to the questions AAHA recommends asking ( Learning more about the company will help you make the most appropriate choice for your pet.

I hope I have helped you understand how much more there is to a pet food than what is put on the bag and by getting to know the company you can make a decision about the food you feed that you can feel good about.
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