It’s no secret that I love my pets. I’m always up for learning new innovations in the pet care industry. One of my favorite pet events each year is the Purina Better with Pets summit. They bring in leading researchers from around the country to discuss nutrition, new developments in pet research and charitable work. We also learn fun facts like “65% of US Households take more pictures of their dog than their significant other.” I know that’s true in our household! Although the 2016 summit focused on all these topics, some facts from the nutrition focus surprised me. Here’s what you need to know about pet nutrition.
What You Need to Know About Pet Nutrition
1. There is very little difference in human and pet food manufacturing factories, says Shaun Kennedy, the former director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense and the Associate Director for the Center for Animal Health and Food Safety. All pet food factories must follow the USDA standard regulatory requirements set for pet food and most go above and beyond. To become a supplier for Purina a company must agree to pre-checks and onsite visits before and during the vendor relationship. Products are lab tested before entering the Nestle Purina factory and if they do not meet safety standards, are not used. It takes six to nine months before a supplier can be approved.
2. Almost all recalls pose no problems to human and animal health, Shaun Kennedy states. He adds, “Most are done for proactive reasons which is why there are so many recalls lately.” There are three classes of recalls and each has a different purpose. If there is a recall, you can contact your vet and the pet food company for advice.
Class 1 recalls are a threat to human and animals.
Class 2 recalls (such as the voluntary one Purina had recently) are done for a technical violation. These are usually voluntary and are usually done because of a reason such as a nutrient imbalance.
Class 3 recalls are labeling problems.
3. Animals can have taste preferences, says Steve Hannah, the Director of Molecular Nutrition for the Nestle Purina Research Center. “Get a small amount of different flavors and textures and see which one they prefer,” he recommends. They can also have problems with digestability and allergies. It’s important to talk to your vet to make the decision on purchasing the best pet food for your pet. With the research and innovations in pet care available, there are now many customized formulas available.
4. Many pet diseases can be treated with proper diet, says Steve Ettinger, founder of the Berkeley Veterinary Medical Group and the best known veterinary author in the world. Of all animals brought to an animal hospital, 52% to 55% are overweight. Lisa M. Freeman, a professor in Pet Nutrition from Tuft Cummings, agrees. She says 1 in 10 cats are prone to heart disease as they get older. She believes in treating pets with acute and chronic diseases with specialized nutrition. Purina has recently concluded a 14 year study on dogs (and is now doing one on cats) on molecular nutrition. The link between muscle mass and thickness on skin and how long a cat will live has been scientifically proven. The new Purina Pro Plan Prime for cats has been studied and found it can help cats live one year longer! I’m thrilled with this innovation and love that my cats will be able to stay as furry family members longer than before.
The Urban Resource Institute and Purina:
Although it is not nutrition related, I have to share one of my favorite things about Purina. It’s their work with the Urban Resource Institute in New York City and domestic violence victims. Did you know that 48% of all people in a domestic violence situation will not leave because they cannot take their pets? The URI and Purina are working to change this by opening shelters where families can come and bring their pets with them. This is a ground breaking research study and is showing how having the family pet with them can make their lives better. We packed pet care boxes for the shelter and it brought tears to my eyes when Nathaniel Fields, the president and CEO, stopped to thank us for including personalized notes. “You don’t know how much it means to people to receive a note from a stranger wishing them well,” he said.
I left the summit inspired as usual and with a new view on pet nutrition. If you’d like to learn more or share how your pets help you live bigger lives together, use the #LetsLiveBig hashtag on social media.
What questions do you have about advancements in pet research?