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Author Topic: How important are feeding trials?  (Read 6827 times)
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fizzy1
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« on: September 21, 2007, 09:43:10 PM »

Hi all,  I've been reading for months.  We have been feeding our two 11+ year old cats all wet food since the end of June.  We stopped the Hills kd and started Wellness grain free, Pet Promise and Newman's Own.  They like all of them!  One just developed a "raging" bladder infection.  I told the vet of the change in diet and she voiced concern that the foods had not been thru feeding trials like the Hills.  I emailed all 3 to ask, but I've only heard from Pet Promise and Wellness....saying they do "tasting trials".  And Wellness actually said it was only for two days.

I'm so confused.  I want the best for my kitties, but they make it so d**n hard!!!!  They were doing okay on the kd, but didn't seem to really enjoy the food, had loose stools, dull coat, etc.  Since the change to the others, we've seen an improvement in them.  But now the bladder infection.

So where do you place feeding trials in relation to all the other issues out there?
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kaffe
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« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2007, 11:59:27 PM »

The PFI makes much of these "feeding trials" and so do a lot of vets.  The feeding trials are conducted for a short period - 26 weeks.  If no animal actually dies during that period, then the petfod is deemed a success. So, I don't set too much store on AAFCO feeding trials.  Here's an exerpt of a Harvard student's research on this topic:

...
3. Feeding Trial and Nutrient Requirement Regulations

To regulate claims of nutritional adequacy, AAFCO established pet food nutrient profiles and feeding trial methods. A manufacturer does not have to comply with both the profiles and testing methods before selling its product. Because the pet food industry found the feeding trials too expensive and restrictive, AAFCO adopted Regulation PF7.[77] Regulation PF7 states that if the manufacturer intends to represent that its food is nutritionally complete (“complete and balanced,” “100% nutritious,” “perfect,” etc.) they need comply with only one of the following: establish that the product’s formula meets the nutrient requirements of the applicable nutrient profile, complete an AAFCO recognized animal feeding protocol, or establish that the product is nutritionally similar to the lead product in the same product family. If a manufacturer intends to rely on the product family method, they must also establish that the family product “meets criteria for all life stages” and that the nutritional similarity can be substantiated according to procedures established by AAFCO.[78] Thus, the options provided under PF7 allows a manufacturer to make nutritional adequacy claims by performing something as simple as a standard chemical analysis proving that its product formulation meets the AAFCO nutrient profiles.[79]

AAFCO’s nutrient profiles are based on those created by the National Research Council Committee on Animal Nutrition (hereinafter “NRC”).[80] The NRC establishes minimum nutrient requirements for growth based on diets with extremely high digestibility, yet AAFCO modified the NRC profiles for practicality purposes. “Values for specific nutrient requirements were added or modified...supported by recent scientific publications, practical experience, and unpublished data.83] Meaning, that although the formulation physically contains protein, the testing does not ensure that such protein is digestible (and therefore available) by your pet.

As an alternative to formulating a product in accordance with AAFCO’s nutrient profiles, a manufacturer wishing to claim the nutritional adequacy of its food may conduct feeding trials in accordance with AAFCO standards. The trials for dog and cat foods are relatively similar. Each requires a minimum of eight animals and the trial must last 26 weeks.[84] The same formulation of food must be fed throughout the trial, although different production batches may be used.[85] AAFCO permits up to 25% of the animals starting the study to be removed from the study for “non-nutritional reasons or poor food intake.89] Never mind that most pet foods designed for growth recommend feeding such formulas for the first 49 to 52 weeks of the animal’s life.[90]

Manufacturers disagree as to which method, animal testing or nutrient profiles, is superior.[91] Realistically, both methods have shortcomings. The nutrient profile method does not test nutrient bioavailability in the same way as the “feeding test” method. Nor does it test the palatability of the foods. In contrast, the “feeding test” method doesn’t always test the actual product sold. Because of the AAFCO “family member” rule, products that are nutritionally similar to other products tested under the “feeding test” method do not need to be tested themselves.[92] Since these family member products aren’t directly tested, they suffer the same problems as those undergoing the nutrient profile method: uncertain nutrient bioavailability and palatability.[93]

....
 You may read the whole paper in http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/784/Patrick06.html

IMHO, the can wet foods you have been feeding are very good cat food and much better than any 'ol Hill's Science Diet rubbish (you shsould also know that many vets who puch Hill's SD get commissions from the sale of these foods).  There are many here on Itchmo who feed their kitties Wellness and have had only good experiences.  Your kitty's bladder infection may be due to other factors, notably the pH balance (a slightly more acidic urine helps protect against struvite crystals and urinary tract and bladder infection).  An individual cat's pH may go up (become more alkaline) during times of stress and also when the cat is fed a BIG meal (that's why for some cats, several small meals a day is much better than feeding 1 big meal or 2 big meals). 
In short, I would not blame the change to wet food for your kitty's bladder infection.  I do hope kitty is on antibiotics right now?  I'll keep your kitty in my prayers and hope for a speedy recovery.
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jenny
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2007, 07:51:07 AM »

Well, here is the communication I received a while back from Wellness:
Quote
o   Our Wellness feline diets are formulated to yield a urine pH of 6.2 to 6.6 for dry and 6.1 to 6.5 for canned, which have been determined by Veterinarians to be the optimum levels.  We maintain these levels to avoid the possibility of any urinary or crystal issues.  We test our diets on a quarterly basis to verify that they yield these levels.  All results confirm that our diets are safe for the majority of the feline population.  Other factors that affect a cat’s pH are:  1) meal fed vs. free-feeding, 2) amount of fresh water intake during feeding, and 3) genetics.  Thanks again for contacting us.   (Beverly Robitaille, Specialist, Consumer Affairs)

I think the feeding trials line is junk.  Many people, including vets, are highly critical of Hills and won't prescribe them. In fact, I have seen Dr Hodgkins say that the problem with Hills is that they DO NOT sufficiently test their products.  Thus they have one food for a certain issue (i.e. struvite crystals), that then results in the cat needing a different product (i.e. oxalate crystals), and so on.  The "side effects' you mention of kd are exactly the type of complaints I've heard about Hills food.  Sure, they may not have a bladder infection - but their overall health suffers greatly. 

I might suggest narrowing your food choices some - i.e. pick one of them so you can see how they react to the specific food.  I've also heard that if food switches are done too quickly they may develop issues.  I don't think much of Dr Hodgins book overall, but her treatment of UTI issues in her book is very good.  YOu may want to check that out.  In my case, I did a phone consult with Dr Lisa Pierson that was also very helpful as my vet too is very quick to jump on the prescription food bandwagon. 
http://www.catinfo.org/

You mention Hills k/d - but that is for kidney failure.  Does one or all of your cats have kidney disease??  Or was the vet just assuming they do based on age?  Do you have copies of their labs that show them with kidney disease?
« Last Edit: September 22, 2007, 08:13:34 AM by jenny » Logged
Orange Fuzzball
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We miss you KD


« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2007, 08:35:37 AM »

Welcome fizzy1!

I'm curious as to why your vet put your cats on Hill's k/d - do they have CRF? My cat does, and is on prescription food (not Hill's - I vetoed that brand) - but the kidney diets and other very specialized foods are kept in the back and only dispensed by the vet techs. (The crap they sell off the shelves to anyone who walks in is the supposedly "nutritionally balanced" preventitive, weight loss, senior and dental diets.) There's just not enough protein in kidney diets to keep healthy cats healthy.

The bladder infection could be unrelated to the food change. Does your cat get them a lot? I can't imagine that k/d would have been any good for urinary problems, as it is not acidifying (CRF cats can't tolerate the lower urinary pH that cats with UTI problems need).
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JustMe
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2007, 09:00:57 AM »

Welcome fizzy1!

I'm curious as to why your vet put your cats on Hill's k/d - do they have CRF?

I was wondering the same thing.  My 9 cats have been on those 3 foods since April.  No UTIs here.
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fizzy1
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2007, 10:13:56 AM »

Thanks for the replys!  One of the cats, Scooby, had "high normal" bun and creatinine level several years ago.  The vet said she wanted her on KD to see if the levels dropped, which of course they did.  So the vet told us to keep her on it.  She also said that it was okay to feed the second cat, Fizzy, the same food.   Scooby has never had any UTI's until now.  I switched them off the KD in June after reading Dr. Hodgkin's book and seeing all the threads here and on other sites.  I have seen the Harvard paper also.  I was really upset that I had been feeding them the KD after seeing the criticisms everywhere of prescription food.  Why were they on it to begin with?Huh  I didn't ask the vet about changing, I just did it.  I saw her substitue when I took Scooby in last week.  I'm supposed to take Scooby back next week when she has finished the amoxicillin.  And I KNOW the vet will give me grief about the food change.  In the meantime I am second guessing myself.  I wanted to know if you all felt the same as I did about the feeding trials... I don't have much confidence in them.

I will go to the next appointment armed with info, but I don't expect much support.  We have always had respect for her, and she treats our kitties very well.  We may just have to agree to disagree!
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Orange Fuzzball
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We miss you KD


« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2007, 06:05:57 PM »

Wow. Just ... wow.

It's aggravating that your vet put Scooby on k/d, but not entirely surprising. My vet tried the same thing with KD (my cat, not the food!) years ago, when her kidney values were only mildly elevated and she had no symptoms. (This was long before she got sick, and I declined.) But if Scooby's values were in the high normal range, there was no need for the prescription food. As for her giving the OK for Fizzy to eat the same thing ... well, that's just irresponsible. Prescription kidney diets are only available from vets for a reason - they are not required to meet AAFCO standards for complete nutrition. I'm no expert, but that to me suggests that healthy cats shouldn't eat them.

Yet more proof that vets don't know nearly as much as they think they do about pet nutrition. They get most of their education on the subject from the pet food companies, usually Hill's or Purina. That goes a long way towards explaining their misplaced enthusiasm for these foods. But it doesn't excuse your vet's irresponsibility.

I'm sorry you have gone through this with your vet, and I hope Scooby's UTI resolves soon.
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fizzy1
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2007, 06:49:20 PM »

Thanks OF, btw, I love your name!  I can't tell you how angry I was when I started the research back in June.  Like millions of pet parents, I just went along with my vet, thinking she had the answers.  I just never thought to question her,  until the recalls. 

I'm thinking we will go with the Wellness only for a while and see how she does.  We didn't get a great urine sample from her to begin with, so don't know if she had any crystals.  Just lots of bacteria.  She's doing fine on the antibiotics so far.  Fingers crossed.
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JJ
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2007, 09:49:21 PM »

fizzy1 sorry to hear of your problems with your children. Just like people doctors sometimes its best to get other opinions and information. On here feel free to ask and someone will be glad to help you or point you in the right direction. I have been to several docs with my thyroid and if one does not help then I seek others. Still have not found one like my first doc though so have not given up. Same with my last dog-I went for another opinion and so glad I did as the 2nd vet I had such a great rapport with and she was very understanding and answered questions before I could ask them so she was prepared and had the knowledge and bedside manner. I feel just cause someone says its so and tells you to do this or that-I would check and double check. All us pet parents are a lil edgy and try out best to help each other out on here. I wish you and yours the very best of health and healing. Welcome to the forums too!
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kittylyda
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2007, 04:32:10 AM »

Welcome fizzy1.  Sorry to hear about your cats UTI troubles.  I just wanted to point out as someone else mentioned that it may be completely unrelated to the change in food.  Sometimes bladder infections are brought on by stress.  For instance, if you have been away for a few days, or if there was work being done on your house, out of town guests.  Even something as simple as a new piece of furniture can stress a cat out and bring on a UTI.  Cats can get stressed by the oddest little things.
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jenny
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« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2007, 12:56:20 PM »

My cat can develop high urine ph and struvite crystals simply from vet visits.  This was pretty much proven after 4 tests.  The last two tests were done the moment he arrived at the vets - and we now use alprazalam prior to any vet visit to control the stress. 

The vet strongly pushed the special diets, which I refused because all I saw early on was that stress and a delay in testing the urine the first time may have caused the high numbers. 
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Offy
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2009, 04:14:44 AM »

Not sure where to put this, but feeding trials would be part of the solution for long-term improvement on prevention of urinary crystals...

Epidemiology of feline uroliths and urethral plugs
Aug 1, 2008  By: Carl A. Osborne, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM

http://tinyurl.com/mzu3ot

"The explanation as to why there have been significant shifts in the prevalence of calcium oxalate and struvite in feline uroliths during the past 25 years, while the prevalence of struvite and calcium oxalate in feline urethral plugs has not significantly changed, is not obvious to us.

Whatever the reason(s), the high prevalence of struvite in urethral plugs is of clinical significance in terms of the design of dietary strategies to prevent their formation"


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"If the pet food does not perform in the consumer's hands, then all of the advertising on earth will not be persuasive." Dr. R. Glenn Brown. Canadian Veterinary Journal, Volume 35, in April of 1994
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