To feed or not to feed (Day -290)

Veterinary Nutrition Education

There are many brands of different dog and cat foods out there, yet often it is Royal Canin that you see in a veterinary practice. After a random conversation with a friend I decided that I should share some of the reasons why it is Royal Canin you often see in vet practices.

Making a pet food is easy, there are no licenses required, and it takes very little to give a list of requirements to a food manufacturer along with the label you want on it. There are production lines that are available to rent out to run smaller batches so companies without their own factories can produce and sell food. There is possibility that food is also white label with the only difference between the two foods on the shelf being the container label and the price.

There are different types of formulation – you can have fixed formulation where the same ingredients are used every time the food is produced so it is the same each time you buy it. Or you can have dynamic formulation where the ingredients are calculated based on material price so the actual ingredients may be completely different each time. This is why sometimes a dog or cat will pass up food even if it is the “same” as normal.

Many of the larger companies have their own factories so that it only produces their food. This allows for strict quality control – for example Royal Canin does DNA analysis on key points within its production line.

Then there is the research that goes into a food – for example Royal Canin own laboratories and research centres. These look at things such as the shape of the food to the shape of the animals teeth, the hardness of the food and how much pressure is put onto teeth to break it up. Then there is extra research into the digestion and excretion of food – measuring how much is in the urine and faeces. There is also research into the growth and the nutrients needed at the different stages of life.

Research into disease to treat specific conditions is also a big part – just like in humans animals can have food sensitivity. There have been major breakthroughs with decreasing food allergies which can cause much distress for patients. Research by Royal Canin showed that the immune response is regulated by the size of the foreign protein particle. From this Royal Canin found the smallest usable and sustainable protein that was possible and used this to make a food that provides nutrition yet is small enough to hide from the immune system so does not have an immune response.

Education is also important – the successful larger companies that you tend to see advertised produce books, share research, and provide training for vets and vet nurses. They give the knowledge needed to know which food should be used and when in different stages of life, and in different disease processes.

This is why these foods end up on the shelfs in vet practices, because they are backed by research, they are trusted with the ingredients known, and they make the effort to educate the vets using them.

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