The Final Verdict: The Best Way to Feed Your Pet

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

Story at-a-glance -

  • Today marks the final day of the 2021 Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute (CANWI) awareness week
  • CANWI is a nonprofit organization I co-founded with Dr. Donna Raditic; our mission is to conduct independent, unbiased pet food research and share our findings with every interested pet parent, veterinary school, and pet food company
  • Interviews with experts this week, including Drs. Turner, Bartges, and Gaylord, and nutrition specialist Nicole Cammack, focused on advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in processed pet food, the evolution of the pet food industry, and other related topics

Today, we're wrapping up the 2021 Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute (CANWI) awareness week here at Mercola Healthy Pets, the focus of which was "Insights into Commercial Pet Foods: Can We Do Better? Yes, We Can!"

To close out the week, I'm once again chatting with my CANWI co-founder Dr. Donna Raditic, DVM, DACVN, CVA, Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist®, Nutrition and Integrative Medicine Consultants, Athens, GA, about the work our nonprofit organization is doing to develop a database of unbiased research into the best way to nourish our animal companions.

Below are some of the highlights of our discussion, which you can view in its entirety in the video above, or by reviewing the downloadable transcript linked above.

Heartfelt Thanks to AGEs Experts Dr. Turner and Dr. Bartges

Dr. Raditic and I are so thankful for each and every one of you who joined us this week.

"It's been an incredible week," says Dr. Raditic. "Talking to our amazing guests was so enlightening, and they each gave us pearls wisdom to take home with us. We're a pretty progressive group, and we have some great people collaborating with us.

We started the week with Dr. David Turner, who studies advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and their effects in humans. He'll be partnering with us at CANWI to test AGEs in pet food and establish a library of our research on his AGE foundation website."

I love that we're working with researchers on the human side in our own version of the One Health Initiative. We can apply the learnings from human medicine to animal medicine and vice versa and help so many different species.

"Dr. Joe Bartges of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary medicine was our second guest of the week," explains Dr. Raditic, "and we talked about several studies his research group plans to publish.

CANWI helped fund those studies, which also involve AGEs in pet food. Dr. Bartges and his team looked at a variety of processed pet diets and a minimally processed raw diet and learned that AGEs occur at much lower levels in minimally processed food."

I'm very excited about these studies because we're finally going to prove, scientifically, what we've experienced anecdotally for so very long about the importance of feeding fresh food to pets. So many animal companions will ultimately benefit from the information being documented and published.

Welcome to the CANWI Team, Dr. Gaylord and Nicole Cammack!

"Speaking of the benefits of fresh foods, our third guest, Dr. Laura Gaylord and I discussed the topic at length," says Dr. Raditic. "On the one hand, people are being encouraged to shop on the outer aisles of the grocery store where the fresh food is, and to lay off the processed stuff.

But on the other hand, the opposite is happening when it comes to pet food. Dr. Gaylord and I talked about adding some fresh real foods to pet diets for their nutritional benefits. She also explained how she prepares homemade food for her own dog, and where to find homemade pet food recipes.

And Dr. Gaylord is also joining our CANWI scientific committee to help move our research forward."

I'm so thankful that we're able to continue to grow a magnificent team of very well-qualified, passionate individuals who are interested in seeking answers to many of the same questions we have. We're all focused on what we can do through food and lifestyle changes to make our animals healthier.

"And in addition," Dr. Raditic adds, "our guest on Wednesday, Nicole Cammack, will soon be relocating from Connecticut to Georgia to do doctorate studies in companion animal nutrition with the goal of becoming a PhD animal nutritionist. She'll be doing CANWI-funded research as part of her doctorate program."

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Research Tools for the Veterinary and Pet Food Industries

I'm very hopeful that our work at CANWI and with our many partners and collaborators will be beginning of a paradigm shift in veterinary medicine toward recognizing and embracing the power of food to create either health, or disease, in animal companions.

"I know there are good people working in the pet food industry who will also be interested in the information we'll be publishing, because they're scientists who want to learn new things to improve their products," Dr. Raditic adds.

"I'm hopeful those people will be able to move their industry forward in a new direction. I do believe that's going to happen. And we'll be sending some of our partners into that world to provide information and education that will allow them to make healthier diets for dogs and cats."

Dr. Raditic and I are so very thankful for every pet parent, private organization, wellness company, and some amazing pet food companies that have financially supported CANWI. As a nonprofit organization, we rely solely on your donations. We appreciate, from the bottom of our hearts, each of you who has and will in the future step up and contribute to the important research we're facilitating.

"We couldn't do this without you," adds Dr. Raditic. "You motivate us every day to continue with this research and get the answers all of us are looking for."