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animal talk

While some shared their owners’ pâté de foie gras, others shared their owners’ meager scraps. But with the Industrial Revolution, many things began to change, including how people fed their pets. Everyday life began to move more quickly, convenience was elevated to a necessity of life, and inexpensive and easy-toserve manufactured dog cakes and biscuits, made from grains and vegetables and held together with a bit of animal blood, dominated the American dog food market until the early 1920s and the introduction of canned dog food. The invention of the automobile in the early 1900s caused horsemeat prices to drop, an opportunity that Illinois horse dealer P.M. Chappel used to his advantage, introducing canned horsemeat for dogs in 1922 under the brand name Ken-L Ration. The manufacture of canned dog food stumbled a bit with the setting aside of tin for the WWII war effort, but as that demand eased, the manufacture of canned dog food picked up again, and canned dog food was the choice of most consumers into the mid-1950s when, with the development and refinement of extrusion processing, inexpensive and convenient “kibbled” dog food rapidly began to gain acceptance. Inasmuch as the extrusion process of making kibble required a certain dough consistency that could only be met with a fair amount of starch in the recipe, large quantities of starchy grains replaced the taurine-rich meats in canned dog foods, and our carnivorous dogs were subsequently gratuitously declared to be omnivores. But the recipe changes replacing meats with starchy grains were not extrusion processing’s only threat to taurine levels and heart health. The high-temperature processing required to produce extruded, plant-based diets not only damaged free-form taurine and its precursors, but also created a perfect environment for freeform taurine and its precursors to be bound up and eliminated with bile salts in the small intestine, as well as for a phenomenon known as the Maillard Reaction to advance the destruction of free-form taurine in the large intestine. (In the world of haute cuisine, the Maillard Reaction is known as a flavor-producing, browning reaction, but in the world of pet food production, the Maillard Reaction is known for rearranging amino acids and simple sugars into a taurine feast for large intestine bacteria.) And then we must account for the threat to taurine levels and heart health brought about by the use of nonnutritional dietary fibers in extruded pet foods. Required to promote firm stool formation when a carnivorous mammal is fed a plant-based diet, nonnutritional dietary fibers have been found to adversely affect free-form taurine levels in blood plasma. Recent studies have exonerated rice bran, but beet pulp and other nonnutritional fibers have been implicated as culprits in the decreased bioavailability of free-form taurine and its precursors, with a resultant elevated incidence of dilated cardiomyopathy in large-breed dogs. Reduced by recipe changes, degraded through high-temperature food processing, carried out of the body bound to bile salts, destroyed by intestinal flora, and removed from circulation by nonnutritional dietary fibers, it’s a wonder that any free-form continued on page 22

CARING FOR PETS SINCE 1957 CARING CARING FOR FOR PETS PETS SINCE SINCE 1957 1957

BENS ENSDOTTER’S PET B DOTTER ’S PET BENS OTTER 940 MAIN STREET, STREET, GREAT BARRINGTON BARRINGTON 940 MAIN GREAT

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