It's no secret that many pet food companies out there are interested more in their bottom line than providing quality nutrition for our dogs. You and me both have seen the research, we've read the articles and tracked all those pet food recalls. But what else are pet food companies hiding from us?
In this new hour-long podcast, I'm joined by an expert from the pet food industry Richard Darlington, CEO of Brothers Complete Dog Food, and we're here to talk about the hidden dangers of certain dog food brands and what many pet food companies are deliberately staying silent about. Richard stresses the importance of being a diligent pet owner when it comes to picking nutrition for your dogs and cats, and how to do that.
We also managed to briefly discuss some of the dangers outside of the pet food products, and talk about flea treatments, dangerous dog toys and other pet supplies, how to make the right choice that would be safe for your pet and what to avoid. This turned out to be a very revealing and interesting conversation, and I recommend ever responsible pet owner to have a listen and hear what an insider has to say about the industry.
Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.
- Episode link: TOP 031 – Do Pet Food Companies Have Something to Hide?
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What Dog Food Companies Aren't Telling Pet Owners
(raw podcast transcript)
For those of you who are new to the show my name is Samantha and today I want to talk about all of the misconceptions, I guess, for a lack of a better term, in the pet industry. We've dived into these in the past in some of our episodes. I have talked to other experts in the pet industry who have talked about some of the hidden things that we as pet owners need to know in order to provide the best care, the best nutrition, for our pets.
A lot of products in the pet industry are not as strongly regulated as the products that are made for humans. So, we are starting to see an increase, a huge increase, in the rates of certain diseases — cancers, diabetes being just a couple — in our canine and feline companions. And a lot of this is being directly linked to the products that we are using for our dogs, the plastic products we're using. Things like chew toys and bowls are filled with chemicals that are leaching into our dogs system. Things like flea products and shampoos are made with chemicals, toxins, that are leaking into our pets system through their skin. And of course, pet food being the biggest one.
We've seen so many recalls in recent years and had so many issues come up in the news and the media about different ingredients. They are being sourced in countries that don't have regulations like the United States. Companies are using ingredients that are making our dogs sick. Or cats, it happens with cats too. I always say dogs, but really pets in general.
So anyway, today I am speaking with a man named Richard Darlington and Richard is the CEO of a company called Brothers Complete Dog Food. Now, Brothers makes an ultra premium dog food and it's kind of an interesting story. The long story short is that Richard has not been involved in dog food his whole life and in just a moment I'll play the interview for you and he tells you about the journey that he took to get to where he is now with Brothers.
It's a similar story to what a lot of us have and if you look at their website a lot of the people that have started feeding Brothers food have shared similar stories and we've done it too in our home and the basis of the story is — you're uneducated, you feed your dog a lower quality food, your dog gets sick, you realize that the food maybe is causing some of the issues, you do some research and then you switch to a higher quality food.
So Richard's goal and his family's goal, it's a family owned business, their goal is to make healthy pet food for pet parents that is very transparent. The company is very open. They source everything and make their food here in the United States. They use high quality ingredients. They actually own a store down in Florida where they sell their pet food and their goal is to make a high quality food and to educated pet parents as much as possible about the benefits of feeding a healthier food and the true cost of healthy pet food. A lot of pet owners immediately assume that higher quality food is going to come at a higher price but today you're going to hear some thing's from Richard about how those costs can be truly compared and you may be surprised to find out that sometimes higher quality food isn't all that much more expensive than a lower quality food because you have to feed more of the lower quality food and of course you are going to be saving on vets costs and things like that.
So I'm going to let Richard explain that to you. I had a great interview with him. I learned a lot of great information about pet food in general and of course the Brothers brand. It's a smaller company so I actually hadn't heard of them before. I met Richard and started speaking with him so I learned more about the company itself and just some of those misconceptions in the pet industry things. And he talks about some of the things, the rules and regulations in the pet industry, and gave some really great examples of times when it's misleading to us as pet owners the things that we are told from these companies.
And again, this isn't the first podcast I've done on this subject. This one is a little bit more broad in terms of what it covers, but we've had other guests on as well that have talked about some of those misconceptions and some of that misleading information. So it's really important as a pet owner that you do your research and that you really make your pet's health a top priority.
So again I'm going to go ahead and let Richard dive in and kind of explain some of that to you. Just so you know, some of the stuff that he does talk about, there is some research and things that he mentions and there's links to all of that on our Theory of Pets website.
So if you would prefer to jump on there and kind of follow along, or get that information before you listen to the podcast, and education yourself or get it after the podcast, whatever you prefer to do, it's right on there at Theoryofpets.com. And I will recap the interview at the end and just explain again where you can find that. So if you're driving and you don't have time to write it down or anything like that, I will come back and touch base after the interview as well.
Interview with Richard Darlington
Samantha: First of all Richard, thank you very much for coming on the show. Would you mind just starting out by talking a little bit about your story and your background? It's very interesting and it gives a great background as to how you got into pet food in the first place.
Richard: A friend, a woman I've dated a while ago who moved down to Florida with her son was talking about doing something. She always loved dogs and wanted to make… She had been a single mom of three. And it's a tough life. She had her own business and everything, but she wanted to work with dogs, so she went down to Florida with one of her boys.
And I just always wanted to be involved with dogs because basically when I was a kid a dog saved my emotional life. I mean I, if it weren't for my little dog Patches, God only knows what would've happened to me. And frankly, I hadn't realized how much I thought of dogs. I mean I love animals, all animals, but that dog really, really was so crucial.
The thing about the story is that — and I didn't won't go into too much detail, but I swear to god I wouldn't be surprised at all if there is something involving angels with this dog, because I don't know how it's possible that it did what it did, but at any rate it… Basically this little dog just kind of saved my emotional life. It was just — its dedication to me was so complete. I think it understood how much I needed it when I was a little boy. I just don't think you're ever the same when something loves you so completely. Now I certainly am not. And I always wanted to be involved in dogs, and some way just try to repay what that dog total love did for me.
So I went down to Florida, chased Melissa down there and we ended up opening a dog food store.
Samantha: And that's your — the brother's dog food that you are involved with now?
Richard: Well that — first we opened a dog food store. Melissa was going to open up a doggie day care. But do you believe in premonitions?
Richard: Well, I've had a couple dogs in psychic events in my life ever since from when I was a young boy. And they all came true, every one of them. I would see a picture of the future and I would get like a mental communication about what it was or what it meant or what I was going to experience, and every one of those came true. And I told Melissa about them. But literally, we spent five months fitting out a store to be a doggie day care and we're ready to open on Saturday. If this is a Friday afternoon we're going to open the next morning. So Friday afternoon we went down to Miami — we're from Philadelphia area — we went down to Miami to have lunch.
And I said, “let's go down to Miami. We'll have lunch, and then tomorrow we'll open the daycare.”
So we go down to Miami and there was a dog food store down there, and Melissa wanted to walk in and just look around. So she's was looking around. I walked to the back and I looked in a freezer — like a stand up freezer with a glass door — and I was looking at the couple kind of sad pieces of frozen food for dogs and I had another premonition. I don't usually get them when I was older, most of them came when I was young, and like I was given this book of premonitions —
They still happen, but all of the sudden one happened. I'm staring in this freezer and I get this communication that was “don't open the doggy daycare. Open a dog food store. And the dog food store isn't what you're going to eventually end up doing, but you're going to learn something doing that that's going to take you to what you're going to end up doing. It's going to be extremely successful, and extremely helpful. Productive.”
So, we leave the store and go across the street and sit down for lunch and I'm thinking — oh my god. Now, how am I going to tell these two? Because Melissa was there and her son, who was twenty-five at the time — tell them I just had a premonition not to open the doggy daycare but to open a dog food store, which would mean another three months of work and a few hundred thousand dollars more, just crazy.
But, I've learned that — they all come true — they're not general, they're specific things. So I told her, and they looked at me and went “well, OK.”
So, we went back, took it all apart, and started looking into a dog food store which we opened up three months later and three-hundred thousand dollars later.
Richard: And, that basically took all my life savings. So, we open up the dog food store and we started doing raw and we did all the high end foods. But we did all the research and everything and we thought raw was the way to go. We had like nine huge six foot chest freezes and two vertical freezers.
Samantha: Oh wow.
Richard: We brought in all kinds of raw food, in fact I would make all our own raw food and I'd work all day long and go home. I had a mixer in the garage and I would grind up and mix different food and package it for our customers because we kept pushing raw thinking — that's got to be the best right?
But as time went by it turned out that most of the dogs would either stop eating it or would get a nutrient imbalance or the people couldn't afford it. Out of the hundreds and hundreds of people that did it, only a few ended up staying with it.
So what happened with us really was an education in the industry. It wasn't pretty frankly, it was discouraging to us to find out that these companies that were making dog food were not only not putting good things into the dog food but they knew what they were doing they just didn't care much, all that mattered was how fast can we make money.
So we kept looking for a dog food company that would make good stuff and it was so discouraging, we'd really think — oh god that's great we got… Here's a good company, let's push them; they have good food. Then we'd find out they were lying about what was in the food, they were either putting something in there they weren't telling us about…
But see, they would open up to us because we were part of the industry. I guess they just assumed that everybody kind of knew, I don't know.
So finally after a few years — I mean, you get to know all these people that come into your store, you know. They become family.
Samantha: Yeah. Absolutely.
Richard: Babies are born… It's your family and their family. It's like, we had Melissa and I, and her two boys — her other boy came and joined us, and it just — to find out they were literally lying on the label. Saying stuff that was totally not true. I just said, “man, I can't recommend this stuff to these families that trust us. They asked us for advice, and I just can't do it.”
So I said, “look, either we've got to look into making food that's healthy. I don't know what's involved, but we've got to check it out.” So we've been doing some research along the way obviously, just a part of trying to be better at what we were doing. Melissa found a guy who had a PhD. He was an animal nutritionist. He was amazing. He has a PhD in gut biology and that — Another thing that was happening along the way was I started noticing all these dogs — Remember I told you my stepdad was a veterinarian up in Pennsylvania and —
Samantha: Yes. Yup.
Richard: Frankly, he used to see his customers maybe once a year to just check on the health of the dog. Unless there was an accident or something. These people were going to the vet, like, every month. And I said, “why do you go to a vet so much?”
Then I started to see that all these dogs had skin conditions and I said “you know, Melissa, I had systemic candida almost all my life and didn't know about it. I'd go on to the doctors and none of them could figure out — my face was breaking out. [inaudible] — “at one point I turned fifty,” he said to his doctor. “I think we're past that. I think that ship has sailed, OK?” I'm 50. “I'll grow out of it” isn't a good enough excuse anymore and I mean I've always had a sugar craving and I had my skin was always dry and always breaking out.
So just by chance somebody said, “listen, I met this really beautiful blonde.” I was single at the time. He said, “You ought to go see her. I think she's your kind of woman.” So I go to see her and it turns out she's a doctor of Chinese medicine. And she was here from Maui; she had a daughter; she had come here to the United States to try and get some help.
So I went in there to see her and ostensibly to just see if there was any interest for me. And she said, “Well, what's your problem?” and I said — I… jeez I don't, I felt basically OK. I wasn't, haven't had a problem for 30 years that nobody could fix.
So she split me for like 15 minutes and she said, “you've got systemic candida.” So for 30 years I'd been to doctors off and on. I never heard that term. What does that mean? And she explained it to me. — Well your gut leaks and the Candida Albicans, which is a yeast slash fungus, it's in everybody's gut, gets in your blood stream, and then it feeds off sugar and then you crave sugar, and that's where your sugar cravings come from. And that fungus in your blood stream is why you break out and why you itch and why your skin is dry.
So, you got to be kidding me. I'm thinking, I'm looking at this woman, I'm thinking: How is someone this beautiful and this intelligent, believe this mumbo jumbo stuff? I just didn't, I didn't believe it. I just thought it was so much nonsense. I said “well, how do you know if you have it? What tests do you do?” and she said, “well, you do a stool analysis.”
So no one has ever asked me to do that before. so I figured, what the hell; I am going to find out. So I did it and sure enough I was riddled with Candida. So, I said, “OK”. I said, “so you're right, what do you do about it?” Speaking here, there has got to be some medicine to take. She said, “No, you do it with diet.” Diet? I think, Jesus, I mean, I have to admit I was a complete dingbat, I had no clue a diet could be that important.
I followed her advice and six months later I was the healthiest, literally fifty four years old, I was the strongest, healthiest specimen of myself that I had ever been. Not kidding you, I could take a forty foot ladder and throw it up on my truck like it was nothing. And it all was just from eliminating grains and potato and sugar. Just healed a leaky gut. And then the immune system eventually cleared everything up.
So, now I am in Florida and I am looking at these dogs and saying — Listen, my God, I swear to God these all have the same condition I had. You know? They've all got itching and dry skin and hot spots and scooting and, you know? Everything itches.
So I said, — you know, look at what they're eating, you know? Definitely never occurred to me to start looking at what the… I assumed that the dog food companies were all acting in good faith. And, you know, just put healthy food in the dog food. So I am looking in and I am sitting there looking and thinking, oh my God, it's all grain.
This happened within months of opening the dog food store. So, that's what triggered the research. And we started studying and doing research. I just, I was stunned by the parallel between what I had gone through and what these dogs were going through. So, we had a lot of this, hundreds of people that the dogs are just, you know, itching. What do you do for itching? What do you do for itching? I mean we heard it dozens of times a day.
So I took them aside and said look, we want to work with you to try and help clear this up. If you would be willing, we just want to start changing the dog's diet and see what happens.
So, I started to do this project where I would look for foods that had no grains, this was way back before the whole grain-free thing started, but there were one or two foods that started it and we put him on that, and sure enough it cleared it up within months.
Next thing that happened was, just when we were patting ourselves on the back, the symptoms started to come back. So we looked at what they were putting in the food to replace the grain and it was potato — sweet potato or white potato. And sure enough, that was causing problems so we started experimenting with getting the dogs completely off of grain and potato, and that did the trick.
There was more to it in that we. Went to the trouble of finding this PhD and those things that you can add to the food, but we just did all the years of research of taking stuff out of the food to see what was causing the problem. Most of the dogs would recover by themselves over time.
So, when we finally got this guy, he was amazing and, because he had a PhD in gut biology, I realized from my own personal experience that the gut really was the core to the system's health for a mammal. I also knew from research that eighty percent of the immune system is generated in the mucosal lining of the gut.
The other thing that is fascinating is that the only thing that separates the gut and the fecal matter from the whole rest of the body is a single cell thick layer of little square cells called enterocytes. Well they are rectangular, not exactly square, but they're not round but they look like little blocks that stick together. That's all.
That's all that separates the gut from the rest of the body. Because the gut has to transport the minerals in the food and the broken down amino acids. And it needs to go through something fairly easy.
The problem with that is, that when you damage that little one layer cell thick layer of enterocytes. All of a sudden fecal matter starts getting into the blood stream, and then systemic Candida.
Now everybody's got Candida and women are often time familiar with it because they get yeast infections. It's the same thing. But when you take that yeast/fungus. It's an interesting animal. It's both — if you overfeed it, it becomes a fungus and it takes over, and it's nature's reclaimer.
It's like here comes the Grim Reaper to turn you back into, you know, dirt so that the next generation can grow. But, you know, you don't want that going on inside you why you're alive.
And that's what sugar does. And that's what all that grain and potato feeds the sugar. Now, they started replacing it with things like chickpeas and lentils. These end up damaging the gut.
So there are only a couple things you can feed without doing damage. And that's what we put in Brother food just pure — like, either peas or one of the rare things that doesn't do too much damage. And amazingly, there is this Cassava root which is pretty much a big food throughout the equatorial regions throughout the world. And societies who use Cassava root as their staple carbohydrate or eighty percent of their carbohydrate, their is no diabetes. No adults with onset diabetes.
Samantha: Oh wow.
Richard: Amazing. Yeah, and as it turns out, the reason for this is the gut bacteria — just to give you some idea — there's about ten trillion cells that make up your body. In your colon there are ninety trillion bacteria, in a healthy colon. There's ten times the cells in your colon than there are in the whole rest of your body.
Samantha: Wow. Wow.
Richard: Not like a thin coating. It's a massive, massive undertaking, and that's where everything happens, and this country, unlike Europe, is just kind of talking about the colon as, like, “let's change the subject” — but the truth of the matter is that's where health and disease all begin.
So, focusing on the health of the colon and getting — keeping it… Well, most dogs have now have damaged colons, because they've been eating so much grain, and so much potato, and so many — even now, the new things they're all putting in there are damaging the gut in other ways, but what happens is that stuff all gets through the gut lining, and into the gut, and into the bloodstream, and now you've got an immune system that's totally overworked.
I mean, imagine — see, every time when you eat food, when you eat meat… A dog, for instance, there's one thing different you need to understand, right at the start. Dogs and people are way different in this one respect — dogs don't need carbohydrates to get glucose, we do.
When I'm working, I can tell the difference by the end of the day. My brain has been using up all the glucose and I need a little of something. Dogs have a process called gluconeogenesis. They convert fat to glucose. They don't need carbohydrates. In fact, carbohydrates damage them. When you have high glycemic carbs. You can give them carbs like the tapioca's good that American's know of Cassava, that's what the power is.
Half of that goes through into the gut, it's literally resisting being digested. So it goes into the gut and then feeds the good bacteria, that's why it's so healthy. So, if you look at Brother's that's got say 36% protein in the turkey formula, the truth of the matter is once you pull out the half the Cassava it's probably got 46% protein. So I can't put that on the label that's illegal. But I'm just telling you that's one of the reasons it functions so good.
So when you now go back to a dog who eats carbs, 35 to 65% carbohydrates, and high glycemic carbs you're talking rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes — what happens is in the dog it triggers insulin and the insulin converts it to fat, this is why so many dogs are overweight.
I think over half the dogs are all overweight and this is the reason why, they don't need carbs. This nonsense about a dog is basically changed by the few thousand years they've lived with men, that's not the way — the truth of the matter is 25,000 year old gray wolfs has mitochondrial DNA that is 99.8% identical to your dog. Or put it the other way your dog has mitochondrial DNA that is 99.8% identical to the gray wolf. This is after 25,000 years, that's the difference between a white man and a black man, just so you know, it's literally identical, there's slight little variations but you're basically saying that your little…
What kind of dog do you have?
Samantha: We have a Labrador retriever and little old beagle mix.
Richard: OK your little beagle mix — that's basically a gray wolf in a different shape. Now when it comes to diet, the nuclear DNA is different from the mitochondrial DNA. The mitochondrial DNA is the whole energy transfer system; from food, to energy, to the cell. That's what has remained the same and that's basically what we're talking about with diet and energy transfer.
The nuclear DNA is what they change, to change personality and shape. You can do that in a few generations, but the mitochondrial DNA, which is the diet, that's remained constant, and it's actually only passed through the female. And that's what nature does, that's specifically, so that doesn't change and you have slight change within a couple generations, you'd lose a whole species.
Now go back to the part where you're feeding a dog, a carnivore, who's system is designed to eat fat and meat. He goes and eats animal, and you've heard the arguments I'm sure. “Well sometimes, they eat an animal that was eating leaves, so in the stomach is some green.”
OK, so maybe there's 2-3 percent. It's ridiculous, you know, this argument. They eat an animal, they're a carnivore, they eat an animal; it's fat and it's meat and it's cartilage. I mean, that's what it is and that's what they're designed to eat. They don't need carbs. Through gluconeogenesis.
Samantha, if you and I had the ability, which we have to some degree, but if we had that kind of ability to convert fat to glucose, we'd be able to eat any damn thing we wanted. You could eat your heart's delight, because the fat is converted to glucose, but only the dogs can do that; well, to the degree that they can do it. Now nature puts that in there for a reason. In nature, nobody's feeding these dogs a course a day, these wild dogs.
Richard: So they might go a week without a kill. So they have to have to have the energy a week from now, to be able to chase the animal down and eat it; kill it and eat it, right?
So nature designed it so that when the dog, the wolf, the coyote needed energy a week after not having food it just simply converts fat to glucose, and the muscles have all the energy it needs.
So that's a big difference, and it's widely misunderstood. So, you know people think they can because dogs have been hanging around people eating carbs, that carbs are OK.
I have a 14-year-old son, he'll eat Cheerios, or cold cereal three meals a day if I let him. Will his body metabolize it? Absolutely. Is it good for him? Absolutely not. Ya know?
Richard: Just the argument that a dog can metabolize anything means that it's OK for the dog to eat it is beyond absurd. And you've got literally, you've got veterinarians saying stuff like this. It's a crazy country we live in! I mean I don't know how well traveled you are, but this country has… The AMA has dominated, I mean — have you ever been to a chiropractor?
Samantha: Yes, yep!
Richard: OK, they definitely help right?
Richard: The AMA will tell you that they don't exist, they're bad, they don't acknowledge that it's any good.
I mean c'mon, what kind of world are we living in where the AMA, the people in charge of our medical association, don't acknowledge chiropractors as legitimate? Ya know, you may know, you may know one, a couple doctors that will personally, but the AMA basically says “No”.
So now you got the FDA getting involved in food. I mean we all know that they OK drugs and food that are not good for us.
So imagine, what's going on with dogs. You've got veterinarians claiming they know what to do with food and they're not trained in nutrition at all, and they apparently don't do any of their own research. So, you've even got nutritionists, I mean these are people that are trained in nutrition and they don't understand gut biology.
It's as though they see the nutrients up in space somewhere not in the actual body. I mean I have talked to a PhD that's run million dollar, multi million dollar, tests for the big dog food companies. Because they are always trying to test to see what they can put in the dog without killing it. Honestly.
So they did all of these tests, to prove that this dog could metabolize certain food, well you know what they did, they literally introduced the food straight into the intestines without putting it through the system. And so that is going to teach them something, you know? The fact of the matter is a lot of these foods they do damage before they get there, you can't just isolate it the system is too complex.
So that's why the idea of empirical observation is so crucial and where we really had the gift of having this dog food store is we could literally observe real dogs, thousands and thousands of them over years and years.
Do you know what the test for dog food is? You know there is a feeding trial, do you know the specifics of how that works?
Richard: OK well here's how ridiculous it is. If you are going to do a feeding trial to supposedly prove that your dog food is OK. First of all, according to AAFCO, all the feeding trial is going to do is prove that the dog won't die if it eats that food for three months. That's right in their literature, that's all they're saying. That if your dog passes this test, if your food passes this test then it means that someone else can feed their dog your food and their dog won't die. They'll take eight dogs, you have to give them eight dogs, for the test, it is a three month test. Basically, they are going to feed these dogs for three months, at any time during this test you can remove two of the dogs without any explanation. So two of them could get sick and start to die, and you can remove them from the test without any notes about that, or any reference to it.
So now you have six dogs left. As long as you feed them that food for two months and they don't lose more than 15% or 20% of their body weight, something like that, and they don't die, they passed the test.
I mean. They could have hotspots. They could be itching like crazy. They could be going nuts. But, you would be given the AAFCO Stamp of Approval if you had an actual feeding trial to prove your food was good.
This is because originally, when the big manufacturers saw the FDA coming toward them, and the regulation coming toward them, they were pretty sharp. They said to each other, “Guys, we need to do our own self-regulation and hopefully sell it to the Government,” which is exactly what they did.
They formed a body of, basically, them, and said, “OK, let's make up the rules.” They made up the rules. So when the different States come and they say, “Well, shall we pay for all the research or shall we just accept AAFCO who's doing it themselves?” They all accept AAFCO. AAFCO just happens to be the big, big guys. So little guys like me, that actually make good food, are not allowed to say it because they make sure what you can and can't say on the labels on the food. Which, you know, it's unfortunate. They've got the fox guarding the chicken coop there.
But all this research, and you get these big-money companies. I mean, you're in an industry now where unfortunately, you have to make a living. But you're going to run up against this time and time again. It's a tough thing. Because no dog should be eating grain. And, anyone who does any research for any amount of time, would find that out, which means, unfortunately, they're making a hell of a lot of money on this food.
I've got a thing I was going to send you called a true cost chart. Basically as Brothers has designed a whole bunch of stuff in the food as well. But my point is, Brothers at 84 bucks a bag seems to be expensive. But the truth of the matter is, it's less expensive than probably 80% of the food out there. Because what nobody takes into account — and this would be a great blog article — is how much of this food you have to feed every day.
It's amazing to me, because women are usually extremely astute shoppers, and yet in 86% of the dog food sales I think is women, or at least on line it is. So when you buy food, and you're in the store selling dog food, in 11 years, not one person's ever asked me, well how much of this do you have to give a day. They just look at the sticker price. Oh this is expensive, it's 84. I'll take this 50 dollar food. Well the 50 dollar food you have to give two cups a day. The 84 dollar food you only have to give one cup a day.
So in the end, you're spending a hundred dollars instead of $84 and you're getting a food that's full of rice and crap. Grain, and… you know. It's going to make your dog sick and then you can go to the vet, and you'll spend another thousand or two thousand dollars.
Basically that's the way it's working right now. So when we saw that, we just decided — look, I said “guys, we got to look into making our own food; this is awful; this is just terrible.
So we found this guy, and we said — George, I want you to make the healthiest food possible in kibble form. Because that's what 98% of the dog owners feed. At that time I still thought raw was probably the best way to go. Although now I think the best way is Brothers with a topper, a raw topper, which is what we did.
Our dogs haven't seen a vet for 7 or 8 or 10 years, because they don't ever need a vet. They are totally healthy.
Basically we found this guy; and I said, “George, make me healthy food”. George said this guy had been in, at the time, over 30 years; and he's made food for every major company in America from research projects and everything. He said, “Well, you can't afford it”. And I said, “Well, you know, you should at least, and I want you to try. Just come up with a formula and let me see what.”
So he came back with a formula, and he was right basically. It's a little too expensive to do the normal way, but we thought — OK, we'll sell it in the store, and we'll sell it online, and see if we can make it happen, so we started to make it.
Sure enough, it's extraordinary work. Within months — 6 months; maybe 8 months — about 50 to 60% of the store had switched over to it and problems were melting away. We didn't do any advertising, couldn't afford it, didn't have any. It was all word of mouth. Generally speaking, approximately 50% of the people that start and get such results that they never got off it; they stayed on it.
Of the other 50%, after their dog got healthy, about half of them would drop off. The other half that dropped off would eventually come back a few months later once their dogs started getting sick on the old crap that they thought they were saving money on.
Basically there was just a steady growth from half the customers. The thing that I want to do really long term, is try to effect real change in the health and the quality of the food that's fed dogs. The raw thing… What do you feed? Do you feed raw?
Samantha: I feed — it's cooked — but it's a homemade. I make homemade dog food.
Richard: OK. Somewhere between that and what most people. Most people just don't have the time or the…
I mean, you've got to be intelligent to do homemade. You can do it for a while, but it's not easy to balance all the nutrients.
Samantha: No. And we work with a nutritionist to create recipes. We have our lab, who is obviously much bigger than our beagle, so we can't just make one food and feed it to both. They each have their own diet. Thankfully for me, I stay at home, I work from home, so I have more time than a lot of pet owners. We do do some raw; they get raw bones; there is some raw, but it's a homemade diet and we have to work with a professional nutritionist that's trained.
You mentioned it as well, because you worked with someone with a PhD. A lot of people just assume that your regular veterinarian is going to be able to recommend things about your dog's diet, but people don't realize that they're a general veterinarian and their actual canine or feline nutrition education is very minimal. Most of their education is on the things that they do the most which are things like spaying and neutering or treating common diseases and things like that. They're not actually educated completely on nutrition so a lot of people don't realize how important it is to work with a nutrition expert and not just your everyday vet.
Richard: Right. The guy that we use literally takes into account the temperature that it's cooked at and actually replaces anything that's heat damaged and we put in digestive enzymes and we actually add more prebiotics, special long-chain prebiotics that feed the good gut bacteria and not the pathogenic bacteria. The cheaper oligosaccharides that they put in their food prebiotic — if they're only one-two-three-four cells long — they're usually one or two — they can't eat it, they actually feed off of it. You want to get a long chain, like 12-14 chain, and then the good bacteria clogs up each end and then eats from the end in so that it's only accessible to them and not to the pathogenic bacteria. But then the other thing is that the probiotics that are put on, right?
See as long as you're willing to do it your way, you can do that. You can add probiotics right at the last minute. As long as the dog eats it up in a few minutes, you'll be fine. But all the probiotics you put in dog food, are 99.9% dead by the time the dog eats it. They're literally activated by the warmth and the moisture in the dog food itself.
So actually our PhD found this guy, a microbiologist up in the north somewhere, in Minnesota or Nebraska or something, and he makes an encapsulated probiotic. Which he sells to pig farmers and other animals, but he makes one for dogs too. So it's the only one that I'm aware of. But we use it because it delivers 99.8% of the probiotics to the gut where it's the reverse from regular.
You know, it's the kind of thing where they put those probiotics on the label, knowing they're not going to be alive when the dog eats it. It's just that kind of deceptive practices — I just find it distasteful. I know it's all about the money and making Corporate America happy, but…
If AAFCO were actually an agency that was trying to do good for dogs, I would think they'd do something about that. But, of course, they don't do that. So the long and short of it is, is that I don't think it's possible to fix the system. That's my guess. You know, you're looking at a couple companies that each do $18 billion in dog food. There's $36 billion right there between two companies. And now Blue Buffalo and another one that are at two billion each now — all this stuff.
Unfortunately, there's just no way around it as far as I can see. It's all happening in the gut. You look at all these poor dogs that are miserable, and we see them coming into the store all the time. It just breaks your heart.
There's a website that I get, because there are websites that are allergies for dogs. You just look at the stuff the pharmacy people put on there, and all they talk about is what kind of drugs — what's the latest drug you can give your dog. It just makes me sick. It's just a shame.
The hard part is — a lot of times people will believe you are just pushing the dog food. Now I will go on there, and I won't even tell them I'm making dog food to try and tell them what to do. It's not about that. It's about if you love dogs and you love animals, I just don't honestly see how you can make them suffer. I mean we eat animals. I wish I didn't have to, but I don't do it much anymore. It's just part of life. The suffering part I don't like. Did you ever see that movie, The Gods Must Be Crazy?
Samantha: No, no.
Richard: It's about life on the Serengeti. And the little people of Serengeti, and it's a true story. What they do is they like, shoot an antelope with just breaks the skin. It's a little sleeping potion, and it puts them to sleep. They follow it until it falls asleep. They say a prayer to the spirit of the antelope for thanking them for becoming part of their family, and they basically put the animal to sleep without it suffering at all. That seems to be as good a way as any.
You're basically home-feeding your dog, but 98 or I don't know — it's up there. People just can't be — they can't handle it. They're eating, just going to eat dry food. Basically what we tell them is… We put them, after the whole few years of raw, we put them on Brothers, because I know that's balanced nutrition and basically say — look if you go off topper, just put a raw topper on and then give them a raw bone at least once a week just for dental health. Basically, that's worked now for so many years.
I don't even know if that… I don't even know what. We don't use any topicals. This systemic flea things that's basically poisoning the dog's system to get revenge on the flea, which doesn't make any sense to me.
Samantha: Oh, it's absolutely — it's easy to see when you look at the statistics over the last 20 or 30 years and to see the rates of disease. And it's not just dogs. It happens in other animals. It happens in humans. The rate of disease just continues to increase. There's more cancers, more diabetes. Even rare diseases are becoming more popular. If you look at those trends in the medical side of it, along with the trends in what we're feeding or the different treatments that we use. Like you had mentioned the flea and tick treatments that I'm a big advocate against those as well, because it's just chemicals and toxins that you're putting on your dog's skin.
If you look, you've mentioned a lot about the pet food industry, too, but and I preach about that quite frequently whether it's in articles on Top Dog Tips or here on the podcast. I often talk about the things that you're putting in your dog's system when he's eating the lower quality commercial foods, the fillers, the additives, the preservatives, all the different dyes and artificial flavorings. The list goes on and on and on of the junk that's in a lot of commercial diets that you're giving your dog and he's just putting into his system.
It's terrible and if anybody thinks that it can't be the products we are using that are making our dogs sick, just look at those statistics on the medical end of it and see the huge increase in the rate of these major diseases like cancer and diabetes and things that continue to pop up.
It's frustrating. I think I see it a lot like you do. Most of the time when people ask me about pet food — very, very seldom, it's only happened a handful of times, that people asked me questions about the top quality foods, the more expensive foods; I always hear people say that they can't afford this diet, they can't afford that diet, so they just choose whatever the $20 bagged or $30 bagged dog food. When you factor in the cost of it, like you said that you're feeding less, which is a huge cost saver, and the veterinary bills. You're not paying to go to the vet because your dog has a rash, or he's chewing his fur off, or, you know, the ear infections have been linked back to the dog food. The veterinary cost and cost of the food and how much you're feeding, if people would think about that. They get that sticker shock, initially, but it certainly factors on it in different ways.
So hopefully the bare minimum that you guys take away from this interview and the information that Richard gave us today, and the things that he and I discussed, is that you need to do your research. It's so important as pet owners to research the… Let's talk about pet food, just because that's kind of what we focused on. Any product you purchase for your dog really. Research the food, the product itself, the company that manufactures it. If you still have questions, don't just assume that because it's not written on the website, it's not true; or if it's not written on the website, it must be true. You need to send a quick email; give a phone call to the customer service line; ask the questions that you have.
You are the one that's 100% responsible for your dog. The diet that he eats, the products that he uses. If your dog is being poisoned by something, some kind of toxic chemicals, either in the food, in the topical flea treatments, in the toys that he's chewing on — the sad reality of it is, it's your fault. It's our fault as pet owners for not educating ourselves, not choosing wisely the products that we're going to use for our pets. And the same can be said for cats, can be said for horses, can be said for any animal that you have.
A little bit of research, while it takes more time, obviously, than just going to the pet store and choosing the package that you like the best — it does take more time to get the research done, but in the long run it's going to save you time, it's going to save you money, you're not going to be dealing with the stress and the heartache and the struggle of having a sick dog.
And in the end it's going to add years to your pet's life, and of course that's what all of us are shooting for anyway, is to give our dogs the happiest, healthiest, longest life that we possibly can. And that, again, can be said for all pets, not just dogs. We want our pets to be with us as long as possible, and it's up to us to make sure that we provide them with the care and the proper nutrients, the proper food, the proper supplies to live that long and healthy life.
So if you guys have any questions, either for me or for Richard, anything that we can answer, I would love to have Richard back on here, so if you guys have a bunch of questions, leave them on our website which is theoryofpets.com. You can write them in an e-mail, you can record them, and we will use them on a future podcast.
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