Why isn’t there enough “Peer Reviewed” studies into the benefits of fresh foods for pets?

This is one of my biggest bug bears, because when your debating against the “White Coat Effect” many ask you for peer review studies to back up your view/claims, but when your view/claim goes against the coin, you’ll struggle to find any credible peer reviewed studies especially when it comes to fresh foods in pets. (White Coat Effect= Consumer that takes what their GP/Vet tells them as gospel and never challenge it)

Many people who see pet foods as something on their supermarket isles and don’t look any deeper won’t comprehend the politics within the Pet Food Industry, to the point when i have the discussion, i’m labelled a conspiracy theorist. Let me give you some clarity, in 2018 the Pet Food Industry in the UK alone had a value of approx £2.6 Billion now that is allot of COIN, this is primarily made up of “Complete Dry Foods(Kibble)” no doubt. (https://www.statista.com/statistics/469950/pet-food-sales-value-united-kingdom-uk/)

I’ll only be talking about the UK market and regulations in this blog as that’s where i’m from, In the UK the Pet Food Industry has nutritional guidelines in place set by the FEDIAF (European Pet Food Industry) See here for free (Downloadable PDF)

Now these guides are nutritional minimums set in respect Dogs and Cats are given by tweaking the NRC (National Research Council) figures of 2006 (See Page 22), These changes have been made because the FEDIAF didn’t agree with all studies and conclusions therefore, taking publications and studies from WALTHAM Pet Care Science Institute, who also provided “New and Improved” studies stating the NRC is out dated and tweaked them upon their findings. You maybe wondering why they tweaked them, but if i told you that the WALTAM Pet Care Science Institute was owned by the Mars Pet Care (Yes these are owned by the same company that make your chocolate bars) and the Banfield Hospital (Also owned by Mars Pet Care) then the tweaks should come at no surprise!

These tweaks make it easier to sell their previous, current and future pet food formulations.

As you can see, there is a big conflict of interest behind the governing bodies who put the guidelines in place and who benefits from them, None of this is opinion, I’ve linked in all the necessary places for you to fact check. This is also why the likes of WALTHAM will never “Peer Review” or publish the benefits of fresh foods as it goes against the coin, i know i said i’ll be talking about the UK Markets and Governance but WALTHAM are global institute, they also influence the AAFCO (Association of America Feed Control Officials) and WSAVA (Worldwide Small Animal Veterinary Association) and many others too,

You’ll also find many Veterinarians that condemn fresh food feeding, but that’s not their fault NEVER blame the vet, at the end of the day they’re surgeons and do epic work to save lives, however their nutritional training is minimal, as most qualify via the RCVS(Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) and well its not surprising the nutritional training is biased and minimal when you look at the resume’s of the council members of the RCVS , Some of which have had direct employment with WALTHAM . Their resume’s are epic and really impressive, when it comes down to bio-sciences! If i wanted a team to train vets on how to formulate pet foods from scratch with synthetic vitamins and minerals/poor quality whole food ingredients, then i’d 100% pick them , they are that talented! Second to none i’d say!

Lets see how the FEDIAF Defines there ingredients, which will help you read labels too!

Characteristics of a satisfactory pet food:
Complete – provides adequate amounts of all the required nutrients
Balanced – the nutrients are present in the correct proportions
Digestible –  your pet is able to digest the food and absorb the nutrients
Palatable – good smell and taste 
Safe – free from anything which could harm a pet

Meats are generally good sources of protein, essential fatty acids, iron and some B group vitamins. They also increase the palatability of a product and have a high digestibility.
FEDIAF members use by-products of the human food industry that come from animals slaughtered under veterinary supervision. These materials meet the very high safety and quality criteria laid down by regulations. Please see the legislation section on our website.
Members only use materials from species, which are generally accepted in the human food chain. The members use materials of beef, lamb, poultry, pork, fish, rabbit and game. 

Fish is a good source of high quality protein. Fish muscle contains iodine. Because bones are frequently ground when preparing the fish, a good source of calcium and phosphorus is also provided. The flesh of oily fish contains vitamin A & D and omega 3. Fish are commonly divided into two groups; white fish – haddock, plaice, cod, whiting and sole; oily fish – herring, pilchards, mackerel, sardines, tuna, salmon and trout. If you would like to find out more about the specific fish used in a particular pet food, please contact the manufacturer.

Dairy products and eggs provide high quality and digestible protein. Dairy products also provide calcium and a number of vitamins. Examples of dairy products used in pet food include cheese and milk products.

Vegetables provide a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Soya beans are commonly used to provide a source of protein and energy, omega 6, B vitamins fibre and minerals.

Cereals provide an important source of energy, a proportion of protein and other nutrients including thiamine and niacin. Although cats have no absolute dietary requirement for carbohydrates, they present an excellent energy source in an easily digestible form. Good sources of carbohydrates in pet foods are usually cereal based such as corn (maize), rice, wheat, barley or sorghum. Certain fibres, for example – moderately ferment-able fibres such as beet pulp or rice bran, can also have additional beneficial effects on the health of the digestive tract.

Fats and oils provide a supply of energy and essential fatty acids. They can be from vegeatble or animal sources and are important for optimal health, including kidney function, reproduction and a glossy coat. There are 2 different types of essential fatty acids (EFAs) – omega 3 & 6. Some fats also supply a source of vitamins A, D, E & K

Sodium is an essential nutrient and along with chloride is important for fluid balance in the body. Good sources of sodium in pet food include meat, poultry, fish, and eggs. Sodium may also be included in prepared pet foods in the form of table salt (sometimes listed on the ingredients panel as salt) to enhance taste.

NB  The National Research Council lays down guidelines on sodium levels for dogs and cats. Although sodium levels in human food can present a human health issue due to the risk of hypertension, sodium levels in prepared pet food are not a cause for concern in healthy adult dogs and cats. The physiological make up of a pet animal is quite distinct from that of a human. Healthy dogs and cats are actually able to consume diets with higher sodium levels than those found in most prepared pet foods without any adverse effects such as increased blood pressure or gain in body water. While a higher sodium intake may cause increased thirst and water consumption, the extra sodium is excreted without problem in the urine. In pets with disorders such as heart or kidney disease reduced salt diets may be advised. Such disorders must be discussed with a vet and appropriate dietary advice followed.

The term “various sugars” is a category description, which may refer to sucrose (cane sugar, commonly known as table sugar), fructose and glucose, all of which are natural products present in fruit, vegetables and cereals.
Some manufacturers may add sugar to pet foods as an energy source. Dogs and cats can easily convert sugar in to usable energy through normal digestion.
Manufacturers may also add very small amounts of sugar to assist with the cooking process. When sugar is cooked along with meat it results in browning of the meat and the production of natural sugars, (just the same as those produced in the cooking of the Sunday roast), this provides a pleasing colour and enhances palatability.
If sugar is included in addition to that which naturally occurs in the ingredients, levels are carefully controlled to ensure nutritional balance and palatability.

A supplementary supply of vitamins and minerals may be added to ensure pets are receiving the required daily dietary intake.

Additives which can be used in pet foods include vitamins, flavours, preservatives, antioxidants and colours. Most of the additives used in pet food are also used in our foods. Members only use legally permitted additives and only in the smallest amounts possible.


Preservatives can be artificial or natural, but either way they work by preventing the spoilage of food ingredients just like in our food.. It is therefore critical to have methods to prevent this deterioration and maintain high quality, nutritious, and palatable foods. Canned pet foods are protected from spoilage by their airtight storage in the can, but dry foods, even with modern packaging, must include preservatives to maintain the quality and safety of the food.

Natural preservatives, tocopherols (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), are the most commonly used in pet food. 


Dietary antioxidants play a substantial role in the long term health and well-being of pets. Some manufacturers may add biological antioxidants e.g. vitamins C & E and selenium, to pet foods to help support good health and neutralise free radicals.

I’m hoping the above helps you understand a little more behind the politics of the Pet Food Industry and there is allot more going on behind the scenes!

Well it’s not all doom and gloom and a conflict of interest, There is independent studies coming out now, but they need all the support they can get! There is a team called Dog Risk at the University of Helsinki! They have released an Epic study published in Pubmed in 2017 about the efficiency of Raw Meat based diets in dogs and cats and the results are astounding, you have to check it out!

Maria Fredriksson-Ahomaa 1Tiina Heikkilä 2Noora Pernu 3Sara Kovanen 4Anna Hielm-Björkman 5Rauni Kivistö 6

If you genuinely want to see more studies away from the COIN, then please support them as much as you can! 🙂

There is also epic work being carried out by the KetoPet Sanctuary, which are showing fresh foods given in a certain way in combination with other things can be the best fight towards cancer! Please check out their case studies: https://www.ketopetsanctuary.com/pages/case-studies

We also have incredible seminars being held in the UK about the benefits of fresh food feeding, which are being ran by a collaboration of the “HolisticVet Ltd” (Dr Nick Thompson) and “Dogs First” (Dr Conor Brady) Now these two are in my view, sent from above to help improve pet longevity by educating owners on the benefits of fresh foods!

We also have the incredible Healthful Dog Magazine! With recent Testimonials taken at random:

  • “I can thoroughly recommend this digital magazine (hard copies can be purchased from Amazon) I am so impressed, it is jammed packed full of fantastic information … Definitely one to add to your list Ladies & Gents” Patricia, Enfield
  • “Your magazine is amazing!” Donna, New Jersey

As you can tell the fresh food “Niche” has a battle on its hands when it comes to peer reviewed studies, but if you look in the right places, speak with right vet’s you’ll soon see they’re not needed, the proof is in the pudding, Would you GP recommend a 100% Processed food diet? No i doubt they would and if they did, no doubt you’d get a second opinion, The guidance for your pets should be no different!

Remember, My Canine Nutrition Workshop Handouts are on sale at £10, Comment for info or simply pay for the password https://mkabcaninenutrition.com/workshop-digital-content/

Remember Stay Alert, Stay Safe, Support the NHS and Save Lives

Michael K A Bennett- BCCSDip.HthNut

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