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In part one I talked about how the big four pet food companies have track records of not giving two hoots about human (adult and baby) health or animal health. Well it’s not the only reason I don’t trust them to feed my dog.

In this post I’m going to pick on Mars Inc. a lot, remember Mars pet “food” includes Pedigree, Cesar, Goodlife Recipe, Nutro, Whiskas, and Royal Canin, and they sell billions of dollars worth of this stuff. Just because Mars bear the brunt of this post doesn’t mean I’m any more inclined to let any of the other pet “food” companies near my dog, let alone let him eat their product.

So why Mars in particular? Well I don’t like companies that sell something that causes a problem (Pedigree, Cesar, Goodlife Recipe, Nutro, Whiskas, Royal Canin) and then go on to sell the supposed solution (Dentastix). Mars jumps out as the obvious target here because of their TV add where they put bright white sets of human teeth in dog’s mouths (stop trying to convince me that a dog is an omnivore it won’t work!). But I could equally point the finger at Hills “Science” Diet with it’s Adult Oral Care food where they encourage you to clean your dog’s teeth using a biscuit, I may as well throw out my toothbrush and have a digestive before bed then?

Raw Meaty Bones = healthy teeth and gums which means no periodontal disease which is really important as periodontal disease can lead to all sort of immune system and major organ problems, many of which you likely won’t even notice poor Fido is suffering from. I should probably hunt around to see if there is a study that proves dogs on a diet of raw meaty bones have healthier gums and cleaner teeth than their mince or kibble fed counterparts but I personally don’t feel the need and here’s why:

  • I belong to countless raw feeding groups (some from when I first started raw feeding and needed some support and some so that I can network for this blog and also help others out). Time and time again people comment on how quickly their dog’s breath stops smelling and their teeth become cleaner on switching to raw meaty bones. Only yesterday I read a post where someone said pretty much all their dog’s tartar build up was gone after their very first meal of raw meaty bones.
  • This Royal Veterinary College paper states “Periodontal disease is the most common infectious disease of adult dogs. It is a progressive, cyclical inflammatory disease of the supporting structures of the teeth and is the main cause of dental disease and early tooth loss in dogs and cats. It affects over 87% of dogs and 70% of cats over three years of age.”  They also note “With natural diets, the action of the cheek teeth in breaking down tough and fibrous food to swallowable strips can also help to remove plaque.” (You can’t see it but I am doing a double thumbs up here!).
  • Mars Inc have done some of the work for me by also stating openly that periodontal disease is the most commonly diagnosed disease in dogs aged 3+. They say hard kibble is slightly better than canned food (slightly better than wet slop, so ineffective then!) at keeping plaque from accumulating. I’m pretty confident if they had anything that was more effective than raw meaty bones at cleaning teeth they’d be shouting it from the roof tops but they don’t.

So having sold you biscuits or something in a can, both of which are going to stick to your dog’s teeth so by age 3 chances are they have periodontal disease what is Mars solution? Mix together the following:

“Rice Flour, Wheat Starch, Glycerin, Gelatin, Gum Arabic, Calcium Carbonate, Natural Poultry Flavor, Cellulose Powder, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Salt (Iodized), Potassium Chloride, Vitamins (Choline Chloride, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate {source of Vitamin C}, Vitamin A Supplement, Niacin, D-calcium Pantothenate, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride {Vitamin B6}, Dl-alpha Tocopherol Acetate {source of Vitamin E}, Thiamine Mononitrate {Vitamin B1}), Potassium Sorbate (a Preservative), Smoke Flavor, Zinc Sulphate, Green Tea Extract, Turmeric, Iron Oxide, Copper Sulfate.”

form into an “X” shape and tell you to feed it every day. It’s brilliant for their shareholders as it means they sell even more product but it’s not so good for Fido because he then ends up eating even more grains and exciting things like Sodium Tripolyphosphate, which although “generally regarded as safe” by the FDA is also used extensively in cleaning products.

But does it work? Mars have put a video on line to show you Dentastix in action, against my better judgement as I hate seeing dogs eating junk food I opened it, I needn’t have worried, it was a computer generated video showing how a computer generated dog controlled by Mars would use a Dentastix, not much help then.

They also say it is “Clinically proven to reduce up to 80% of tartar buildup*—a contributor to gum disease—when used as part of a daily oral care routine.” See that little star there, well before we start worrying about the quality of their clinical study let me tell you the average reduction was 47%. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that over time the overall tartar is going to increase because less than 50% is being removed by this product.

Because we mere mortals couldn’t possibly understand the efficacy trial they’ve put this under information for professionals. 60 Beagles were evaluated pre trial, their teeth were cleaned and then they were split into a control and test group, both were fed a standard dry diet and the test group got one Dentastix daily, the control group got nothing else. The test ran for four weeks and then they scored their teeth again, calculus (tartar) was reduced on average by 47% which is what they bury in their main advertising, plaque by an average of 24%, is this mentioned, errr nope, they focus on the tartar result and ignore the plaque one.

Excuse me if these results don’t have me running to my nearest pet shop for a bag of these X-shaped (they actually patented the shape!) wonders.

I will say that if I was a Mars shareholder who didn’t care at all about dogs or their owners then all this is a stroke of genius. Create a problem, create a solution that doesn’t work that well and then put a bit of marketing spin on it and hey presto increased turnover. But I’m not, I’m someone who wouldn’t let Mars anywhere near my dog, let alone let him eat their product.

Now if these sticks work better than dry biscuits (which I’d expect them to as cleaning teeth with a biscuit, well you couldn’t make it up!) then I can’t imagine that any of the dry food offerings from Nestlé (Purina, Purina One, Alpo, Beneful, Busy Bone, Chew-rific, Deli-Cat, Dog Chow, Fancy Feast, Friskies, Gourmet Gold, Mon Petit, HiPro, Kibbles and Chunks, Kit ‘N Kaboodle, Mighty Dog, Pro Plan, TBonz, Purina Veterinary Diets, Whisker Lickin’s), Colgate-Palmolive (Hill’s Science Diet, Hill’s Prescription Diet), Procter & Gamble (Eukanuba, Iams) or any of the other pet food companies work very well, if at all.

So even if I put aside that the pet food companies’ products are full of absolute rubbish why would I allow a company that sells something that causes a problem, and then sells me a poor solution to the problem that they have created, to feed my dog? Who are therefore treating me like an idiot. Answer, I wouldn’t, nope, no way would I trust a pet food company to feed my dog.

I leave you with the meal he had half way through me writing this post, we’re visiting my mum so he’s dining al fresco. And just to balance out the Mars robot dog video here is one of Ted cleaning his teeth with some chicken.