Why You Should Never Trust Dog Food Advisor

Dog Food

What Is Dog Food Advisor?

If you have ever done dog food research on Google, you have probably come across this SEO-friendly website which appears to be an informative resource related to dog food that dog owners can trust.

Dog Food Advisor (DFA) is a website where more than 950 dog food brands have been evaluated, based on their ingredients and guaranteed analyses.

Furthermore, they are ranked and those that earned 5 stars are the best.

The Truth About Dog Food Advisor: It Was Created by a Dentist

There are many reasons why you should no trust the Dog Food Advisor website and the first one is that Mike Sagman, creator, writer, and editor of DogFoodAdvisor.com is actually a retired dental surgeon.

This is stated on the “About Dog Food Advisor” page and he is not a person who is educated to evaluate dog food, even though he loves dogs and his undergraduate studies included a major in chemistry and a minor in biology.

We need to emphasize the fact that a background in any science cannot give someone more authority in the area of veterinary medicine and nutrition.

He has not any degrees in nutrition, human or animal, even though he states that he is interested in canine nutrition.

Dr. Sagman has learned about pet nutrition when he had time, instead of undergoing the rigorous training of licensed professionals.

However, besides the fact that he has no credentials of any form in animal science, his website would be accepted as appropriate and informative if he would cite credible academic sources and peer-reviewed research.

Unfortunately,  he does not do this.

Dog Food Advisor Defies Veterinary Nutritionists

Among people who support “alternative” information like that on Dog Food Advisor, you will be able to hear that veterinarians have little or no training in animal nutrition.

Due to this belief, numerous people trust various websites and blogs that they find on Google.

Dog Food Advisor is a website whose creator and writer has no veterinary training and knows little about animal nutrition.

What is even more worrisome is that DFA challenges the consensus recommendations of board-certified veterinary nutritionists.

The website claims that advice provided by those who are the most qualified experts in animal nutrition is not proper.

Their contributions are often criticized, dishonored, claimed to be manipulations controlled by a “Big Pharma” or “Big Pet Food” entity.

We need to state that board-certified veterinary nutritionists disagree with the claims that Dog Food Advisor confidently promotes.

Dog Food Advisor Beliefs

  • You can notice that DFA claims to be science and fact-based, but they are doing completely the opposite. The site keeps on promoting non-evidence-based claims including the myth that corn is a suspect ingredient in dog food. This is based on incidents of pets that got allergies after taking in this food despite the fact that studies suggest corn allergies are the least common allergy.
  • The site states that there is a claim made by the pet food industry that corn has a low glycemic index (GI), but this has not been claimed. DFA thinks about ingredients rather than the finished products, which were proved to be safe and healthy for pets based on feeding trials and other research.
  • The website is also focused on is the fact that dogs should be fed some form of “ancestral diet”. However, dogs are not wolves, and they do not live a wild wolf lifestyle. Plus, even wild wolves do not have ideal diets in the wild.
  • It has to be mentioned that there are general veterinarians who promote non-evidence-based claims and they call themselves”holistic” or “wellness” veterinarians. You may come across their therapies for pets that have little or no evidence and one of them is Dr. Karen Becker. She is a well-known advocate of non-evidence-based medicine for pets and for promoting products as cancer cures, resulting in warnings from the FDA.

Changing Ratings

DFA tends to change its rating without any evident reasons.

For example, Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food changed from one star in 2010 to 3 stars in 2019.

the diet’s rating changed even though little has changed with the formula in the ingredients list and guaranteed analysis.

You may be wondering why they changed the ratings.

Well, the main reason may be that in 2010 myths about pet food were not controlled and veterinarians were not speaking out against it.

Yet, DFA follows trends, not science.

The 2010 DFA page contains claims such as:

  • The ingredient “animal fat” in the recipe could possibly include “restaurant grease, slaughterhouse waste, diseased cattle… even euthanized pets.”
  • In 2010, about by-products: “we tend to dislike dog foods made with low-quality plant or animal by-products”. The site favors meat, and by-products are meat, but they probably think about the parts of the animal that some human cultures find unappealing (organs). DFA no longer includes by-products in controversial ingredients.
  • The site studies the ingredient list, and this is known to be the wrong method. Certified nutritionists consider it a useless method of judging dog food.
  • DFA has changed and keeps on changing their belief about certain ingredients it previously labeled as bad. They are probably trying to maintain some credibility.

We believe that you should rely on the thoughts and claims of those who have nutritional expertise and should consider reading a board-certified nutritionist’s take on ingredient analysis.

Mike Sagman actually claims that the ratings and selections on his site are chosen with verifiable facts, not “unproven claims.”

The foundation of DFA’s information about “ancestral diet” for dogs is found in a book entitled See Spot Live Longer by Steve Brown and Beth Taylor.

This is a book that was written by two people who are not veterinary nutritionists.

Plus, these people are not even vets and have no credentials in nutrition, animal, or otherwise, so why should they be trusted?

And, why is Beth, a non-vet, teaching vets about nutrition?

What happened is that Beth and Steve developed a non-WSAVA compliant brand of dog food which has received 5 stars on DFA.

Beth and Steve outline their beliefs about pet food without any scientific evidence and their article is hosted on a page that hosts other pseudo-scientific topics including – mobile phones cause brain damage and vaccines cause autism.

In July 2020, the website included references that were not seen before and that came from valid sources.

The references listed only show that carbohydrates are not essential nutrients in dogs, but that they are proven to be highly digestible and beneficial for dogs.

t is very important to state that these claims that are not based on science influence the decisions of pet owners.

Plus, they are directly responsible for the rise in nutritional DCM, a terrible disease.

Dog Food Advisor Statement (2010)

Potentially Harmful Foods Given “5 Star” Ratings

Actually, what Dog Food Advisor wants to point out are “controversial” ingredients of dog food.

However, the controversy they mention often stems from myths and non-evidence-based claims.

The website also challenges the very serious implication of DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy) and its association with “BEG” dog foods that do not meet the established criteria of WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association).

WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) emphasizes the high-quality standards for pet food companies such as the employment of a certified nutritionist, quality control measures, and others with the aim to make the best possible and the healthiest food for dogs.

The website goes so far as to grant one of the brands (Orijen) that have been specifically indicated in the FDA’s report as bad.

Also, there were instances when dogs without a genetic disposition for DCM have overturned their heart disease when they were switched to diets that adhere to WSAVA guidelines.

Some DFA Ratings (2019)

  • Orijen Dry Dog Food: 5 Stars. This is considered to be “Best Dry Dog Foods” due to “above average meat content”, moderate carbs, “no high-risk preservatives,” “no anonymous meat,” “safe fat to protein ratio,” and supposedly “superior safety practices.” On the other hand, according to the evaluation of educated people, this brand does not meet WSAVA guidelines, and what is even worse, it was listed by the FDA in the DCM warning.
  • Purina Pro Plan Focus: 3.5 Stars. Ingredients cited include whole grain wheat and whole grain corn. The site considers it an “inexpensive and controversial cereal grain of only modest nutritional value to a dog”. This brand meets WSAVA guidelines meaning that it was formulated in consult with board-certified veterinary nutritionists.
  • Hill’s Science Diet Adult Dog Food: 3 Stars. Ingredients cited include brewer’s rice, wheat, corn gluten meal, and dried beet pulp. This brand has a “recommended” label, but its score is lowered for “below-average protein” and “above average carbs.” The brand meets WSAVA guidelines.

The Bottom Line

To conclude, Dog Food Advisor is a website whose owner is an individual who does not fully understand pet nutrition.

He cannot speak about the development of pet food due to the fact that he is not trained in animal nutrition.

However, so as to reach more credibility, the founder keeps on updating his site with increasingly accurate information.

You need to have in mind that Dog Food Advisor’s rating system is based on a non-scientific publication written by two unqualified individuals and the information you find there can be inaccurate, potentially harmful, and can lead to poor health in some dogs.

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