Fat Content of Human Food

Let’s talk about labeling for human foods, so we can better understand how much fat is in them. The first thing you should know is that this is always going to be guesswork on our part because nutrition labels for human food do not list the moisture content. What we need to do here is combine data with common sense in order to come up with a best guess about whether we can try a food.

This question often comes up in the context of treats, and my usual response is not to chance it, period. But sometimes we have other reasons for needing to give human foods. On our Facebook group there was a recent discussion about how to entice a dog to take a pill that can’t be cut or crushed. Most of us will want to hide that pill in something the dog will eat, but what? Let’s look at some labels and see if we can figure this out.

The example label I’ve posted here (you can click on it for a larger version) shows a lot of information, but it’s tricky to interpret. Most of us would want to look at that label and say this food is 10% fat, because that’s what the label says, right? Well, no. What that number to the right actually means is that one serving of this food will provide you with 10% of the total fat recommended for the average person to consume in a day.

A better way to approximate fat content is to look at the serving size and the number of grams of fat the food contains. The serving size for this food (top right) is listed as 55g, or 55 grams. The amount of fat in a serving is listed as 8 grams. Then we do a little math: grams of fat per serving divided by the total number of grams in a serving, in this case it’s 8/55. You can then multiply this result by 100 to get the percent of fat per serving, which is what we really need. Here’s how this example works out:

    (8/55)*100 = 14.5

    The percent of fat per serving is 14.5%.

But now we need to talk about dry matter percents, which is what really counts. The true percentage of fat in any food can only be correctly described when we adjust for the moisture content of that food. This label doesn’t tell us how much water is in the food, so we can’t do a calculation to determine this. All we can do is look at the food and make a decent guess. If the food is moist or wet, we can assume that the actual fat content of digestible matter will be significantly higher than what we’ve just calculated. If the food is dry, like a cracker, we can assume that the number we’ve calculated is close to correct.

In this case, that’s a significant amount of fat, even for a dry food. I like to see numbers closer to 4% and below. That’s based on the dry matter content of the canned prescription diet that’s most often fed to our dogs, which is 4.1% fat, as calculated here: http://fnae.org/dmb.html

I hope this is helpful!

Louie’s mom is now retired from her previous work at the University of California, Davis.  She works part-time as a pet sitter, caring for others’ pets in their absence, and functions as the admin of the Canine Lymphangiectasia Educational Support Group on Facebook.  Donations through PayPal help her find the time to continue to provide information and research to others struggling with CIL.  If you find this information helpful, please consider a small donation.  Thank you.

PLE: What is it, exactly? And what is PLN?

PLE or PLN?  What are these labels?  PLE = Protein Losing Enteropathy and PLN = Protein Losing Nephropathy.

What does that mean, and do we need to worry about both of them?

There’s a lot of confusion around these terms, and additional confusion arises due to the fact that there are other protein losing diseases, as well. I want to try to clear up some of that confusion.

First, let’s talk about PLE. What does that mean? Well, “enteropathy” means “disease of the intestine.” So, “protein-losing enteropathy” would refer to a disease of the intestine that causes protein loss. Canine Intestinal Lymphangiectasia is one of these diseases.

An important point is that CIL is just one of many forms of PLE, and treatments for these diseases vary depending on the form.

You can think of it the way you think of the word “cancer.” Cancer is a broad term, covering many kinds of disease. PLE is also a broad term that covers many kinds of disease. With cancer, we narrow down the term to enhance the meaning, usually by adding a location: brain cancer, or lung cancer, or skin cancer. They are all cancers, but they are not treated in the same way. You don’t shoot radiation at the brain to cure lung cancer.

PLE is a similar term. There are many things that can lead to a loss of protein through the intestine, and they are all treated in different ways. CIL is one form of PLE and it has very specific treatments that don’t apply to other forms.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, I want to mention PLN. That stands for “protein-losing nephropathy.” Nephropathy is defined as a disease of the kidney, so PLN is a disease in which protein loss occurs due to kidney dysfunction. It is not the same disease that our dogs have, it is not related in any way, and is not treated in the same way. There are dogs here who have both, but If your dog has PLN and not CIL, you’re in the wrong group. You’re welcome to be here, as there are common issues with protein loss, but we won’t be much help in terms of helping you find the proper treatment for PLN.

There’s a Facebook group for PLN in dogs, but I have no idea if it’s a quality group. Those who have PLN dogs might want to check it out, though. https://www.facebook.com/groups/473665082680477/

Louie’s mom is now retired from her previous work at the University of California, Davis.  She works part-time as a pet sitter, caring for others’ pets in their absence, and functions as the admin of the Canine Lymphangiectasia Educational Support Group on Facebook.  Donations through PayPal help her find the time to continue to provide information and research to others struggling with CIL.  If you find this information helpful, please consider a small donation.  Thank you.

What is a “Novel” Protein, and Why They’re Important

 

If your dog has never eaten any of these meats, they are considered “novel” proteins.

 

I want to talk about elimination diets again, and specifically about the concept of “novel” proteins.

Elimination diets are used to determine what foods agree with your dog, and they’re used a lot in dogs that have IBD. These diets are meant to determine what protein sources your dog can safely eat.

Many of our CIL dogs also have IBD. Dogs with IBD are sensitive to certain proteins (meats). It’s similar to an allergy. Just as with allergies, they become sensitive specifically *after* exposure to that protein. So, a dog that’s never had turkey can’t possibly be sensitive to it. That would make it a good option to try if your dog is having problems like this.

A protein source that your dog has never been exposed to is called a “novel” protein.

Sometimes the challenge for us is to find a food that is both low-fat and novel. If you mix up a bunch of different meats and feed them to your dog at once, none of those meats will be novel anymore. Your dog might now be sensitive to all of them.

This is why I’m always saying choose a low-fat protein and feed that, and only that, until you’re sure it isn’t helping. The idea is that you will still have options if your dog becomes sensitive to the food that agreed with him yesterday.

So please don’t feed this and that and the other thing, even if it all seems to agree with your dog. You’re limiting your options down the road when you do that, if you should ever need them.