AAFCO Feeding Trials


With dilated cardiomyopathy emerging as a significant issue for dogs, especially golden retrievers, I’ve become more dismayed by the commercial pet food industry than ever. I even temporarily bought into the recommendation to feed a dog food made by Hills, Iams, Purina, Eukanuba or Royal Canin – all foods I never would feed my dogs before.

We were told their is “science” behind their foods. Following is the science.

AAFCO Feeding Trials

One of the ways for a pet food manufacturer to establish that its diet is “complete and balanced” or “for all life stages” is by conducting a feeding trial. The trial must follow guidelines established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). The protocol of an AAFCO feeding trial is summarized below. This information is available in the annual “Official Publication” published by AAFCO, and may be ordered by visiting http://www.aafco.org.
Only 8 animals (either dogs or cats) need to participate in the feeding trial. There is no restriction regarding breed or sex. Only 6 of these 8 need to complete the trial, which lasts for just 26 weeks. During the trial, the only food available to the test animals is the food being tested. Water is available ad libitum.

Before the trial starts, and after it ends, the participating animals must pass a physical examination by a veterinarian. The veterinarians evaluate general health, body and hair coat condition. At the end (but not at the beginning) of the trial, 4 blood values are measured and recorded: hemoglobin, packed cell volume, serum alkaline phosphatase, and serum albumin.

The diet being tested fails if any animal shows clinical or pathological signs of nutritional deficiency or excess. No dog or cat is allowed to lose more than 15% of its starting body weight. Specific minimum values for the blood tests are given, and applied to the average result of all participating animals that finished the trial.

In summary, the rules for the feeding trial appear very loose. The food being tested must merely keep 6 out of 8 seemingly healthy dogs/cats alive for 6 months, without them losing more than 15% of their initial body weight, and without the average of 4 certain blood values falling below minimum levels. Most nutritional deficiencies or excesses will not be apparent within a brief 6 month period, as they tend to take much longer to develop. It certainly seems that the AAFCO Feeding Trial leaves a lot to be desired, as far as confirming the safety and reliability of pet foods!
Article written by J. Boniface,

Need a Bigger Bed

Took the pups camping at Westmoreland State Park as we realized Menia had never been camping.

The dogs were great. Settled right into the little cabin.

Loved hiking with all the new smells.

However, Joe and I did not settle right in.

Taking four dogs out to potty in the rain in the black of night is miserable. Don’t know how people who don’t have fences manage.

And sharing a less than full size bed with four goldens pushed us out of our comfort zone!

So Menia had her first, and possibly last, camping adventure.

Paw Print Ornament


Before hanging up all the ornaments and wrapping the tree in tinsel, make sure to include your pet in the festivities by creating this one-of-a-kind keepsake. Making their paw print into an ornament is the perfect way to include them in the fun and to make your Christmas tree personal. Plus, it’s so easy to make!

What You Need:
1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1 (or more) awesome pets
Mix the flour and salt in a bowl.
Slowly add the water until you get a doughy consistency. (Add more water if it’s too dry, more flour if it gets too wet.)
Knead into a ball.
Roll out the dough onto a cookie sheet.
Push your pet’s paw into the dough. (*Note: you may need to bribe them with a treat.)
Cut a circle around her print and make a hole for the ribbon.
Pop it in a 200 degree oven for about two hours.
Once cooled, decorate the ornament to fit your pet’s personality.

Heart Failure


Miss Menia had her 9 month cardiac recheck and it appears her low heart rate and pumping from her left ventricle is normal for her. She had another echocardiogram and Pro BNP blood test that measures whether or not her heart is working too hard. All normal.

Then the little punk followed her brother Riley off into the woods when we came back from our walk. Riley came right back. Menia did not as she was clearly lost. Joe walked the woods and I took the van down some of the dirt roads in the woods calling for her. Never saw her run so fast to get to the van. She was literally making crying noises as she ran to me. Her heart may be fine, but she gave Joe and me heart failure today!

Post Hemangiosarcoma

Ruby fairy

I ordered only two fairy costumes for my three golden girls. Madeline had been diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma and, even though my vet thought Maddie had a good chance to live months, maybe even a year, I did not.

(Here’s a good article about hemangiosarcoma I didn’t read until after Maddie crossed the bridge. https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/health/on-the-horizon-hemangiosarcoma-studies/)

I felt bad about buying only two costumes, but I knew Maddie well and knew she had been ill for a while. First she injured her neck, then it was discovered she had fractured two teeth.  Only four days after her teeth extractions (five altogether) she was diagnosed. She had a few good days, but none were 100%.

We have slowly adjusted to life without Madeline, but we miss her. I know she now a beautiful fairy and doesn’t need a costume!

Menia halloween 2019

Good Job Menia!

Menia and me

Menia did her first ever home visit and she was PERFECT.  Since taking a break from rescue a few months ago, we hadn’t done anything other than give supplies and $ to a few local rescues.

MOMA’s, a group from South Carolina that adopts along the east coast, asked us to do a visit for a family in Piney Point who was interested in adopting an 8 week old puppy. (I’ve done visits for them before.)

The puppy they are interested in is a retriever mix, so likely will grow up to be about Menia’s size.

I expected Menia to get into everything as she does at home and the family would think twice about getting a puppy, but instead, she snuggled with the two very nice children and went to sleep!

I can see more home visits in Menia future.


Stella and Chewy’s New Kibble



stellasFinally, a kibble I can feed my pups. Stella and Chewy’s newest kibble has no potatoes or legumes which are currently linked to the heart disease Dilated Cardiomyopathy.  While still not from one of the five companies that does research, the new food comes in beef and lamb and chicken.

The beef does not contain chicken fat. We avoid all chicken products with our girl Ruby Tuesday. And, as it should, meets AAFCO feeding requirements.

This new food even adds Taurine. Here is the ingredients list from the bag I special ordered at Wag N Wash today.

Beef, lamb meal, oatmeal, pearled barley, pork meal, beef liver, beef fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), pumpkin, quinoa, natural vegetable flavor, beef kidney, beef tripe, beef bone, sunflower oil, flaxseed, salmon oil, coconut flour, salt, pumpkin seed, organic cranberries, organic spinach, organic beets, organic carrots, organic squash, organic blueberries, inulin (from chicory root), thyme, sage, rosemary extract, tocopherols (preservative), dried kelp, choline chloride, potassium chloride, taurine, calcium carbonate, zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate, vitamin E supplement, thiamine mononitrate, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, dried Pediococcus acidilactici fermentation product, dried Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product, dried Bifidobacterium longum fermentation product, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product.

Our pups eat Stella’s raw Tantalizing Turkey and sometimes beef for breakfast.

I’ll use this kibble as a base and add some additional lean meat, yogurt or pumpkin and seasonal fruits/veggies – not because I need to, but because I like to.

So we’ll be chugging down our huge bag of Farmina, and on to Chewy’s kibble at least for a while.

Kong Kapers


Kongs stuffed with canned dog food and frozen are the only “chews” I let my dogs have when I’m not home to supervise them.

I make one per day when we are away and have a pet sitter come, so we HAD 15. I noticed my kong stash was dwindling, so we went for a kong search.

Looked under the bed.

Moved the couch.

Searched the woods.

Peered in the toy boxes.

Scanned the azaleas.

Checked out the doggy dugouts.

We only have 12.

So I ordered 4 more to cover our upcoming trip.

Not sure where these things go.