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Scientific studies into wet v dry food?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have any links to actual reasearch into potential problems of feeding a dry food diet?

I have lots of links about feeding wet food, and the articles I've read combined with my own knowledge of cat physiology are sufficient for me to be convinced that feeding wet food is the right thing to do. However, it can be harder convincing others! I'm currently having email communication with someone from a cat rescue whose website claims that cats should be switched from wet food to dry food (they actually claim that wet food does not contain enough protein! I've explained about dry matter analysis). I included a few links re nutrition, but this person is very sceptical and was rather offended that I dared to criticise (I thought I'd been nice about it!) and said that they wouldn't believe me unless I could come up with scientific proof. I'm not expecting them to start advocating wet food over dry, but I am alarmed that they are telling people who adopt from them to get their cats onto dry food because it's better for them. Does anyone have any references or links to any such studies? At one time I did have an article that quoted a study regarding urine being more concentrated in cats fed on dry food, but I can't find it now.
post #2 of 25
I'll be interested in seeing if anyone comes up with anything. I suspect there aren't many if any at all. I think that is why vets are so convinced that the foods they recommend and stock are OK. My vet is fond of saying that there is only "anecdotal" evidence of the some of the things I bring up with her. Surely the university vet schools have done some kind of research??
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
I suspect the problem is that most research is funded by drug companies or food manufacturers, and the food giants like Hills won't want to fund research that might imply the food they push is not good for cats! Over here, food manafacturers like Hills even contribute to the funding of veterinary colleges, so I guess the likes of the RCVS won't want to bite the hand that feeds.

I have found this article containing references and abstracts, but haven't had time to read through it properly yet to see if it contains anything useful.

http://tedeboy.tripod.com/drmichaelwfox/id88.html
post #4 of 25
I do not think there are any scientific studies but sure would love studies to be done.
post #5 of 25
This is a good source:

http://maxshouse.com/feline_nutrition.htm

Towards the bottom it talks about wet vs dry and references a number of professional journals. There is a complete reference list at the bottom. You'd have to look up the references to see if any of them are actual studies.

I haven't read the whole page, I don't know if it specifically mentions any studies or not.

You might email the web site owner and ask him if he can provide what you are looking for.
post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by urbantigers View Post
Does anyone have any links to actual reasearch into potential problems of feeding a dry food diet?

I have lots of links about feeding wet food, and the articles I've read combined with my own knowledge of cat physiology are sufficient for me to be convinced that feeding wet food is the right thing to do. However, it can be harder convincing others! I'm currently having email communication with someone from a cat rescue whose website claims that cats should be switched from wet food to dry food (they actually claim that wet food does not contain enough protein! I've explained about dry matter analysis). I included a few links re nutrition, but this person is very sceptical and was rather offended that I dared to criticise (I thought I'd been nice about it!) and said that they wouldn't believe me unless I could come up with scientific proof. I'm not expecting them to start advocating wet food over dry, but I am alarmed that they are telling people who adopt from them to get their cats onto dry food because it's better for them. Does anyone have any references or links to any such studies? At one time I did have an article that quoted a study regarding urine being more concentrated in cats fed on dry food, but I can't find it now.
I am to the point where I no longer care about studies or even what other people recommend to me on this site. The point is that my cats are unique individuals that thrive on nothing but dry food. They have never had a sick day, have never had a furball, their poo is perfectly formed and their facility does not stink. These studies may in fact be the right thing to do for the vast majority but I can see what is right for my cats.
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Persi & Alley View Post
I am to the point where I no longer care about studies or even what other people recommend to me on this site. The point is that my cats are unique individuals that thrive on nothing but dry food. They have never had a sick day, have never had a furball, their poo is perfectly formed and their facility does not stink. These studies may in fact be the right thing to do for the vast majority but I can see what is right for my cats.
I would be interested to see how your cats do with dental issues as they progress in age on an all-dry diet.
post #8 of 25
There was an interesting program on CBC Radio 1 yesterday talking about human nutrition and how most human doctors don't know enough about nutrition to be advising their patients about their diet and they mentioned vets were in the same situation where they didn't have enough knowledge on animal nutrition.
post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
There was an interesting program on CBC Radio 1 yesterday talking about human nutrition and how most human doctors don't know enough about nutrition to be advising their patients about their diet and they mentioned vets were in the same situation where they didn't have enough knowledge on animal nutrition.
Isn't that strange, considering how many human and pet illnesses are diet related? Maybe it's because doctors and vets are treatment oriented rather than prevention oriented??
post #10 of 25
I don't have scientific proof but I talked to my vet about it and basically...

A cat an on an all dry diet is technically more dehydrated than a cat on a wet diet. A cat on a dry diet is more likely to have urinary tract issues because a cat on a wet diet is getting ample water to dilute the urine it produces [so it doesn't form crystals.] Yes most cats do just fine on dry food, however cats are notorius for not drinking enough water, they're cats, they aren't like dogs, they don't slop over to the water bowl all the time.

Also vets try to tell you that dry food will help your cats teeth. Many cats don't even chew their food, and as most vets will tell you when they are trying to sell you, t/d by Hill's Prescription diets is the ONLY food proven to clean teeth. The kibbles are huge, and therefore more likely to be chewed, and they are made to not break down quite as easily as normal kibble. So dry vs. vet doesn't make for cleaner teeth.

The thing is, regardless of facts, people believe what they want to and will do what is most convenient for them
----

I found this article, don't know if it's helpful:
http://www.articlealley.com/article_16231_54.html

And also even though Whiskas sucks... when I was googling for articles they're having a "wet food challenge" because feeding wet food helps keep your cat healthy :p
http://www.whiskaswetchallenge.ca/EN/index.html
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mschauer View Post
Isn't that strange, considering how many human and pet illnesses are diet related? Maybe it's because doctors and vets are treatment oriented rather than prevention oriented??
I think there is a lot of truth there. They know the medical stuff (but we are still told to get second opinions interestingly). How many of us get second opinions for our pets? Something to think about.
post #12 of 25
My vet told me NOT to feed wet food because it can cause intestinal problems of some sort. I found that odd, as it was the exact opposite of advice given here. As with everything, I read up a bit and talked to various sources and decided what was best for me and Moses. We do mostly dry, with a bit of wet at night. Its working for us.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley45 View Post
My vet told me NOT to feed wet food because it can cause intestinal problems of some sort. I found that odd, as it was the exact opposite of advice given here. As with everything, I read up a bit and talked to various sources and decided what was best for me and Moses. We do mostly dry, with a bit of wet at night. Its working for us.
Another perfect example of a vet that knows little to nothing about diet and nutrition.
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashley45 View Post
My vet told me NOT to feed wet food because it can cause intestinal problems of some sort. I found that odd, as it was the exact opposite of advice given here. As with everything, I read up a bit and talked to various sources and decided what was best for me and Moses. We do mostly dry, with a bit of wet at night. Its working for us.
That is very strange. We just found a vet who specializes in cats in our area, and she was glad and wanted to make sure Stimpy is getting wet food every day (he gets at least 50% of his diet from wet food). She didn't say anything about the brands I am feeding, but that he has wet in his diet.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by gayef View Post
I would be interested to see how your cats do with dental issues as they progress in age on an all-dry diet.
I have a cat who will turn 14 this year and has not had any dental problems. She has been on dry food only up until the last 2 years I added one meal of wet a day.

But now I have also had a cat (Simba and he was a Persian) who had severe dental problems before he was 10 years old. He also was on dry food.

I think genetics plays the biggest role in dental health.
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitytize View Post
Quote:
I would be interested to see how your cats do with dental issues as they progress in age on an all-dry diet.
I have a cat who will turn 14 this year and has not had any dental problems. She has been on dry food only up until the last 2 years I added one meal of wet a day.

But now I have also had a cat (Simba and he was a Persian) who had severe dental problems before he was 10 years old. He also was on dry food.

I think genetics plays the biggest role in dental health.
This illustrates the problem the OP was alluding to. The existing "evidence" that most people are familiar with is anecdotal. One person says that in their experience one thing is true and another says that in their experience the opposite is true. Where is the properly designed and executed study (preferably more than one) that proves which is correct given a large sample size???
post #17 of 25
A study would be hard to do ... since to be proper it would need three groups the control , dry only and wet only ... and what would the control get???
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
A study would be hard to do ... since to be proper it would need three groups the control , dry only and wet only ... and what would the control get???
Half and half???
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mschauer View Post
Half and half???
by scientific principle that would not work... hence why no studies are done , IMHO...plus to avoid things like genetics all involved would likely need to be related
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
by scientific principle that would not work... hence why no studies are done , IMHO...plus to avoid things like genetics all involved would likely need to be related
Environmental factors are another problem, plus the problem that it would be a very LONG study, because we're concerned about health issues over a lifetime. Kidney disease, for example, might not happen until the cat's senior years. The feeding tests done by pet food companies last only a few months (I think?). They would have to keep cats sequestered for many years for a long-term diet study.

I could maybe see an epidemiologic study, interviewing owners and collecting data from vet hospitals?
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by whuckleberry View Post
Environmental factors are another problem, plus the problem that it would be a very LONG study, because we're concerned about health issues over a lifetime. Kidney disease, for example, might not happen until the cat's senior years. The feeding tests done by pet food companies last only a few months (I think?). They would have to keep cats sequestered for many years for a long-term diet study.

I could maybe see an epidemiologic study, interviewing owners and collecting data from vet hospitals?
that would be a great job ... where do I apply

feeding trials are 6 months ... UTI certification 18-24 months ... but most repeat feeding trials yrly
post #22 of 25
In my aged wisdom, I think common sense can give us as much info as some studies. I think about all the human food hysteria and "studies" that tell us dumb things like "butter is not as good as margarine" (oops, they now tell us it is better for us and I understand there is only one molecule of difference between margarine and plastic so I'll take the butter), and the list goes on. Studies IMO can be tailored and twisted to get the results that the organizations doing the studies want - that doesn't necessarily mean it's the truth.

I think humans should try to eat more of a natural diet, less processed foods and additives and I think cats need wet food to supplement their lack of water intake more than they need dried "cereal".
post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
In my aged wisdom, I think common sense can give us as much info as some studies.
I agree. I'm a researcher by trade (social research) and for a while I was very much into quantitative research and was wary of anything other than hard facts and results that were statistically significant. Over time, and having read a few articles and papers on the subject, I came to realise that that is not the only valid form of research, and that there are instances where that kind of research is impossible or impractical, and that other sources of information, including anecdotal evidence, should not automatically be discounted.

Much as I'd like to see it, I can't imagine a long term study into dry v wet taking place. To get large enough samples and to follow those individuals throughout their lives to find out what diseases they succumbed to, how long they lived etc would be a huge undertaking and would rely on a high degree of co-operation by owners. Doing such a study in a research environment would be difficult, and ethically dubious. I, myself, am actually partaking of a similar study into human health where the researchers have access to my medical records and will follow my health for at least 20 years, but the cost involved in such a study must be huge. Who would finance such a study involving cats?
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by urbantigers View Post
I'm currently having email communication with someone from a cat rescue whose website claims that cats should be switched from wet food to dry food (they actually claim that wet food does not contain enough protein! I've explained about dry matter analysis). I included a few links re nutrition, but this person is very sceptical and was rather offended that I dared to criticise (I thought I'd been nice about it!) and said that they wouldn't believe me unless I could come up with scientific proof.
Tying "common sense" in with the original post: Would the person you're arguing with even believe a "scientific" study when they can't (or refuse to) grasp the concept of dry matter analysis?
post #25 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by urbantigers View Post
Doing such a study in a research environment would be difficult, and ethically dubious. I, myself, am actually partaking of a similar study into human health where the researchers have access to my medical records and will follow my health for at least 20 years, but the cost involved in such a study must be huge. Who would finance such a study involving cats?
Wouldn't that be right up the alley of university professors?? Isn't that part of what they do, research that is? My vague understanding of how universities operate is that professors are *required* to do a certain amount of research. They obtain grants to cover the costs. And no, the grants would not have to come from food manufacturers. I have seen the results of veterinary school professors studies on other topics posted on the web. I know they do even long term studies.

BTW - Has the OP given up on getting a useful answer?
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