Why I Still Stand by Science Diet: Because Corn in NOT a Bad Thing….. | Coastal Mommies

Why I Still Stand by Science Diet: Because Corn in NOT a Bad Thing….. | Coastal Mommies.

by Dr. Carla Case-… on Fri, 05/13/2011 – 8:28am


I recently spent two days in Topeka, Kansas touring the Hill’s Science Diet facilities. This impressive complex is where they manufacture their food products, house their research labs, conduct their feeding trials, and is the “home away from home” for their many research veterinarians.  It was a privilege for me and one of my associates to attend and see first-hand and “behind the scenes” the manufacturing process of a food that we have carried in our veterinary hospital for over 36 years. My father, Dr. Jerry Case, saw the value of adding nutrition to his core wellness plans as soon as he graduated from veterinary school in 1975.  He recognized the fact that Science Diet was started by a veterinarian (Dr. Morris in 1939) in response to designing a food for a targeted problem (kidney disease), and that the company placed a high value on having top veterinarians with advanced degrees in nutrition working on perfecting the balance of ingredients in a given diet.

In recent years, Science Diet in particular has been the target of a smear campaign produced by smaller food companies with allegations that are simply not backed by any scientific evidence. This reputable company has gotten a bad rap on the accusation that their use of corn is not nutritionally sound and is used as a cheap filler product.  Although Science Diet remains the #1 recommended diet by veterinarians even after all these years, clients hear conflicting messages when they try to understand what their different sources are telling them.  They may hear one thing from their local pet store, one thing from the internet, one thing from their pet’s breeder, and another from their veterinarian.  It certainly can be confusing and frustrating when trying to figure out what is best for your pet.  This is compounded when you factor in a possible medical problem or are concerned with the rash of pet food recalls in recent years.

For the purpose of this article, I would like to highlight three areas often brought up by those discussing Science Diet.

First is the myth that corn is filler used solely to keep the profit margin high to the company and that it has inferior nutritional value. The reality is that corn is a nutritionally superior grain that, when ground and cooked as done for Science Diet recipes, provides

  • high quality proteins for muscle and tissue growth
  • carbohydrates that provide energy
  • essential fatty acids for healthy skin and coat
  • natural antioxidants
  • vitamin E, lutein, β-carotene
  • higher protein digestibility than rice and wheat (ground and cooked it becomes more than 85% digestible)

Not only has corn been shown to cause fewer food allergies than any other grain but also fewer than those caused by chicken or beef.

The second fact that deserves attention is that most of the popular diets with marketing campaigns critical of their competition (Blue Buffalo, etc) don’t bother to enlist food trials. Science Diet performs formal feeding trials according to AAFCO regulation prior to the release of any of their products.  This is the preferred method (Gold Standard) when testing a food product.  An ingredient list means nothing if the ingredients are not actually absorbed and used effectively by the body. There are two AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) certifications and most pet food companies do not bother to spend the time and money required to obtain the more stringent of the two. This is the one that requires feeding trials and the one that makes certain that their food really performs as well as they claim it does for the life of your pet.

Using AAFCO protocols, feeding trials document how well an animal performs when fed a specific food.  Feeding trials allow a pet food such as Science Diet to claim that the product is “clinically proven” which means so much more than a list of ingredients on a bag. The feeding trial also minimizes recall risks as any new formula is actually tested before going to market and reaching the end user, your pet.  Interesting that not a single one of Hill’s Science Diet products was involved in any adverse events associated with the pet food recall of 2007.

And claiming that a pet food company does not perform feeding trials because they do not feel it to be humane is totally inaccurate and false. Why would it be inhumane to feed a diet that is intended to be fed to your own pet?

My associate and I were very impressed with the love, one-on-one attention and care given to the many dogs and cats housed on the Science Diet campus. They are cared for in a beautiful, clean building where they receive excellent veterinary care and are provided with superior, no costs barred medical attention. These dogs and cats not only live in facilities constructed to be like homes but they are provided with consistent families (both animal and human), have daily playtime/enrichment activities and are exercised twice daily (more than my dog gets!). They live a normal life and are never used for any other purpose but to monitor their health while being fed a regimented Science Diet product. They never have any invasive tests performed on them and it was our observation that we wish all pets were treated in the manner that these pets are!  Hill’s Science Diet is willing to spend the extra time and money to do this research because it is important….not only for each individual pet but for all pets in general.

I make this important point because I appreciate knowing that the food I give my pet has been tested and known to not only be safe but nutritionally superior. I also appreciate a company that has dedicated itself to continually learning ways in which we can continue to enhance our pet’s lives through more knowledge about the previously ignored impact of superior nutrition.

Thirdly, we need to discuss the age-old controversy about meat by-products.  Let’s take chicken as an example since chicken is an often used source of protein in many pet foods. Any portion of the chicken other than striated muscle which comprises the meat consumed by humans is considered “chicken by-product”. To believe the claims made by other pet foods that they use no meat by-products is simply not true. Bring me their label and I will prove it to you. They are either manipulating the truth to match their marketing campaign or their diet is nutritionally inferior. Chicken by-product meal, often listed on the ingredient list of Science Diet foods is a more concentrated protein source than raw chicken alone and contains high quality protein that is more digestible and adds flavor.  High quality by-products (not ground bone or feathers used in some diets) contain liver and other ingredients which offer not only much needed nutrients for a well balanced diet, but also add superior taste to the products.  This means our pets like it better!

There is a lot of information that should be evaluated before making a decision about the listing on an ingredient label (done by weight), but for the simplicity of this article, know that the labeling of by-products in a food should not always be considered a bad thing.

In summary, our veterinarians have chosen Science Diet as our recommended food of choice because we know it is scientifically proven and that the mission behind making the product has been consistent since Dr. Morris designed the first food for his own beloved pet that was dying of kidney failure.  We know that it is a food that takes these considerations in mind:

·         has had continuous research since 1939

·         understands that dogs are omnivores and not carnivores and need a balanced diet

·         realizes that excess protein can’t be stored and forces kidneys to work harder, possibly decreasing longevity

·         knows that healthy pets need nutrients and a complete balance of amino acids from both meat and non-meat sources

·         allows the FDA to inspect their plant several times a year as if it was a human food manufacturing plant

·         has many clinically proven claims and is one of the only pet food companies that uses the feeding trial method

·         uses a life stage philosophy to meet the needs of individual pets

·         Is a precisely balanced nutrition that avoids excess

·         highly values research and innovation

·         uses only high quality and proven ingredients

·         Our staff and veterinarians feed their pets Science Diet.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian their food of choice and why.  Each pet is an individual and your pet’s doctor is the best person to make a recommendation on nutrition.


Top 10 Myths from your vet in Brampton


Snelgrove Veterinary Services shares with you the

top 10 myths we hear in practice.


  1. Garlic keeps fleas away! Not only is there no scientific proof that garlic will rid or keep away those pesky bugs but it can actually be toxic to pets. Garlic is a part of the Allum family which contains onions, leeks and chives. All of these even in small quantities can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and a slew of other problems. Speak to your veterinarian about other proven ways to treat your pet of fleas and how to avoid getting them in the first place.
  2. Pets should have one litter or heat prior to being spayed! Waiting until their first heat or having a litter can actually aid in the development of mammary tumors and ovarian or uterine cancer.
  3. Cats need milk and/or tuna! Cats actually don’t have the enzyme needed to digest the lactose found in milk. Just like in people it can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. Tuna is high in minerals and in excess can cause all sorts of problems. Be sure to only give it in small amounts and infrequently.
  4. Dogs mouths are cleaner than humans! Really? Have you ever seen what they put in their mouths? Well we have, and it’s not good. Dogs and cats actually have different natural bacteria in their mouth than humans so although harmless to us, it’s still bacteria.
  5. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Of course you can, it just might take a little longer. In fact teaching new things helps keep their mind active and its great bonding time. Just remember to keep it fun, short and nothing too strenuous!
  6. My dog only goes in the backyard so it doesn’t need heartworm protection! Why? Are there no mosquitoes where you live? If so, I want to live there. LOL. Mosquitoes are in fact everywhere and they can carry heartworm larvae all over the globe.
  7. Licking wounds is healing! It can be to a certain extent. This is more because they are cleaning the bacteria off of it and removing the dead skin BUT it can actually cause worse problems. Excessive licking can actually impede healing and can become habitual cause more damage to the area. Always clean wounds and prevent your pet from licking the area. Seek medical help as needed.
  8. Corn is bad! Well, we love corn. Corn on the cob on a BBQ with melted butter and salt. Yum. Yum. But we’re talking about pets here. Corn is actually a great source of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, amino acids and even contains anti-oxidants. It is not a filler for pet foods but actually a valued ingredient.
  9. My cat stays strictly indoors so it doesn’t need vaccines or yearly physicals! Even indoor cats get sick. Having an annual physical examination can discover all sorts of minor ailments that over time can become more severe. Rabies is mandatory by law. Just read our bat blog to see why!
  10. By-products are bad! 1st off, what they can be: lungs, spleen, liver, kidneys. What they can’t be: feathers, hide, intestinal contents, hooves and hair. 2nd, excellent source of protein and amino acids. 3rd, did you know Jello, gummy bears, chewy fruit snacks, marshmallows, bouillon cubes, bologna, hot dogs and commercial soup stock  can be made from by-products!



How to Help Animals in Your Community, and Beyond (Part III)

The two previous segments of this multi-post blog have touched upon adoption and donation as possible methods to help animals in need. These are both fantastic ways to aid animals directly within the community, and are extremely fulfilling options as we are able to see the results of our efforts almost immediately. In the final posts of this series, we will begin to investigate how we can make a more widespread impact on the struggle to help our furry friends. We are going to delve a little deeper into some of the issues these animals in need are facing, and turn our attention toward animal rights and how we can help through animal advocacy.

To begin this discussion, it is important to understand exactly what an animal advocate is. In it’s simplest terms, an animal advocate is someone who supports the animal rights (or animal liberation) movement. The primary focus of the animal rights movement is that animals are currently viewed by many, especially in the eyes of the law, as property rather than living, breathing creatures. Animal advocates believe that animal lives should be afforded the same considerations as human lives – mainly the right to live without suffering.

I want to preface the posts to follow with a few warnings…

First, animal advocacy can be an extremely controversial topic. There are varying degrees of commitment: some people focus on the fight for basic animal welfare, while others may be a little more extreme and aim to eliminate all animal products from society in any way, shape or form. Period. The intention of this multi-post blog is not to direct anyone in what is the “correct” way to advocate on animals’ behalf, but rather to present the idea of advocacy as a whole and allow readers to make their own decisions. If we are to join the fight for animal rights, it needs to be in a way that we are comfortable doing so. Second, animal advocacy is not always pretty or glamourous. In fact, in researching for this post, I came across articles, pictures and documentaries that brought tears to my eyes (both of admiration and of horror), and some things even made me feel sick to my stomach and I had to take a break. There are a lot of emotions involved in advocacy, and while there are many highs, there are also many lows. Be prepared. Finally, my objective in writing this series is to raise awareness of something that is very near and dear to my heart. Everything discussed is meant to be informative and presented in a way that does not force any particular views on any of our readers. That being said, let’s get back to the focus of this blog…

The key to advocacy of any kind is education. In order to advocate for animals, there needs to be a clear understanding of the issues they are currently facing. As this is a many tiered topic, there will not be a chance to discuss all animal rights issues today. That is why self-education is so important in this struggle. As was mentioned previously in regards to choosing a charitable organization if one is interested in donation, so too should one research to find a branch of animal rights that speaks to them on a personal level. There are many different areas of animal rights that can be explored. A few examples are issues surrounding the companion animals that we accept into our homes, local or international wildlife and/or endangered species, farm animals raised for human consumption, or animals used for scientific research. The list is extensive, and within each of these categories are many sub-categories. For instance, in Part I we discussed adopting companion animals and touched on the business of puppy mills – which is just one of many concerns surrounding companion animals.

Animals in industry is another hot topic these days. In the media, there has been a recent focus on the treatment of elephants in zoos. Some stories have been successful (though not without their struggles), such as the relocation of three African elephants from the Toronto Zoo to the world-renowned Performing Animal Welfare Society’s (PAWS) ARK 2000 Sanctuary in California. Sadly, others have not been as successful, such as the story of Limba, Canada’s oldest elephant. Limba was euthanized at age 50 in December of 2013. Many critics claimed that her captivity was extremely cruel and demanded her retirement at a sanctuary, such as ARK 2000, after spending her years as a performance animal. Of course, there are always many sides to a story. Zoo officials maintained that she was happy, well taken care of and deeply loved. They insist that she was euthanized not due to her age or lack of ability to perform, but for humane reasons – there were large amounts of blood in her stool caused by tumors developing in her spleen and throughout her abdominal cavity. When I first came across Limba’s story, it was through an open letter of apology written to her and posted on C4P Animal Rescue. Intrigued, I began to look into the story further and came across archives of reports from well-known sources, such as the Toronto Star. No where in the letter of apology that I had read did the author discuss any of the health concerns that some of the articles I found indicated. However, in the same turn, the majority of the news articles and interviews that I read (which were primarily centered around the zoo officials) made no mention of the cruelty and humiliation that the author of the letter asserted were Limba’s reality.

Limba’s story is one with many points of view. That is why it is such a powerful example of the controversy that can arise when discussing issues of animal rights. It is sometimes hard to know what to believe, but it is essential to do your homework and look at multiple resources, not just one. Form your own opinions. Ask questions. Always keep in mind that well-known Latin aphorism that knowledge is power. In order to achieve what you are hoping for, make sure you are well-educated on a topic before you begin to act.

Of course, choosing a cause can be difficult, even overwhelming, as there are so many facets to animal rights. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to approach this, as long as you are acting from the heart. Be sure that you understand every angle of what you are advocating for, if not for a better insight personally, than at least for a clearer understanding of the opposition that you may be facing.


On behalf of the staff at Snelgrove Veterinary Services,

Thank you for reading,


Have you ever had a bat in your house??

“Icon made by Freepik from Flaticon.com”


We recently had a client tell us the story of the day she had the pleasure of walking into a spare room of her house and came across a bat flying around. In her panic, she left the room quickly and closed the door behind her. She needed to devise a plan to get rid of the bat. She read on the Government of Canada website to open a window and let it fly away while making sure it did not come into contact with her. She put on a pair of gloves and entered the room to open the window. The bat was nowhere to be seen. She left the room with the window open and the lights out and closed the door behind her. The next day she went back into the room to be assured the bat had left and could find no trace of her little night-time friend. Phew, it must have left. Now the big question was “How did it get in?”.

On further research we found, bats can fit anywhere they can fit their head, so they can take advantage of small cracks and gaps in your home.  Any area larger than a penny is a potential entry point!  So even if you cannot see an entry point, they can find a way into your home.  Unfortunately, 3-5% of bats found in homes test positive for rabies.  More disturbingly, once one bat finds a way into your living space they leave a scent trail that other bats can follow.  

Last year there were 28 cases of confirmed Rabies in Ontario – 27 of which were in bats, 1 in a dog.  Bats have very small teeth so bites may go undetected – especially if they are biting your pet who is covered in fur.  At Snelgrove Veterinary Services we recommend cats get a Rabies vaccine yearly and dogs get their Rabies vaccine every 3 years.  In the region of Peel it is the law that all pets be vaccinated for rabies. Not having your pet up-to-date on vaccines can carry up to a $90 fine.

Fact – Bats can live for more than 20 years.

Various strains of bat rabies are found throughout Canada and the Americas. At least four strains have been identified in Ontario. Ontario bats are insectivores and will not eat vaccine baits. International research is being conducted to find effective vaccination methods for bats. Education and awareness are important aspects in the fight against the spread of bat rabies.

What should I do if I encounter a bat?

Any bats seen outdoors should be left alone.

If you find a bat in your home and are absolutely sure it has had NO human or animal contact, try to confine the bat to one room, turn out the lights and leave a window open. The bat should fly out in the early evening.

If you believe it may have come into contact with you in any way, contact your public health officials or your physician. In the case of pets, contact your veterinarian or local animal control.

If you see a bat during the daytime acting strange or crawling around contact your local Canadian Food Inspection agency.

If you find a dead bat, do not handle it. Immediately contact your local office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency  http://www.inspection.gc.ca/animals/terrestrial-animals/offices/eng/1300462382369/1300462438912


Heartworm 2014 from your friends at Snelgrove Vet in Brampton


Mosquito season is fast approaching and although it doesn’t seem like the weather is co-operating, mosquitoes are coming out on a daily basis. All dogs should start their heartworm prvention on June 1st and carry through to November 1st or February 1st depending on the product that you use.

The 3 products we typically recommend at Snelgrove Veterinary Services are as follows:

Heartgard – covers heartworm, roundworms and hookworms.

Trifexis – covers heartworm, roundworms, hookworms and adult fleas.

Advatage Multi – covers heartworm, roundworms, hookworms, fleas, mange and ear mites.

Due to a new strain of heartworm that has been detected in the U.S. called MP3, Heartgard and Trifexis must be used for 9 months to completely protect your pet. Advantage Multi can be used safely for 6 months. This only applies to animals staying in our general vicinity or North of Brampton. Animals that travel to southern Ontario or to the U.S.A should use a preventive for the entire year.

Prior to putting your dog on a heartworm prevention, it is imperative to test your pet for heartworm disease. This requires a simple blood draw by your veterinarian. Many products may not be safe to be given to heartworm positive dogs.

Feel free to ask us what prevention is best for your pet.


Meet Odin!

Hi everyone. My name is Kelly and I am an employee at the Brampton Animal Shelter. This is the story about how I got my little friend Odin and how Snelgrove Vet Services in Brampton helped make him the awesome cat he is today. Odin the Cat, formally known as Elm, came in over the counter at the shelter at only 3 weeks of age. He was found by a concerned citizen, behind a shed, all by himself and crying in the middle of a thunder-storm. When he came in his eyes were sealed shut due to a severe infection. I asked the technician-on-staff  if I could foster him and see if I could improve his condition and bottle feed him to health. She said I could try.

The first day one eye opened but it wasn’t until the third day that the second eye opened. This is when we discovered it had ruptured. Being so little the technicians were hesitant to send him for surgery because the odds of him surviving anesthetic were so low. After much discussion it was decided to send Elm to Snelgrove Vet for emergency surgery to remove the ruptured eye.

The next morning I came into work and found out he had survived!!! The clinic did an amazing job and even had to create his own little cone so he wouldn’t scratch at the sutures.  He adjusted very well to his new line of sight. (at first it was kind of cute watching him walking on an angle.- but he figured it out.)

Elm was showcased at the Brampton Fair and introduced to many Brampton residents as a success story for the City of Brampton Hope Fund. The Hope Fund is funded by donations and pays for medical expenses not covered by the municipality.

Thanks to the Hope Fund and Snelgrove Vet, Odin has the chance for a long and happy life with his new family.



When you first bring home a puppy no one imagines that there is the potential for the puppy to get very sick. Puppies are like babies, they do not have a lot of fat stores to help them when they get sick. If a puppy begins to have diarrhea or vomiting, things can get serious very quickly. One of the things that puppies can contract is a virus called Parvovirus. Parvovirus attacks the lining in their intestines and causes malabsorption then diarrhea and vomiting. Puppies can get so sick that they can die from this virus.

Parvovirus has been around since the 1970s, it is hard to disinfect, and it is shed in extremely large numbers by infected dogs. This means that there is virus everywhere: on every carpet, on every floor, in every yard and park. The virus is shed in the stool for the first two weeks after the initial infection but only a tiny portion of infected stool – which could be months old depending on the environmental temperature and humidity – is needed to infect a non-immune dog. This is why we recommend that puppies be restricted from public outdoor areas until their vaccination series is completed at age 16 weeks. There is no treatment for a Parvovirus infection, we can only treat the symptoms and hope that the puppy will be able to survive. The treatment requires isolating the puppy (to limit contamination), IV fluids, anti-nausea medication and force feeding. This is why it is so important to bring a puppy to a veterinarian as soon as there are any signs of vomiting or diarrhea.

My two dogs Rudy, a Cockapoo and Oscar, a Rottweiler/Shepherd cross both contracted Parvovirus as puppies. Their owners were overwhelmed by the cost of the treatment and they chose to relinquish them. Both of them were very close to death and we thought we would lose them but they were able to pull through. They are now healthy happy dogs.

Dr. Jessica Ioannou DVM