All Calories are NOT Created Equal – Part 2

(Dog food data is vague, incomplete, and misleading)

Probably your biggest responsibility as a dog parent is determining which dog food provides the most nutrition and health benefits for your dog within your budget.


The dog food industry and AAFCO, it’s rule making arm, has admittedly not made your task very easy. If we’re honest we must admit that it’s actually almost impossible to know with any certainty which dog food is better, or the best, based on the information the industry provides – the Ingredient List and the Guaranteed Analysis – which is generally vague, incomplete, and misleading.

Examples of vague, incomplete, and misleading follow:

1) Vague – The protein content is listed as a percentage but you have no way of knowing how much of that protein is sourced from plants like beans, corn, potatoes, etc. and how much is sourced from animals – which is what your family carnivore was designed by Mother Nature to eat.

2) Incomplete – The percentage of protein listed in the Guaranteed Analysis on bags of dog food doesn’t differentiate between meat sourced from a rendering plant that reprocesses dead, dying, and diseased animals, including road kill, and meat from animals that are free range with no antibiotics or growth hormones and are human grade when they are added to the dog food. Important specific information about the protein is lacking or incomplete.

3- Misleading – Some dog foods add ProBiotics to their Ingredient List, and ProBiotics are extremely beneficial if they are viable when they get to the gut, but studies have shown that 99.8% of these normal ProBiotics are dead by the time they reach the gut. They are activated prematurely by the warmth and 10% moisture in the dog food as it is bagged and are dead long before you even buy the dog food.

To allow an ingredient on the List of Ingredients that will be 99.8% dead and completely useless by the time your dog eats it is, in my opinion, misleading.

There is, however, one highly effective (and very expensive) ProBiotic on the market that is protected from being activated prematurely by a special encapsulation process developed by a scientist with a Ph.D in MicroBiology, and only produced by his company. These are the ProBiotics that Brothers includes in their dog food and they are highly productive. Tests show 99.7% of the “Encapsulated ProBiotics” are delivered to the gut alive and active.

In “All Calories Are NOT Created Equal – Part 1” I gave another example of something that I thought was misleading that involves how the order of ingredients is determined for “Chicken” versus “Chicken Meal” on the List of Ingredients.

All Calories are NOT Created Equal – Part 2

(Calories are NOT a measure of nutritional value – but the Recommended Daily Feeding Guide can be)

Every mother knows there’s a big difference between protein and carbohydrates, and there can also be a big difference between different carbohydrates. For instance 400 calories of broccoli is quite different than 400 calories of chocolate chip cookies, though both are classified as carbohydrates.

AdobeStock_9665987x235w copy

                                                     AdobeStock_76056831x350w copy                                                                  However, few people realize that the quality of nutrition in dog food can vary far more than is possible in the human food chain due to regulations the FDA applies to the human food chain to ensure minimum levels of quality that it doesn’t apply to dog food. 

When it comes to dog food there seems to be a widespread misconception that the nutritional values are generally the same across the various brands of dog food.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Things have been put in dog food that would result in criminal prosecution had they been put in human food. There can be a huge difference in the nutritional value of individual ingredients like the meat source, as discussed earlier in this article, or certain ingredients, like potatoes, that are OK for humans but eventually cause gut problems for carnivores. The difference in nutritional value between two different dog foods can be far greater than would ever be possible in human food.

Some ingredients can’t be compared to other ingredients because they are not in the same nutritional universe. For instance, how many sugar doughnuts does a dog need to eat to equal the nutrition in 2 eggs and 2 sausage links?

It’s a trick question because no amount of sugar doughnuts will ever equal the nutritional value that’s in two eggs and 2 sausage links. In fact the more doughnuts the dog eats the worse it will be for the dog nutritionally. Many dog foods have ingredients that negatively affect a dogs system in much the same way that sugar doughnuts do. They damage the gut which eventually leads to Leaky Gut, Systemic Candida, and other undesirable results including allergies.

Calorie Counting + the Daily Feeding Guide = Nutritional Insights

Think of calories more as a rough measure of the amount of energy in a given volume of food but NOT a measure of the nutritional value of that food.

The volume used to measure the calories in dog food is usually one cup (Kcal/cup) but that is useless information unless you know how many cups a day the dog is supposed to eat for its weight.

The recommended daily amount of food can vary considerably. For instance a 25 pound dog can have recommended daily portions that range from 1 cup per day to as much as 2 ½ cups a day depending on the particular brand of dog food.

When you calculate the calories you are feeding your dog you must take into account the recommended daily feeding amount in cups per day to get the total calories for the day. So if the dog food has 300 calories per cup and the recommended daily feeding amount is 1 ½ cups then you multiply 300 calories by 1.5 cups to get the total daily calories of 450.

This is very important if you are trying to get your dog to lose some weight because the “Low Fat” dog foods often require extra volume which adds to the calories you’re feeding your dog for the day.

Let’s examine an actual example of two dog foods listed on to compare the total calories.

Blue Buffalo Basics Healthy Weight Turkey and Potato has 20% protein and 337 calories per cup.

Brothers Complete Turkey & Egg Advanced Allergy Formula has 36% protein and 415 calories per cup.

For weight loss Blue suggests 1 ½ cups a day for a 25 lb dog. 1.5 cups x 337 calories = 505 calories per day for Blue Healthy Weight

Brothers suggests 1 cup a day for a 25 lb dog. 1 cup x 415 calories = 415 calories per day for Brothers Turkey & Egg.

The recommended daily feeding rate of 1 cup of Brothers for a 25 lb dog is 90 calories less than the recommended daily rate of 1 ½ cups of Blue

Brothers is a more effective weight loss food because there is more nutrition packed into fewer calories. It is nutrient dense, the nutrients are balanced to optimize their effectiveness, and there are additional special ingredients like enzymes, PreBiotics, and ProBiotics that optimize the nutritional value built into the dog food.

The recommended daily feeding rate can be an indicator of how nutritious a dog food is. If a 25 lb dog only needs 1 cup a day of dog food #1 but needs 2 cups a day of dog food #2, then it’s easy to see that dog food #2 is half as nutritious as dog food #1.

Next week I’ll explain in more detail how to use the daily feeding guide to figure the actual cost to feed your dog for a month so you can compare the real cost of feeding different dog foods. You may be quite surprised to find that it’s more expensive to feed Blue Basics Healthy Weight for maintenance which costs $47.99 a bag than it is to feed Brothers Complete Turkey & Egg which costs $79.99 a bag.

It’s not how much the bag of dog food costs but how much of the bag you must feed each day that determines the true cost to feed your dog a particular formula.


All Calories are NOT Created Equal – Part 1 

(Dog food data is confusing and you’re not the only one who thinks so )  

The FDA requires certain nutritional information be clearly marked on packages of food for humans to help consumers make informed decisions about what they are feeding their family.

woman relaxing on the sofa with her dog and using tabletUnfortunately we are not given the same level of clear information when it comes to dog food. Dog food recommendations are developed by an organization called AAFCO that was originally formed by large corporation dog food industry leaders in a successful attempt to self regulate their own industry and prevent outside agencies from telling them what they could and couldn’t do with dog food. Now the government agencies at the state level  simply adopt whatever regulations the AAFCO board suggests for the dog food industry, which often seem purposely complex or vague and difficult for the average consumer to make much sense of. 

Dog owners usually turn their attention to the List of Ingredients and the Guaranteed Analysis to give them insight into the quality, or lack of it, in dog food. This is helpful information to some degree, but can also be confusing.  One example is the way AAFCO determines the order of the ingredients on the list. They specify they are to be ordered by weight with the heaviest listed first, and so on, which can be misleading.

For instance, as a dog food manufacturer there are two ways I can add chicken (or any animal protein) to dog food:

  1. The first is a frozen block of ground up chicken, which AAFCO designates as “Chicken”. The protein content of this is only about 18% because 70% of the weight is water – water that must eventually be removed when it is converted to kibble . The intention is to give the illusion that this is “fresh” chicken and that there is more of it than there actually is because the 70% water content is being weighed and counted as though it’s chicken to determine its position on the Ingredient List 
  1. The second source of chicken is designated by AAFCO as “Chicken Meal”. It can be the same quality as the frozen chicken but it is already dried and has a protein content of 65%, which is 3.6 times the protein in the frozen block of Chicken.

Once the frozen block of Chicken is ground up, added to the other ingredients, cooked, and dried, it is the same thing as the Chicken Meal (but with far less protein).


Why create the illusion there is more protein in the frozen block of “Chicken” that is 70% water and put it higher on the ingredient list than the “Chicken Meal” which, pound for pound, contributes 3.6 times more protein to the final food? This misrepresentation of reality, in my opinion, is yet another example of why the dog food industry continues to be regarded with a certain amount of skepticism and distrust.

An example of how the Ingredient list can be misleading is shown in the comparison of the following 2 actual formulas. They each have  the same amount of protein, fat, and carbs in them but the protein sources in Dog Food #2 are purposely split up into 16 very small portions of different protein sources to create the illusion of more meat. Dog Food #1 (Brothers Complete Turkey & Egg) has the same protein content as Dog Food #2 and actually gets a higher percentage of it’s protein from animal sources (over 90%) although looking at the long list of proteins in #2 you would never guess that.

Both dog food formulas have the same guaranteed analysis on a dry matter basis: 40% protein, 20% fat, 30% carbs, 10% moisture. 

#1 – Brothers Complete Turkey & Egg

Turkey Meal, Whole Eggs dried, cassava, peas, pea starch, chicken fat

#2 – Unnamed Dog Food

Deboned turkey, yellowtail flounder, whole eggs, whole atlantic mackerel, chicken liver, turkey liver, chicken heart, turkey heart, whole atlantic herring, dehydrated chicken, dehydrated turkey, dehydrated mackerel, dehydrated chicken liver, dehydrated turkey liver, whole green peas, whole navy beans, red lentils, chicken necks, chicken kidney, pinto beans, chickpeas, green lentils, alfalfa, chicken fat

The Guaranteed Analysis helps when comparing one dog food to another in general terms but descriptions about the quality of the protein being used are not allowed. To give an example that is extreme, there is a huge difference between free range Venison without hormones or antibiotics and meat from a rendering plant that can include meat rejected from human grade processing plants as well as road kill, and other less savory offerings.

Dog with vegan and meat foodThere is also no distinction between protein derived from plant matter versus animal sourced protein, the protein our pet carnivores were designed to eat…and prefer!

Finally, there is no way to know if the vitamins and minerals are balanced in relation to each other to make them most effective. It is entirely possible to adjust them within the low and high limits recommended by AAFCO in such a way as to make them almost dysfunctional. As an example, if you had the Calcium at the upper levels allowed by AAFCO and the Magnesium at it’s lower levels, or the other way around, one would essentially restrict  the function of the other – they must be balanced TO EACH OTHER to function effectively.

It is basically impossible to accurately guarantee the overall performance of a dog food with nothing more than the Ingredient List and the Guaranteed Analysis. It’s a good starting point, but once the stats for the food are at the upper end, the best way to know if a dog food is superior is to feed it and observe the results.

After 7 years of watching dogs become incredibly healthy eating Brothers Complete Dog Food we simply recommend you feed your dog Brothers for 6 months. You won’t need to understand the complex science involved in making a perfectly balanced, highly nutritious dog food, you will see the positive results and observe the transformation to health and vitality first hand. There really is no better way to determine how well a dog food performs.

Heidi has been on Brothers since she was a puppy and is a magnificent example of a German Shepherd – and she’s all muscle!

There are two additional indicators that can be used to help judge the quality of your dog food. They will also help determine what it is costing you to feed your dog for a month, which you can then compare to another dog food. You may find that the best foods can actually be less expensive than you might think. It’s not the price on the bag of food that determines the real “cost” of that food – it’s the amount of that food you must feed over a months time.

Understanding this can go a long way toward bridging the gap between the raw data we’ve been discussing and the actual performance of the dog food. You may be surprised to find that you can feed the very best dog food for the price you’re now paying to feed a mediocre, poorer quality food – the facts are the facts and they could spell very good news for you and your best friend.

I’ll cover this in the next Blog: ALL CALORIES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL – Part 2



The majority of dogs get fat from eating high glycemic carbs, not from eating protein and fat.

The reason why there are so many overweight dogs is directly related to the high carbohydrate content in dog foods, and particularly the high glycemic rating of those carbohydrates. For instance, baked white potatoes and sweet potatoes that are widely used in dog food have a glycemic index that is higher than white sugar.

Eating fat chemically triggers a feeling of being satiated or full, while eating highly processed, high glycemic carbs, like processed grains and potatoes has the opposite effect, and chemically triggers the desire to eat more.

Mother Nature has designed dogs to thrive on a diet of meat and fat. These directions are encoded in the dogs Mitochondrial DNA and passed to the next generation through the females DNA only. This extraordinary step of discarding the male Mitochondrial DNA to provide extra insurance that the diet will remain basically unchanged over tens of thousands of years reveals the strong emphasis Mother Nature puts on maintaining the appropriate food source (meat and fat) to convert into energy pathways and cellular energy to maintain long term health and survival of the species.


Are there any overweight wolves?
Are there significant percentages of wolves, coyotes, jackals, or dingos in their respective packs that are overweight as a result of eating their species appropriate diet, which is predominantly animal protein and fat? Is there even one?

Nuclear DNA versus Mitochondrial DNA (They are very different from each other).

Nuclear DNA determines the size, shape, physical attributes and personality in dogs, and can be manipulated fairly easily so that over a relatively short period of time new breeds of dogs can be developed that look very different from each other, and very different from their original dog ancestors.

However, every new breed that is developed, along with every dog on the planet, have Mitochondrial DNA that is consistent and 99.8% identical to a 5,000 year old gray wolf. Changing the Nuclear DNA does NOT change the Mitochondrial DNA which determines what the source of energy for the system should be (the diet), and then facilitates the use of that energy. It channels the energy into enzymes and assembles individual amino acids from the digested food into specific proteins to build and repair the body and provide power to the cells. This elemental process of transforming food into energy, protein building blocks, and cellular energy transfer has remained essentially constant for many tens of thousands of years and it has not changed simply because dogs have been “domesticated”.

You may talk and play with your dog like the family member it is but when you feed it please remember that it has the nutritional needs of a 5,000 year old wolf on the inside and it will get sick if you feed it the same high glycemic carbs that are making people in this country overweight and sick.

Embedded in the Mitochondrial DNA of every wolf, coyote, jackal, dingo, and every domesticated dog, is the accumulated wisdom of Mother Nature dictating a diet that is predominantly animal protein and fat.  

Do not confuse what a dog is WILLING to eat with what it SHOULD eat.

Will your dog eat a pancake with syrup on it? Probably gobble it up, but that doesn’t mean Mother Nature designed your dog to eat it and it doesn’t mean that it won’t harm your dog.

Will your dog eat a dog food with high glycemic potatoes, processed grain, or sweet potatoes in it that have been mixed with flavor enhancers to trick the dog into thinking it’s eating meat? Yes – those flavor enhancers are very convincing. In fact one of the reasons put forward for why some dogs eat poop is that the synthetic flavor enhancers pass through the system intact in the fecal matter and trick the dog into thinking the poop is a meat source.

Highly processed grains and high glycemic carbs will DEFINITELY harm your dog. Not instantly, like a highly toxic poison, but over time as they disrupt the balance and health of the gut which eventually leads to “Leaky Gut”, a condition where the gut lining becomes overly permeable and fecal matter leaks through the gut wall of the intestines into the blood stream.  “Leaky  Gut” can be responsible for causing everything from allergies to hot spots and itchy skin and dozens upon dozens of other health problems including ‘Systemic Candida’, which is the result of the Candida Albicans yeast/fungus getting through the gut wall and into the blood stream

Although dogs have no dietary need for carbs, a minimal amount of carbs (as starch) are necessary to bind kibble together when making dog food in kibble form. So it is important to consider the carbs that are used as a binder and to use carbs that are low glycemic carbs.

If a high quality, low glycemic carb like Cassava is used as a binder then the impact of these carbs on the system can be neutral or even slightly beneficial. I refer to the maximum amount of carbs that can safely be used in kibble as the “Carbohydrate Tipping Point” – the point below which the carb load on the system is small enough to be positive or neutral, but beyond which an increase in the carb load will begin to have a negative impact on the dogs overall health and well being.

If the carbohydrates are low quality, highly processed, and have a high glycemic index like most grains and potatoes used in dog food, the tipping point occurs almost immediately because the high glycemic carbs are detrimental at any level.

Cassava is a low glycemic carb. used extensively as the primary carbohydrate throughout much of the equatorial regions of the world. Wherever this low glycemic carb provides over 80% of the carbs in the diet there is virtually no adult onset diabetes in the population. Compare that to the epidemic of adult onset diabetes in this country due mainly to diets full of high glycemic, processed carbs and sugar.

We’ve established the premise that dog food with high glycemic carbs and low meat and fat content is actually causing the epidemic of overweight dogs in America and that eating a “Low Fat” diet is not the solution and will only make the matter worse while making your poor dog generally miserable.

The ultimate answer to weight loss and maintaining your dogs ideal weight is nothing more than feeding your dog a food that is highly nutritious, high in animal sourced protein, and deviod of high glycemic ingredients.

Making a highly nutritious dog food in kibble form is expensive, challenging, and rarely done, but it’s not impossible and would consist of the following:

  • High protein content (30% to 40%)
  • Over 90% of protein is animal sourced protein
  • Proteins are human grade quality
  • Processing temperatures are kept to a minimum
  • Amino acids are added to replace those lost in processing
  • Symbiotic Nutrient Pairs are balanced to each other
  • Whole Cell Algae dried (Pure source of Omega 3)
  • Cassava as a Low glycemic starch binder
  • Long chain PreBiotics (feed the good bacteria, not the bad)
  • Encapsulated ProBiotics (deliver up to 1,000 more viable units)
  • High Quality Digestive enzymes
  • NO High Glycemic ingredients
  • No grain, potatoes, sweet potatoes, GMO’s
  • No synthetic chemical preservatives (Ethoxyquin, BHA, or GBT)
  • No artificial coloring or flavoring
  • No Anti-biotics
  • No Hormones

Or you could simply buy Brothers Complete Dog Food – they’ve already gone to all the trouble for you.


Richard Darlington, CO-CEO

Brothers Complete Dog Food, LLC

Lady Kay, Mr Blitz, and The Old Gray Muzzle Tour

Fort Lauderdale’s lovely Kay Dorning with Dr David Waters and Mr Blitz, her amazing long lived Rottweiler, who is the first stop on this years “Old Grey Muzzle Tour”.

KimDorning & Mr Blitz w-Dr David Waters

Five years ago Dr David Waters, a professor of Oncology at Purdue University began a yearly recurring scientific road trip to personally interview and examine especially long lived Rottweilers in the country. In 2013 there were 12 dogs that he found and studied and that scientific endeavor has continued each year since. Rottweilers are very cancer prone as a breed so Dr Waters thinks there is much to be learned by investigating the very few who live to 13 years old and beyond since the average life span of the breed is usually about 8 to 10 years.

A 13 year old Rottweiler is considered to be the equivalent of a 100 year old person.

The very first stop on this years “Old Grey Muzzle Tour” had Dr Waters driving down from Purdue University in Indiana to Fort Lauderdale to meet Mr Blitz, the 100+ year old (in human years) Rottweiler who lives happily with his loving, doggy mom, Kay Dorning. Mr Blitz will turn 14 this August which will put him in the upper echelon of long lived Rottweilers. Dr Waters examined Mr Blitz and recorded the data in his ongoing effort to unlock the mystery of why a few rare dogs like Mr Blitz are so healthy they’ve outlived the rest of the breed by 30% to as much as 50%.

We think that a large part of the answer is just good old common sense and has to do with the quality of the food, and love, that Kay provides for Mr Blitz. Kay has been a regular and welcome smiling face at the Brothers Pet Nutrition Store in Fort Lauderdale for the past 10 years. Kay is a warm and gracious lady with a natural, easy going charm who is a pleasure to know, but she also has a very capable and conscientious side when it comes to researching and meeting Mr Blitz’s nutritional needs.


For the last 6 or 7 years Kay has been feeding Mr Blitz Brothers Complete Dog Food. It seems to us, from a scientific as well as common sense perspective, that Kay’s nutritional research and food choices have been largely responsible for Mr Blitz’s long and robust health, and his happiness is the natural result of love and constant hugs from such a kind and caring mom.

Congratulations to Kay and Mr Blitz for leading off this year’s “Old Grey Muzzle Tour” and may Mr Blitz have many more happy, healthy years to come.


Richard Darlington, CO-CEO

Brothers Complete Dog Food, LLC