Category Archives: Cancer

5 Steps to a Healthy Pet

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I would like to start 2016 by keeping it simple. Over the years I’ve written about research and my own experience that informs my views on pet health care. I’ve been working in the veterinary field for over 30 years with more than 20 years of holistic/integrative practice. I would like to sum it up with 4 simple ideas that I think will give every pet the best chance for a long, healthy life.

  1. DIET – Nutrition is the basis for health. We simply cannot expect any animal to be healthy if they are not provided the raw materials needed to build a healthy body. Our pets evolved eating raw food. They retain the genetic programming for diets that are high in protein and low in carbs (the opposite profile of conventional diets). The high-heat processing of commercial pet foods destroys micronutrients and creates carcinogens. Pets benefit from a species-appropriate, balanced, raw diet.
  2. Healthy Weight – Speaking of diet, keeping your pet at a healthy weight will help him live a longer life with fewer chronic disease issues like arthritis. You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs along the side of the body and there should be a narrowing at the waist.
  3. VACCINES – Wile I am not against all vaccines I have found that the mainstream veterinary community tends to over-do it. Every pet does not need every vaccine every year. It is important to be sure your pet has immunity to distemper and parvo. Blood titers can be done to see if a pet needs the vaccine. Giving more vaccines than are needed does not increase immunity; it just screws up the immune system. The rabies vaccine is mandated by law and in my experience a healthy animal can handle a vaccine every 3 years. Other vaccines such as leptospirosis, lyme, and bordetella should be given on an as needed basis. DO NOT give more than one vaccine at a time.
  4. MEDICAL INTERVENTIONSWhenever possible, natural/holistic therapies such as herbs, supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic, and homeopathy should be used over conventional medications. My main concern with Western medicine is that there are often side effects from such medicines that can be avoided by using more natural treatments.
  5. SPAY/NEUTER – Recent research shows that sterilizing a pet before it is fully mature causes changes in bone growth. These alterations throw off the biomechanics of the joints and predispose the pet to hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament rupture. Spaying and neutering at any age appears to promote cancer. (Find research on this here) Depending on a pet caregiver’s lifestyle and tolerances and the pet’s behavior, it appears that it is best to hold off on spaying and neutering any pet until it is 2-3 years old. Consider Zeutering male dogs.

There you have it, pet health in a nutshell: feed raw, limit vaccines, go holistic, delay spay/neuter.

What have you found the most helpful for your pets?

Carrageenan: A Nasty Pet Food Toxin

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Carrageenan is an ingredient of canned pet diets used to thicken, stabilize, and emulsify the food. It is used in many canned pet foods basically to improve the appearance and texture. There is absolutely no nutritional value to this ingredient.

Carrageenan is actually a group of compounds extracted from various species of red seaweed. As such, it is considered a “natural” ingredient. Now, the consumption seaweed itself has many health benefits. However, when you isolate this one family of constituents, problems arise.

While many types of carrageenan are harmless, there are forms that cause inflammation and predispose to cancer. Food-grade carrageenan is supposed to be free of the dangerous forms. Unfortunately, studies show that the carrageenan used in foods contain small amounts (up to 5%) of the nasty stuff. Food-grade carrageenan has been shown to increase free radicals and decrease insulin sensitivity as well as cause inflammation.

Seventy percent of canned pet foods contain carrageenan. Pets that are fed mostly canned food may consume enough of this toxin to cause inflammation and cancer. While dry pet foods have many negative health effects, canned foods with this ingredient may be even worse.

The sad thing is that carrageenan can easily be replaced by safer foods such as tomato paste, guar gum, potato starch, pea starch, tapioca, and garbanzo bean flour. Of course, none of these are appropriate foods for dogs and cats either – just less toxic.

By the way, many “natural” human foods such as certain dairy products, sandwich meats, infant formulas, dairy substitutes (e.g. almond and soy milk), frozen pizza dough, and others also contain carrageenan. Check your food labels carefully. Here is more info on carragenan in human foods.

It is impossible to list foods that do not contain carrageenan because pet food manufacturers frequently change formulations. The packaging and name may be the same but what’s in the can may change. The bottom line is to read labels and buyer beware.

Of course the way to avoid the many toxins found in processed pet foods is to feed a balance raw diet instead. That’s the kind of diet that Mother Nature intended pets to eat. In other words, pets have evolved eating unprocessed foods and their genetics have not changed significantly since they were hunters/scavengers.

If you feed canned pet food, check the label and let us know whether or not it contains carrageenan.

Why Run for a Cure?

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A few weeks ago I was in an area where runners were assembling to “Run for the Cure” of some problem. It suddenly hit me how messed up our priorities are. Of course we all want to help those who are sick. It is great that researchers are working on cures for cancer and other devastating diseases. But, what about prevention?

Think about it, if we put more resources into preventing diseases like cancer then there would be no reason to run for a cure. The problem is that many of the diseases that plague our society and its pets are brought about by lifestyle. Processed convenience foods, vaccines, pharmaceuticals, lack of exercise, and a general disregard for body condition are all risk factors for chronic disease (and not-so-chronic cancer).

Yes, there does seem to be a genetic component to cancer. Certain genes have been directly linked to specific cancer types. At the same time, not everyone with the “bad” gene gets the disease. Perhaps cancer genes are simply genes that don’t tolerate the standard Western lifestyle.

Furthermore, none of us can completely escape the toxic environment we are creating on planet earth. Even if you avoid the poisons put on our food by eating organic, you cannot totally escape air and water pollution. I have seen naturally raised, raw-fed dogs die of cancer. The bottom line is that we and our pets are going to die of something sooner or later. There is no “Run for Immortality.”

There are disease risk factors that we cannot avoid but there are many that we can evade. A holistic life style – eating a species-appropriate, whole-foods diet, avoiding unneeded vaccines, getting plenty of exercise, and using natural healing methods – increases the odds of living a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, a healthy lifestyle isn’t very sexy for most people. And there’s no money to be made by the PharmicoMafia.

No, we will never see a “Run for Prevention.” Although, exercise (the run part) is a great start toward a healthy lifestyle. The problem is that you have to do it more than once a year on pink ribbon day.