Monthly Archives: March 2014

Mitsu vs. Bone Cancer

Mitsu Kashmer

Mitsu is a wonderful 12-year-old Akita with a friendly disposition. She first came to me in May of 2012 because she was limping on her right front leg on and off for 6 months and her owner was concerned that she might have arthritis. Unfortunately, X-rays revealed she had osteosarcoma (bone cancer) in her humerus (upper front leg bone).

We got Mitsu started on a raw diet, fish oil and anti-cancer supplements. Her owners also pursued conventional cancer care so Mitsu was getting chemotherapy. Very soon we instituted acupuncture treatments for pain management and to help alleviate the nausea which was a side effect of the chemo.

Mitsu’s caregivers decided against having her leg amputated. Amputation of a limb affected by osteosarcoma does not get rid of the cancer and does not prolong life. It may decrease the pain associated with the disease in the long run, but it is a traumatic and disfiguring surgery.

Mitsu took her diet, supplements and chemotherapy like a champ. She has had her ups and downs but the acupuncture has really helped her through the rough times. She has since also received radiation therapy on her leg and we have changed cancer supplements periodically.

In my experience, cancer is a disease of the entire animal even if there is only a localized tumor visible. The goal is to create an environment in the body that is inhospitable to cancer and thereby keep it at bay. True cure is only rarely achieved but control is very possible.

It has been almost 2 years since Mitsu’s bone cancer was first diagnosed. She has outlived her caregivers’ and her oncologist’s expectations, but no pet’s life is ever long enough. Mitsu is still strong but the cancer and the cancer treatment have taken their toll and the disease is definitely progressing.

Every moment we share with our beloved pets is precious and this is especially the case for Mitsu and her family. We don’t know how much time we have left with her but we will make every minute count. No matter how you look at it, Mitsu is a winner.

By the way, she totally LOVES her acupuncture treatments! Here she is zenning out.

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Her needles are hard to see with all her fur but here’s one.

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Six Myths about Conventional Pet Food

2014-03-17 14.59.19

 

Nutrition is the basis of health. To build and run a healthy body, both wholesome raw materials and appropriate fuel are needed. We have been led to believe that processed pet foods provide healthy nutrition. I would like to inject an ounce of reality into this notion. Here are six falsehoods regarding the benefits of processed pet foods.

1.      Pet food is 100% complete and balanced.

Processed pet foods are heated to the point that most of the natural nutrients in the raw materials are destroyed. The pet food companies realize this and supplement the diets with synthetic vitamins.

Unfortunately, research indicates that synthetic vitamins do not provide the same health benefits as eating foods containing those same vitamins. Eating whole foods is a much better way to feed the body.

Also, pet food manufacturers can only balance the diets to their current understanding of nutrition. Since nobody knows everything, nutrition knowledge is incomplete, and therefore so are the diets.

Processed pet foods are not 100% complete and balanced.

2.      “Natural” processed pet food.

The word natural implies that something is closely mimicking what takes place in

the wilds of nature. It is true that some pet foods start with natural ingredients. However, when those ingredients are inappropriate and then processed, the end product is no longer natural.

The wild (natural) counterparts of dogs and cats eat diets that are very different than what we provide our pets from a bag or can. Wild carnivores eat raw food that contains little to no carbohydrates. Processed pet food is cooked at high temperatures and is often laden with starch.

The term “natural” when applied to processed pet food is an oxymoron.

3.      Grain-free pet food is good for pets.

Dogs and cats did not evolve to eat grain or any other form of starch. Their bodies are not built to handle it. Grain-free diets are a step in the right direction. However, every dry food contains starch. Kibble simply cannot be made without it.

In my opinion, the starch in the food is what makes it unfit for pets.

4.      Crunching on dry food cleans pets’ teeth.

It seems logical that the process of chewing kibble would clean a pet’s teeth.

However, studies do not bear this out. In fact, the idea that crunching pet food cleans their teeth makes no more sense than to think that chewing up pretzels cleans ours.

When the tip of the pet’s tooth contacts the kibble, the nugget shatters and does not scrape the teeth. And, when you consider that kibble has to contain lots of starch we can see that the opposite of dental health results. Starch is easily converted to sugar which feeds the bacteria that cause plaque and leads to tooth root infections.

Dry food is not good for pets’ teeth.

5.      Pet foods are made with wholesome ingredients.

It is common knowledge that most pet foods are made from ingredients that are unfit for human consumption. What many people don’t realize is that studies have shown that some pet foods contain traces of Pentobarbital. This is the drug used to put animals to sleep. Euthanized animals make it into pet foods due to the use of ingredients from rendering plants. If your pet’s food lists “meat and bone meal” as an ingredient, throw it away. It may contain dead cats and dogs.

Some pet foods are made with nasty ingredients

6.      Processed pet foods promote health.

It is well known that cooking meats at high temperatures creates cancer-causing chemicals. Two recent studies1,2 found these carcinogens both in pet foods and in pets’ bodies. Both studies concluded that pet foods may promote cancer.

There are much healthier things to feed our pets rather than processed pet foods.

Our pets rely on us for their food. Feeding is the most important thing we do for them on a daily basis. Everything we put into our pets either promotes health or promotes disease. Our current, processed pet foods provide less than optimal nutrition. In my opinion, the best diet for pets is a balanced, raw food.

  1. Mark G. Knize MG, Salmon CP, Felton JS. Mutagenic activity and heterocyclic amine

carcinogens in commercial pet foods. Mutation Research. 2003;539:195–201.

  1. Gu D, Neuman ZL, Jaime F. Modiano JF, Turesky RJ. Biomonitoring the Cooked Meat

Carcinogen 2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazol[4,5-b]pyridine in Canine Fur. J. Agric.

Food Chem. 2012; 60:9371−9375.

Dr. Doug in the Raw

Dr Doug Raw

Yes, I’m going to bare it all for you right now. I am one of a rare breed of veterinarian who actually recommends raw pet food. This is in spite of my veterinary educational indoctrination that processed pet food is scientifically validated. Initially I bought the propaganda – hook, line and sinker. The reason I changed my mind is that:

  1. I was open-minded enough to try raw food on a pet and saw positive results
  2. My experience with raw food led me to do my own research into why it worked

Here is some of what I learned.

Evolution

Although dogs and cats have been domesticated for thousands of years they have been fed processed kibble for less than 100 years. It takes millions of years for significant evolutionary changes to happen. Although pets often do not closely resemble their wild counterparts, their digestive systems do.

Lift the lip of your dog or cat and take a close look at their teeth. Notice the long fangs for ripping flesh off a carcass. See all those sharp premolars and molars behind the fangs. Those teeth are made to cut meat. They are not the flat teeth of an omnivore (like us) that are meant to crunch vegetation.

The mouth is the most visible part of the digestive tract. If dogs and cats had evolved away from their carnivorous ancestors enough to benefit from currently popular pet foods then their teeth would have changed in the process. Dogs and cats are carnivores.

Processed Convenience Foods

The processing of pet foods helps to extend their shelf-life and make feeding easy. This fits with our modern, active lifestyles. Unfortunately, processed foods are not healthy for our pets.

High-heat processing of food destroys vital nutrients (you’ve never seen a wolf cook its food). Pet food manufacturers understand that and add back in synthetic vitamins and other nutrients. The problem with that is twofold:

  1. Synthetic vitamins are not identical to the nutrients in whole foods and the body does not recognize them as food
  2. Companies can only balance diets based on our current understanding of nutrition – which is incomplete

Also, high-heat processing of meat and carbohydrates creates carcinogens. Since currently half of all adult animals die of cancer, the link between what we feed and cancer in pets needs to be addressed.

Carbs

Research shows that dogs and cats do not require dietary carbohydrates. Also, excessive consumption of starch is linked to obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation, and cancer. There are only two reasons pet foods contain carbs:

  1. Cost (They are a cheap source of calories)
  2. Convenience (Convenient, dry pet food requires starch to hold the kibble together)

No matter what you hear from the pet food industry about the benefits of corn or other sources of carbs, nutrition has nothing to do with their inclusion in the diet.

Yes, I have shed my vet school training and gone raw. I hope you will join me.