Tag Archives: Carbohydrates

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?

The Four Horsemen of the Pet Food Apocalypse

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Processed pet foods are touted as nutritious and healthful for dogs and cats. The truth is that commercial diets are made from unnatural ingredients of questionable origin. The high-temperature processing destroys vital nutrients and creates toxins. Then some synthetic vitamins are sprinkled in to make them “complete and balanced.” The sins of the pet food industry are of biblical proportions. Here are the 4 biggies.

  1. CARBS – (Starch to be more exact) is a major nutrient in most processed pet foods. Pet foods contain starch because it is a cheap source of calories and it is needed to make convenient kibble. No matter how “natural” the source of the carbs is (grain vs. grain-free), it is completely unnatural for dogs and cats to eat more than a very small amount. Carbs feed cancer and promote obesity – two major health problems for pets. Carbs also promote storage mite contamination of pet food which triggers allergies.
  2. TOXINS – Ingredients, such as preservatives, artificial flavors, and colors, need to be proven dangerous to be excluded from pet foods. (You would think an ingredient would need to be proven safe to be included but that is not how it works). Also, the grains in most pet foods lead to contamination with aflatoxins from molds. Aflatoxins cause liver failure at high doses and cancer at the lower levels allowed in pet foods. Finally, high-heat processing creates heterocyclic amines – toxins which are known carcinogens.
  3. MISSING NUTRIENTS – High-heat processing destroys most of the vitamins and photochemicals in the raw materials used in these diets. We are learning recently that there is more to good nutrition than providing the currently known vitamins and minerals. It seems there are new nutrients discovered every day, and processing wipes out most of them.
  4. SYNTHETIC VITAMINS – Pet food manufacturers realize that processing destroys nutrients. They add back in chemical substitutes (synthetic vitamins) in an attempt to “balance” the diets. However, even the smartest nutritionist does not know everything there is to know about nutrition. Therefore, their attempts to balance diets cannot be completely successful. More than that, evidence shows that synthetic vitamins are not assimilated by the body in the same, beneficial way as those from food sources. Some may even be toxic.

Hopefully this information will cause you to re-think what you put in your pet’s food bowl. A balanced, raw diet is best for pets and that’s the gospel truth!

Are you ready to go raw yet?

What’s so Natural about “Natural”?

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I am all for natural care for the body, mind, and spirit. Unfortunately the word “natural,” especially when applied to all things related to pet diet and health, has become a bit of a meaningless buzzword. We have natural pet foods with natural ingredients like natural flavors. There are also natural supplements, natural shampoos, and even natural pet magazines. It leads one to wonder what it really means to be natural.

The word natural can be defined as something relating to or derived from nature. This word is often thought of as the opposite of “synthetic.” Something is synthetic if it has been removed from nature and chemically manipulated by man. So we consider grain which is grown in Mother Nature’s soil to be natural while plastic is synthetic.

Of course, who eats corn on the cob without first cooking it or subjecting it to some other, more extreme processing? Since we’ve changed the corn from its natural state, is it still natural? And what of plastic? It is made from petroleum products which come from dead dinosaurs. What could be more natural than that?

So there seems to be a spectrum of naturalness. While we would all agree that an ear of corn is natural and a plastic cup is synthetic, where do we draw the line between the two? Is corn always natural no matter how it has been processed?

The naturalness of corn ranges from an ear of corn, to ground corn, to corn flakes, to high fructose corn syrup, to “corn plastic” used in biodegradable packaging. I would suggest that somewhere in that progression, the corn has ceased to be natural.

The same thing can be said for natural pet foods. Sure, grain, potatoes, or any source of starch could be considered to be natural ingredients. They may even be organic. But, after the high-heat processing their naturalness has been corrupted. Even more importantly, it is extremely unnatural for dogs or cats to eat large amounts of starch in any form. As far as I’m concerned, calling any processed kibble “natural” is very misleading.

The natural ingredients in natural pet foods often include natural flavors. Chemicals used as natural flavors are produced more naturally than are artificial flavors. However, the processing of the raw materials into the flavor chemicals results in unnatural end products that often resemble MSG in character. If the natural flavors are so natural why doesn’t the label just come right out and say exactly what they are?

When it comes to caring for our pets, there is a range of naturalness. My professional opinion is that most pets thrive on a balanced, raw diet. But, I know that not everyone can pull that off for various reasons. Just do the best you can.

Also, remember that just because it says “natural” does not necessarily mean it is good for you or your pet. Poison ivy is natural but that doesn’t mean you should rub it all over your body.

Have you ever been fooled by a “natural” claim?