& THE PET FOOD REVOLUTION
By Dr. Michael W. Fox
Manufactured pet foods are profitably derived
from the human food and beverage industries that continue to rely on the use of
increasingly contaminated, hazardous and depleted terrestrial and aquatic
ecosystems. Most dogs and cats consume these foods, which have contained
byproducts and materials rejected and condemned as unfit for human consumption,
including the infamous notably “4-D” meat from animals either dead,
dying, debilitated or diseased. Billions
of dollars have been repeated for pet food manufacturers, which forms a
lucrative subsidiary of industrial agriculture/”agribusiness”. Despite
the efficiency and cost-saving of
this highly profitable practice for companion and farmed animals (including
fish) feed industries, safety and nutritional quality concerns continue to be
issues regulatory agencies (FDA & USDA) are hard pressed to monitor and
rectify. This is mainly because the extremely complex international industrial
food system has internal problems such as nutrient-deficient soils and crops along
with agrichemical and animal drug residues that call for entirely different,
ecologically sound, sustainable and humane farming practices.
The main ingredients in
most pet foods are scientifically analyzed for basic nutrient content and are
then subjected, often for the second time, to heat processing which usually
destroys many nutrients. Identified deficiencies are rectified with various
synthetic additives, which are not without risk, along with various
preservatives and additives to make the product more appealing to pet
care-givers. Several diet-related diseases, which I term “nutrigenic” diseases,
as distinct from food-borne illnesses, have been documented in dogs and cats.
These, along with the recognized imitations of costly special prescription
diets formulated by the pet food industry allegedly to correct various nutrigenic
been documented in the book Not Fit for a
Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat & Dog Food which I
co-authored with veterinarians Dr.
Elizabeth Hodgkins and Marion E. Smart, with additional concerns about
genetically engineered ingredients and veterinary involvement with the pet food
industry discussed in my more recent book Healing
Animals & the Vision of One Health.
SOME DIET-RELATED HEALTH PROBLEMS SHARED
BY DOGS, CATS & HUMANS
Since the publication of
the book Sugar Blues by William Duffy
in 1975, there has been rising consumer awareness over the healthfulness of
sugars in the human diet: Much research has been conducted, and ever more sugar
consumed world-wide as food manufacturers prefer to deny the risks...It is
surely not mere coincidence that a cluster of serious diet-related diseases in
humans are also seen in cats and dogs and these can be prevented and often
reversed with sugar-free, biologically appropriate diets.
Many diseases which affect
us and other animals both wild and tame are anthropogenic---brought on by
ourselves---through our collective misuse of chemicals, drugs, natural
resources and ecosystems. Some of these causes of the “diseases of
civilization” will not be rectified for generations, if ever. But others can be
addressed, notably what we chose to eat and what we feed to our companion
animals, beginning with cereal-derived carbohydrates and sugars (also from
sugar cane and genetically engineered beets).
Dogs are more carnivorous
than omnivorous humans, while cats are absolute/”obligate” carnivores. All
these species, cats in particular, are harmed by refined sugars and those
derived from high glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates which the bodies of cats,
dogs and humans convert into sugars which that trigger insulin release and
storage of the calories from sugars as fat. Cereal glutens, phytases, GMOs,
herbicide residues and various chemical and pharmaceutical “obesogens” may be
co-factors in the following diet-related health problems. In fact, these high GI
foods promote a state of chronic inflammation, a main contributor to the
obesity which plagues more than 50% of the dog and cat population.
Our cats and dogs are
telling showing us that we are eating and feeding to them is wrong when it
comes to the cascade of health issues we face today -- in part from
biologically inappropriate diets high in sugars for humans and high in starches
for all three species. These health issues include: dental problems, oral and
intestinal dysbiosis, (disruption of health-promoting populations of bacteria
leading to hyper-reactive immune systems triggering allergies and autoimmune
diseases); fatty liver disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome and resulting
inflammatory diseases including arthritis and some cancers, along with heart
disease, high blood pressure, eye disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, chronic
pancreatic enzyme insufficiency, inflammatory bowel conditions, kidney disease
and urological problems especially in cats.
So for humans, we need
less sugar, and some functional complex carbohydrates in our diets
[i.e. cruciferous vegetables; fresh, whole fruits (but not grapes);
gluten-free grains; green, leafy vegetables; and legumes rich in phytonutrients
and prebiotics]. Most dogs also need some of these functional carbohydrates in
their diets, whereas all cats need only a minimal amount (approx.5%).
Primary, whole, minimally
processed human food- grade quality ingredients should be fed, in biologically
appropriate proportions, to companion cats and dogs. Ideally these wholesome
foods should not include chemical preservatives as with the rising number of
additive and preservative-free frozen and freeze-dried pet foods now on the
market, some organically certified and with no GMOs. Fresh whole foods mean
better health and I advocate, as an alternative to these freeze-dried and
frozen cat and dog foods, that people make their own foods from basic
ingredients from the same stores that they go to for their own non-manufactured
Variety is the Spice of Life
For decades pet owners
have been advised to feed their animals the same kind manufactured food every
day in order to avoid digestive and other upsets, many people protesting how
“boring” that must be for their animals having to eat the same stuff day in and
day out. Human studies on the consequences of such boring consumer
habits/lifestyles cast doubt on this erroneous advice being given to pet
Holland’s University of
Groningen press release of research by Alexandra Zhernakova and co-workers
simply stated "Lifestyle has a strong impact on intestinal bacteria, which
has a strong impact on health." “Lifestyle” means what people eat and
drink and essentially the greater the diversity of foods and beverages we
consume, the more diverse is bacterial population in our intestines which is
good for our digestive and immune systems and overall health. By extension this
finding is relevant to what cats and dogs and other domestic animals are fed in
terms of diversity of foodstuffs.
(See Zhernakova, A et
al. Population-based metagenomics analysis reveals markers for gut
microbiome composition and diversity. Science, 2016; 352 (6285):
565 DOI: 10.1126/science.aad3369).
It is no coincidence that millions
of dogs and cats develop similar diseases seen in their human companions and
the larger consumer populace. One main reason is because they partake of the
same food-chain. These diet-related and to varying degrees diet treatable and
preventable diseases include: Obesity and metabolic syndrome, diabetes,
arthritis, cancer, various endocrine, exocrine, hepatic, renal, pancreatic,
cardiac and hematological, respiratory, neurologic, cognitive, developmental
and behavioral, endocrine, dermatological and other chronic inflammatory and
degenerative diseases, in addition to digestive and immune system dysfunctions
and related allergic and autoimmune syndromes. That some people and cats and
dogs have more of these systemic health problems associated with food
sensitivity/intolerance and allergy than others eating similar foods points to
genetic, epigenetic, home environment and life-style differences. The role of
genes in influencing how certain dietary ingredients are associated with
disease is exemplified by the reactions of some dog breeds to wheat, copper or
zinc in their diets and more generically in cats (who are obligate carnivores)
to corn and soy products in theirs.
The science of nutrition
is advancing into the more integrated realm of holistic health and disease
prevention where biologically and individually appropriate diets are the
keystone for optimal health. Diet-related nutrigenic diseases can be aggravated
when various food ingredients alter the health-promoting population of bacteria
in the digestive system, the “microbiome” or “garden of the guts”, and when a
particular breed or individual genome has gene-related processes and reactions
to food ingredients that cause or aggravate illness. This field of scientific
investigation and clinical application is termed nutrigenomics.
The advent of the science
of nutrigenomics is opening the way for an entirely new approach to human and
animal nutrition and how food is produced and diets formulated. (For more
details see W. Jean Dodds DVM and Diana R. Laverdure, Canine Nutrigenomics. Wenatchee,
Washington, Dogwise Publishing
This book should be mandatory reading
for all veterinary students, and is a book that is opening the new vistas of
nutritional science. It is also essential reading for people who live, work
with and care for dogs, because it takes us to the next level of critical and
analytical consideration of companion animal nutrition. In explaining the
interplay between genes,
nutrients and intestinal bacteria, (the “microbiome”), this book reaches a new
level of understanding some of the dynamics of diseases hitherto unrecognized
and unaddressed by human and animal doctors. But they now have, with this book
and the emerging science of nutrigenomics, a more integrated and holistic
perspective. Chapter-highlighting summaries and practical instruction give this
book a tutorial quality which enhances the learning experience and its
inclusion of herbal and other nutraceutical supplements will affirm and inspire
advocates of same.
This book should make
every reader consider what they are eating themselves and feeding to their
families and also face the cruel realities of livestock and poultry factory
farms and misuse of antibiotics, hormones and other drugs; our polluted and
over-fished oceans; the nutrient depleted soils and pesticide-contaminated,
genetically engineered crops of industrial agriculture, the main-stream pet
food industry being a subsidiary of this “agribusiness.” Companion animals and
their diet-related diseases are canaries and guinea pigs down the consumer food
chain mineshaft and market-testing laboratory. That they get better and have
healthier offspring when fed biologically appropriate whole foods, with some
essential trace mineral and other nutrient-balancing additives with nothing
more other than probiotics and prebiotics, is an indicator of how farming
practices and the agribusiness food industry, as well as our own consumer
habits, must change.
I have a degree of respect
for the pet food industry for its contributions to the science of animal
nutrition and related animal health. But I have an even greater degree of
sympathy for the challenges they face in securing affordable, healthful and
safe ingredients from multiple sources from around the world for companion
animals and at the same time avoiding costly recalls and class action law suits
when dogs and cats sicken and even die from consuming their “Scientifically
Formulated” and often “Veterinarian Approved” approved products.
More healthful foods for
all is a distant, attainable ideal but not yet a reality. But less un-healthful
foods for us and our animal companions is an immediate, achievable goal. Canine
Nutrigenomics provides an excellent directory to the marketplace of this
evolution in human consumer habits and scientific validation of the Hippocratic
injunction to let our food be our medicine and our medicine our food. This book
is part of the nascent transformation of agriculture and the “One Health”
revolution connecting public health and disease prevention with optimal
nutrition which we must all join and support in the marketplace with our
dollars and good sense The rights of consumers to make informed decisions in
the market place for themselves and their companion animals is a right in any
democratic society, and would be enlightened corporate interest for the human
and subsidiary pet food industries to respect, because more and more consumers
are informed and they will ultimately vote with their dollars in the market
POISONS IN PET FOODS
Clean Label Project™
completed a study of over 900 pet food products from 71
brands. Products were screened for over 130 toxins. ( www.cleanlabelproject.org/product-ratings/pet-food/).
In my opinion, the high and concerning levels of lead, cadmium, arsenic,
pesticides, nickel, chromium and mercury in pet foods reported by the
Clean Label Project and low levels in some can be traced to the kinds of
animal parts and byproducts being recycled into pet foods.
referring to the vast tonnage of factory and feedlot raised animals and
fish killed for human consumption and what is discarded as unfit for human
consumption; remains of euthanized race and pleasure horses no longer used
for stud purposes; hundreds of thousands of worn out milk cows, exhausted
breeding sows and spent laying hens. The older the animal, the greater is
the bioaccumulation in the bones, livers and other body parts of these and
other kinds of toxic chemicals, notably dioxins and fluorides. By
inference, the safest animal parts come from those killed at an early age.
This enormous fraction from the animal industries is widely used by
the pet food industry to recycle the low-cost animal remains of
a carnivorous culture that still refuses to accept the adverse health
environmental consequences of regarding beef as a dietary staple.
Clean Label's rating of pet foods, according to pet
food consumer advocate Susan Thixton, raises some suspicion by giving many
waste- ingredient pet foods high ratings. But regardless, this is an alarm bell
to the pet food industry and to pet owners and veterinarians. The older the
farmed animals are and the higher in the marine food chain the fish are, the
more loaded with these and other toxic chemicals they will be. This is a
classic example of environmental and food-chain contamination due to our
continued, collective sins of omission and commission with regard to social
responsibility and effective planetary stewardship.
PARABENS IN PET FOODS
SOURCES: Kurunthachalam Kannan, Ph.D., division of
environmental health sciences, New York state Department of Health, Albany,
N.Y.; Robert Poppenga, D.V.M., Ph.D., veterinarian, California Animal Health
and Food Safety, toxicology laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine,
University of California, Davis; March 7, 2018, Environmental Science &
their metabolites were found in all of the pet foods and urine samples tested.
The paraben "methyl paraben" was the most abundant in the samples.
Dry food contained higher amounts of parabens than wet food, and cat foods had
higher concentrations than dog foods. However, dogs had more intake of parabens
than cats did, the study found. Cats were mainly exposed to parabens from their
food, while dogs were also exposed to parabens from other sources, such as drug
supplements and cosmetics, the findings showed. What all this means isn't
clear. The researchers said more study is needed, particularly to see if these
chemicals are associated with any negative health effects. For animal owners
who would like to avoid parabens in their pet's food, Poppenga said there are
likely some alternative choices that don't have the chemicals. "There are
a lot of pet foods out there -- maybe there are all-natural alternatives. The
foods for sale that are refrigerated probably have less added into them,"
he said, according to
Up Some Loose Ends
Some human nutritionists now recognize the public
health crisis associated with the addition of sugar to many processed human
foods and beverages. Sugar and other food ingredients with a high glycemic index.
The glycemic index (GI) ranks the
carbohydrates in on a scale from 0 to 100 according to the extent to which they
raise blood sugar levels after eating. Foods ( e.g. white bread, rice , corn
and potatoes)with a high
GI are rapidly digested and absorbed resulting
in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels and insulin levels. Fiber in fruits and whole grains slows
down this digestive process. Certain cancers feed on this glucose, and the
liver converts such sugars into fat which leads to higher levels of LDL ‘bad’
cholesterol, which is in part responsible
for heart disease and stroke. Fatty liver disease and diabetes are common
consequences, along with the so called metabolic syndrome/obesity.
Dysbiosis can also develop in the oral cavity where
a combination of diet-related factors such as high alkalinity associated with
high cereal content, artificial acidification, (which may damage the
kidneys),and micro- particles of processed food ingredients along with gluten
adhere between the teeth and under the gum line. The association between what
cats and dogs are being fed and the epidemic of periodontal disease, dental
plaque and stomatitis cannot be denied.
The addition of high fiber ingredients such as
ground peanut hulls to weight-loss and other special, often prescribed pet food
formulas may interfere with mineral and other nutrient uptake and lead to
deficiency disease, one symptom being insatiable appetite.
The increasing incidence of urinary calculi
(uroloths) in American children consuming high sodium and calcium foods and not
drinking adequate quantities of water rather than sodas and milk has parallels
with the high incidence of uroliths in cats being given only high cereal
content dry foods and not having sufficient fluids in their diet.
Food addiction is a recognized condition in some
human cases of obesity and is an issue discussed in Not Fit for a Dog, especially
in cats whose fixation on one type of
food may be detrimental to their health and difficult to break.
While the American Veterinary Medical Association in
concert with some major pet food manufacturers went public in July 2012
advising against the purchase of raw foods for dogs and cats because of alleged
health problems associated with bacterial contamination The AVMA completely
ignored the FDA finding of more recalls associated with dry pet foods and
treats contaminated with pathogenic bacteria and mold (aflatoxin). Raw foods
mimicking the “ancestral diet” provide the benefits of natural enzymes, a
balanced microbial flora, antioxidants, highly digestible and balanced protein,
fat and mineral sources, as opposed to lower digestibility of the heat
processed and damaged ingredients in kibble.
Pet food ingredient labels listing contents use
terms agreed upon by the industry’s self-regulating body, the Association of
American feed Control Officials, tell nothing of nutrient quality,
digestibility and micronutrient content. These can all be low when manufacturers
use cheap human food and beverage industry by-products and also as a
consequence of high temperature cooking and other processing procedures.
Synthetic supplements and additives to correct these deficiencies, as
documented in Not Fit for a Dog, is an
industry-accepted practice, but not without risk.
Canned foods are heat-sterilized and devoid of any
live enzymes and bacteria. Heat processing and sterilization may also create
abnormal gut microbial populations leading to dysbiosis and potential chronic
digestive upsets and immune system dysfunction, while some of the bacteria consumed
in natural foods are
beneficial. This is a potential problem for those indoor pets who never have
contact with soil, a source of bacteria that aid in digestion and maintain a
healthy gut flora essential for optimal immune system function. This is one
reason why more veterinarians are prescribing probiotics and some pet food
manufacturers are including them in their dry and raw food formulations.
Both humans and dogs and cats consuming meat,
poultry, eggs and dairy products from factory-farmed animals fed corn that is
high in omega 6 essential fatty
acids (EFAs) can suffer from a variety of health problems associated with
excess inflammation-causing omega 6 EFAs and deficient quantities of omega 3
EFAs. (For details see Essential Fatty Acid Education. http://efaeducation.nih.gov/sig/psychiatric.html
Pastures: How Grass-fed Beef and Milk Contribute to Healthy Eating.
Union of Concerned Scientists. tinyurl.com/6uvdtyc). Such imbalances, excesses
and deficiencies of EFAs are associated with a variety of neurological,
immunological, inflammatory (e.g. arthritic), dermatological and other
conditions, leading enlightened veterinarians to prescribe good quality fish
oil supplements for a variety of cat and dog health problems.
The above and other deficiencies associated with
manufactured pet foods as documented in Not
Fit for a Dog have spawned a lucrative market for diagnostic tests, steroid
and other anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, anti-flea and other
anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and a host of other medications, many with harmful
side-effects,. Other concerns are costly
and risky annual dental procedures and the selling of “therapeutic diets “ by
veterinarians. Pfizer’s diet pill Slentrol (dirlotapide) for dogs is yet
another illustration of the profitability of treating the symptoms related to
improper pet nutrition and care.
remains that optimal, biologically appropriate nutrition during pregnancy and
early development is the keystone of preventive medicine, helping prevent many
diseases later in life in both humans and companion animals. This responsible
approach to human and pet nutrition could reduce the growing health care
expenditures which are currently crippling America’s dysfunctional health care
Government regulatory agencies’ strong alliance with
the agribusiness food and pharmaceutical industries mean that the status quo is
unlikely to change fast enough to address these rising diet-related public
health crises. So I urge informed
consumers to assume a greater responsibility for their own health and for that
of their animal companions by purchasing whole foods, ideally organically
certified, locally grown, and becoming ‘kitchen anarchists’ cooking from
scratch. I have received many letters from people who have prepared my in-home
recipes* for their cats and dogs or who have transitioned their animals onto
some of the manufactured brands that have my seal of approval, which document
the health benefits and even behavioral improvements that can come from better
* Available in Not
Fit for a Dog and at www.drfoxvet.com.
See also www.feline-nutrition.org
and www.dogcathomeprepareddiet.com and
EXERCISE HELPS DOGS WITH
Two veterinarians in
Taiwan have documented the benefits in small breed dogs living a sedentary life
and suffering from chronic diarrhea of putting them on an exercise regimen in
addition to standard prednisolone treatment. This was after other dietary
treatments ( hydrolysed and hypoallergenic elimination diets) and various
supplements either failed or only partially improved their inflammatory bowel
disease (IBD). Although this was a small study in part inspired by the clinical
improvement in human patients suffering from IBD who are able to participate in
a regular exercise program, it offers a safe and potentially effective
additional therapeutic approach to this all too common canine condition.
observations of my own dogs they will pass a few stools when let outdoors in
the morning to urinate but only when they are aroused and setting off for a
long, fast walk off-leash do they fully empty their bowels. Living a sedentary
life, rarely aroused and often being trained to evacuate inside especially when
living in high-rise apartments could well lead to longer retention times of
fecal material prior to evacuation with resultant inflammation of the bowels,
exacerbated by various dietary ingredients and their metabolites with further
possible health problems due to bacterial endotoxins. Physical activity may
also help improve circulation and help alleviate and prevent lymphangectasia,
the accumulation of lymph in the bowels seen in some forms of canine IBD.
Mental arousal with
physical activity may increase peristaltic tonus that would be flaccid with
parasympathetic dominance as with a placid temperament and an unstimulating
Sympathetic/parasysmpathetic balance and adaptive flexibility are
aspects of well-being that are considerable and clinically relevant.( For
references see Fox, 1978). Megacolon and fecal impaction, commonly seen in
understimulated and underactive indoor cats, and weak urinary bladder tonus
with urine retention and consequential cystitis may be other conditions related
to parasympathetic dominance/imbalance. Recent studies have found exercise
improves the bacterial diversity of the gut microbiome.
See Huang, H-P. &
Lien, Y-H. Effects of a structured exercise programme in sedentary dogs with
chronic diarrhea. Veterinary Record,
180: 224. 2017 and the Editorial my Dunning, M. Improving IBD in dogs through
exercise. Veterinary Record, 180:
Fox, M.W. The Dog: Its Domestication and Behavior,
1978, reprinted edition with Dogwise Publishing, OR
OBESITY IN PETS & PEOPLE—A COMPLEX
I am often asked how many calories are in
various pet foods, including my own cat and dog food recipes for in-home
preparation. This obsession with calories, and the marketing of ‘low cal’
prepared foods and beverages for people I see as more than a profit-driven
marketing ploy. It is a massive displacement from addressing a major cause of
obesity which is quite independent from how many calories people and their
animal companions consume, the health hazards of foods high in fat and starches
and not getting sufficient exercise notwithstanding.
Biochemist Dr. Susanne Dyby, in a
endocrine disruptors are particularly pernicious sneaky poisons. Endocrine
disruption more than just affects young children and reproductive fitness,
whether it is biphenyl A, phthalates, dioxin, or insecticides. Apart from
potential developmental disasters in the young (or miscarriages), endocrine
disruptors affect the immune system, metabolism, cancer risk, and life span.
Moreover, a huge medical problem burgeons, in all senses, with obesity in
people and pets. One researcher (1) hypothesized that lack of exercise and too
much eating was only a partial reason for the global obesity epidemic, because
chemical toxins and endocrine disruptors had a great deal to do with the way
that our bodies react to food — and in other species, too. This proposal has
since been verified by many scientific studies, ( 2 ). On top of
this disturbing fact, early
exposure to endocrine disruptors within the womb, or as a newborn, carry
long-term impact on bodyweight (3). For a biochemical excursion into the
intimate and intricate connections between the body's endocrine/hormonal and
immune systems, especially its inflammatory reactions, see the superb review on
"Protein hormones and Immunity, (4).”
With a reported one in every three
now classified as being overweight and an increasing number becoming obese, we
only need to go out into any public space to see how our life styles and
consumer habits have helped create a public health crisis. The underlying
catalyst for this epidemic I believe are the ‘obesogenic’ chemicals, many of
which also have mutagenic, carcinogenic and teratogenic effects, especially
those endocrine disrupting
contaminants that have entered the environment and passed into the food chain.
We are not the only animals on the planet being harmed by our chemical and
industrial, market-driven indiscretions, sex changes and infertility in
alligators and other wildlife being one tragic consequence, and the obesity
epidemic in companion animals, with all its costly health-related consequences,
from arthritis and heart disease to cancer and diabetes as well as much animal
suffering, being another.
It may be true, but too simplistic
approach, to blame the obesity epidemic in dogs, cats and humans on them being
couch-potatoes not getting adequate exercise and eating too many snack foods
and pet treats, and too much of the wrong kinds of foods at meal times. Most
companion animals are neutered, which is another contributing factor. Both they
and the human population are prone to thyroid problems which affect their
metabolism, leading in many instances to the so called metabolic syndrome as
well as to pancreatic and liver issues, joint, cardiac and circulatory
pathology and even cognitive impairment, immune system dysfunction and cancer.
An additional obesogenic factor in
females especially, is stress with associated elevated cortisol levels.
Furthermore, body fat acts like an endocrine organ producing estrogenic (
feminizing) hormones, metabolism
regulating lipokines and pro-inflammatory agents called cytokines. Health
issues may arise with sudden weight-loss when fat-soluble pesticides and other
environmental toxins stored in body fat are released into the blood stream.
Antibiotics are fed
routinely to farm animals to cause weight gain. This connection with
antibiotics causing disruption of normal gut bacteria ( the ‘microbiome’) and
subsequent changes in metabolism leading to obesity has been confirmed in
laboratory animal studies and is considered by some health professionals ( see
Martin J. Blaser Missing Microbes: How
the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, Henry Holt &
Co. NY 20014) as a significant factor in the obesity epidemic. Antibiotics are
still being widely prescribed by doctors, especially to children, and by
veterinarians treating companion animals for minor conditions and without
regard for more conservative treatment alternatives and the use of probiotics (“anti-antibiotics”)
after antibiotic treatment has been discontinued to help restore the
microbiome. Antibacterial soaps and other household products containing triclosan,
( which may also be an endocrine disruptor and after going down the drain in to
waterways converts to dioxins when exposed to sunlight) should be outlawed.
These obesity-related health issues have
generated a lucrative business in veterinary prescription diets and weight-loss
diets for humans along with costly diagnostic and pharmaceutical correctives
for various systemic, endocrine, internal organ, digestive, inflammatory and
other physiological disorders.
It is not scientifically or economically
to tease out all the potential contributing factors in the obesity ‘complex’
and its harmful consequences because of the host of endocrine disrupting and
other chemical contaminants and synthetic additives---coloring agents,
stabilizers, preservatives etc---in manufactured pet foods and human foods and
beverages and the containers of same. So
the precautionary principle must be applied; avoid highly processed,
adulterated, denatured, and additive ‘fortified’ consumables, and chose a rich
diversity of whole foods, ideally organically certified, as dietary
dietary modifications, supplements
such as L-carnitine, regular exercise and microbiome enhancement with
probiotics or fecal infusion, most cases of obesity show dramatic improvement.
GUT BACTERIA INFLUENCE APPETITE
Part of the problem with
obesity in people and companion animals--- the so-called metabolic syndrome and
associated desire/addiction for certain foods--- I have theorized must be due
in part to the influence of some of the bacteria in the digestive system that
signal specific appetite cravings in order to sustain their own nutritive
needs, generally at the expense of microbiome diversity and the numbers and
beneficial effects of other symbiotic and commensal bacteria. Recent research
has confirmed this theory*
Much research has been
done by the pet food industry to identify various flavors and odors since my
earlier research demonstrating odor/scent imprinting in puppies when I was
associate professor of psychology at Washington University St. Louis---and
which resulted in an invitation to Purina’s pet food HQ to discuss the
possibility of food-imprinting: adding some ingredient/s that would make the
food irresistible to the animal. I advised them that this might be feasible but
there was an ethical caveat that the manufactured pet foods should otherwise be
healthful and biologically appropriate.
Since then, at least from marketing
indicators, great strides have been made with many cats becoming addicted to
biologically inappropriate dry kibble and many of their owners to fat, salt and
sugar coated and imbued snack, convenience and fast foods. The artificial
sweetener, Monsanto’s sugar substitute Aspartame, identified as a neurotoxin,
sold under many “Sugar Free” and “Diet” banners may act as an appetite
stimulant, probably affecting gut bacteria that trigger the human host to eat
and drink more of these manufactured products. Food-addicting ingredients in
manufactured pet foods may have similar consequences, cats and dogs turning
away from healthful biologically appropriate foods.
The sense of taste probably plays a greater
role in food addiction in humans than in dogs and cats where odor pathways take
precedence over taste. color being moot for both cats and dogs. Many pet food
kibbles/dry foods and treats have a spray of “meat/animal digest” coupled with
other proprietary ingredients but certainly not excluding MSG often designated
as “natural flavorings” to enhance taste-sensitivity regardless of potential
harmful side-effects. Consumers and companion animal care-givers beware!
Veterinarians and their companion animal clients will gain many insights and
sound, science and evidence-based medical advice in the book Canine Nutrigenomics
by veterinarian Dr.
W. Jean Dodds & Diana R. Lavedure. ( Dogwise Publ, 2015).
*Yan Y. Lam,1,2,* Sarah Maguire,1 Talia Palacios,1 and Ian D. Caterson Are the Gut Bacteria Telling Us
to Eat or Not to Eat? Reviewing the Role of Gut Microbiota in the Etiology,
Disease Progression and Treatment of Eating Disorders Nutrients. 2017
Jun; 9(6): 602. Published online 2017 Jun
14. doi: 10.3390/nu9060602
as mental illnesses, eating disorders are increasingly appreciated to be
biologically-driven. There is a growing body of literature that implicates a
role of the gut microbiota in the etiology and progression of these conditions.
Gut bacteria may act on the gut–brain axis to alter appetite control and brain
function as part of the genesis of eating disorders. As the illnesses progress,
extreme feeding patterns and psychological stress potentially feed back to the
gut ecosystem that can further compromise physiological, cognitive, and social
functioning. Given the established causality between dysbiosis and metabolic
diseases, an altered gut microbial profile is likely to play a role in the
co-morbidities of eating disorders with altered immune function, short-chain
fatty acid production, and the gut barrier being the key mechanistic links.
Understanding the role of the gut ecosystem in the pathophysiology of eating
disorders will provide critical insights into improving current treatments and
developing novel microbiome-based interventions that will benefit patients with
By becoming an anarchist in your own
kitchen, preparing meals from known food sources for your family and animal
companions, is a big step. For many people, reducing their own consumption of
all animal products has been a major factor in weight loss and improved health
and vitality, just as many pet owners have found that a grain-free
carnivore-appropriate raw or lightly cooked diet makes for healthy cats, and
for more omnivorous dogs, a biologically appropriate mixture of fresh animal
produce, fruits and vegetables and a few grains for most, wags all tails.
BPA from canned
foods may be
A 2016 study by
veterinarians at the University of Missouri found that dogs' levels of the
endocrine disruptor bisphenol A nearly tripled after the animals ate a
canned-food diet for two weeks, and the exposure was associated with metabolic
and microbiome changes. Increased BPA may also reduce one bacterium that has
the ability to metabolize BPA and related environmental chemicals. The
researchers said the findings may have implications for humans, too, saying:
"Indeed, our canine companions may be the best bio-sentinels for human
“Bisphenol A (BPA) in the serum of pet dogs following
short-term consumption of canned dog food and potential health consequences of
exposure to BPA”
published in Science of the Total.
would add that cats are also very much at risk and that bisphenol A should not
be put in the lining of canned products for their consumption either and that
this is a factor in the virtual epidemic of hyperthyroidism in cats today.
PET OBESITY INCIDENCE & HEALTH
VPI Reveals Top 10 Dog and Cat Obesity Conditions
Press Release Brea,
Calif., (June 25, 2013) — Giving pets table scraps and treats may seem like a
harmless reward for your cuddly canine or friendly feline, but it can lead to
health problems down the road, including arthritis, diabetes and liver disease.
Just like their human counterparts, excessive weight increases the risk of
additional health problems and shortens the life expectancy of pets.
Over the last three years,
Veterinary Pet Insurance Co., (VPI),
the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, has seen pet
obesity-related claims steadily increase. In 2012, VPI
policyholders filed more than $34 million in claims for conditions and diseases
that can be caused or exacerbated by excess weight. The company recently sorted
its database of more than 485,000 insured pets to determine the top 10 dog and
cat obesity-related conditions in 2012.
In 2012, VPI received more than 34,000 canine
arthritis, the most common joint disease aggravated by excessive weight. The
average claim fee was $300 per pet. For cats, bladder or urinary tract disease
was the most common condition that can be aggravated by obesity. VPI received
more than 4,200 medical claims for
this ailment – with an average claim amount of $415 per pet.
- Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
- Bladder/Urinary Tract Disease
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Undiagnosed Limp
- Low Thyroid Hormone
- Liver Disease
- Liver Disease
- Torn Knee Ligaments
- High Blood Pressure
- Diseased Disc in the Spine
- Undiagnosed Limp
- Heart Failure
- Heart Failure
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Gall Bladder Disorder
The above report from VPI confirms the dietary connection to a number of
cat and dog health problems detailed in my book, co-written with two other
veterinarians, Not Fit for a Dog: The
Truth About Manufactured Cat & Dog Foods. But the VPI report begins
by blaming the feeding of table
scraps and treats, plus lack of exercise, rather than taking a broader view of
how commercial pet food diets, along with co-factors such as neutering, lack of
social stimulation in live-alone all-day animals, exposure to endocrine
disrupting and ‘obesogenic’ environmental contaminants and post-antibiotic
treatment dysbiosis---disruption of healthy gut bacterial populations.
Manufactured pet foods are in large part the issue---too many carbohydrates and
omega 3 deficiency/imbalance, ---not simply too many table scraps and treats.
But going light on critical analysis of manufactured pet foods is not
surprising because of the VPI’s
close association with the pet food industry, their website stating:
Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance, the country’s sixth
largest insurance company, owns approximately 66 percent of VPI’s stock.
The Iams pet food company owns
about 9 percent of our stock and the remaining 25 percent is owned by nearly
1,000 individuals, most of whom are veterinarians. Nationwide and Iams
support VPI with strong financial
backing and business expertise, and our veterinary owners keep us grounded in
I find it disturbing when there are
potential conflicts of interest and bias in these kinds of pet health surveys,
as with the Banfield Pet Hospital reports, this franchised veterinary chain
being a subsidiary of Mars Inc Pet Food and Pet Care Products which has also
entered the pet health insurance market in collaboration with the ASPCA in New
OBESITY VACCINE FOR DOGS AND CATS
A U.S. patent has been issued on April 23,
2013 for the treatment of phenotypic obesity in dogs and cats by vaccination and
covers ‘methods for enhanced somatostatin immunogenicity in the treatment of
obesity’. This genetically engineered vaccine was developed by Braasch Biotech
based in South Dakota, which specializes in developing and commercializing a
new class of biopharmaceutical products for the human and animal health care
market. Additional patent applications are pending in Canada, Europe, Japan and
Given that obesity, which has reached
epidemic proportions in the U.S. and many other countries in both humans and
companion animals, such a vaccine could be extremely profitable since reported
studies indicate that it can help promote weight loss. But how safe is it?
Vaccines can notoriously fickle when it comes to genotypic variables in immune
response, susceptibility to autoimmune diseases and vaccinosis.
When the known physiological, regulatory
other complex functions of somatostatin are considered, we must question what
the short and long term consequences could be when a vaccine is given to block
these functions. They include:
- Somatostatin, a polypeptide hormone, produced
in the brain, stomach, intestine and pancreas, inhibits
secretion of somatotropin growth hormone, thyroid
stimulating hormone from the hypothalamus and inhibits insulin production
by the pancreas.
- In the
somatostatin acts on the acid-producing parietal cells parietal cells via
G-coupled receptor to reduce secretion. Somatostatin also indirectly
decreases stomach acid production by preventing the release of other
hormones, including gastrin and histamine. It decreases the rate of
gastric emptying, and reduces smooth muscle contractions and blood flow
within the intestine.
- Suppresses the release of
- Inhibits insulin release
when somatostatin is released from delta cells of pancreas.
- Inhibits the release of
- Suppresses the exocrine
secretory action of the pancreas.
The rationale behind this vaccine is
that it triggers the body into producing anti-somatostatin antibodies,
effectively removing the inhibition of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like
growth factor (IGF-1) which increase metabolism and weight loss. One immediate
concern of mine is the link between elevated IGF-1 and certain cancers, a
reason why the U.K. and Europe banned recombinant genetically engineered bovine
growth hormone for use in dairy cows because it caused elevation of IGF-1 in
the milk which could put consumers at risk.
GH induces growth promoting and other
effects by stimulating the liver to increase production of the natural
Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) whose blood levels normally decline with
advancing age. However, there are numerous publications in prestigious peer
reviewed scientific journals showing that elevated IGF-1 levels are strongly
associated with major risks of colon, prostate and breast cancers according to
Dr. Samuel Epstein. (Source: Cancer Prevention Coalition Press Release –
March 14, 2000)
Several studies have shown that somatostatin can have a modulating effect on
tumor suppressor genes. (( e.g. see Xing, Z. et al.
XAF1 expression and regulatory effects
of somatostatin on XAF1 in prostate cancer cells J Exp Clin Cancer Res.
2010; 29(1): 162). Might not,
therefore, an anti-somatostatin vaccine, such as the one developed to induce
weight loss, block this effect and thus
increase the possibility of recipients developing cancer?
In my professional opinion as a
long-time critic of over-vaccination of companion animals (see Healing Animals
& the Vision of One
Health, CreatSpace/Amazon.com) and advocate of wise use of vaccines and
biopharmaceuticals, I cannot endorse such vaccine treatment of obesity in dogs
and cats especially since this condition is often associated with diabetes,
liver and heart disease which could be aggravated by a lack of somatostatin. In
the absence, to my knowledge, of published peer reviewed clinical trials and
only basic research on obesity prone mice from my alma mater, the Jackson
Laboratory, Bar Harbor ME, I do not believe that this vaccine has a place in
veterinary treatment of metabolically compromised dogs and cats suffering from
THE NEW SCOOP ON HEALTHY POOP
I grew up with health-food
conscious parents where our daily table-talk usually included some inquiry as
to the quality and regularity of my bowel movements. White bread was banned
from our house. Now seventy years later the health connections between what is
eaten and stool quality in terms of beneficial bacterial content is being
recognized by more and more human and animal doctors. Improving the diet and
the bacterial microbiome or “garden of the guts” via infusion of good bacteria
have become key elements in the One Health approach to improving animals’
health as well as our own. Coprophagia
and pica---stool and soil-eating---in many animal species may help improve
their gut gardens, but not without some inherent risks.
Veterinarian Dr. Margo Roman writes: “With
all the glyphosate and other herbicide residues in the diet and all the plastic
and chemicals and pesticides that our pets get, how can they have functioning
MicroBiome? We need to feed only GMO free food and animals that have been
raised GMO free as well. We have done over 4,400 fecal transplants from my dogs
who are 4th generation raw organic fed. They were never on antibiotics and we
have no herbicides or pesticides. We have given the Micro Biome Restorative
Therapy (MBRT) to aggressive dogs and they became sweet. One dog acted as if he
suddenly had been given the feel-good bonding hormone oxytocin as he was
licking and grooming his sister with whom he was normally aggressive. I just
read an article that said a certain gut bacteria produce this hormone. (Shelly
A. Buffington et al Microbial
Reconstitution Reverses Maternal Diet-Induced Social and Synaptic Deficits in
Offspring. Cell journal Volume 165,
p1762–1775, 16 June 2016. http://aplus.com/a/scientists-reverse-autism-symptoms-bacteria?utm_source=aol.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pubexchange_module).
I am treating GI
issues like Clostridium, Campylobacter, Giardia, Inflammatory bowel disease,
Acute hemorrhagic diarrhea, kidney failure, liver failure, autoimmune issues,
cancer, behavioral issues, hepatic lipidosis, pancreatitis, anorexia. it
helps so many problems to help the gut to reboot. Our website www.eatsh-tandlive.com gives
a lot of info and our website www.mashvet.com has
videos on other supportive procedures. We have started the first fecal bank for
dogs and cats and we are able to work with your vet and ship Micro Biome from
our donors next day air; contact firstname.lastname@example.org”.
Margo Roman, DVM,
(1.) Baillie-Hamilton P.F.
2002. Chemical toxins: a hypothesis to explain the global obesity epidemic. J.
Altern Complement Med. Apr. 8(2): 185-92.
(2.) Elobeid M.A. and D.B.
Allison. 2008. Putative environmental-endocrine disruptors and obesity: a
review. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes Oct. 15(5): 403-08.
(3.) Newbold R.R., E.
Padilla-Banks, R. J. Snyder, T. M. Phillips and W. N. Jefferson. 2007.
Developmental Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors and the Obesity Epidemic. Reprod
Toxicol. 23(3): 290–296.
(4.) Kelley K. W., Weigent
D. A., and R. Kooijman. 2007. Protein Hormones and Immunity. Brain Behav
Immun. May; 21(4): 384-392. Can be accessed by this link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1894894/
Bacteria in Pet Foods: Acute &
Chronic Health Concerns of Endotoxins.
Bacteria are everywhere
and that includes pet foods. Most bacteria are harmless, many essential for our
health and other animals’ health, but some cause acute “food poisoning” and
other serious health problems. High temperature cooking/processing kills most
bacteria but in the process releases endotoxins
from them. High levels of endotoxins are associated with high levels of
bacteria in the animal parts, many condemned for human consumption, billions of
pounds of which is processed around the world into pet foods and livestock feed
and fertilizer every year. This includes the remains of so-called 4-D animals;
those who are either dead, dying, debilitated or diseased upon inspection at
the slaughter house.
Endotoxins are a lipopolysaccharide complex making up part of the outer
membrane of the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria such as Escherichia
coli and Salmonella. Endotoxins
can cause a cascade of adverse health consequences and probably contribute to a
variety of chronic degenerative diseases especially in dogs and cats fed the
same brands of manufactured pet foods high in endotoxins.
They can cause shock, organ failure, trigger
the release of histamine and inflammatory cytokines, cause changes in white
blood cell numbers, affect blood coagulation, and lead to hypertension,
arthritis and asthma. ( For details see Michael Gregor MD, Dead Meat
Bacterial Toxemia, www.NutritionFacts.org Vol 9 July 6th,
2012). They probably damage cell DNA with carcinogenic consequences. Research has
also demonstrated that
carcinogenic heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are
formed when muscle meat is cooked at high temperatures to destroy potentially
concerns about this animal industry waste recycling of animal parts unfit for
human consumption but considered fit for companion and other animals include
the presence antibiotic residues and strains of bacteria evolving wide-spectrum
antibiotic resistance; other production-related pharmaceuticals including
Ractopamine and other beta adrenergic agonists, anabolic steroids and
recombinant bovine growth hormone; contaminants such as mercury, fluoride and
dioxins, pour-on and dip derived insecticide residues and endocrine gland
tissues such as thyroid with still active like thyroxine that is not destroyed
in processing. (See Dietary Hyperthyroidism in Dogsby B. Köhler
B, C. Stengel, and R. Neiger Journal of Small Animal Practice 2012; 53,
182–184). [One of the most dramatic and tragic consequences of allowing other
animals to consume the remains of farmed animals was the suffering and death of
millions of India’s vultures from diclofenac, widely used by the cattle
industry and still active in their animals’ discarded remains].
With most dogs there is a
greater degree of tolerance to these endotoxins than cats (in whom inflammatory
bowel conditions are rampant), because ancestrally the dog is a natural
scavenger of animals’ remains while the cat is an obligate fresh-meat
carnivore. But genetic and epigenetic factors and dietary changes in their
microbiome---their healthy gut bacterial population---seems to make some dogs
especially “food sensitive” and, along with cats, develop a variety of chronic
maladies. Many of these respond well and show a complete recovery from a host
of costly conditions when their diets are changed with only human food-grade
quality ingredients and selected supplements.
The recycling of this vast
tonnage of slaughter-house and fishing industry waste into pet food and animal
feed (causing mad cow disease in the U.K and in companion animals as well as in
a yet- uncounted number of human consumers), albeit highly profitable, it is
part of a non-sustainable, climate-changing and costly public and environmental
health problem that calls for systemic change, at the core of which must be a
reduction in production and consumption of high-carbon-hoof print beef, pork
and other animal produce from over-stocked free-range and concentrated animal
feeding operations. Such change could be initiated by informed consumers
demanding that their government establish better ways to dispose of this food
animal waste where polluters pay. Consumers must support humane and
ecologically sound farmed animal husbandry as well as certified organic practices
and secure legislation that only human-grade foods and their immediate
by-products be permitted in pet foods, fish foods and livestock, horse and
In late 2015 I received a
major newspaper reporter interview call asking my opinion of the demand of some
pet owners for “humanized” food for their dogs and cats. The reporter made it
quite clear that these people must be “anthropomorphizing” their pets by
demanding human-quality food for them, a view she had clearly acquired from the
main-stream pet food industry. Like the industry, she did not want to hear
anything about 4-D meat in pet foods or bacterial endotoxins.
Pet grade or feed grade meats and other animal remains are most often a
lesser quality and are commonly not transported under refrigeration so the assumed
risk of pet grade ingredients is dramatically higher than human grade
ingredients. Supplement your pet’s diet with a quality probiotic. It is key to
have a healthy balance of bacteria in your pet’s gut. From a study published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, ‘Probiotics and
gut health: A special focus on liver diseases’: “Newer
evidence suggests that probiotics
have the potential to reduce the risk of developing inflammatory bowel diseases
and intestinal bacterial overgrowth after gut surgery. In liver health, the
main benefits of probiotics might occur through preventing the production
and/or uptake of lipopolysaccharides (endotoxins) in the gut, and therefore
reducing levels of low-grade inflammation.” Supplement your pet’s diet with
fish oil or cod liver oil (omega-3 fatty acids). A 2013 study on pigs found
that fish oil and cod liver oil
supplements reduced endotoxin levels in the blood by 50%. Foods that provide
natural sources of omega-3 are flaxseeds, sardines, and salmon. Pet food
consumers can add these foods (human grade) to their pets’ diet to help control
the effects of endotoxins they could be consuming”.
DOUBLE DOSE OF TOXINS IN
Poisons from moldy
cereals, including corn, wheat, sorghum, barley, rye, peanuts and also in
cotton seed, sugar beets and sugar cane, identified as mycotoxins, have been
identified around the world by Biomin.net –
a company that provides products to support the
animal feed industry. The U.S. stands out as a major source of these toxins
that are in livestock feed and in pet foods. Companion animals are in double
jeopardy being fed animal parts potentially contaminated by these cumulative
toxins (along with glyphosate and other agrichemical residues) that can cause
cancer, liver damage and other serious health problems. Triple jeopardy arises
for companion animals from bacterial endotoxins especially from slaughtered
animal remains condemned for human consumption. when both endotoxins and
mycotoxins are found in an animal food…the synergy of the two toxins increases
the risk of each. From www.Biomin.net (this 2018 post mainly written of the
risk to livestock): Mycotoxins and Endotoxins can also have an impact on the
intestinal barrier function and so increase the risk of endotoxin uptake into
the bloodstream. Similarly, the negative effect of endotoxins on the rumen
epithelium may increase the uptake of mycotoxins, increasing the risk to the
animal of even hard-to-absorb mycotoxins such as fumonisins. Both mycotoxins
and endotoxins can trigger inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects (through
reducing response or directly affecting immune cells) and both toxin types
can affect, and be exacerbated by, liver damage.
So I advise cat and dog
owners to read the labels on their animals’ manufactured foods and avoid those
containing any of the above cereals and other plant ingredients, look for the
Organic Certification label and for finding some of the safer pet foods---if
you do not make your own from human-quality grade ingredients,---visit www.truthaboutpetfood.com and
support their continued efforts to make pet food safe and wholesome.
PRESCRIPTION DIETS UPDATE
CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT CONCERNING
“PRESCRIPTION” PET FOODS
Attorneys in California
Minnesota, Georgia, and North Carolina filed a class action lawsuit in
California on Dec 7/16 against the leading
manufacturers and sellers of pet food: Mars, Nestlé Purina, Hills, PetSmart,
and several veterinary hospital chains.
The four main pet food brands involved in the
suit include: Hill’s Prescription Diet, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Royal
Canin Veterinary Diet, and Iams Veterinary Formula.
the biggest seller of pet food, sells two of the four Prescription Pet Food
brands and is also the owner of the largest veterinarian hospital chain the
U.S., Blue Pearl Vet Hospital. Mars also
partners with the largest specialty pet retailer, PetSmart, in the ownership of
the largest veterinarian clinic chain, Banfield Pet Hospital.
The suit concerns prescription pet foods that
but plaintiffs contend they are no different than any other kind of pet food.
Some highlights in this complaint:
- Defendants’ prescription pet food contains no
drug or other ingredient not also common in non-prescription pet food.
- Defendants’ marketing, labeling, and/or sale of
prescription pet food is deceptive, collusive, and in violation of federal
antitrust law and California consumer-protection law.
- Defendants are engaged in an anticompetitive
conspiracy to market and sell pet food as prescription pet food to
consumers at above-market prices that would not otherwise prevail in the
absence of their collusive prescription-authorization requirement.
As documented in the book Not Fit for a Dog:
The Truth About
Manufactured Cat & Dog Food which I co-authored with two other
veterinarians in 2009, the claims being made by the providers of over-priced,
often unpalatable and nutrient deficient, prescription-only manufactured pet
foods are generally questionable and often lacking in sound clinical and
scientific evidence of being of any benefit with a few exceptions.
Since the report of this law suit was posted
asked for comments from two practicing veterinarians on these special diets
which are marketed in several countries.
Dr. Greg Martinez writes:
Many years ago prescription diets were the
only diets available that attempted to address common medical problems in pets.
The "sensitive stomach" and "intestinal diets" had fewer,
less allergenic ingredients than the common pet food on the shelves. These
days, limited ingredient diets are healthy alternatives to help dogs with food
allergies and intolerances to wheat gluten, beef, and chicken. These
commercially produced diets contain meats like fish, venison, and rabbit or
carbohydrates like rice, peas, or potato commonly available at the pet store.
Hydrolysed prescription diets from soy have been helpful for those dogs and
cats that don't tolerate animal proteins.
The birth of
prescription diets came after Mark Morris DVM adapted the human kidney failure
diets to his canine patients. The lower protein and phosphorus of "kidney
diets" has extended the life of both dogs and cats with failing kidneys.
Research shows that failing kidneys may benefit from these restrictions, but
the very hint of kidney problems drive many vets to add "kidney
diets" to the treatment plan before the lower protein diet is needed. An
alternate sensible choice may be a moister food like a senior diet canned food
or home cooked lower protein recipe.(30% meat and organs instead of 50-60%).
Blue Buffalo's kidney support and senior diets are made with a better mix of
ingredients than most other commercial brands.
Omega three fatty
acids are healthy antioxidants and may help with many organs. You don't have to
depend on the commercial or prescription diets when you can add fish oil or
sardines in water to the diet!
Urinary crystals and
stones may result from a lack of moisture in the diet, food intolerances or
allergens causing an irritated and infected bladder, and a genetic tendency to
form stones. Struvite crystals and stones may benefit from canned or homemade
food, cranberry extract, glucosamine-chondroitin supplements, antibiotics for
infection, and even probiotics. Oxalate and urate crystals and stones usually
need a prescription diet like Royal Canin S/O or other diets to help prevent
For more details visit
www.dogdishdiet.com( my website) and
kidney disease diet comments)
Veterinarian Dr. Martin L.
Whitehead from the U.K. wrote: My view on prescription diets is like that for
nutraceuticals and supplements - they each need to be assessed on their
merits. I believe many prescription diets (cancer, congestive heart
failure, cognitive decline), and many nutraceuticals and supplements are, at
best, based on 'theoretical considerations' rather actual evidence of efficacy.
We sell very little in the way of prescription diets. I think the only
use for them my practice has are:
1. Restricted ingredient and/or hydrolysed diets used short-term as
exclusion diets to test for food allergies/intolerances in chronic GI and skin
2. Renal diets in advanced kidney failure cases (I am not convinced they
are optimal, but there is very good evidence that they are better than standard
commercial foods in this circumstance),
3. Dissolving struvite stones.
4. Something like Hill's A/D can be good for getting plenty of nutrients
and energy into severely ill animals.
Even so, the functions of
each of these can be achieved using other foods and/or meds, but the
manufactured diets are convenient ways of doing so for busy/uncommitted
owners.--- The way I see it, all foods have their pros and cons. For
feeding dogs and cats in general, in the absence
of good evidence for what is best, my approach is to advocate variety. As
an (economically unfortunate) result of that, as a practice we sell very little
food because we don't promote any particular type. 'Raw feeding' is
growing in popularity in the UK and recently a Raw Feeding Veterinary Society (http://rfvs.info/) has
been formed. (I'm a member, although not a very popular one as I am fairly
skeptical of much of what the other members claim--- I don't have much
objection to raw feeding (although I actively advise against it in families
with pregnant women or young children), and I don't have much objection
to pets eating manufactured foods, but I don't think either raw food or
processed pet foods should be the only food animals get, and feeding an animal
only one brand of manufactured food for months or years has always seemed
outright peculiar to me.
RECENT RESEARCH FINDINGS
Lea et al (2016) have documented the presence
of the endocrine disruptors diethylhexyl phthalate and polychlorinated biphenyl
153 in both commercial dog foods and in testicular tissue of dogs at
concentrations reported to perturb reproductive function and organs in other
P.Vestergen (2017) states that “many veterinary and behaviour experts are
questioning the impact of overly processed, chemical-, dye- or toxin-laden
commercial dog foods on the rising number of health and behaviourally
compromised animals. Nutritional deficits or long-term effects are increasingly
being evaluated. Indeed, the extensive use of inexpensive or unusual protein
sources is suspected to be directly or indirectly part of pathological pathways
leading to decreased health, immune or allergic disease, cancer, and behaviour-
or stress-related diseases. When only behaviour is concerned, everything from
irritation, anxiety and compulsive problems to self-mutilation can potentially
be linked to the quality of foods, and some of these behaviours may point
directly to preservatives, endocrine disruptors, toxins of all kind, additives
and dyes used in kibble and other processed foods (Palanza and others 2016, Patisaul 2016, Pinson and others 2016). The
use of compounds recognised as toxins and
carcinogens that, by law, are not permitted in human food, but which
potentially might be present in dog foods and treats, is becoming a real
concern and warrants scientific evaluation.”
A high fat diet may help
alleviate epilepsy in dogs (Packer et al 2016). Providing dogs with an organic
diet with nutraceuticals may reduce anxiety, aggression and compulsive
behaviors and have been shown to reduce reactive oxygen metabolites ( free
radicals), noradrenaline and cortisol levels and elevate beta endorphins,
dopamine and serotonin, ( Sechi et al 2017). Large dogs generally have shorter
life spans than their small counterparts, and a surplus of oxygen free radicals
in fast-growing puppies might explain the difference. Graduate students at
Colgate University collected and analyzed tissue samples from puppies and
recently deceased old dogs and found large-breed puppies had an imbalance of
free radicals and antioxidants. (ScienceMag.org (1/11).
Puppies of lager breeds may therefore
benefit from antioxidant-rich food supplements.
LINK BETWEEN INTESTINAL
HEALTH & CANINE BEHAVIOR
A study that examined
metabolites in the blood of hyperactive dogs found a negative correlation
between hyperactivity and levels of tryptophan metabolites, which are released
by intestinal bacteria as they break down components of food. Tryptophan
is a vital amino acid. Tryptophan metabolites are solely produced when
intestinal bacteria processes the tryptophan from the food. This information
confirmed the differences in the bacteria found in the gut of hyperactive and
normally behaved dogs. The study
underscores links between the GI tract and the brain. ( Puurunen, J. et
Gluten allergy in coeliac disease may be
provoked by virus
By Andy Coghlan
Infection with a common, symptomless virus could be one of the first steps
towards developing coeliac disease, a painful autoimmune condition that damages
Coeliac disease involves
the immune system treating gluten as
an antigen and attacking it and has
generally been thought to be a genetic disease. However, there is some evidence
that the onset of the condition may be linked to people experiencing viral
infections. These may include infection by adenoviruses, which cause colds,
rotaviruses, which can cause diarrhoea, and the hepatitis C virus.
Now there is experimental
evidence that some viruses may indeed prompt the onset of coeliac
disease. Bana Jabri at
the University of Chicago, Illinois, and
her team have found that exposing mice to a common reovirus called
T1L breaks their tolerance of gluten.
When the team fed small
groups of mice gliadin – a component of gluten – they found that mice produced
two to three times as many antibodies against the compound over the next two
days if they were also infected with reovirus.
“The reovirus changes the
way the immune system sees gluten,” says Jabri. Normally, the body’s immune
system learns to tolerate the wide range of substances in our food, including
gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. But the team’s findings
suggest that infection with a reovirus interferes with this, leading the body
to mistakenly attack gluten.
“Our experiments are the
first to demonstrate that a virus can induce loss of tolerance to dietary
antigens,” says Jabri.
“Instead of mounting a
tolerant, non-aggressive response, the immune system in the presence of the
reovirus views gluten as being dangerous, promoting a destructive inflammatory
response,” says Jabri.
The researchers also found
that mice infected with the T1L virus had between two to four times as much of
an inflammatory molecule in their bodies. This molecule, called interferon
regulatory factor 1, has been found at abnormally high levels in the gut
linings of children with coeliac disease, and has also been implicated in
instigating the condition’s onset.
Compared with other common
foodstuffs, gluten is particularly likely to trigger immunological problems
because it is unusually resistant to being broken down in the gut, says Jabri.
Gliadin is the most difficult component of gluten to digest.
The team’s findings could
explain why only a small proportion of people develop coeliac disease, which is
a far more severe condition that gluten intolerances. While
40 per cent of people in the US seem to have
a genetic predisposition to coeliac disease, only 3 per cent of the population
– around 3 million people – have the condition. This could be because the
others haven’t been exposed to a viral trigger.
“This is a fascinating
study,” says David Sanders, at
the University of Sheffield, UK. “Investigators
have studied this ‘second-hit’ hypothesis for some time, to explain why not
everyone with genetic predisposition actually develops the disease. Now the new
study suggests that reoviruses might play a role.”
If studies in people
confirm that reovirus can trigger coeliac disease, it could lead to new
treatments, says Sanders. Jabri’s team are now working on a vaccine that might
stop infections from causing coeliac disease.
Journal reference: Science, DOI:
LEA R. G., et al
(2016) Environmental chemicals impact dog semen quality in vitro and
may be associated with a temporal decline in sperm motility and increased
cryptorchidism.Scientific Reports 6, 31281
VESTERGEN J.P. (2017 ) Does
diet contribute to abnormal dog behavior. Vet Rec 180: 16-17.
PALANZA P., et
al (2016) Perinatal exposure to endocrine disruptors: sex, timing
and behavioural endpoints. Current Opinion in Behavioral
Sciences 7, 69–75
B. (2016) Endocrine disruption by dietary phyto-oestrogens: impact
on dimorphic sexual systems and behaviours. Proceedings of the
Nutrition Society 8, 1–15
PINSON A., BOURGUIGNON J.
P., PARENT A. S. (2016) Exposure to endocrine disrupting
chemicals and neurodevelopmental alterations. Andrology 4, 706–722.
M., (2016) Effects of a ketogenic diet on ADHD-like behaviour in
dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. Epilepsy and
Behavior 55, 62–68
SECHI S., et al
(2016) Effects in dogs with behavioural disorders of a commercial
nutraceutical diet on stress and neuroendocrine parameters. Veterinary
Record doi: 10.1136/vr.103865
Puurunen J., et al
non-targeted metabolite profiling pilot study suggests that tryptophan and lipid
metabolisms are linked with ADHD-like behaviours in dogs.
Behavioral and Brain Functions 12:27
THE GUT MICROBIOME AND AUTOIMMUNE
Defects in the body's
regulatory T cells (T reg cells) cause inflammation and autoimmune disease by
altering the type of bacteria living in the gut, researchers from The
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have discovered. The
study, "Resetting microbiota by Lactobacillus reuteri inhibits T reg
deficiency-induced autoimmunity via adenosine A2A receptors," published
online December 19, 2016 in The Journal
of Experimental Medicine, suggests that replacing the missing gut bacteria,
or restoring a key metabolite called inosine, could help treat children with a
rare and often fatal autoimmune disease called IPEX syndrome.
Autoimmune diseases can also be caused by changes in the gut microbiome, the
population of bacteria that reside within the gastrointestinal tract. In the
study, the team led by Yuying Liu and J. Marc Rhoads at The University of Texas
Health Science Center at Houston McGovern Medical School find that mice
carrying a mutant version of the Foxp3 gene show changes in their gut microbiome
at around the same time that they develop autoimmune symptoms. In particular,
the mice have lower levels of bacteria from the genus Lactobacillus. The
researchers discovered that by feeding the mice with Lactobacillus reuteri,
they could "reset" the gut bacterial community and reduce the levels
of inflammation, "Our findings suggest that probiotic L. reuteri, inosine,
or other A2A receptor agonists could be used therapeutically to control T
cell-mediated autoimmunity," says Yuying Liu.
Testimonials Re-Health Benefits from
Testimonials from Owners of Cats and
DEAR DR. FOX: I started
making cat food as you recommended and my 14-year-old cat's eyes stopped
watering and her horrible coughing stopped within 48 hours! When I was feeding
her Purina Indoor Salmon
& Rice, I may have been killing her.
My vet thought she probably had cat shelter herpes.
Nowadays, she is running
around, chasing her tail and generally acting like a fool--she's very healthy
S.W., Naples, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: I had a cat that would throw up shortly
after eating. Through trial and error, I
found he was allergic to food that had fish in it. After eliminating that from
his soft food diet, he was fine. I had
to read the labels closely because, although they perhaps said 'beef' or
'turkey', fish was sometimes included.
P.M.S., Bedford, TX
DEAR DR. FOX: Our cat had a weight problem. I began feeding her wet food
that was organic
only. Because of carbs being cut out and
more protein added, she ate less but was more satisfied and became more lean.
N.B., Front Royal, VA
DEAR DR. FOX: I have an
11-year-old male cat, Jerry, who had his first cystitis episode in 2001. At
that point, he was switched to a raw food
diet and a small amount (10 pieces/day) of Wysong Uretica dry cat food (formulated
for cats with cystitis).
Jerry loved the raw food
diet but 6 months later, he had another cystitis episode. One holistic vet I
went to suggested taking
Jerry off of turkey, though my regular holistic vet thought turkey was an
unlikely cause--he didn't think food allergies could cause cystitis
episodes. 6 months after that, I tried a
new cat litter made from corn gluten ("World's Best Cat
Litter"). A week later, Jerry was
blocked again and I made the connection that corn might be a culprit: Jerry
loves corn and even ate some of the litter.
Then, I discovered that the Wysong Uretica dry food contained corn (it
has since been reformulated, the corn removed and is now Wysong Uretic).
Several months later, my
normal supply of chicken raw cat food was interrupted and I had to put my two
cats onto the dog version of raw food for a few weeks. I had forgotten that
turkey might be a
trigger and decided to give my cats some variety by giving them the turkey raw
food as well as the chicken. That was
the last time Jerry has eaten anything with turkey, as that triggered his 5th
cystitis episode. He recovered and has
been fine since.
He'll be 12 years old soon
and is very happy with a corn-free/turkey-free raw food diet.
One food often prescribed
for cats with cystitis, Hill's Prescription Diet C/D, has corn gluten as the
second ingredient in the dry food and has both corn gluten and ground corn in
the wet food. Besides the corn, the food
is just garbage. I don't understand how
the company is still in business.
I would advise your
readers to feed only high-quality food with no corn, no turkey and no
byproducts or preservatives. Make your
own observations and don't assume your vet knows everything.
R.A.P., Bridgeport, CT
DEAR DR. FOX: I appreciate
your advice that saved my cat, Putty, who was wasting away.
He had been to the vet
several times and had fecal and blood tests done. Several solutions were prescribed,
which were Prednisone, FortiFlora, Enisyl-F paste and Hill's Science Diet W-D
Feline Sensitive Stomach food. His
weight dropped from 17 to 10 pounds.
None of these procedures
or meds had any effect on his continued weight loss. It was about the time I
was finished with
these attempts that I had the good fortune to read a column of yours that
suggested the addition of several drops of fish oil containing omega 3 to the
animal's food each day. Within 6 weeks,
I noticed gradual improvement; and now, 14 months later, he's back up to his
normal weight of about 15 pounds.
My sincere thanks.
R.S., Silver City, NM
DEAR DR. FOX: We'd like to
add our testimony to the benefits of switching from dry food to a diet richer
in proteins and fat.
We have two cats: Tanner
is 5 and Rocky is 1 year old. Both had
been accustomed to Science Diet dry food.
However, after reading your column and Elizabeth Hodgkins' book Your
Cat (which you suggested), we were convinced to make the switch to wet
It took a few days to
convince our cats, but they have made the switch successfully and seem much
happier for it.
Tanner was several pounds overweight,
but lost several pounds due to the switch and is no longer lethargic. Dr.
Hodgkins said: "You will be amazed at the immediate change in our cat's
behavior." We took that to be
hyperbole but, to our amazement, Tanner's behavior changed within two
days. Whereas previously he just sat and
watched Rocky play, he now began to initiate play. His tolerance of the younger
cat has grown
significantly and the two have become even closer friends than before.
L. & C.H., Washington,
DEAR DR. FOX: I would like
to thank you for steering pet owners to a home-prepared diet for their animal
About a year ago, my
12-year-old indoor cat, Chloe, began to throw up on a fairly regular
basis. As time went on, the problem
became worse. Eventually, she reached a
point where she was throwing up 2-4 times a day. I was constantly washing blankets,
carpets and dreading coming home because I never knew what sort of cleanup job
I brought her to the vet
several times and spent quite a bit of money on blood tests, X-rays and
exams. The test all came back
normal. I had been feeding her the
commercial wet and dry cat foods and even tried the sensitive stomach and
indoor formula foods--nothing seemed to work.
Then I tried the recipe on
your website and began to research and make other homemade cat foods. I now
feed her almost exclusively
home-prepared food and the problem has disappeared.
D.S., Columbia, MD
DEAR DR. FOX: We have
three cats, all 'rescues', ages 16, 8 and 4.
All three ate a primarily
cheap canned food diet, supplemented with small portions of dry food mixed
in. They were fed twice a day. During
the course of two years, the oldest
had to be brought to the vet for enemas.
The vet recommended adding pumpkin to his diet and that seemed to work
well at first, but it appeared to be an overload of fiber and his constipation
After much research, I
decided to dramatically change my cats' diets.
They are now on a no-dry-food, no-grain, all-moist-and-raw-food
diet. The changes over the last three
years have been remarkable. They are all
incredibly healthy, their coats are shiny and soft, and they play with each
The older cat had
occasional vomiting and 'accidents', so I added plain yogurt (about a teaspoon)
to his meals a couple of times a week--he is much better in that regard now.
I have all cats on a
rotating list of canned foods (brands such as Wellness, Nature's Variety and
Evo). This changeup in their diets has
seemed to work well at keeping their digestive systems happy and they seem to
appreciate the changes in menu.
C.P., St. Paul, MN
DEAR DR. FOX: My partner
and I adopted a 2-year-old male gray tabby cat from our local Humane
Society. They wouldn't release him for
adoption for several months as he was suffering from diarrhea of an
"unknown origin". We finally
convinced them to release him to our care.
He had a good appetite and was not dehydrated but couldn’t have normal
stools no matter what we tried.
First, we took him to our
vet who tried a broad-spectrum de-wormer.
When that didn't work, he thought it might be irritable bowel syndrome
and suggested a good quality high fiber diet.
I always read labels when buying food for my pets and my rule of thumb
is if it doesn't look like something I would eat, I won't buy it. So, we gave
him 'high quality' dry and wet
food. If, after several months, there
was no improvement re: his diarrhea, we would switch to other brands.
Then I read a recent
column of yours that referred to the raw diet website at
www.felinenutrition.org. I switched him to a mix I make at home of raw ground
turkey, raw ground chicken and the supplement mix and liver powder from the
Feline Future website. The very next day
after feeding him this diet exclusively, he had a solid bowel movement and has
continued this way every since!
We thought we just had a big 'mellow' cat, but he has
turned into an energetic, playful boy and he seems to feel so much better.
L.K., Naples, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: Three years
ago, I adopted two kittens from a local cat rescue shelter.
After they reached one
year of age, I noticed one seemed to groom herself more than the other and she
would get a swollen lip from time to time. We thought it was maybe a reaction
bites because she was known to chase and try to eat spiders. I finally took
her to the vet and he said it
could be allergies and I should give her Sudafed.
After some research and
reading of your columns, I realized that just about every cat food on the
market today contains wheat gluten. I
finally found one dry food with no wheat gluten and some wet foods that were
wheat gluten-free or that ingredient was far down the list.
The fat lip disappeared
and I didn’t have to drug my cat to achieve this outcome. Both cats are
now very healthy with nice
L.S., Virginia Beach, VA
DEAR DR. FOX: Your column
helped solve my 16-year-old cat's throwing-up problem by suggesting wet food
over dry and recommending the book Your Cat by Elizabeth Hodgkins (now
on loan to my vet) which addressed the dry food problem.
My cat was throwing up 3-4
times a day, listless and seemed to be failing.
He now gets wet food 3 times a day and I keep a bowl of Hill's ID laced
with a capsule of fish oil available, too.
The vomiting is down to a
minimum now and he is happier and friskier than he's been in years.
P.W., Palm Beach, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: I have
recently switched my 11-year-old Sheltie, Tux, from eating commercial dog food
to your recommended homemade dog food recipe.
The results have been dramatic.
A few months ago, Tux had
a staph infection of his skin that cleared with medication but left him with no
appetite for eating. He developed a mast
cell tumor in his groin area that grew to the size of an orange. His liver numbers
were off and the vet
wondered if he might be a candidate for surgery, fearing the cancer had spread
to his liver.
I started feeding Tux your
dog food recipe and he loved it. He
would stand at the stove and bark when I was cooking it. After 3 weeks, we re-tested
his blood and
everything had improved/looked great, so we proceeded with removing the
tumor. It was a major surgery but he
came through it with flying colors. He
healed quickly and his skin and coat are beautiful. It looks like we will get
to enjoy him for
more years to come.
Thanks again for
encouraging pet owners to feed their animals high quality homemade foods. This
definitely saved my dog's life.
R.T., Minneapolis, MN
DEAR DR. FOX: Our Border
collie mix, Lilly, suddenly began throwing up bile several times a day--on
walks, in the house, wherever. Her
throwing up continued after several diet changes to eliminate such food items
as corn. Of course, there were numerous
consultations with her vet along the way.
He recommended Pepcid AC, but she never seemed to get better.
Finally, I bit the bullet
and began cooking for Lilly from Dr. Strombeck's book Home Prepared Dog and
Cat Diets, which I believe I first learned of through your column. Her coat
improved immediately (she had lost
her shine). She stopped throwing up,
except on rare occasions when she grabbed something from the ground outside.
Lilly started on the rice
and cottage cheese diet for dogs with gastrointestinal problems and she
tolerated that well, so we moved on to the balanced version. We tried adding
beef and brown rice, but she
began to throw up again. Back to the
rice and cottage cheese, but now with chicken and, most recently, sardines
added. We also tried adding organic baby
food of sweet potatoes, but she threw up again.
We've now begun introducing some of her past treats, e.g. Mother Hubbard
peanut butter bones and some of the Wellness non-sweet potato cookies and so
far so good.
These homemade recipes
have made all the difference in the world.
D.E.C., Chevy Chase, MD
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a
13-year-old Pomeranian, Bear, who, for the past several years (7 at least), has
suffered from dry, irritated skin and hair loss. When I first adopted him, he
thickest, most beautiful black coat.
This deteriorated to the point where the fur on his hindquarters and
sides was almost non-existent, particularly in winter. He was diagnosed with
alopecia". I was told that this
breed was particularly susceptible to this condition.
Bear was given blood test
after blood test. He was prescribed
special shampoos, skin conditioners and medications, including Thyroxine and
Prednisone to treat his problems. All
the while, he was eating IVD, an expensive veterinary-prescribed low-ingredient
dog food because he had experienced digestive difficulties with regular dog
My mother reads your
column often and printed out your recipe for homemade dog food. I was very skeptical
because I had assumed he
had a genetic condition that couldn't be fixed by simply changing his diet.
Was I wrong! The change was almost immediate. Bear's fur began growing back, thick and
shiny, all over his body. For the first
time in years, his tail 'returned'. I
can see that he will soon again have the 'feather duster' tail he had as a
young dog. His dry, flaky, irritated
skin is clear and healthy again.
I cannot thank you enough
for your recipe. I feel awful that my
dog had suffered all those years and that we spent so much money on vet visits
and medications that did nothing to help his problem. I promised our vet that
I would give her the
recipe to share, since it has been so helpful to our little dog.
N.W., Rhineback, NY
DEAR DR. FOX: About 5
years ago, my Golden retriever (7 years old at the time) started getting a rash
in her stomach area.
I took her to our regular
vet and he prescribed an antibiotic (Cephalexin). The rash cleared for a while,
returned. I took her back and he
prescribed a higher dosage. The results
were the same. I then took her to a
different vet, but they prescribed the same thing. Neither vet speculated on
the cause of the
About two years ago, this
dog started having frequent spells of diarrhea.
The vet treated her, but the diarrhea returned after a while. My dog's
diet at the time was a mix of dry
dog food (Nutro) and canned dog food (Alpo).
I decided to eliminate the canned food from her diet and substituted
either cottage cheese or yogurt and ground beef or chicken. She hasn't had rashes
or diarrhea since!
It's obvious to me that
the rash and diarrhea were directly related to the commercial canned dog food
and this change in diet made all the difference.
M.M., Corolla, NC
DEAR DR. FOX: When our 4-year-old English
canine epilepsy, she was prescribed phenobarbital and potassium bromide to
control the seizures.
Once we started her on a
diet of cooked ground beef mixed with Sojourner's food (all natural, human-grad
dog food mix--www.Sojos.com), she
having seizures! We also eliminated as
much sodium chloride (aka table salt) from her diet by reading the dog treat
C.G., St. Louis Park, MN
DEAR DR. FOX:
I walk a friend's Golden retriever, Bucky, daily because she is physically unable
to do so herself. I also brush his teeth
and comb him every day.
Your column has been a
favorite of mine and I started making your recommended homemade, natural
dietary supplement posted on your website.
I vary the kind of meat and vegetables each week.
I've now noticed that
Bucky doesn't try to eat goose poop anymore (we have lots of geese and ducks
around here) and he seems more docile and doesn't pull hard on his leash like
he used to.
I think this homemade diet
has caused these welcome changes.
R.J., Stillwater, MN
DEAR DR. FOX: My
11-year-old Westie has been having seizures for the past two years. My net put
her on phenobarbital, but this hasn't
I read your column a few
weeks ago re: food allergies, specifically gluten. I read the label of my dog
food and it was
loaded with corn gluten and gluten meal.
I changed her diet to no gluten and she improved greatly--usually just
one seizure a day and with less intensity.
My vet never suggested gluten as a problem. My poor dog suffered due
was having seizures every hour; small seizures, but seizures nonetheless.
Since she is a small dog,
I now cook her food: rice with either beef or chicken and I add a
multivitamin. She's doing just fine now.
D.B., Nanjemoy, MD
DEAR DR. FOX: While
visiting Houston, Texas, I adopted a Chihuahua mix (Basenji?) dog from a
shelter and named him Paco. He was found
wandering on the street, close to starvation and had a severe case of
He was a frightened,
nervous dog. I brought him back to
Massachusetts and worked with him diligently for a long time. However, from
the start he suffered from
colitis. He'd been under my vet's care
from the beginning, but we couldn't get the colitis completely under
control. I purchased a special Science
Diet food from the vet, along with pills and a liquid medicine. Nothing worked
well. He gained some weight, but seemed
uncomfortable all the time.
One day, I happened upon
your column and read a letter from someone who had changed their dog's diet to
your special homemade diet with good results.
I printed your recipe out, went shopping and began to feed my dog your
It has been 9 months now
and he has not had one episode of colitis!
My only problem is keeping the amount of food under control--he loves it
so much. He hated the Science Diet, both
canned and dry.
He is now 16 pounds and
looks wonderful. He runs every day for
over an hour, is happy and cheerful and I feel I owe it all to you. I've made
you famous with my dog-walking
friends: everyone calls him "Paco the Wonder Dog" because he is now
so friendly, listens to every command cheerfully and we all can see he feels
D.C., Northampton, MA
DEAR. DR. FOX: I have
switched my dogs to your dog food recipe.
My 6-year-old Aussie has
arthritis in her knees and legs and was going lame. My vet put her on Rimadyl,
but that didn't
help much. Since I have been feeding her
your recipe and stopped feeding her dog biscuits, she has dropped 14 pounds and
now hardly notices her arthritis.
All my dogs love this
recipe and are healthy and happy.
L.B., Eugene, OR
DEAR DR. FOX: I have two
Holly is 15 years old and
½-Brittany/½-English Springer. I rescued
her from being chained to a doghouse when she was 1 year old and she is my best
Delta is a 10-year-old
Welsh Springer. She must have a
companion or she eats the furniture (she has outlived several). Delta was carefully
bred by a wonderful
breeder and is very healthy.
Holly, however, has always
had skin problems. I put her on the
Biologically Appropriate Raw Food Diet (BARF) at an early age, but my vet
didn't approve so I eventually gave up on this.
After years of medicines and special baths (which left her with chronic
ear infections and smelly, broken-out skin), I went back to bones and raw
I make my own dog
food. I am not doing the raw wings (like
the BARF diet recommends), but I buy ground beef and turkey and mix it with
vegetables I have put through the food processor. I add yogurt, flaxseed oil,
garlic and olive oil. I make it into
1-cup patties and give each dog ½ patty, twice a day. They love the food.
They get table scraps like
meat and vegetables, but no bread. I've
eliminated any dog food that has gluten in it (I think Holly has a wheat
allergy). Special dog foods like Science
Diet weren't helpful.
Holly's skin and ears are
M.E.C., Fort Myers, FL
DEAR DR. FOX: I have a
4-year-old Lab who had constant ear infections.
My sister has a good friend who is a Lab breeder and veterinarian and
she advised me to change my dog's food.
I was feeding Science Diet
Light (Labs always have weight problems).
The vet recommended no beef or chicken, so I switched to Nutru Natural
Choice Lamb and only gave him lamb treats.
The ear infections cleared up and I had no problems for 2 years, but he
gradually gained weight, so I switched to a Light version and he now has no
problems with his ears and has lost weight.
My regular vet said he
looks good and to continue doing what I' doing.
S.F.G., Milford, CT
DEAR DR. FOX: I have two
small Maltese/Poodle mix dogs, Sonny (14 lbs.) and Cher (8 lbs.), both 4 years
For more than a year now,
I have been feeding them your fresh food recipe and they are better than
ever. The benefits are truly worth the
extra effort to make the food once a week.
I will never go back to commercial dog foods.
Their faces are no longer
constantly wet, the dark discharge from their eyes is much less and their fur
has much better texture. They don't have
bad odors any more and are much easier to groom, as before they matted terribly
and hated to be groomed.
I have also discontinued
giving them once-a-month flea/tick medicine--neither I nor the groomer has seen
any evidence of fleas or ticks.
B.J., Alexandria, VA
DEAR DR. FOX: I rescued a
Rhodesian ridgeback/Lab mix. She is 3 ½
A couple of months ago, I
noticed she was limping then holding her leg off the ground. I had just started
her on a new dog food that
was supposed to be the best (one of the Wellness dry foods) and it happened it
happened 3 weeks into this new diet. I
took her to the vet right away, thinking she had maybe fractured her leg or
something. They did X-rays and told me
that she did no have hip dysplasia or a fractured or broken bone.
They sent me to an
orthopedic specialist to check for fragment ruptures. He palpated the her knees
and said, right
away, that she needed TPLO (tibial plateau leveling osteotomy) surgery on both
hind legs. I mentioned the change in
diet and he said it was just coincidence.
I took her home, did some
research and changed her to a dehydrated raw food diet (made by Honest Kitchen)
and added chicken breasts. I also gave
her the no-grain food made by Evo and added fish oil.
The change in her was
nothing short of miraculous! She was off
the anti-inflammatory meds with a week.
Now, 2 months later, she is taking short jogs with me and running up and
down the stairs (which she could barely do before). She is getting stronger
every day, so I've
decided to not go ahead with the surgery.
The specialist checked her out and said he could hardly believe the
change and that she didn't need the surgery after all.
D.D., Arlington VA
PET FOOD IRRADIATION
In April 2001, State
Departments of Agriculture announced that “The FDA approved an irradiation process
that can be used on all animal feed and feed ingredients, including pet food
and treats. This process can reduce the risk of contamination from all strains
of Salmonella bacteria. Salmonella organisms can cause
gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea in people and pets’.
‘Irradiation is a process
in which products are exposed to sources of ionizing radiation which cause
chemical, not nuclear, changes similar to other conventional cooking or
preservation methods. It has already been approved for use on a variety of
human foods. Extending this process to animal feed and feed ingredients will
not only increase the safety of the feed for the animals consuming it, but to
people who handle animal feed and feed ingredients. Irradiation is a useful
tool for reducing disease risk’.
compliments, but does not replace, the need for proper food handling practices
in the production, processing, and handling of animal feed and pet foods
including treats. Pet owners need to practice safe food handling practices
after handling pet treats, including washing hands thoroughly in warm water and
with soap after any contact’.
Studies have shown that
irradiation does affect the nutrient content of certain foods, destroying or
denaturing enzymes and proteins, certain vitamins and produces so called
radiolytic break-down products, the safety of which has not been determined.
Extensive remyelination of
the CNS leads to functional recovery
A. Brower2, Y. Kondo1, J. Curlee Jr.3, R.
Department of Medical
Sciences1, Department of Pathobiological Sciences4,
School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin, 2015 Linden Drive,
Madison, WI 53706;
Diagnostic Laboratory2, 445 Easterday Lane, Madison, WI 53706; and
Harlan Laboratories3, PO Box 44220, Madison, WI 53744, Madison, WI
“ Here we describe a novel model in
the cat in
which severe neurologic dysfunction including ataxia, paresis, paralysis and
vision loss, is seen in pregnant cats fed an irradiated diet. Removal of this
diet results in delayed but complete neurologic recovery associated with
extensive remyelination along the entire spinal cord and throughout the optic
nerve. Axons remain largely intact,
proving that remyelination alone of large areas of the CNS can restore
Analysis of the irradiated
diet for macronutrient, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids compared with
non-irradiated diets showed no significant differences.
examination from affected cats (hematology, blood biochemistry, urinanalysis)
were all within normal limits. A final feeding trial of two irradiated
commercial diets compared to the same diets that were autoclaved (15
cats/group) showed that around 90-95% of pregnant cats on the irradiated diets
developed neurologic disease; those that ate more diet developed disease
earlier and more severely. Non-pregnant cats (i.e. males and offspring) never
developed neurologic disease.
A previous report in cats
fed an irradiated diet showed some similar changes to those described here,
with widespread white matter vacuolation”18.
18. Cassidy JP, Caulfield
C, Jones BR, Worrall S, Conlon L, Palmer AC, Kelly J (2007)
Leukoencephalomyelopathy in specific pathogen-free cats. Vet Pathol 44:912-916.
Pet Products News
that the GfK Group, a Germany-based global market research company tracking
business in 11,000 U.S. pet stores, that sales of grain-free pet foods have
jumped some 28% over the past year. More than $1.4 billion was spent on this
kind of pet food for dogs, and some $322 million for cats in 2012. While this
is a small fraction of the annual $21 billion-a-year pet food market, it is a
significant change in consumer choice and demand driving market availability. Much
of this has to do with the pet obesity epidemic and other documented health
problems in dogs and cats associated with high cereal content diets. (For
details visit www.drfoxvet.com). It
an issue of especial concern for cats who are obligate carnivores and cannot
process cereals and other sources of starch unlike most dogs.
I have also long advocated
a reduction of soy products in dog foods and their elimination from all cat
foods. Pet owners are to be advised to check the ingredients of grain free pet
foods that may use high carbohydrate substitutes such potato and pea flour as a
binder in dry foods, along with beet pulp, also used as filler.
I have also been a long
time advocate of organic farming and according to the Organic Trade Association
organic pet food sales are growing at nearly three times the rate of similar
organic, USDA Certified human food sales. It is noteworthy because of
documented animal health and environmental concerns about genetically engineered
crops and foods ( also detailed on the above website) that some pet food and
pet treat manufacturers are now including a “No GMO” or “GMO-FREE”
label one their product labels.
These market trends
indicate the power of informed consumers voting with their dollars to support a
more healthful agriculture and human food industry of which the pet food
industry is a subsidiary and now a catalyst for a revolution because of the
diet related health problems being seen in our dogs and cats.
MANUFACTURED DOG FOODS MISLABELED
PetfoodIndustry.com statement was given after the industry posted findings from
tests they conducted to determine the accuracy of content labeling. It really
gets nobody off the hook of responsibility, and calls for greater vigilance and
accountability, especially when dogs need to be put on a single protein diet or
a rotational diet because of possible food allergy/sensitivity: “As in the
human food industry, this type of mislabeling is typically not intentional on
the part of the manufacturer. Rather, it is most often the result of mistakes
during formulation or the receipt of mislabeled product from a supplier.”
12 formulas listed no
gluten source on the label and 5 were labeled either gluten-free or grain-free,
however 5 of the 12 – including 2 labeled gluten- or grain-free – contained
gluten at greater than 80 ppm, a level much higher than the FDA’s limit of 20
ppm to qualify for labeling as gluten-free in human foods.
8 formulas tested positive
for an animal protein not listed on the ingredient label, with 2 foods
containing undeclared beef or sheep, 5 containing pork, and 1 containing deer.
2 foods labeled as
containing venison tested negative for deer, but instead contained beef, sheep
2 foods labeled as
containing “meat and bone meal” rather than a specific protein source tested
positive instead for pork, but because pork can be considered meat, these
formulas were not technically mislabeled.
One may wonder about the
accuracy of labeling of cat foods, and certainly where pet food manufacturers
do not have their own manufacturing plant but contract out and share facilities
with others using different ingredients, cross-contamination is another issue.
diets may have hidden allergens: Commercial diets advertised for dogs with
allergies may not live up to their labels, according to a recent study (J.
Anim. Physiol & Anim. Nutr, 95: 90-97, 2011 by D. M.Raditic et al) that evaluated
the content of four over-the-counter dry venison dog foods and found each
contained common food allergens including soy and beef, despite claims to the
contrary. If these four over-the counter ( OTC) venison products selected in this
study are representative of OTC products in general, then the use of OTC
venison dry dog foods should not be used during elimination trials in suspected
food allergy patients.
PET FOOD IMPORTS
US Dog and Cat Food Imports:
Countries Pet Food Comes From
Jackson, Factoids Writer http://factoidz.com/us-dog-and-cat-food-imports-which-countries-pet-food-comes-from/
“Dog and cat food is
a multi-billion dollar
industry in the United States. Many companies manufacture cat and dog food from
ingredients that include meat products, grains and oilseed mill products. In
2009, the revenue for dog and cat food manufacturing in the US was around $16.2
billion and the industry exported about $1.1 billion to 111 countries
The US also imports dog food
and cat food, and
in 2009 the value of imports was valued at $407 million (up from $367 million
in 2008) from 26 different countries. This large rise in imports was despite
quality problems and product recalls that have occurred in the past with
imported pet food, particularly from China. In general, cat and dog food is
imported into America duty free. This article looks at dog and cat food imports
in 2008, 2009 and the first six months of 2010.
Main Suppliers of Imported
Dog Food and Cat
In 2009 dog and cat, food was
the United States from 26 different countries. Below are the top ten countries,
which combined, represent over 99% of all imports, or $404 million of the $407
million. Figures are also shown for 2008 and for the first six months (January
to June) of 2010 so that trends can be observed. The data was extracted from
States International Trade Commission’s Interactive Tariff and Trade DataWeb using
HTS code 23091000, dog or cat food for retail sale.
The table above shows that
between 2008 and
2009 the amount of dog and cat food imported from these ten countries increased
for all countries except Thailand, Australia and Brazil, which showed declines.
China dominated the import market, providing nearly half of the imports while
Canada provided a little over a quarter. Together the top three importers of
China, Canada and Thailand account for around 95% of all dog and cat food
imported into America, although Thailand’s share seems to be slowly declining.
Fastest Growing Imports of
Cat Food and Dog
Food by Country
In 2008, there were no pet
food imports from
Cambodia but in 2009, imports were valued at $512,000 while in the first six
months of 2010 they have already reached $1,785,000 to capture a much bigger
percentage of the market. The table below shows the growth in dollar value of dog
and cat food imports between 2008 and 2009 as a percentage.
The table above shows that
in percentage terms
the biggest increases in imported dog and cat food sales were reported by the
developing nations of Cambodia and Taiwan. In the first six months of 2010
these countries have already both imported more than they did for the whole of
2009 showing they are going to record an increase for 2010 also.
China’s increase of 21%
additional $34.3 million in imports of dog and cat food between 2008 and 2009
and 2010 figures to date show it will continue to dominate imports. In the
first half of 2010, the total imports have been $238.3, which represents a
14.4% increase over the $208.3 million recorded for the first half of 2010.
This suggests total US imports of cat and dog food may be around $465 million
Pet Owners Should Take Note
of Where Dog and
Cat Food Comes From
When purchasing pet food owners
note of the country of origin and determine for themselves whether cheaper brands
are worthwhile. Not all countries have the same food standards as the US and if
you are purchasing overseas sourced pet food keep yourself informed about
product recalls, as during 2007 many pets died of renal failure from
contaminants in pet food manufactured in China.
Some of the overseas brands
are very good
quality and represent excellent value but for those who treat their pet as a
valued family member it is worth spending a few minutes searching the internet
to make sure they are not about to give a pet something that could be damaging
to their health. This is particularly important for those wanting only natural
cat food or natural dog food and who want to buy the best dog food available.
Interactive Tariff and Trade Database
Tariff Schedule of the United States
Distinguish between private
label and brand
How are ingredients purchased
and from where?
Regulations re. The packaging
of imported pet
foods in the USA .( Canada Imports the majority of its pet food from the USA
and has no regulations other than
The Pet Food Industry Magazine.”
FOOD VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS:
QUALITY AND ETHICS
food manufacturers add various essential vitamins and minerals to their cat and
dog food formulas to make up for deficiencies in the basic ingredients and
because of losses associated with processing. More and more are providing
“Country of Origin” information as to where their basic ingredients come from,
and a few also state Human Grade quality and even USDA Organic Certification.
But when it comes to these essential vitamin and mineral supplemental
additives, most restrained by costs in a highly competitive market and select
cheaper, so called ‘Feed Grade’ quality, imported from world-market monopolist
China, where quality controls are in question.
Armstrong, owner of Verus Pet Foods, states that: “Our Vitamin pre-mix and our
Mineral pre-mix is sourced exclusively from non-Chinese sources. This is unique
in the pet food industry as it requires us to use human grade vitamins and
minerals. We will provide you with a country of origin of each, as well, we can
provide you with a certification letter from our pre-mix supplier if you would
like. Any pet food that makes this claim should provide the same…..
Manufactures will state that there is no other source for such ingredients. The
truth is, there is no other source for "feed grade" supplements other
than China. This is true. The Chinese own the market on feed grade supplements
since no one else can produce them as cheap. The reason is, there is no quality
control, testing, or certification for "feed grade" nutrients for pet
food. We can all see the danger in this, given China's history with pet food
the pet food industry is challenged on many fronts. The massive recall of pet
foods in 2007 that resulted in the deaths of thousands of dogs and cats and
caused chronic illness in thousands more from an imported ingredient from China
(melamine), reviewed in my book Not Fit
for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food, should never be
forgotten. Searching the world marketplace to find the lowest cost ingredients
that meet the industry’s scientific criteria of ‘complete and balanced
nutrition’ and maximize profits should become a thing of the past when there is
little or no transparency and quality assurance from foreign suppliers, some in
China not allowing US government inspectors access and even relocating their
manufacturing facilities prior to inspection!