Home » nutrition
Category Archives: nutrition
Another health problem emerges from the latest of the “Food Fads” for pets – Grain Free Food.
First Grain Free dog and Cat foods have both excesses and deficiencies of amino acids. A heart problem that is caused by an amino acid deficiency, have been proven to be associated with feeding any grain free commercial diets in dogs. I’ll go into more detail later. This only the latest of problems with grain free foods.
I am calling it a fad here intentionally, which may dismay some of my readers. After all, this is an Alternative Veterinary Medicine blog. Well, I was reserved but open to the concept, as I am to many new ideas, and I evaluated the diets carefully. I compared the diets (the components & the companies dietary research) to over the over 80 years of veterinary nutritional research about canine and feline nutrition and digestive research up to now.
Here are the steps I go through to evaluate a food or supplement company.
- Claims of research. Look for listed research study on their website. Take the title and authors copy into the pubmed search. This a link into the big library of science studies worldwide. If the study is not listed here it was not published in a recognized scientific publication. The facts they quote are not facts, just company talking points.
- Did they use at minimum 30 or more animals in each test group. Did they not reuse the same animals in a “wash-out” study. So if comparing one diets to another the barest of minimum is 30, 100-200 is better. A common practice among feed companies is to design the feed trial to make sure that one diet is no different than the another diet.
- Done by Design: a. each group has less than 10-12 dogs, b. the total feeding trial lasts just weeks to 3-4 months (not from birth through maturation, 3-5 years old, males & females -through puppy rearing). Most feeding trials are 6-16 weeks or less with adult. Puppies/kittens feeding trials are completed before 6 months of age, especially related to bone and cartilage growth because the diet effects can’t be detected until after 2+ years of life. c. was the research done at a university in Central or South America. At present it is difficult to have quality over-site is some countries so unfavorable results are never published, not a practice done in major US universities. d. only one study for their idea that can’t be repeated, confirmed by other researchers.
- I have seen allot of “so called great ideas” come and go over 40 years in practice. I remember the very same sales pitch in the mid 1970’s for adding soybean protein meal to milk powder for baby calves & pigs. To increase their growth and save a little money on cost of milk. What happened? Baby calves & pigs drinking the milk powder that had more than 2.5-3% soy protein would die suddenly at 10-12 days of age from bleeding stomach ulcers. The research had been done in older animals with more mature GI systems, the babies unable to digest the soy protein which clotted in their stomach. Bacteria from the intestines migrated up into the clotted food mass and infected the stomachs causing ulcers and septic shock because of their young age. When farmer were careful to buy milk powder with less 2% soy the baby calves and pig were fine.
- Note: At less than 12 weeks of age calves and pig can’t digest food ingredients that are not from milk. As they mature with age their GI gradually turns into Omnivore and herbivore, capable of digesting soy with no problem.
- A lesson that has to be repeated in dogs, cats and people too. Feeding the wrong type of any food or nutrient will cause problems over time. An example, short term a dog can eat anything, but long term too much fibrous, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, yams, even potatoes, cause serious irritation to the gut and will mimic symptoms of irritable bowel disease. So if your dog have soft stools, that stink and tend to be sticky, stop the popular sweet potato diets.
GMO foods- means Genetically Modified organisims.
Below is the best website I have found dedicated to good science on the long term effects of GMO foods and the environment and health effects. No spin just science.
Not to be confused with an industry website called GMO.com with a nice green logo. They say that they are stating the facts only. However, numerous important misstatements of the facts make this website just an industry marking tool. The companies who sponsor this website are the major makers of GMO products, including: BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. Remember these names.
Great podcast from Veterinary Nutrition specialists. Covers all the important information owners need to know to make intelligent choices about dogs and pet foods.
I recommend one food company at this time; Drfostersmith.com These recommendation will change over time because the pet food industry is not well regulated and the successful companies are often bought by one of the “Big Two”, multinational food companies, They are Mars and Proctor & Gamble, who are owned by even bigger, multinational, Tobacco Companies.
Here is a link to the Wiki page of OAS
These same principles apply even more in our pets with multiple allergies. Pets have more histamine & inflammatory molecules stored in their skin. So, no matter what the source of the allergen, the first sign of an allergy flare up is itching & increased ear wax. Pets who are allergic to fleas, ticks or mites can develop oral allergy symptoms to these pests because they accidentally ingest them while grooming. Probably one of the many causes of eosinophilic mouth ulcers in cats.
More info; about people at Tree pollen allergy reacts with some foods.
Common Cross reactions:
Allergies to a specific pollen are usually associated with OAS reactions to other certain foods. For instance, an allergy to ragweed is associated with OAS reactions to banana, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, zucchini, and cucumber. This does not mean that all sufferers of an allergy to ragweed will experience adverse effects from all or even any of these foods. Reactions may be associated with one type of food, with new reactions to other foods developing later. However, reaction to one or more foods in any given category does not necessarily mean a person is allergic to all foods in that group.
- Alder pollen: almonds, apples, celery, cherries, hazel nuts, peaches, pears, parsley, strawberry, raspberry
- Birch pollen: almonds, apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, carrots, celery, cherries, chicory, coriander, fennel, fig, hazel nuts, kiwifruit, nectarines, parsley, parsnips, peaches, pears, peppers, plums, potatoes, prunes, soy, strawberries, wheat; Potential: walnuts
- Grass pollen: fig, melons, tomatoes, oranges
- Mugwort pollen : carrots, celery, coriander, fennel, parsley, peppers, sunflower
- Ragweed pollen : banana, cantaloupe, cucumber, green pepper, paprika, sunflower seeds/oil, honeydew, watermelon, zucchini, echinacea, artichoke, dandelions, honey (if bees pollinate from wild flowers), hibiscus or chamomile tea
- Possible cross-reactions (to any of the above): berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc), citrus (oranges, lemons, etc), grapes, mango, figs, peanut, pineapple, pomegranates, watermelon
How does one cope! Knowing what you are allergic to helps because you can avoid the foods that go hand in hand with pollen allergies. Thorough cooking to breakdown the proteins in food into smaller bits can eliminate the allergic reaction. (Yes, fruit vegies and grains all have proteins or polypeptides) Cooking in water works the best to preserve the good elements in fruits and vegies, such as: poaching, stewing, baking in water until the food is really mushy like babyfood. Indian cuisine is well know for this method of cooking where any vegie becomes part of the sauce. Breaking down foods in acids like lemon, lime or vinegar can also work if allowed to marinate for hours to overnight.
This is an excellent articles on how insect bites lead to allergies in pets.
Scientists also know that the flea, tick, & mite- type insects can transfer proteins in their saliva that are identical to proteins in beef and Pork. This is how a single allergy to biting insects can develop into a allergy reaction to food. Called Tick-food cross reaction allergy.
So what can be done to prevent food -insect cross reaction allergy? Thorough cooking (at minimum 30 minutes at low boil in water until the meat falls to pieces) is usually enough to breakdown the proteins. Commercial foods and treats are usually not cooked long enough to breakdown the proteins so many hypoallergenic foods fail. In humans this phenomenon is called “tick-food allergy cross reaction”, and cross reactions can also happen with many pollens called pollen-food cross reaction or Oral Allergy Syndrome.
This explains why homemade pet-foods, and a few of the freeze- dried, pressure treated pet-foods can extremely helpful to reduce allergy symptoms.
Anti-inflammatory supplements have also been shown to be very effective. High quality, fish oil with omega 3 fats being the best of all these products. This is the one time I recommend buying fish oil from your local vet. The prescription form of fish- omega 3 FA are filtered, concentrated which removes water, unneeded non-omega 3 fats and both heavy metals like mercury and other chemical contaminates. I have done numerous price comparisons, based on the effective dose of Fish-Omega FA (mgs) and found that the cost per pet is the same as over-the-counter brands.
Most veterinarians can/will sell these products without an appointment because of overwhelming science that shows how high quality fish oil prevents most diseases including teeth & gum disease.
Note to remember: Flax seed or borage oil are not effective in dogs nor cats. Carnivores lack the liver enzymes that convert vegetable Omega 3 fats into a form our bodies use to suppress inflammation. You are just getting expensive poop. These seeds or oils are added in tiny amounts to pet foods and treats to sell more product to health aware consumers.
This is a highly detailed and accurate report into how dog food is made. The first part of the article on the Maillard reaction is of interest to owners of dogs or cats who have had IBD diagnoses.