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Heart Disease from Grain free Dog food.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Dangers hidden in popular “Grain-free” petf


How much to feed your dog. — Podcast, The National Academies of Science.

Great podcast from Veterinary Nutrition specialists. Covers all the important information owners need to know to make intelligent choices about dogs and pet foods.

Sounds of Science Podcast from The National Academies.

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.

PetFoodReport what is really in pet food

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.


Contrasting Grain-based and Meat-based Diets for Dogs | petMD

Excellent article that goes into detail of how proteins from grains are not the same as protein from meat when it comes to your dog or cat. This is essential for all pet owners and Veterinarians to know.


 Contrasting Grain-based and Meat-based Diets for Dogs | petMD.

What’s Really in Pet Food . . . and Lots More to Know – at the Land of PureGold

What’s Really in Pet Food . . . and Lots More to Know – at the Land of PureGold.

Most complete list in one place I have found that links to the experts in the field of attempting to make pet food companies improve the foods offered and themselves. The pet food project is a good article to look at. I do not necessarily endorse any of the diets, foods and treats. They  are quite expensive and laborious. Home made is best  because you control the quality.  Check out www.balanceit.com, this website is put together by the American College of Vet Nutritionists. Free for owners to create a recipe for homemade food for healthy pets. This site will calculate a recipe for a  normal diet for dogs and cats based on body weight and your choice of  protein and grains.

They  sell a good mineral mix to add to food and they indicate other sources of minerals and vitamins to balance the foods.  They offer consultations to owners and veterinarians to create custom diets for different disease situations. The link for Veterinarians allows your vet to create a custom homemade recipe for many diseases where diet is important.


Vet Report Gives Tips for Avoiding Salmonella Infections

Vet Report Gives Tips for Avoiding Salmonella Infections. See my personal story below.

Check out this article regarding the safety of dog treats. In general more warnings are happening every week. The production of rawhide, pig ear and hoof based dog treats has gone to China. Many Merchants of dog treats are buying their supplies from Co. located in China. So as with other products coming from a Country that does not have the safety standards we are used to, problems will happen. The FDA is in charge but does not routinely inspect food until after a complaint is made.

I recommend that my clients buy large beef leg bones from a butcher and place in water, bring it to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer  (continuous small bubbles around the edge of the water where it touches the pan) for 20 minutes. Even softened your dog will get hours of chewing fun. It takes 20 minutes at the temperature that water bubbles (boiling point) to kill the toxins that Salmonella or E. coli produce.


Let me compare  food poisoning from these bugs v.s more common forms. The “Run of the mill” food poisoning causes diarrhea and some vomiting in 12 to 24 hours after consumed and last a day or two most individuals recover without treatment if they can drink water.  The the toxin producing bacteria (bugs) can cause shock, collapse and death before the diarrhea has the time to get from the upper colon to the outside.

My cat  is a survivor of a toxin producing food borne bacteria. She ate less than a tablespoon of tainted canned cat food that had been left out for 6 hours.  I found her in the early morning hidden in a closet, unresponsive, collapsed,  stiff, with no  pulse but she had a weak  heartbeat. I rushed her to a University Veterinary Emergency Department. Four  trained EM personnel could not hit a vein to give her an IV so  a surgical cut-down to place an catheter in a vein was done, to give her life saving fluids. She was revived by the fluids and treatments for shock, after 6 hours. The next day, her liver and kidneys started to fail because of the effects of the toxins which can cause massive cell damage in vital organs. More sophisticated,  life saving, procedures were done over the next week in ICU and she survived.  In fact, She was the first animal I had seen in over 12 years that had as bad a case of food poisoning that had survived. All of the Veterinarians and Vet. tech.s  shared with  how rare it was in their experience, to have an animal survive this type of poisoning.  Maybe it was her luck that day, and certainly I recognized the urgency of her situation as did the EM people and we all moved very fast. No time was spent deciding if we should treat each complication. I gave the emergency veterinarians,  full authority to do all and every life saving method, knowing that having to call me to get permission would delay important treatments and time makes a major difference. She went on to live a long life with me.

I had the benefit of small cost savings because I was on staff at the same hospital. Even though, money was no limit for me at that time. In today’s dollars, her care would cost approximately $2000 to $4000.00 and the odds of survival are still very low. So I just want to say from my experience spend the time and extra care to make sure pets food and treats are safe.

best regards

Dr Smith

>Miami Florida Lawyers – Maltzman Foreman – Insurance, Class Action, and Commercial Litigation Attorneys

>Eye opening information for anyone concerned about their pets health and the foods we buy for them. A must read (view) for concern pet owners.

Miami Florida Lawyers – Maltzman Foreman – Insurance, Class Action, and Commercial Litigation Attorneys

This link is the website of the Lawyers who have a class action lawsuit against the pet food Companies as a result of the 2007 poisonings.

I have attached it so you can see for yourself the research that has been put together in one place. There is a nice video that summarizes the problem and if you want to know the long history of facts look at the 3rd amendment, about halfway through the document, where described in ordinary english the extent and degree of the problem. I have followed the changes to the pet food industry for over 15 years and these pages are accurate and complete.

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