IS YOUR PET: ITCHING, SCRATCHING OR WHEEZING AS THE WEATHER WARMS UP? SMASH SEASONAL ALLERGIES WITH THIS POWERFUL FLAVONOID!
An allergy is an abnormal response of the immune system. The body reacts to a usually harmless substance in the environment called an “allergen.” Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested, or when it comes into contact with a dog’s skin.
As your dog’s body tries to get rid of the allergen, a variety of skin, digestive, and respiratory issues may surface. These include (but aren’t limited to) paw licking/chewing, ear infections, watery eyes, itchy skin, and a lot of scratching.
Histamine is one of the biggest players in an allergic response, causing much of the inflammation, redness and irritation we and our pets experience. Once the body goes through this process, being exposed to the same allergen again will result in this antibody response, hence the allergic reaction.
Quercetin is a flavonoid (also called a bioflavonoid) that has anti-oxidant, anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory properties. During an allergic reaction the body releases histamine. Histamine contributes to inflammation, redness and irritation. Research has shown that Quercetin can “turn off” histamine production and suppress, or at least moderate, inflammation. Furthermore, Quercetin helps suppress cellular activity associated with inflammation. This means less itching! For this reason, it has been coined “Nature’s Benadryl.”
“Quercetin and other flavonoids have been shown in these studies to inhibit the growth of cancer cells from breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, endometrial, and lung tumors.” – University of Maryland Medical Center
Quercetin supplements are available in pill and capsule form. They are often packaged with “Bromelain” which increases the bioavailability of Quercetin, meaning you get more bang for your buck when combined.
To work out the proper dosage in milligrams, just multiply the weight of your pet (in pounds) by 8. So a dog weighing 50lbs should get 400mg or a 125lbs dog would get 1,000mg.
1000mg of quercetin a day is roughly equal to consuming 124 red apples or 217 cups of blueberries. Researchers suggest that the average human who consumes an abundant amount of fruits and veggies is only getting about about 230mg of quercetin a day.
Remember: Whatever the amount you give your pet, always split the dosage into two separate portions throughout the day for best results.
For more info on Nature’s Benadryl Click Here!
A few months back, The Truth About Pet Food’s Susan Thixton initiated a consumer funded pet food evaluation. The test results are now in and they might surprise you (although they didn’t surprise us here at DNM).
The Pet Food Test analyzed twelve pet food products (six cat foods and six dog foods). Testing was performed through INTI Services, which shipped the products to laboratories for evaluation.
Mycotoxins were first discovered in 1962 in England, when a ground peanut meal killed approximately 100,000 turkeys.
Mycotoxins are derived from the Aspergillus species of fungus and can cause a wide array of health issues, especially aflatoxin (which is one of the most potent causes of liver cancer).
Aflatoxins primarily affect the liver and dogs who eat 0.5 to 1 mg aflatoxin/kg body weight can die within days. Smaller amounts of aflatoxins, like those found in most pet food samples, can cause sub-acute symptoms including weight loss, lethargy, jaundice and even death.
Aflatoxins are also carcinogenic. They bind with DNA and cause cell mutations. Newberne and Wogan (1968) were able to produce malignant tumors in rats with less than 1 mg of aflatoxin per kg of feed.
Aflatoxins are very stable and even the high temperature processing involved in kibble manufacturing won’t destroy them, leaving little protection for any dog eating that food.
The Pet Food Test analyzed eight pet foods for 37 different mycotoxins.
Every food tested contained mycotoxins. Here are the results:
This certainly isn’t news to the pet industry …
In 2013, the Consumer Council of Hong Kong published the results of testing performed on nearly 40 popular pet foods.
Testing in the US shows that apart from the recalls from high levels of aflatoxins, nearly every pet food on the market contains aflatoxins or other mold-related mycotoxins. The animal health and nutrition company Alltech analyzed 965 pet food samples and found 98% of them were contaminated with one or more mycotoxins, while 93% contained two or more mycotoxins.
On top of the existing risk, there is further potential for mold spores to contaminate kibble during storage, especially if it is exposed to a moist environment. This can also happen in your home if your kibble is stored in a moist basement or an open container.
The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) establishes minimum nutritional requirements in pet foods.
The Pet Food Test also analyzed the guaranteed analysis/mineral content of 12 foods. Results found that 3 of the 12 tested foods were over the AAFCO maximum requirement of 2.5% (Hill’s Prescription Diet C/D Urinary Tract Health Canned Dog Food was at a whopping 7.72%).
Two dog foods were also found to contain excessive phosphorus.
The Pet Food Test analyzed 12 pet foods for bacterial contamination. Some of the bacteria found in their testing are antibiotic resistant and listed as serious human health concerns by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Pet food manufacturing clearly needs better policing. Hopefully more of this type of research will prompt AAFCO or the FDA to be more stringent about pet food testing.
But Trevor Smith, a mycotoxin researcher at the University of Guelph, warns “A shift in pet food ingredients is on. Instead of worrying about bacteria spoilage or disease contamination, like we have in the past, we now have to focus on removing mycotoxins.”
Feeding fresh, whole foods remains the best way to protect your pet from cancer and other diseases that processed pet foods can cause.
The duration of immunity for Rabies vaccine, Canine distemper vaccine, Canine Parvovirus vaccine, Feline Panleukopenia vaccine, Feline Rhinotracheitis, feline Calicivirus, have all been demonstrated to be a minimum of 7 years by serology for rabies and challenge studies for all others.
In the Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and What We Don’t Know, Proceedings – Canine Infectious Diseases: From Clinics to Molecular Pathogenesis, Ithaca, NY, 1999, Dr. Ronald Schultz, a veterinary immunologist at the forefront of vaccine research and chair of the University of Wisconsin’s Department of Pathobiological Sciences, outlines the DOI for the following vaccines:
Minimum Duration of Immunity for Canine Vaccines:
Distemper- 7 years by challenge/15 years by serology
Parvovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology
Adenovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 9 years by serology
Canine rabies – 3 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology
Dr. Schultz concludes: “Vaccines for diseases like distemper and canine parvovirus, once administered to adult animals, provide lifetime immunity.” “Are we vaccinating too much?” JAVMA, No. 4, August 15, 1995, pg. 421.
Yet vets continue to vaccinate annually. Dog owners feel that their vets are doing their dogs a great service by vaccinating every three years instead of annually – why do we allow it when these studies were done over thirty years ago and have been replicated time and again by other researchers?
Ian Tizard states: “With modified live virus vaccines like canine parvovirus, canine distemper and feline panleukopenia, calicivirus, and rhinotracheitis the virus in the vaccine must replicate to stimulate the immune system. In a patient that has been previously immunized, antibodies from the previous vaccine will block the replication of the new vaccinal virus. Antibody titers are not significantly boosted. Memory cell populations are not expanded. The immune status of the patient is not enhanced.
After the second rabies vaccination, re-administration of rabies vaccine does not enhance the immune status of the patient at one or two year intervals. We do not know the interval at which re-administration of vaccines will enhance the immunity of a significant percentage of the pet population, but it is certainly not at one or two year intervals. Tizard Ian, Yawei N, Use of serologic testing to assess immune status of companion animals, JAVMA, vol 213, No 1, July 1, 1998.
“The recommendation for annual re-vaccination is a practice that was officially started in 1978.” says Dr. Schultz. “This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibody blocks the response in some young animals.”
He adds: “The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated. Annual vaccination for diseases caused by CDV, CPV2, FPLP and FeLV has not been shown to provide a level of immunity any different from the immunity in an animal vaccinated and immunized at an early age and challenged years later. We have found that annual revaccination with the vaccines that provide long-term immunity provides no demonstrable benefit.”
Why then, have vets not embraced the concept of lifelong immunity in dogs?
“Profits are what vaccine critics believe is at the root of the profession’s resistance to update its protocols. Without the lure of vaccines, clients might be less inclined to make yearly veterinary visits. Vaccines add up to 14 percent of the average practice’s income, AAHA reports, and veterinarians stand to lose big. I suspect some are ignoring my work,” says Schultz, who claims some distemper vaccines last as long as 15 years. “Tying vaccinations into the annual visit became prominent in the 1980s and a way of practicing in the 1990s. Now veterinarians don’t want to give it up.”
The report of the American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003)3 includes the following information for vets:
Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination'; ‘Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.
‘This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.’
Both the AAHA and the AVMA must do more to “step up to the plate” says noted immunologist, Dr. Richard Ford. But the reality is the vets do not have to listen to the AAHA or the AVMA and it appears the state veterinary medical boards are not interested in enforcing vaccine schedules, opting to leave it up to the individual vet.
Dr. Bob Rogers hired a Chicago based law firm and initiated a class action suit for pet owners who were not given informed consent and full disclosure prior to vaccination administration. His article entitled “The Courage to Embrace the Truth”, states “While attending conferences like WSVMA and NAVMC I have asked over 400 DVMs from various parts of the country if they attended the seminars on New Vaccination Protocols. I was told by all but one, “I don’t care what the data says, I am not changing.” One DVM here on VIN even said “I am not changing until the AVMA makes me change.”
It seems that pet owners are against the wall when it comes to vaccination. The obvious conclusion is that pet owners who are concerned about the long term health of their companion animals must take it upon themselves to research vaccines, duration of immunity and vaccine dangers. At the very least, question every vaccine that goes into your animal – but none of the above information indicates you will get an honest or well-informed answer.
Be your dog’s advocate – protect him with knowledge and by taking a stand against unnecessary vaccination. His life may depend on it!
For 25 points, the answer is menadione bisulfite, which may cause anemia.
The question is, what’s Vitamin K in “natural” pet food?
For 50 points, the answer is retinyl palmitate, which may cause loss of appetite, irritability or bone changes.
The question is, what’s Vitamin A?
For 100 points, the answer is ascorbic acid, which may cause diarrhea, dry nose or nose bleeds.
The question is, what’s Vitamin C?
Pet owners have long ago learned to inspect pet food labels for meat terminology, order of protein and grain sources and presence of artificial preservatives. But how many discerning pet parents know how to review the long list of vitamins and minerals on the package?
Who would think that these could be the most detrimental of all the ingredients?
Why are vitamins and minerals added to dog foods?
Don’t vitamins and minerals occur naturally in the foods we eat?
To put it simply, there are not enough in processed foods to prevent disease. When a meat, grain, vegetable or fruit is cooked or heat processed in any manner, nutrients are lost to varying degrees. This is an accepted fact in the pet food industry. The industry is aware that certain minimum levels of vitamins and minerals are necessary to avoid devastating disease. The same industry is aware that excesses of synthetic vitamins and minerals can also cause devastating disease. Consumers have been trained to believe that foods that are approved by the pet food industry watch dog, the American Association of Feed Control Operators (AAFCO) are safe and balanced.
But, are they?
Why we need synthetic ingredients
In order to gain AAFCO approval, a pet food must meet a feeding trial requirement or a standard vitamin and mineral requirement. The least expensive way to meet this requirement is to add an accepted blend of premeasured synthetic vitamins and minerals to a processed diet.
Another way would be to add large amounts of healthful foods, which would provide enough nutrition despite the processing, but expensive testing or feeding trials would be necessary to prove the foods are adequate. For this reason, most manufacturers add the standard vitamin-mineral mix. This mix may be added to canned, kibble, freeze dried, or even commercial frozen raw diets.
How can you recognize the vitamins and minerals on the ingredient label?
Grab a bag of kibble. If it calls itself “natural,” it quite likely also states “with added vitamins and minerals.” AAFCO requires this statement because the vitamins and minerals are synthetic, not natural. The group is usually listed in the middle to bottom of the ingredient label, as all ingredients are listed in order of weight. Most of the names will sound like chemicals.
Here is a typical sample “natural” brand with added vitamins and minerals:
Chicken, Chicken Meal, Brown Rice, Oats, Barley, Rice, Menhaden Fish Meal, Chicken Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols) Natural Chicken Flavors, Flaxseed, Dried Egg Product, Potatoes, Carrots, Herring, Natural Flavors, Whole Eggs, Apples, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Herring Oil, Dried Kelp, Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Garlic, Vitamin E Supplement, (various fermentation products), Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Vitamin A Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Riboflavin, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Iodate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Biotin, Cobalt Sulfate, Rosemary Extract.
Unnatural vs natural, does it matter?
Let’s analyze just one mineral out of the above list of synthetic additives: sodium selenite.
Sodium selenite contains selenium. When we eat natural, unprocessed, whole foods such as nuts, meat, mushrooms, fish or eggs, we eat selenium that is complexed and consumed along with other nutrients which help the selenium function properly in the body. “Humans and animals derive selenium primarily from foods. In plants and animals, selenium is primarily localized in the protein fraction” (Ferretti and Levandar, 1976). Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium. High levels of selenium are also found in kidney, tuna, crab, and lobster. But, these foods contain selenium, not sodium selenite.
“Both mutagenic activity (cancer causing) and antimutagenic (cancer preventing) activity have been attributed to selenium; the concentration and the chemical form in which selenium is administered appear to be critical in determining its effects. At the trace levels normally found in biological systems (plants and animals), selenium apparently acts as an antimutagenic, oxygen-radical scavenger, but at higher concentrations selenium is capable of inducing mutations (cancer). Arciszewskaet al, 1982; Shamberger, 1985; Kramer and Ames, 1988
Where does sodium selenite come from anyway? Sodium selenite is prepared by evaporating an aqueous solution of sodium hydroxide (lye or drain cleaner) and selenous acid (Merck Index 1983). Selenous acid is produced by combining water and selenium dioxide which is produced during the industrial purification of copper.
Does this sound like something we should eat?
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “prolonged exposure to sodium selenite may cause paleness, coated tongue, stomach disorders, nervousness, metallic taste and a garlic odor of the breath. Fluid in the abdominal cavity, damage to the liver and spleen and anemia have been reported in animals.”
Do you know any pets with these disorders?
How many times have you heard a pet parent comment that a change from kibble to fresh raw food improved the pet’s breath? Interesting!
The selenium we want to eat is a trace element, which is a cofactor for reducing antioxidant enzymes, found in animals and most plants. This biologic source of selenium is crucial to the proper functioning of every cell in the body, especially the thyroid gland. Selenium may inhibit Hashimoto’s disease, the human version of autoimmune thyroiditis, which has reached epidemic levels in our dogs. Selenium can even reduce the effects of mercury toxicity.
Can cells recognize unnatural vitamin and mineral sources?
In addition to the realization that unnatural sources of selenium can be toxic, their presence can inhibit the ability of natural sources to function properly in the body. Cells have receptor sites for the attachment of biologic factors which turn on and off cellular functions. These receptors can become “clogged” with lookalike vitamins or minerals.
This phenomenon can explain why the initial consumption of a synthetic vitamin or mineral or even hormone replacement therapy works initially, when the receptor sites are empty and desperate for the nutrient. But, when the receptors become clogged with the inadequately functioning faux nutrients, the cell receptors cannot function properly. You or your pet may feel great after beginning a new synthetic supplement, or even a new type of diet, only for the original symptoms to recur after some time passes.
It’s important to remember that the problem doesn’t start and end with selenium. Every synthetic vitamin and mineral carries similar risks and shortcomings.
Solutions for the synthetic nutrient dilemma
When most pet foods contained artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin), it was consumer pressure that drove the industry to manufacture their pet diets without them. It will likely be pet owner education and consumer demand that will again cause the industry to produce pet diets without these toxic vitamin and mineral additions. Many brands of raw food and at least one brand of kibble and canned already exist to fulfill this need.
One of the most devastating recalls in recent pet food history occurred when a reputable manufacturer accidentally dropped too much of a synthetic vitamin into the recipe. Dogs died. Generally, too much of a whole food source, like oranges or Brussels sprouts, will at worst cause some raging diarrhea but the body can recognize and purge the excess appropriately! This can’t happen with their synthetic counterparts.
Pet food costs are rising but loving pet parents have realized that healthy foods cost more and they are willing to pay for safe and effective supplements and food. As manufacturers realize there is a consumer need and willingness to purchase, they’ll respond by producing better and better pet diets.
Pet owners must continue to seek out nutritional education and not be swayed to purchase foods based just on high cost or influential marketing. Dog and cat lovers need to become aware of and support companies who produce ethically.
Purchase species appropriate, fresh foods and treats. Learn to read ingredient labels. Share this information with family, friends and fellow pet enthusiasts. Encourage veterinarians and other pet providers to be open minded. Don’t just accept the status quo. Disseminate information and ask good questions!
Whole Food Supplements
In our decaying world where soils devoid of nutrients are producing plants and animals with vitamin and mineral deficiencies, we must realize the solution is NOT to fill the gap with synthetics, but rather seek out whole food sources. Fresh diets can be analyzed to ascertain the adequacy of nutrients. A body can thrive on smaller amounts of whole food source vitamins than it can on their synthetic counterparts. If the addition of a vitamin or mineral nutrient is necessary, it should ideally be added from a whole food source. Manufacturing processes exist which can concentrate the whole food vitamins available from cruciferous vegetables, berries and herbs and other plants. Organ concentrates can also be used as nutrient resources to prevent and repair a myriad of disorders.
The solution to pet food safety and nutrition is not in the laboratory. It lies in the unlocking and conscientious use of the abundant treasures from Mother Nature.
Let’s say, hypothetically, that you ran out of dog food. You rush to the closest retailer to buy some more and find yourself standing in front of two bags of commercially prepared pet foods. Now you need to make a choice.
You pick up those two bags of food – they can either be kibble or raw – they can even be cans. It doesn’t matter. Either way, you should read the label. And on that label, you might see that the first ingredient on bag #1 is chicken and first ingredient on bag #2 is chicken by-products.
You investigate the label a bit more and see that the bag containing chicken claims to be from USDA inspected facilities. The bag containing chicken by-products claims to be from USDA inspected and approved animals. Which one would you choose?
I bet you’d choose chicken over chicken by-products. You’ve taken the time to not only read the label, but to educate yourself on pet food choices. With social media and Google at your fingertips, you feel pretty prepared to read pet food labels.
After all, by-products are usually the leftover doodoo that we humans don’t want to eat, so why would you feed this ingredient to your dog?
Well, what if told you that those chicken by-products might be a way safer ingredient than the chicken?
Here is some information about by-products from Pedigree.com: “Animal by-products are excellent sources of protein and essential vitamins and minerals for pets…The use of by-products not only provides the essential nutrients that dogs need, but they are also a sustainable source of quality protein to ensure the human food chain is not negatively impacted.”
But no, I’m not an employee of Pedigree and I don’t think this tells the whole story on by-products either.
Let me explain what I accidentally stumbled upon.
As a pet nutrition blogger, I have a ton of books. One day, when I retire from this gig, I’ll probably open up a used bookstore, sell all those books, and use the proceeds to move to a nice tropical island. One of my go-to guides that I’m not letting go of any time soon however, is the book of AAFCO Ingredient Definitions.
I know; it’s not very exciting reading, but this is the bible of the pet food industry! It’s the essential guide to “what they allow” and “what they don’t allow” pet food manufacturers to say and do. I study it religiously!
So the ingredients in commercial pet foods are governed by AAFCO model regulations. The ingredients must be listed on the label and, more importantly, every ingredient on the label must conform to a specific AAFCO definition.
Now back to the original dilemma: which bag to choose? Do you want to feed your dog chicken or chicken by-products?
In the AAFCO definition book, chicken falls under poultry:
Poultry is the clean combination of flesh and skin, with or without bone, derived from the parts or whole carcasses of poultry or a combination thereof, exclusive of feathers, heads, feet, and entrails.
Now, let’s take a look at chicken by-products, which also fall under poultry:
Poultry by-products must consist of non-rendered clean parts of carcasses of slaughtered poultry such as heads, feet, viscera, free from fecal content and foreign matter except in such trace amounts as might occur unavoidably in good factory practice.
Now read those definitions again, and this time read between the lines.
At first I missed it. But if you look closer into the chicken by-products definition, you see two words that are missing from the poultry definition. Two words that might make you think twice about the bag you choose. What two words am I taking about?
The definition of chicken in pet food, according to the AAFCO guidelines, states that it doesn’t need to come from slaughtered animals.
If the chickens aren’t slaughtered, then the manufacturer could use dead chickens that have either been euthanized or have already died from a myriad of diseases down on the factory farm.
Whether you’re buying commercially prepared raw, commercially prepared kibble, canned, dehydrated, or even locally prepared raw pet foods, if the label says chicken, it could be from dead or diseased chickens. But for chicken by-products, the AAFCO definition requires that the sourcing must be from slaughtered animals!
Just when you thought you had it all figured out, now you have something else to worry about when choosing pet foods.
Of course I’m not saying chicken by-products are better than chicken. But take another look at the two hypothetical bags of food you’re still holding up.
The bag with the chicken says, “from USDA inspected facilities”, while the bag with the chicken by-products says, “from USDA inspected and approved animals.”
USDA inspected facilities is a fancy term used to impress you. But it really means nothing because chickens banned for use in human food can still come from USDA inspected facilities. But, if the animal passes the inspection and is approved, then it’s much more likely that the chicken wasn’t a rotten, decomposing carcass. I’m pretty sure that isn’t what you want to feed your dog; isn’t that why you’re reading the label in the first place?
I’m not saying that by-products are necessarily a good thing to feed your dog. What I’m saying is: pay attention to the fine print. All of it. Or, better yet, call your pet food manufacturer and ask if the meat they’re putting in their pet foods are USDA inspected – and approved.
So Long Yeast, Hello Kefir!
Do you feed the superfood kefir to your pets?
These days, pet foods can contain up to 70% carbohydrates. These carbs are broken down to sugars, which then fuel the yeast in your pets’ bodies!
Too much yeast = big time problems!
If you cannot switch to a low carb pet food (like a species appropriate raw food diet) then you will need to supply your pet with something to attack the yeast. Meet kefir.
These dairy or water-based grains have a multitude of vitamins and minerals. They provide a wide variety of probiotic organisms and have super awesome healing qualities.
Pronounced “kah-fear!” according to the folk of the Caucasian Mountains, this “grain of life” is similar in appearance to regular yogurt, however has a way bigger engine under its hood!
Kefir contains several major strains of friendly bacteria not commonly found in yogurt such as Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Acetobacter species, and Streptococcus species. It also contains beneficial yeasts, such as Saccharomyces kefir and Torula kefir, which control and eliminate destructive pathogenic yeasts in the body.
Some studies have shown kefir to ward off salmonella and E. Coli as well as having the capability to kill H. Pylori.
Kefir health benefits are vast and that is due to the 30 different strains of good bacteria and yeast present in those cloud shaped grains! The bulk of those grains are a combination of insoluble protein, amino acids, lipids and complex sugars.
Kefir is rich in B complex vitamins such as Vitamin B1, B12, as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin K and biotin. The main minerals present in kefir tend to be calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Nowadays, kefir can be found in any supermarket, but try sourcing it from your local Farmers Market to assure that it is local, fresh and hormone/GMO free!
Kefir is traditionally made with cow, goat or sheep milk, but you can also make it with coconut or almond milk (also coconut water).
As always: variation, moderation and balance! Kefir is very safe, This is not to say that some people or pets don’t react negatively to kefir, especially when first trying it. When introducing kefir to your pets, remember to always go slow.
Give your pet’s system time to adjust. For the first few days to a week try half the recommended dosages. This will avoid digestive upset as your pet’s system adjusts to the increase of good flora in their GI tract.
Recommended Minimum Daily Intake of Kefir
Small size dogs or cats – 1 tsp. – 1 tbsp.
Medium size dogs – 1 – 2 tbsp.
Large dogs – 2 – 3 tbsp.
Kefir can work miracles for yours and your pet’s body, so go ahead and start incorporating it into your diets. Remember the three factors mentioned above: variation, moderation and balance and reap the benefits that this wonderful grain has been offering people all over the world for many generations.
A few months ago, holistic veterinarian Dr Karen Becker was a guest on my radio show, In The Dish (which has since found a new home with the Dogs Naturally family and is now called On Air with Dogs Naturally). Dr Becker and I discussed the dangers of grains in the veterinarian lines of pet foods and in other commercial pet foods found on pet store shelves.
We finished the show and I didn’t think much about it – until the next morning when I awoke to hundreds of messages on my Facebook page from an angered veterinarian community. They felt that we unnecessarily attacked the bags of processed pet foods they carry on their shelves.
After going over each comment, I found the main point of most of the remarks was that corn and grains are terrific for our pets.
Really? That’s news to me.
To be clear, this wasn’t a shot at veterinary foods, nor was it a shot at any particular manufacturer for adding corn, rice, or any grains into their pet food formulas. And I’m not going to talk about whether these ingredients are appropriate or not for dogs. Let’s say, just for a minute, that corn and starches are just as nutritious and wonderful as the vets claimed. Let’s focus on a bigger and much less talked about problem.
A problem that starts, not with corn, but the farms where that corn comes from.
Have a seat on that hay bale over there, Jimmy. It’s time for a story.
When you think of a farm do you envision a beautiful red barn, maybe a silo, and acres of bountiful goodness, just like Mother Nature intended? Smell that fresh air and look at all those beautiful rows of nutritious foods. Ah, I can see now why vets think this corn stuff is a really good idea.
But wait! What are those containers behind the barn? Well, Jimmy, those are pesticides and larvacides – and that bag over there is a fungicide. But look at the corn, Jimmy! There are no bugs on that stuff. It’s special corn called genetically modified.
Welcome to today’s farmer and the transformation of foods! Without focusing on the hundreds of problems this presents, let’s talk for a moment about the following statement that was quietly made by the Pet Food Industry: “Problems with toxic mold residue may worsen as farmers blend tainted corn held in storage bins.”
Not that any of us needed something else to worry about, but there’s a new danger in your dog’s pet food bag and it goes by many names. My nanny, God love her, would probably call it mold. However, science has given it more official names – like aflatoxins and mycotoxins.
I can hear you now… “Afla-whaaaa?” “Myco-who?”
Well, pull up a chair, Jimmy. I’m about to tell you how things really work on the farm these days.
A lot of marketers spend a lot of time and a lot more money trying to convince the public, pet owners, and veterinarians that corn and certain grains are an excellent source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. But has anybody taken a moment to research what’s been happening back on the farms where that corn comes from?
Here are some interesting bits I found at Reuters.com:
“ Dog food recall underscores toxic danger in drought-hit U.S. corn.”
There’s more. “Aflatoxin is the byproduct of a mold that flourishes in dry conditions, and last year’s historic drought in the US Midwest put everyone from farmers to grain handlers and food industry officials on high alert. According to crop insurance data from the US Department of Agriculture, payouts for mycotoxins, of which aflatoxin is the most common, totaled nearly $75 million, triple the level of a year ago.”
Seventy-five million bucks in insurance claims. Triple the level of a year ago!
Now you don’t need me to tell you that eating mold is a really, really bad idea. But for those of you who scrape the green stuff off your bread and eat it, this might be news. Molds like aflatoxins and mycotoxins can cause kidney and liver damage, suppress the immune system and disrupt the absorption of nutrients – among a bevy of other problems you don’t want to happen to your best friend!
So we now know the poor farmers who were suffering from last year’s drought have corn and other grains that are loaded with mold. And I know what you’re thinking: the farmers just throw that moldy stuff out, right? Not exactly.
You see, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found a use for it. They granted approval so more aflatoxin-ridden corn can be blended with the “good” corn in animal feeds.
Professor of agriculture from Iowa State, Charles Hurburgh explains, “Livestock producers may be willing to purchase contaminated corn … There will probably be a discount to the price received, but there may be no other options.”
Basically, the so-called safe levels of molds that were once allowed in pet foods have now been raised so that crappy, moldy corn can be used up. On top of that, the pet food marketers can still say, “It’s OK! We use the safest levels of aflatoxins deemed by the FDA, don’t worry!”
And the really scary part is, the food wasn’t all that safe in the first place! Mold contaminations have caused a ton of pet food recalls over the years. Pets have died from eating pet foods contaminated with mold.
Dr Max Hawkins explains, “The pet food industry is no stranger to recalled products due to mycotoxins. The earliest documented aflatoxin outbreak dates back to 1974 when hundreds of stray dogs in India died due to the consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated corn (Krishnamachari et al, 1975). In December 2005, 76 dogs were killed from aflatoxin-contaminated petfood in the US, causing a large recall.”
Now with higher mold levels allowed, are we setting the stage for disaster?
Researchers have begun pulling food samples off the shelves and
testing them for all types of molds. One facility, Alltech, has analyzed
965 samples to date. The samples included grains, protein sources,
by-products and animal feeds, including dog food.
Here are some of the things they found:
Is anyone going to do something about this? Will the FDA step in?
While the FDA issues guidelines on the acceptable levels of mold that can be present in grains, they don’t watch the manufacturing of pet foods as closely as foods made for human consumption. This means if we don’t wise up and research what we’re feeding our pets, we’re playing Russian roulette with those molds.
Trevor Smith, Guelph University professor and world leader in the field of mycotoxin research has this to say about molds in pet foods: “A shift in pet food ingredients is on. Instead of worrying about bacteria spoilage or disease contamination, like we have in the past, we now have to focus on removing mycotoxins.”
Smith explains that pet owners can help prevent their dogs or cats from consuming mycotoxins by avoiding cheaper pet food that’s more likely to contain vegetable cereals and corn or wheat fillers. He particularly urges pet owners to avoid food with significant amounts of rice bran.
“That’s the ingredient that’s often contaminated,” he says. “Although we have no exact numbers, we can estimate that when half of the food is of vegetable origin, there will almost always be some degree of contamination. If the food is mainly of animal origins, the chances of contamination are greatly reduced.”
In my opinion, grain based pet foods are a risky proposition. If you really want to feed foods with grains in them, then try to source human grade grains and avoid anything used for animal feed. Don’t just look on the bag; contact the manufacturer directly and find out if the grains they use are for human consumption or animal feed consumption.
So, to those vets who were busy defending corn and grain on my Facebook page, I just have one question. Are you defending fresh, organic grains for human consumption or the moldy, genetically modified grains?
A recent test on dry pet food has revealed some dangerous facts about the food your dog or cat may be eating.
The Consumer Council of Hong Kong recently published the results of testing performed on nearly 40 popular pet foods. The results were a shock to many pet owners. Three popular US food manufacturers, Purina, Hill’s and AvoDerm, all had foods that were found to contain aflatoxin B1.
Grains such as corn, wheat, and rice, as well as nuts and legumes, are often contaminated with molds, often as a result of poor growing conditions, substandard or extended storage. Molds called aflatoxins can easily grow and produce a very potent carcinogen. Aflatoxins are very stable and even the high temperature processing involved in kibble manufacturing won’t destroy them, leaving little protection for any dog eating that food.
Purina confirmed this in a statement to the South China Morning Post. They stated that cancer-causing aflatoxins were an “unavoidable natural contaminant.” AvoDerm stated that they have since removed the corn from its formula as they believed it was the source of the aflatoxins.
Corn has become a major source of aflatoxin. Droughts in the US Midwest in recent years have caused a record amount of mold-infested crops amounting to nearly $75 million in insurance claims. In response to this surplus of corn that wasn’t safe for human consumption, the FDA increased the allowable amount of aflatoxin permitted in animal feed.
The pet food industry is no stranger to product recalls due to these molds. The earliest documented aflatoxin outbreak dates back to 1974 when hundreds of stray dogs in India died after consuming aflatoxin-contaminated corn. In 1998, 55 dogs died of contaminated corn and in December 2005, over 100 dogs were killed from aflatoxin-contaminated pet food in the US.
Testing in the US also shows that apart from the recalls from high levels of aflatoxins, nearly every pet food on the market contains aflatoxins or other mold-related mycotoxins. The animal health and nutrition company Alltech analyzed 965 pet food samples and found 98% of them were contaminated with one or more mycotoxins, while 93% contained two or more mycotoxins.
Even grain-free pet foods still contain a high carbohydrate content, so there is the potential for mold spores to contaminate the kibble during storage, especially if it is exposed to a moist environment. This can also happen in your home if your kibble is stored in a moist basement or an open container.
Aflatoxins primarily affect the liver and dogs who eat 0.5 to 1 mg aflatoxin/kg body weight can die within days. Smaller amounts of aflatoxins, like those found in most pet food samples, can cause sub-acute symptoms including weight loss, lethargy, jaundice and even death.
Aflatoxins are also carcinogenic. They bind with DNA and cause cell mutations. Newberne and Wogan (1968) were able to produce malignant tumors in rats with less than 1 mg of aflatoxin per kg of feed.
Because eating small amounts of aflatoxins over a period of time will cause cumulative liver damage or cancerous tumors, a very small percentage of affected dogs would be reported,. This means that tens of thousands of cases of liver disease and cancer could be caused by contaminated foods every year but the link would never be reported.
The Consumer Council study also found some other alarming trends. Three of the US brands tested (Purina, Iams and Solid Gold) also contained melamine or cyanuric acid. These are the substances that poisoned thousands of pets in 2007.
On top of that, processed pet foods also contain other toxic ingredients including heterocyclic amines, acrylamides, and most recently discovered in dry, cooked pet foods, PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) – a chemical used as a flame retardant. Learn more about these toxic ingredients.
Trevor Smith, a mycotoxin researcher at the University of Guelph, says “A shift in pet food ingredients is on. Instead of worrying about bacteria spoilage or disease contamination, like we have in the past, we now have to focus on removing mycotoxins.”
Pet owners should avoid any food containing corn, especially as mold infested corns are added to animal feeds. However it’s important to also remember that melamine and other harmful substances will still be in many processed foods, so feeding fresh, whole foods remains the best way to protect your pet from cancer and other diseases that processed pet foods can cause.
Garlic (Allium sativum) has been valued for thousands of years for its medicinal purposes. Five thousand year old Sanskrit and Chinese medical manuscripts describe the benefits of garlic. Today, garlic is grown all over the world and is making a strong comeback as a potent, effective, natural remedy.
Garlic is a member of the lily family and of the same genus as the onion. Garlic has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb; in fact, Hippocrates advocated garlic for infections, cancer and digestive disorders. The great Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, also recommended garlic for a wide variety of ailments, ranging from the common cold to epilepsy and cancer.
Modern science has also established the fact that garlic boosts immunity, gets rid of bacterial, viral and fungal infections, enhances liver function, helps detoxify the cells in the body, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood and even fights cancer.
Raw garlic cloves contain a high amount of a compound called alliin, as well as the enzyme alliinase. When garlic is crushed or diced, the alliin comes into contact with the alliinase enzyme and the compound allicin is formed. Cooked garlic is not nearly as therapeutic as freshly crushed or finely diced raw garlic.
Recently, the safety of garlic for dogs has come into question. That’s because one research study used a huge amount of garlic in their test dogs. When garlic is fed in very large amounts to dogs, it can cause oxidative damage to red blood cells, leading to a medical situation called Heinz body anemia. Knowledge is a powerful thing, but astute pet owners should gather all the data about garlic before shunning this celebrated bulb.
Ironically, garlic is approved as a flavoring, spice or seasoning for use in pet food, yet the FDA has listed garlic in its poisonous plant database. That’s because a study suggested that when garlic is fed in excessive quantities (5 grams of whole garlic per kilogram of the dog’s body weight), it might cause damage to the red blood cells of dogs. (See the study here)
Considering the data presented in this study, the average 75 pound Golden Retriever would need to eat five full heads of garlic or about 75 cloves of garlic in each meal before there would be any adverse effect on the red blood cells. Similarly, a dog weighing a mere 10 lbs would need to eat 25 grams of garlic – about half an entire head of garlic, or about 6 to 8 garlic cloves in every meal to experience any adverse effects.
A host of studies provide evidence that the allicin in garlic works to inhibit cancer formation. With cancer being the number one cause of death in dogs in the United States, let’s all get going with garlic!
How many dogs do you know who would either be given or would want to eat that many cloves of garlic? Drinking too much water can kill you, but we all drink water. In fact, we all know that drinking water is a healthy thing to do. So what’s healthy and what’s too much? It’s obvious that all this “garlic is bad for your dog” hype has been taken totally out of context.
Furthermore, the total reported adverse affects from garlic add up to a non-event over the past 22 years. The National Animal Supplement Council responsibly records both Adverse Events and Serious Adverse Events resulting from the use of natural products.
A Serious Adverse Event is defined as: “An Adverse Event with a transient incapacitating effect (i.e. rendering the animal unable to function normally for a short period of time, such as with a seizure) or non-transient (i.e. permanent) health effect.” 900 million doses of garlic over a 22 year time span resulted in only two Serious Adverse Events and these episodes could very well have been due not to garlic, but to another ingredient in the mix. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the risk of using garlic is so low that it’s statistically insignificant.
What is significant is all the positive research delineating the medicinal powers of garlic. Among garlic’s reputed benefits, perhaps the best known is its natural antibiotic activity, with reports going back through history. In fact, Pasteur noted garlic’s antibacterial benefits in 1958. Modern researchers have compared the effectiveness of garlic with that of antibiotics and have found that garlic has a broad spectrum antibacterial effect. Additionally, bacteria don’t seem to build up a resistance to garlic as they do to many modern antibiotics.
But that’s not all. Garlic increases the immune activity of Killer Cells (cells that seek out and kill invading bacteria and cancer cells). Uncooked garlic also helps lower blood triglycerides and cholesterol, making it useful for certain breeds (Schnauzers and Beagles) that are predisposed to this problem.
A 1988 study found that diallyl sulfide, a compound in garlic, prevented tumor formation in rats. Other studies have shown that garlic inhibits various forms of cancer growth in the body. Garlic also enhances overall liver function and triggers enzyme responses to help break down waste materials before they go into the bloodstream. In other words, garlic helps the liver out – and in today’s toxic world, our dogs’ livers need all the help they can get.
Additionally, garlic has been fed to dogs to help prevent flea infestations. There are many products on the market containing garlic for this very purpose. Both powdered and raw garlic are effective, although raw garlic has significantly more health benefits.
When using garlic for flea prevention, it’s important to use a castile soap or detergent free shampoo. Dogs don’t sweat as humans do and the garlic aroma comes out in the oil on their coat. It takes several weeks for the garlic compounds to build up in the oil and a detergent shampoo removes the oil, so you’ll be back to square one again.
To release its medicinal properties, garlic first has to go through a chemical process so the allicin can be created. It’s best to finely chop or crush the garlic clove, then wait a few minutes to allow the chemical reaction to occur. The healing allicin is unstable when exposed to air and heat, so don’t wait more than 20 minutes before you top your dog’s meal with some healthy raw garlic.
A host of studies provide evidence that the allicin in garlic works to inhibit cancer formation. With cancer being the number one cause of death in dogs in the United States, let’s all get going with garlic! Buy a garlic press or simply chop some up. You can then mix it in with your dog’s meal.
While cooking garlic destroys allicin, other components in cooked or powdered garlic continue to provide some benefits to your dog’s health. The cooked garlic will still function as an antioxidant and help flush toxins out. If you cook meals for your dog, it’s totally fine to add garlic as a flavoring and for improved health.
It’s no wonder garlic has been valued for thousands of years for its medicinal purposes. Five thousand year old Sanskrit and Chinese medical manuscripts describe the benefits of garlic but today, garlic is still grown all over the world and is making a strong comeback as a potent, effective, natural remedy.
One of the barriers to feeding dogs raw food is the misleading notion that balancing and creating canine diets is an exact science that must be performed in the laboratory. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Raw feeding has a few guidelines that must be followed and the most important one is balancing the minerals calcium and phosphorus in the diet.
Meat is very high in phosphorus. The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth. It plays an important role in the body’s utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. It is also crucial for the production of ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy. Phosphorus works with the B vitamins. It also assists in the contraction of muscles, in the functioning of kidneys, in maintaining the regularity of the heartbeat, and in nerve conduction.
Bone is high in calcium. In addition to its widely known role in bone structure, calcium is used to help control muscle and nerve function, as well as to manage acid/base balance in the blood stream.
Dogs need a balance between the amount of phosphorus and calcium they get in their daily diets. In dogs, the calcium:phosphorus ratio should be about 1.2 to 1.5:1 although a range of 1:1 to 2.5: 1 is sufficient. That means that dogs should consume a little more calcium than they do phosphorus.
According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, less phosphorus is absorbed at the higher ratios, so an appropriate balance of these two minerals is necessary. Also, insufficient supplies of calcium or excess phosphorus decrease calcium absorption and result in irritability, hyperesthesia, and loss of muscle tone with temporary or permanent paralysis associated with nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. Skeletal demineralization, particularly of the pelvis and vertebral bodies, develops with calcium deficiency.
Excess intakes of calcium are more problematic for growing large and giant breed dogs. Too much calcium causes more severe signs of osteochondrosis and decreased skeletal remodeling in young, rapidly growing large breed dogs than in dogs fed diets with lower dietary calcium.
It might seem daunting for dog owners to calculate the calcium:phosphorus ratio in a home prepared raw diet but it’s really not that complicated. Bones are a safe source of dietary calcium and if dogs consume enough of them, the diet will be balanced without a lot of difficult calculation.
Chemist Mogen Eliasen explains. “In the food we feed, we might have a deficiency of calcium. Let’s say that the food contains only half the calcium it should (50 milligrams instead of 100 milligrams), but is okay as far as phosphorous goes. We are thus out of balance – our 1:1 ratio is only 0.5:1 – which is critical.
“But, let’s say that we now feed 10 grams of raw bone. This will give us a total supplement of 1,000 milligrams of Calcium and 1,000 milligrams of Phosphorous. Add to this what we feed through the other sources of food. This brings the Calcium intake up to a total of 1,050 milligrams, and the Phosphorous to a total of 1,100 milligrams.
“Our overall balance is now no longer 0.5:1, but (1050/1100):1 = 0.95:1. We are only 5% “off”. But 5% is within the natural variation anyway, so it won’t matter… (Also: most standard chemical analyses do not give a more precise result anyway: +/-5% is pretty accurate for such an analysis…)
“If you feed 100 grams of bone instead, you will see the ratio go to 0.995:1 - less than 0.5% off the mark.”
Overall, balancing calcium and phosphorus isn’t all that difficult, as long as dogs receive plenty of bone. In general, any bone content over 10% is plenty although you shouldn’t exceed 25% because dogs need other nutrients too.
When sourcing bones for your dog’s diet, it’s a good idea to know the approximate amount of bone in commonly sourced foods. Here is a quick guide to help you keep your dog’s bone content in the right range; between 10% and 25%.
Whole chicken (not including the head and feet): 25% bone
Leg quarter: 30%
Split breast: 20%
Whole turkey: 21%
Whole rabbit (fur and all): 10%
Whole (dressed): 25-30%
The bone content values in this list are an approximate but that’s really all you need to provide your dog with a safe and healthy raw diet. Avoid grocery store meats as they can be treated with bleach or enhanced with salt. You should also feed bones that are appropriate for the size of your dog. Avoid pieces that could present a choking hazard .