Thursday, Jun. 2nd 2011

Feeding home prepared diets to pets, detox diet

Veterinary Alternatives June 2011 Newsletter

This month I want to share with you five reasons to make your dog’s dinner, from Donald R. Strombeck, DVM, PhD who wrote the book “Home Prepared Dog and Cat Diets: The Healthful Alternative”. I have included my own editorial comments.

1. You can select and know the quality of the ingredients. Even when ingredients are listed on a commercial pet food label, you can’t verify the quality. (I always recommend organic ingredients, as pets are quite sensitive to environmental chemicals. By buying the ingredients from a grocery store and preparing the diet yourself, you have ultimate control and knowledge of their quality. You can even use your own home-grown veggies and farmed or hunted meat.)

2. When you prepare food at home, you can avoid the risks of contamination by bacteria, fungi, and chemicals, including ingredients added to produce the desired color, texture, shelf life, and palatability. (Did you know some pet foods have been found to have traces of such things as lead, euthanasia drugs, and hormone implants? Do you think your pet cares what color his food is? Do you really want to fill your pet’s body with preservatives?)

3. You also avoid errors that can happen during any one of the many steps in the processing of commercial pet food including inadequate cooking and contamination from poorly cleaned equipment. (I often post recalls for pet foods and treats on my Facebook page Veterinary Alternatives if you want to be informed of such things. Just search for the page, then click to “like” it and you will get updates on pet health issues about once a week.)

4. You won’t be misled by claims of formulations being balanced and complete when they are not. (One of my pet peeves is diets that state they are appropriate to feed all ages. There is no such thing as a single diet appropriate for babies, young adults, middle adults, and seniors, let alone different activity levels or health status. A home-prepared diet can be custom designed for each pet according to life stage, breed, weight, activity level, and much more.)

5. Doing it yourself gives you more control over special-needs diets. Commercial pet foods’ special diet claims often have no merit. (My custom diet recipes usually include ingredients specific to each pet’s health and five-elements constitution according to Chinese medical principles. I can include foods the pet likes, ingredients you have easy access to, herbs needed for health issues, and much more.)

A few more tidbits about preparing your pet’s diet: Dogs and cats do not have the enzyme hemi-cellulase so they can’t digest plant cell walls. Veggies, fruits, and grains need to be fully cooked and/or pureed in order for our pets to extract the nutrients from them. Dog foods with visible peas and carrot chunks are designed to look good but your dog won’t get the benefit of those ingredients, especially if it is a raw diet. Most meats and grains are very high in phosphorous and low in calcium. A home prepared diet MUST have adequate calcium to provide at least a 1.2 to 1 ratio with phosphorous. A calcium supplement is usually needed and I make sure with the recipes I design to tell exactly how much is needed to achieve this ratio.



Health News for People as well as Pets:

Sometimes food sensitivities or allergies can cause a multitude of symptoms from actual GI distress of various sorts to headaches, muscle pains, and stuffy noses. The following is a recommendation of an elimination diet for people (I can also design one for your pet) to help you determine IF any particular food is causing your symptoms and if so exactly which ones. From the June issue of Natural Health Magazine:


Eat clean for seven days, avoiding wheat, citrus, processed meats, dairy, corn, cocoa, bread, eggs, peanuts, sugars, artificial food colorings and preservatives. Eat lots of brown rice, quinoa, organic veggies and non-citrus fruits, greens, etc.


On day 8, add milk back.

On day 9, add wheat.

On day 10, add sugar.

On day 11, add eggs.

On day 12, add cocoa.

On day 13, add food coloring.

On day 14, add corn.

On day 15, add preservatives.

On day 16, add citrus.

On day 17, add peanuts.

Keep a record of what you eat and how you feel throughout the diet and for a week afterward. If any adverse symptoms occur, make a note of what food you ate that day. Try eliminating it for a month, then test it again.

Interestingly, this is a list of health issues that have been associated with food sensitivity: fibromyalgia, fatigue, arthritis, reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, sinus congestion, depression, unexplained rashes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, the medical director of the Dallas-based Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers recommends if you have been to four doctors and nobody seems to be able to help you need to consider looking into food sensitivities.


I must say my family is pretty healthy, with very rare viruses (less than one/year in a family of four) and I attribute that largely to eating a mostly organic diet, with very few processed foods. Most cooking is from scratch. It is always beneficial if you can prepare your meals from items purchased around the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the center aisles—produce, dairy, fish, meat, breads, grains/bulk items. Even if you don’t have a lot of time to cook, with today’s modern appliances like rice cookers and convection ovens, plus “fast foods” like fish, quinoa, and most vegetables it isn’t that hard to put healthy food on the table for not only your pets but your whole family.


So why all this emphasis on human diet? Because once you discover the benefits of healthy eating for yourself, you will be more excited about a healthy diet for your pets as well. Can you pronounce all the ingredients in the food your pet is currently eating? Are there any ingredients you would be unwilling to consume yourself? Call Dr. Leonard (after July 1—will be out of town) if you have questions about your pet’s diet—have an ingredient list handy and I will be happy to discuss the suitability of the diet for your pet.

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