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Introduction to species appropriate nutrition

'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food'~Hippocrates'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food'~Hippocrates

I think the best summary on the role nutrition plays in health and well being of both humans and their animal companions can be found in this ancient Ayurvedic proverb:

"If diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. If diet is correct, medicine is of no need."

Sadly the topic of proper nutrition is often neglected or not highlighted enough in most of the Veterinary schools curriculums.

These days most of the veterinary nutritional advice is based on the “research” supplied and funded by commercial pet food producers. The pet food industry generates multimillion-dollar revenues each year and it is indeed very unrealistic to expect such research to be unbiased and objective. 

This has gone so far that the industry is now trying to convince us that dogs and cats are not carnivores but omnivores  contrary to all anatomical and physiological evidence.

This is not suprising considering that even the human medicine has for decades been based on wrong scientific nutritional advice. In the last decade we have witnessed many nutritional scams exposed and for further information how the sugar industry controls the World Health Organization please do watch BBC Panorama Documentary - The Truth About Sugar:

The cholesterol myth or so called  The Big Fat Lie  has been exposed only recently, and medical practitioners are slowly changing their nutritional recommendations. Unfortunately veterinary medicine still has a long way to go in this regard.

In our busy lifestyles we often find very little time to prepare proper meals for ourselves let alone for our animals. But if we want health for our companions and ourselves we have to be ready to sacrifice some time and interrupt our hectic daily routines.  After all in the long run this will save us from substantial veterinary bills and it will be the time very well invested.
Many people are conditioned to believe that dogs and cats can only be fed with dry and tinned food.  In reality it is very difficult to find a commercial diet for animals, which would even comethe  close to all requirements of healthy natural nutrition.


These days  more people are becoming health conscious  and  they look down on junk food, yet they don’t think twice about feeding their pets junk food, every meal and every day for the rest of their life.  How wrong is this?!
The whole concept of instant meals for humans is repulsive. Who would want to eat the same food over and over again? It is obvious that “the variations” such as wild game kibble, poultry or rabbit kibble to mention just a few are joke. Yet, somehow we have accepted the idea that such diet is right for our pets. In most of the cases you don’t even want to know what is the source of proteins in commercial diets.
 
Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn DVM, PhD observes:

One of primary sources is slaughterhouse wastes, or game road kill. Prevention magazine once published a letter from a reader who offered an inside glimpse of the pet food industry: “I once worked in a chicken butchering factory in Maine. Our average daily output was 100,000 chickens…Directly ahead of me were USDA inspectors and their trimmers. The trimmers cut the damaged and diseased parts off the chicken and dropped them in garbage cans. These were emptied periodically. They were sent to pet food factory. Similarly the story appeared in our local newspaper revealing that dead animals found on the highway are sent to rendering plants where they are used in pet (and livestock) food.

Raw as nature intendedRaw as nature intendedMany reports like these surface on a regular basis, so this seems to be widely spread phenomenon. Ann Martin offers considerable evidence in her book that pets are routinely rendered and recycled into pet food by veterinary hospitals or shelters. It is very difficult to determine exactly what pet food makers are using as ingredients. It can change on any day, and they don’t usually volunteer information like this:
There are no federal regulations against using what are called 4D sources – that is tissues from animals that are dead, dying, disabled, or diseased when they arrive at the slaughterhouse.


Even on this side of Atlantic, within the European Union there is no such legislation.
This brings us to the most important question, what are the health effects of such innapropriate  diet?!


You may ask yourself; don’t animals eat all sorts of stuff of the ground, even digging up dead animals to eat at times?
This statement is generally true for canines but not wild cats that eat only freshly killed prey. Wolves and dogs seem to be able to eat meat that is not fresh, even partly decayed, without becoming ill. But here is the difference - in nature the animals that are chronically ill are not filled with drugs or hormones.


Back to Dr. Pitcairn:


'Having worked with livestock medicine in my early years, I know the significant percent of animals sent to slaughter, but not suitable for human consumption, have first been extensively treated with drugs. Since veterinary treatment failed, they are then processed for whatever monetary value can be captured by turning them into food – mostly pet food. It is the similar situation for animals killed on highways. Yes, it is possible that a deer was healthy when hit by a car and killed. This meat would be considered appropriate for use. But think of many agricultural feeds sprayed with insecticides or herbicides. Animals caught in these fields or enter them after they are sprayed become sick and disoriented, wandering into a road where they are easily killed. The pets recycled from animal hospitals or shelters have high levels of antibiotics and various other drugs. Most of these drugs end up in the food. This is why animals that have had drug therapy are not used for human consumption. It would make people sick.'


P.F. Mc Gargle, DVM, has concluded that feeding slaughterhouse wastes to animals increases their chance of getting cancer and other degenerative diseases. This practice has also been related to Mad Cow disease. Those wastes, he reported can include mouldy, rancid, or spoiled processed meats, as well as tissues riddled with cancer. These meat scraps also contain hormone levels comparable to amounts that have produced cancer in laboratory animals.


And its not only about the source of protein its also about species appropriate diet. This means that herbivores must eat vegetation for optimal health and carnivorous animals such as dog or cat, must eat whole prey for optimal diet. Learn more about species appropriate diet in this video by Dr. Karen Becker:

 


Anything less then this means that we are shortchanging our pets and creating far-reaching consequences, which even span over several generations. Recent research suggests that diet can cause epigenetic changes.


Therefore one of the first things I advise to my clients is a complete change of lifestyle by investing time in preparing their own meals for their animals. That way they can regain control over the ingredients in their pets' food and ultimately their health and well being.


I will discuss the details of nutrition on separate pages for each species and you can find these by following the links in Natural Diet section.
If you follow advice given on these pages in very short time you will witness marked improvement in general wellbeing of your animals. One of the first signs of improvement will be seen in their coat, which becomes lustre while you will also notice their eyes to be clear and shiny with a satisfied look. You will also witness marked change in their behaviour which will become more balanced especially in dogs who suffer from behavioural issues and excess of energy caused by a high intake of carbohydrates.

 

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