CHAPTER * ONE
Each new day brings validity to what wise nutritionist ---and you mother---have been saying for years: Eat good food and stop eating junk! Our own doctors encourage us to consume fewer processed foods and rely more on unadulterated natural ingredients in our meals if we wish to enjoy an optimal quality of life. Surely, our beloved animal companions are entitled to the same consideration.
Why does the quality of food make a difference in your pet's health? Simply put, food is body fuel, and life does not exist without it. The strength of your pet's immune system, its resistance to disease, and its quality of life all depend on the type and quality of food that it eats.
Although commercial pet food products may be extremely convenient, they lack vital enzymes and provide only a fixed formula, with no healthy variety of fresh foods. All ingredients are heated, making many of them less viable, and dangerous, to heal. Take a minute and ask yourself if you would eat these products. Would you feed them to your human children, day after day, year after year, for their entire lives? Probably not. Common sense and current knowledge have proven that we must eat a wide variety of fresh, wholesome foods to enjoy good health. The same wisdom applies to our pets.
Just as processed foods are a new addition to the human diet, they are also a recent substitution for unadulterated foods in the diets of our canine and feline friends. Until the invention of processed commercial pet food products---less than 100 years ago---all animal lovers shared their own food with their dogs and cats.
Biologists have yet to discover any wild carnivore that cooks its food. A carnivore's body has been designed to derive its needed nutrients from raw food. Many successful zoos and other captive habitats have discovered that they cannot keep their animals healthy and able to reproduce unless they are fed raw food. Cooking or heat processing actually changes the molecular structure of food, binding food molecules tighter together. This makes them more difficult to digest and transforms them into "foreign" or unfamiliar food.
Cooked food takes longer to digest and therefore requires more of the animal's energy. Heat also destroys enzymes and antioxidants, which are very important for good health. In fact, enzymes are needed for every biochemical activity in your dog's or cat's body. And, unfortunately, the body has a limited supply of its own enzymes. It is designed to consume enzymes in raw food. When the pancreas is called upon to produce enzymes because the ingested cooked food has none, the pancreas must enlarge and work harder than it is designed to. When stressed, the pancreas sends white blood cells, or leukocytes, to the digestive system to aid in digestion. But when the leukocytes use there enzymatic activity to aid digestion, they are less able to help destroy bacteria and foreign invaders in the body. This impairs the immune system.
There are many biochemical interactions that occur within the body, creating necessary nutrients such as some of the B vitamins and vitamin K. Cooked food interferes with many of these processes. Studies have found that when meat is cooked at high temperatures, cancer-forming compounds develop that interfere with the body's genetic structure. Heat also destroys many vital amino acids, vitamins, and minerals---some of which, undoubtedly, we have yet to even discover.
Cooking food also transforms its essential fatty acids, which are so named because they are essential to your pet's health. They must come from food sources. When essential fatty acids are heated or exposed to light or oxygen, they become trans-fats--dangerous toxins that weaken your pet. Research confirms that trans-fats have a detrimental effect on the reproductive system, immune system, cell membranes, cardiovascular system, and liver function. Trans-fats also do not provide good transport throughout the body for fat-soluble vitamins.
CHAPTER * SEVEN
Foods to Avoid
In 1997, oncologists from Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine published diet recommendations to help combat the number-one killer of our beloved pets: cancer. Their recommendations suggest excluding lactate- and glucose-containing fluids, because cancer cells thrive on sugars and create lactate as a waste product. Lactate poisons the animal by depleting its energy, and simple carbohydrates. The researchers concluded that a diet relatively high in fat and low in simple carbohydrates resulted in a longer survival time for cancer victims.
Of note is the fact that cancer cells cannot utilize fat, which is an excellent natural energy source for dogs and cats. They also found that omega-3 fatty acids reduce lactate levels and have the ability to reduce or eliminate metastatic disease. Since heat and hydrogenation destroy these essential fatty acids, raw foods are a good source of these vital nutrients.
Sugar comes in many forms. Many processed and even "natural" foods contain sugar. Grains and dairy products are biologically inappropriate sources of sugar for dogs and cats.
The study also recommends feeding protein that is highly biodegradable. The body cannot utilize nutrients if it can't easily break down the food within the body.
A homemade species-appropriate diet can fulfill anti-cancer recommendations and may play a crucial role in prevention and treatment of this terrible disease. The above study only adds to the growing body of knowledge about many foods important to avoid, such as:
1. Sugar. As discussed, cancer cells thrive on sugars. Sugar comes in many forms, including beet, raw, brown, cant, fructose, corn sweetener, corn syrup, date dextrin, dextrose, glucose, lactose, maltose, manitol, polydextrose, sorbital, sorghum, sucanat, sucrose, turbinado, barley malt, molasses, honey, and maple syrup. Sugar is addictive, damages the pancreas, and drains vitamins and minerals from the body. It is implicated in hypoglycemia, diabetes, obesity, behavior problems, cataracts, tooth decay, arthritis, allergies, and cancer. Yeast also thrives on sugar. In a 1993 study, unhealthy candida yeast overgrowth was 200 times greater in animals receiving dextrose than in control groups that did not receive the sugar.
2. Chocolate. We've probably all heard that dogs and cats should not eat chocolate. It contains theobromine, which is a toxin for our furry friends, as well as caffeine, a nerve irritant. It also contains sugar.
3. Dairy products. Dairy products include milk, cream, butter, cheese, cottage, yogurt, whey, sour cream, kefir, and ice cream. Milk is a hormonal growth fluid produced by a mother animal to nourish a youngster of her own species. Only rarely would a wild carnivore catch and eat a lactating prey animal or a just-fed newborn. Even so, this meal would contain little milk and in a form different from what is available commercially. The more natural forms, such as raw unpasteurized mouse milk or rabbit milk, and pretty difficult to come by in the market! And birds, a popular prey animal, don't nurse their young at all.
Humans are the only animals that choose to consume milk after weaning. Other animals, including wild cats and dogs, do not. Milk, and products made from milk, contain foreign hormones and lactose, a sugar. Most dogs and cats are not equipped with the lactase enzyme needed to digest lactose. Milk is also mucus-forming. Calcium is easily obtained from much more species-appropriate sources such as raw bones.
4. Grain. Dogs and cats have no nutritional need for grains. Carbohydrates or energy from grains is not required by dogs and cats. Fats are their best, species-appropriate source of energy, and they are also able to derive energy needs from protein. Energy is the "fuel" that sustains life and all bodily functions.
Wild prey animal stomachs may contain grasses, bark, insects, roots, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter -- but not modern grain, unless the animal was grazing previously in a field of domesticated grain. Even so, the majority of our dogs' and cats' evolutionary history, which formed their physiology, did not include prey animals that ate domesticated grain. Grains were domesticated and used as a staple in some human cultures only recently in evolutionary history, so prey animals and predators did not have access to them until that time. And domesticated grains differ structurally from wild grains. Everything about our dogs' and cats' anatomy dictates that they are not natural grain eaters.
Grains break down into sugar within the body and can supply nourishment for yeast overgrowth. Grains are also mucus-forming and may contribute to many health problems, including allergies, ear infections, skin problems, bloating, joint problems, malabsorption, and digestive disorders. Cr. Russell Swift, a nutritionally oriented veterinarian, feels that feeding grains to carnivores weakens their immune system and pancreas and may also lead to dental calculus. For cats and dogs, a good source of energy within a truly natural diet can be secured with raw fat and protein, not unnatural grain carbohydrates.
5. Raw Salmon. Salmon poisoning is an infectious disease caused by rickettsia that uses a parasite fluke on salmon as a host. It is mainly found in Pacific Salmon, but any suspect fish may be tested. Avoid this danger by knowing the quality of fish you are feeding to your pets.
6. Yeast. A very reliable remedy to rid your property of pesky ants is to mix yeast with sugar. The ants eagerly eat the mixture, which then expands, causing them to bloat, or explode, and die. Commercial yeasts are not natural foods for dogs and cats, and do not offer any nutrients that cannot be obtained from more species-appropriate sources. Yeast is a fungus, and most pets cannot tolerate it. Consuming yeast may also encourage yeast overgrowth within the body, which can lead to many health problems, including those of the digestive and urinary systems. Feeding yeast can unbalance pet's calcium / phosphorus ratio due to yeast's high phosphorus content. Different forms of yeast include brewer's, nutritional, baker's, torula, and primary.
How To Improve Health
A well - prepared diet of raw meat, bones, vegetables, and extras provides a great nutrient profile of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, and other health - enhancing nutrients in a form that evolution has designed our dogs and cats to easily utilize for optimal health and healing. When humans need to improve health, doctors recommend eating more fresh foods and fewer processed foods. The same biochemical logic applies to all animals.
Good nutrition is the foundation of health, but it is not a "magic bullet" that will enable your pet to live beyond its genetic potential. However, we can nourish those genes and give them the nutrients they require to function at their best by feeding foods that are biologically familiar and easily utilized. And we can encourage those genes to be healthier for the next generation. Dr. Bruce Cable puts is very well when he writes, "You need only look at the digestive system of the organism to determine its appropriate diet."
A species-appropriate diet of raw foods has allowed many pets to overcome slight to debilitating disorders. And many pet guardians have been overjoyed to find that a good diet allows their dog or cat to enjoy an optimal quality of life. Good food provides the tools for building good health. However, there are other very important factors that should be considered in your pet's overall well-being, including physical and mental stress, environmental toxins, vaccinations, and radiation. Your own emotions and stress level also affect your pet's health. And don't neglect the importance of healthy exercise and a safe amount of daily sunlight " not through a window". As Dr. Stephen Blake says, regarding the diet outlined in this book, "...and provides and excellent foundation for building a healthier immune system to help your animals deal with the stresses of a polluted world." We have many choices to make regarding our pet's health. With an open mind, learn all that you can so that you can make choices that both you and your furry friend can live with.
CHAPTER * ELEVEN
* Prepare and serve your pet's meals with love and confidence.
* Provide safe exercise daily
* Provide safe exposure to daily sunlight and fresh air.
* Feed healthy, non-pregnant, non-lactating adult animals one meal daily
* Do not leave food out between meals (exception: occasional knuckle bone.)
* Serve food at room temperature.
* Rotate--use a variety of suggested foods within each food group.
* Use only stainless steel or lead-free glass and ceramic dishes for food and water.
* Do not microwave your pet's food or store it in aluminum foil.
* Good-quality drinking water should be available at all times.
* Pulp vegetables thoroughly
Sometimes, a frustrating aspect of feeding a homemade diet are the incredulous looks imploring questions, and thoughtless accusations you may receive from people to whom it is a foreign concept. Some people have never considered the notion that a pet would enjoy fresh, wholesome food just as they do. Many people consider all whole foods to be “people food,” even though animals actually ate it before humans evolved into “humans”! The media is a strong force in our society these days, and advertising has helped to convince many people that commercial products are the only acceptable option for feeding pets.
Even many veterinarians have had little to no unbiased nutritional education. In 1997, The Wall Street Journal reported that , outside universities, a particular multi-million dollar pet food company was the largest employer of veterinarians, which makes nutritional impartiality rather difficult. Fortunately, there are some doctors who have made the extra effort to learn more about animal nutrition for themselves and their clients. And there are even some who will welcome your assistance in helping them learn more.
To keep the concept of feeding a homemade diet in context, you may want to remind people that dog and cat lovers all over the world have been keeping their pets in good health with homemade meals for thousands of years. After all, what did people do before commercial products were invented? Many people from older generations will understand completely. It is the way they raised animals when they were young. You’re simply caring for your furry friends the “old fashioned” way! The commercial foods are actually the “new” stuff. Homemade diets are the “traditional” way to feed dogs and cats. If you look in some of the older breed books, you’ll find well-respected dog and cat authorities recommending raw homemade diets for pets. Many generations of good veterinarians also recommend it. It simply used to be the “normal” way to feed dogs and cats. In fact, many old-timers have never changed their methods and continue to feed a homemade diet because it works so well for them. No one seems to question the use of homemade diets for humans; in fact, most doctors highly recommend them for better health! By repairing a homemade diet for your dog or cat companion, you’re simply making a healthy meal for another member of your family.
You’ll find comrades through the Internet, newsletters, books, workshops, lectures, schools, and many other sources. And the number is growing all the time. As more people become dissatisfied with their pet’s poor health, more of them are seeking nutritional information to help build a foundation for good health. And as more caring pet people seek nutritional information to help improve their own lives, the more they will learn how to apply that knowledge to improve the well-being of their animal companions.
The term holistic has become very trendy these days. But the concept is really quite simple. Holistic care embraces your pet as an organic being with a reality greater than just the sum of its individual parts. No one single part of your pet’s body is more important than another, because all the parts depend on each other to survive. Every part is connected to every other part. Your pet’s heart or hips are not more important to its body than the eyes or lungs. The glandular system does not work independently from the circulatory system. All parts and all systems are connected and work together to keep your beloved pet healthy and happy. The holistic view also incorporates genetic predisposition, mental, emotional, and environmental factors that affect your pet. It looks at the big picture—what affects the whole animal. Nutrition is the foundation of holistic health care, because it suppli8es nourishment or “fuel” for the entire body. Poor quality food supplies poor fuel.
Good-quality food helps the body perform the best of its ability. If you have any doubt that food affects well-being, you could try not eating any food for a month and see if you feel affected—but I don’t recommend it!
As important as good nutrition is, please do not discount the other factors that affect your pet’s health. Drugs, poor water, x-rays, and toxins (even the ones that are used so commonly that you don’t think about it) can seriously affect your pet’s health. Even you own illness and emotions affect your animal friends.
The information in this book is really as old as our furry friends themselves. Sometimes it just takes a bit of mindtweaking and species detective work for us humans to go beyond our own hang-ups, and see what is really appropriate for our animal friends. They are not human and should not be fed as such. But, they are also not less deserving than us, and should not be fed as such.
If holistic care for pets is new to you, I’d like to encourage you to read some of the many good books available on the subject, some of which are listed in the back of this book. You’ll find that there are many marvelous modalities that are safe and effective to encourage optimum health in your cat or dog. The complement a solid foundation of good nutrition. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the information, so you may want to choose one are at a time to study in depth. Seek other like-minded animal lovers to exchange information with and to boost your confidence. And don’t forget to listen to your own common sense and to your heart. Remember, no one knows your cat or dog better than you do. There are many fantastic resources for you available through books, videos, and practitioners. I greatly appreciate all the authors, veterinarians, consultants, and animal lovers for their effort to help people help their pets. Anything we learn that brings us closer to our animal friends and enables them to live an optimal quality of life contributes to the well-being of us all.
The amounts listed below are offered to give you a general idea only, and should be used as a loose guide, with one exception: Do not use more than the recommended amount of cod-liver. It contains the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, and although both are of vital importance to health, they are stored by the body and my be toxic if overdosed.
Just like humans, the amount of food needed by an individual can vary widely. The amount of food your pet needs depends greatly on the individual animal, including its metabolism, age, breed, exercise level, temperament, environment, and such factors. Meat and bone amounts vary depending on type and size of meaty bones fed. For example, raw turkey or chicken wings and legs provide more muscle meat than necks. If the bones contain a lot of meat, you may need to decrease other muscle meat fed. Even the same item from different locales can vary in size.