It is important to provide protein for all stages of your pet’s life. Protein is essential in early stages to sustain rapid development, and as your pet ages, protein provides regenerative support.
The labels on commercial pet foods list crude protein values, which indicate overall protein in the package rather than the amount of usable protein. The quality and the sources of the protein in your pet’s foods are of primary importance. It should come from real meat sources, not by-products or mystery meat meal. Much of the unusable protein in commercial foods comes from grains and other difficult-to-digest foods, and can actually cause protein deficiency, along with other health issues including digestive problems and allergies.
The kidneys are another organ that is often associated with protein intake. According to researchers, high protein levels in food DO NOT cause kidney damage in the normal, healthy dog or cat! It is very important to feed your pet a high biological value protein. This means a protein that is highly digestible, easily absorbed by the intestinal tract, and that its amino acid components (the building blocks of proteins) include all the essential types of amino acids in their optimal proportions, leaving little for the kidneys to filter. This is crucial for animals that have impaired kidney function as well because by-products of protein digestion are the main toxins that need to be excreted by the kidneys.
Starting your pet on a high quality, easily digestible, utilized protein, from the beginning, will give their bodies the appropriate fuel needed to function at the highest possible level.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of debate regarding the effects of protein on our pets. There is a misconception that protein accelerates bone development, and that pets, especially large breed dogs, can be negatively affected if they consume too much protein when they are young. It is sometimes argued that excess protein could also harm the kidneys. Unfortunately, these misconceptions have led to feeding practices that are harmful for our pets.
The truth is - genetics determines growth rate, not the amount of protein consumed. Carnivores require a large amount of protein, which is converted and processed in several ways to support the many cellular structures in the body. Feeding high levels of protein along with the appropriate ratio of calcium and phosphorus with other necessary minerals will not cause bone problems. Bone growth problems are usually a result of excess calories or an inappropriate ratio of calcium to phosphorus, rather than excess protein. Dogs raised on commercial diets with substandard ingredients experience more musculoskeletal problems than those raised on a natural diet that includes protein from high quality meat.
Providing a balanced, nutritionally complete diet for our domesticated dogs and cats can be challenging. Most animal professionals recommend dry kibbles calling them a complete and balanced diet. You see fancy commercials all claiming to be the best dry food for your beloved pet. This cannot be farther from the truth. In fact, in some cases a dry kibble can be the worst possible decision for a pet, regardless of the quality of the food. Some diseases and conditions can be complicated by dry foods (i.e. diabetes, compromised kidney or liver function). While quality dry foods using human-grade ingredients are acceptable, a raw diet is the best way to offer unadulterated nutrients. To understand the value of a raw food diet it is necessary to consider dog and cat physiology.
Breeding has resulted in unique shapes and colors in domesticated dogs. Though different in appearance, the physiology of the animals is the same as their wild predecessors. The International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature has reclassified dogs as Canis Lupis (Latin for “wolf”). Dogs and wolves are classified as the same species because they are genetically identical. They can interbreed and their organs and physiologic responses are identical—which means their nutritional requirements are identical. Ever see wolves grazing on corn and wheat, or cooking their catch over a hot fire? In a ten-year study on feline nutrition, Dr. Francis Pottenger, MD, compared a raw food diet with a cooked food diet. He conducted his research with two groups of cats over several generations, feeding one group exclusively raw foods, and the other group exclusively cooked foods. By the third generation, the cats consuming cooked foods suffered from allergies, behavior problems, parasites, musculoskeletal problems, organ disease, and immune problems. Some of the cats on the cooked food diet were unable to reproduce by the third generation. Most domesticated pets are fed nutritionally inadequate processed foods, and have been for the last six to ten generations. Evolutionary processes allow a species to adapt, but the process takes at least eighty years. While a domesticated dog or cat can reasonably digest processed foods, their digestive tracts are geared more towards digestion of raw foods, grains excluded. Instead of forcing your pets to adapt to a diet that lacks the components needed for health and vitality, why not offer them the diet that they have been thriving on for thousands of years—raw food diet. A raw diet should include small amounts of organ meat, raw bones, raw vegetables, and supplements. Raw bones are a great source of calcium, and are pliable and nutritious. As a bonus, they function as a natural toothbrush. (Never feed your pet cooked bones, which become brittle and sharp and can cause serious choking and digestive problems.)
Source: Becker, Karen Shaw, DVM. “The Worst to Best Foods You Could Feed.” 2002 – 2006. 2 Nov. 2006.www.drkarenbecker.com/nav_sets_04/set04.htm
Meat by-products: The “by-products” from the meat, but not including meat: lungs, spleen, kidneys, brains, liver, blood, bone, intestines, none of which are fit for human consumption. Livers can be infected with worms (liver flukes), lungs with pneumonia, kidneys and brains can be cancerous. – Ann Martin, Foods Pets Die For, (New Sage Press, 1997.)
Meat meal: Meat meal can consist of just about any conceivable meat source. If the meat is named i.e. chicken meal or beef meal it is a good source of protein. Even destroyed dogs and cats are rendered into meat meal for several name-brand animal foods. Liz Palika, The Consumer’s Guide to Dog Food; states: “Sodium pentobarbital, which is used to euthanize dogs and cats, survives the rendering process and will remain in the meat that is sold to the dog food manufacturers.”
Corn/Wheat: Corn or wheat should not appear as an ingredient in your dog food. “Corn can cause common allergies such as skin disorders, increased chewing on paws or ear infections. Most corn and wheat that are used in dog food are very low grade and often linked to food recalls.” Liz Palika, The Consumer’s Guide to Dog Food. They are also cheap fillers that have little or no nutritional value.
Corn gluten meal: Corn gluten meal is a by-product of the manufacture of corn syrup or starch. The nutritional bran, germ, and starch have been removed.
Soy: Found in treats, vitamins, and some commercial dog foods. Soybeans are planted to draw toxins from the soil. “A dog’s digestive system cannot utilize the amino acids from soy.” Dr. Mindel, Nutrition and Health for Dogs.
Beet Pulp: Beet pulp is the dried residue from the sugar beet. It is a source of sugar and fiber. However, it can seriously bind a dog’s digestive tract. It draws moisture from the intestines, absorbs the moisture, and swells to ten times its dry state. The effect is a slowing of the dog’s natural elimination process, which can lead to very hard stools. – Dr. Mindel, Nutrition and Health for Dogs.
BHT, BHA: Chemical preservatives such as BHT and BHA have caused some concerns when tested on laboratory animals. “Both have been associated with liver damage, fetal abnormalities, and metabolic stress and have a questionable relationship to cancer.” – Liz Palika, The Consumer’s Guide to Dog Food (Simon & Schuster/Macmillan Company, NY, 1996).
Ethoxyquin: Ethoxyquin is a chemical preservative used to prevent spoilage in dog foods. It is a 1950’s Monsanto product manufactured and sold as a chemical for making rubber! It is listed as a pesticide by the USDA and has not been approved for use in foods slated for human consumption. The Animal Protection Institute of America has reported that ethoxyquin may be associated with infertility, neonatal illness and death, skin and hair coat problems, immune disorders and thyroid, pancreas, and liver dysfunctions. – Dr. Goldstein, D.V.M., The Nature of Animal Healing.
Propylene glycol: Propylene glycol is a preservative found in rawhide and dog food. It is also a component of antifreeze and can cause the destruction of red blood cells.
Dyes: Unnecessary additions to dog food or treats, dyes have been linked to skin allergies and reactions in many dogs and cats. Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 2. “All are inorganic or toxic.” – Dr. Goldstein.
In today’s world it seems that pet allergies have taken on a life all their own. As pet parents, we are constantly battling excessive chewing, licking and scratching, recurring ear infections, and idiopathic hair loss. Add to these issues digestive upset, foul body odor, dull and brittle coat, dry and flakey or oily skin and you have the key markers for the allergic pet. Recent studies have also shown that anxiety and respiratory issues can be caused or exasperated by allergens. With this host of symptoms any owner would feel defeated. So what, you may ask, can we do to alleviate such agonizing problems? The first step is knowing your enemy.
An ‘allergy’ is an exaggerated response by the immune system to a substance or toxin (often called the ‘allergen’). Allergens can be encountered by contact (touch), ingestion (eating/drinking), or inhalation (breathing in). Some researchers argue that food allergies (an ingested allergy) account for twenty percent of all allergy cases thus making this type of allergy the most prevalent. Many veterinarians and other animal professionals feel that this measurement does not reflect the true proportion of allergies due to food. In fact, most feel that this percentage is much higher due to undiagnosed food allergies. However, because the immune system takes a hit when food allergies are present, any other types of allergies can intensify any allergic reaction a pet may exhibit. We call this the “Boiling Pot Effect.” For instance, if a dog is fed a food that he is allergic to his pot (immune system) is always at a boil. If you add inhaled seasonal allergies (let’s say pollen) to his pot, it will boil over every time. However, if the dog is fed a food that he is not allergic to his pot is at a simmer; and, when seasonal allergies are added there will be no boil over. In short, as the body comes into contact with allergens and other toxins they build up in the body causing the immune system to become unbalanced.
The best medicine is to eliminate the allergen or toxin in question. This will help to reduce the symptoms or eliminate the allergy altogether while allowing the immune system to mend. Unfortunately, we cannot always eradicate inhaled or contact allergens. However, doing so can be frustrating. Veterinarians often push medication while such treatments only alleviate the symptoms of the aliment, not the cause of it. Some medications can also have adverse effects on the immune system. The immune system is what keeps the body healthy, and the skin is the immune system’s first defense. With that being said, most immunologic issues manifest as skin allergies in the form of itching, pustules, chewing the feet, etc. We believe that high quality pet foods that use human grade ingredients, proven granular supplements, and homeopathic and herbal remedies can be the key to improving a pet’s life and longevity.
Remember: a balanced immune system equals a healthy, happy pet!
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