Thursday 2 August 2012

The risks of the wrong type of oil

Most people are aware of the term Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) and many raw feeders supplement their pets diet with oils, but is there a right and a wrong oil?

The answer unfortunately is yes.

Chemically extracted oils pose a risk for any animal consuming them. The process leads to a chemical reaction between n-hexane and lysine in the original material, this forms 2,5-dimethylpyrrole (DeCaprio, Olajos & Weber, 1982) which is toxic (DeCaprio, Kinney & LoPachin, 2009), degenerating first the peripheral and then the central nervous system.

The other issue is whether the oils you are using are balanced as far as Omega’s are concerned (3, 6 & 9), or if they have  negative effect on absorption.

Cod Liver Oil for example is so high in Vitamin A, that it has a negative effect on the absorption of vitamin D, this has a domino effect on the absorption of calcium, and all that can lead to.

The answer is to only use cold-pressed oils, the two oils recommended by us, and used by Healthful are, Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cold-Pressed Linseed Oil, because of their balancing effects and the fact that they are not as immune-suppressing as fish oils.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Zinc deficiency

A greying coat is "recognised as a clear sign of Zinc deficiency" (Burger & Rivers, 1989)

A lack of zinc is associated with atrophy of the thymus, Zinc is also necessary for cell regeneration including the lining of the intestines, creation of new skin cells, wound healing and healthy skin, coat and nails.

Therefore a lack of zinc can lead to a compromised immune system, un-healthy skin, coat and nails, digestive issues and retarded wound healing.

If you suspect a zinc deficiency, addressing your pets nutrition is essential for their health.

Sunday 10 June 2012

If "you are what you eat", what does that make your dog?

In our current ‘Nescafe Society’, the Western World wants everything at the touch of a button and convenience food is a number one best seller. The link between these foods and obesity, diabetes and heart attacks has clearly been made and the government are attempting to educate the public about a healthy lifestyle of food and exercise in their “Health for Life” campaign; their bias being to help reduce the NHS costs incurred by a citizens’ unhealthy lifestyle. Thus the question becomes, who is there to do this for our pets?

The pet food companies? – their bias is sales!

The veterinarians? – most of their information comes direct from the pet food companies.

Who then? and what is in our conveniently packaged, well advertised, pet foods?

Pet food labelling does not come under the same laws as that of human food, therefore can be somewhat vague, it may read: Meat and animal derivatives, derivatives of vegetable origin, oils & minerals – and little more. Some labels may be much more explicit, but appear to use a language all of their own i.e. ‘poultry digest’ ‘gluten meal’ etc. So how can the average pet owner discern the health qualities of each individual food?

Simply put, they can’t.

Pet food manufacture swept the nation after the world war, when cavalry horses were surplus to requirements and therefore canned and sold as pet food, but when the horses ran out, so did the high meat content and manufacturers found themselves needing a substitute.

Grains are cheap and have protein content and therefore made a logical replacement, in fact Britains’ best selling pet food is 50% grain.

Scientists worked out which were the ‘essential’ vitamins and minerals necessary to keep a dog alive and these became the premise from which a product can be labelled “Complete”. Minimum requirements of each of these, if met in the product, entitles it to be labelled “Balanced”. This leaves the average pet owner not realising that the “Complete” pet food he or she is purchasing, may well be lacking or overdosing on certain nutrients, leaving a pet nutritionally imbalanced or even starving in certain areas. Symptoms of which are often attempts to self-medicate via stealing human food or some form of coprophagia, soil eating, etc.

So, with this knowledge and a plethora of foods on the market, chose those which are both “complete” and “balanced” right?

If only it were that simple.

Not all of the pet food sold is Britain is made in Britain and therefore subject to British laws on ingredients or manufacturing process. Whilst the ‘Pet Food Manufacturers Association’ can assure us a certain quality of ingredients on 95% of British made foods, ‘Made in Britain’ is often a misnomer and actually only means that the item was packaged in Britain.

Outside of the UK “Meat and animal derivatives” can mean euthanized pets, that much beloved dog, cat or horse, still containing barbiturates and even wearing their identity collars or chemical infused flea collars, as these are not ‘intentionally added ingredients’, the law does not require them to be listed.

OK, so that’s what the ‘meaty chunks’ are?


Often those ‘meaty chunks’ are processed soy, high in protein and made to look like meat.

But the packet says “with Chicken”!

Yes, that means that the product in question contains a minimum of 4% chicken.

Armed with this information, now which way do you turn?

When it comes to dried, tinned or moist foods, it is tricky. A small number of manufacturers have a “closed recipe” on their product, which means, that whatever happens, the percentages of all ingredients do not change, these manufacturers may be happy to send you a list of ingredients so that you can be somewhat more reassured as to what you are feeding your pet.

OK, so what do you do?

Personally, I prepare my pets food myself. After studying canine nutrition and digestion for over a decade I feel able to get the balance right and I know 100% what my dogs are eating, how it effects their digestive tract, DNA and each individual cell in their bodies. Friends of mine that do the same & I often hear the words “that dog eats better than I do” and in all honestly, never a truer word were spoken.

If you want to know more about preparing a healthy, “complete” and “balanced” meal for your pet, there are a great number of books on the market, but if that is not “Nescafe” enough for you, get in touch.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Immunity & proteins

Any mammal's inherant immunity is reliant on many factors, 'The Compliment System' being one of the first and most important.
'Compliments' bind to anti-bodies, creating a catalyst to speed up an immune response and faciliate anti-bodies in targeting certain bacteria.
These 'compliments' are to do with proteins.
Proteins are vital for cellular repair, cellular membranes and as building blocks.
It is therefore vital that every animal obtains the correct amount of amino acids from protein in order to keep these cells and therefore the immune system healthy.

Cooking de-natures proteins. (Pond, 2003)

Tuesday 1 May 2012

Scare tactics regarding bacteria in raw food

Pet food manufacturers educate veterinary surgeons to tell you that there are major risks involved in feeding raw food with regard to bacteria. Thier scientists have identified bacteria in pet food and in the faeces of those pets fed it, however they do not inform you that a dog on a fully raw, non-grain diet does not get affected by these bacteria, here is why:

Bile and pancreatic juice released into the duodenum are

bactericidal for :

  • E.coli
  • Shigella
  • Salmonella 
  • Klebsiella

bacteriostatic for:

  • Coagulase (+ & -)
  • staphulocci
  • pseudomonas

and inhibit candida albicans

National Research Council (2006) Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats. Washington DC The National Research Academic Press

Reasons not to feed corn or soy to your dog

Corn & Soy are made up of short-chain fatty acids, that are known to inactivate lipase, hydrochloric acid & pepsin (Brosey et al. 2000), this inevitably has a negative effect on digestion, especially of proteins and therefore the amino acids necessary for mood regulation.

Here's another scientific article about how feeding a high protein, no-grain diet, has a positive effect on behaviour:

Sunday 29 April 2012

The Consequences of Bloat

This is Ruby, a few weeks ago she was rushed into the local veterinary hospital for Emergency Surgery due to bloat.

Upon veterinary recommendation she is now on dried food 4 times a day, is it any wonder that she isn't feeling very well?

Monday 2 April 2012


Deep chested breeds of dog are highly susceptible to bloat, this can lead to emergency surgery and the possibility of the dog not surviving.

So how does your dog get bloat?

Bloat occurs due to a build up of gas trapped in the gastro-intestinal tract. This gas is created by microbacteria in the hind gut as a result of bacterial fermentation of starch.

Starch in the mammilian body is digested by amylase, however dogs produce very small quantities and therefore have no capacity to deal with the large amounts in commercial diets.

Therefore small amounts of starch can be coped with in the canine diet, large amounts of starch such as found in dried and tinned foods, from grains, cereals, rice & potatoes can and do lead to bloat and death.

Saturday 31 March 2012

How many times a day should you feed your dog?

The answer is once.

The dogs' digestive system is set up to eat only once a day. Canine stomach acid is much stronger than that of a human, hence they can digest bone etc., however putting anything in it, reduces it's strength and only time with an empty stomach can bring it back to it's full pH.

Therefore feeding more than once a day, or providing the ability to graze, actually reduces the dogs ability to digest what it is being fed.  With the gastro-intestinal tract being 80% of the immune system, multiple daily feeding has a negative effect on the immune system, increasing the likelyhood of illness.

Therefore feed your dog once a day, the occassional treat is fine, and a weekly starve day will help boost the digestive and immune system.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Teeth as an indicator of health

In a preliminary study the following was shown:

80% of dogs over the age of 3 on a commercial cooked diet had teeth like this:

80% of dogs over the age of 3 on a raw diet had teeth like this:

Monday 16 January 2012

Debunking the "Little Red Riding Hood" Myth

The Story

When I first told my mother I fed raw to my dogs, as internally they were wolves, her instant reaction was to tell me to keep my pets away from small children and babies as they might be tempted to eat them. A number of other people have expressed the same worry.
This worry has been extrapolated from the story of Little Red Riding Hood, as there is not 1 documented wolf attack on record that was un-provoked.
The story of Little Red Riding Hood is not about weir-wolves or even about the dangers of wolves, it is in fact about the dangers of Rabies.
Think of it this way, a little girl gets taught to use a safe path to go visit her grandmother, on the way sees a rabid dog, but remains safe, gets to granny's who's been bitten by the rabid dog & tries to bite her (looking for all the world like granny gone mad).
That is much more logical and likely than the fairytale and a good lesson for children, unfortunately its lesson has been twisted over the years.

The Science Bit

It has been shown that animals fed a raw diet are gentler than those on a cooked one, due to the higher accessability of nutrients needed to control the Amygdala (the area of the brain responsible for aggression).

Saturday 14 January 2012

Starch, malabsorption & bloat

Ever wondered why dogs get bloat? It's the Starch in their diet!

Most pet foods are grain based, even gluten free ones are either based on rice or potato.
These are very high in starch content. Amylase is what is needed to digest starch. Dogs do not produce amylase in their saliva, and only produce a very small amount from their pancreas.
The starch lines the stomach wall, having a negative effect on the pH of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach reducing the dogs ability to digest food. The only way starch can be broken down other than the very small amounts of amylase produced by the pancreas is via microbial fermentation in the gut.
This fermentation process produces large quantities of gases, which promote bloat & further reduces the ability of the dog to digest other food ingested.

Therefore the answer is simple, if you don't want to risk bloat, don't feed starch.