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Thread: Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

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    Default Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

    Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?



    November 08, 2014


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    By Dr. Becker


    Welcome to the conclusion of my chat with Steve Brown, my good friend and creator of the first commercial raw food for pets, Steve’s Real Food. Yesterday, in part 1, we discussed Steve’s incredibly comprehensive pet food nutrition database that led to the launch of his raw diet in 1999. He shared an example of the kind of backlash he has faced as a pet food industry “upstart.” And we also discussed some of the challenges the raw pet food industry faces.


    Most Kibble Is Too High in Omega-6 Fatty Acids, Which Cause Inflammation


    As I mentioned in the first part of our discussion yesterday, Steve and I are at a meeting of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA), and this morning in his presentation one of the topics he covered was the importance of balancing fats in pet diets. A big problem with kibble is there are too many omega-6 fatty acids relative to omega-3s.


    As Steve explains, when the ratio of fatty acids is wrong in pet food, which usually means the total omega-6 amount exceeds European or AAFCO’s new (2014) standards, it causes inflammation throughout the body. Twenty years ago before we knew better, Steve realized his dog’s skin was dry and flaky despite all his efforts to offer a balanced diet. He analyzed the problem and realized that if he optimized the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, he saw improvement in his dog’s skin and coat condition.


    Vitamin D is another tricky area because the tests are very expensive and often inaccurate. For example, back in the day, USDA data listed chicken liver as a source of vitamin D. The latest USDA data, however, shows no vitamin D in chicken liver – because factory farmed chickens never get outside. Which of course makes us wonder about the overall health of chickens, but that’s a subject for another day.


    Because of these and other inaccuracies in diet formulation data, Steve believes what most processed pet food producers do these days is throw in a special supplement mix, an AAFCO premix, containing all the vitamins and minerals.


    Steve’s Recommendations for Feeding Your Dog Well on a Tight Budget


    Steve has some suggestions for pet owners for how to help their dog get all the essential nutrients he needs. Let’s say you’re on a tight budget, you have a small dog, and you’re unable to feed a fresh food diet. Steve recommends finding a basic baked dog food in a well-packaged small bag. By “basic,” he means no additives like fish oil or any of the other things processed pet food manufacturers throw in so they can market their product as more special than the competition.


    You take your basic dog food and add human food from your kitchen to enhance its nutritional value. Things like eggs, krill oil, sardines, blueberries, and perhaps some leftover vegetables. The people foods you add to the kibble can dramatically improve its nutritional value at no extra cost, presuming you have them on hand or buy them regularly.


    The trend in the processed pet food industry is to add more and more “features” to a bag of dry food. Each of those overpriced additives drives up the cost of the food, increases the potential for chemical interactions as we discussed yesterday, and shortens product shelf life. Steve would prefer that manufacturers produce a very basic kibble and let dog owners add in fresh goodies at the time of feeding.


    If you’re able to spend a bit more on your pet’s food, Steve recommends feeding a diet containing more fresh meat, either raw or lightly cooked. He recommends maybe one or two days a week of a homemade or commercial fresh meat diet. The rest of the week can be the basic dog food described above, and it’s important to use it up quickly once the bag is open. It’s not a good idea to keep a bag of open dog food for more than two weeks.


    If money isn’t a concern, Steve recommends buying a commercially available raw meat diet, or making your own balanced pet diet, skipping the kibble altogether.


    Why It’s So Important to Offer Your Dog People Food


    You’ll note Steve recommends adding human food to your dog’s diet. Many people are still convinced pets shouldn’t eat table food or human food, and that they should eat just one type of processed dog food day in and day out. This misconception shows the power of billions of advertising dollars spent by pet food companies to keep consumers buying their products.


    Steve references a study done in Sweden about 10 years ago – just one study, never replicated. Pregnant dogs were fed a diet of either just processed dog food, or dog food with table scraps of all kinds. The researchers tracked the health of the litters of those dogs, and eight years later, the offspring of the mothers fed table scraps had significantly fewer allergies and inflammation-related health issues than the dogs born to the mothers fed nothing but dog food. That study suggests that just a small amount of random table scraps in a dog’s diet makes a significant difference in her health and the health of her offspring.


    That study will never be replicated, because who’s going to pay for it? And the results wouldn’t be favorable to the pet food industry. Of course, we can’t base everything we do on a single study, but it does make clear how thoroughly consumers have been brainwashed by pet food manufacturers.


    Many Vets and Veterinary Nutritionists Remain Vehemently Opposed to Fresh Diets


    Unfortunately, many vets tell their clients not to trust any pet food unless it was formulated by a veterinary nutritionist. But as Steve points out, he’s seen enough diets formulated by veterinary nutritionists, including diets with excessive vitamin D, that he’s pretty sure most nutritionists have never formulated a fresh food diet. The nutritionist we discussed yesterday who accused Steve’s Real Food of containing too much vitamin D clearly had no clue that it’s impossible for fresh food to have too much vitamin D – which means she’s probably never formulated a fresh food diet.


    I asked Steve why he thinks it is that most veterinary nutritionists are against fresh pet food. Is it because their lack of education in that area makes them defensive? Or are they so completely obligated to the processed pet food industry that they would never consider accepting, much less condoning fresh food for pets?


    Steve believes they don’t want to know and don’t want to learn. Lots of vets make lots of money selling dry dog foods, prescription diets, and so forth. He feels they are brainwashed, and this is especially true for older practitioners, who don’t want to question what they’ve been recommending and selling to their clients for the last 30 years. They don’t want to find out they’ve been listening to the wrong pet food “experts” their entire career.


    Many vets just assume a middle-aged or senior dog that is overweight, with flaky skin, poor coat condition, diabetes, and arthritis is “normal.” All those problems are supposedly “normal” for a dog of that age. They don’t make a connection between a lifetime of poor quality food and the poor condition of the dog as he ages.


    The Sad Truth: Many Veterinarians Are Not Good Resources for Advice on Pet Nutrition


    The good news is that in some veterinary schools, they’re beginning to at least mention the subject of fresh diets and admit there are options beyond processed dry pet food. That’s somewhat promising.


    To date, Steve hasn’t been approached by any veterinary schools to give a presentation, but he would love to do it if invited.


    Steve remembers once attending a meeting with a well-known scientist working for one of the leading dry pet food manufacturers. She was speaking against fresh food diets at the meeting, but yet she fed them to her own animals. She knew the difference. She was a brilliant woman, but she couldn’t build a career as a scientist researching fresh diets for pets because she couldn’t get funding.


    When people use common sense, they realize fresh food is better for all of us, including our pets. But what’s sad is that if they mention the idea to their veterinarian, they often get a very negative reaction. Their vet tries to convince them fresh food will make their pet sick or even kill him. Pet owners have to depend on veterinarians to know what’s best for their animals, so the negative reaction by trusted experts to fresh food is confusing and discouraging.


    I’m hoping my conversation with Steve will help clarify for viewers and readers here at Mercola Healthy Pets that there are pet food industry-driven issues that stand in the way of both scientific studies on fresh diets, and veterinarian viewpoints about fresh diets. The fact is veterinarians aren’t usually the best resources for learning about the nutrition your pet needs.


    Thank You, Steve Brown, My Friend and Pet Nutrition Mentor!


    Before I let Steve go, I asked him to talk a little about the books he has written. Back when he first introduced Steve’s Real Food, he did seminars. In fact, his first one was at my practice. He compiled the material for his first book, See Spot Live Longer, from his seminars.


    Eventually, he sold Steve’s Real Food to focus on educating people about the mistakes they were making with homemade pet diets and even some commercial diets. His special interest was dietary fats. He spent several years studying the subject in great depth, and then wrote Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet.


    That book was difficult for Steve to write, because it’s very technical. But it’s full of great information for people looking for in-depth information on canine diets. I think both books are great – there’s sort of a beginner book and a more advanced book for people interested in learning more about their dog’s health.


    Steve has contributed enormously to the fresh pet food industry. His knowledge, passion, and crazy good database are invaluable to those of us who want to feed our pets an optimally nutritious diet. He’s added immeasurable value in promoting the health and well-being of dogs, and I thank him so much for all his hard work and dedication. It’s an honor to call him my friend, and I’m glad I was able to share his brilliance with all of you through this interview.


    Dr. Becker and Steve Brown on Raw Food Diet for Pets (Part 2) - YouTube
    LEARN A LESSON FROM YOUR DOG, NO MATTER WHAT LIFE BRINGS YOU, KICK SOME GRASS OVER THAT AND MOVE ON.

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    Default Re: Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

    Good article. They are referencing a basic baked dog food in a well packaged small bag. Any brand recommendations?


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    Default Re: Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

    Hi Sharon, have you read the Dog Food Ratings on the Home Page? Basically you want to choose a high quality food that is rated a 4 Star or better. Never buy your dog foods at a grocery store, or department type store like Walmart or Target, etc. you want to buy your food from a reputable dog food provider such as PetValu, Global Pets, RENs Pet Depot, or Petsmart. Some examples of these foods are Fromm's 4 Star foods, Wellness, Arcana, Orijen, Blue Buffalo, and Go Natural. You also have to determine which food your bully tolerates, and this is mostly trial and error, many bullies are allergic to chicken and beef, and sensitive to grains, fillers and corn. My female Blossom is allergic to chicken, salmon and beef, and we had to switch her foods 4 times before we found one that she tolerated. We are currently feeding our guys Fromm's Lamb and Lentil with good results, no more allergy symptoms, or paw licking, or excessive shedding. I also give our guys some natural supplements like plain unsweetened yogurt in their morning kibble, this is an excellent source of Probiotics, which is helpful with Digestion and it boosts the immune system. ( allergies are caused by an abnormal response of the immune system, so by boosting the immune system, it helps fight allergy symptoms, infections and parasites), I also add 1 Tbsp. of app,e cider vinegar in their drinking water or in their evening kibble. ACV is a natural anti inflammatory (99% of all diseases including Arthritis is caused by inflammation in the body.), and it is a natural anti bacterial and anti fungal, which kills bad bacteria in the body, so boosts the immune system. There is a really excellent article on the Benefits of ACV, by member Sherry that you can find on the Home Page as well. I also add 1 Tbsp of Coconut Oil to the evening kibble, it is a good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which is beneficial for the skin, coat, bones, joints and also the brain. Kelp is also beneficial as it provides all the vitamins and minerals your dog will need. I don't give any store bought treats to my guys other than all natural Fruitables, or all natural Benny Bully Liver treats. There are too many chemicals, preservatives and additives in many store bought treats, and can make your dog sick. I give our guys fruits like cut up apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, vegetables like cooked carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans, they also get a hard boiled egg once in a while, peanut butter, and oatmeal. If I am training them, or on a walk, and I want to praise or reward them, I just carry a few pieces of their own kibble in my pocket and give them a piece.
    LEARN A LESSON FROM YOUR DOG, NO MATTER WHAT LIFE BRINGS YOU, KICK SOME GRASS OVER THAT AND MOVE ON.

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    Dog Groomer Sharon Mitchel's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

    We're still battling ear yeast and bacteria, so I read this article with interest. When the author referenced "basic baked food in a small bag", I got hung up on the term baked. I wasn't thinking kibble......duh! I currently feed Charley Acana lamb and apple which is now grain free, 1 tbs coconut oil (for its medium chain fatty acid and anti microbial properties), plus a good spoonful of plain Greek yogurt. I give him a few sardines a week for omega 3's. He won't touch water with ACV in it, so he doesn't get that. As treats, I give him a banana slice in the morning and bites of whatever in-season fruit I'm having. He gets veggies too. His regular kibble works just fine as portable treats.

    He actually eats more healthfully than we do!


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    Default Re: Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

    That's just great in paper, but nowadays a lot of people eat almost as prosessed foods as dogs. Table food or human food could be as bad as the worst kibble, and then some...loaded with trans fats, salt or sugar. This article is only true if you people eat healthy and prepare your own meals, without excess fat, salt and spices. I feed raw food for my dogs and only people food they get is one kind of traditional finnish fresh cheese. I'm sure they, or at least Voitto would like to eat anything I eat, but I'm really strict that they will only eat healthy.

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    Default Re: Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

    Quote Originally Posted by RiiSi View Post
    That's just great in paper, but nowadays a lot of people eat almost as prosessed foods as dogs. Table food or human food could be as bad as the worst kibble, and then some...loaded with trans fats, salt or sugar. This article is only true if you people eat healthy and prepare your own meals, without excess fat, salt and spices. I feed raw food for my dogs and only people food they get is one kind of traditional finnish fresh cheese. I'm sure they, or at least Voitto would like to eat anything I eat, but I'm really strict that they will only eat healthy.
    Agree! I do eat way too much processed food. Charley doesn't get the heavily processed people food, just lightly cooked fresh or frozen fruits, veggies, yogurt and sardines. He truly does eat better than Steve and I.


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    Default Re: Looking for Information on the Very Best Nutrition for Your Pet?

    Excellent point @RiiSi. I do add healthy foods to my bullies diet but it's fresh leftover veggies or rice, beans, ect. But you are right, most people don't eat like that! Some of my foods do have real butter but otherwise it's naked

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