Reading the Veterinarian Practice News I recently came across the following interesting article written by Doug Knueven, DVM and thought I need to share it with you:
“I returned to my alma mater, Ohio State University, in May 2007 to attend an American College of Veterinary Nutrition symposium. Three veterinary nutritionists spoke on such topics as “Optimal Nutrition for the Healthy Pet,” “Nutrition Myths and Mistakes,” “Raw Food Diets” and “Home-Cooked Meals: Avoiding a Dining Disaster.”
Advice from Dr. Tony Buffington, the nutritionist at Ohio State, made the biggest impression on me. He said that when making a judgment on what food to recommend, the practitioner should not rely on pet food brochures, websites or even the food labels themselves because all these resources can be misleading.
He recommended that we take a careful diet history of each patient we see and make note of its general health. Only by correlating health with diet can a veterinarian truly judge the nutritional value of a food. I have made a startling discovery based on this sound expert advice: The healthiest pets in my practice eat a variety of “real” foods, including raw diets.
By real foods, I mean the kind of food Mother Nature intended carnivores to eat–the diet our patients evolved eating for 5 million years.
Imagine if after your exam, your doctor plopped a bag of kibble on the table and told you that you were to only eat a bowl of it for every meal, every day, for the rest of your life. No fruits, no vegetables, no meats. Surely you would be skeptical of the nutritional completeness of such a recommendation.
Yet many of us make this same recommendation for our patients every day. Are the basic tenets of nutrition for our patients and us really that different? According to research and my clinical experience, they are not.
A recent study highlights the importance of whole food nutrition for people: “There are 8,000 phytochemicals present in whole foods. These compounds differ in molecular size, polarity and solubility, and these differences may affect the bioavailability and distribution of each phytochemical in different macromolecules, subcellular organelles, cells, organs and tissues. … The vitamin C in apples with skin accounts for only 0.4 percent of the total antioxidant activity, suggesting that most of the antioxidant activity of fruit and vegetables may come from phenolics and flavonoids. … We propose that the additive and synergistic effects of phytochemicals in fruit and vegetables are responsible for their potent antioxidant and anticancer activities, and that the benefit of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is attributed to the complex mixture of phytochemicals present in whole foods.”(1) Likewise, current veterinary research shows the health benefits of whole foods for dogs: “The data indicate that the consumption of any type of vegetable > three times a week was associated with a 70 percent to 90 percent reduction in risk of developing TCC in Scottish Terriers.”(2)
Of course, a totally vegetarian diet is far from appropriate for dogs and cats, but the concept that they benefit from whole foods is obvious. In fact, the modern understanding of small-animal nutrition concedes that supplementing commercial foods with fresh foods, including meats and vegetables, provides vital nutrients.(3) The emphasis here is on “whole foods” because, according to multiple studies, the processing of food destroys many nutrients and important phytochemicals.(4-10)
Variety is not only the spice of life, it is essential for vibrant health for humans and pets alike. Animals may become sensitive to the foods they are fed most often, so periodically changing the diet can help pets avoid food allergies. Plus, rotating foods presents to the body a smorgasbord of nutrients in various forms.
Any one diet may be lacking or excessive in specific factors when fed long term. According to Dr. Buffington, “The recommendation to feed one food for the life of an animal gives nutritionists more credit than we deserve.”(11) The notion of finding a food that a pet likes and feeding it for life is obsolete.
I have found that when an animal’s system becomes accustomed to variety in the diet, it does not develop diarrhea with every change as might be expected. At first the changes need to be made gradually, but over time a smooth transition can be made swiftly.
Over a decade of recommending raw food for many of my patients and feeding it to my own pets, I have found that the concern over pathogenic bacteria and parasites is overblown.
I see many fewer cases of diarrhea in my raw-fed patients than in those fed strictly processed pet food. In my experience, dogs and cats fed a rotating diet that includes raw food are the healthiest. Careful and non-judgmental questioning of your clients might just yield the same results.”
To further strengthen his argument for a raw food diet, Dr. Knueven also provides a brief history of a live example, a patient he treated at his office:
“Louie was a neutered, male Newfoundland mix who came to me at the age of about 3 years with a terrible case of generalized demodicosis. He also had severe pruritus.
Before coming to me, Louie had been treated with several rounds of antibiotics as well as Ivermectin and at one point prednisone, all to no avail.
Louie had generalized alopecia and scabs and scales all over his body. His skin reeked of the typical rancid-fat smell of chronic dermatitis. He could barely open his eyes from the blepharitis. A skin scraping confirmed demodicosis.
Let’s face it, when it come to demodex, the problem is not the mites; it’s the pet’s immune system. The course of action was simple; I switched him from a standard processed dog food to a raw food rotational diet plus a whole food multivitamin. At no time under my care was he on any antiparasitic medications.
Louie did not recover overnight. It took about a year for his transformation to fully manifest. “
Contribution by Dr. Doug Knueven, D.V.M. has been practicing alternative veterinary medicine since 1993 in Beaver County, Pa. He just released his second book, “The Holistic Health Guide: Natural Care for the Whole Dog.” He is a consultant for Nature’s Variety.
1. Liu H.R., “Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003; Vol. 78, No. 3, 517S-520S2. Raghavan M., et al, “Evaluation of the effect of dietary vegetable consumption on reducing risk of transitional cell carcinoma of the urinary bladder in Scottish Terriers.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2005; Vol. 227, 94-1003. Remillard R.L., Paragon B.M., Crane S.W., et al: “Making pet foods at home,” in Hand M.S., Thatcher C.D., Remillard R.L., Roudebush P.(eds): Small Animal Clinical Nutrition, ed 4. Topeka, Kan., Mark Morris Institute, Walsworth Publishing Co., 2000; 163–182.4. Angelino P.D., et al, “Residual alkaline phosphatase activity in pasteurized milk heated at various temperatures-measurement with the fluorophos and Scharer rapid phosphatase tests.” Journal of Food Protection, 1999; 62(1):81-855. Severi S., et al, “Effects of home-based food preparation practices on micronutrient content of foods,” European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 1998; 7(4): 331-335 6. Yadav S.K. and Sehgal S., “Effect of home processing on ascorbic acid and beta-carotine content of spinach (Spinacia oleracia) and amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) leaves,” Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 1995; 47(2): 125-1317. Dawson D. and Waters H.M., “Malnutrition: folate and cobalamin deficiency,” British Journal of Biomedical Science, 1994; 51(3): 221-1308. Schroeder H.A., “Losses of vitamins and trace minerals resulting from processing and preservation of foods,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1971; 24(5), 562-5739. Garrison and Somer, “The Nutrition Desk Reference,” Keats Publishing, 1995; 66-14510. Ghebremeskel K. and Crawford M.A., “Nutrition and health in relation to food production and processing,” Nutritional Health 1994; 9(4) 237-25311. Smith C.A., “Changes and Challenges in Feline Nutrition,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 1993; Vol. 203, 1395-1400