Saturday, May 30, 2009

Canine nutrition: Energy for Dogs

Energy for Dogs is required for practically all life processes, for the action of the heart, maintenance of blood pressure, muscle repair, growth, normal body maintenance, transmission of nerve impulses, ion transport across membranes, protein and fat synthesis and the production of power. A deficiency in energy is normally seen as stunted growth, body fat reserve losses and a lower production of power and speed. Sometimes energy deficiencies go undetected and not corrected for extended periods of time and not until loss of condition, making visual identification easier, does correction take place. It is common knowledge that dog diets must contain protein, fat & carbohydrates. Although each of them have specific functions in maintaining a normal body, all of them can be used as energy.

Fat for dogs
Fats are concentrated forms of energy. Compared to protein and carbohydrates, fats contain approximately two and a half times the amount of energy per pound, so adding a little bit of fat adds a lot of calories. It is also the delivery vehicle for omega fatty acids important to healthy skin and coat.

Fat also supplies the essential fatty acids required by dogs for maintaining healthy skin and hair coat and serves as a carrier for fat soluble vitamins. Linoleic acid is one of the fatty acids dogs can get from vegetable oils or animal fat , is considered essential because it cannot be made in the body and is required to be supplied by the diet.

Although fatty acid deficiencies are rare, animals fed diets too low in fat may eventually develop deficiency symptoms including dry, coarse hair and flaky, dry and thickened skin.

In animals fed diets containing more fat than is needed, extra fat is generally stored in the body. If enough fat is accumulated over time, animals will become obese. Animals carrying excessive amounts of weight may be at greater risk for other complications. While fat is not a bad thing for your dog to eat, you should watch your dog’s fat intake.

Carbohydrates for dogs
Carbohydrates are sugars, starches and dietary fiber. The primary function of most carbohydrates is to provide energy, while fiber has a number of other functions.

Simple sugars are the smallest sugar molecules and are easily digested and absorbed. By contrast, starches or complex carbohydrates are combinations of simple sugars formed into long chains that have to be broken down by additional digestion before they can be used.

Basically, the carbohydrates in dog food are supplied by cereal grains which are broken down into simple sugars. While there aren’t specific minimum requirements for carbohydrates for dogs, they are useful as a ready source of energy.

When animals consume diets containing more carbohydrates than are needed, the excess energy is stored in the form of glycogen in the liver and muscles and is converted to fat. During periods of fasting, stress, or exercise, glycogen is broken down to glucose and delivered to the bloodstream to provide needed energy.

Carbohydrates that are not completely digested cause or are associated with persistent gastrointestinal upset, including gas and/or diarrhea. The most common carbohydrate malabsorption problem is an inability to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk

Contributed by Canine Caviar

Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 5: Can Oats Lower Your Dog’s Cholesterol?

As yet another installment of the “Pet food ingredient Grain” series today let’s see what the founder and owner of dehydrated raw food mix manufacturer Sojourner Farms, Ward Johnson has to say on this topic.

"Grains sure have it rough in the pet food industry. Lately they've been gaining a reputation for being cheap fillers that cause allergies and have no nutritional benefit. And the rumor is absolutely true. Wait!! Allow me to explain. Conventional pet foods have been using cheap grains as fillers that have been cooked and processed to death. These grain by-products are worthless and can even cause health problems due to their low quality and over processed state. … don’t use bottom-of-the-barrel grains or by-products. … only use high-quality, human grade, whole grains that are chock full of bioavailable nutrients and DON'T cause allergies or other health problems. And yet, some people still think that dogs should not eat grains, even those in our recipes! We’re always surprised to hear that. We’ve always seen amazing results with our Pre-mIxes for Dogs, which contain wholesome oats in addition to rye and barley. Based on information derived from a recent trial study on oats, it seems science, not to mention our time-tested results, are on our side as well.This study, published by Pet Food Industry, compared the cholesterol levels of dogs whose diets were comprised of 0%, 5%, 10% and 20% grains over a period of eight weeks. The results revealed that the group who received oats as 20% of their diet had a 14.7% drop in cholesterol levels as compared to the control group who received no oats. The study concluded that a diet of 20% dietary oats could be beneficial to dogs with hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, which can occur in several diseases such as kidney disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, cholestasis, and hyperadrenocorticoidism.How do oats reduce cholesterol in the body? Oats are loaded with a soluble fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucans are incredibly viscous and help to thicken the membranes of the intestines when broken down. This thickening prevents the absorption of bile acids, which are made up of cholesterol. If the body has no bile acids to use in digestion, it must take up the cholesterol in the blood to replenish the bile acid, therefore reducing the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Over time, enough of the cholesterol in the blood is removed to show a significant reduction or maintain healthy levels.But the benefits of oats do not end there. Low cholesterol in the bloodstream means reduced risk of heart disease. The high fiber in oats may also contribute to colon health and act as an aid to combat constipation. In addition to the benefits of a whole lot of fiber, these tasty grains also boast high protein levels and good sources of magnesium, iron, zinc as well as several B vitamins. In humans, oats have also been linked to controlling blood sugar levels, which could also benefit dogs with diabetes. Not to mention that oats are packed with selenium, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to heart health, DNA repair and colon cancer prevention.We use the same locally grown, non GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms), top of the barrel grains that just might end up in a loaf of bread from your favorite bakery. We are incredibly proud of the ingredients we use in our products and the benefits they provide. For over twenty years, we’ve seen consistently awesome results from our healthy multi grain recipe. Whether or not your dog has high cholesterol or any of the ailments listed above, incorporating whole grains into his diet is a smart choice to make for overall health. …

Quinoa and barley and rye, oh my!

Whole grains are a crucial part to any diet, including that of your beloved pet. We’ve already told you all the wonderful things that oats have to offer, but what about the other grains we use in our mixes? Keep reading…Rye is a cereal grain that has been cultivated since the Middle Ages in Central and Eastern Europe. Rye is high in fiber and vitamin E, an antioxidant that supports the immune system. It's also a great source of certain B Vitamins: Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid (B9), and Pantothentic Acid (B5), which help maintain muscles, skin, and brain function

Barley dates back to prehistoric times and has been a very valuable grain for many different cultures and societies. It is known to fight against various diseases including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. This grain contains more fiber than most other grains, and is a good source of Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), and Lysine (an essential amino acid needed for growth).

Quinoa (pronounced “Keen-Wa”) is a valuable grain that has been a staple of the Incas and other natives of the Andes for over 5,000 years. It is a complete protein that boasts more Lysine, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, and Fat than other grains. In fact, it is such a beneficial grain that it is being considered as a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long term spaceflights!”

Sure some of you may say now, That’s all fine but Ward is opinionated and promoting his own products here”. Well, I saw that coming and took it a little further: Ward is not all by himself with his opionion. Here is what others had to say on the subject matter:

Dr. Randy Wysong, DVM in his
“Truth about Pet Foods” states on “Grains”: “Sprouted grains are raw and whole, make excellent additions to your pet’s diet and are eagerly accepted when combined with other foods. … Cooked grains should be a much smaller portion of your pet’s diet. Raw, organically grown rolled oats or raw barley flakes, soaked in raw milk over night result in a treat many pets will relish. Popcorn can be fed popped and soaked as above, as well. Cooked porridges of oats, brown rice, millet, amaranth or quinoa can also be used occasionally. Small amounts of leftover table scraps such as cereals, sandwiches and home made breads and rolls are beneficial additions to your dog’s or cat’s diet, provided they are prepared carefully and with whole grain natural ingredients.”

“Whole grains are a very cost effective and environmentally sensitive way to provide the mainstay of your pet’s diet.” – Richard Pitcairn, DVM in “Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Cats and Dogs

As you know from reading previous articles in this series the general take is that dogs and even more so cats should not be fed grains. Reason being is that they are carnivores or meat eaters.

I think when discussing the topic we need to differentiate between highly processed grains, as they typically are used in most, definitely mass marketed and produced dry foods. The problem comes with the nature of the beast: Commercial manufactured and highly processed food = Dry food. Without serious altering of ingredients there would be no dry food. Another problem is that many manufacturers, especially the ones making foods for mass marketing purposes quite often use grains as a primary ingredient and protein source, which has definitely to be considered as being unacceptable for our domesticated animals.

Previously published comments of this series:
Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 1
Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 2
Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 3 Whole Grains: The Healing Truth
Pet food ingredient Grain: Controversy vs. chemistry Part 4 The Gluten Free Debate
Not everybody jumping onto the Grain Free train

Friday, May 29, 2009

Dog acting like poop scoop: Coprophagia

This is a common question I am being asked frequently: "It’s disgusting, why does my dog eat his poop and how can I get him to stop?"

Have you ever watched the comedian Ron White when he talks about his wife asking him to clean up the yard from the presents their dog has left there? His solution to the problem is having the neighbor's dog come over, he will be glad to help out.

Joking aside, it is actually more so a problem for dog owners than for the dog itself. Ever watched your dog taking in some of this stuff and then trying to show you that he/she loves you by giving you a kiss? Enough of this, you got the picture.

Some dogs don't just eat their own but also eat other dog's poop. It may be hard to believe but stool eating is not uncommon or abnormal. And, it may even have its benefits. In fact, the mother dog will naturally eat the feces of her puppies as she cleans them and her nest. Puppies often eat feces as they explore their environment, just like babies and small children will put just about anything in their mouths.

Eventually, most puppies figure out that they are better and tastier things to eat than poop and move on to consume food. Other dogs never learn and will continue this behavior.
Other dogs are thought to do it out of boredom. It is also possible some dogs will eat feces in an attempt to correct nutritional deficiencies form a poor quality diet. That makes it even more important to ask why a dog is eating feces to determine what can be done.

The medical term for eating feces is "Coprophagia" (from the Greek copro which means feces and phagy which means eat).

There are quite a few theories as to why dogs behave this way. Some suggest it may be the diet. Though the general take on this theory is that this is usually not the case and dogs eating their feces usually don’t have dietary deficiencies. However, related to this, some medical problems may contribute to the behavior. They include severe disorders of the pancreas ( i.e. pancreatic insufficiency) or intestines, severe malnutrition from a massive parasitic infestation or starvation. However, these are rare cases.

Some suggest Food allergies, creating malabsorption and over feeding leading to undigested fecal matter may be the cause.

Very often eating feces may coincide with a feeding change that an owner feels should be made during growth by cutting down from two meals per day to one. Dogs retain food on their stomachs for only 7 to 9 hours after eating, after which they experience an empty tummy. Many dogs try to fill this gnawing void by drinking copious amounts of water. Others, while still defecating twice a day, turn on the stool that is passed at the time they formerly would have eaten their second feeding on the old schedule. More often coprophagia is caused by stress or anxiousness, like for example is the case with kennel kept dogs. Another theory suggests that dogs having been punished by their owners for defecating inappropriately start to think any defecation is wrong, so they try to eliminate the evidence.

Others say coprophagy is a trait passed down through the ages. Canines in the wild, like wolves and coyotes, may often eat feces if food is in short supply. Feces from herbivores (animals that eat plants for food) contain many of the B vitamins. Some researchers suggest that wolves and some dogs may eat feces to replenish their vitamin supply. Now this suggests that there may indeed be a relationship to dietary deficiencies.

In some instances, coprophagy may be a behavior learned from watching other animals. It may also become a habit in the course of play and puppies having to try out the taste of everything.
Also, another possibility, allelomimetic behavior, i.e. the dog watching its owner picking up stools and takes up the practice as well.

There is even a stage of life during which coprophagy is common and expected. Bitches and queens normally eat the feces of their offspring. This not just is presumed to occur in an attempt to hide the presence of the litter from predators but also to keep the nest clean and prevent unhygienic conditions from developing in the nest as they could lead to disease.

And finally, the most simple theory: Some dogs do it just because it tastes good to them.

How can you prevent the problem? Dr. Holly Nash, DVM, MS offers a couple ideas on

“The best way to prevent the problem is to keep yards and kennels free of feces. Some owners find it successful to use something to make the feces taste horrible. … Some people try putting Tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper (chili powder) on the feces (not the food!). Unfortunately, some dogs have acquired quite a taste for Tabasco. These methods work best if the behavior has just started. Once coprophagy has become a habit, it is very difficult to break.

Dogs should be on a leash when walking, so you have control over the dog in case a luscious pile of feces is found along the way. Sometimes, the only way to prevent coprophagy is to fit the dog with a wire muzzle. The dog will be able to sniff, pant, and do most things dogs do, but the dog will not be able to eat with the muzzle on. DO NOT LEAVE A MUZZLED DOG UNATTENDED.
Adding toys and other diversions to the environment may be helpful. We need to find something that is more fun for the dog than eating feces. A dog may find a Kong toy laced with peanut butter a better alternative. Also give the dog lots of exercise to help it ultimately relax.

In situations in which the behavior may be linked to stress, the cause of stress should be eliminated or at least reduced. In some instances of extreme anxiety, or if the behavior becomes obsessive compulsive, medication may be necessary to try to break the cycle.

One researcher recommends checking the dog's diet to make sure he is getting enough B vitamins and is not getting an excess of carbohydrates.

Some dogs will improve if they are fed more often, so you may want to increase the number of meals but keep the total daily intake about the same.

For dogs attracted to litter boxes, you may need to be quite creative. Using covered litter boxes and placing the opening towards a wall may help. Some people put the litter box up high. Others put the litter box in a closet and secure the closet door so that the opening is big enough for the cat but will not allow the dog to enter. Keep in mind that if we make the litter box too difficult to reach, the cat may not go to it either.

Above all, do not punish the dog for eating feces. This may reinforce the behavior. General work on obedience is sometimes helpful. If the dog knows what is expected of him and looks to you for cues, he may be less anxious and less likely to start or continue the behavior.”

While further looking around the Internet for info, I also came across the following advice, which I absolutely did not like:
“Despite all these modifications in environment and training, some dogs persist in the habit of coprophagia. For these dogs, the compulsive disorder diagnosis may be worth considering. Some obstinate cases respond to the judicious use of human anti depressants”. I rest my case on this one and only suggest to stay away: Throwing meds at a behavioral problem in my opinion are certainly no answer, for both, neither humans nor animals.

Are there any health risks coming with the behavior? You bet. As Dr. Nash explains: “Many parasites can be transmitted through eating stool. Generally, herbivores have parasites specific to them; these parasites will not cause disease in carnivores. But dogs eating the feces of other dogs or cats can infect themselves repeatedly with parasites such as giardia, coccidia, and if the feces are around for 2-3 weeks or more, roundworms and whip worms. Such dogs should have regular fecal examinations and de-wormings with the appropriate medications depending on the parasites found.”

The bottom line is that it sounds like nobody is sure why dogs eat their own feces or the feces of other animals. However what we do know is: If a dog starts this behavior, the sooner you implement prevention measures, the better the chance of success.

To end this on a funny note: My problem now is should I file this under nutrition or general topics? Talk to you later...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay

The following points provide a summary of the price we pay:
1 . Junk food induced cruelty, ill health and suffering affects the majority of the world's pets. Plentiful scientific evidence, experience and common sense confirm this fact.
2 . Misuse of existing scientific paradigms and bogus administrative techniques produces a body of counterfeit science in the service of the junk pet food industry. The current mass poisoning of pets starts with the first lie: that processed pet food is as good as or better than the natural alternative. So called researchers swallow the lie and then misuse existing scientific methods and compliant professional journals to perpetuate and bolster the lie.
3. Broadly, three methodologies combine to form the scientific paradigm that underpins the junk pet food enterprise:
i) an emphasis on treatment, not prevention, of ill health and disease;
ii) dependence on the germ theory of disease as a fundamental axiom when in fact Pasteur, one of the originators of the germ theory, acknowledged that germs are secondary to other predisposing factors; and
iii) dependence on reductionist research methods when in fact an holistic approach, taking account of all interactive forces, provides much more satisfactory evidence.

Consider that a natural, raw meaty bones–based diet acts as food and medicine for carnivores. If we apply the lessons to be learned from a study of the health and disease of carnivores resident at the extreme end of the nutritional spectrum, we can derive information of immense medical, scientific, economic and environmental value to us all. New attitudes and new paradigms are needed, but are blocked by the combined might of vested interests.
4. Economic consequences measure in the billions of dollars. Back in the 1860s, Jack Spratt, assisted by Charles Cruft, opened the first processed dog-food business in London and started dog shows as a marketing tool. (*25) Now, in 2007, Business Week estimates that "Americans spend an astonishing $41 billion a year on their furry friends".(*26) Fuelled by massive profits, the pet food marketing machine encourages us to acquire "furry friends", junk pet food and vet services. (*27) From dog droppings on the sole of your shoe through to the ecological footprint of giant pet food factories, there are immense environmental costs that don't appear in the figures. Neither do the figures reveal the cost of the municipal pounds and welfare shelters needed for the millions of discarded pets. Dogs fed junk food are harder to train and more likely to bite their owners, leading to increased training and medical costs. (*28) What price the scars on a child's face?
5 . Failure of democratic, administrative and legal systems, whether due to oversight, incompetence or corruption, facilitates the junk pet food scam. Despite the moral and ethical problems associated with duping people into slowly poisoning their animals and the clear illegality of such cruel treatment, our politicians and lawyers have done little or nothing. Some animal welfare groups, purporting to care for the plight of pets, consort with the junk pet food companies and are more a part of the problem than the
solution. (*29)

The media, our watchdogs, mostly remain in their kennel, too scared to comment. Journalists working for the A u s t r a l i a n newspaper, the Sydney S u n - H e r a l d and the UK S u n d a y I n d e p e n d e n t researched and wrote extensive articles that were never published.(*30) Other media outlets engage in self-censorship and publish tepid accounts or no accounts at all.

Pet food recall
Whilst we discuss the pet food scam, we should keep in mind that two giant chocolate manufacturers, Mars and Nestlé, jostle for supremacy of the pet food industry. They span the globe and have plans for vast expansions into India and China. (*31, *32) In the second tier, other large conglomerates, Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, Heinz and Del Monte, compete for consumer loyalty. The companies may seek to differentiate themselves and their products but, in fact, we know there's a sameness about them all, as was amply demonstrated in the March 2007 Menu Foods recall. Dogs and cats in North America were ill and dying of acute renal failure, traced to the output of one contract pet food manufacturer, Menu Foods. (*33) At first it was thought that rat poison had contaminated batches of "food", but as the story unfolded it turned out that melamine, a chemical used for manufacturing plastic counter tops, glue and fertiliser, had been added into Chinese shipments of wheat gluten affecting almost 100 different brands.(*34) Acute renal failure may be uncommon, but chronic renal failure is not. Research carried out by Nestlé revealed that the mean lifespan of cats fed exclusively commercial cat food and receiving regular veterinary attention was less than 12 years of age, with death largely attributable to renal failure or cancer. (*35) The Mars corporation, advertising its Pedigree bone-shaped chews, told vets that "80% of dogs over the age of three have gum disease" and that "dental problems are known to increase with age and are increasingly being linked to vital organ disease, most notably kidneys and liver".(*36) "Chronic renal disease is a leading cause of death in dogs and cats", says manufacturer Royal Canin.(*37)

Future prospects
What does the future hold? Who can tell? Peering through my crystal ball, I see a future of constant change. In a complex world of competing interests, some change will be for the good and some for the bad. Let's be under no illusions: Big, bad forces seek to stifle dissent, and we are merely individuals of good will. Echoing Edmund Burke: "All that is needed for evil to prosper is for people of good will to do nothing." (*38) Let's do something, anything, that helps the animals. Let's start today.

by Dr Tom Lonsdale,
Veterinarian and author Dr Tom Lonsdale, BVetMed, MRCVS, graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1972. In the 1980s he became aware of the dietary disease epidemics affecting the animals under his care. Since 1991, Dr Lonsdale has campaigned to bring the information to public attention. In 2001, his landmark book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health was published (reviewed in NEXUS 12/03), followed in 2005 by Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (reviewed in 13/04). Dr Lonsdale can be contacted by email at For more information, visit his website,

25. The Kennel Club (2006), "The History of Crufts",
26. Brady, D. and Palmeri, C. (2007), "The Pet Economy", Business Week, August 6, 2007,
27. American Pet Products Manufacturers Assoc. (2007), "Industry Statistics & Trends",
28. Mugford, R.A. (1987), "The influence of nutrition on canine behaviour", Journal of Small
Animal Practice 1987; 28:1046-55
29. Lonsdale, T. (2001), "There's a cuckoo in the nest: a deceptive bird", in Raw Meaty Bones:
Promote Health, Rivetco Pty Ltd, NSW, Australia, pp. 263-67
30. Lonsdale, T. (2001), "Poison your pets with multinational offerings", Crikey Media, Crikey_Media.htm
31. "Pet Food And Pet Care Products in China",
Euromonitor International, August 2007,
32. Mukherjee, A. (2001), "Royal Canin relish for Indian pets", Business Line, Internet Edition,
August 25, 2001,
3 3 . Menu Foods Income Fund (2007), "MenuFoods Income Fund Announces Precautionary
Dog and Cat Food Recall", March 16, 2007,
34. Lonsdale, T. (2007), "Open Secret: Giant USA corporations poison pets", Raw Meaty
Bones Newsletter 2007; 7(1),
35. Malik, R. (2007), "Feeding cats for health and longevity" (Clinical Review), T h e V e t e r i n a r i a n, August 2007, pp. 61-67,
36. "Introducing The Pedigree Denta Range", Veterinary Times 2002 Jul 15; 32:27
3 7 . Elliott, D.A. (2006), "Nutritional Management of Chronic Renal Disease in Dogs and Cats, Small Animal Practice2006 Nov; 36(6):1377-84, viii
3 8 . Quoted on covers of The Whistle newsletter

Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done
Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”
Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention
Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster
Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay

Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster

Communicating the good health, good news message to other vets became paramount, and so began a cat and mouse game with the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). As fully paid up members of the association, we could submit letters to the letters page of the AVA News. The AVA and pet food company sponsors were not so keen. Nevertheless, between December 1991 and March 1993, a small band of raw meaty bones enthusiasts managed to get 10 letters published, until A V A N e w s announced it would run no further correspondence.(*17)

At a stroke, AVA members were forbidden to discuss fundamental health issues. In response, and with the annual general meeting fast approaching, we drafted a motion calling on the AVA to lift the correspondence ban and to conduct a full investigation of the diet and disease issue. After "lively" debate, both parts of the motion were approved.(*18)

The AVA report on the diet and disease link was released in February 1994, nine months after the 1993 AGM. Although "assisted" by pet food company vet Dr Barbara Fougere and other pet food company sympathizers, the committee nevertheless reported that, instead of investigating the full impact of diet and disease, it had limited its inquiries.(*19)

• The committee believed the concerns raised required urgent attention and comment. It was considered that within the time frame set by the AVA it was not possible to explore every aspect of dietary interaction with disease.
• Information which could be gathered on the broader issues would be unlikely to add more than is already well known.
• Concentration should be placed on periodontal disease and diet because this was the principal area of current concern to the Australian veterinary profession.
• It was felt that if periodontal disease could be prevented then any secondary complications from this problem would be reduced.

There is prima facie evidence to justify concern by veterinarians. Pet owners should consider the need to provide some "chewy" material as well as the basic nutrient intake of their dog or cat.

Periodontal disease may be associated with the occurrence of other diseases but the available evidence is inconclusive. Periodontal disease is arguably the most common disease condition seen in small animal practice and its effects on the gums and teeth can significantly affect the health and well-being of affected animals. This is sufficient in itself to give reason for concern. Proof of additional systemic effects is not necessary to justify further action.

Further research is required to better define the relationship between particular diet types and oral health
in dogs and cats. Those investigating small animal health problems should also take diet and diet consistency into account when researching systemic diseases, possible confounding effects of diet and poor oral health must be considered in such studies.

Prophetic last words indeed. Hands on research in my practice has confirmed that diet and diet consistency are the prime determining factors in most diseases treated at suburban veterinary clinics. A range of previously hard to treat conditions disappeared as if by magic when dental care coupled with diet change became our top priority. Investigation of pets suffering an acquired immune deficiency revealed a startling restoration of immune function and return to health when the animals' foul mouths were treated and their diet changed to raw meaty bones. The implications are immense, and not just for AIDS sufferers.(*20)

It is relevant for all of us with an immune system and, as I postulated in a paper published in the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry, is likely significant to our understanding of the ecology of health and disease on planet Earth. (*21) The pet food industry/veterinary profession alliance, with a multibillion dollar fighting fund, was in no mood to listen, except insofar as its members wished to consolidate their position. With so many problems associated with the feeding of junk food, they are adept at turning adversity to advantage. Their tentacles wrap around a problem; they pour money into research and present themselves as public benefactors. So it was with periodontal disease, which became the new hot topic in pet food company research labs and universities the world over. Their solution: A plethora of artificial dental products carrying inflated health claims, often endorsed by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. (*22)

Getting the products to the end user depends on a willing sales force free from independent thought. Veterinarians enjoy status and respect; once indoctrinated, they are the ideal sales and marketing force. Accordingly, veterinarians are tutored in the mail, in advertisements and in visits from pet food company representatives. With minds filled with pet food company "facts", vets are then encouraged to support Dental Health Month, Pet Smile Month or similar. It's the month when pet owners are bombarded with advertisements and publicity stunts, urging them to visit their vet for a "free" dental check for their pets and receive a good bag full of samples and copies of those same company selected "facts".(*23) Augmenting the propaganda push, there's a campaign to denigrate home prepared and raw food through articles strategically placed in so called professional journals. (*24)

I, myself, have been targeted in a series of bogus disciplinary actions before the Veterinary Surgeons Board of NSW, a government regulatory body made up of AVA members. Threatened with deregistration, a year in prison or a fine of $2,000, legal defense strategies became top priority. Documents on file weigh a combined 12 kilograms (26 pounds) and represent years of hard work and countless hours spent in lawyers' offices. Fortunately, the lawyers and I managed to withstand the harassment and I'm still registered as a vet.

by Dr Tom Lonsdale,
Veterinarian and author Dr Tom Lonsdale, BVetMed, MRCVS, graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1972. In the 1980s he became aware of the dietary disease epidemics affecting the animals under his care. Since 1991, Dr Lonsdale has campaigned to bring the information to public attention. In 2001, his landmark book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health was published (reviewed in NEXUS 12/03), followed in 2005 by Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (reviewed in 13/04). Dr Lonsdale can be contacted by email at For more information, visit his website,

17. AVA News, March 1993, p. 23
18. "Pet food produces lively AGM", AVA News, June 1993, pp. 1, 9
19. "Diet and disease link – final report", AVA News, February 1994, pp. 1 and 6
20. Lonsdale (1995), op. cit.
21. Lonsdale, T. (1994), "Cybernetic Hypothesis of Periodontal Disease in Mammalian Carnivores", Journal of Veterinary Dentistry
11(1):5-8, cyber. p d f
22. Veterinary Oral Health Council,
23. U K Raw Meaty Bones (2006), "Intro to (UK) Pet Smile Month", http://www.ukrmb.
24. "Reassurance for European pet owners following pet food recall in the USA", T h e
Veterinary Record 2007 May 5; 160(18):602-03

Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done
Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”
Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention
Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster
Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay

Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention

If unnatural pet food injures the health of pets, then the cozy relationship between the pet food manufacturers and the veterinary profession injures pets, pet owners and the veterinary profession, too. Breck Muir complained: (*15)

The infiltration of the commercial pet foods into our lives is one of the great success stories of the business world. Gross sales figures for a single product type are probably only bettered by petroleum products worldwide.

We as a profession have been led by the nose by vested interests into a current situation where most younger vets actually recommend commercial pet foods as the best available way of feeding domestic pets, because they have never known of any other way. Before they had their
first pet they were bombarded with constant mass media advertising instilling into them that various commercial foods are the only way to go, and when they graduated and went to postgraduate nutrition courses again they had this idea reinforced by visiting lecturers who actually mentioned brand names in their notes.

Breck and I thought that blowing the whistle on the processed pet-food issue might trigger debate. We also hoped it might lead to reappraisal and resolution of a gathering crisis. However, we were about to be taught the first of several lessons: that the pet food industry/veterinary profession alliance is extensive, strong and hostile to criticism.

Upper echelons of the veterinary profession (veterinary associations, veterinary schools, research institutes) and junk food makers do deals behind the scenes. The Australian Veterinary Association sent Breck's letter to John Wingate, the then president of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association Inc. (now the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia Inc.). Wingate, in his self serving response published alongside Breck's letter, told vets: (*16)

The best way to feed a pet animal is with reputable brands of pet food... Analytically speaking, the...contents of these products are known and designed to satisfy the requirements of the animal as defined by the National Research Council of the US Academy of Sciences, which
is the accumulation of the most up to date world wide knowledge on the subject.

Yes, that's right: the junk pet food culture extends all the way up to the US Academy of Sciences, and along the way, animal welfare organizations, dog and cat breed societies, pet magazines, books, print and electronic media all sing from the junk pet food makers' song sheet.

But as practicing vets ministering to the needs of a steady stream of sick pets, we found that our senses and our daily experience told us that the weight of so-called veterinary evidence
was wrong. We delved deeper, looking in textbooks and research papers. And everywhere we stumbled, tripped and fell, we found new evidence of the harmful effects of junk food. Most pets are fed junk food and never clean their teeth. By simply cleaning diseased teeth and gums and changing pets over to a more natural diet, otherwise intractable diseases disappear, never to recur. Penicillin, hailed as a wonder drug, is used to treat some bacterial diseases but has no long-term disease prevention benefits. Using dentistry and diet, we could cure many and prevent most of the diseases afflicting pets.

by Dr Tom Lonsdale,
Veterinarian and author Dr Tom Lonsdale, BVetMed, MRCVS, graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1972. In the 1980s he became aware of the dietary disease epidemics affecting the animals under his care. Since 1991, Dr Lonsdale has campaigned to bring the information to public attention. In 2001, his landmark book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health was published (reviewed in NEXUS 12/03), followed in 2005 by Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (reviewed in 13/04). Dr Lonsdale can be contacted by email at For more information, visit his website,

15. Muir, op. cit.
16. Wingate, J. (1991), "Far Fetched Claims", AVA News, December 1991, p. 28,

Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done
Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”
Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention
Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster
Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay

Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”

Stop feeding junk pet food is the first and best bit of advice I can give you, for the benefit of your pet(s), the human economy and the natural environment. By stopping doing harm, we take the first step on the road to doing good. It gains us some breathing space, allowing us to survey the scene, investigate further and harness the benefits of our newfound wisdom.

Actually, it's not so new. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician of the fifth century BC, said: "Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal your patients with food." (*10) So why did we lose sight of the ancient wisdom? Why did we ignore the teachings of nature? And of utmost importance, why is it so difficult to discuss, let alone reverse, the current orthodoxy? By way of explanation, let me tell you a story that, when taken to a conclusion, should provide medical, scientific, social and environmental benefits worth billions of dollars. Since 1955, when Juliette de Bairacli Levy published her Complete Herbal Book for the Dog , there have been mutterings about the inadequacy of processed-food diets for pet dogs and cats. (*11) By the late 1980s Australian vets were passing comment, and by the early 1990s they were registering open dissent. Dr Breck Muir often remarked about the foul odors given off from both ends of dogs fed canned food. In the December 1991 issue of the Australian Veterinary Association News, he wrote: (*12)

Canned pet food not the healthiest
The pet food situation has concerned me for some years, my feelings brought to this by the current competitive marketing of various dental work stations for veterinary use. The scene as I see it goes like this: "Here is the best food ever made for your dog, Mrs Jones," handing her a can of commercial dog food or dry food, "but he may develop problems with his teeth, so here is a special toothbrush and paste for you to use to clean his teeth regularly, and then if that doesn't keep the periodontal disease at bay we...have the very latest in dental equipment just like your own dentist has, and we can give Fido that perfectly enamelled ivory grin", that he would have had had you not fed him the commercial food in the first place.

Here we have the perfectly engineered commercial circle, a problem doesn't exist, so we create one, and then come up with all the remedial treatments. Also in December 1991, my article "Oral Disease in Cats and Dogs" appeared in the newsletter of the Sydney University Post Graduate Foundation in Veterinary Science: (*13)
The stench of stale blood, dung and pus emanating from the mouths of so many of my patients has finally provoked this eruption of dissent. The sheer numbers passing through the practice, when extrapolated to the world situation, tell me that oral disease is the source of the greatest intractable pain and discomfort experienced by our companion animals. This is a great and mindless cruelty we visit upon our animals from the whelping box to the grave. Just imagine having a mouth ulcer or toothache for a lifetime. Whilst the chemical contents (masquerading as nutrients) of junk pet foods are a major cause of concern, the new emphasis on oral hygiene opened an important chapter focusing on the physical form of the food. Indisputably, lions, tigers, wolves and all other wild predators don't have access to toothbrushes, dental floss or annual check-ups at the dentist. Nature equipped carnivores with the tools of trade to complete a very necessary evolutionary function: eating and thus regulating herbivore populations on planet Earth. Strong, precision tools need to be kept sharp and clean, and it's by the very act of a carnivore's gnawing and ripping its way through tough hide, muscle, sinew and bone that its teeth and gums get scrubbed, scraped and polished.

For dogs, cats and ferrets, the biological principles are exactly the same as for their wild cousins. Nutrients need to be raw and easily digested; physically, the food should be raw, tough and chewy. (*14) In practical terms, that's a diet of whole chickens, rabbits, fish or similar. A raw meaty bones based diet provides a good second best option.

by Dr Tom Lonsdale,
Veterinarian and author Dr Tom Lonsdale, BVetMed, MRCVS, graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, in 1972. In the 1980s he became aware of the dietary disease epidemics affecting the animals under his care. Since 1991, Dr Lonsdale has campaigned to bring the information to public attention. In 2001, his landmark book Raw Meaty Bones: Promote Health was published (reviewed in NEXUS 12/03), followed in 2005 by Work Wonders: Feed Your Dog Raw Meaty Bones (reviewed in 13/04). Dr Lonsdale can be contacted by email at For more information, visit his website,

10. Engel, C. (2002), "Food, Medicine, and Selfmedication", chapter 3 of Wild Health: How animals keep themselves well and what we can learn from them, Phoenix, London, 2003, p. 26
11. De Bairacli-Levy, J. (1955), The Complete Herbal Book for the Dog, Faber & Faber, London
12. Muir, B. (1991), "Canned pet food not the healthiest", AVA News, December 1991, p. 28,
13. Lonsdale, T. (1991), "Oral disease in cats and dogs", Control and Therapy, no. 3128, Postgraduate Committee in Veterinary Science, University of Sydney,
14. AVA News, November 1994, p.19

Junk Pet Food Part 1: The Damage Done
Junk Pet Food Part 2: Hippocrates: “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal your patients with food”
Junk Pet Food Part 3: Blowing the whistle, catching attention
Junk Pet Food Part 4: Tentacles of the monster
Junk Pet Food Part 5: The price we pay