NOTES ON DIET AND NUTRITION
Remember that old adage “You are what you eat”? It just so happens, that it applies to our companion animals also. Often we fail to realize that the food we eat becomes the cells of our bodies. If we eat highly processed junk food, this food is incorporated into all of our cells and ultimately determines our overall health. Unfortunately, we rarely eat foods to nourish our bodies and build our cells; instead we eat what we like and what tastes good. Likewise, we give these same foods to our pets because they “like” them. And as a result, we are seeing similar diseases emerge in our pets as in our society, namely obesity and cancer. Our society is one of excess, not deficiency; we have too much, not too little. Both cancer and obesity are diseases of excess, and because of the “over nutrition” of our companion animals, we are seeing the same excess diseases.
The recommendations to follow are to be used as guidelines to help you understand your pet’s diet and any possible reactions he or she may be having with this diet. Let your pet tell you what he or she needs, or more likely doesn’t need, by monitoring weight changes, coat quality, stool, skin, ears, and eyes. The following recommendations are based on my clinical experience for companion animals living in the Northeast. Specific dietary requirements depend on the individual, and may differ depending on breed and location. Generally speaking, it is beneficial to eat foods that are grown in the area where you live and during the season in which they may grow.
Pet foods are composed of a vast array of confusing ingredients. Often these foods are made to appeal to the owners and not the consumer. In most commercial pet foods you will find various fruits and vegetables that we view as “healthy”, but in reality these foods are usually difficult for our pets to digest. Difficult to digest foods and foods that contain too many different ingredients usually cause a discharge reaction. The symptoms of a discharge reaction can be numerous but usually include: vomiting and diarrhea, gassiness, hot spots, ear infections, skin infections, urinary tract infections, and anal gland problems. These are normally referred to as “allergic” reactions in conventional medicine. The foods, in my clinical experience, that cause the most frequent discharge reactions include: diary products (cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt), yeast containing products (bread, brewer’s yeast, and most pet supplements), wheat, eggs, peanut butter (and other nut butters), sugar (molasses, fruit, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and other sweet vegetables). Fish, as an interesting note, is a very common allergen for cats, but seems to be quite helpful for most dogs. Most often ear infections and skin infections are seen after the ingestion of fruit (just think of how chocolate causes acne.) Simple sugars act as a growth medium for yeast and bacteria. Yeast and bacteria thrive on sugar!
As you can tell from the above list, it is very important to read the label of any product or food you give your pet. Look for any type of discharge reaction when a new food or supplement is given. But remember, your pet is an individual and may have very unique and unusual food sensitivities. So if your pet is having recurrent digestive or skin problems, eliminate all of the products listed above (don’t worry, your pet will still love you if you don’t give him cheese!). If this fails to resolve the problem, seek the help of a holistic veterinarian. Your pet may need additional help to overcome all the years of chemical drug usage. Good luck and remember to keep a positive attitude!