Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "Nutrition" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog


By Charlotte Peltz

In the current issue of Dog Watch, the newsletter distributed by Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, "the four most common causes of death in older dogs are cancer, cardiovascular disease, renal failure and epilepsy and hepatic diseases."* Eating fresh foods free of the contamination of hormone and antibiotic "supplements" to the meat animals, pesticide sprays and systemic treatment to plants, etc., is high on the list of recommendations for cancer prevention and good health for humans. Since humans and dogs are both animals does it not make sense that the same applies to dogs?

In just about any one of the various monthly magazines and reports that I get, there is something about dental care for our pets. To neglect care of the teeth results in stress and ultimate compromise of the kidneys, liver and heart. Yet, when dogs ate "real" food, which always included raw bones, there was no big deal about tartar coated teeth.

Dr. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian vet, noted an undeniable connection between the increase in the use of processed, commercial dog food and the decline in the health of the dogs of his clients and his very own dogs. Of equal importance is that he saw a complete turn-around when he and his clients switched back to "real" food! The problems he saw in the declining health of the animals lists all of those mentioned in Dog Watch and many, many more.

For many years vets recommended supplements of calcium for dogs of the large and giant breed category and now we know that that is THE worst possible thing we can do. Yet, Billinghurst says that all commercial food is too high in calcium. Bear in mind that here [in Mexico] there are still vets telling their clients to use a calcium supplement for their dogs during their growing years!

Recently a client asked about feeding reduced protein food to her growing pup because her vet told her that would reduce/eliminate risks of canine hip displasia. Wow! Scary stuff, folks. According to Lisa Freeman of Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, a puppy's nutritional requirements must be met and one way to do so is to feed a good quality commercial food "and be careful not to overfeed; it should remain lean and grow slowly." She also refers to some of the new products available specifically formulated for large and giant breeds and to continue with these products until the dog is 12 to 18 months of age. Freeman says that starting pups of large/giant breeds on adult food by 3 to 4 months of age is an option but the foods are often deficient in the nutrients that pups need. Of course, one can supplement to meet those needs (extra fat, for example) and do very well.

The REALLY big issue is to never, never allow a pup to have an extra ounce of fat on his body!!!!

To back up that statement I refer to the 12-1-2000 issues of JAVMA (Journal of Veterinary Medical Association). I quote from a "post" I received: Evaluation of the effect of limited food consumption on radiographic evidence of osteo-arthritis in dogs, by R.D.Kealy et al.

"Control and limit-fed Labs (Labrador Retrievers) that received 25% less food than control dogs were observed from 8 wks to 8 years of age. At 8 years of age rads (radiographs) were taken of shoulders, hips and elbows and stifles. In the control dogs osteo-arthritis was detected in 85% of shoulder joints and 68% of hip joints. In the limit fed dogs osteo-arthritis was detected in 57% of shoulder joints and just 14% of hip joints."

The point being, keep your pups and dogs lean! Do not restrict the oh-so necessary protein. If you are absolutely determined to feed commercial food learn how to interpret those labels and buy the very best available. And, keep this in mind: veterinarians do NOT learn about nutrition in vet school. Furthermore, about the only information available to those interested in studying nutrition is provided by (guess who?) the pet food manufacturer.** Gee, I wonder where that will lead us in the path to good nutrition?

*Not sure just how they came up with the number four but this is a quote.
**Based on information gleaned from studies done by C.A. Buffington, DVM, PhD of the Ohio State University and Dorothy P. LaFlamme, DVM, PhD of the Ralston Purina Company.

"Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things man will not himself find peace." Albert Schweitzer.

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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