Comprehensive  Ways To Delightful Healthy Pets
DIET IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD
Diet turns out to be vastly more predictive of health or disease than any other factor in an animal’s life.
IUSED TO HATE TALKING ABOUT DIET WITH MY CLIENTS. THAT WAS before I fully understood the vital correlation between food and optimal pet health. Now diet is my favorite subject. I’ve noticed from my caseload throughout the years that a discussion about diet figures more and more prominently.
As an integrative vet, I work with, not against, the healing power of the body. Nourishing an animal with what it requires from an adaptive, evolutionary standpoint is paramount. There are many forms of pet food you can consider.
ROYAL TREATMENT FOOD OPTIONS
Pre-prepared Frozen Raw Food
A ready-to-feed, complete diet once thawed
Pre-prepared frozen raw meat is mixed with vegetables, fruits, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and sometimes supplements
Provides all of the vitamins and minerals for a complete diet
Contains appropriate moisture content
Comes in the form of medallions, patties, bricks, and tubes
Needs freezer space
Great nutritional value
Can be expensive
Takes slightly more prep time than feeding kibble or canned food
Common questions from clients regarding raw foods:
Can’t I just feed some ground beef from the grocer?
No, that is not a complete diet. Muscle meat should not be the only ingredient in a dog’s diet. Dogs do need a completely balanced diet that includes raw meat, but there is more to it than that. Pre-prepared raw food includes the minerals and vitamins needed for the animal to thrive. This includes the proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio that is so essential for dogs and cats. Raw meat alone does not have a proper ratio. In the wild, an animal would obtain the proper ratio from eating many parts of the prey animal, including feet, eyes, brain, fluids, organs, intestines, and bones. They wouldn’t just eat the muscle meat. Typically the patties are frozen and need only to be thawed before feeding.
Aren’t there more dangerous bacteria and contaminants in raw pet food than in raw grocery meat for humans?
Not necessarily. Raw food manufacturers know their food will be fed raw and therefore they take great pains to use quality ingredients and avoid pathogens during processing. The deep-freezing process itself takes care of many pathogens and parasites, and it doesn’t degrade the quality of the nutrients. And freezing affords easy shipping and storing.
Grocers, on the other hand, sell meat that they expect will be cooked to destroy any contaminants. The safeguards against parasites or bacterial counts are different for grocery meat than for a raw food-processing plant. Recent recalls are more often for dry and canned foods than for pre-prepared raw foods. My rule for all pet food is to use normal hygiene procedures. If you are concerned about bacteria in the food, wash your hands and bowls after feeding. This will help minimize pathogen transmission.
Can I let my dog (or cat) lick my face if she is eating raw food?
The short answer is yes. Bacteria live in all mouths. Bacteria live in most foods in some amount. And, as I said before, raw food isn’t likely to harbor pathogenic bacteria anyway. Bacteria are, well, everywhere. Feline and canine saliva contains an enzyme that kills bacteria. It works well as long as the teeth are not covered with tartar, which can harbor the bacteria. Dental tartar is, in my experience, more often found in the mouths of animals that eat high-carb kibbled foods. If your pet is eating a raw diet, you will find that their breath improves. Less dental tartar buildup means a decrease in foul-smelling mouth bacteria. Raw foods, in the end, help foster healthier slobber in all ways.
Can all dogs and cats eat raw foods?
Not necessarily. There are some animals with conditions or genetics that require a diet with more processed foods. They may have deficiencies that make it difficult for them to easily digest the raw foods. In some cases, once a deficiency is treated, the animal can then tolerate raw foods well. I recommend cooking raw food in the oven at about 225 degrees just until the meat has changed color throughout, for animals undergoing chemotherapy or animals that are seriously immunocompromised.
Pre-prepared Cooked Food
Packaged whole-ingredient food, available in boutique pet stores
Contains appropriate moisture content
Great nutritional value even though the cooking process minimally decreases the nutritional value
Can be expensive
Freeze-dried Raw Foods
Much like the pre-prepared frozen raw but instead of frozen, it is freeze-dried and needs no refrigeration
Easy to store or travel with
About 95 percent of the moisture is removed in the freeze-drying process
Retains much of its nutritional value
This can be a complete diet or given as treats
Can be expensive
Dehydrated Dog Food
Retains nutritional value well because it is dried (95 percent of moisture removed) by the sun, or wind-dried
Easy to store or travel with
Can be a complete diet or given as treats
Can be expensive
Requires a time investment from the owner
Main ingredients are cooked or raw meat mixed with vegetables, fruits, and moderate grains/starches
Must include vitamins and bone meal with correct proportions
Because it is often fresh, it can have superlative nutritional benefits and has appropriate moisture content
Can be easy on the budget, but hard on your time
Can be a complete and balanced meal
Some canned foods are meant to be only a supplement
Has an appropriate moisture content
Can be easier on an animal’s digestive tract
Great nutritional value
Cost varies from brand to brand—check the label
BPA (bisphenol A) in the lining of all steel cans and some small aluminum cans is considered a carcinogen
Oven baked or extruded dry pelleted food
Very convenient and stores well
Originally created to replace canned pet food because of the rationing of metal during World War II, not for the health of our pets
Considered a complete food
Moisture content is low and carbohydrate level is high
Often contains fillers of corn, wheat, white potato, and soy
Protein levels, ingredients, and nutritional value vary dramatically from brand to brand
Cost varies from brand to brand
High heat extrusion can cause two potent carcinogens in the food as a by-product
Protein/meat-based treats are preferred
Protein and moisture content is not crucial, unless large number of treats are given
Avoid baked cookie-like treats; they tend to have corn, wheat, and sugars in them
Freeze-dried lamb lung, chicken, beef, and liver are recommended
Avoid treats made in China—too few safeguards on import ingredients
ROYAL TREATMENT DIET GUIDELINES
No corn, no wheat, no soy, no peanut butter, in any form, in food or treats
Be aware that glutens, spelt, maize, corn syrups, pasta are other names for wheat and corn
If you are going to feed your pet commercial foods, I recommend pre-prepared raw or canned foods over dry kibbled foods, where possible.
Protein levels should be at minimum greater than 30 percent, based on dry matter.
To determine protein levels in canned food, use this dry mattter to protein conversion calculation
1. First subtract the percent of moisture (80%) on the can from 100%. This is the dry matter (DM).
100% − 80% = 20% (DM)
2. The percent protein on the label is then divided by DM. This gives you a decimal that translates to the actual protein percentage by multiplying by 100. For example:
6.5% protein divided by 20 = 0.325 or 32.5% (DM) protein in the can.
You can use this calculation to see whether a bag of dry food that has 25% protein listed on the label has more protein than a canned food that says it has 10% protein on the label (with 78% moisture). If you don’t like math, you can trust me on this one: the canned food wins! It has 45% protein on a dry matter basis.
Raw and canned foods on our Royal Seal of Approval list have appropriate protein levels, so you won’t need to do the conversion calculation. You’ll find updates about these foods on my website, www.royaltreatmentveterinarycenter.com, as food products and recipes change frequently. I have a database where I assess more than four thousand new foods as they become available on the market all the time. The Royal Treatment guidelines here will help you assess them.
Here is a summary of the most important tips to keep in mind:
Read all the ingredients listed on your pet food label. (It’s a page-turner!)
Avoid corn, wheat, white potato, peanut butter, garlic (depending on amount), molasses and sugars, alfalfa, and sorghum.
Avoid preservatives such as BHA/BHT, and foods with a large amount of additives and food colorings.
It’s best to avoid foods that are made in China (unless you live in China).
There are many readily available pre-prepared canned, dry, and raw foods that meet my criteria of an adequate amount of protein, that are processed without corn or wheat, and that have basic, canine-appropriate ingredients.
Consider feeding your dog or cat a food that is organic, or one that uses free-range meat sources. You will be nourishing your pet from a healthier and more sustainable source and being kinder to the planet.
Raw foods may be a good option for many pets.
Optimal amounts of protein, contained in most raw foods, keep the carnivore’s body functioning properly, at the correct pH for blood and urine, and can improve many body functions. Raw foods have proper moisture content and encourage a proper GI motility. Dogs on raw foods tend to have smaller, less frequent and much firmer stools. I also see a decrease in urinary incontinence in dogs on raw foods because hydration is better regulated.
I have had cases where cats or dogs don’t tolerate raw foods well. This is not based on breed, size, or external features. Most animals I have treated do thrive on raw food, but not all. In some cases, the solution is to cook the raw food for fifteen minutes on 225 degrees and in other cases, a canned food proves best. Just knowing your pet has a “sensitive stomach” is not always the main factor in determining the type of food best suited for the pet. This is why, overall, commonsense factors are essential. Try the food and monitor your pet’s response. No matter what anyone says, even me, if your pet does not tolerate a certain food or thrive under a health regimen, please reassess the food. Make sure you have allowed an appropriately slow changeover and proper supplements to support the GI tract, such as probiotics and pumpkin, to make the transition smoother.
Because cost is often an issue, here are some cost-cutting Royal Treatment tips:
Feed the best diet you can afford most of the time (e.g., canned or kibble).
Supplement with meat-based table scraps some of the time—remember no corn, wheat, white potato, onions, grapes, raisins, avocado, or other toxins.
Provide perfect meals (pre-prepared raw, for example) a few times a week.
Note: As scavengers, dogs, when healthy, are well suited to mixing and matching food types (canned, raw, cooked). Many cats can mix and match too.
Probiotics should always be used during a food change or while using antibiotics.
I recommend regular use of probiotics for many animals.
Bacillus coagulans, a beneficial probiotic bacteria, can be added to pet food to support the flora in the distal intestine, and it is useful during a diet change. After being ingested, it can survive the low pH of stomach acid in the dog and cat and can colonize the lower intestines to help avoid loose stool.
Other strains of probiotics are helpful in different circumstances. Because the foods we feed tend to be so carefully packaged to avoid bacterial pathogens, it may be difficult for animals to obtain proper bacteria for their GI tract. A periodic probiotic supplement provides those bacteria.
Probiotics come in many forms. Dairy-free versions are available for sensitive animals. Pets that are already accustomed to dairy products can be given good-quality yogurt from most supermarkets or health food stores.
Probiotics meant for humans can be used as a pet supplement if you can’t find the B. coagulans.
Look for good-quality products from respected companies. Generally, a dairy-free probiotic is the most effective.
Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) can improve hair coat, inflammatory conditions, arthritis, and skin problems. Omegas encourage free radical scavenging, which can decrease inflammation.
Carnivores do not efficiently convert flaxseed, hemp, or borage into a usable omega source, although these plants can be used as laxatives.
For an animal that has oily/hot skin or loose stools, fish oil may not be recommended. Instead consider DHA from algae (see below), coconut oil, or aloe juice (small amounts) to help the skin.
DHA from algae sources is more accessible and renewable. It’s easy on the stomach, and is bio-friendly. The algae are not killed to harvest it. The manufacturer feeds the algae, and the algae make the DHA.
Avoid krill oil. It is the only thing whales eat. Let’s not be cruel and take it away from them.
Unsweetened canned pumpkin is a terrific stool regulator that combats both constipation and diarrhea. It regulates moisture and provides a gentle fiber. Use during food changes to regulate stool. Dosage is 1 tablespoon once or twice daily for a 30-pound dog or a 1/2 teaspoon for an average cat, in food or as a treat. I am surprised at how many cats like to eat straight pumpkin from a spoon. You can also mix pumpkin with meat baby food or yogurt and put it into ice cube trays or Kongs (then freeze) to use as treats.
Psyllium fiber/oat bran fiber for both loose stool or constipation. Many foods, especially raw foods, may not include enough fiber. Adding psyllium fiber or oat bran (about a teaspoon per meal for a 50-pound dog, or 1/4teaspoon for an average cat) is a great way to improve the fiber content of the food.
White rice relieves diarrhea. Do not use Minute Rice. Cook the white rice with extra water and overcook until it is gloppy. It absorbs better when it is overcooked and sticky wet. Brown rice is not as absorbent for diarrhea/loose stools. The white rice is given for its absorbent quality, not for its nutritive value.
Low-sodium chicken or beef broth or even warm water can be added to food to increase palatability. Pets will drink more water this way because it tastes good.
Food Vehicles for Giving Pills, Powders, Other Medications
Liverwurst—cover pill completely
Meat baby food—use small jars of a single meat: chicken, beef, lamb and other flavors. Do not use baby foods containing onion or onion powder, which is toxic to pets. Some baby food products contain small amounts of cornstarch, which is okay.
Pats of butter, cream cheese, or other cheeses
Hide medicine in butter, then let it harden in the freezer for a moment to make it easier to give.
Good-quality plain yogurt with active cultures is effective if the animal does not have a dairy sensitivity. Also useful during diet changes or when using an antibiotic.
For Picky, Hard-to-Pill Dogs or Cats
Many compounding pharmacies will make a pill into a flavored liquid or chewy treat.
Fun Treat Foods
Use baby foods for versatile meal enhancement and treats.
Dilute baby food with warm water to make gravy and pour over foods.
Add baby foods directly to regular food to improve taste.
Spread favorite foods, as if it is pâté, on plain rice cakes or in ice cube trays or inside a Kong toy, then freeze
Food-Related Dental Notes
Dry food chips off tartar and keeps teeth clean. Not true.
Many veterinarians and dog food companies suggest that dry food is better for the teeth. The truth is, dry food is not better for the teeth. Dry food sticks to the teeth. Look in your dog’s mouth after he has eaten a meal of dry food and you will see that the dry food is stuck in the crevices. To compress the ingredients in a piece of kibble, an adhesive carbohydrate is added. This makes it more likely to adhere to the teeth and form plaque.
Check your pet’s mouth and teeth regularly. This will get him accustomed to someone checking/touching his teeth to assess dental health. It may also make a dental procedure less stressful for your pet.
Brush the teeth two to three times a week. You can even use a piece of gauze and a paste of baking soda and water to help avoid tartar buildup.
Outlandish nonnutritive things I’ve seen pets eat, many of which I have surgically removed
GI Joe dolls, fully intact
Barbie dolls, with clothes
large Nerf balls, gold balls, tennis balls, soccer balls
What you put in your pet’s bowl is one of the most important health decisions you’ll ever make.
IDEFINE THE ROYAL TREATMENT’S NUTRITIONAL CONCEPTS AS functional nutrition. The function of proper nutrition is to promote optimal wild health. The shift to processed convenience pet food has contributed to increasingly overfed and undernourished pets. If food, or the amount of it, is making a pet fat, the nutrition is not functional. An animal with the wrong fuel and too much of it is not fully functioning.
Just because your pet has solid poop doesn’t mean his food is suitable. In other words, don’t judge a food by the poop. Many owners tell me they don’t want to change food because their pet’s poop is normal. “Since I started this food,” they say, “my dog no longer has diarrhea.” This does not indicate the food is the correct long-term food for the pet. While I’m thrilled the diarrhea has been alleviated, the ingredients of the food may not be nourishing other canine organ systems, and the food may still need to be changed.
In a healthy dog or cat, poop tends to be small, firm, and infrequent. They should go once or twice a day, max. Generally the size should be about the diameter of the base of the animal’s tail. In the carnivore, huge and frequent stools are not indicative of health.
Now on to a less scatological and a more charged subject: veganism in cats and dogs. If you have chosen a vegan lifestyle, that’s great. If you want your pet to be a vegan, too, get a rabbit. Or get a chinchilla, a couple of sugar gliders, a guinea pig, a few hamsters, or certain vegetarian fish. These animals thrive on being vegan: it’s their heritage. But dogs and cats do not.
I routinely see many preventable illnesses when people try to make a vegan out of a carnivore, particularly when they use poor-quality vegetable proteins. The digestive system of a dog or cat is not suited to a preponderance of vegetables and grains. Cats are especially at risk for illness from a vegan diet because they are obligate carnivores. But dogs are not suited to veganism either.
There may be some future possibilities for a more vegetarian diet that includes excellent vegetable proteins, and perhaps some combination of healthy cheeses, eggs, or dairy. New information and research is on the horizon. I am open-minded to any discussion, or new empirical evidence and research that has long-term tangible results on this subject. The field of nutrition is exciting and we are learning things every day. But I practice what nature intended for my patients and what they’re evolved to tolerate today. I believe this minimizes health problems for them in the short and long term.
I have seen several owners who prefer a vegan diet for their dog or cat. I explain the options and why I believe this is a mistake. As long as the owner knows that they may be shortening the life span and possibly decreasing the quality of life for their pet, they can make that decision. As their vet, I try to support the pet’s health as best I can. But none of my vegan dog or cat cases are fully, vibrantly healthy. Weight problems, diabetes, heart disease, musculoskeletal problems, vision deficits, and cognitive diseases abound in these animals.
Humans are omnivores and can therefore choose the type of food they want to eat. But we choose for our pets, and it is wrong to feed a carnivore as if it were an omnivore or an herbivore. As much as I enjoy eating a wide variety of fresh vegetables myself, I couldn’t have offered that to Songkit, the tiger cub I hand-raised, if I expected her to survive. A carnivore that doesn’t eat meat will have health issues.
I agree with vegetarians and vegans that we consume too much meat in our country, torture farm and factory animals, and waste precious resources to raise our livestock. It’s a shame that our carnivore pets contribute to that imbalance. However, pets have as much of a right to be healthy as do animals that are raised to be slaughtered for food. Better food practices and improving conditions for livestock and poultry used in pet food are important moral issues for people who love animals.
ROYAL TREATMENT RECIPES FOR FUNCTIONAL NUTRITION
With the foundation of a nutritious diet, you may not need any pet supplements. However, even with exceptional supplements you will always need to provide a nutritious diet.
DR. ROYAL’S ULTIMATE CANINE RAW FOOD RECIPE
For a 30-pound dog:
Take 1 pound raw organic chicken, no bones, leave on half of the skin, include heart and liver.
Or rotate with 1 pound other raw meats such as turkey, beef, or lamb; or eggs, or sardines.
Cut into pieces (to make about 2 heaping cups).
Put into a large bowl.
Add 1/2 cup canned or homecooked pumpkin (unsweetened).
Add 1/4 cup lightly steamed or cooked vegetables (green beans, broccoli, zucchini, peas, carrots, bell peppers).
Add 1/8 cup fruit, e.g., blueberries or melon (approximately 2 tablespoons).
If you plan to cook this recipe, don’t add the fish oil or calcium (next ingredients) until after you cook the meat mix.
Add 400–500 mg fish oil.
Add 2,000 mg calcium from bone meal—depending on the source, this is about 2 teaspoons (this is available online or from your vet).
Vary the protein sources (beef, lamb, venison, turkey). You can follow the proportions below. I find it’s easiest to stay with volume to measure ingredients. If you change proteins and vegetables every so often, you are more likely to cover your nutritional bases.
You can include bones if you can finely grind them. Bone meal isn’t needed if you add ground bone. If you have bone pieces in the food, don’t cook the meat with the bones; they become too brittle and are dangerous when cooked.
General Diet Rules for Home Cooking
Meat—60–75% of Diet
Types of meats/proteins include: beef, lamb (tends to be high in fat), chicken (use only half of the skin), turkey, fish (sardines are easy, salmon must be cooked), tripe, rabbit, buffalo, venison, eggs (yolks uncooked are best for omega integrity). Meat that comes from organic farms with free-range animals will be better for your pet and better for the earth.
Veggies/fruits (15–25%—at least two times more veggies than fruits)
Types of vegetables/fruits to include: pumpkin (baked), squashes (baked), sweet potato (baked), carrots (cooked), red or yellow peppers, cabbage (cooked), chard, romaine, endive, cucumber, kelp, spinach, broccoli (cooked), peas, eggplant, zucchini, celery, green beans, blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, apple, pear, papaya. It’s okay to use frozen veggies and fruits. Raw broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, or bok choy should not be fed every day to hypothyroid animals. Unless they are cooked they can affect thyroid function due to iodine uptake issues.
Fat—10–30% of Diet
Most of the fat is from the meat, chicken skin, or added oils. In nature, this would vary by season—more in the fall, less in the spring.
Add probiotic/enzyme mix during any food transition; for maintenance, most animals benefit from a dose of probiotics given 1–2 times a week.
Add a complete pet vitamin tablet at least 3 times per week.
Every meal requires the important bone meal (1,000 gm per pound of meat based food) or finely ground bones to provide a proper calcium/phosphorus ratio. In healthy animals I recommend bone meal rather than ground egg shell, which doesn’t have quite the right ratio.
Make a large amount at one time, but freeze the food in small portions. Freeze with as little air as possible, and quickly and evenly.
Every week, you can add a little iodized salt as a supplement and for a change of taste.
A normal 30-pound adult dog’s daily portion can vary widely depending on the activity level, metabolism, and genetics of each pet. It can range between 2 and 5 cups of homemade food per day. Judge amounts based on weight and defecation.
Growing puppies may need double the amount you’d feed to an adult. It may seem obvious, but there is a correlation between amount of food and frequency of defecation. It is normal for a puppy to poop 4–6 times a day until it is six months old.
Diet for Dogs with Cancer
Start with the Royal Treatment Ultimate Diet.
Increase the fat component to 30 percent fat (add egg yolks, green tripe, fish oil, or DHA from algae).
Decrease the vegetable component to 10 percent veggies with minimal fruits.
Probiotic for a healthy gastrointestinal tract
Turmeric—an anti-inflammatory supplement (spice) that is also known as an effective anticancer supplement. Doses range from 1/4 tsp for a small dog to up to 1 tbsp for a large dog per day. Note: turmeric is indelibly orange and stains fabrics.
Mushroom complex (particularly reishi and maitake) to support the immune system. Give 1/4 of a human dose for a small dog to up to one human dose for a large dog per day.
ADD TWO TIMES A WEEK
Multivitamin that contains zinc. Give 1/4 of a human dose for a small dog to up to one human dose for a large dog each time.
B complex—give 1/4 of a human dose for a small dog to up to one human dose for a large dog each time.
Vitamin C—give 1/4 of a human dose for a small dog to up to one human dose for a large dog each time.
Selenium—with the dose range of 20 micrograms (mcg) for small dogs up to 200 mcg for a large dog each time.
ADD FIVE DAYS A WEEK
Vitamin A—(dose ranges from 5,000 IU for a small dog to up to 50,000 IU for a giant breed dog). There is toxicity associated with vitamin A and all the oil-soluble vitamins, so giving the right dose and only five days a week keeps the supplement safe.
Basic Kidney Support Diet
Start with the Royal Treatment Ultimate Canine Raw Food Recipe. Add the following supplements:
A good probiotic—Azodyl or a lactobacillus/acidophilus combo
Fiber—psyllium husk works well (some is already in Azodyl)
Vitamin B complex (about 1/2 a human dose for a 30–50 pound dog)
Potassium supplement, if blood work indicates it’s low. Foods that are high in potassium include bananas, melons, apples, potatoes, carrots, peas, and beans.
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil
Coconut oil (1/4 tsp for a cat, and 1/2 tsp for a 30-pound dog)
A kidney diet should have limited phosphorus.
If you are cooking for your pet, substitute ground egg shell, which has less phosphorus, for one-half of your bone meal.
In order to decrease phosphorus, avoid any grains (wheat or corn), egg yolks, bones, organ meats, and dairy.
A phosphate binder is recommended such as aluminum hydroxide, or Epakitin (a chitosan-based intestinal phosphate binder). When phosphorus in the food is bound to a phosphate binder, it does not get absorbed into the bloodstream. This helps control high levels of phosphorus that are not well controlled by the malfunctioning kidney.
Many animals in kidney failure digest better if their raw food is cooked.
I do not typically recommend lowering the amount of protein in diets of animals suffering from kidney disease. Pet food already contains too little protein, and it is crucial for proper kidney function in carnivores. (See the chapter “Don’t Feed an Anemic Hummingbird a Steak” for more on kidney diets.)
A great supplement for animals with kidney disease is green tripe. It can be added to the regular food and even the pickiest eater will perk up for a bite. Tripe is from the intestines of herbivores. It contains a therapeutic combination of easy-to-digest protein, fat, beneficial bacteria, and enzymes. Warning: the smell of tripe is beyond foul. Tripe is available in cans, fresh from a butcher, or frozen. If you don’t thaw it completely, it is less pungent. Give 1/4 to 1 cup of tripe for a 50-pound dog at least twice a week.
Liver Detox and Support Diet
LIVER DETOX DIET RECIPE
2/3 cup sweet potato
1/3 cup white potato (make sure not to use any green skin from the potato)
2 cups white-colored fish (pollock, haddock, cod, or other white fish—lightly cooked)
Combine potato mix with 2 cups of fish
1/8 tsp of chopped fresh garlic (Do not use garlic powder, which is too concentrated)
1/4 tsp chopped fresh parsley
Alternate in two of the following:
1 tbsp chopped cooked carrots
1 tbsp chopped cooked zucchini
1 tbsp chopped cooked string beans, green beans
1 tbsp chopped cooked celery
1 tbsp chopped cooked summer squash
Occasionally offer scrambled eggs or cottage cheese instead of white fish.
Five days a week, add one dose of a children’s liquid multivitamin (dog ones tend to have flavoring) for a 30–50 pound dog, and 1/4 of the dose for a 10-pound cat. Also add the following:
Milk Thistle (Liver Support Herb)
300 mg twice a day for a 30–50 pound dog
50 mg twice a day for an 8–15 pound dog or cat
1/2 tsp for a 30-pound dog
1/4 tsp for a 10-pound dog or cat
Omega-3 Fatty Acid from Fish Oil or Algae DHA
1,000 mg each of DHA and EPA for the 30–50 pound dog
250–300 mg for 8–15 pound dog or cat
SAM-e or Denosyl (S-adenosylmethionine)
400 mg once a day on an empty stomach for a 50-pound dog
90 mg once a day on an empty stomach for a 10-pound dog or cat
This diet gives the liver a break. It is formulated using a variation on the basic liver detox diet from Dr. Jean Dodds and is effective for animals that have liver disease, hepatitis, liver enzyme elevation, history of seizures, recent anesthesia, or liver-taxing medications. The whitefish contains an amino acid that helps heal the liver. Feed it to your pet until health is restored. The pet’s regular diet should be slowly reinstated.
If your pet is taking potassium bromide (KBr) or sodium bromide (NaBr), the dosage may have to be reduced if your pet becomes wobbly or weak. Low sodium in the diet may make the bromide in the KBr or NaBr more potent. Ask your vet.
Diet for Dogs with Seizures
Avoid these ingredients in food for animals with seizures (read labels carefully, as these ingredients are more prevalent than you think):
All forms of gluten, such as wheat, barley, rye, bulgur, durum, graham, spelt, spelta, kamut, and triticale
Casein (cow’s milk products) increases the precursors for neuro-excitatory chemicals
Soy contains estrogen-like compounds that can affect seizure activity
MSG and its myriad pseudonyms are neuro-excitatory
Aspartame (NutraSweet) is a neuro-excitatory compound
When preparing a diet for dogs with seizures, start with the Royal Treatment Ultimate Diet and add:
Regular-strength multivitamin with zinc
Vitamin B complex (1/4 of a human dose for small dogs up to a full human dose for large dogs daily)
Vitamin C (50 mg per day for a small dog up to 1000 mg per day for a large dog)
Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil, or algae DHA) (150 mg EPA or 100 mg DHA for small dogs and 750 mg EPA or 500 mg DHA for large dogs daily)
Taurine (250 mg for a small dog up to 1000 mg for a large dog, once to twice a day)
Magnesium (5 mg for a small dog up to 50 mg/kg per day)
GERIATRIC PET SUPPLEMENTS
FEED GERIATRIC PETS A carnivore diet and add extra protein. Older pets need at least 40 percent protein to maintain and strengthen muscle mass.
Add coconut oil to the food to moisturize the skin and GI tract.
Offer 1/4 to 1 cup of green tripe several times a week.
Add warm water to the food to increase the smell for aging noses.
Herbs like turmeric, boswellia, gingko, ginseng, arnica, and other homeopathic supplements can help with inflammation, arthritis, or cognitive function.
Add egg shell/membrane to dog food. For cats, scrape the egg out of the shell. They won’t eat egg membrane if it’s still attached to the shell.
Egg Shell Membrane (Inner Lining of an Egg Shell) Contains
Collagen—Supports cartilage and connective tissue and promotes elasticity
Elastin—Helps with tissue elasticity and helps tissue to regain normal shape after stretching
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs)—glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid, which are vital polysaccharides and components of joints, joint fluid, and connective tissue
Transforming growth factor b—A protein that promotes tissue rejuvenation
Maya, a lovely young black Labrador, was brought to see me for alternative treatment for her seizure disorder. It was deemed to be idiopathic epilepsy. Her owners wanted to avoid treating her with phenobarbital if possible. The seizure activity seemed random and unrelated to any particular event, until we looked closely at her diet.
Once we had changed her diet from food that was high in wheat and corn to a grain-free diet, her seizure activity decreased significantly. But periodically she would still have seizures. One day her owner called me, very excited. She could trace every seizure since the diet change back to times when Maya had eaten corn. The popcorn from her daughter’s slumber party, a corn taco on taco night, and some corn-based leftovers on other evenings—all had resulted in seizures. Even some corn on the cob managed to cause a seizure.
Now this household is virtually corn free, but if Maya does get any corn, she has a seizure. Otherwise she is seizure free. No medication. Adjusting her diet was the key.
DIET CHANGE TIPS
When changing foods, be sure to do it slowly and incrementally. A complete diet change typically takes about ten to fourteen days. Each day, you should increase the new food and decrease the old food. This will cause the least amount of trouble for your pet’s GI tract and will cause you the least amount of headache.
DIET CHANGE CHART
90% old food
10% new food
80% old food
20% new food
70% old food
30% new food
60% old food
40% new food
50% old food
50% new food
40% old food
60% new food
30% old food
70% new food
20% old food
80% new food
10% old food
90% new food
100% new food
Even with the exciting advances in nutrigenomics (a new field that determines how nutritional components interact with an animal’s specific genetic makeup), there are still no tests that can fully predict what food is best for any pet. To conclusively discover what your pet can tolerate, slowly incorporate the new food into his daily diet.
Monitor for vomiting or diarrhea or other GI signs. If these issues occur, decrease the amount of new food and try again more slowly.
If the diet is not working for your dog, provide a bland diet for a few meals before substituting another type of food. This will rebalance the GI tract.
A bland diet can help your pet avoid or resolve diarrhea, whether from a virus, bacterial overgrowth, dietary change/dietary indiscretion, or a variety of other causes.
BLAND DIET RECIPE
2 parts overcooked white rice (not Minute Rice) to 1 part boiled meat, tripe, or a meat baby food, white fish, cottage cheese, or scrambled eggs.
Increase to 1:1 and then slowly return to regular diet.
Add extra water and cook a little longer to make the rice soupy, which enhances its absorptive capacity.
A bland diet should be fed in the same volume as you normally feed your pet, or slightly less. If you feed 2 cups a day of dry food, feed nearly 2 cups a day of the bland diet. This is a transitional diet, formulated to be tasty, easy to digest, and effective in firming stool.
It is not a complete diet. As signs improve, pets should be weaned off the bland diet and back onto their regular diet over a period of three to four days.
Unsweetened canned pumpkin can also be used regularly or as part of the bland diet. Many cats and dogs love it. Feed 1 teaspoon per meal for a 10-pound dog and 1 tablespoon per meal for dogs 30–50 pounds. To keep a large can of pumpkin from spoiling, put it into ice-cube trays to freeze for future use.
If you would rather cook a fresh pumpkin for your pet, steam-bake a cut-up pumpkin in a pan with 1–2 cups of water in the bottom for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Then scrape out and freeze the cooked pumpkin in ice-cube trays.
Cooked millet (preferably overcooked, with extra water) can also be used to treat diarrhea. Mix in with the food about 1 tablespoon for a 30-pound dog. Be aware that millet can be constipating, so once the stool becomes formed, wean off millet.
Provide a probiotic supplement to help the GI tract restore its normal bacteria. An appropriate complement of “good” bacteria in the GI tract is essential for proper nutrient absorption. Bacterial overgrowth can be a reason for digestive issues. Dogs live in a more sterile world than they would in the wild, and bacteria-free food may not be conducive to optimal digestion. I recommend intermittently adding good bacteria into the food in the form of probiotics. They are available at vet clinics, pharmacies, and natural grocers.
A 50-pound dog would take about half the human dose of probiotics. There is a wide range of safety for this supplement. Adjust dose up or down by weight.
An arsenal of supplements can be difficult for an animal to digest. Upset tummies can be due to oversupplementing. If you are feeding an appropriate food for your pet, supplements may not be required.
Avoid “diet” pet foods for weight loss—the best diet is less food.
If you are feeding a prescription diet, check the label for undesirable ingredients and discuss them with your vet.
Protein must make up a minimum of 30% (dry matter) of the diet—not including nonmeat sources of protein such as soy, potato, or pea protein.
Determining protein content of wet foods based on dry matter is complicated. Just remember, canned food labels list percentages that might seem too low. This is because the manufacturers are using a different scale. This is when the conversion calculation (page 80) comes in handy. When protein percentages are measured on the same scale using this calculation, it will be apparent that most canned foods win against dry foods by having more protein.
The amount of carbs is rarely listed on the label, but it can be easily approximated by subtracting protein and fat percentages from 100%. For example: 100% total − 30% protein − 10% fat = 60% carbs.
Dogs and cats require fat in their diets.
Carbs, not fats, are the main culprit in carnivore weight gain and often in pancreatitis, too.
Loose stool can be an indication of too much fat consumption.
When adding omega-3 in fish oils, decrease the amount if diarrhea occurs.
TIPS FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH FEEDING
The most common cause of diarrhea is overfeeding.
Optimal weight for dogs and cats depends on good portion control and low carbs.
Dogs have the unique ability to gain and lose weight quickly and safely. As scavengers, dogs efficiently use up body fat when they don’t find a meal. With cats you must be more careful.
A normal adult dog defecates 1–2 times a day. An overweight dog should be fed less and therefore defecate only 1 time a day. When their stomach is empty, they use their fat for energy.
It is crucial that feline weight loss happen gradually.
It is best not to rely on the suggested daily amount on food packages or cans. It is often way too much.
Your dog will still love you if you feed him less.
If your dog is constantly begging for food, add plain rice cakes or green beans to the diet to fill up his stomach.
WET VS. DRY FOOD
As I have mentioned, dry food is not better for the teeth. Dry food, with its added carbs, adheres to the teeth. (See page 85 and the chapter “Going Dental.”)
A dog that eats wet food, uncooked soft bones, and a natural diet will easily lick their teeth clean after a meal.
70% of the digestive system of a canine is taken up by the stomach, which expects to be fed in just one to two daily batches. (A human stomach takes up only 30%—so we need to eat more frequently.) A canine stomach is a strong, muscular sac that mixes the food with hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, and mucus, which the stomach lining secretes to protect stomach cells. The food is held in the stomach and broken down until initial digestion is complete. At this stage of digestion, the food changes to a liquid consistency, similar to soup. This soup is then pushed out of the stomach and into the small intestine. Further digestion occurs with more enzymes added from the pancreas and liver.
Dry food arrives in a dog’s stomach like a cement block, requiring an influx of water from the body to break it up before it passes into the intestine. Animals that eat dry food must drink more water all at once, resulting in unnatural urination patterns. In addition, for about an hour, while all that water is in their stomach, they can become dehydrated. This is not ideal for the health of kidneys and circulation.
Dogs need fiber in their diets.
Fiber is not the same thing as processed grains.
Wild carnivores obtain fiber from the animals they eat—parts of the carcass that would be hard to digest, like fur, nails, fins, cartilage, scales, hooves, feathers, sticks, dirt, teeth, and/or tendons. Plant matter that is in the stomach of their prey also provides fiber to the carnivore.
This “wild” type of fiber is not easily available for homemade diets. But other usable sources of fiber are unsweetened pumpkin, psyllium (ground husks of a native Indian plant used as a source of fiber to maintain colon health), and fiber from vegetables. Canned pumpkin can be added to the diet at about 1 tablespoon for a 50-pound dog. Or add a teaspoon of psyllium to wet food for a 50-pound dog if more fiber is needed. Adjust dose proportionally by weight.
Conform to the same rules when deciding how to give treats to your dog. Commercial treats tend to be very calorie-dense to make them tasty. Don’t feed too many per day. Check ingredients carefully and avoid treats made in China.
Great treats directly from the refrigerator include green beans, apples, carrots, celery, cheese, butter, meats, and many vegetables. Avoid raw vegetables in the cruciferous or brassica family, such as broccoli and cauliflower, if your pet has a thyroid problem.
THE DIGESTIVE MECHANICS OF your pet are as immutable as those of any carnivore.
Raw food contains more harmful bacteria than kibble does. Not true. There have been more recalls because of harmful bacteria found in kibble food than in raw food.