Many holistic veterinarians believe that there many modern commercially produced pet foods contain too much of the wrong sorts of ingredients and not enough of the right sort.
This is because the pet food manufacturing business developed as by-product industry and, although some foods are better than others, most leave a lot to be desired from a holistic standpoint. Page contents:
- 1. Artificial additives
- 2. Unsuitable by-products
- 3. Herbage
- 4. Allergy and hypersensitivity
- 5. Ailments associated with a poor diet
1. Artificial Additives
Laboratory derived additives, such as vitamins, preservatives and flavour enhancers are added. These are not metabolised as well as natural products and can interfere with the uptake of natural micronutrients. Even the so-called hypoallergenic products contain some of these.
2. Unsuitable by products
These are denatured products from the human food industry. Whilst some may have a nutritional value, their use generally means that the food has not been formulated using holistic principles. Their use also indicates the need for synthetic products to be used in order to try and replace the lost elements.
Traditional pastures contained hundreds of species of grasses and herbage which is missing from today’s grassland because of modern farming methods. The essential nutrients in this herbage were once available to the dog through the meat that it consumed.
4. The problem of hypersensitivity to certain substances/ wheat / gluten allergy
Clinical experience suggests that the majority of these problems have not been properly diagnosed. True allergy i.e. when the body produces antibodies to certain substances, is not very common. It requires a blood test to diagnose it properly and many owners (and some veterinarians) will make a diagnosis without doing a blood test.
When a test is done it is usually positive for wheat or wheat gluten, which is the sticky material in many grain cereals.
The dog is usually taken off wheat and given other gluten free or low gluten cereal. This usually gets rid of the problem but it does not always cure it if the diet is not completely reassessed.
More common is food intolerance, where there can also be severe digestive and other problems, usually strongly associated with badly balanced carbohydrates. The majority of dog foods contain far too much of the wrong sort of grain carbohydrate and not enough of the right sort. The body then starts rejecting the wrong sort and if this is not corrected intolerance develops which can turn into clinical allergy if not corrected; irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) in humans has similar connotations.
Most dogs will recover from the problem if the digestive system is allowed to heal, which usually means simply readjusting the carbohydrate source.
5. Ailments associated with a poor diet
The physical effects of the continued use of a poorly conceived diet become progressively more difficult to reverse.
The milder cases of examples of ailments in 1. and 2. Below can very often be resolved simply through corrective nutrition alone. Problems in 3. will usually require veterinary attention as well as corrective nutrition for a longer-term cure.
Some will be irreversible and possibly life threatening.
1. Dull coat, bad breath, poor digestion, constipation, diarrhea, weight loss, energy loss, behavioural problems. *Grass and dung eating, dry flaky skin, coprophagea (eating faeces).
2. Colitis, food intolerance, depression, irritable bowel, eczema, allergies, lethargy, slow recovery from minor illnesses, slow healing, parasitic diseases, high susceptibility to infections.
3. If the diet remains sub-optimal this can lead to susceptibility to more serious and potentially life threatening problems involving the major organs of the body may occur. This may include such things as diabetes, arthritis, liver kidney and heart problems.
Not only does a poor contribute to the body’s susceptibility to such ailments it is beyond doubt that one of the cornerstones of recovery from such illnesses is a proper diet.