Everyone is always wondering why their dogs eat grass and we all have different answers. I thought this video from Dr. Karen Becker, DVM said it well.
I feel this information is excellent and worth sharing for anyone considering getting a puppy. I have learned so much from Dr. Peter Dubias, DVM through many of his courses and blog. This is worth your time to listen to before getting your puppy.
by Dr. Peter Dobias DVM
When I started writing this article, I thought about listing the 10 most common mistakes dog lovers make with puppies. My list turned into 30 or 40 points and I realized this article will be the starting point of many more conversations, whether it is in these pages or online.
Hip dysplasia, vaccinosis, too many prescriptions drugs, poor bone growth, chronic diarrhea, cruciate ligament tears, obesity, epilepsy, organ failure, autoimmune disease, cancer and premature loss are often the outcomes of well-intended deeds and poor advice that people get about puppy care.
I hope the following 10 points serve as a springboard and inspire you to go deeper in your learning. Your actions will make a huge, positive difference in the life of the dog you love. Enjoy!
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By Dr. Karen Becker
Many people believe the love they have for families and friends is best expressed through food, so serving cake, pie, biscuits and gravy and mounds of meat is considered a love language. Family recipes are sometimes thought to be part of the glue that helps holds loved ones together. Unfortunately, the concept is also extended to pets. In fact, the newest statistics show that over the past several years, pet obesity is getting worse, not better. The sad fact is, obesity continues to be the greatest health threat facing pets today.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's (APOP) 2016 clinical survey, nearly 54 percent of dogs and 59 percent of cats were deemed clinically overweight or obese, using the Pet Body Condition Score (BCS). A BCS of 4 equates to overweight, and BCS 5 is obese. According to the organization's website:
"That equals an estimated 41.9 million dogs and 50.5 million cats are too heavy, based on 2016 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA)."1
Since 2012, APOP's percentages for overweight and obese dogs have shown a steady climb from 52.5 percent to 53.9 percent in 2016. Over the same time frame, there was a slight dip in the percentages for 2013 for cats, but then they climbed and even exceeded the highest numbers ever with a total of 58.9 percent being obese and overweight.
What Does Excess Fat in Dogs and Cats Mean for Their Health? In 2014, the American Animal Hospital Association submitted guidelines for managing the weight of dogs and cats, and noted several related diseases and conditions that may occur when these animals are overweight or obese, such as:
Skin disorders, Respiratory problems, Kidney dysfunction, Metabolic and endocrine disorders, Orthopedic disease, Certain cancers, Chronic inflammation and Diminished quality of life. But that's not all. Numerous other diseases are claiming the lives of pets due to obesity, and many are related to the strain placed on their bones and joints, circulatory systems, nerves and organs, such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, congestive heart failure and intervertebral disc disease. Not surprisingly, any of these by themselves can make your pet feel miserable, but the worst thing is a reduced life expectancy. Obesity can kill animals just as it does humans. Read more...
If you're unsure what your pet is supposed to weigh, you can check the list of ideal weights for pets at Pet Obesity Prevention.3 Weight charts have lots of limitations, so ideally, if you don't know if your pet is overweight, ask your vet. You should be able to feel your pet's ribs:
This amazing website of Rodney Habib, Pet Nutrition Blogger, is now available with exceptional information. He is a blessing to all of us pet parents who want to keep our furry friends healthy and happy. Do check this article on immune system healing herbs and all of this other information. I have followed him for years and have learned so much...
John Moore almost died from mercury poisoning in 1974. Since then, he has become a leading mercury and dental health researcher and has traveled a long road looking for answers to mercury poisoning and spreading a warning. He now refers to mercury as the planet’s most ubiquitous contaminant, a base poison that really rose at the start of the industrial age as a pollutant, is used as a preservative in making plastics and is in practically everything we make from concrete to medicines.
What do we do in the face of such ubiquitous “base poisons” – heavy metals like mercury, aluminum and lead? I share Moore’s mantra: Learn to live a life of detoxification! How do we detox? This is the million-dollar question because there are millions of us who need to be doing this every day. When we’re surrounded by heavy metals in our air, our water and our foods, embarking on an overall lifestyle detox is overwhelming to say the least. Remember a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. Take it one step at a time and day by day.
An every day detox begins by eating whole foods, organic – and even biodynamic – if possible. And for our fourlegged friends? A species appropriate raw diet. The raw meaty bones should be the joints and not the long bones unless purchased from a company that tests their bones for heavy metals.
Glyphosate: The Hidden Poison In Your Dog’s DietIt isn’t just the heavy metal mercury but the use of glyphosate (sold under the trade name Roundup) that needs to be addressed. Foods are another form of heavy metal poisoning so we need to be focused on choosing GMO-free foods and here’s why: Dr Michael Fox wrote an article titled Herbicide Glyphosate Found In Pet Foods (uexpress.com/animal-doctor/2015/9/27/herbicide-glyphosate-found-in-pet-foods).
Besides naming all the pet foods that contained high levels of the herbicide, he discusses the addition of sodium nitrite to foods as a preservative; in the presence of glyphosate, sodium nitrite is deadly and a carcinogen. Corn, soy, sugar beets, cotton, canola, all genetically modified, use the glyphosate as a dessicant prior to harvesting. Wheat barley and sorghum are sprayed with glyphosate. These foods are not only fed to our dogs, they are fed to the food animals all of us eat!
MIT researcher Dr Stephani Seneff has authored The Destructive Effects of Heavy Metals and Glyphosate. Glyphosate, it turns out, is a major driver of disease. This toxin stays in bones – our bones – but also in the bones of the food-producing animals where our “raw meaty bones” are obtained to feed our dogs. My colleague the late Dr Gloria Dodd evaluated the presence of metals in pet foods and aluminum is one of the metals found in high levels.
Dr Seneff talks about the aluminum accumulation in the brain and the synergistic promotion by glyphosate. Not only do heavy metals sequester in bones, but so does the glyphosate and this is a staggeringly toxic combination. Mercury and aluminum are all the more toxic in the context of glyphosate. Vaccines become much more toxic because glyphosate inhibits detoxification organs from eliminating these chemical toxins. This combination restricts the liver’s ability to activate vitamin D and therefore accounts for the broad-spectrum vitamin D deficiency we’re seeing. Without the right stuff, we have leaky guts, allergies, overgrowth of harmful pathogens, celiac disease, SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), and harmful pathogens like C. difficile. The bottom line is that heavy metals like mercury, in the presence of the toxin and herbicide glyphosate, means the toxins are 1,000 times more toxic than they are in isolation.
11 Ways To Combat Your Dogs Exposure To Heavy Metals:
1. Heal Leaky Gut:
First Humans and our pets in bad shape with leaky gut will have allergies, especially to the things they’ve been eating. That’s because the gut was in fact leaking back into the blood stream which causes a sensitivity (allergy) as the body reacts to these invaders. Much more information about healing leaky gut can be found in the May-June 2016 issue of Dogs Naturally. Suffice it to say, you must remove the trauma (vaccines, processed food, etc.), support the liver; rebalance with prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes; replenish with a healthy whole food diet along with aloe, slippery elm and marshmallow root; and restore with homeopathic remedies that support trauma and heal the body.
For those like myself with leaky gut and digestive issues, I use bone broths and inner leaf fillet of aloe for a week to help repair the gut. I advise using Stockton One aloe because it’s hand filleted for the inner leaf and otherwise unprocessed, and shipped frozen.
I’d give a 60 pound dog about 15 to 20 cc of this aloe by mouth twice a day. Adjust up or down depending on the size of your dog.
For the bone broth, use whole chickens, lots of joints like necks and feet, and pig bones for their chondroitin, which is very healing for the gut. Metals don’t generally store in the joints so also use a hock or stifle. Place the bones in a stockpot and cover with water; add three to four tablespoons of organic apple cider vinegar, bring to a boil and simmer for at least 24 hours. Strain the broth (throw away the bones), cool and refrigerate. Fat may harden on the top and you can remove it before feeding. Give your dog a few tablespoons daily with food or as a separate snack.
Caution: Do not use high fat bones like marrow bones or pork bones for dogs with pancreatitis or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI).
This combination is the best detox I know of for the GI tract. After a week of detoxing, I also supplement with fermented vegetables, which you can buy or make yourself.
2. Vitamin D:
I learned in herbal certification class the importance of vitamin D in “tightening up the weave” of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, especially where it gets down to a single cell of thickness between the mucosa of the digestive tract and the bloodstream that is home to our antibodies. With adequate natural sunlight, your body can produce its own vitamin D but dogs don’t absorb much vitamin D from the sun, so they need to obtain it via whole foods like liver from grass-fed cows, whole raw eggs from free-range chickens and wild-caught fish like sardines, tuna, mackerel and salmon. Remember, your dog should have organ meats at least once a week, or as 10 percent of his diet.
3. Prevent And Treat Candida:
If candida is present it’s probably due to heavy metals as it will eat its weight in heavy metals. It’s important not to aggravate candida as it can release more than 60 toxic substances including the heavy metals and ethanols. You must remove the cause of the poisoning or all treatments will be moot. When you treat for candida, don’t feed the beast. Get rid of the carbs, sugar and grains that shouldn’t be a part of the carnivore diet in the first place.
4. Provide Clean, Filtered Water:
You need to provide your dog with clean drinking water, preferably mountain spring water that has been put through a filter. In this age of industrial pollution – coal burning plants, chemtrails and purple rain – you need to be cleaning your water source. To find out more about the hidden dangers in your dogs water click here.
5. Boost These Nutrients:
This is a list of critical nutrients that are made deficient in the face of mercury poisoning:
Good sources of these nutrients that you can add to your dog’s meals include:
I am now a firm believer that the use of chemical synthetic, isolates and imitation vitamins are NOT a long-term solution for living a life of detoxification. Synthetic vitamins can be as dangerous – if not more so – than the use of drugs. That is why I formulate intelligent supplements from whole food sources. I supplement with real whole foods and add gentle chelators like open cell wall chlorella and use super foods like spirulina.
7. Greens, Minerals and Herbs:
The use of juvenile grasses is very detoxifying and provides the magnesium necessary to undergo a detox. Sea vegetables are used as sources of calcium, iodine and trace minerals. Herbs like curcumin, ginger and cayenne are potent antioxidants, and ginger and curcumin are amazing in DNA repair. Green leafy vegetables like spinach are a must and along with broccoli, are capable of going inside cells and turning off the switched-on inflammatory pathways. Blend or lightly steam veggies to increase digestibility, then add one tablespoon to the dinner of smaller dogs, or three to four tablespoons for larger dogs.
Broccoli sprouts are a potent anti-inflammatory and you can buy the sprouts at most grocery stores, or purchase a concentrated powder; this latter is actually the most effective delivery method.
8. Probiotics And More:
Probiotics help restore healthy gut bacteria and are responsible for so many things, from gene repair to the synthesis of nutrients like vitamin B 12. Probiotics are also very helpful in removing mercury from the body if the mercury doesn’t kill them first. Cultivating a gut garden of beneficial bugs is one of my favorite ways to get my patients healthy. Probiotics from whole foods include kefir and fermented vegetables. Add a teaspoon or two to the dinner of small dogs, or as much as a tablespoon or two for larger dogs. You can also give your dog a high quality refrigerated probiotic supplement. If it’s made for animals, follow the package directions; otherwise, for human products, assume the dose is for a 150 pound person and adjust for your dog’s weight.
Amino acids, the primary building blocks of proteins, are also an integral part of the detoxification process. Dogs need a range of amino acids found in different protein sources so feeding your dog a variety of meats as well as fish and eggs will provide these nutrients.
Digestive enzymes are a good way to boost health and to prop up your heavy metal damaged patient while they are recovering. Our carnivore pets will need enzymes as well to utilize the plant foods given as medicine. Your dog’s enzyme supplement should include a wide variety of enzymes.
Cellulase is a plant enzyme and one that I make sure is part of the detoxification plan. It’s not an enzyme the dogs would even make, but it’s an enzyme needed to help digest cellulose from plant material. It also just so happens to help pull mercury out of the body. Since mercury destroys our enzymes in general I like to supplement with a lot of catalysts like this. Look for plant enzyme supplements that contain cellulase.
9. Feed Probiotics With Prebiotics:
Prebiotics are the preferred food sources for the probiotics. Prebiotics occur naturally in a number of common foods with high fiber content including cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach. I also use carrots, beets and spirulina for the beneficial bugs I want to cultivate in the gut. When you cultivate the right garden of beneficial bugs and probiotics, the health of the gut is established and restores detoxification ability as well as assimilation of critical nutrients. Add a teaspoon or two for small dogs; a tablespoon or two or three for larger dogs.
10. Raw Food For Detox:
I can’t tell you how much I really hate fake foods. Get rid of commercially processed foods and don’t use chemical synthetic vitamins. Go for raw and whole foods, add fermented foods and supplement intelligently with whole food based supplements. Just getting the dog on a good raw whole food diet and off commercial, processed food is detoxing. It’s even better if the food is from organic sources and grass fed animals, and even better if it’s biodynamic.
Glandulars are a must-have and I source mine from neonatal animals from grassfed mothers and not from slaughterhouses where industrially raised older animals are often the victims of lots of drugs, hormones and vaccinations. I also found that large populations of cows were being fed candy corn during a bad hay year! Seriously! I can’t imagine how screwed up a cow is going to be when industrially raised to the point they are line fed candy corn with all that high fructose corn syrup that includes – guess what? MERCURY!
Is Detox Working? As the body detoxifies, it is not uncommon to experience flu-like symptoms including headache, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, general malaise, sweating, chills, nausea or other symptoms. This is known as the Herxheimer Reaction and it is short-term, from days to a few weeks. Detoxing in your dog can mean discharging from ears, eyes, skin, rectum – some unsavory stuff. If the animal is really toxic the discharges will be more extreme – like diarrhea. I’m seeing fewer extreme cases as more people feed their dogs raw, species-appropriate diets and minimize vaccinations.
What you see with detoxing can be amazing: old dogs getting off the couch and joining back into activities, more cognitive function and awareness, more life or spark to their being. Lipomas shrink down, coats get better and grow in shinier and the skin gets healthy. As our largest organ, the skin is reflective of the immune system as a whole. Eyes get clearer and there is regression of lenticular cloudiness.
This provides some essential basics to begin a detox. If you can only make subtle changes that helps. An every day gentle detox will be able to keep your pets healthier. Of course, when I individualize a detoxification program for a patient I can go into greater detail with protocols specific to each case. Working with someone knowledgeable ensures there is someone to handle a crisis like diarrhea with homeopathy or some other natural remedies.
Detoxification Is An Every Day Practice:
If there is one thing I would impart as a final word it would be to start adding these steps so you can detox yourself and your pets every day. We’re no longer living in a world where you can take clean or safe for granted. It is better to face the facts and know that reversing chronic disease is a lifetime process.
My holistic vet used this extract with my 8 week old puppy 5 years ago to stabilize the urinary track and it worked great. Of course the Raw Diet is also a plus in preventing so many other health problems in our pets. This is just another reason to feed our pets a raw species appropriate diet. I am a firm believer in feeding a raw diet.
By Dr. Becker
Bacterial urinary tract infections (UTIs) are fairly common in dogs, and similar to humans, females are more often affected. E. coli bacteria is responsible for about half of all canine UTIs.
The development of a urinary tract infection is the result of a change in a dog’s immune defenses that allows pathogenic bacteria to proliferate. This can be the result of a disease process, the dog’s individual anatomy, the use of catheters, and certain drugs.
For example, dogs with diabetes or Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism), dogs who are treated repeatedly with steroids (e.g., prednisone), and hospitalized dogs who are catheterized have more E. coli-related bacterial UTIs than other dogs.
Unfortunately, adding antibiotics to the mix can further increase the risk, as does the increasing age of the dog.
Risks Associated With Chronic Urinary Tract InfectionsUrinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. For treatment to be successful, it’s important that the appropriate drug is selected (which requires a culture and sensitivity test), and the length of therapy is adequate.
There are many side effects of antibiotic use, including gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms that can lead to the dog’s owner not giving the drug as prescribed, the dog refusing the drug, and/or decreased absorption leading to inadequate levels of antibiotic in the blood or urine.
These issues can interfere with the elimination of the bacteria that is causing the UTI, and can also contribute to antibiotic resistance. When a dog has recurring UTIs, it can be the result of a too-short course of antibiotic therapy, or the inability of the drug to reach the location of the bacteria.
Sometimes, relapses occur very quickly after a course of antibiotics is finished; other times, the infection reappears after some time has passed, in which case it can be mistaken for a new infection.
Antibiotic resistance is a growing problem in both human and veterinary medicine. A 2008 study revealed that bacterial resistance is highest in dogs with recurrent E. coli-related urinary tract infections.1
An earlier study identified E. coli bacteria in two dogs that proved resistant to 12 different antibiotics over the span of two weeks.2
Study Shows Cranberry Extract May Prevent UTIsRecently, a team of researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan conducted a study to determine the effects of cranberry extract on the development of urinary tract infections in dogs.3
They also wanted to measure the adherence of E. coli bacteria to canine kidney cells.
The team studied 12 pet dogs in one experiment, and six additional dogs in a second experiment. In the first experiment, the 12 dogs all had a history of recurrent UTIs (at least three infections in the previous year).
Six of the 12 received an antibiotic for two weeks, while the remaining dogs received cranberry extract for six months. Over the course of the six-month study, none of the 12 dogs developed a UTI.
In the second experiment, six dogs received cranberry extract for 60 days. In urine samples taken at 30 and 60 days, E. coli adhesion to kidney cells was significantly reduced compared to samples taken before the dogs began the extract. The researchers concluded that:
“Oral administration of cranberry extract prevented development of a UTI and prevented E. coli adherence to MDCK [canine kidney] cells, which may indicate it has benefit for preventing UTIs in dogs.”4
Translation: Cranberry extract appears to be as or more effective in preventing E. coli-related urinary tract infections in dogs as short-term antimicrobial treatment — without the side effects. In addition, cranberry extract can help fight multi-drug resistant bacteria in dogs with recurrent E. coli UTIs.
I recommend choosing an organic cranberry extract with D-mannose, which is a simple sugar closely related to glucose that occurs naturally in cranberries, peaches, apples, other berries and some plants.
D-mannose is fully absorbed (but does not prompt an insulin release or rock blood glucose levels, so there’s no negative systemic side effects) and quickly travels to the kidneys, then the bladder, and is excreted in urine.
D-mannose goes to work in your dog’s bladder, where it adheres to E. coli lectins. Almost all the D-mannose winds up in urine, which in turn coats the E. coli bacteria so it can’t stick to the walls of the bladder, and is rinsed out of the body when your dog urinates.
Symptoms of a Urinary Tract InfectionSome signs your dog may have a urinary tract infection include:
Suddenly urinating in the house
Constant licking of urinary openings
Visible blood in the urine; dark or cloudy urine
Loss of bladder control; urine dribbling
Inability to pass urine; passing very little urine
Vomiting, lethargy and lack of appetite
Straining to urinate; crying out in pain
Drinking more water than usual
These are all signals that may indicate a potentially serious issue with your dog's urinary tract or bladder. It's important to get your canine companion, along with a urine sample, to your veterinarian as soon as possible.
A urinalysis will provide valuable information about why your dog is having urinary problems. In addition to providing information about the presence of blood, protein, glucose, ketones and bilirubin, a urinalysis will also determine how well your dog can concentrate his urine, which is an indicator of kidney health.
The urinalysis will also detect white blood cells, which means there is inflammation or infection, and a urine culture and sensitivity can determine if bacteria is present, and what type, to help devise a treatment plan. If an infection is present, medication will be needed to treat the problem.
However, sometimes pets experience inflammation or crystals without any infection present. In this latter case, a different set of medications may initially be needed, but ultimately, in both situations, this is often a sign that it may be time to change your dog’s diet (more about that shortly).
The Importance of Urine pH in Urinary Tract Health
Dogs are carnivores and should have a slightly acidic urine pH of between 6 and 6.5. (The higher the urine pH, the more alkaline it is.) Vegetarian mammals like rabbits and horses naturally have a very alkaline urine pH (above 8.0). Human urine is slightly more alkaline (between 6.5 and 7), and many pet owners wrongly assume their dog’s body functions in the same manner as their own.
It’s important to keep your healthy dog’s urine pH slightly acidic (below 7), because urine maintains its natural defenses when kept in the appropriate 6 to 6.5 range. When the pH creeps up toward the alkaline side, the urine loses its natural defenses and creates a more hospitable environment for bacterial growth and the development of struvite crystals.
The flip side of the coin is a urine pH below 6, which can cause your dog to develop a different type of problem -- calcium oxalate stones. If your dog has had one or more infections or other problems with the urinary tract, I recommend buying pH strips from your veterinarian or at the local drug store, to check her urine pH at home so you know when it’s in or outside the desired range.
You should collect urine samples in the morning before you feed your dog. You can either hold the pH tape in the stream of urine while your dog is voiding, or you can catch a urine sample in a container and dip the tape into the sample to check the pH. This should be done immediately with a fresh sample to insure accuracy.
The Right Diet for a Healthy Urinary Tract
In my experience, poor or improper diet is the culprit in the vast majority of cases of dogs with chronic urinary tract problems. A prescription diet, which many conventional veterinarians recommend, typically combines high-carb foods with medications to lower your dog’s urine pH. This is never my approach. Instead, I transition dogs to a diet that does not contain pro-inflammatory alkalizing carbohydrates.
When we feed carnivores a cereal-based diet, their urine becomes alkaline as a result. Meat-based diets are naturally acidic, whereas alkalizing starch-based diets are frequently the cause of chronic UTIs, because lack of acidity removes the antimicrobial activity in urine.
Alkaline urine can also create cystitis (irritation of the lining of the bladder), crystals, and even uroliths, or stones, that require surgery.
Often, a dog’s urine pH can be maintained naturally between 6 and 6.5 by feeding a species-appropriate diet. To reduce urine pH, you must feed a low-carb, starch-free, potato/tapioca/lentil-free (so no “grain free” dry foods), and preferably fresh or at least canned food diet for the increased moisture content.
There are products on the market to reduce urine pH that contain the acidifying amino acid DL-methionine. This is a safe addition to your dog’s diet, but a more logical approach is to simply stop feeding grains and alkalizing foods.
This video by Rodney Habib is amazing. All pet lovers should watch this!
If you have lost a pet to cancer or are concerned about the statistics on cancer in dogs then you might want to watch this short video on research in dogs about cancer and other diseases affecting our pets at an alarming rate.
By Dr. Becker
It’s estimated that over half of all pet cats over the age of 10 suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is also often referred to as chronic renal disease or chronic renal failure.
In fact, the condition is so common I try to keep it top-of-mind here at Mercola Healthy Pets so I can help cat guardians be on the lookout for signs of the disease, and take steps to prevent or effectively manage it.
Causes of Kidney DamageCauses of chronic kidney disease are wide-ranging and include:
Malformation of the kidneys at birth
Exposure to toxins
Congenital polycystic kidney disease
Acute injury to the kidneys that leads to chronic disease
Bacterial infections of the kidneys
Chronic urinary tract obstruction
High blood pressure
Certain drugs, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs)
Immune system disorders such as systemic lupus
Infectious diseases such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia (FeLV)
Heavy metal exposure
Research has also established a link between feline distemper vaccines and immune-mediated inflammation of the kidneys, which is a cause of chronic kidney disease.
Panleukopenia (feline distemper) is a life-threatening disease, and at-risk kittens should receive their initial vaccine series, since unvaccinated, exposed cats are at risk.
Many indoor-only cats are never at risk and can healthfully go their whole lives without being immunized. Your integrative veterinarian can help you assess your cat’s risk of disease.
But remember, adult cats who were successfully immunized as kittens do not need repeated boosters, and cats with kidney disease should not be vaccinated at all.
Feeding cats an exclusively dry-food diet is also associated with development of CKD. Kitties are designed to meet most or all of their body’s water requirements through their diet, not at the water bowl, so they don’t have the thirst drive of other species.
The quality of protein in most dry cat foods is terrible; there’s a HUGE difference between “feed grade” and “food grade” (human grade).1 I believe rendered protein is harder to digest and process. Fed consistently, it can cause organ stress to the liver and kidneys.
Additionally, kibble provides a very small percentage of the water a canned or raw diet offers. Cats fed only kibble suffer chronic mild dehydration that causes significant stress to the kidneys over time.
How the Kidneys Fail: The kidneys are made up of thousands of tiny tubes called nephrons that filter and reabsorb fluids. In young healthy cats, there are so many nephrons available that some are held in reserve.
As a result of the aging process or damage to the kidneys, some nephrons stop functioning and reserve nephrons take over. At some point in the life of most kitties, all of the nephrons that can function are functioning, and there are none left in reserve.
With no backup nephrons, as damage to the kidneys progresses, signs of chronic kidney disease start to appear. It’s the system of reserve nephrons that masks signs of kidney insufficiency until the damage is truly significant.
When two-thirds of the nephrons are lost, the kidneys will no longer be able to conserve water, and the cat will pass larger amounts of dilute urine. By the time creatinine levels are elevated on bloodwork, 75 percent of nephrons in both kidneys are gone.
Your Cat’s Kidneys Have a Lot of Jobs to Do. As blood travels through the kidneys, they perform a complex filtering process that removes waste materials and keeps beneficial substances like serum proteins in the bloodstream.
The kidneys also regulate the amount of water in the blood, and help to maintain healthy blood pressure by regulating sodium. They regulate calcium and vitamin D. These hardworking little organs also secrete a hormone called erythropoietin that stimulates bone marrow to produce red blood cells.
So as you can see, when the kidneys aren’t functioning at full capacity, there are many organ and body systems that can be affected.
Kidney Disease Symptoms: Because the kidneys have so many jobs to do, there are many symptoms of kidney dysfunction, and they vary from one cat to the next. Signs of a problem can be subtle and progress slowly, or they can be sudden and severe. Symptoms of failing kidneys can include:
Increased thirst and urination
Urine leakage (especially at night)
Hypertension that can lead to sudden blindness
Loss of appetite
Itchy skin or bruising of the skin
Bleeding into the stomach
Arriving at an Accurate Diagnosis: Most of the symptoms of kidney failure are also common in other diseases, which makes accurate diagnosis really important. Routine blood work can detect a chronic kidney problem at an early stage. For cats 7 and older, tests for kidney function should be performed at least annually. I recommend every six months for my own patients.
It’s amazing the number of cats who have notable changes in their organ function over a short six-month period. A lot can change in a few months, and catching failing kidneys early is critical.
Blood chemistry profiles will show if there are elevated levels of circulating waste products, which is a sign of declining kidney function. Routine bloodwork will also pick up anemia, which is common with CKD. A full blood panel can also detect other diseases like diabetes and hyperthyroidism.
A new test that measures a biomarker called SDMA (symmetric dimethylarginine) is, according to IDEXX Laboratories, a better measure of renal function in older cats than creatinine. IDEXX claims the SDMA biomarker can identify the onset of kidney disease on average 17 months earlier than the standard test for the condition, which measures serum creatinine levels.2
Creatinine is a marker for the breakdown of muscle protein, but since most kitties lose lean body mass as they age, their creatinine levels may be normal. SDMA isn’t influenced by lean body mass, so it’s presumably a more accurate measure of loss of kidney function.
A urinalysis is really important in providing critical information about kidney function. It can pick up a urinary tract infection, and more importantly, it can quantify the concentration of your cat’s urine and detect if microprotein is being excreted. These are two of the most common, earliest recognizable signs that kidney dysfunction is occurring. Your veterinarian may also want to run a UPC (urine protein to creatinine ratio) test if there is protein found in your cat’s urine.
Cats with kidney disease tend to drink a lot of water, and they urinate a lot, as the body tries to work around the kidney insufficiency by flushing extra waste products out of the system. Reduced kidney function affects the kidneys’ ability to concentrate urine, so very dilute urine is a common problem.
It’s important to check thyroid function in any kitty suspected of having kidney disease, especially if the cat is older. Hyperthyroidism often exists alone or in conjunction with kidney failure, and its presence can change the way the conditions are treated.
Blood pressure should also be checked since many cats with kidney disease also have hypertension or high blood pressure. Sometimes an additional abdominal ultrasound or other diagnostics are performed to take a more in-depth look at what’s going on inside the kidneys with a three-dimensional picture.
Kidney Disease Staging: CKD is staged depending on the severity, which is estimated based on the level of waste products in the blood and abnormalities in the urine. The International Renal Interest Society (IRIS) developed a method to gauge the severity of the disease in four stages. Stage 1 is the least severe and Stage 4 is the most severe. Staging the disease is useful for treatment and monitoring of patients.
Treating CKD Treatment of kidney disease focuses on controlling uremia (the buildup of nitrogenous waste products in the blood), delaying the progression of the disease, and maintaining the cat’s quality of life for as long as possible. Fluid therapy is usually recommended initially to deal with dehydration, anorexia, and vomiting, and to flush away circulating waste products.
Depending on your pet’s condition, fluid therapy may be administered in the hospital intravenously. Once kitty is stable and rehydrated, most owners want to learn how to give subcutaneous (sub-Q) fluids at home. Sub-Q fluids are injected under the skin, usually in the scruff of the neck between the shoulder blades. Cats tend to handle the procedure pretty well — better than their humans, initially! The frequency of injections depends on the severity of disease.
A diet high in excellent-quality (human grade) protein and lower than normal amounts of sodium and phosphorous is recommended for CKD kitties. Controlling phosphorus intake has proven to be very important in slowing the progression of the disease.
Many veterinarians still insist that a renal diet should be low in protein, despite studies that show aging pets — including those with kidney disease — need more protein, not less.3 But it has to be very high-quality protein. If your cat is addicted to a poor-quality food that is difficult to digest and process, I recommend you reduce the amount of toxic protein in the diet.
However, if your cat is eating human grade (preferably antibiotic- and hormone-free) protein, then protein restriction prior to stage 3 CKD is often counterproductive and can actually exacerbate weight loss and muscle wasting — two common health issues for cats with failing kidneys.
Ideally, if your cat is eating poor-quality food, the goal is to wean him off it and onto a better-quality food so that adequate protein intake can be continued.
Many veterinarians will suggest a “prescription food” for kidney disease, but I recommend against this as well, unless it’s a human grade, fresh food diet formulated for kidney disease like Darwin's Intelligent Design. Darwin’s has created the only excellent-quality, fresh food diet specifically formulated for cats with CKD. It can be fed lightly cooked or raw. Unless your cat absolutely refuses to eat anything else, I don’t recommend feeding prescription dry kidney diets.
Additional Help for Failing Kidneys: Vitamins and minerals can sometimes be beneficial for kitties with CKD. I often add a variety of the B-vitamins to a cat’s sub-Q fluids. B-vitamins can help with anemia, relieve nausea, and improve a cat’s overall feeling of well-being.
Antioxidants, L-carnitine, and medium-chain triglycerides (coconut oil) can also be beneficial. Adding a source of blood-building supergreens, such as chlorophyll or chlorella, can help fight a low red cell count. I also recommend adding detoxification support, such as dandelion and SOD (superoxide dismutase), if your kitty will consume it.
Probiotics that contain specific kidney supportive strains such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, casei, and plantarum, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Bifobacterium longum can also be extremely beneficial. These strains, which support healthy urea metabolism, are available in “kidney-specific” products, as well as OTC probiotics, so read labels carefully.
Feline Renal Support by Standard Process can also be very helpful, as well as phosphorus binders and sodium bicarbonate, if appropriate. Your veterinarian will help you decide if these are indicated based on your cat’s specific situation.
Making your kitty’s environment as stress-free as possible is also extremely important. And most important of all in the prevention or management of kidney disease is vigilant monitoring of organ systems. The goal should be to identify risks and subtle changes long before kidney failure occurs. Many cats live long full lives when kidney disease is identified early and managed proactively.
This post is from Dr. Peter Dobias, one of my favorite online holistic vets. This is more proof that synthetic supplements don't really work for do you think your body could get vitamins and minerals out of coal?
Hi my dog lovers,
Perhaps I have not yet shared with you that sometimes I feel bad for not having a more assertive personality so I can strongly convey to more people that cheap synthetic vitamins can create problems.
Some people do not realize that most vitamins on the market are synthesized from crude oil and coal. Isn't that crazy?! I compare synthetic vitamins to the fake flowers of the vitamin industry. It makes no sense to assume that chemicals can compare to real food. No one would eat food made from coal but, when it comes to vitamins, most people still do not know what they are eating and giving to their dogs.
It has been three years since we brought you SoulFood, the only true certified organic multivitamin on the market. I always knew vitamins were important, but I didn't want to give Skai and my patients chemicals. There was nothing on the market, so we made it!
SoulFood is made with a patented fermentation process probiotic media and includes organ supporting ingredients, such as turmeric, that have very positive effects on every cell in your dog’s body.
The body knows the difference between synthetic and naturally-fermented vitamins and you will see the difference too. They are digested and processed by the body easier because they are found naturally in bio-proteins.
I could go on and on about the how much people love SoulFood and the benefits of our unique certified organic vitamin for dogs, but instead, I will let you read the experiences of other dog lovers.
I love this article by Dr. Becker for she said the same thing as my holistic vet told me years ago about the omega 3 oils our pets need and how animals do not have the ability to process the plant based omega 3 oils like people do. Sometime I think people forget that the human digestive system is different from the animal and what works for the human doesn't always work for their pets.
By Dr. Becker
Many dogs' diets are lacking in healthy fats to support their health. This is especially true if they eat a primarily canned or dry food-diet.
Why does your dog need healthy dietary fats? They provide a concentrated source of energy and make up cell membranes. In addition, certain fats have anti-inflammatory benefits and play a role in the formation of hormones.
Healthy fats are also necessary for your pet to produce bile acids that will help him to digest and absorb nutrients. A simple way to significantly increase the healthy fats in your dog's diet is to add healthy, high-quality oils to his meals.
Three Healthy Oils for Your Dog1.Krill Oil
Krill oil is rich in the omega-3 fats eicosapentaneoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These anti-inflammatory fats are found naturally in seafood, but don't expect to get meaningful amounts in fish meal-based pet foods, which I don't recommend.
You can feed your pet sardines packed in water or wild-caught salmon for valuable omega-3s, or try a krill oil supplement. I recommend all marine oils be verified to be sustainably sourced and toxin-free.
Omega-3s are very sensitive to oxygen and can become rancid quickly, so I prefer oils dispensed from an airless pump or that come in capsules that can be cut and squeezed onto food just prior to feeding.
My last choice is to buy liquid, bottled oils, because there is a far greater risk of oxidation over time. You should also be wary of omega-3 fats added to commercial pet food, as they're likely to be inactivated, rancid, or can become rancid over time.
Omega-3 deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency I see in my practice. The symptoms I encounter on a daily basis include cats with dry skin and chronic oral inflammation, and dogs with recurrent skin and ear infections.
Supplementing your dog's (and cat's) diet with non-toxic marine oils, such as krill oil, is important for overall health for virtually all pets, but may offer particular benefits for pets with the following conditions:
Certain types of cancer
Inflammatory skin disease
How much krill oil does your pet need? If your pet is currently in good health, I recommend supplementing with krill oil as follows:
I recommend feeding one-quarter teaspoon of 100 percent organic, cold-pressed, and human-grade coconut oil for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for dogs (and cats). This can be added at meal time to your pet's fresh homemade or commercial raw diet.
Coconut oil is a concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which may benefit your dog's cognitive function. In one study, senior beagles fed a diet supplemented with MCTs had significant improvements in brain function.1
In addition, coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid, which is a powerful antimicrobial agent. This makes coconut oil an especially good choice for pets with yeast infections or allergies. It may also help with hairballs in cats and can be used topically for skin conditions.
Coconut oil can be beneficial both orally and topically. In the video below, you can see the coconut oil treatments I give to my senior dog Rosco, who struggles with flaky and sometimes itchy skin.
3.Flaxseed, Hemp, and Pumpkin Seed Oils
If you should have a need to supplement omega-6 fats in your pet's diet (usually people who feed a homemade diet), plant oils like flaxseed, hemp and pumpkin seeds are much preferred over sources like corn oil, safflower oil or olive oil. A lack of omega-6 fats in your pet's diet will result in poor overall development and a failure to gain weight.
An omega-6 deficiency can also compromise your pet's immune system and cause liver and kidney degeneration. Other signs of omega-6 deficiency include:
Dogs and cats cannot efficiently convert plant sources of omega-3 fats into appropriate amounts of DHA and EPA, so the best option for omega-3 fats is to use an animal-based source such as krill oil or sardines.
Add Healthy Oils to Your Pet's Food at MealtimeWhen feeding your pet healthy oils like krill oil, flaxseed oil or hemp oil, add them to your pet's food at meal time. This will ensure the oil stays fresh and is not oxidized or rancid by the time your pet consumes it (assuming it was fresh to begin with). As mentioned, I recommend using krill oil from an airless pump or in capsule form for this very reason (if your pet won't eat the whole capsule or you need a smaller amount, pierce the capsule and squeeze it onto your pet's food).
If you feed your pet a homemade fresh or raw diet, you'll want to be sure you have included the appropriate amounts of essential fatty acids. However, even if you feed a commercially prepared diet, it's most likely to be lacking in enough beneficial omega-3s due to the heat required for processing, which is why I often recommend adding an additional source to your pet's meals.
For a guide on how to prepare nutritionally balanced, fresh-food meals for your pets, refer to my book of homemade pet food recipes, "Real Food for Healthy Dogs & Cats."
The recipes in this book are not only AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials)-compliant, they also meet the nutritional requirements for biologically appropriate, healthy diets for all stages of a pet's life as outlined by the National Research Council (NRC) and the ancestral diet for dogs and cats. The recipes make it easy to feed your pet the best diet, full of species-appropriate healthy fats and oils, possible.