Food is Not Simply Nutrition. It is also Information!
The single greatest disservice to our pets was the invention of commercial pet food and the demolition of their ancestral roots. Following at a close second was the increased belief in the need for unnecessary conventional veterinary practices and intervention along with the creation and extensive distribution of chemical “preventatives.” It is no wonder that disease runs rampant among pets or why canine and feline genetics have deteriorated exponentially. Too many beloved pets are dying of disease before they even reach their senior years. Moreover, it is easily observed that pets are rapidly aging. How utterly sad it is to look into hazy and cloudy eyes; or to watch a middle-aged pet stiff and struggling to stand up due to damaged and painful joints; or to see the greying muzzle of a mere six year old; or to smell the stench of periodontal disease that began at the age of two and has now resulted in missing teeth already at the age of seven; or to feel utter pity for the pet that looks like a log of sausage due to their obesity, barely able to walk five feet without panting; or to recoil at the stink of yeasty or rotting ears, skin, and paws; or to stroke the fur of a pet and feel greasy and lumpy skin; or to experience the emotions of sympathy for the enormous percentage of seniors suffering from debilitating chronic disease and disorders. So widespread are the signs of rapid aging and health decline. Should we not be questioning why more pet parents are not putting a stop to this widespread, yet preventable epidemic among dogs and cats?
Preventing degeneration, rapid aging, and chronic disease in pets starts with learning what choices are available and thus making health-promoting decisions. By offering a species-appropriate ancestral prey-based diet and avoiding all unnecessary conventional veterinary treatments, practices, and chemical preventatives, pets can and do live a much healthier, happier, and longer life. While avoiding unnecessary and dangerous veterinary intervention is as simple as choosing not to, feeding a species-appropriate ancestral prey-based diet requires the willingness and motivation to consistently provide your pet with the best nutrition plan possible over the course of their life. This begins with education in this key and critical health strategy. Food must beget life, not disease and death.
Why Food Choice Matters
Food is far more than simply a source of energy and nutrient building blocks. This ancient and outdated ideology is reminiscent of the mechanistic Cartesian-Newtonian “atomism” paradigm. Food is not simply a source of potential energy and small material components that we all know to be “calories” and “macro and micronutrients.” Food goes far beyond physical matter. Food is information. It is the carrier of biological information that bodily cells are dependent upon for health and longevity. The source of this information is microRNAs that are found in all fresh foods. MicroRNA is responsible for gene expression, more specifically turning gene expression on and off. This has profound implications on the health and longevity of our pets (and us!!). The importance of feeding pets species-appropriate fresh whole foods cannot be overstated. It is imperative.
Epigenetic science over the past decade has shown us that gene expression is directly impacted by two factors: 1) diet, and 2) environment. This is good news because it means that gene expression is not solely dependent on genetic predispositions; great news, in fact, for heavily diseased-predisposed breeds. Thanks to modern epigenetic science, we now understand why food directly impacts gene expression and it is found within the microRNAs. These gene-regulatory wonders easily survive the digestive faculties when consumed, thus microRNAs enter the body via food choices and then act in a way similar to a software download thereby impacting and altering gene expression. Now imagine if a pet is consuming processed “dead1” commercial food or food from 3D/4D2 animal products. MicroRNAs establish a connection and thus communicate directly with our pet’s genes thereby having a direct and lasting impact on their health and potential longevity. If poor food choices are made, it will not take long before degeneration, rapid aging, and disease manifests.
Food must nourish the body not only nutritionally, but informationally to reach into the deepest biological needs of each and every pet. What we choose to feed our pets determines the information they will receive and thereby what will be downloaded into their genes. Chemical-laden, GMO, processed, industrial-farmed, glyphosate-contaminated, hormone- and antibiotic-polluted, vaccine-poisoned, diseased/downed/dying (3D) and dead (4D) meats, nutrient-absent, agrochemical-sprayed foods are all the same: deadly. MicroRNA from these foods will not contribute to a positive gene expression, but will turn on gene expression for disease and cellular death. Food is an epigenetic modifier. It is a conductor of sorts orchestrating which genes will express (turn on) and which will not (turn off). It is not hard to understand the impact that dietary choices have on a pet’s physiological potential. It matters immensely what you feed your pet.
Providing your pet with a nose-to-tail species-appropriate prey-based diet while utilizing the best quality ingredients that you can afford is the best strategy for delivering microRNAs that will have the most positive impact for preventing disease and increasing longevity. Choose ingredients from grass-fed and finished ungulates, pastured poultry and pigs, humanely raised rabbits, eggs from free-ranged birds, wild-caught fish and seafood, wild crafted and organically grown herbs and spices, algae and sea plants from pristine waters, and wild or organically grown berries. In purchasing these ingredients you are also supporting the farmers and growers who choose ethical, humane, and species-appropriate farming methods that are best for the animals they raise and the environment in which we and our pets live.
There is no better time than now to make the decision to transition your pet to a species-appropriate prey-based diet. Age does not matter because microRNAs are also in the business of regeneration. As stated above, microRNAs are gene expression regulators and the conduits for information exchange between food and the consumer. In fact, microRNAs are instruments of cross-species communication. Providing pets with food ingredients that come from healthy farm animals raised on their own species-appropriate foods and without chemical and hormone contamination may actually provide information that corrects a pet’s deleterious genetic biology. MicroRNA information is single-handedly able to communicate to genes when to express and when to remain silent thereby offering protection from disease conditions and possibly even allowing a pet’s body to reverse damage through the silencing of adverse gene expression.
Offering a species-appropriate diet and choosing to refuse unnecessary conventional veterinary services and chemicals is your ticket to preventing disease conditions in your pet. To learn how to offer a fresh-food raw diet to your pet, consider purchasing a copy of Canine Raw Feeding Explained and/or contacting us for customized assistance and services to get your pet on the path to healing, health, and longevity.
1 The word “dead” refers to processed food devoid of any nutritional value (other than providing “empty calories”) with the need for additional nutrient isolates to be added to the food product, most of which are poorly absorbed synthetic vitamins and industrial mineral salts.
2 Meat, organs, and bone from animals that are diseased/downed/dying (3D) and dead (4/D).
Probably one of the most dreaded fears we as pet parents can face is when a beloved pet goes missing. The likelihood of a dog escaping, evading, or eluding us and running off at least once in their lifetime is very high. Thankfully, in most of those instances a pet parent will see their tongue lolling face in a matter of seconds, minutes, or hours as they come running back full of spirit, pride, and accomplishment. That initial horrifying realization that a beloved dog is no longer in your sights or in their yard is a feeling that I could not wish on my worst enemy. It has happened to me many times, and like the instances above, my dogs came back within minutes or hours. But on November 30, 2020, that fear became a nightmarish reality when seconds, minutes, and hours became days. Two of our beloved dogs, one being my registered ESA (emotional support animal), unexpectedly escaped and were nowhere to be found.
It is the nature of a dog to explore; to experience an unbridled freedom in this great big world in which they are a part. Our dogs are sentient beings, after all. They have their own capable brain for making decisions and choices that is fortified with powerful instincts to guide, direct, and protect them. They are animals, not people. In fact, one of the greatest disservices a pet parent can do to their dog is to treat them like a human child. This can hamper and corrupt a dog’s ability to rely on their own choices and instincts in situations that could potentially be dangerous or even threatening to their very life. One of those situations is when a dog suddenly finds him or herself alone and lost in that great big world they initially thought was worth wandering or running off into. Whether they wandered or ran off to explore, to chase after another animal, to follow a mesmerizing scent, or even to hide due to an unforeseen fright, the fact is, they are now alone. In this situation, a dog’s survival mode needs to kick in 10,000% because their very life is now vulnerable to any number of potential dangers and situations.
You as a pet parent and guardian must never EVER assume that your dog will never leave their yard or your side. Even the most loyal dogs and secure yards have their vulnerabilities, and collars and harnesses can be slipped out of no matter how well you have secured them onto your dog. Always assume that your dog has the potential to get away from you. Recall training is of great value and importance especially for breeds such as Siberian Huskies that have a strong drive to wander and explore the world. But even recall training is limited to a pet parent being in their dog’s immediate presence at the moment an escape is imminent. Your best chances of getting your dog home safely is to always be prepared.
Your dog has the right to make their own decisions. We do not and should not ever think we have the right to have complete power and control over any living being. Giving your dog the right to be a dog is their best line of defense in any number of circumstances and situations. We as pet parents are guardians, not owners of or dictators over our dogs (especially through the use of force). It is our responsibility to give our dogs a secure and safe home that will teach them to trust. This in turn paves the way to complete loyalty. Proper care and guardianship will ensure that a dog will always seek out “home” and come back willingly to your loving protection.
There are, of course, too many situations where a loyal dog becomes lost and cannot find their way back home. Every dog and every situation is going to be different. To have a high probability for the most positive outcome, it is best to always be prepared for the unthinkable should it happen to you and your dog.
Potential Causes & Situations for a Dog to Become Lost or Missing
Scaling a fence
Digging under a fence
Jumping a fence
Breaching a fence
Leaving dogs in a fenced or unfenced yard unattended
Having an object too close to the fence line that can allow a dog to use the object to hop a fence
Neglecting to properly secure a gate latch
Fencing or gate malfunctions due to weather, fence age, or improper use
Allowing a dog off leash in an unfamiliar yard or area, whether fenced or unfenced
Slipping a collar or harness (from improper fitting, wrong size, improper use)
An extreme fear or a fright that causes panic and a collar or harness break or slip occurs
Guarding the yard, family, or home from an animal or human invader resulting in a chase
Pulling a leash from a guardian’s hand due to non-training, lunging, desire to chase, an unexpected fright, overpowering a handler or guardian, etc.
Breaking a tie-out (ropes, chains, clips, and stakes can snap and malfunction, especially due to weathering, pulling, and over-use)
Improper off-leash and recall training situations
Escaping open car windows or doors whether parked or moving
Escaping open windows in the home
Running out of an open door in the home, car, or in a place of business
Loneliness or boredom
Anxiety, insecurity, and panic issues and situations (including storms, loud and unfamiliar noises, fireworks, gunshots)
An intact female in heat or one that is not properly secured
Following a scent and accidentally getting lost
The smell or sight of food
The desire to chase after or follow the scent of an intact female or male
The desire to chase after another animal or object
The desire to run free
Neglect, failure to train, and abuse
Kenneling or leaving a dog with a sitter can create fear or anxiety driving a dog to escape and seek their home and guardian
Accidents and injuries to guardians
Moving to a new home
MOST IMPORTANTLY, NEVER EVER assume your dog cannot escape or evade you!
Our Nightmare Experience
On Sunday November 29th we had an approaching cold front. The temperatures had been steady in the mid to high 70s (F) for the week previous. With a colder weather pattern heading our way, the winds became quite strong Sunday night. In the early morning hours on Monday November 30th, my husband awoke for work around 4:00 AM. He always lets three or four of our six dogs out to “potty” around 4:30 AM before he heads out. That morning he assumed nothing out of the ordinary would soon rock our world. After taking our larger male on his morning walk, our other dogs are then allowed out into our half acre fenced and secured backyard area. The gate entrance into our chicken pastures is in the same area where the dogs have their freedom to run and explore. That morning he did not go outside with the dogs because it had gotten very cold over night. It was dark and when he realized he did not see our dogs Cayne and Shelby, he went out to look for them.
To my husband’s dismay, he noticed the gate into the chicken pastures had blown down and the dogs had gotten in. Normally, this would not be an issue as that is also a secured chain link area; however, the inner gate into the front chicken pasture was also open. That pasture is a temporary expansion that we erected using poultry fencing, a plastic fence fabric that can be easily breached by a dog. They had easily escaped. Immediately he jumped into the car to go find them.
I was awakened by his panicked voice at 5 AM to learn our dogs, Cayne and Shelby, had escaped and were missing. Cayne is my ESA. He and Shelby are two of our three littermates who were whelped in our home to our rescue dog, Brandi. The realization of what my husband had just told me came as shock and horror. Shelby, her mama Brandi, and her brother Garrett had gotten out two years prior (in October of 2018) when our front door was blown open from high winds. Brandi returned within five minutes via recall and Garrett, who can track like his mama, explored for a bit with his sister before returning back to the front door several hours later. Brandi, according to the man who she was rescued from, comes from a line of APBT boar hunters. Whether or not that is true is unknown, but she is fiercely loyal, protective, instinctively intelligent, easily trained, and can track; we know her disposition and Garrett has that very same disposition and qualities as his mama. Had it been them who had escaped, my reaction would have been completely different. Even if Shelby had been one of them, I know she would have been guided home as she was two years ago by Garrett.
“NO, not Cayne! Oh God, not Cayne!” came blurting out of my mouth. The blood drained from my face and my body went numb. I jumped out of bed and ran out into the cold and screamed for Cayne and Shelby, never feeling the cold on my skin and feet. My mind reeled. My husband, seeing my reaction, chose not to go into work and went back out with the car to search. I nearly collapsed. Why such a reaction?
Being the guardian to any sentient being should be no different than having a relationship with a person. You must get to know your dog intimately through interaction, daily activities, meal times, play and training sessions, general observation, and their interaction with family members, strangers, and other animals. Spouses, close friends, siblings, and even co-workers who we spend hours with on a daily basis, can easily learn about another person’s personality and character simply by being in their presence and interacting. It should be no different with our animals who are under our guardianship and protection. Be sure you know your dog, and if you have multiple dogs, know each one of them intimately. It can be KEY to protecting them and getting them back safely!
I know my dogs and their dispositions and traits so intimately that hearing of their escape elicited such a strong reaction from me. Even more, Cayne and Shelby were not wearing their collars and ID tags. Cayne, Shelby, and Garrett are 50% Siberian Husky. Both Cayne and Shelby have the dispositions and character traits of a Siberian Husky. They are nothing like their mama. I know that neither Cayne nor Shelby can find their way back home. That is why I panicked.
Cayne and Shelby, along with their littermates (nine pups in total) contracted Parvovirus at six weeks of age. Cayne had it worst, Shelby second worst. I fought so hard for them and the entire litter survived. I chose to keep Cayne and Shelby to ensure they had proper holistic health care and raw nutrition for their entire life. (Garrett, who was meant to be adopted, became our dog when we could not find suitable guardianship that met our standards.) These dogs are nearly my world. When my mind began to think about possibly never seeing them again, I started to have a panic attack.
What to Do If Your Dog is Lost
When your dog goes missing and you begin to consider the hundreds of possible circumstances, outcomes, and “what ifs,” you can lose your mind. You will likely panic, so be prepared to ask for help! As soon as you realize or learn that your dog is missing, do not hesitate to immediately begin searching the entire area and shouting their name in every direction. You or another person must immediately start to notify neighbors, friends, family members, community members, local Animal Control, animal shelters, rescues, and veterinary offices. I wish we all had psychic power or crystal balls to learn the whereabouts of a lost dog, but we don’t, thus you must reach out so that you can rely on the eyes and ears of your community members. Start with Facebook. A single post can get “shared” creating an exponentially expanding reach with each “share” potentially notifying thousands of people in mere minutes to hours. Now imagine creating several posts on friends’ pages, rescue pages, lost pet groups and pages, Animal Control pages, and more! Get the word out as quickly as possible and ask for the help of family and friends to continually search the area by vehicle and foot. Dogs can travel many miles in a short time. Most importantly, if you know your dog, you can predict their possible travel path, decision making potential, instinct drive, and even the outcome. I did this in my mind and started to create a map of possibilities.
Cayne is a stoic dog, very reserved, and laid back. He observes his world intimately and interacts with it when interested. He is very loving, but not as cuddly as our other dogs. He is completely trusting of me and my care of his needs, especially when hurt or nervous. He expects me to “fix” his boo boos (which he has had plenty because he and Garrett do not get along). Cayne is also a survivor. He beat Parvo at six weeks having had it worse than his eight siblings, he has been injured in squabbles with his brother, and he had a minor issue before he turned one year. I know Cayne is tough; really tough, quiet, and stoic. He and his sister Shelby are inseparable “best buds.” Shelby is a fun loving, super cuddly, extremely playful, bundle of energy. She loves to interact with her world by keeping vigil out the windows and growling and barking warnings at whatever or whoever will listen. She is not one to approach strangers and will warn people, in her husky language, that she is not to be trifled with. She and Cayne compliment each other perfectly. When together, they both play hard and recklessly. But I also know they act as a team and they both rely upon each other’s strengths. Neither Cayne nor Shelby gravitate toward people. They are both free-spirited like a Husky. I assumed they would stay in the wooded areas and not approach any strangers even if called. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that Cayne and Shelby would stick together. I knew with absolute certainty that if one of them became injured, the other would not leave their side. I also knew that they would likely not find their way back. I had to plan a rescue mission. I needed to rely on community members to help us find them.
LEARN YOUR DOG! It could save their life!
As the Hours Turn into Days
With each passing hour my heart kept sinking. My stomach was in knots. We live in a rural area with hundreds of acres of wooded areas and farm land. I notified our local Animal Control officer via his personal cell phone. I hoped that if someone might be able to catch Cayne and Shelby, they would call Animal Control. But knowing my dogs, I had many doubts anyone would actually catch them.
My husband and another family member had searched for 13 hours. As night fell on Monday we were expecting our first hard frost of the season. I again started to panic. That is when we started getting notice that community members had spotted our dogs. A wonderful sweet woman named Sylvia had spotted Cayne and Shelby on the side of the road and snapped three photos of them. Cayne was lying down and appeared to be licking his left front paw in the photo and Shelby was standing over him. She had made mention that she called to them, but wondered if they were deaf because they did not respond. I was not surprised. I had predicted they would not respond to nor approach people. Sylvia posted the photos on Facebook at 2 PM and it got to us by 6 PM via another wonderful woman named Gail who happened upon our Facebook post. She recognized the dogs in Sylvia’s photos as the dogs in our Facebook posts along with recognizing the exact location in the photo. Gail called my husband’s phone and told us exactly where the photos were taken. I suddenly had hope that we would have them back that evening. We ran to the car and headed in that direction. We called and called them out the car windows, but sadly, we did not find them. December 1st was about to commence and I had not seen nor heard from my dogs. I was increasingly becoming more devastated. I put their dinner plates on the front porch and slept on the sofa just in case they did find their way home.
The following day was Tuesday and my daughter-in-law and I headed back in that direction in the morning. Still no sign of them. Then I began to fear they had not survived the night. Yet at the same time it also dawned on me that when Shelby and Garrett had escaped two years ago, they had come back sore and had injuries on the pads of their feet from walking on pavement and over rough terrain. Shelby had also had a minor laceration on her chest. I began to then have hope that Cayne and Shelby were too sore to walk and must not have gone too far from that general area where Sylvia had spotted them.
I searched several times on Tuesday, but came up empty. We had another possible sighting that evening, but the person indicated seeing only one dog in an area much further away. I knew my dogs would not separate. I had my doubts, but we went anyway just to be sure. They were not there. Night fell again by the time we returned home and I started to lose hope. My emotions spilled over and I completely unraveled as I thought about the hard frost we were expecting again that night. I grieved hard. I wondered how they could possibly survive two nights of bitter cold temperatures without food. Their last meal had been Sunday evening and it was now Tuesday evening. I chose to sleep in our bed rather than on the sofa that night because I knew they could not possibly make the journey home. Too much time had elapsed and they had to be in pain by now from walking for nearly two days (if they were even still alive).
I awoke the morning of December 2nd to the sound of my husband leaving for training at work. I asked him to sit with me for a moment as I felt a panic attack approaching. While he sat with me I resolved that I had to find them. After he left, I laid in bed thinking about what I could do next. I reached out to a group of several of my friends and clients who were helping us and praying for us. I asked for assistance with notifying local veterinary hospitals so I could go back out and search. I placed my phone down and I heard a text notification. At first I was too lost in thought configuring a game plan. I quickly jolted myself into action when I realized it could be about Cayne and Shelby. It was!
A woman named Brittany reached out to me regarding Sylvia’s Facebook post from Monday with the photos of my dogs. Brittany lives on the same street where the photos were taken and she personally knew the owners of the house in the background. She offered to reach out to them. Minutes later Edna, the owner of that property, texted me. She told me she would put out the word all over the area as she and her family owned most of the land where my dogs were seen. My hope began to bloom as I realized my community was banding together to help me, a complete stranger, find her beloved dogs.
I got up fully resolved to move ahead firmly. I walked outside to do my chicken and turkey chores. The air was crisp and refreshing. The grass was adorned in a crystalline blanket that shimmered in the early morning sun. I relished in that moment and told God I would find them with His help. I had already had a prayer chain of wonderful people from all over the country praying for Cayne, Shelby, and us. I had to believe! My thoughts were directed immediately to my chickens. How could I doubt my dogs? My grief and fear was clouding my logical brain. My chickens were sitting there almost shouting to me, “Hello?! Do we not sit here in these frigid temperatures and survive just fine?” DUH!!!! My chickens do not sit in a heated house. They are animals, they live outside. Of course my dogs would survive! They are animals driven by a powerful survival instinct and are half Siberian Husky. And…oh my god, I fast them from food regularly, why would I worry about food only two days in? Suddenly every thought that came rushing to me was why I should not fear nor worry. My dogs consume a prey diet and fast on a regular basis. Their bodies are efficient energy burning machines. They have crazy instinct. Did not Shelby hunt down a rabbit just earlier this year and secure a dinner for herself? I completed my chicken and turkey chores with vigor and went into the house to take my shower before heading out to find my dogs. Today was different. Something, or Someone, was speaking to me!
A Divinely Orchestrated Day
I no sooner got out of my shower when Brittany texted me again and Edna had called. Brittany texted, “Pretty sure we found both of your dogs.” Edna had left a voice message that my dogs were at Amy’s farm, another neighbor on that same street, in her barn not far from their first sighting on Monday afternoon. It was Sylvia’s post that initially got the ball rolling. One person who took the time to take photos and post it to Facebook. ONE PERSON! You never know who will be reached with a single post!
My son and I flew out the door with leashes in hand. Amy’s property was a mere three miles from our house. Amy had told Edna to inform us that we could go walk the property while she was out on an appointment. It is about one hundred acres of open farm land. My dogs had sought out shelter in a hay barn. Hay insulates and holds heat. I was so proud of Cayne and Shelby. They were working together to survive.
My son and I walked and walked and called and called, but I did not see any signs of them. I again started to lose hope. I got frustrated and yelled out loud that I was not leaving without my dogs. We were out in the sunflower fields staring out into hundreds of acres of land. Then I saw foot prints….dog foot prints. That was proof that they WERE there! I just couldn’t find them. We yelled and yelled more. But no sign of them. They had an enormous tractor and plow going in the adjacent field. I wondered if it was drowning out our calls. Cayne and Shelby could be anywhere. We decided it best to go back out on the road to call out from there. I messaged Brittany that we were heading out on the road again and she insisted they had to be there. She wrote that she would have her dad ride around and look as well. My son and I drove all around the neighborhood calling their names. I was about to give up when I decided I would try Amy’s farm one more time.
I drove back to the gorgeous farm and walked up the very, very long drive to the far barn out in the fields. We stayed there for a long time just calling and listening. I felt lost. Where could they be? I was getting exhausted as I hadn’t eaten anything yet that morning. Then my phone rang. It was Edna. She asked if we had any luck finding them and told me she and Amy would be there in 10 minutes to help us search. I was amazed at their kindness and sacrifice to help us. I felt so humbled. I decided to walk back to the hay barn to see if, by chance, they were there and not conscious. My phone rang in the barn. Edna’s voice said, “They are here on the train tracks!” Then she called to Shelby. We were at least an eighth mile from my car. My son and I ran until we nearly collapsed. I was exhausted from not eating and tired from little sleep, but I willed myself forward. The car seemed like it was getting further away. We ran and ran and finally made it. I drove out of the driveway and headed down the street to the railroad tracks only a short distance away. There I saw two vehicles parked alongside the train tracks and three women all shielding and preventing Cayne and Shelby from leaving the area. There they were, huddled together on the sun-warmed metal and stone of the railroad track…with a cat. I have never seen a more wonderful sight!
I had predicted nearly everything correctly. I knew my dogs. The two of them were so sore and hurting that they could never have made the journey home, much less to where were we calling them from. I knew they would need rescuing, I just needed to find them. I had to hope and pray that my community would help us. One woman’s post brought a community together and they found our dogs. I am speechless and overwhelmed with gratitude.
Cayne sat up immediately when he saw us drive up, but he could not take more than a step. Their tails were wagging; that is all that mattered. Cayne licked my face as I carried him to the car. He sat in the seat and looked over to Shelby to be sure she was coming with us. My son carried Shelby to me (she could not even stand up) and I loaded her in to the car with her brother. She laid down on the seat while Cayne sat next to her in his usual stoic and quiet fashion as if to say, “we made it.” We all rejoiced and Edna snapped a few photos to share the joy with others.
Upon returning home I could see that Cayne was much stronger and in better condition. I know for a fact that he looked after his sister. I watched as he sniffed her over and licked her raw and swollen paws when we retuned home. Only then did he too collapse. Both were dirty, smelled of hay, full of ticks, and had a slightly low body temperature. Their paws were swollen and raw, and Cayne did in fact have an injury to his left front leg as assumed by Sylvia’s photo. But they survived; they stuck together, avoided people and vehicles, were too sore to travel, sought shelter in freezing temperatures, found a place to be warmed in the sun, and waited to be rescued. Wow, God is good and so are the people who offer their time and assistance to help a hurting human being and lost dogs to be reunited. My heart is so full!
PLEASE, above all else, learn and know your dog intimately. It could mean the difference between life and death! Trust in your dog’s God-given instincts for survival. Trust in the power of prayer. No matter what your faith, having hundreds of people praying together for the safe return of a pet sends out that positive and hopeful energy to God and into the Universe so miracles can happen. Never give up on your dog. Like Cayne and Shelby, a rescue may be required. Utilize your community to be your eyes and ears. The more people you inform, the greater the chance for finding your pet alive and safe. My community is the reason I have my dogs back safely and in good health.
My prayer is that our experience will help others to bring their dogs home safely.
The Importance of Cartilage in the Canine (and Feline) Diet
Cartilage is made up of highly specialized cells and a matrix of proteins. It is more matrix than cells because cartilage does not contain blood vessels to receive oxygen which creates a low-oxygen tissue that is not an ideal environment for cells. The matrix of cartilage is made up of proteins known as collagen and proteoglycans as well as other minor proteins. The wealth of value found in feeding cartilage to pets is in the matrix where we find the collagen, hyaluronic acid, and chondroitin. Because collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, it is vitally important that your pet receives an abundance of collagen from cartilage in their daily meals. As our pets age, their collagen production decreases in the same way as ours. This can lead to an increased risk for tendon and ligament injury and damage, joint injury and destruction, muscle soreness after exercise, and even muscle atrophy. Hyaluronic acid acts as a lubricant and a cushion for the joints and tissues assisting in preventing injury. Couple these with chondroitin, a chemical found primarily within joint cartilage that creates elasticity and the ability to retain water, and you have a cocktail of nutrients that, according to numerous studies, are twice as effective as using glucosamine supplements for joint health. If this is not beneficial enough, cartilage also contains micronutrients that include manganese, copper, and even some vitamin C. Thus it is vital to feed your pet all types of cartilage-rich raw meaty bones (RMB) such as joints, rib cages, and vertebrae as well as cartilage structures such as trachea, ears, and bronchial tubes.
This begs the question, what or how is the best way to feed cartilage to your pet? Since many pet parents follow the popular 80/10/10 meal-formulation guide [80/10/10 is a ratio formula used to create raw meals that translates into 80% muscle meat, 10% secreting organs (5% liver + 5% other), and 10% bone], I am often asked, which category would non-bone cartilage such as trachea or ears fall into; bone or meat? It certainly seems to be a reasonable question, but is applicable only if a pet parent is following a ratio too strictly. In all honesty, it is an irrelevant and futile question in that in the attempt to categorize every tissue and body part ingredient into the 80/10/10 formula, pet parents tend to lose sight of an important fact . All parts of a prey animal’s carcass is simply a part of one WHOLE. Now don’t get me wrong, the 80/10/10 formula is a great guide to reining-in and limiting ingredient amounts to avoid an improperly “balanced” meal. So, let’s consider this more deeply by more closely examining bone and meat.
Cartilage is an integral part of all joints and has a close resemblance to bone in that they both contain a collagen protein matrix. Bone, however, also contains specialized cells and minerals that create the hard outer tissue, soft spongy marrow, the periosteum and endosteum as well as containing a network of nerves and blood vessels. Bone also functions to create blood cells within the bone marrow. Bone is the best and most vital source of macro-minerals in the diet, not to mention also being a great source of trace minerals and vitamin E (which is stored within the marrow). Muscle meat, on the other hand, is made up of excitable cells constituting skeletal, cardiac, and visceral muscle tissues. Muscle cell fibers contain a mere 1% to up to 10% collagen protein which is much lower and very different from cartilage. Muscle is mostly protein filaments known as actin and myosin (which allow for movement) with varying percentages of fat along with facia, nerves, blood vessels, blood, and more. Muscle is a major source of multiple vitamins and minerals that contributes a great deal to nutrient-requirement fulfillment in meals.
Living beings are not merely made up of muscle, organs, and bones as is inferred by the 80/10/10 ratio. Animals, like us, are comprised of four types of tissues: epithelial tissue, connective tissue, muscle tissue, and nervous tissue as well as fluids. Epithelial tissue includes the lining of the intestines (hollow organs) and surface skin. Connective tissue includes bone, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and fat. Muscle tissue includes skeletal muscles, cardiac muscle, and internal organ muscle (any organ that produces movement). Nervous tissue includes the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. You may note that feeding only muscle, bone, and secreting organs does not create a proper “whole” and leaves out many body structures. Thus following a ratio is unrealistic and can, overtime, create deficiencies and/or toxicities if followed too strictly. This is why it is imperative to feed a species-appropriate diet (following what I call a Frankenprey model) that contains ALL parts of the whole. Whole prey would be ideal, but is not within the grasp of many DIY of raw feeders. Thus for those pet parents who cannot source whole prey, the goal should be to create the likeness or resemblance of whole prey on the plate or in the bowl.
How then do we feed cartilage? ANSWER: As part of the WHOLE. It is not bone and it is not meat. However, cartilage IS connective tissue which is in the same category as bone. Cartilage is easiest to feed as part of raw meaty bones in the daily diet. Adding in cartilage structures such as trachea and ears does not require a category as these types of structures should be fed in smaller amounts to be sure to not decrease the muscle protein being fed. Keep in mind that raw meaty bones contain bone, muscle, and cartilage! Focus on the RMBs in the diet and use the remaining vital ingredients (boneless meat, muscle organs, and secreting organs) to “fill in the blanks.” In fact, if you want to create a truly complete raw meal, feeding the more yucky parts is essential. By this I mean large vessel structures, connective tubes, glands, hide, ears, hoofs, feet with nails, and all the stuff I see most pet parents trimming off of their meal ingredients! Leave it on. Add in blood and myoglobin as well for a truly complete and nutritious meal. Raw feeding isn’t for the squeamish. We are feeding carnivores, after all.
The Holistic Canine started 2020 off at a lightning pace. Business was booming and I was having some concerns about keeping up with the pace. With COVID-19 now at the forefront of our lives, pet parents have turned their focus to their own health and public safety. During this difficult time, The Holistic Canine will continue to work full-time to help pet parents to continue serving their dogs’ needs in an economy that is becoming more difficult to navigate.
Also, I have completed my book entitled Canine Raw Feeding Explained: A Practical How-To Guide to Feeding Your Dog a Balanced Nutrition Plan. The book is in the hands of the publisher; however, as a result of the world crisis, all new projects recently submitted to the publisher are on hold until further notice. I will continue to give updates as to the status of my important book.
In the meantime, I would like to refer all pet parents to my Facebook group. It is an opportunity to meet like-minded pet parents and to engage in discussion with myself, our knowledgeable moderators, and our members (numbering in the thousands). Please come join us in The Holistic Canine: Raw Feeding & Natural Health Care Facebook group. The group also contains a free comprehensive raw feeding course and information on natural health care strategies that I invite you to read through and complete.
The Holistic Canine is fully available throughout COVID-19 to assist you via our numerous services, in our Facebook group, and through our Facebook business page. You are not alone on your journey. Become a part of The Holistic Canine family! We are a practice that does not simply create recipes and then send you on your way. We are a nutrition and health care service that partners with you and that continues to walk with you throughout your dog’s lifetime.
Naturopathic medicine recognizes several “doctors” that are vital for health. These “doctors” (also known as needs) are what I have coined facets of health. When it comes to both our health needs and the health needs of our dogs, there are specific requirements that are essential for the prevention of disease. These requirements contribute to the maintenance of optimal health and the consistent healing, repair, and detoxification of cells and body tissues. Depending upon the source, Naturopathy can have seven to ten facets of health. Over the many decades, I have formulated my own list of requirements for canine health based upon my decades of experience in the field of animal care and husbandry, education, and work as a holistic practitioner. I practice and teach ten facets of canine health that have proven to:
prevent chronic disease in healthy animals
assist in the healing and repair of disease and injury
ameliorate conditions in senior dogs
aid in the correction and mental balance of behavioral and emotional disorders
produce and develop puppies into physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy, stable, and secure adult dogs
produce healthier and genetically stronger offspring via naturally-reared breeding dams and sires
palliate symptoms (significantly) of terminal disease that assist a dog to pass peacefully into eternity
My Ten Facets (doctors) of Canine Health are:
Sun & Earth grounding
Passive activity: mental poise
Diet plays an integral role in the health and function of the cells and body systems; cellular signaling, detoxification, and methylation; epigenetic expression; the health of the gut microbiome; and energy generation, output, and expenditure. Diet also directly impacts the health of the mind and emotions greatly influencing behavior.
A highly processed diet consisting of already unhealthy and inappropriate ingredients is a “dead” and dangerous food-product void of all moisture and nearly all vital micronutrients. Add to this the need for extreme heat to create a dried product and you now have the addition of cancer-causing carcinogens. Synthetically produced nutrients must then be sprayed onto the completed food-product to replace all that was already missing and those few nutrients then lost during the extreme processing of the ingredients. If these synthetic nutrients were not added, a dog consuming this food would die of a deficiency or disease condition within a very short period of time.
If this is not enough, processed food damages the gut while also carrying the risk of causing extreme injury to the wall of the intestines. This prevents the flourishing of a healthy gut microbiome. A damaged intestinal wall with a poor gut microbiome is a major driver of food sensitivities, poor digestion, reduced nutrient uptake, cellular damage, allergies, itching, poor immune health, autoimmune disorders, cellular inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, tumor growth, chronic disease, reduced cell signaling, emotional and behavioral problems, and so much more.
Since all kibble requires a starch to hold it together, most kibbles are laden with disease-causing carbohydrates, or worse, legumes and vegetable fibers that are not only causing damage to the gut and blocking the absorption of nutrients, but are also implicated in the rise in dilated cardio myopathy (DCM).
A fresh food diet, on the other hand, is a nutrition plan that is abundant in life-sustaining water to hydrate cells and alive and teeming with naturally-occurring nutrients, enzymes, factors, co-factors, and many other constituents not found in processed foods. A raw diet has the added benefit of being void of dangerous carcinogenic chemicals that would be produced from cooking proteins. Even more, raw foods feed and nourish the gut microbiome creating a near perfect symbiotic relationship that allows for optimal nutrient absorption and assimilation, increased cellular signaling, strengthened immunity, reduced inflammation, the prevention chronic disease, mental and emotional stability and poise, and the list goes on and on. The benefits of a stellar whole-food nutrition plan are incalculable!
When properly balanced by a nutrition professional such as myself, a home-prepared canine diet tops the list for cultivating and maintaining optimal health. Couple this with reducing meal and food frequency and you have an exceptional plan for increased longevity.
Water is an essential component of life and is best received through food. While dogs should always have access to a fresh, clean, pure source of water (preferably in a glass bowl), their food should be their main water source. A kibble diet is the leading cause of chronic dehydration which damages the kidneys and cells and causes cell death.
If your dog is on a kibble diet, he/she will be missing out on the most important source of hydration- their food. The water within food is called gel water (also known as structured or crystalline water) and is structured differently than simply H2O. Gel water has a chemical composition of H3O2 and is most similar to plasma. Since cells contain this same water structure, providing your dog with foods that are abundant in gel water ensures proper cellular hydration. Two of the best sources of gel water are collagen and bone broth. Collagen is found in proteins such as meat, skin, bones, marrow, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage, the main components of a canine diet. Adding in a homemade or high quality commercial bone broth is another excellent source of gel water.
Raw foods, as mentioned above, contain H3O2 water which is the same water contained within cells. Cells require a consistent source of water for adequate cellular function. If your goal is to produce optimal health, then you want to shoot for optimal cellular function, not simply adequate. Because cellular cytoplasm is composed mainly of water, this alone is ample reason to ensure your dog is properly hydrated. Additionally, the cellular plasma membranes made from fatty acids would not combine as the fatty membrane that houses and protects the cell without sufficient water. Water is also required to:
transport nutrients from one cell to another,
remove waste products from the body via urine, feces, and respiration (panting),
transfer electrons such as in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) which provides the energy to power other cellular reactions,
perform enzymatic reactions,
balance a cell via osmosis.
While drinking water is essential, it is not the most effective strategy to getting water into the cells. Most of the water your dog (and you!) drink is urinated out. Drinking water is effective for flushing the kidneys and diluting waste. But the water found within food is most effective for cellular hydration and therefore cellular function. Even more, the health of the cell membranes determine your dog’s ability to properly hydrate. Healthy cell membranes are produced by taking appropriate health care strategies most notably suppling a fresh food diet that is not inflammatory or laden with chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics.
Be sure to supply your dog with a consistent fresh clean source of drinking water. I recommend water filtered via reverse osmosis (RO) and supplied to your dog in a glass bowl (that is for a whole other article!). I highly recommend avoiding tap water. Even a simple carbon filter such as PUR® or Brita® is a MUCH better option than offering tap water.
Allowing your dog regular access to fresh clean air in the outdoors is essential for reducing toxin exposure. Be aware that walking and exercising your dog along roadways increases their exposure to toxic fumes such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, polycyclic hydrocarbons, benzene, and formaldehyde.
Many years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rated indoor air pollution as one of the top environmental risks to public health. In fact, indoor air pollution is one of the world’s largest environmental problems leading to a staggering 1.6 million premature deaths per year. Many pets are kept indoors for the majority of their lives. They may be being exposed to more pollutants in their indoor air than via exposure to everything else combined. If your pet does not have a ventilated area with fresh air, you must take immediate action to purify the air you breath inside your home for their health and for your own.
Reducing indoor air pollution begins with locating and knowing all sources of toxins. According to the EPA, the most common sources include asbestos, biological pollutants, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde & pressed wood products, lead, nitrogen dioxide, pesticides, radon, particulate matter, smoke/tobacco, stoves/heaters/fireplaces/chimneys, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs include air fresheners, fabric softeners, aerosols, beauty products, perfumes, mattresses, wood glues, paints/stain, nail polishes/removers, cleaning supplies, repellants, cooking fumes, etc. And we cannot leave electromagnetic fields (EMFs) off the list. Wi-Fi, Smart Meters, electronics, numerous appliances, nearby cell towers and powerlines, etc. are all a growing concern and a leading contributor to creating a sick and unhealthy home.
Reduce, remove, and eliminate as many sources of indoor air pollution as you are able. Allow fresh clean air to regularly ventilate your home especially in the winter and summer months when heating and air conditioning systems are running 24/7. Change heating and AC filters regularly and use the most expensive filters you can afford. Open at least one window in sleeping areas and allow fresh air to circulate while you sleep (open windows a crack in the winter and summer to allow just enough air to circulate). Look into and purchase quality air purifiers and place them in areas where your pet sleeps, areas where your home sees the most activity from family members, and in bedrooms. Place live plants strategically around the home, but make sure they are either non-toxic or completely out-of-reach from your dog. Use genuine Himalayan salt lamps in all rooms of your home. And lastly, get yourself and your dog outside into nature as often as possible. Pre-dawn air has the highest saturation of oxygen. Take advantage of this healing air regularly. If you’re not a morning person (I’m not!), keep a window opened (or cracked) closest to your dog’s and your bed to take advantage of pre-dawn air while you both sleep!
Like water, without the sun, no life can exist. The sun is our planet’s main source of energy and is vital for the creation of food. Without sunlight, plants would not be able to create nutrients via photosynthesis. Herbivores consume the plants relying upon photosynthesis for their own nutrient needs. Omnivores and carnivores then depend upon the herbivores for their needs.
The sun is also required for vitamin D. While us humans and other animals can create adequate amounts of vitamin D from the sun’s radiation on the skin (provided exposure is sufficient), dogs create only a fraction of their daily nutrient need from sun exposure. They must rely upon the consumption of animals that can create a wealth of vitamin D.
The sun’s light energy is also essential for the stimulation and proper functioning of the pineal gland which is located in the brain. This gland is responsive to the sunlight via the eyes and modulates healthy sleep patterns. The gland’s primary function is the production of the hormone melatonin. While melatonin is the main hormone responsible for sleep, it also has various other functions in the central nervous system. One such role is protecting the health of the heart. There is also evidence that decreased pineal gland function increases risk for cancer in both animals and humans. Regular sun exposure is necessary for healthy pineal gland function which translates into health in the whole being.
While you and your dog are enjoying soaking up the rays, taking advantage of earth grounding is another benefit to getting outside. The earth is like an enormous electron-enriched battery that emits a delicate electrical charge. This charge is why electronics should always be grounded to the earth to prevent and protect against power surges and malfunctioning injury thus directing the power into the earth. The earth’s energy field is the world’s most powerful antioxidant! Allowing your dog to ground to the earth via their paws (and for you, your bare feet) on the grass, soil, sand, or shorelines allows the earth’s electrons to penetrate the pads of their feet. This balances their energy field (which is damaged by positively charged indoor and outdoor pollution and EMF exposure), gives them a huge dose of antioxidant protection, reduces pain and inflammations, lowers stress levels, encourages healthy sleep, and improves circulation.
Exercise comes naturally for dogs. Their bodies are perfectly designed for incredible feats of speed, strength, and endurance. Coupled with a species-appropriate diet, daily exercise creates a vibrantly healthy body that is free from disease and injury. Dogs experience euphoria when running and playing which encourages mental and behavioral balance.
One of the greatest benefits of exercise is the prevention of disease. Studies have shown that daily exercise prevents obesity, digestive issues, diabetes, and can help prevent the onset of arthritis and arthritic symptoms as well as cancer in dogs. Like humans, heart disease is a leading cause of premature death in dogs. In fact, nearly 8 million dogs in the United States have heart disease. Most canine heart disease is acquired, and sadly, studies have not shown that exercise is effective in preventing this devastating disease. However, exercise does strengthen the heart and lungs giving dogs a much greater fighting chance if heart disease becomes a reality. In the end, exercise does have tremendous value for strengthening the heart muscle and oxygenating body tissues.
Observation alone clearly shows how exercise increases lean muscle mass and reduces body fat percentage. Additionally, exercise prevents behavioral issues by giving dogs something to do that they enjoy thus preventing boredom and destructive behaviors and habits. Because exercise burns quite a bit of energy, it discourages hyperactivity giving dogs a sense of peace and mental calm which encourages deeper sleep patterns.
Probably the greatest benefit of exercise is increased longevity. The benefits of disease prevention, increased oxygenation of body tissues, and mental stability all serve to encourage and produce overall optimal health thus increasing the life expectancy rate of many dogs. And if you are out exercising with your dog, the benefits extend to yourself as well!
In the 1970’s, Dr. Herbert Shelton wrote his book, Fasting Can Save Your Life. This is one of the greatest health books I have had the privilege to read. Dr. Shelton fasted over 40,000 patients, one being Mahatma Ghandi, observing and recording the multitudinous benefits. Animals, knowing this by instinct, fast when their health requires it.
A domestic dog’s nutritional needs are controlled by their guardians, and unfortunately, many pets are the victims of premature death as a result. Dogs are not humans and do not require multiple feedings per day, especially when their food is processed commercial foods laden with chemicals, impurities, carcinogens, toxins, molds, pathogens, carbohydrates & starches, and synthetic nutrients. This is reason alone to rest your dog’s digestive faculties and allow for their body to detox, repair tissues, and eliminate damaged cells. Feeding one meal in a 24 hour period is an ideal plan.
Depriving your dog of nutrients for 48 hours initiates a process known as autophagy. Autophagy is the process that can save lives. During autophagy, the body consumes or removes dysfunctional, damaged, and redundant cellular components and recycles the cellular materials that are still functional. It is the body’s ultimate house cleaning process. Autophagy boosts immunity, reduces and prevents inflammation, and has proven to protect against cancer including stopping cancer growth, infections, neurodegenerative disorders, insulin resistance, inflammatory disease, and aging. Autophagy is the ultimate fountain of youth. If you’re not fasting your dog, it is time to start.
Refining mental poise is in no wise limited to humans alone. Animals experience emotions just as we do and can act impulsively and intensely when their mental and emotional needs are not being met properly and in a healthy manner. Like us, dogs need to engage in daily activities and feel they have a sense of purpose.
Boredom can be a very real problem for the modern canine who spends most of his or her day inside, cooped up, and left alone for long hours. Dogs need to have things to do and engage in just as we do or mental, emotional, and behavioral issues may manifest. Dogs need to engage in those activities that are unique to canines. Our dogs are not human children, they are animals that have specific needs, behaviors, conducts, interests, and pursuits, all of which need to be respected and/or met to some degree or another. Because dogs experience the very same pleasure hormones as humans, they require opportunities to experience the release of these hormones on a regular basis. It is not only the respectable thing to do, it is humane.
Domestic dogs are closely related to their wild counterparts and their needs are no less similar. Behavior may have adapted to life with humans, yet our pets still enjoy engaging in the same canis lupus activities as their wild cousins. Chewing, chasing, hunting, digging, barking, howling, herding, guarding, watching, protecting, searching, and so much more can be observed to some degree in every domestic dog. Expecting your dog to act like a human is unreasonable and preventing them from being a dog is downright cruel. It is for this reason many dogs are mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally unstable.
Dogs have a physiological need to chew. Providing your dog with raw meaty bones is the best option as this is what they are designed for. Studies show that chewing releases powerful neurotransmitters that stimulate brain function and increase blood flow to the brain. Chewing also stimulates the trigeminal nerve responsible for movement of the jaw muscles and transmitting sensory information to your dog’s skin, sinuses, and mucous membranes. As a result of chewing, behavioral problems are prevented, or in the very least reduced if a behavioral concern exists.
While some doggie activities may not mesh with our lifestyles or household rules and expectations, such as digging craters in the yard and unearthing your garden shrubs, giving your dog opportunities to engage in agreeable activities on a daily basis is necessary for a mentally and behaviorally healthy and happy dog.
Recognizing and then respecting that your dog was born with innate abilities, known as instincts, facilitates in your dog a sense of confidence and security especially when you are sympathetic to certain behaviors that may not be agreeable or amusing to you as their guardian. Dogs are animals and that needs to be respected and appreciated.
Most instincts in nearly all animals are centered in survival. Your dog is no different. Your dog may demonstrate powerful drives that are triggered by outside circumstances. These behaviors are innate, however, they can also be shaped and intensified through experience. Unreasonable fear is often the result of experiences that have intensified their innate fight or flight response. Strong territorial behavior and overly protectiveness are other examples of instincts that have not been shaped in a healthy manner. These can often be produced by owners naively punishing behaviors rather than gently correcting an instinct with the goal of tempering the innate reaction or response.
Negative instinctive behaviors and reactions can also be the result of an imbalanced home environment or one filled with stressful stimuli. A stable, respectful, and peaceful environment allows your dog’s innate natural abilities to produce strong mental and behavioral harmony, confidence, and poise that brings both joy and benefit to you as their guardian and to your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
Adequate rest is essential for re-centering and rebalancing and is not limited to the physical body alone. True rest involves the relaxation of the body, mind, emotions, and the soul. Our dogs are not exempt from needing proper rest for their entire being. Resting the physical body is straight- forward, but the resting of the remainder may not be so obvious.
Physical rest is no challenge for dogs who sleep most of their day. Even a dog who is active and engaged in work and play knows when it is time for a nap. However, physical rest alone is only part of your dog’s whole being. Resting your dog mentally is also just as vital. Training, socialization, competition, and performance work require your dog’s mental attention and engaged thought processes. Overly training, socializing, and working your dog can create mental strain and fatigue leading to emotional and behavioral issues. A mentally imbalanced dog is an unhealthy dog.
Resting your dog’s emotions and soul involves knowing their stimulus. Stressors and over stimulation from young family members or younger pets such as puppies and kittens can be emotionally draining to your pet. This effects the heart of your dog’s very being, his or her soul. This type of overstimulation can result in depression and anxiety or even a lack of will. Removing or limiting stressors and disturbances is a considerate act while providing a private place for retreat and sanctuary is essential for emotional wellbeing for the benefit of your canine’s soul.
Dogs are experts at sleeping! According to Dr. William Thomas, “dogs sleep 48% to 58% of the time.” Dogs can sleep anytime and anywhere making sleep an effortless feat. Despite this fact, dogs still require periods of undisturbed sleep and the ability to develop and abide by their body’s natural circadian rhythm.
A natural circadian rhythm is established by the sun and your dog’s exposure to it. If your dog resides indoors, be sure to allow sunlight to fill the interior of your home. Reduce yours and your dog’s exposure to LED lighting at night in your home. Use incandescent bulbs or yellow light rather than white light. This will keep the pineal gland healthy and ample amounts of melatonin will be produced. It is also a very good strategy plan for all family members and pets to turn off Wi-Fi at night during sleep. Remove all electronics from sleeping areas and turn cell phones to airplane mode. Reducing electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to a minimum is an important step in reducing exposure and maintaining a healthy home and sleep pattern.
Like us, dogs experience different stages of sleep. If you watch your dog while they sleep you will likely observe moments of deep sleep where they experience Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and dream. Many dogs act out their dreams by moving their limbs and even barking. These deep periods of sleep are necessary. During sleep, a dog’s heart rate drops and their breathing slows down. This is to conserve energy and is vital for the maintenance and repair of body tissues. Undisturbed nighttime sleep is an essential component for a healthy, well mannered, and happy dog.
Detoxification is not only NOT a myth, it is essential to health!
Several years ago, The Guardian published an article entitled “You Can’t Detox Your Body. It’s a Myth. So How Do You Get Healthy?” The article, unfortunately, grossly misrepresented the physiological process of detoxification and the strategies that can be taken to improve and support the natural detox pathways. The truth is we and our dogs have a dependency on specific nurturing foods and holistic “medicinals” in order for these processes to run smoothly. Without specific foods and nutrients to support health and the body’s natural detoxification functions, toxic accumulation results and health fails as has been shown in numerous studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and numerous other organizations and laboratories. It is a disservice that this misleading and slanted article caused many individuals (especially those who were already biased against natural health care strategies) to use this information in opposition to utilizing detoxification strategies as well as for many others to fall for the false notion that detoxification is a myth and a hoax.
The fact of the matter is, no matter how “clean” you may live your life and what proactive measures you take to protect your dog, nearly every human being and animal shows some evidence of toxic build-up. This is a result of the tens of thousands of chemicals found in our environment. Currently it is estimated that there are more than 85,000 chemicals surrounding our lives while a sickening 90% of these have never been tested for public safety. According to the CDC’s last national report on human exposure to environmental chemicals, over two hundred chemical compounds were measured in the blood and urine of the individuals who take part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). According to the report, “In the majority of individuals tested, acrylamides, cotinine, trihalomethanes, bisphenol A, phthalates, chlorinated pesticides, triclosan, organophosphate pesticides, pyrethroids, heavy metals, aromatic hydrocarbons, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, benzophenone from sunblock, perfluorocarbons from non-stick coatings, and a host of polychlorinated biphenyls and solvents were found. ” The CDC has proven that toxins can accumulate in the body within the blood, urine, and tissues. Latest studies have shown that up to three hundred chemicals are already present in the body of newborn infants as well as in human breast milk.
What does this mean for our dogs that are walking closest to the earth and household floors, digging in soils, licking and chewing on filthy treasures they find on the ground or in the trash, and spending long hours indoors breathing polluted indoor air? And we cannot leave out the very serious concern for the majority of dogs who are consuming dried processed commercial dog food often made from 3D/4D meats, meat by-products, GMO ingredients, preservatives, and unhealthful fillers along with a cocktail of heterocyclic amines from the cooking processes, other carcinogens, molds, impurities, synthetic nutrients, and more.
Our dogs have much smaller organs through which to eliminate the same toxic exposure when compared with ours. A dog’s smaller (and sometimes tiny) organs will have to work more diligently to remove toxins. And having a much shorter life span, toxins cannot be eliminated gradually as they are in humans, thus many dogs succumb to illness and chronic disease at an early age. What is worse, our dogs cannot verbalize when they are feeling ill or when exposure to their food, tap water, lawn chemicals, cleaning supplies, veterinary preventatives and vaccines, for example, make them feel sick or cause irritation.
If your dog’s body becomes overwhelmed with the toxin load, elimination is not possible and their bodies will store the toxins until the detoxification processes are able to remove these stored toxins along with the new toxins being introduced daily. And as you can probably guess, many dogs will never have an opportunity or ability to eliminate stored toxins at a later date. Indefinite toxin accumulation is a very real and serious concern for too many dogs. Toxin accumulation creates cellular inflammation resulting in cellular abnormalities. This generally leads to growths and tumors which can end ultimately in cellular damage and cancer.
Is it, therefore, realistically possible to detoxify your dog’s body (and yours, for that matter)? You bet it is! Your dog has several pathways through which to remove toxins. These pathways are the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, respiratory system (lungs), bowels, and even the skin if the toxin load is high. If we are to focus on the main organ responsible for detoxification it would be the liver.
The liver has more than five hundred functions which includes the body’s primary role of detoxification. To detoxify the body, the liver filters the blood, neutralizes toxins, breaks the toxins into smaller particles, and then conjugates them for removal via the bile, urine, and feces. A healthy body would have standard metabolic waste from normal cellular function, old red blood cells and unhealthy or damaged cells, and microorganism such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that would be easily removed via the liver’s detoxification processes. However, in a world abundant in toxic chemicals, many of which are lethal, the liver of the modern canine (and human) now has to perform far more detoxification work to prevent the body from succumbing to damage from chemical exposure. Your dog has not only the above metabolic waste to contend with, but also an environment abundant in poisons and chemicals, heavy metals, toxins in the water supply, all xenobiotic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, veterinary preventative chemicals and vaccines, polluted indoor air, and the list goes on.
Since the CDC and many other research studies have already proven that toxins accumulate in the body tissues, then we can easily conclude that the liver is not capable of detoxing without a consistent nutrient-dense species-appropriate diet along with additional support from foods and supplements; foods and supplements that have been proven to help remove toxins from the body tissues.
To put it bluntly, your dog’s liver and remaining body systems cannot function to their full potential if, firstly, excessive toxin exposure is not halted immediately, and secondly, if an abundance of required nutrients and building blocks along with specifically chosen foods and supplements are not provided daily. If your dog is getting “just enough” nutrients, especially from an already poor diet, his/her liver will never be able to adequately remove the hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals they are exposed to daily. Disease will be the end result. What does the liver require on a daily basis?
The liver has a two phase detoxification process. After filtering the blood to remove the larger toxins, what follows is two phases that break down, neutralize, and eliminate the chemicals. Phase one is an oxidation process while phase two is conjugation. In phase one, the liver alters the toxins to form activated intermediates. The activated intermediates then enter into phase two where they are neutralized and converted into safer chemicals through oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis reactions. Phase one requires B vitamins (especially methylfolate), vitamins A, C, and E, glutathione, phospholipids, and specific amino acids. The second phase requires amino acids, sulfur, B vitamins, choline, fatty oils from fish, glutathione, and limonene. If your dog has a lack of any of these nutrients, liver function will not be optimal. If liver function is not optimal, toxins cannot be converted and removed, thus toxins will be deposited into the fatty areas of the body. When this occurs, your dog has become toxic and symptoms will manifest. One of the first and most overlooked signs of toxin accumulation is sluggishness and weight gain with the inability to lose body fat.
What can be done to support liver function? Simply put, a carefully planned out and implemented detoxification strategy that is followed and carried out on a regular basis. The number of studies that have conclusively shown that certain foods and supplements aid liver and tissue detoxification are in the hundreds. To believe that specifically chosen foods and supplements cannot assist in detoxifying the body is to deliberately turn a blind eye to the myriad of studies proving otherwise. Just as you cannot build a house without the specific and correct building materials required to construct a strong and solid building, nor can you maintain the integrity and beauty of that house in the years to come without the essential needed materials, you also cannot create and cultivate optimal health without the specific and specialized materials needed for each and every function of the body right down to each cellular organelle.
Because detoxification is so specific to each dog’s needs, history, and current health condition, I highly recommend contacting The Holistic Canine for a custom detoxification strategy plan.
In closure, I have included a mere two foods/supplements that will show without a shadow of a doubt that specific foods and supplements do offer tremendous detoxification support and assistance. Enjoy!
A plea to correctly meeting your dog’s nutritional needs and more
The strength of the bond between a dog and his guardian never ceases to amaze me. It is a beautiful and harmonious relationship between two species remarkably entwined in an intimate connection surpassing the language barrier, the physical dissimilarities, and the purpose that drives life and intention. Both are united ultimately by need. A need to nurture and for companionship or assistance on the part of the human, and a requirement for mere basic necessities on the part of the dog that trickles into the fierce desire to give his loyalty, devotion, protection, companionship, service, adoration, and affection. It is this that translates into pure love. How better to express the bond we have with our canine companions?
With this loving bond comes the need for mutual agreement and trust. Dogs are not people. If you expect your canine companion to adhere to the basic rules of your life and household, then should you not also give and allow your dog the opportunity to be a dog? He obeys your rules by respecting your house and environment, but the outside world is a dog’s first home. It is his birthright to have territory upon this earth to call his own. A mutual agreement between man and canine strengthens the bonds of love and loyalty, trust and affection. Let him be a dog by giving him a safe piece of your yard and your house that he can call his own. Let him dig and explore, eat grass and roots, chew on bones and sticks, roll on the earth, run to his heart’s content, chase birds and squirrels, bark at the world, snuggle up in a blanket on the sofa or a bed, retreat to his own spot, lie in his favorite place on your floor (even if you have to step over him), sleep in undisturbed peace, and have the right to go outside when he asks. He is, after all, a dog and not a person; a being who is under your rule.
Canis lupus familiaris had (and many dogs still do have) the ability to perfectly care for their own needs. Instinct guides them to survive, driving them toward the proper nourishment and care that their bodies require. But under the care of a human, basic needs are left to the mercy of their guardian’s knowledge and decisions. When we take the responsibility to make decisions for another living being, there comes with that choice a great responsibility. For our dogs, we are making decisions for beings that know what they require and know how to get it. Yet we become the master of their provisions. Can you see how great an obligation this is?
A dog is designed for specific food and they are driven to hunt. Even the cutest of the toy breeds can be seen chasing squirrels, digging up mice and moles, and chasing “prey.” Yet we humans have decided what is best for our loyal companions. Man has a drive for convenience, creating simplicity, money and gain, and approval. And so he takes from the wild a beautiful creature and makes him more convenient for himself. Worse yet, he decides for the canine what he will eat and offers him food his body is not designed to consume. Once free and thriving in the wild, domestic dog succumbed to man’s need for convenience and monetary gain, and worse yet, his disease-ridden state. Dogs do not create disease within themselves, man does this for him. Humans have a habit of believing that they know best, like gods directing and deciding for others. Nature alone knows best. Instinct drives the animal to seek and acquire what he needs.
Food is a vital need. Yet, should your dog not also enjoy what he eats and get pleasure from breaking, crushing, and chewing food? Food should never create dis-ease. Food is meant only for nourishment of the body to provide energy and to build, maintain, defend, and heal cells and tissues, and to create internal harmony and produce optimal health. Do we not have, then, the highest obligation to provide for our beloved canines the food that they were designed to consume? Food that makes their bodies thrive in a state of abundant health and wellness? You are the master of your dog’s needs. You are the sole provider of his basic requirements that will either nourish health or feed dis-ease. He gives you his love, his loyalty, his companionship, his trust, his heart and soul. Can you not provide, in-return, for his basic needs exactly what he is designed to consume that will reward his life with health, comfort, and longevity? He needs nourishment from foods that are appropriate for his species. He needs the pleasure of breaking, crushing, and chewing food as this stimulates his trigeminal nerve and releases potent neurotransmitters to create mental poise and reduce behavioral problems. He is not a human, he is a canine.
This is my plea to you: MUTUAL TRUST. Your dog trusts you. You are his provider. He loves and obeys you, he respects your lifestyle, your home, and even your heart. He seeks your approval. Give to him the best that you are able. Throw away the convenience food. You made a decision to care for a life. Hold this decision as your highest responsibility. Your dog requires a diet of fresh whole foods, not dead dried-up processed balls, pellets, and bits from a bag with artificial nutrients sprayed on top to “meet” a standard set by an organization that was created because man was killing animals with improper diets. Man does not know best! Nature knows best. Science studies nature, the natural world, in order to learn facts and truths about our world, our environment, our bodies, animals and their bodies, and all life in general. It is not the other way around. We do not teach nature, nature teaches man. The only scientific canine diet is the diet nature provided. NATURE IS SCIENCE and SCIENCE IS NATURE AWAITING DISCOVERY.
Ask yourself this: Does science support commercial man-made nutrition in a bag? No scientific endeavor or discovery will ever find commercial kibble for dogs. Nature provides for her canines. Man simply chooses to rape nature with unscientific ideas. Give your dog the best. He deserves to have his basic needs met with what nature has provided for her creatures. Your dog requires fresh meat, fish, poultry, organs, bones, eggs, and water from his fresh food. A homemade fresh raw or lightly cooked diet is an ideal nutrition plan. Many commercial raw foods are now also available for convenience and simplicity. Doesn’t your dog deserve the best? Give him the best of what nature has provided. You owe it to him for all he gives to you. Love is action!
The Holistic Canine is here to help you meet your dog’s needs…all of them. If you would like to learn how to provide your dog with the best scientific diet, please join our Facebook group for a FREE online course in raw feeding and naturopathy. Also contact The Holistic Canine to set up a consultation or to request a custom recipe or nutrition plan. We also have recipes available for immediate purchase. No matter what your need, we are here to assist you!
One year ago this month my beloved Siberian Husky, Damon (who is also the face of The Holistic Canine), was informally diagnosed with thyroid cancer. His thick and luxurious Siberian coat had hidden a growth that I did not notice until one day last October 2018. I was sitting on my bedroom floor tending to one of our Pitskies when Damon nudged me for some petting. Of course I started to fuss with him. Because I was sitting on the floor, I was low and my hand ran over his throat. I felt what I at first thought might be a clump of hair. I spread his hair to investigate and knew immediately that my beloved companion had a mass in his throat.
Let me take you back several years. Damon and I are from upstate NY. My three sons, Damon, and I made the decision to move south to Georgia after my then-USAF fiance (now husband) was re-stationed to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, GA. Because we were moving to a military establishment, that meant Damon would not be allowed on base without current rabies and distemper vaccines. I am against vaccination and Damon had only the most minimal. But I had no choice. He was my beloved heart dog and he was coming with us, so I had him vaccinated. Damon turned 6 years old on the day we arrived at our new home.
Not long after arriving in Georgia, Damon suddenly became very lazy. Then about a year later, my once perfectly-healthy Damon began having a host of issues. He would wake up with stiff necks that nearly paralyzed him. He would stand with his head cocked, unable to move, facing a wall. Then one day in February 2016, right after he turned 8 years old, while outside in the yard he started screeching. I ran outside to find him trembling in a couched position in searing pain and unable to move. I picked him up while my son ran to the car to help me rush him to the veterinarian. I immediately thought Lyme Disease as it looked exactly like the symptoms, and being from NY where Lyme is common, I was well versed. Georgia, however, has a very small incidence of Lyme and the Veterinarian immediately expressed her doubt. Well, she was right. No Lyme Disease. But we put him on an antibiotic and a steroid to “cover all the bases” and get him pain-free before taking further measures. We also used NexGard (against my good conscience) at 1/2 the dose for the next three months in case a tick borne illness was the cause. The next day Damon was perfectly normal so we chose the “watch and see” approach. But as time went on, the stiff necks continued. If you could have witnessed what we did, you would have agreed with us that we did not think Damon was going to live to be nine years old.
By now we had several other dogs who were all consuming a raw diet. Damon, being the pickiest eater I have ever met in all my long years of having dogs, wouldn’t touch raw food. He was near impossible to feed. He had been on a homecooked diet along with the highest (and most expensive) commercial canned and dehydrated foods for nearly his entire life. We knew we HAD to figure out a way to get him to eat full raw. After many creative tactics and painstaking coaxing, Damon was finally eating full raw by March 2017, and amazingly, he never had another stiff neck or issue again. The change in Damon was immediate. So why did he develop a mass over a year later? Or had it already been forming, missed by both us and veterinarians, silently causing the stiff necks?
I was dumbfounded. What could have caused my Siberian to go from perfect health in NY to a literal crash and burn upon moving to GA? In my heart I believe the vaccines are partly, if not completely, responsible. Add to this the military community which sprayed Round-Up everywhere, and I have my suspicions. We chose to get the hell out of that toxic community and move out to the country at the end of 2017. I had thought we were out-of-the-woods with Damon’s health, so you can imagine my surprise at finding the mass in October 2018.
Let me take you back one more time before I discuss my chosen action plan for Damon. In 2016 as a result of Damon’s health issues, I had decided to start The Holistic Canine. I wanted to bring together a community where holistic health care measures are shared and discussed. Thus The Holistic Canine was born. Never did I realize where it would take me. I kept Damon’s health issues quiet while I worked with him and utilized holistic therapies and measures. I wanted to first know that what I was doing was effective. Why talk about something that is not yet shown to be effective? For starters, I already knew that raw feeding was by far and away a complete miracle for health conditions. Having now more than ten thousand followers and hundreds of clients with success stories that would move even the hardest person to tears, I know with absolute certainty that species-appropriate nutrition is essential to optimal health and healing. I am also convinced that vaccines are the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette*. Having had dogs for over 40 years, I can clearly see which dogs thrived and which did not as a result of either receiving or not receiving vaccines and chemical veterinary preventative measures. Having also worked for three different veterinarians back in NY and having owned my own holistic grooming salon for 18 years, I saw enough to know what added to health and what destroyed it.
After waiting one year post-diagnosis to write about Damon and my plan of action, I now want to share my chosen protocol and express what I have learned throughout this process. [Note: for diagnosis, Damon went to both a conventional veterinarian and a holistic veterinarian. We chose a fine needle aspiration, a full thyroid blood panel, and a standard blood work up.]
Cancer is a disease of the individual. It is a part of them, their own cells and tissues that have unfortunately mutated and no longer function as their specialized cell. Cancer is part of the body. We are not fighting a “something” when we attempt a war against cancer. We are battling against the body; itself gone wrong. Cancer requires a reversal, plain and simple. Removing a cancerous part or growth is only a temporary fix to a problem of the whole body. If healing and strengthening measures are not engaged in, the cancer returns elsewhere in the body. And why? Because cancer is individual and a part of the victim. Being first and foremost a holistic health practitioner to people, I have studied cancer to a sickening degree. Having this knowledge base in mind, I made my decision and chose my path to assist Damon throughout his now second major health crisis.
1. My first action even before I got my veterinary appointments, was to immediately order the best source of CBD oil I could find. I did not know if Damon would be in pain or if suffering would eventually occur, so CBD was not an option, it was essential. I took my first CBD oil purchase to my holistic veterinarian who warned me to be leery of THC in the product. After later finding a better product that is full spectrum, I ignored my veterinarian’s advice knowing that the THC is what fights cancer, not CBD. I put my dog on a high potency human CBD oil along with Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). I give CBD twice daily.
2. Diet is critical. Damon was already raw fed. As noted above, he is picky to a fault (often infuriatingly), so I needed to make sure he ate, and ate daily (something he NEVER did). I had to make the decision to feed him what I KNEW he would eat, not what I THOUGHT was best. Damon HATES vegetables and fruit. I removed all vegetables and fruit (YEP!) because Damon knew best what his body needs. I started to trust him. I had been researching the Prey Model Raw diet more and became convinced it was the better choice. In addition, I also started adding just bone marrow to meals along with his raw meaty bones which, oddly enough, he took an incredible preference to.
3. With that in mind☝️ and knowing that Siberians have often extreme instincts, I chose to trust my dog’s lead. I am his guardian, but he is his own being. Damon hates going to the Veterinarian and he gets very stressed. Already two vet appointments into this disease and I saw the stress. Stress can kill. I chose to reduce the stress. Damon DID NOT WANT to be poked, prodded, and stressed out. I KNOW my dog and he would not want to be put through a surgery. I chose to opt out of the surgery to remove the mass. In fact, the conventional veterinarian (hands down the best I have EVER seen) said to me that the surgery was not a matter of if it can be done, but whether it should be done given his history. I further resolved after researching the disease and reading about others’ experiences with thyroid cancer that surgery was not for Damon. Too many dogs died shortly after having their thyroid removed.
4. Next, I bought dietary supplements. I researched and chose my next course of action. I decided on turkey tail and reishi mushrooms, a complex of grape seed, green tea, and pine bark, vitamin D, vitamin C, high doses of vitamin E, and others. I tried turmeric and spirulina, but he hated them. No need to force something he hates. Also, my holistic veterinarian recommended no kelp. I stopped kelp and give him only a pinch every once in awhile.
5. I chose to treat Damon as if he was perfectly healthy. I made him believe that he is not sick, that nothing is amiss. He has a tumor the size of a baseball and he does not know it’s bad; he does not care. He believes it is normal. He has adjusted to the tumor as if it is a natural part of aging. The tumor interferes with nothing that we can tell. He acts as if all is well.
6. Energy. Energy is everything. Animals are sensitive to energy fields. They feel our energy and our emotions. Emotions are one of the most powerful energy fields in the Universe. The emotions we send out attracts back from the Universe exactly what we put out. I act as if Damon is no different than our other five dogs, that he is as well and healthy as they are. My emotions reflect that Damon is strong, I do not fear that death will take him. I give Damon the right to chose when it is time. That gives me confidence; it changes my energy field to faith and trust. Damon feeds off my confidence and faith in him.
7. I let Damon lead me. Dogs are incredibly instinctive. They know what they need. If you raise your dog to be a DOG, not a human child, their instincts can be trusted. My dogs play outside, dig in the dirt, eat raw food, get into trash, drink out of the toilet (not that I encourage that, mind you), roll on dead things…they are dogs. Damon has a connection with the earth. Not long after we discovered his tumor, Damon began asking to sleep outside for the first time ever in his life. I knew in my heart he needed to connect with the earth, maybe even prepare for his death. I had to allow it. I cannot stop death, but I may be able to ward it off for a little longer. I let Damon have his way and ground to the earth’s energy at night. He also took advantage of the pre-dawn oxygen saturation within the air. Oxygen is highest at that time as can be witnessed by the birds as this is when they begin to sing.
8. I started giving Damon more privileges. He began helping with the chicken and duck duties. He spends time with the feathered girls. I began to realize more that a dog’s life requires purpose. I gave Damon reasons to WANT to live. I gave him more purpose. He became my partner in caring for the other animals. He joins me on the sofa more. He is the elder dog in the home and we treat him with honor among his pack. Damon also knows that I NEED him. He and I have a very special bond. I make sure he knows.
9. Every now and then I run my hands over Damon’s tumor. I tell him it’s ok. I make sure he knows that this growth is not scary. We tell it “together” that it has no power over him. I use my own energy field and faith to clear away stagnation in the area. Exercise and movement of muscles massages lymph nodes and flushes the lymph fluid. Damon loves to have his head and neck massaged. He also loves our electric massager. We clear stagnant energy, toxins, and fluids.
10. Damon gets exercise in the fresh air a minimum of six times per day. We make sure he walks around the house throughout the day as well. Exercise oxygenates the system. If Damon asks to go for a walk, I take him outside the fenced yard and he loves to gallop across our acreage, explore the heavily foliaged areas, sniff the earth, and relish in the fresh air and warm sun (and eat shoots of vibrant green meadow grasses!).
So far so good. Several years ago we were doubting Damon would see nine years old, today we are approaching his twelfth birthday. How long Damon will be with us is unknown, but he and I both know that each day is a blessing in itself. Cancer and disease suck, but we can do our best to ward off death for as long as we stay the course and BELIEVE!
*I began vaccine research back in 1999. My first son was born in 1998 and when I saw how many vaccines they were recommending, I started asking questions. By my second son’s birth in 2000, I was more convinced that vaccines were more dangerous than good. I chose to withhold all vaccines from my sons from that moment forward. My third son is completely vaccine-free. Now adults, my boys have never had a single illness. My grandson is currently also vaccine-free.
Supplementing and Balancing a DIY Canine Meal Plan the Correct Way
If you have made the decision to feed your dog a species-appropriate raw diet, then you have chosen to move into the direction of providing your dog with the best possible nutrition plan. With that resolve comes the need for research and learning. After all, we all want what is best for our dogs. In order to know whether or not your dog is getting all of his or her essential nutrients, both macro and micronutrients, you must first know exactly what you are feeding to your dog.
DIY raw diets are the best way to know for sure what you are feeding to your dog. You choose the ingredients and the amounts. Auditing your DIY meals via a dog food software program or nutrient spreadsheet calculator will make you aware of the nutrient values and percentages in the meals you are creating. You will learn, for example, where your meals are nutritionally insufficient, nutritionally too rich, nutrient imbalanced, and nutritionally appropriate. Auditing is the best way (really, the only way) to know exactly where amendments need to be made and where supplements should be added.
Pet parents opting to follow the 80/10/10 formula will discover upon auditing that it is very difficult to appropriately balance meals if the formula is followed too closely. See my article How to Properly Use a Ratio: The Raw Fed Dog to discover a better formula to meet nutrient needs.
On that note, with the rise in popularity of raw feeding, numerous raw food companies, businesses, and local raw food suppliers create and sell what are known as 80/10/10 grinds. These grinds offer pet parent’s convenience and simplicity when it comes to feeding their dogs. However, unless a product is clearly labeled, analyzed, and sold as an AAFCO or NRC complete and nutritionally balanced diet option, these raw food ratio conveniences are anything but complete meal plans that provide all of your dog’s essential nutrient requirements. Unlabeled and unknown grind products should never be fed to your dog, worse yet as an exclusive diet option (in my professional opinion, I highly recommend that you completely avoid feeding any and all unknown products). Grind options that are clearly labeled, however, can be balanced IF and only IF they are labeled with the exact ingredients and percentages of each ingredient in the grind.
There are several ways in which DIY raw food diet plans and 80/10/10 grind options (that are labeled with each ingredient and their percentages) can be balanced and enriched. Start with an audit of your meal(s) or grind. If you do not have a dog food software program or a nutrient spreadsheet calculator, The Holistic Canine will do an analysis of your recipes/meals with the option of amendment suggestions for a low cost. Once you have determined the nutrient values of your meal, you can begin to choose your plan of action.
Protein and fat requirements, the macronutrients that supply both functional need and calories (potential energy), are quite easy to meet and supply in meals. Your fat will require balancing, but we will hold off on that for a moment. Thus, your first step is to note each of your micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) values. The easiest method is to look at the percentages of nutrient fulfillment. These percentages reflect how much of the NRC recommended allowance (RA) for each nutrient is being met. (Some programs have both AAFCO and NRC values. I recommend focusing on the NRC percentages.) You will see that some nutrients will be well over 100% and others will be below or are just hovering around 100%. Note the high and low extremes. For example, of the hundreds of recipes/meals that I have analyzed, vitamin A on average is around 300% up to more than 700% while manganese will be around 18% up to 30%. These are both extremes that must be amended and properly brought into balance in relation to all the other micronutrients.
While your goal is to achieve meeting all the nutrient requirements as recommended by the NRC, you will also want to achieve a balance among the nutrients. Nutrients are synergistic. Some nutrients act as partners and co-factors that increase nutrient absorption while some directly antagonize other nutrients decreasing absorption potential. For instance, all of the trace minerals are antagonistic among each other. Balance here is critical to avoid deficiencies. Vitamins A and D are antagonistic as well. Of these nutrients, the trace minerals and vitamin D can be challenging to meet. Thus we have a potential problem if meals and recipes are not being audited for potential nutrient values. Additionally, calcium and phosphorous need to be in the correct ratio for proper absorption and use. If phosphorous is too high and calcium is too low, your dog’s homeostatic mechanism will draw calcium out of storage (bones and teeth) to balance the phosphorous. High phosphorus can cause potential calcium deposits to form in soft tissues as well as malabsorption issues among iron, zinc, and magnesium. Also take note of your omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid values. You will want to achieve a 2 to 1, or better yet, a 1 to 1 ratio among these two families of fatty acids to avoid creating an internal inflammatory environment. Balance matters! You really MUST know what you are feeding your dog.
After noting your nutrient fulfillment values, it is time to focus on creating balance. You will need to bring up low values into the correct proportions as well as lower extreme highs that can potentially cause toxicity as well as deficiency elsewhere. While the NRC has maximum nutrient levels for a few nutrients, that does not mean, for example, that you should have your vitamin A level at 650% just because it is within the RA and the maximum! That is far too high to be feeding vitamin A at that level. Further, providing meals with extreme vitamin A levels while having the vitamin D value at 90% or even hypothetically “fulfilled” at 105% is not balanced. You will need to bring down the amount of vitamin A and raise vitamin D.
Calcium to phosphorous (Ca:P)- your goal is to achieve a 1.1:1 up to a 1.2:1 ratio.
Zinc to copper (Zn:Cu)- I like to see this around 15:2.
Vitamin A to vitamin D- I recommend a minimum of 5:1 up to 2:1 to ensure adequate absorption of D.
Magnesium in relation to calcium- the NRC requires a mere 150 mg of Mg per 1,000 kcal. For optimal absorption and proper utilization of calcium, dietary magnesium and vitamin D levels must be optimal. This is critical. Having Mg at 100% to 200% is minimal. You can safely go upwards of 600% especially if your calcium is near or over 200%.
Manganese in relation to Zn, Cu, and Fe- I prefer to maintain manganese levels around the same as copper and iron in relation to zinc.
Selenium value (this will do the work of vitamin E)- selenium levels can be around 200% to 300%.
Omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids- ideally, I like to see a 2:1 up to a 1:1 ratio.
Having this information, your next step is to begin reducing or increading your ingredients. You will also likely need to add additional ingredients or supplements that will supply the lacking and required balancing nutrients. The following list contains commonly low nutrients and what to add to create a balanced dietary plan in order to cultivate optimal health within your dog.
Zinc: Zinc is almost always too low on audited meals. While grass-fed beef and lamb and chicken hearts and gizzards contain a good amount of zinc, it is not enough. Adding oysters to meals will supply a wealth of zinc and a good amount of copper. Feeding seeds, which contain zinc and other minerals, is NOT a bioavailable source for dogs. Worse, if you are not buying and feeding sprouted/germinated seeds or soaking and germinating them yourself to reduce phytates, then the anti-nutrients are counter-productive and minerals are being lost. Feeding seeds will require double the amount of zinc to make up for the loss to phytates. If you cannot feed oysters, my recommendation is to have a bottle of an amino acid chelated zinc such as L-OptiZinc in a 15 mg dose for small dogs and a 30 mg dose for medium to large dogs. I do not recommend a zinc that has an acid chelate such as zinc picolinate. Stick with my recommendation above for optimal absorption potential.
Zinc:Copper: If you are not feeding a liver that is high in copper, then you will need a zinc/copper combination supplement. Chicken, turkey, and pork liver do not contain adequate amounts of copper. Adding oysters will provide both zinc and copper, but if your dog has an issue with shellfish or you cannot feed oysters, you must have a zinc/copper combination supplement. Like the recommendation above, purchase an amino acid chelated product in the same doses as above.
Manganese: This trace mineral is just plain difficult to supply in sufficient amounts with species-appropriate ingredients if you are not feeding whole prey. Mussels (blue or green lipped) added to the diet will provide a plethora of manganese. However, mussels can be difficult for many pet parents to source, they can be quite pricey, and some dogs may not do well with shellfish. And as mentioned above under the “zinc,” seeds contain zinc, manganese, and magnesium, but these will NOT supply your dog with bioavailable minerals. If you cannot add mussels to your dog’s meals, I highly recommend purchasing a bottle of an amino acid chelated manganese in a dose of 8 mg. Give smaller to medium dogs 1/4 of a tablet and larger to giant dogs 1/2 a tablet.
Krill oil or marine phytoplankton: Brain, grass-fed/grass-finished ungulates, and fatty fish contain a wealth of bioavailable omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). Unfortunately, every other meat is teeming with inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Poultry, pork, and factory farmed, grain-fed ungulates will not supply your dog with their vital EPA and DHA fatty acid requirements. Fatty fish is an excellent source of EPA and DHA that can be fed daily in small amounts. Fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon, and herring provide these as well as essential Vitamin D. If you cannot regularly provide your dog with brain, grass-fed/grass-finished ungulate meat/organs, and/or fatty fish, you must add a krill oil or marine phytoplankton supplement to daily meals to meet omega-3 fatty acids requirements.
Vitamin D: As indicated above, vitamin D needs to be balanced with vitamin A. Free-range eggs and fatty fish provide vitamin D, but if you are feeding 5% liver every day, you will not be providing sufficient amounts of vitamin D. Keep in mind, it is about balance, not just meeting requirements. Coming up short or barely hitting vitamin D needs in the presence of huge amounts of vitamin A from liver can create a vitamin D deficiency. My favorite alternative source is an infant vitamin D drop supplement (400IU). All your dog requires is a single drop one to three times per week in accordance with your dog’s size and need. If you have a toy breed, you can purchase a vitamin D drop supplement specifically for dogs, but it costs 2 to 3 times the amount of natural infant vitamin D. Since vitamin D is stored, you can give a toy dog a single boost of vitamin D once per week or once every other week (if you have a dog under 6 pounds).
Calcium/phosphorus/magnesium: If you do not feed bones, then you need a bioavailable source of bone minerals. Bone meal, eggshells, calcium from algae, and canine mineral supplements are a good start. My favorite supplement to meet calcium needs that also provides a perfect amount of magnesium is a product made specifically for dogs by Mezotrace. Be sure to ask me or another professional for appropriate dosing.
Thiamin: This water soluble vitamin comes up short more times than not! Thiamin can be easily met with pork, but if you do not feed pork, thiamin will be dangerously teetering on the “just barely making it” mark or falling short. Being a water soluble vitamin, this vitamin needs to be supplied daily in more-than-sufficient amounts. Something else to consider: if you are feeding raw fish and shellfish (mussels and oysters) then you should be made aware that raw fish contains an enzyme known as thiaminase which renders all the thiamin in the meal useless. Cooking fish and shellfish will destroy the thiaminase and prevent a dangerous and potentially fatal thiamin deficiency. The best and easiest source of thiamin is nutritional yeast. This is a must-have supplement that can be purchased in grocery stores. You can buy a fortified or a non-fortified product. My preference is Bragg brand.
Choline: Choline requirements can be met with eggs, and that means feeding eggs DAILY. And even with a daily egg for a medium size dog, choline will still be low. My recommendation is to have a supplement to fulfill this requirement. The most bioavailable source is sunflower lecithin. 1,200 mg of sunflower lecithin will provide just the right amount of choline per 1,000 kcal of food (420 mg) along WITH an egg!
Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols): This fat soluble vitamin will never be met in meals from bioavailable foods. A supplement should be purchased and added to all meals. I prefer liquid E rather than softgels or dry form tablets. Make sure the vitamin E supplement you purchase is a natural mixed-tocopherol supplement, not just the alpha. On a side note, having sufficient amounts of selenium in the meals voids the need for vitamin E. Selenium does the work of vitamin E!
Iodine: Kelp is a whole-food source of iodine and many other nutrients. However, kelp should be added to meals with great caution. Do not ever fall for the idea that you must feed your dog more than 220 mcg of iodine per day from kelp if you feed more than 1,000 kcal. Humans requires only 150 mcg per day and a dog is much smaller. Even giant dogs do not need more than 220 mcg. (See Dr. Jean Dodd’s research). Even more, if you feed eggs, fish, shellfish, kefir, and/or goat’s milk, your dog is getting iodine! So feed kelp that provides LESS iodine than the NRC’s 220 mcg per 1,000 kcal requirement. Too much iodine can over stimulate the thyroid gland and create thyroid disease. Make sure you use a kelp product that has the iodine amount clearly analyzed and labeled on the product.
Multi-Vitamin/Mineral: I like to offer a canine multivitamin every few days. There are numerous wonderful products that you can choose from. I like Buddy & Lola Multivit as well as brands such as Dr. Harvey’s, kin + kind, Animal Essentials, Dr. Mercola, Earthvet, Pet’s Friend, and Dog Greens. All are great companies with exceptional products.
often the most difficult aspect of raw feeding. Quality and affordability are generally
the two most important factors and considerations when searching for nourishing
ingredients that will be used to fulfill your dog’s energy and nutritional
requirements. I place quality at the top of my list while affordability is
often a necessity rather than a choice.
Purchasing meats, fish, organs, bones, and various other ingredients from the human food market is my recommendation, hands down. Even better, partnering with a local farmer or raising your own livestock for food products is ideal. In this way, you know exactly what and how much of each ingredient is going into your dog’s body. You have full control and can offer a variety of high quality nourishing ingredients that will produce optimal health and wellbeing in your dog.
Premade “complete and balanced” commercial raw products are extremely convenient and are becoming increasingly more popular. However, with that popularity many new raw food companies and sourcing businesses are popping up in nearly every state in this nation as well as abroad. Sadly, I am finding that as more people enter into the raw food business market, money often becomes the game and quality can suffer. Unless a premade is AAFCO “complete and balanced,” is clearly labeled with the exact percentages of every ingredient in the mix, lists the guaranteed analysis, and the company or business can verify the source of each ingredient in the product, you will be left wondering whether or not you are providing a quality food that fulfills all of your dog’s nutritional needs. Quality and nutritional value need to be the first and highest priority of every commercial and raw food supplier.
Which leads me to my biggest concern: 80/10/10 grinds. Unless clearly stated, these products are not complete and balanced diet options. I am seeing these options becoming far more popular than commercial premade completes due to their affordability and ease of creating. Unfortunately, too many pet parents are feeding these grinds exclusively (as complete diets) not realizing that their dogs may very well be missing vital nutrients that can lead to serious deficiency conditions or chronic disease down the road.
80/10/10 grinds come labeled or unlabeled and follow a basic 80/10/10 rule of 80% meat, 10% organs, and 10% bone. They most often contain muscle meat, heart, liver, kidney, and bone. I highly recommend questioning whether the supplier or manufacturer has consulted with a canine nutritionist or if they have the proper knowledge to create an 80/10/10 that is as nutritionally sound as is possible, as well as safe. Keep in mind also that if a supplier is obtaining cheap or even free meat to create a grind it will produce a poor quality, nutritionally unsound, and potentially dangerous product.
The most pressing concern you should be aware of if you are purchasing premades or a grind mix is the sourcing. 3D and 4D product use is becoming very popular in raw grinds. This creates raw food products that are affordable and competitive, but also potentially fatal.
3D animal products are taken from animals that are still alive before
processing. The three “Ds” stand for:
Downed (as from lameness, illness, weakness, etc.)
4D animal products are all of the above with the addition of the animal being dead before the opportunity to slaughter and process hygienically. The forth “D” is:
Dead (or Destroyed).
According to the publication An Overview of the Rendering Industry , “Approximately 49 percent of the live weight of cattle, 44 percent of the live weight of pigs, 37 percent of the live weight of broilers, and 57 percent of the live weight of most fish species are materials not consumed by humans.” To avoid waste, these “inedible” products are sent to plants for animal feed and rendering. “The most important and valuable use for these animal by-products is as feed ingredients for livestock, poultry, aquaculture, and companion animals.”
While most of the inedible products discussed in the publication above come from animals that are fit for human consumption (known as human-grade), there is the other side of the industry. Often during processing in USDA regulated plants, some of the animals are found to be diseased, dying, unable to walk off transport vehicles (down), or may even die (3D/4D). These animals/products are identified as unfit for the human food market and must be marked to avoid entering into the human food chain. How is this done?
During processing, if an animal product has been identified as unfit for the human market, staining the meat or products with charcoal, fish meal, or adding bone or a chemical agent(s) to produce an easily identifiable color, odor, or taste is necessary to avoid these unfit products from entering into the human food market. This is called denaturing. Denatured products are what are known as feed-grade.
The pet food industry obtains denatured feed-grade products at extremely low costs to be used in the manufacture of commercial kibble, canned, dehydrated, and raw pet food products. While using these animal products for pet foods may seem like a viable solution to avoid wasting valuable feed animals, denatured products can and do cause harm to pets when they are consumed. While charcoal, fish meal, and bone denaturing may be safe for pets to consume, chemical denaturing can be potentially lethal. You also have to consider the additional impact of your pet consuming diseased or dead animals which may pose a whole host of risks on its own. Keep in mind that 3D/4D animal products can also be obtained by smaller pet food manufacturers and local raw food suppliers for use in raw food grinds such as 80/10/10. The USDA warns that the handling of 4D meat that is served raw to pets can be a serious health hazard to both the pet parents and their pets.
Take a look at the list of denaturing agents approved by the USDA:
4% coarsely ground hard bone
6% coarsely ground hard bone
6 % tannic acid solution exposure for 1 minute followed by water bath immersion, followed by a 1 minute immersion of 0.022 percent FD&C yellow No. 5 coloring solution
1 part FD&C green No. 3 coloring + 40 parts water + 40 parts liquid detergent + 40 parts oil of citronella
0.0625 percent tannic acid exposure followed by immersion in a water bath, followed by 0.0625 percent ferric acid dipping solution
phenolic disinfectant conforming to commercial standards CS 70-41 or CS 71-41
Crude carbolic acid
FD&C blue No. 1 coloring
FD&C blue No. 2 coloring
FD&C green No. 3 coloring
Finely powdered charcoal or black dyes
Kerosene, fuel oil, or used crankcase oil
No. 2 fuel oil, brucine dissolved in a mixture of alcohol and pine oil or oil of rosemary, finely powdered charcoal
Any ‘other proprietary substance’ approved by the USDA
What are some other concerns you should be made aware of when sourcing your raw ingredients? Always be leery of and question:
Products sold for $1 per pound and lower (especially grinds)
Meats marked “trim”
Grinds containing 1% or 2% bone
Grinds without guaranteed analysis
Products with unknown or undisclosed origin
Meat from animals fed GMO feed
Meat from animals injected with hormones/antibiotics
Unknown tissue found in bulk meat products
Meat with a strong or offensive odor
Meat with an odd color
Products that cause your dog to suddenly become picky
Products that cause your dog to vomit
Overly fatty or greasy grinds
Meats that are brown when thawed
Meat or organs containing spots or unknown attached tissue
Grinds sold for racing dogs
Freezer burned product (may indicate the product being very old)
Expired products or frozen products with a package date that exceeds 1 year
Products with air in sealed bags
Poultry feet with black spots on the bottom of foot pad and toes
All fish grinds (especially salmon)
A company or business unwilling to disclose information about products
The only way to be absolutely sure of what you are feeding your pet is to either feed a DIY nutrition plan from only human-grade USDA inspected ingredients sold in stores and Farmer’s Markets or to find a reputable raw food company/supplier that is 100% transparent about their ingredients, recipes/formulas, and sourcing. When it comes to your pet’s nutrition needs and health, you are at the helm. Choose your path wisely!