Cellular Methylation: Canine Health

The Importance of Methylation in Canine Health & Disease Prevention

Cellular methylation is an epigenetic mechanism that affects (controls) gene expression in animal cells and is responsible for the body’s most complex and vital processes. In other words, methylation turns genes on and off which directly affects DNA thereby playing a primary role in health and disease prevention. In my article entitled Dis-ease Prevention through Epigenetic Gene Expression, I discussed how DNA gene expression can be directly affected via diet and environment for the prevention of disease and premature aging. Methylation is one such epigenetic mechanism that science is revealing. In addition to gene expression, methylation assists in processing cellular toxins and hormones for adequate cellular detoxification. It also aids in both the manufacture and catabolism (breakdown) of neurotransmitters. It is not difficult to recognize the importance of maintaining adequate cellular methylation in both us and our pets. Epigenetic science may just be THE missing link to the prevention of disease and slowing the aging process.

In another article I had written on the microbiome (The Mystifyingly Astounding Microbiome), I expressed how the nurturing of healthy and flourishing gut microorganisms plays a pivotal role in the cultivation of optimal health and immunity. Accordingly, it should not be surprising that ideal cellular methylation is connected to gut health. Cultivating a microbiome that resembles a rainforest teeming with tens of thousands of symbiotic species coupled with taking active measures to improve cellular methylation are necessary ingredients for the nurturing and maintenance of optimal health and healing, disease prevention, and the prevention of premature cellular aging in our dogs.

Cellular methylation requires two critical components that need to be in adequate supply. These include folate (part of the B vitamin group) and s-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). Folate can be manufactured by healthy colonic microbiota (microbiome), but not in a sufficient amount; therefore, it needs to be supplied in and through the diet. SAMe is manufactured from the amino acid methionine and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in sufficient amounts provided an adequate amount of methionine-containing protein sources are consumed regularly. SAMe’s role in methylation is to donate its methyl group. It is also essential for the formation of neurotransmitters, a process that requires the assistance of methylation. Thus it can be seen how correct functioning of the cells cannot be understated in this interdependent relationship.

Folate is far more complex. Folate is a metabolic cofactor as well as a dietary nutrient. Folate requires a reduction process via what is known as the folate methylation pathway. This pathway reduces dietary folate (and synthetic folic acid) to 5-MTHF (methylenetetrohydrofolate) for its methyl donation to the DNA methylation process. An undisrupted folate reduction pathway is critical for a consistent flux of available methyl groups. Disruptions within the folate methylation pathway, unfortunately, can and do occur which often leads to a build-up of toxins in the bloodstream and tissues. Disruptors include prescription drugs, environmental and food chemical exposures, veterinary preventative chemicals, synthetic folic acid in commercial dog foods, processed food diets, or genetic mutation, to name a few. Disruption creates a deficiency in methylfolate. This then snowballs into a deficiency of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, leading to a toxic state and the inability to create coenzyme Q10, neurotransmitters, nitric oxide, L-carnitine, cysteine, and taurine. These are critically important to cellular and heart health in the modern canine (and humans!). It is worth mentioning that modern canines are experiencing a rapid increase in the incidences of heart disease, specifically DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy), and cancer. Perhaps there is a relation? That is my theory!

Additional nutrients needed for optimal methylation are zinc, vitamin D3, riboflavin (B2), magnesium, pyridoxine (B6), and methylcobalamin (B12).

Causes for defective methylation include:

  • poor diet (especially processed commercial foods)
  • chemicals (flea/tick/heartworm preventatives, wormers, pesticides, air-born toxins in home and outdoor air, etc)
  • prescription drugs (especially antibiotics, acid blockers, corticosteroids, nitrous oxide, methotrexate, etc)
  • giving niacin supplements or B-complex vitamins (notably synthetics)
  • heavy metals (vaccines especially)
  • anxiety and stress

Conditions associated with methylation disruption:

  • autoimmune disorders
  • cancer
  • heart disease and conditions
  • anxiety
  • hyperactivity
  • chronic viral infections
  • canine OCD
  • thyroid disease
  • canine neuropathy
  • canine cleft palate
  • canine miscarriage
  • neurological disease and conditions

An adequate species-appropriate diet is important, but so too is maintaining a healthy home and environment for your pets free from stressors, chemicals, confinement, lack of vital needs, and the creation of monotony/boredom.

Methylation and gut health are intermutual. Gut health begins with providing a fresh raw food diet and the regular exposure to outside air, sunlight, grass, earth/dirt, sand, and changing environments through walks, hikes, and travel. The diet should be rich in natural sources of folate, methionine, coenzyme Q10, glutathione assistants, cysteine, taurine, and all other required nutrients, cofactors, enzymes, and other species-appropriate food constituents necessary for the maintenance of canine health.

Should you begin supplementing your dog with the above nutrients? My opinion is NO unless your dog has a verifiable need. Supplementing can upset the homeostatic mechanisms your dog’s body uses to regulate itself for health and disease prevention. You cannot force the body to utilize more of what it needs. Supplements are for deficiencies, for use where the diet consistently lacks, for genetic or cellular mutations, therapeutic needs, and in disease treatment. (NOTE: Whole food supplements do not fall into this category.)

Richest Food Sources

  • Folate: chicken liver, beef liver, chicken feet
  • Methionine: salmon, mackerel, and all meats and eggs
  • Coenzyme Q10: heart, liver
  • Glutathione support (manufactured in body): Foods rich in zinc and copper maintain glutathione levels (beef liver for copper and oysters for zinc); raw eggs, raw unprocessed meat, and avocado maintain levels; asparagus is a leading source of glutathione. Milk thistle and turmeric assist in maintaining glutathione levels.
  • Cysteine (manufactured in the body): meat, fish, and eggs
  • Taurine (manufactured in body): fish, heart, meat, shellfish, eggs

Assisting nutrients:

  • Zinc: oysters, beef
  • Vitamin D: fatty fish, free range eggs
  • Magnesium: bone, fish, oysters, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds
  • Riboflavin: beef, salmon
  • Pyridoxine: meat, fish
  • Cobalamin: liver, kidney, sardines, beef

NOTE: This is not a scientific research article, but a general information article to introduce the importance of DNA methylation.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


Raw Feeding Guide

©2019 Updated Version

Offering your dog the best possible nutrition plan does not have to be complicated. Not only that, but it does not have to cost you a fortune nor take up hours of your time providing daily meals. Your number one goal should be to supply your dog with everything he needs to cultivate and maintain optimal health along with preventing internal imbalance. Now this may seem like a lofty goal, but I want to assure you, it is not difficult once you learn the basics of meal preparation.

On that note, I want to briefly address the popular “complete and balanced” concept invented by the dog food industry. While the idea of mastering a “complete and balanced” nutrition plan may be on your radar as the ultimate goal, please understand that this is a misguided endeavor. Not only is “complete and balanced” unfeasible, impractical, and based on a cleverly crafted marketing scheme, but the science does not exist to show what this actually looks like. The reason for this is because every biological being has its own unique needs. While domestic canines do have specific energy and nutrient requirements, exactly how much of each nutrient is not exactly clear. Couple this with the fact that energy and nutrient needs change (sometimes daily) based on external and internal conditions, and we are left with a science that is uncertain and theoretical.

What we do have is observational science. What this teaches us is that each species on this planet has its own unique nutritional requirements and therefore consumes very specific food in order to receive from that specific food vital energy and nutritional components. Physiologically, the bodies of each and every species is uniquely designed (or evolved, whichever you prefer) to breakdown (digest) only specific foods from which they are perfectly able to release and utilize the nutritional components from within that food source. These foods are what are known as species-appropriate. For our canines to thrive, we do know which foods they specifically require to promote and cultivate optimal health and optimal health maintenance.

Your dog is anatomically and physiologically a carnivore that, due to the thousands of years of living with and beside humans, has adapted the ability to consume, passably digest, and partially utilize nutrients from carbohydrate-dense foods making your dog a facultative carnivore. However, more than a century of commercial dog food consumption has clearly shown us the worrisome statistics and results from feeding dogs a starch-based diet. While a dog may be able to survive on this type of diet, their quality of life is greatly diminished and the cultivation of optimal health is difficult, complicated, and in many dogs, impossible. Thus, what you feed your dog is critical. Fresh raw species-appropriate food allows your dog to properly unlock and easily absorb vital nutrients in an unhindered manner.

To cultivate optimal health your dog needs whole and/or partial prey or a combination of muscle meats, organs, bones, connective tissues, vessels, skin, and fur/feathers to thrive. Of those two options, providing the latter is far more feasible for the majority of pet parents.

Dogs have no need or use for carbohydrates such as starches, sugars, or fiber. Despite this, there is growing evidence that suggests there may be some benefit to offering your dog small amounts of vegetables and fruit provided it is fed in the correct form. Vegetables require steaming, boiling, and pureeing or juicing. Otherwise, there will be little to no benefit. In fact, most of the most healthful vegetables contain oxalates, phytates, lectins, solanine, chaconine, and goitrogens, for example, all of which can be dangerous to your dog and inhibit overall nutrient absorption from his meals. Cooking helps to remove some of these anti-nutrients making it safer and more beneficial. Keep in mind that vegetables are only optional and are unnecessary in the diet. Fruit, on the other hand, can be offered whole or pureed in small amounts between meals as treats.

Are you ready to begin providing your dog with the most beneficial nutrition plan?

Welcome to The Holistic Canine’s Raw Feeding Guide! The guide uses a ratio guideline as your starting point. The ratio is a rough representation of the approximate meat, organ, and bone composition of whole prey. Creating meals or a day’s worth of meals with the following ratio guideline is simple. You may even choose to provide these percentages over a week’s time. However, despite many veterinarians and canine nutrition professionals recommending balance over a week’s time, I do not recommend that. Balance over a few days is fine, but a week is not my preferred method. For my own six dogs, I provide the balance daily.

When creating meals with the ratio as your guide, you want your main focus to be on providing all of the nutrients that your dog requires to be optimally healthy. If you are unsure of your dog’s NRC, FEDIAF, or AAFCO nutrient recommendations, go to my article here to discover what your dog requires or contact me for assistance. Once you have those in hand, you are ready to create species-appropriate meals!

If you would like a FREE pdf copy of the guide, go to the contact page and request your free copy.

80% MEAT

65% muscle, 15% organ muscle

Beef
Chicken
Turkey
Goat
Lamb
Mutton
Pork
Rabbit
Duck
Quail
Salmon, Mackerel
Sardines, Anchovies
Oysters, Mussels
Whiting, trout
Venison
Bison
Elk
Llama
Emu
Heart
Gizzards
Green Tripe
Cheek
Tongue
Lung
Trachea*
Eggs (chicken, duck, quail)
Off cuts, Briskets, Fillets, Grinds

*thyroid hormone contamination and exposure is possible

Meat Provides:
Protein (amino acids)
Fats (essential fatty acids)
Zinc
Phosphorous
Potassium
Copper
Nitrogen
Iron
Magnesium
Selenium
Chromium
Carnosine (antioxidant)
Carbon
B vitamins
Vitamin D
Vitamin K
Folate
Creatine

10% – 15% BONE

12% – 15% puppies

Chicken thighs
Chicken drums
Chicken necks
Chicken wings
Chicken feet
Chicken backs
Chicken carcass
Turkey necks
Turkey backs
Turkey wings
Goat ribs
Goat necks
Lamb/sheep ribs
Lamb/sheep neck
Ox tail
Beef neck
Duck heads
Duck feet
Duck necks
Duck wings
Duck backs
Cornish hen frames
Quail frames
Poultry carcass
Rabbit ribs
Rabbit thigh
Rabbit heads
Rabbit feet
Pork neck
Pork tail
Pork ribs
Pig feet
Bone Provides:
Calcium
Magnesium
Chloride
Potassium
Phosphorous
Sodium
Sulfur
Silica
Marrow Provides:
Fatty Acids
Iron
Zinc
Selenium
Manganese
Vitamin A
Vitamin K
Vitamin E
Boron

Connective Tissues Provide:
Glucosamine
Chondroitin

10% ORGAN

5% liver, 5% other secreting

Beef/calf liver
Beef kidney
Beef spleen
Beef pancreas
Bull testicles*
Chicken liver
Turkey liver
Duck liver
Brain
Eyes
Pork liver
Pork kidney
Pork spleen
Pork pancreas
Pork thymus (sweetbreads)
Goat/sheep liver
Goat/sheep kidney
Goat/sheep spleen
Goat/sheep testicles*
Ovaries*

*hormone exposure is likely, feed with caution or do not feed to intact dogs

Organs Provide:
Protein (amino acids)
Fats (fatty acids)
Iron
Selenium
Phosphorous
Manganese
Chromium
Nitrogen
Copper
Zinc
Potassium
Magnesium
Sodium
Co-Enzyme Q10
Carbon
Vitamin A
B vitamins
Vitamin D
Vitamin K
Vitamin C

FRUIT & VEGETABLES

May feed 5% up to 10% (NON-essentials)

Raspberries
Blueberries
Blackberries
Cranberries
Watermelon
Apples
Pears
Rosemary
Basil
Parsley*
Thyme
Zucchini
Lettuces
Cucumber
Wheatgrass
Spinach*
Broccoli*
Cauliflower †
Pumpkin
Asparagus
Barley grass
Avocado

*Contains oxalates. Oxalates bind with iron and calcium and contribute to kidney stones

Inhibits synthesis of thyroid hormones, feed in MODERATION

NOTE: I do NOT recommend feeding fruits with meals. In the presence of protein and fat, fruit ferments in the stomach and gut contributing to stomach upset, intestinal irritation, loose stools, and an increased risk for Bloat (a deadly condition).

Fruits & Vegetables Provide:
ALL vitamins
ALL minerals                                                      
Phytonutrients
Antioxidants                                                                     
Fiber

OTHER FOODS TO SUPPLEMENT

Beneficial Non-essentials

Goat’s milk
Kefir
Cottage cheese
Raw milk
Hemp seeds (raw, ground)
Pumpkin seeds (raw, ground)
Chia seeds (ground, gelled)
Kelp
Spirulina, Chlorella
Marine phytoplankton
Alfalfa powder
Golden paste

Coconut oil
MCT oil
Hemp seed oil
Flaxseed oil
Krill oil
Bone broth
Fish stock
Medicinal mushrooms
Apple cider vinegar
Coconut water
Green lipped mussel powder
Diatomaceous earth (food grade)

My recommendation is to add these supplemental foods, powders, and oils AS NEEDED for their nutrient profiles, to balance fats in a meal, for extra calories, for their medicinal properties and constituents, and for a functional purpose such as digestive aid, worm prevention, natural therapies, and chronic disease and cancer preventative and therapy.

Do NOT Feed

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Onions, all (garlic is still under debate)
  • Green tomatoes
  • Artificial sweeteners (ALL!!)
  • Xylitol
  • Alcohol
  • Cacao (cocoa & chocolate)
  • Walnuts & macadamia nuts
  • Whole grains (corn included)
  • Legumes (soy included)
  • Rawhide
  • Processed snack foods
  • Sugars & candy
  • Yeast, dough
  • Corn on the cob
  • Bell pepper seeds
  • Hot peppers
  • Blue cheese
  • Gum
  • Mouthwash, toothpaste
  • Cooked fat
  • Cooked bones
  • Hops
  • Tomato and avocado leaves
  • Cat food
  • Peanut butter spreads*

*Peanut butter spreads are not peanut butter. Peanut butter is peanuts only (salt may be added). Peanut butter spreads contain thinning oils and often sweeteners. Xylitol is a zero calorie sweetener commonly added to spreads. This is DEADLY.

HOW TO CREATE A MEAL

You will want to feed 2% to 4% of your dog’s ideal body weight. Puppies require 4% of their projected adult weight or 7% to 10% of current weight until 3% of their projected adult weight is reached.

Whole prey is balanced perfectly without the need for plants. If you cannot feed whole prey, use a ratio as a guide:

80/10/10

This means = 80% meat, 10% bone, 10% organs.

My preferred ratio is a breakdown of 80/10/10. It looks like this:

65/15/10/5/5

This means =  

  • 65% muscle meat + 15% organ muscle (80%)
  • 10% bone (MINIMUM)
  • 5% liver + 5% other secreting organ (10%)

Feeding with raw meaty bones (RMB):

  • 65/15 meat = 40% to 60% meaty bone(s) + 5% to 25% boneless meat + 15% organ muscle meats
  • 10 organ = 5% liver + 5% other secreting organ(s)

Ideally, your meals will consist of approximately:

  • 40%-60% RMB
  • 5%-25% boneless meats
  • 15% organ muscle
  • 5% liver
  • 5% other secreting organ(s)
  • You may wish to try creating a semi-whole animal using various animal parts if you cannot feed whole prey. We call this Frankenprey. This also helps to feed ratios most similar to whole prey.
  • Feed three meals per day for puppies under 12 weeks old.
  • Feed two meals per day for puppies older than 12 weeks.
  • I recommend feeding adults one meal per day to benefit from fasting. Some people and dogs prefer or need two meals per day. Feed according to your dog’s needs or your schedule/convenience.

You will want to discover your dog’s nutrient requirements for his/her age and weight. You can use the nutrient requirements recommended by the NRC, FEDIAF, AAFCO, or The Holistic Canine. You will find nutrient requirements for dogs and puppies here. The nutrient charts are based on 1,000 kcal. If you need assistance learning your dog’s specific requirements, contact me for assistance.

Remember the ratio is ONLY A GUIDE. There is no rule that dictates that the ratio needs to be followed exactly. The main goal is to provide the highest balanced nutrient saturation in each meal or meals per day without creating or causing an imbalance within your dog. An imbalance can be caused by the creation of a dangerous nutrient antagonism or synergism in meals, not feeding enough ingredient variety in a consistent rotation, feeding species-inappropriate foods, adding/feeding too many plant ingredients (especially with anti-nutrients), meals consistently lacking in necessary nutrients, meals consistently excessive in a particular nutrient or nutrients, or veering too far off the ratio guideline. Some dogs require higher bone percentages.

Bones can be fed up to 25% of the diet. Do not exceed 25%.

Please note: feeding raw does not necessarily increase the life expectancy of every dog. What it does do is greatly reduce the risk and rate of chronic disease as well as improves quality of life. Many dogs do in fact live very long lives on raw diets, others do not. However, had those shorter lived dogs not been raw fed, their lives would likely have been even shorter. Understand that by feeding a species-appropriate diet you are providing your dog with the best possible nutrition IF and ONLY IF you follow a balanced raw protocol. The Holistic Canine exists to make sure you do just that. We are here to help!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

©2019 Created by The Holistic Canine, Macon, GA


Balanced Canine Diets: The Big Misunderstanding PART II

The Incredible Raw Meaty Bones

Providing your dog with a nutrition plan that cultivates optimal health may not require a PhD or a medical degree, but it does require a good bit of knowledge and appreciation of biology and nutrition science. When we carefully consider the word balance, we must understand it in the correct perspective. As I wrote in Part I, balance is created by and through a biological system (the body) based on physiological need. We cannot create balance.  Balance is an internal process. We can provide a diet that is labeled “balanced” by the pet food industry standards, but I believe this is insufficient. What we must really focus our attention on is preventing an internal imbalance from occurring. Imbalance within the body can and does occur from an insufficient and poorly planned nutrition strategy if the diet is consistently and/or severely lacking in the essential nutrient-containing ingredients that your dog requires to cultivate health and maintain internal homeostasis.

Based upon my research and years of experience, I believe that a lack of a critical component in the modern canine diet is a reason why many pet parents are experiencing issues and conditions in their dogs despite carefully creating and providing a “balanced” diet. Dogs need bones. Bone is a food that I believe is not an option. Providing a substitute for bone creates a whole host of nutrient insufficiency. Most pet parents who are using their dog’s NRC, FEDIAF, or AAFCO nutrient requirements are on a mission to fulfill every one of the required nutrients. When the focus is on nutrient fulfillment rather than on balance and species-appropriate nutrition, sourcing food ingredients becomes a major problem. Fulfilling nutrients with ingredients that are not species-appropriate to hypothetically supply a nutrient or nutrients is to me taking a dangerous gamble with your pet’s health. Variety is essential, but reaching beyond species-appropriate foods is not the answer to creating internal harmony. Your dog needs to be able to easily and efficiently digest food ingredients in order to unlock the energy and nutritional building blocks contained within. If digestion is hampered or insufficient, your nutrition plan will never cultivate optimal health. If your dog’s intestinal microbiome is weak and not nurtured via species-appropriate foods, health will not be on his future radar. And if your dog’s intestinal walls are irritated and inflamed, nutrient absorption is insufficient to create the health your dog requires for longevity and a pain-free existence. This is what creates internal imbalance.

Remember what Dr. Jeannie wrote pertaining to diet? “Balance is nothing but an insufficient human term, a vague concept that pet food companies employ to make people buy processed foods for their pets.” It is a scare tactic. Your focus should be on providing a variety of species-appropriate foods in the correct proportions.

If we look at this from a biological point of view, it would look like this. Animals require food first and foremost to supply energy for metabolism and to maintain internal homeostasis. Homeostasis is balance. Internal balance (homeostasis) is your dog’s ability to maintain a stable internal environment despite changes to his external environment. This can include changes in diet, atmosphere, stressors, air quality, etc. Further, in order for your dog (and you) to build cellular material and tissues, he must receive organic molecules that can only be obtained from food. Your dog requires nitrogen, carbon, and fat. (Keep in mind that dogs have no use or need for carbohydrates.) Protein catabolism is your dog’s source of nitrogen and carbon. Proteins are made up of linked amino acids that when broken down via digestion, provide the building materials necessary for cellular function. Both nitrogen and carbon are the major components for the creation of nucleotides, nucleic acid, new proteins, cells, and all body tissues. Fat is the major source of energy (along with excess protein via gluconeogenesis) and is needed for hormone production and for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, among numerous other functions. The species-appropriate sources of protein and fat are meat and offal. Nothing more needs to be fed to a dog to supply these essential requirements.

Your dog also has a need for essential micronutrients that he cannot synthesize. Essential minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids can all be adequately obtained from species-appropriate foods. And yet, a major problem exists when focus goes to fulfilling pet food industry nutrient standards rather than providing an appropriate fresh raw diet complete with variety. Nutrient fulfillment becomes the game and common sense goes out the window. Please do not misunderstand me. Species-appropriate foods are thus called species-appropriate because the animal is perfectly able to thoroughly digest them to provide all the nutrients the animal requires to cultivate optimal health. Pet food industry nutrient standards are based on:

  • test studies using laboratory animals in atypical and unnatural settings [1]
  • adulterated processed food void of all nutrients
  • sprayed-on synthetic vitamin isolates and inorganic industrial chemicals added to adulterated processed pet foods

A species-appropriate raw food diet has nothing in common with foods produced by the commercial pet food industry. It is an illogical comparison.

Let’s go back to bone. I have thus far pointed out that dogs require meat and offal. The only other missing component is raw meaty bones. These three components can adequately supply all the nutrients a dog requires to cultivate radiant health. Recalling from Part I, I listed all the nutrients supplied in bone. Why not review it yet again?!

Hard bone contains:

  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • sodium
  • chloride
  • sulfur
  • silica

Marrow contains [2]:

  • calcium
  • iron
  • zinc
  • manganese
  • selenium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K
  • B vitamins (B1, B2, B5, B7, B12)
  • Boron
  • fatty acids

The connective tissue is a major source of:

  • glucosamine
  • chondroitin

Meat contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals. Organs contain even more. In fact, I consider organs a dog’s multi-vitamin/mineral. Offal is so rich in nutrients that we provide them in smaller amounts in a raw food diet [3]. With so many nutrients already to be found in meat and offal, bones provide the topping-off, if you will, of minerals and vitamins. Bones are the major source of minerals in a raw fed dog’s diet. Providing raw meaty bones as half of your dog’s diet assures an adequate amount of easily assimilated nutrients are being supplied. Yet, knowing what bones to offer is another key to creating balance.

If you are feeding whole prey, then your dog is receiving absolutely everything that he needs. Assuming most of us cannot supply whole prey at every meal, or even at all, knowing which bones to provide is critical to receiving an ideal amount of nutrients. It is best that your dog receives bone with ample marrow as often as you are able.

Marrow is the soft fatty tissue found inside bone. There are two types of marrow: yellow and red. All bone marrow creates stem cells which are responsible for producing white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. The function of these cells is to fight infections, carry oxygen throughout the body, and clot blood. Yellow bone marrow is found in the long bones of the legs while red marrow is found in ribs, hips, the skull, spinal vertebrae, shoulder blades, and the ends of long bones. Marrow is a source of amino acids, fat, minerals, and vitamins. Your dog must be supplied with both yellow and red marrow. Be sure to offer your dog all types of bones to ensure that a good range and percentage of marrow is being provided. For yellow marrow, I purchase “marrow” bones from the butcher with the marrow clearly accessible.

Thanks to the research of the Weston A. Price Foundation, we know that bone marrow is a powerful anti-inflammatory, boosts the immune system, and helps with weight management. A Swedish Oncologist, Dr. Astrid Brohult, gave her leukemia patients bone marrow broth. As a result, several of her patients had their white blood cell counts return to normal. Years later, Dr. Brohult’s biochemist husband discovered the alkyglycerol (AKG) compounds in bone marrow responsible for while blood cell production. Alkyglycerols are immune-boosting lipids now being used in cancer therapy that can also be found in human breast milk and cow’s milk. If this isn’t enough to excite you, bone marrow helps to seal the stomach lining, reduces discomfort and pain associated with intestinal inflammation, and improves overall gut health [4]. Even more, a University of Michigan study has shown significant amounts of the hormone adiponectin within marrow’s fat tissue. Adiponectin supports insulin sensitivity, breaks down fat, protects the heart, and decreases diabetes risk and obesity-associated cancer [5].

While these studies on bone marrow consumption are human studies, imagine the benefit to dogs. After all, bone marrow is a species-appropriate food perfectly suited to cultivate optimal health in canines. So, let’s now simply consider the nutrient value. As you can see from the nutrient list above, bone marrow is exceptionally nutrient-dense. While meat alone contains a wealth of nutrients, marrow is often richer in vitamins and minerals dependent upon which bone and from what animal. If you take a look at the reference provided for the bone marrow nutrients, you will note that the marrow is rich in Vitamin E, a nutrient that is nearly impossible to source from meat and organs alone. Couple this with the connective tissues rich in glucosamine and chondroitin and your dog will build and maintain a strong, resilient and disease-free body throughout the entirety of his life.

The most popular current recommendation for feeding bone comes from the 80/10/10 ratio which states to feed bone at approximately 10% of the diet. The bone percentage of whole prey, however, is slightly to significantly higher than 10%. The original recommendation for feeding a raw meaty bone (RMB) diet was to feed half to 60% of the diet comprising of RMBs. That equates to a range of 10% to 25% bone, marrow, and connective tissues with the remaining foods consisting of meat and offal. This is especially crucial for growing puppies. Dr. Ian Billinghurt, a leading authority on raw feeding and the originator of the BARF diet, recommends puppies receive RMBs with 50% bone, “Approximate biological balance is achieved so long as meat alone is not the principal dietary component. That job must be left to the raw meaty bones (RMBs). When a young and growing dog eats RMBs, if the bone to meat ratio of those RMBs is around 1:1, then the balance of calcium to phosphorus is appropriate for bone mineralization and formation.”

Balance is an ambiguous and even complex word that can take on many faces, meanings, and understandings. In the nutrition science realm, balance has always meant a wide variety of several types of nutrient-rich foods. If your desire is to provide a balanced diet, then offer your dog nutrient-rich species-appropriate foods that provide far more than just a nutrient that you are trying to source to fulfill a standard. In my practice I recommend feeding highest nutrient per bite ratio foods. These include foods that cover a broad spectrum of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, factors, co-factors, antioxidants, beneficial lipids, active constituents, and more. Bones fall under this category.

Nutrients are vital, but so is providing the correct foods that supply a plethora of vital nutrients and components for the cultivation of optimal health.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

[1] If you are against animal testing, you might want to look into the early nutrient studies completed on caged dogs which were starved of nutrients in order to discover minimum requirements to prevent death. If this is not cruel enough, modern pet food testing laboratories are filled with lab animals bred in the lab to complete a lifetime of food trials. Sadly, they live their entire life in a lab and are disposed of when they die. Supporting commercial dog food is an ethical issue as well as being a poor nutrition choice for your dog. Visit https://www.crueltyfreekitty.com/pets/cruelty-free-pet-food/ & https://truthaboutpetfood.com/pet-food-animal-testing/ for more information.

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3417664

[3] Secreting organs such as liver, kidney, and pancreas are supplied at approximately 10% of the diet. Muscle organs such as heart, lungs, and gizzard are supplied at approximately 15% of the diet. Offal can make up a total of approximately 25% of the diet.

[4] Results seen in patients of functional medical doctor, Dr. Auer. https://www.doctorauer.com/

[5] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703125216.htm


Balanced Canine Diets: The Big Misunderstanding

PART I: Creating Balance with Raw Meaty Bones

If you know me, then you know how insistent I am about feeding raw meaty bones (RMBs) with an abundance of marrow and connective tissues. One of the most influential books on my raw journey was Dr. Tom Lonsdale’s Raw Meaty Bones Promote Health. My three dogs’ early diet was missing the most critical component (back in 2002 through 2010 I was making my own home cooked dog food). I cannot express enough how much I wish I had known then what I know now. While my homemade diet appeared successful, it was missing the bones, bone marrow, and connective tissues that my dogs absolutely required. I did regularly give my dogs marrow bones for recreational chewing, but this was not sufficient to supply the plethora of minerals and even vitamins found in whole bones. I was fortunate to have healthy dogs, but then again even kibble can produce “healthy” dogs. The goal should always be to achieve optimal health and disease resilience.

Bones with marrow and connective tissues are critical to the cultivation of overall optimal health. Bone is a major source of minerals in the raw diet. I have written and taught about bone numerous times and its importance cannot be understated. Let’s review the nutritional value of bone before I discuss balance.

Hard bone contains:

  • calcium
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • sodium
  • chloride
  • sulfur
  • silica

Marrow contains [1]:

  • calcium
  • iron
  • zinc
  • manganese
  • selenium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K
  • B vitamins ( B1, B2, B5, B7, B12)
  • Boron
  • fatty acids

The connective tissue is a major source of:

  • glucosamine
  • chondroitin

If you took the time to really review the nutrient list, then I bet you are as impressed as I am. When I began researching species-appropriate foods for our modern canine, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that bone holds the key to many of the hard-to-source nutrients that too many pet parents are struggling to adequately supply in their dog’s diet. In my earliest years of raw feeding, I never considered these nutrients difficult to source. As a result of this growing concern among pet parents, I began to take a closer look at what and how many pet parents were feeding their dogs. Needless to say, I created The Holistic Canine in 2016 and just recently started a Learning resource group on Facebook due to what I observed. (Be sure to join our NEW group for free education units and personalized answers to questions.)

Dr. Ian Billinghurst and Dr. Tom Lonsdale were already teaching how to feed dogs back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. So why were so many pet parents suddenly turning to a new method of feeding their pets? Much of this new method of raw meal creation had to do with the growing popularity in raw feeding and the NRC’s release of their updated work Nutrients Requirements of Dogs and Cats. This ushered in numerous canine nutrition courses offered over the internet. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe education is critical and I insist that all of my clients consult with me to learn canine nutrition. The problem is many people tend to complicate what they learn, especially from online courses that give people a “stamp of approval,” and in turn cause confusion creating a lack of confidence in well intentioned pet parents fearful of making life threatening mistakes. And, this is also a business strategy to get frightened pet parents to hire the “certified professional” to create “complete and balanced” recipes at an often steep price.

One of my favorite quotes is from veterinarian Dr. Jeannie Thomason. She wrote, “‘Balance’ is nothing but an insufficient human term, a vague concept that pet food companies employ to make people buy processed foods for their pets.” And now raw food “professionals” have adopted the “complete and balanced” motto.

While there is no doubt that our pets need specific nutrients, the problem is that there is no possible way to know how much of each nutrient each individual dog actually requires. We can balance a diet in accordance with the NRC, FEDIAF, or AAFCO standards, but then the diet is not balanced to a dog’s individual needs. It is, rather, balanced to standards created for the pet food industry. I do, however, encourage every pet parent to learn what nutrients their dog requires in accordance with the NRC standards. This is then used as a reference.

I would like for you to consider this important fact. Have you ever thought about the concept of balance? If in fact balance is critical in every meal as is suggested by the pet food industry (and some pet nutrition buffs), then if your dog received a meal that was not balanced, his cells, tissues, organs, endocrine system, digestive faculties, and so forth would show signs of something missing. Symptoms, immediate acute conditions, and eventually nutrient-imbalanced pathologies would develop or follow within days. How can we verify this? We can verify this by the fact that true balance is established via the body (biological system) based on physiological need that is affected by internal and external influences. It can be confidently stated that nutritional needs are met over a period of days or even weeks, while balance is achieved by the biological system via what is consumed. This is also understood by the fact that nutrients are stored within the body tissues. When a nutrient need arises, that specific nutrient is drawn out of storage to be utilized as needed. We can take this even further to show that this is the very reason why humans and animals can fast for long periods and suffer no ill effect. If anything, fasting is used to balance the body to help create (or return to) homeostasis. Being a board certified nutrition professional, I am highly versed in fasting and the benefits that fasting has on biological systems. I am 100% confident that balance is achieved by and through the body while nutritional balance occurs over a period of time.

Based on all of the above, how to provide a nutrition plan that will allow for your dog to efficiently create and maintain balance is the real question we should be concerned with. How is this achieved? This is achieved by feeding your dog a diet that most closely mimics what nature has provided for canis lupis familiaris. I call this a species-appropriate diet. We may have domesticated a wild carnivore, but our modern canines remain anatomically carnivorous. And despite the fact that physiologically several breeds of the modern canine may show signs of DNA adaptation as a result of generations of exposure to human food (via epigenetic gene expression), the thousands upon thousands of generations of domestic dog remain physiologically carnivores, albeit adapted and classified as facultative.

Again, how does one provide a diet that can create balance? I believe Dr. Lonsdale has it correct. RMBs should be the foundation of the canine diet. Several veterinarians recommend feeding RMBs as 40% to 60% of the diet. I simply cannot disagree. Dr. Lonsdale wrote, “Healthy animals living and breeding in the wild depend on the correct quality of food in the right quantity at a correct frequency.” That is what we must mimic. Varying the diet that you offer to your dog with quality meats, organs, and bones in the correct quantity and at an appropriate frequency offers the best platform for balance creation. While many pet parents have a need or feel a need to feed their dog at the same time daily, I vary the time. I feed one meal per day with occasional RMB treats and snacks opposite mealtime. I also implement fasting several times per year.

With this understanding, let’s now take a closer look at bone, marrow, and connective tissue to see why these are foundational to a species-appropriate balanced diet. See Part II!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3417664/


Dis-ease Prevention through Epigenetic Gene Expression

Despite our best efforts, the modern canine is stricken with chronic conditions and diseases with an alarmingly increasing mortality rate. Can these conditions and diseases be prevented even if genetics plays a role? YES! Epigenetic science is showing us how diet and environment directly affect gene expression.

The Most Common Dis-ease Conditions in Dogs

If you were to do an internet search of the most common disorders afflicting the modern canine, you will discover numerous lists from multiple sources outlining the many crises laying hold of our beloved dogs. The incidence of disease is on the rise despite research into canine nutrition by organizations such as the NRC, AAFCO, FEDIAF, independent veterinarians and nutrition professionals as well as the myriad of disease preventatives pushed by the veterinary industry. Where is the system failing our beloved pets? Can we blame genetics? Before we answer those questions, let’s review the most common disease conditions afflicting today’s canines.

  • Otitis (ear infections)
  • Periodontal (oral) disease
  • Dermatitis
  • Mange (sarcoptic -Sarcopte mites, and demodectic -immune compromised & puppies)
  • Allergies
  • Intestinal inflammation (IBS, IBD, colitis, etc.)
  • Cystitis (bladder) Infection
  • Urinary bladder stones
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • Kidney disease [1]
  • Renal failure
  • Thyroid disease [2]
  • Gastric torsion (bloat)
  • Heart disease [3] -dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cranial cruciate ligament disease (CCL)
  • Obesity
  • Nuclear Sclerosis (eye)
  • Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
  • Fungal infection
  • Cancer

Sadly, this list is not exhaustive. Our dogs are in a fight for their health and longevity. Numerous researchers, myself included, are actively seeking and testing naturopathic and food therapies as well as seeking new paths to cultivating optimal health, healing, and longevity in the modern canine.

It is blatantly clear that the pet food industry and veterinary preventatives are failing the majority of dogs. Thankfully, modern epigenetic science is casting a ray of light and hope on the war against disease and increased mortality. If you look at the above list, you will note that there exists a common thread. All of these conditions can be prevented! It is now known and understood that diet and environment play a crucial role in gene expression.

What is gene expression? To put it simply, external factors (diet and environment) have a direct impact on physiological phenotypic trait variations triggering genes to be “switched” (turned) on and off. This directly affects the way in which cells translate (decode or read) genes as opposed to changes in the DNA sequence. The purpose of epigenetic science and research is to learn and understand the dynamic diversity and modification capacity of the transcriptional potential within every cell.

Can epigenetic science help us to improve the health and longevity of our pets? The answer is YES and it is being done even now.

Let’s go back to the question posed above. Is your dog at the mercy of his genes? Are genes to blame? While genes do play a role in increasing risk potential for familial diseases and disorders, epigenetics says NO. We can influence gene expression. Your dog is no longer at the mercy of his genes. He is, however, at the mercy of his genes expressing in ways that negatively impact his health if external intervention is not engaged. It’s time to “switch” the genes into a positive and health promoting expression for the cultivation of radiant health.

Eliminating Dangerous Exposure, Conditions, & Conducts

Many breeds of dogs, especially in the United States, are passing abnormal genetic information into each successive generation which is placing each and every innocent puppy into a high risk potential for experiencing a full-blown disease condition. We call this breed disease-predisposition and genetic (or pedigree) disease potential. Does this mean that each pup will develop a predisposed condition in their future? No, but it does put them at a frighteningly high risk that increases their likelihood for experiencing the condition or even conditions. The good news is that carefully influenced epigenetic gene expression can prevent the very diseases that are threatening breed and genetic predisposed dogs.

Let’s start with what to avoid. The following is a list of examples which are known to cause genes to express deleteriously thereby having a direct adverse impact on health and disease prevention. This is by no means exhaustive, but serves to bring to light common dangers.

  • Vaccinations (even one can be lethal, but here I refer to unnecessary repeat vaccines)
  • Early spay and neuter
  • Flea & tick chemicals (sprays, collars, dips, pills, etc.)
  • Heartworm preventatives (chemical)
  • Worming chemicals
  • Cigarette/cigar smoke
  • Air fresheners and scented candles
  • Hair and body aerosols
  • Shampoos containing parabens, phthalates, PEG, SLS, etc.
  • Laundry detergents (especially chemically scented)
  • Fabric softeners (especially chemically scented…this is a leading cause for indoor air pollution)
  • Lawn and garden chemicals, weed killers (esp. glyphosate), pest control
  • Farm and garden chemicals (pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.)
  • Household pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, rodent poisons, ant baits, etc.
  • Swimming pool/hot tub chemicals
  • Acetone exposure
  • Nail products and paint fumes
  • Carpet and floor cleaners
  • Construction and automobile chemicals and oils
  • Exhaust fumes from vehicles, lawn mowers, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies and solutions
  • Antibiotics
  • Drugs, veterinary prescriptions
  • Growth hormone contaminants in meat products
  • Processed food diet, especially kibble
  • Excessive consumption of a single recipe/diet (homemade and commercial)
  • Excessive consumption of same-source ingredients (homemade and commercial)
  • Unbalanced/unvaried diet
  • Excessive supplementation
  • High carbohydrate/fiber diet (commercial and homemade)
  • Species inappropriate diet (commercial and homemade)
  • Consumption of rancid fats and fish oils
  • Nutrient deficient meals
  • Nutrient toxic meals and supplementation
  • Tap water (chlorine, fluoride, pharmaceutical contaminants, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.)
  • Poor dental and gum health
  • Parasite induced disease condition
  • Stress/anxiety/loneliness
  • Lengthy crating and confinement
  • Obesity
  • Lack of outdoor time
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Lack of fresh air
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of purpose (esp. in working breeds)
  • Tight fitting collar
  • Excessive heat or cold exposure
  • Excessive breeding of bitch

Avoiding as many or all of the above is a plan that greatly increases the opportunity to cultivate optimal health in your dog.

Preventing Disease through the Cultivation of Optimal Health

Having learned above what we need to avoid in order to prevent the decline of health by way of undesirable gene expression, we can now look at ways in which we can influence gene expression for the cultivation of health and the prevention of disease.

Health begins firstly by avoiding health harming foods, substances, situations, and environments followed by influencing positive gene expression. We do this by creating a platform on which we can cultivate optimal health. It is a process and a practice that must be regularly maintained if health is to be continuous. Creating the correct platform begins with diet and environment. Both are dependent upon each other. Nutritional needs are dependent upon environment and environment determines nutritional needs.

First and foremost, our dogs require fresh whole foods that are appropriate to their species. This is extremely important if nutrient assimilation is to be optimal. A dog cannot gain value from grass, whole raw vegetables, grains, or whole raw seeds any more so than we can gain value from lawn clippings, raw grains, or raw legumes. For a dog to maintain health, he needs to have clean food-sources of energy and nutritional building blocks that can be easily unlocked and assimilated. There is no exception to this! Nutrients are complexes that must be gained from food sources. Nutrients come packaged alongside other nutrients, enzymes, factors, cofactors, antioxidants, constituents, and potential energy that assist and work along with other components for optimal digestion, absorption and assimilation, and the cultivation of health through appropriate gene expression. There is also the need to avoid the consumption of anti-nutrients that prevent the absorption of vital nutrients.

Environment plays a role in determining nutrient needs. Soil mineral-saturation or depletion affects nutrient needs from both local food sources and food sourced elsewhere. Also, family dynamic, stress, adverse exposures, exercise, air quality, sunlight, water quality, purpose (dogs need a sense of purpose just as we do), attention from family members, socialization, stimulus, etc. all determine nutritional requirements. If these are not taken into consideration, optimal health cannot be cultivated.

We also see health decline with energy waste. Energy is everything. Our dogs require adequate motive power for building and maintaining optimal health. We want to look for and remove any sources of unnecessary energy expenditure (energy waste). Vital energy will be diverted to the elimination of excessive toxin build-up (from both metabolic function and exposure via diet and environment) and to areas that require repair to damaged tissues caused by the exposures, conditions, and conducts listed above. By removing these energy wasting sources, energy will be freed to allow for peak motive power available to the maintenance of optimal health. When the body is powered adequately and disease preventatives are put into place, genes will express for health rather than toward disease predispositions or the failure of health.

Establishing a health-promoting microbiome is an additional step for positive gene expression. See my article The Mystifyingly Astounding Microbiome.

Failure to produce optimal health can be observed via the manifestation of adverse symptoms in the physical body, behavior, and emotions. Health is fragile when not carefully maintained and heeded. Be observant and watch for any signs that your dog is not thriving. Do not delay in removing or correcting the cause. Health can decline rapidly. For additional help, contact me for more information!

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

1 “More than one-third of dogs (37 percent)…with kidney disease also have periodontal disease.” State of Pet Health 2012 Banfield Pet Hospital

2 “In 2011, approximately 1 in every 200 dogs had hypothyroidism.” State of Pet Health 2012 Banfield Pet Hospital

3 “Almost one-third of dogs (28 percent)…with cardiomyopathy (a type of heart disease) also have periodontal disease.” State of Pet Health 2012 Banfield Pet Hospital


Nutrient Requirements for the Cultivation of Optimal Health in Dogs and Puppies

Puppies and adult dogs require essential micro nutrients in very specific amounts for proper growth and development, cellular function and methylation, epigenetic gene expression, metabolism, tissue and organ function, skeletal maintenance and repair, brain development and function, and so much more. The cultivation of optimal health should be the goal of every pet parent with diet being the foundation stone for that goal.

The following nutrient list is based on the NRC’s recommended allowance (RA) as found in “Nutrient Requirements of Dogs & Cats,Merck Veterinary Manual, and FEDIAF, The European Pet Food Industry Federation. I have added to the nutrient requirement list the remaining vital nutrients that the NRC and FEDIAF have not listed. These missing nutrients are irrefutably essential to health and life. It is my belief that these missing nutritional components are one of the biggest factors driving canine disease, cancer, and the increasing mortality rate.

The following list is based on my own research. The missing yet very-much-essential nutrients are required for the prevention of chronic disease, the cultivation and maintenance of optimal health, and increased longevity in dogs. Everything in BOLD is either my addition (missing essential nutrients from the NRC list) or is a modification.

The nutrient requirements below are per every 1,000 kcal consumed.

Mobile phone users, please click on the PDF link for proper nutrient table alignment.

NutrientAdult DogPuppies
Vitamin A
B1 Thiamine
B2 Riboflavin
B3 Niacin
B5 Pantothenic Acid
B6 Pyridoxine
Biotin1
Folate
B12 Cobalamin
Choline
Vitamin C2
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol3)
Vitamin E
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone4)

380 RE → 16,000 RE
0.56 mg
1.4 mg
4.25 mg
4 mg
0.4 mg
2.5 mg
68 mcg
8.75 mcg
425 mg
40 mg
3.4 mcg → 20 mcg
7.5 mg
410 mcg

380 RE → 3,750 RE
0.34 mg
1.4 mg
4.25 mg
4 mg
0.4 mg
2 mg
68 mcg
8.75 mcg
425 mg
40 mg
3.4 mcg → 20 mcg
7.5 mg
410 mcg

NutrientAdult DogPuppies
Calcium
Phosphorous
Potassium
Sodium
Chloride
Magnesium
Iron
Copper
Zinc
Manganese
Iodine
Selenium
Molybdenum5
Silica6
Sulfur7
1,200 mg
1000 mg
1,250 mg
250 mg
400 mg
190 mg
9 mg
1.8 mg
20 mg
1.5 mg
220 mcg
90 mcg
45 mcg
118 mg
1.75 mg
3,000 mg
2,500 mg
1,300 mg
550 mg
720 mg
150 mg
22 mg
2.7 mg
25 mg
1.7 mg
220 mcg
90 mcg
40 mcg
118 mg
2 mg

1 Biotin is an essential vitamin (also known as vitamin H) that is required for proper growth, muscle development, digestion, skin health, health of the coat and fur, for the prevention of allergies and allergic conditions, among others. Thus, I believe it belongs in the list for required nutrients. Biotin deficiency is most often the cause for skin disorders as well as skin and allergic conditions including itching. There is a popular concern about feeding raw eggs to dogs due to the enzyme avidin. Avidin is found only within the egg white; therefore, feeding dogs egg whites without the yolk is never recommended. Because the yolk is rich in biotin, feeding whole eggs has not been implicated in biotin deficiency. Nevertheless, I prefer to offer dogs biotin-rich egg yolks regularly (and even daily) while feeding the egg white only on occasion. Cooking the egg white will deactivate the enzyme.

2 While dogs can manufacture their own vitamin C, the amounts produced are not sufficient for the prevention of disease or health maintenance. Clinical observations have found that stress and illness are the greatest causes for vitamin C depletion in dogs. According to Bob Griswold and Nancy Kerns for Whole Dog Journal, “Stress is the best-known cause of vitamin C depletion in dogs. Physical stress comes in many forms: gestation, lactation, growth, hard work (dogs used for herding, hunting, tracking, etc.), vaccinations, injuries, tail-docking or ear cropping, or illness. Emotional stress, whether caused by relocation, weaning, or demanding training, can also deplete this reserve. In fact, researchers can measure the level of stress a dog experiences by measuring the degree of depletion of the vitamin in the dog’s blood. Conversely, many studies have found that dogs (as well as humans) that are supplemented with vitamin C show greater resistance to disease, and a better ability to recover from injuries or illness.” Thus, it is my professional opinion that dogs must receive dietary sources of vitamin C daily or receive a whole-food source vitamin C supplement.

3 Dogs must receive vitamin D3, cholecalciferol, the natural form of vitamin D for optimal absorption. Vitamin D2, ergocalciferol, does not function in the same way as naturally occurring vitamin D. Utilization is poor causing ergocalciferol to accumulate in the body running the risk of overdose with fatal toxicity. In addition to hypervitaminosis, D2 can exacerbate malabsorption issues and conditions leading to complications and further conditions. Thus, it is my professional opinion that dogs receive only cholecalciferol from food sources, and if needed, a Vitamin D3 supplement for infants (human-grade) in a 400 IU dose.

4 There are two natural forms of vitamin K. K1 (phylloquinone) is plant-source vitamin K and is absorbed at a rate of LESS THAN 10% in humans. Based on this information, absorption in dogs would be next to nil. K2 (menaquinone) is an animal and bacteria-source of vitamin K that experts and scientist believe is better absorbed. Based on this, K1 is not a recommended source for dogs. Dogs, therefore, require menaquinone which is only found in animal foods and fermented foods.

5 Molybdenum is essential for life. Evidence based on extensive research over the last twenty years is conclusive that this trace mineral is essential for optimal health. Without sufficient molybdenum, health will suffer. This trace mineral is essential for a number of bio-chemical processes, optimal cell function, the development of the nervous system, the activation of digestion enzymes, is a cofactor for the utilization of iron (especially important in dogs), it partners with riboflavin for the production of hemoglobin, is required for nitrogen metabolism, and more. Molybdenum is found in bones, liver, and kidney, ideal food sources for dogs.  

6 Silica is essential, period. Dr. Barbara Hendel is quoted as stating, “Silica is the most important trace mineral for human health.” Now imagine this for dogs which have a great need for collagen elasticity in all their connecting tissues, tendons, and cartilage. With the high rate of joint deterioration, hip conditions and dysplasia, arthritis, and cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) disease in dogs, silica is not an option. Silica is essential for bone growth (initiates bone growth in puppies), connective tissues, collagen, ligaments, and cartilage, it stimulates DNA synthesis in osteoblasts, and is required for tissue detoxification (aluminum especially). Silica is found in bones, connective tissues, and diatomaceous earth (DE). Feeding bones is essential to the health of a dog. Adding food-grade DE to meals is an excellent supplement for silica with the added bonus of worm prevention.

7 Sulfur is vitally important to dogs which require large amounts of amino acids. Sulfur is essential for bones and bone density, joints, is the dominant component of connective tissues, is a natural anti-inflammatory, is necessary for cell, tissue and organ function, promotes the transportation of oxygen across cell membranes, and more. Bone, connective tissues, meat, fish, eggs (especially the white), and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) supplements are dietary sources of sulfur for dogs.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


The Many Faces of Raw Feeding

Choosing your method of DIY raw feeding

There are several models and methods of feeding your dog a raw diet. However, following one specific model can be too limiting making if difficult to meet nutritional requirements without having to resort to heavy supplementation. Becoming familiar with the various raw models is an important step for knowing how best to provide for your dog’s nutrient needs.

How Should You Feed Your Dog? Carnivore vs. Omnivore

There are several models and methods of DIY raw feeding that can be followed. And behind those models and methods lie some pretty convincing philosophies and interpretations of what science has shown us about our canine companions. There are two extreme views that exist; and from my own research and education, both extremes have several shady areas that do not stand as factual. Before you can decide how and what to feed your dog, you must understand what dogs are designed to consume. Let’s take a look at these two extreme views.

Pure Carnivore
One philosophy that is hugely popular in the UK and Australia and has spread throughout Europe and to the USA is the strict carnivore model. This philosophy interprets a dog’s anatomy as purely carnivore and sees the physiology as strictly carnivore as well. While you cannot ignore the fact that a dog’s anatomy is undeniably carnivore, it isn’t quite so cut-and-dry when we examine the physiology.

Many adherents to the strict carnivore model teach that dogs do not produce salivary amylase; therefore, they conclude, dogs are strict carnivores as only omnivores produce salivary amylase. Now, in their defense, I am only part of a minute handful of people who are actually aware of the study that detected tiny amounts of salivary amylase in Beagles[1]. Herbivores, you may be surprised to learn, do not produce salivary amylase either, and yet sensitive tests have also detected it in lambs. So take both those findings for what their worth. So, yes, this is true in a sense. However, their teaching starts to go south when proponents of this view start to make claims that are clearly not proven.

It is taught that a dog’s pancreas is “strained” when carbohydrates of any kind are ingested as this requires that the pancreas must produce amylase enzyme. Carbohydrates are defined as vegetables, fruits, starches, sugars, grains, and legumes. While any organ can be strained from overwork, the function of the pancreas is to produce hormones and enzymes; therefore, normal function would not “strain” an organ. However, just like in humans, when the organ is abused (key word here) by excessive consumption of inappropriate foods, then yes, the organ will be overburdened and damage often occurs. Both the NRC and AAFCO do not list carbohydrate requirements because both know that dogs have absolutely no requirement for carbohydrates. So are the carnivore purists correct?

If this were a fact, then the high-carbohydrate commercial diets over the past one hundred years would have mass murdered millions of dogs. And since this wasn’t or isn’t the case, that in itself is proof that their claim in not entirely true. However, dogs have developed numerous health conditions, chronic disease, joint deterioration, cancer, and increased mortality at an alarming rate. So maybe there is some credibility to their claim? The answer is yes. Let’s look at the other extreme view to see why.

Omnivore
There is a large group of raw feeders and proponents of homemade cooked dog food that claim dogs are omnivores. This is the view held by the major commercial dog food manufacturers and even many veterinarians. However, the dog food companies have an agenda: dog food sales. When an agenda enters the equation, you know darn well that agendas and philosophies start to be touted as fact.

The omnivore theorists point to the fact that dogs do in fact produce pancreatic amylase. Recently, many have groped at the exhaustingly misinterpreted AMY2B gene in domestic dogs that codes for amylase enzyme. It is taught that because dogs have anywhere from four to thirty copies of the AMY2B gene, unlike their close cousin the wolf who has a mere two copies (dog DNA is only 0.2% different from the wolf), dogs, therefore, have evolved to life with humans and have turned into omnivores. Sounds factual since dogs can in fact eat high carbohydrate diets without immediate consequence (other than obesity) and dying immediately. Yet, how can we explain the rapid rise in chronic disease that just so happens to parallel human disease and the increased mortality rate in the modern canine?

The answer lies in the correct understanding of epigenetic gene expression and adaption. Dogs have simply adapted through epigenetic gene expression to survive with humans. This adaptation potential is within the DNA of ALL canines, including wolves. (Adaptation potential is actually encoded in every living being.) The exposure to high carbohydrate diets with humans turned “ON” the gene expression within dogs that codes for amylase enzyme. Each consecutive generation of domestic dog, therefore, passed the code onto their offspring until a select few breeds developed higher numbers of the gene than others. Epigenetic gene expression is common knowledge within the scientific community, but not among lay people who misinterpet scientific papers and articles (not to mention read with a biased eye). Gene expression is directly affected by diet and environment. Dogs simply adapted to life with humans. Understand that adaptation is a survival mechanism that in no way equates to thriving.

So, what was it exactly that drove the raw food movement initially? Sadly, canine disease and the increasing mortality rate. So how did this happen if dogs evolved into omnivores? Let’s be real here. Dogs are clearly anatomically NOT omnivores. This simply cannot be denied. Their teeth, jaw and jaw movement, neck, body structure, and digestive tract are in no wise omnivorous. If adaptation changed canines into omnivores, then their anatomy would have followed suit. And clearly, that is not the case. Physical (anatomical) changes are absolutely essential if something as serious as food sources has changed. One has only to look at Charles Darwin’s Galapagos Island finch study [2, 3]. The finch has coded within its DNA a genome that codes for beak shape. The finch has the adaptation ability to change beak shape entirely as a direct result of available food source and environmental conditions. The gene expression is turned “on” depend upon outside conditions. And conversely, the gene expression can be turned “off” and the beak returns to the original shape. This is observed in the offspring of the following generations as gene code expression is passed on to future generations.

Have dogs changed anatomically? Not in the least. While selective breeding plays a role in appearance and size, dogs are still structurally carnivores. They have simply adapted and increased a mere ONE gene code as a direct result of the diet offered to them by their human companions, nothing further. So what is the verdict?

Dogs are neither obligate carnivores nor are they omnivores.

Dogs are FACULTATIVE CARNIVORES. Period.

What does this mean? Biology states that facultative carnivores are “able to live under a range of external conditions” for survival purposes in the absence of their species-appropriate diet and environmental conditions.

How should you feed your dog? Like the facultative carnivore that they are!

[1] https://bmcvetres.biomedcentral.com/…/10.…/s12917-017-1191-4

[2] https://explorable.com/darwins-finches

[3] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150211-evolution-darwin-finches-beaks-genome-science/

Should You Follow a Raw Model or Ratio?

There are several models for canine raw feeding as well as helpful ratios that can be used as guidelines for creating balanced meals. The two most popular models are Prey Model Raw (PMR) and BARF (biologically appropriate raw food). The most popular ratio guideline is 80/10/10 or 80/10/5/5 which pertains to the ratio of flesh to organ and bone in whole prey. From these original models and ratios, raw feeding has evolved. To learn more about models and ratios, read my article “Simplifying the Raw Food Models.”
https://theholisticcanine17.com/…/simplifying-the-raw-food…/

Many people tend to follow trends, the advice of friends or people close to them, or stick with what is popular. But when it comes to feeding your dog, trends, well-meaning advice, and popularity is not necessarily on the table as a good option. Nutrition is serious business. Knowing and understanding how to create meals using a model or ratio as your guide is essential to the health and wellbeing of your dog that may just have a serious impact on longevity.

While some dogs do exceptionally well on a BARF model diet, some just plain don’t. Simple as that. And where many so-called canine “nutritionists” make extremist statements such as “PMR is an unbalanced diet plan,” you absolutely cannot deny that there are generations of dogs doing exceptionally well on PMR and living to incredible ages. Also, simple as that. And, have you noticed that some dogs live to an impressively old age on kibble? As hard as that may be to swallow, it is true. Sadly, others do not and their lives are one suffering experience after another. The truth is, dogs are facultative.

Dogs are undoubtedly (and impressively) nutritionally-versatile creatures. But it is for this reason that dogs are among the most nutritionally abused animals on the planet (next to humans). The most critical question to ask is: just because dogs can be nutritionally abused without immediate consequence, does this mean they should be? I pray your answer is wholeheartedly NO.

Let me go back to the question I have posed in the section title: “Should you follow a raw food model or ratio?” What is your answer? Is there an answer? Being that my expertise is orthomolecular nutrition science coupled with my doctoral research on species-appropriate diets in humans and animals, I believe there is a definitive answer.

SPECIES-APPROPRIATE. End of story.

Species-appropriate Raw Diet

I won’t lie, I used to be a BARF model purist. As a human nutritionist, I see the value in plant-based diets (this does not mean vegetarian) and have witnessed health return to people of all ages and conditions, including stage 4 cancer. Naturally, I see incredible value in organically grown produce. How can we not share that value with our canine companions? But as time went by and my experience, research, and education expanded, I could no longer deny that PMR feeders were experiencing exceptional results and producing offspring that lived to almost unbelievable ages. Just take a look at Thomas Sandberg’s results in his own dogs and in his Long Living Pets Research Project (which, btw, my six dogs are a part of). Thomas, like myself, is a board certified holistic health practitioner and practicing naturopath…and also a PMR feeder and teacher. And he is reversing cancer! Results are results, they can’t be denied.

So what am I saying? No, I did not cross the street to the PMR purists, but nor do I adhere to BARF. I have realized that nutrition is based on each individual dog and blending the two models has produced incredible results…including cancer therapy (more on that in the future as I have an on-going study). My stance is strictly species-appropriate nutrition plans.

After reviewing the many research results on zero and low-carbohydrate diets in endurance dogs that the NRC reported on in their work “Nutrition Requirements of Dogs and Cats,” I realized that carbohydrates really do not have much value. Nor do they for humans. Since I am known as the “weight loss guru” in my human nutrition practice, I realized that I should take that same strategy to the dogs. What strategy? Low-carb nutrition plans. Since dogs have no requirement for carbohydrates, as is stated by the NRC and AAFCO, why would we need to add them when the studies showed that the zero and lowest carb diets produced the better athletic performance in the test dogs? Unlike protein and fats that have multiple vital purposes and functions, carbohydrates have but one…energy, something that fat supplies as well as protein (via gluconeogenesis in carnivores). Nothing else, no other need, and non-vital.

What do facultative carnivores eat? Prey. And when prey is in short supply, their incredible facultative adaptability allows them to survive (intended for short periods, mind you) on scavenged food, human garbage, berries and other fruit, grasses, and not much else. We need to focus on species-appropriate foods that are easy to digest, offer the highest nutrient absorption rate, and the absence of anti-nutrients that prevent nutrient absorption.

The focus of your dog’s nutrition should be species appropriate foods. Not a model, not a ratio, but foods that are best for dogs. See my article entitled “The Importance of Species-appropriate Foods for the Cultivation of Optimal Health.”
https://theholisticcanine17.com/…/the-importance-of-specie…/

Focus on your dog’s NRC nutrient requirements (which does not include carbohydrates) and create meals around those needs. Protein and fat from fresh raw mammal and poultry flesh, organs and offal, and raw meaty bones (and don’t forget fish and crustaceans!) should be your main focus. And if your dog can adequately digest, without ANY difficulties, some vegetables, seaweeds, and ground seeds in small percentages, these can offer additional value. Note, I emphasize SMALL. Fruit can be an option, but is not always appropriate. I have had enough experience to know that fruit tends to be the main cause of itching, ear conditions, and yeast overgrowth, among other issues. Fruit, like in human nutrition, needs to be offered and consumed apart from mealtime. Again, fruit should not be fed in meals, but as treats.

Never force your dog to eat vegetables and fruits. These are optional and often your dog knows that he or she cannot digest them and/or they are making them feel yucky. Be observant and examine stools. Stools are your window into the internal workings of your dog’s digestion. My six dogs do eat vegetables on occasion and once in awhile they will get berries for treats. But all in all, they don’t want them. Your dog can help you to learn quite a bit about canine nutrition. Pay attention! And when in doubt, ask a professional.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist


The Mystifyingly Astounding Microbiome

Long lasting health begins in your dog’s gut!

If our goal is to cultivate optimal health in our dogs, than every pet parent’s focus must be turned to their dog’s microbiome. Just like us, our dogs contain a vast and complex array of microorganisms that in-and-of-themselves make up its own distinct system. The amount of genetic information contained within the microbiome is immense. But what is most incredible is the commensal relationship that your dog shares with his/her microorganisms. The microbiome is teeming with bacteria, viruses, and fungi that are essential for the correct and peak functioning of digestion, immunity, and brain function.

Intriguingly, “germs” generate fear which is blaringly obvious by the frantic quest for immunity against the perceived deadly strains of microbes. Doctors and veterinarians warn against the dangers of pathogenic microbes and push antibiotics and vaccines. Additionally, warnings against the dangers of feeding raw meats and organs to dogs and cats is filling the internet. But recent understanding of the microbiome is only now beginning to show that those “germs” are required for immunological homeostasis [1]. The microbiome is the very defense mechanism that not only protects against deadly pathogenic organisms, but drives immunity and health cultivation. In fact, seventy percent (70%) of your dog’s immune cells reside in the gut alongside the microbiome. Incredibly, a unique communicatory partnership exists between the gut (immune cells and microflora) and the brain [2]. The microbiome is your dog’s dominant military defense against the proliferation of pathogenic organisms as well as the foundation of immune response, nutrient absorption, mental poise, hormone balance, and the forces behind the cultivation of optimal health and healing.

As a result of this exciting science, the popularity among probiotic and prebiotic supplements has increased and will continue its wave of popularity as a greater understanding of the microbiome continues to come to light. But are these supplements really all that beneficial and worth the expense? In short, no. Continually feeding your dog a probiotic supplement is a fruitless endeavor and waste of money [3]. If your dog is recovering from a gut issue, a week or two on probiotics can be quite helpful, but that is its limitation. Realize that you are introducing hundreds of thousands of a mere three, maybe ten, species of bacteria to your dog’s microbiome that should contain upwards of 30,000 species of microorganisms. Attempting to cultivate a microbiome with a mere three to ten species creates imbalance. Your dog’s gut should look like a tropical rainforest alive and flourishing with tens of thousands of biological species, not a desert or mere field with a few species of plants and insects. Do you see the difference? This very difference is what makes one dog healthier and stronger than another. Forget the probiotic supplements and focus on cultivating the microbiome the way nature intended.

Every dog, like every human being, is born with their unique and active microbiome which begins within the womb and is further enhanced during whelping via the birth canal of his or her dam. Dam’s milk begins the nourishment of the body, the immune system, the brain, and the internal microflora. How soon pups are weaned, what food they are weaned onto, and what chemicals are introduced into their tiny bodies can either support or damage their vital, dynamic, and maturing microbiome. This can set them up for a life of health and vitality or a life of health crises and a decreased life expectancy.

We must all understand this important detail: the health and longevity of the modern canine begins with the breeders. Responsible breeders will never breed dogs with genetic abnormalities or from breeding lines with high mortality rates. Nor will they breed without the appropriate veterinary and DNA testing to certify health. An additional step that is critical to future offspring is to prepare breeding dams (and sires) before any litter is even considered for the sake of both mama and pups. Providing potential dams with a species-appropriate raw food diet and cultivating optimal health through holistic health care strategies are necessary to nurture and strengthen her microbiome for the benefit of both her and the offspring. Searching for a naturally-rearing breeder is highly recommended if your desire is to grow a healthy dog with a greater chance of resilience to illness and disease, especially if longevity is your ultimate goal.

What about those dogs who were not the product of a carefully selected breeding program? The focus of pet parents who are the guardians of these precious canines must be on the proliferation of an active and vigorously health-cultivating microbiome if health and longevity is on their radar. This is essential! Knowing where and how to nourish the microbiome is priority, especially in puppies. This begins with providing a species-appropriate diet that is raw and teeming with not only macro and micronutrients, enzymes, coenzymes, factors, cofactors, and numerous other vital constituents, but also microorganisms. Your dog NEEDS to receive microorganisms from the outside in order to build and strengthen his/her microflora colony.

The microbiome is alive, dynamic, and in communication with your dog’s brain. A weak and imbalanced microbiome can contribute to numerous health and mental concerns. Dysbiosis, the term for an imbalanced microbiome, is a serious and growing concern that decreases nutrient absorption and leaves your dog vulnerable to potentially pathogenic bacteria and viruses that a healthy microbiome should easily accommodate. If pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and fungi are cultivated within the gut, your dog will be nearly defenseless against so-called “germs” with the added bonus of mental instability. Dysbiosis leads to acute illness, immune disorders, sensitivities and allergies, gut inflammation, colitis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, anxiety, hyperactivity, aggression, depression, and a whole host of other potential health and mental crises. Dogs with dysbiosis are in dire need of correcting, establishing, and proliferating their microbiome with beneficial microorganisms. How is this done?

To cultivate a strong and healthy microbiome flourishing with as many as 30,000 species of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, implement the following strategies:

  • Offer a varied and balanced species-appropriate raw diet.
  • Get your dog out into the fresh air, especially where nature is abundant. Exercise them and stir up the grasses, soil, and trees. Microorganisms enter your dog’s body through their noses and via their fur and skin.
  • Soil is abundant in microflora and dogs love to dig and stick their noses into their dirt holes. Give your dog an opportunity to be in the soil. Soil enriches the microbiome. Allowing your dog to eat his food outside on the lawn is also a great way to introduce microorganisms.
  • The environment offers a wealth of microflora. Take your dog on hikes to different areas to allow for the greatest possible exposure to microorganisms. Many holistically minded breeders and pet parents that prefer to avoid vaccines do this to expose their dogs to pathogens for the main purpose of creating true and lasting immunity. While pathogens are not the main goal of increasing the species load and strengthening of the immune system, they are required, as stated above, to establish immunological homeostasis.  
  • Offer raw and/or soured raw milk as this contains a wealth of beneficial bacteria. Also, consider offering foods that have been subjected to “wild fermentation [3].” If you want to feed your dog fermented foods, make sure you are either fermenting foods at home using the wild method or do not offer at all. Most fermented foods are not species-appropriate and may cause intestinal upset. Yogurt is not recommended as most products contain carrageenan and other thickening agents. Stick with kefir or cottage cheese that has nothing added.
  • Water can also contain microflora. Although offering your dog purified or filtered water is advisable for regular in-home drinking water, dogs also love to drink out of mud holes, streams, ponds, and even toilets. This is not my recommended source for regular exposure, but it is immensely effective. While it is possible that a few dogs with weakened immunity may pick up a pathogen, most dogs will suffer no-ill effect.

Never has science been so exciting! We are discovering that life is a symbiotic dance among biological entities, a partnership that assists and serves for the ultimate goal of optimal health and vitality.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

[1] The mammalian virome in genetic analysis of health and disease pathogenesis, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRVxTBuvChU

[2] The brain-gut-microbiome axis, http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/brain-gut-microbiome-axis

[3] Dr. Zach Bush, MD, triple board certified physician and leading expert on the microbiome; https://zachbushmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Why-Probiotics-Dont-Always-Work-EG-BB-edit.pdf


Maintaining Your Dog’s Health through Daily Examinations

Regular health assessments and keeping an eye on your dog’s poop could mean the difference between health and serious illness or disease

Feeding your dog a fresh raw species-appropriate diet that is balanced and varied is the foundation for optimal health cultivation along with maintaining peak cellular performance and organ function throughout the entirety of your dog’s life. While diet is the foundation for health and health maintenance, there are numerous other factors that can contribute to the breakdown of health or inability to build health within the body. Environment, stress, chemical exposure, mental stimulation, vaccines, parasites, exercise and daily activities, fresh air, and water type, for example, all play a major role in either contributing to health or to the breakdown of health. For this reason, paying careful attention to your dog and being observant of changes is vitally important if your desire is to maintain peak cellular function and keep physical, mental, and emotional stress to a healthy minimum.

While it would be wonderful if our dogs could verbally communicate any health concerns, pain, difficulties, fears, and changes, the burden is, unfortunately, left to our observing eye. Along with yearly exams from a holistic or a functional-medicine veterinarian, observing and examining your pet daily is also important. This can be done easily while petting your dog, during regular grooming sessions, when out on walks or in the yard for exercise & “potty” breaks, at mealtimes, and even when your pet is sleeping or lounging around. Take note of any changes or unusual behaviors. Your daily observations and exams should include the following. Look for:

Skin

  • dryness/dandruff
  • redness
  • itching/scratching/biting skin
  • raised red bumps
  • raised red and inflamed patches
  • hot spots
  • hair loss
  • odor
  • oily or greasy skin
  • fleas and ticks
  • sores and broken skin
  • clear discharge, oozing or pus
  • crusty areas
  • lumps under the skin

Coat

  • dry coarse/brittle fur (some breeds have coarse fur, for this I refer to atypical)
  • oily or greasy coat
  • lackluster
  • balding whether in patches or in one particular area
  • excessive shedding
  • odor
  • flea poop
  • crusty and clumped together fur

Food

  • increase or decrease in food intake
  • sudden pickiness
  • lack of interest in mealtime
  • difficulty swallowing
  • gagging
  • vomiting after meals
  • swelling around mouth, nose, eyes
  • sudden weight loss
  • sudden weight gain  

Water

  • increase in water intake without increase in urination
  • excessive urination
  • excessive thirst
  • stark decrease in water intake
  • choking after drinking

Oral

  • tooth loss
  • red swollen gums
  • bleeding gums
  • tooth or gum infection
  • cracked tooth
  • bad breath
  • dry gums
  • difficulty chewing
  • excessive salivation/drooling
  • having difficulty eating or inability to eat

Eyes & nose

  • discharge from eyes or nose (may be clear, white, yellow, thin, or thick)
  • squinting eyes/sensitivity to light
  • excessive sneezing
  • dry nose
  • redness around eye membrane
  • stark change in eyesight
  • formation of eye cloudiness or cataracts

Ears

  • odor
  • redness
  • itching
  • shacking head consistently
  • holding head to one side
  • holding one or both ears in odd position
  • shying away when head is touched
  • difficulty hearing

Paws

  • redness on toes or pads
  • sores between toes or on pads
  • cracked or bleeding pads
  • torn, cracked, or infected nail
  • odor
  • nails that are too long (this is important for correct posture and gait!)
  • brittle peeling nails
  • lumps or growths on toes or pads

Activity

  • fatigue
  • appearing depressed or withdrawn
  • lack of energy or motivation
  • sudden decrease in daily activity
  • sleeping more
  • lack of interest in daily activities or family dynamic
  • grunting when getting up from lying down
  • sudden increase in activity coupled with hyperactivity, anxiety, whining, acting “clingy,” pacing, increased water intake

Exercise

  • refusing walks
  • difficulty maintaining normal walking distance
  • less activity in the yard
  • having difficulty running
  • limping
  • lameness
  • panting excessively (when heat is not an issue)
  • loss of interest in playtime
  • coughing, gagging

Respiratory

  • breathing heavily
  • panting excessively
  • coughing/gagging
  • wheezing
  • deep sighing
  • short quick breaths
  • mucous or phlegm discharge from mouth and/or nose

Body

  • wincing, whining, or grunting when touched or pick-up
  • grunting when getting up from lying position
  • inability to step up, jump up, or jump down
  • no longer using stairs or walking slowly up stairs
  • masses or hard lumps under the skin or in deep tissue 
  • holding head down
  • holding head to one side, stiff neck
  • joint pain or swelling
  • changes in bark or vocal sounds

Mental

  • sudden aggression
  • sudden possessiveness
  • growling when approached or touched
  • shying or flinching when about to be petted or touched
  • not wanting to be bothered
  • anxiety
  • chewing on household items
  • destructive behavior
  • peeing in or marking house or kennel area
  • pooping in house despite being house broken
  • suddenly ignoring commands
  • bullying
  • fear or sudden shyness

So what now? If you discover your dog has any of the concerns or conditions listed above, it’s time to pay close attention. Be aware of any additional changes or further developments. Some of the concerns and conditions above can advance rapidly within 24 hours while others may have been there or have been occurring for months before you noticed. Some of the more minor issues often rectify themselves within 24 to 48 hours. But how will you know if a concern is serious? When in doubt, contact your licensed veterinary professional at the earliest possibility.

One of the best ways to look for potential health concerns is by observing your dog’s stools on a daily basis. As unpleasant or disgusting as this may sound, your dog’s poop is a window into the “goings-on” and internal functioning of your dog’s body. I cannot stress enough how important it is to pay regular attention to stools. There are three indicators to observe, 1) consistency, 2) color, and 3) odor. All of these are clues that can give you important information about organ function, system health, nutrient absorption, food sensitivities, dietary imbalances, digestive issues such as incapability and insufficiency, internal parasites, inflammation, chronic conditions, cancer, and more.

Your dog’s stools should be fully formed, nearly odorless, slightly moist, and a chocolate brown to slightly “orangish” color. You should not see any undigested food or particles, mucous, a muddy or greasy appearance, parasites, blood or any other color unless something was consumed that would naturally cause color change. Nor should there be a strong offensive odor.

Consistency, color, and odor are often windows into the internal functioning of your dog’s body. These signs may be indications of an acute issue or something bigger brewing that can spell illness or disease. Let’s take a closer look at stools to learn what can be gleaned from consistency, color, and odor. The lists below begin with the most minor causes that will rectify themselves (likely with minor adjustments on your part) to the most serious that require a trip to the veterinarian.

CONSISTENCY

Oily/greasy/slimy stools

  • Too much dietary fat
  • Consumption of cooked fats (this can cause pancreatitis)
  • High consumption of plant fats (many dogs cannot digest or utilize plant fats)
  • Fat malabsorption
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Bowel infection
  • Giardia
  • Small bowel bacteria overgrowth
  • Biliary issue
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Pancreatitis
  • Pancreatic disease

Pebbles, hard stool

  • Too much bone
  • Feeding dry kibble/food with insufficient moisture (can lead to a chronic state of cellular dehydration)
  • Not enough food intake
  • Low water intake
  • Feeding insoluble fiber
  • Feeding too much fur
  • Acute dehydration
  • Hip dysplasia and arthritis pain in hips, legs, or back can create bowel movement difficulty due to inability to hold the correct squat position (dogs in pain may hold back evacuating their bowels)
  • Obstruction, impaction
  • Chronic dehydration

Muddy

  • Dietary change
  • Consumed something disagreeable
  • Food intolerance or sensitivity
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Rectal polyps
  • Pancreatic strain or insufficiency
  • Beginning of a liver condition
  • Viral infection
  • Giardia
  • Tumor(s)

Watery, diarrhea

  • Dietary change
  • Too much organ meat
  • Transition to raw that was too fast
  • Food sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy
  • Stress
  • Consumed or drank something with pathogenic bacteria
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Giardia or parasites
  • Small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Viral infection (parvo)
  • Pancreatic insufficiency
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Liver condition
  • Tumor(s)
  • Cancer

Mucous coated formed stool

  • Intestinal irritation
  • Food sensitivity or allergy
  • Bowel inflammation
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Acute colitis
  • Chronic colitis

Mucous with mushy stool

  • Consumed something disagreeable
  • Food sensitivities with intestinal irritation
  • Parasites
  • Food allergy
  • Bowel inflammation
  • Viral infection, Parvo
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Acute colitis
  • Chronic colitis
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

COLOR (and appearance)

White chalky, pale yellow chalk

  • Too much bone (constipation is a possibility if not reduced)
  • Too much calcium (this is dangerous if consistent)

Pale

  • Gallbladder blockage or issue
  • Biliary issue
  • Liver condition

Yellow

  • Bile, food intolerance
  • Biliary condition
  • Giardia
  • Liver condition

Orange

  • Consumed food such as carrots and pumpkin puree
  • Biliary duct condition
  • Liver condition

Green

  • Consumed foods such as spirulina, greens powder, pureed leafy greens
  • Gallbladder concern

Grey

  • Biliary condition
  • Blocked bile duct
  • Gallbladder concern
  • Pancreatic condition
  • Liver condition

Red

  • Severe food intolerance
  • Rectal fissure or injury
  • Large intestine bleeding
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (severe)
  • Internal bleeding in the lower GI tract
  • Bleeding intestinal ulcer
  • Ruptured intestinal tumor
  • Perforated bowel
  • Cancer

Black, tar-like

  • Small intestine bleeding
  • Internal bleeding in the upper GI tract
  • Parasites (intestinal) infestation
  • Intestinal infection
  • Ulcer
  • Internal bleeding in upper GI tract
  • Polyps
  • Tumor(s)
  • Cancer

Speckled (white or tan)

  • Parasites
  • Tapeworms
  • Roundworms

Food particles

  • Consuming food that cannot be digested
  • Feeding foods that are not species-appropriate

Foreign objects or particles

  • Swallowed pieces of a toy
  • Swallowed chewed-up sticks, whole pebbles, stones, etc.
  • Pica

ODOR

As strange as this may sound, the odor of your dog’s stools can indicate a very serious health condition. Now, I am not suggesting you smell your dog’s bowel movements because in the case of smelly dog poop, you do not need to be too close to get an unpleasant whiff. You will know immediately as soon as the poop hits the air. “Ode de poo-poo” will fill your surroundings with its malodorous fragrance. What can these potent stink-bombs indicate?

  • Malabsorption (very common!)
  • Food sensitivities or allergies
  • Consumption of a non-edible
  • Intestinal inflammation
  • Worms
  • Parasites
  • Bacterial infection
  • Viral infection
  • Colitis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer

And the not-so-obvious

  • Kidney disease
  • Heartworm
  • Gallbladder condition
  • Pancreatic condition
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid disease

Daily examinations are a necessary part of health maintenance. While these concerns and conditions cannot be verbally expressed, the above signs or symptoms are the blaring alarm that something is amiss. The burden is left to us. Occasional changes in poop is normal and is rarely ever a need for concern. However, if stool changes have not cleared up in a day or two or is consistently abnormal, it’s time to seek professional health care advice, support, testing, and intervention. In the case of a virus, such as Parvo, or a bacterial infection, time is of the essence. If you suspect your dog may have a health concern, call your holistic veterinarian immediately to schedule an appointment. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP. Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionst


The Importance of Species-appropriate Foods for the Cultivation of Optimal Health

Energy is Everything! Your Dog’s Life Depends On It

When it comes to fueling our canines’ bodies, there has to be the consideration of which foods are species-appropriate and which are not. Our dogs have very specific energy needs and nutrient requirements that must be supplied by the diet. This requires careful thought and planning. Energy and nutrients cannot come from just any food. The foods must be digestible, void of anti-nutrients that a dog cannot counter or neutralize, and have the correct cells and molecules that a dog’s digestive capabilities are designed to effortlessly and adequately breakdown to unlock potential energy and the nutritional components that are vital to health and life. These foods are what are known as species-appropriate. There are no other foods that need to be or should be added to the canine diet. Let’s discuss why that is imperative if your goal is to cultivate optimal health. Optimal health can only be realized with ideal nerve energy and peak cellular function.

Every biological organism and living being requires food. Food supplies the energy needed for metabolism. Quantum physics has shown us that energy is everything, everything is energy. Our dogs, like us, are energy beings. Energy, therefore, is first and foremost the most crucial factor in nourishing and sustaining the body. Physiological processes cannot be adequately maintained without the consistent supply of energy nourishment replete within species-appropriate foods. When food is not supplied, the body will utilize all stored potential energy located within the muscles and liver for basic metabolic functions and physical work (movement). This first fuel source is glycogen (in carnivores, amino acids are turned into a fuel source via a process known as gluconeogenesis). When glycogen is exhausted, the body then turns to stored body fat, a stored energy source. Fat is utilized by being converted into ketone bodies which are then burned as fuel. When fat stores deplete, the body will cannibalize itself to create an energy source by breaking down muscle and organ tissue to release amino acids that are then burned as fuel (again, via gluconeogenesis). Thus, potential energy is primary in maintaining metabolism and thus sustaining life. Potential energy must be supplied via adequate food intake for physiological processes to be optimal for the cultivation and maintenance of health. Any shortage of potential energy from food will result in the body drawing upon its own reserves. (Note, obese animals must be allowed to draw on stored body reserves for fuel in order to drop to an ideal body fat percentage; however, food intake must still be supplied to prevent malnourishment and fatigue.)

It is thus clear that energy is the foundation for everything to exist. Food for both our dogs and us revolves around energy. While food is also the vehicle for vital nutrients, it is the energy that fuels metabolism and bodily processes that allow for the breakdown and release of the nutrients that are necessary for further physiological function, maintenance, and repair. For optimal health to be realized and maintained, energy cannot be in short supply. And yet this is just what we are seeing in the modern canine as too many dogs are clearly suffering the ill effects. Understanding energy in the correct context is first necessary.

It is essential to recognize body energy in its two forms,

  1. potential energy that is produced within the mitochondria (cellular organelles where the biochemical processes of respiration and energy production occur), and
  2. nerve energy for the functioning powers of the body.

Food provides potential energy that is converted and burned (consumed) as fuel. Nerves control every part of the body including muscular action, digestion, functions of the organs, circulation, and emotions. The nerves are the grand conductors of motive power and sensory impulses. Having adequate energy for both metabolism and vital nerve function is the only way to ensure optimal health and vitality.

The holistic approach to nutrition looks for all possible sources of unnecessary energy expenditure (energy waste), most notably as a result of the diet, but also in every facet of dynamic life. The body will divert vital energy to the elimination of excessive toxin build-up (from both metabolic function and exposure via diet and environment) and to areas that require repair to damaged tissues caused by inappropriate, adulterated, and contaminated foods, excessive stress, chemical exposures, environment, and so forth. By removing these energy wasting sources, energy will be freed to allow for peak motive power available to the maintenance of optimal health, and most importantly, in crises when health is threatened by illness, injury, or trauma. This is the single most important detail for multiplying the likelihood for longevity.

Freeing-up your dog’s essential nerve energy is achieved by,

  1. providing a fresh raw species-appropriate diet (unadulterated and non-GMO) that is easily digestible, nutrient balanced (achieved by offering a variety of differing meals), and free from chemicals and naturally-occurring toxins and anti-nutrients,
  2. providing pure water that has been filtered via reverse osmosis,
  3. eliminating harmful chemical, toxin and stress exposure, and
  4. providing your dog with a safe environment complete with daily exercise in the fresh air and sunlight.

Let’s look at this another way. Excessive toxin build-up and tissue damage occur as a result of:

  • inappropriate, processed, adulterated, contaminated, nutrient-deficient, nutrient-toxic, and anti-nutrient rich diets
  • contaminated water consumption, especially tap water which contains fluoride, chlorine, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, farming chemicals, flocculants, spores, cysts, and parasites
  • environmental stress and chemical exposure
  • physical stress and over-demand
  • lack of exercise
  • polluted indoor and outdoor air, lack of fresh clean air
  • mental stress, anxiety, confinement, loneliness, and depression (YES, animals get depressed!)
  • over-vaccination and the use of flea, tick, and heartworm chemicals and preventatives
  • pharmaceutical drugs
  • parasite infestation

In light of the above, it is not difficult to understand why providing only quality species-appropriate foods is vital to the adequate supply of potential metabolic energy and to assuring that ample nerve energy is available for all bodily functions and in the event of crisis. Because what you put into your dog’s body by way of food choices is so vitally important, I want to again stress what is not species-appropriate for a canine. Anything other than species-appropriate foods lead to motive energy shortage which may mean the deterioration of health and a decreased chance for longevity.

Foods that put a direct damper on overall energy output and nerve conduction are:

  • processed commercial foods full of adulterated proteins, rendered fats, contaminants, and synthetic and inorganic nutrient isolates
  • moisture-deficient dry kibble
  • diets high in carbohydrates and insoluble fibers (dogs have absolutely no need for either of these)
  • grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds (seeds may have some value if ground into a powder and if anti-nutrients are strategically counteracted)
  • plant fats and diets high in plant-based proteins (especially legume and pea protein) or vegetarian diets
  • vegetables that are fibrous and stalky, oxalate and lectin-rich, and from the deadly-nightshade group
  • cooked proteins, fats, and carbohydrates
  • raw fish containing heavy metal contaminants (as well as thiaminase)
  • high sugar fruits and fruit fed in meals with protein. Protein needs an acid bath. When proteins are consumed alongside fruit, it can potentially turn fruit into an alcohol ferment creating a toxin that must be metabolized in the liver.

Any foods that create an unnecessary need for increased energy out-put reduces over-all available energy needed for the optimal functioning of organs, systems, and immunity and daily maintenance, repair, and toxin elimination from metabolic processes and stress. Species-inappropriate and contaminated foods create an undue need for toxin removal, cause or create an inflammatory response, create an increase in pancreatic enzyme out-put (grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds) and pancreatic hormone out-put (insulin in the presence of carbohydrates and sugars), tax and overburden the liver, dehydrate the cells, block or disrupt nutrient absorption via anti-nutrients (phytates, lectins, oxalates, thiaminase, insoluble fiber), create digestive difficulty and reduced nutrient assimilation, and are cause for indigestion, gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, increased mucous production, and the potential for bloat.

Energy is essential. In reality, it is everything. When energy is optimal, functioning is optimal. When we provide our dogs with species-appropriate foods that are easy to digest, nutrient uptake is also optimal and energy is abundant and reserved rather than wasted. Feeding your dog food that is inappropriate for convenience, simplicity, or for the mere reason that it contains a nutrient molecule that your dog requires is ineffective and futile. If energy and nutrients cannot be unlocked or assimilated and it further inhibits the absorption of other vital nutrients, where is the value? The truth is, there is no value. Let’s consider some examples.

Species-appropriate foods can only be of value to those species that are specifically designed to unlock the vital potential energy and nutrients within those foods. Grass contains a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Does this mean that grass is a suitable source of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids for a dog? Obviously no, and I am quite sure most of us know what happens when dogs eat grass. And yet grass is a vitally important food for grazing ungulates. Grass is species-appropriate food for cattle, horses, deer, and buffalo that are able to create massive bodies with rippling muscles and strong bones from grasses. Consider grains. Grains contain very few nutrients, but are rich in anti-predation chemicals and toxins that are counter-productive to health. Do grains contain any useable nutrients for carnivores such as canines? In their raw natural state they are deadly. The only known species created for grain consumption are birds which have the correct digestive capacity to counter the anti-nutrients and natural toxins while also breaking down the tough cell walls in their gizzard. Since dogs, like ALL other animals, are designed to consume their food in a raw state, grains are not, therefore, species-appropriate. But what if grains were allowed to ferment or sprout, were subjected to milling, cooking, and more cooking? Would these be appropriate even then? According to the National Research Counsil (NRC) as recorded in their massive research compilation Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, the holy grail of canine nutrition research, “there appears to be no requirement for digestible carbohydrate in dogs provided enough protein is given to supply the precursors for glucogenesis.”

Despite these above facts, man feels the need to offer their beloved canines these inappropriate foods, including feeding foods that are cooked. No other animal, besides man, consumes cooked foods. Dr. Francis M. Pottinger’s cat study [1, 2] speaks volumes as to this massive error made by man. Dogs are not people…period. (Sometimes our dogs may feel like our children, but they are not our species!) The results of this error is clearly realized by the chronic ailments afflicting the modern dog, ailments they share with their human companions. Diabetes, joint destruction and arthritis, obesity, heart disease, macular degeneration, cancer and more are common among nearly every breed. Coincidence? Hardly.

What are species-appropriate foods for your dog? Whole raw prey or fresh raw meat, raw meaty bones, organs, offal, and very little, if any, plant material. Providing your beloved canine with a diet that is perfectly suited for their anatomy and physiology is the first step in providing nourishment that effectively and almost effortlessly delivers the vital potential energy and thereby the vital nutrients that are perfectly intended to flawlessly sustain life and, above all else, cultivate the coveted optimal health and longevity that we likely all desire for our beloved pets. Energy is everything…and not to be squandered and wasted.

©2019 Kimberly Lloyd, PhD, BCHHP, Cert Raw Dog Food Nutritionist

[1] https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/nutrition-greats/francis-m-pottenger-md/

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Pottengers-Cats-Francis-Marion-Pottenger/dp/0916764060/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=Q4TXFN7EUE4T&keywords=dr+pottinger+cat+study&qid=1551383777&s=gateway&sprefix=Dr+pottinger%2Caps%2C146&sr=8-1-fkmrnull