Can You Really Detox Your Dog?

Detoxification is not only NOT a myth, it is essential to health!

Several years ago, The Guardian published an article entitled “You Can’t Detox Your Body. It’s a Myth. So How Do You Get Healthy?[1]” The article, unfortunately, grossly misrepresented the physiological process of detoxification and the strategies that can be taken to improve and support the natural detox pathways. The truth is we and our dogs have a dependency on specific nurturing foods and holistic “medicinals” in order for these processes to run smoothly. Without specific foods and nutrients to support health and the body’s natural detoxification functions, toxic accumulation results and health fails as has been shown in numerous studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and numerous other organizations and laboratories. It is a disservice that this misleading and slanted article caused many individuals (especially those who were already biased against natural health care strategies) to use this information in opposition to utilizing detoxification strategies as well as for many others to fall for the false notion that detoxification is a myth and a hoax.

The fact of the matter is, no matter how “clean” you may live your life and what proactive measures you take to protect your dog, nearly every human being and animal shows some evidence of toxic build-up. This is a result of the tens of thousands of chemicals found in our environment. Currently it is estimated that there are more than 85,000 chemicals surrounding our lives while a sickening 90% of these have never been tested for public safety. According to the CDC’s last national report on human exposure to environmental chemicals, over two hundred chemical compounds were measured in the blood and urine of the individuals who take part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). According to the report, “In the majority of individuals tested, acrylamides, cotinine, trihalomethanes, bisphenol A, phthalates, chlorinated pesticides, triclosan, organophosphate pesticides, pyrethroids, heavy metals, aromatic hydrocarbons, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, benzophenone from sunblock, perfluorocarbons from non-stick coatings, and a host of polychlorinated biphenyls and solvents were found. [2]” The CDC has proven that toxins can accumulate in the body within the blood, urine, and tissues. Latest studies have shown that up to three hundred chemicals are already present in the body of newborn infants as well as in human breast milk.

What does this mean for our dogs that are walking closest to the earth and household floors, digging in soils, licking and chewing on filthy treasures they find on the ground or in the trash, and spending long hours indoors breathing polluted indoor air? And we cannot leave out the very serious concern for the majority of dogs who are consuming dried processed commercial dog food often made from 3D/4D meats, meat by-products, GMO ingredients, preservatives, and unhealthful fillers along with a cocktail of heterocyclic amines from the cooking processes, other carcinogens, molds, impurities, synthetic nutrients, and more.

Our dogs have much smaller organs through which to eliminate the same toxic exposure when compared with ours. A dog’s smaller (and sometimes tiny) organs will have to work more diligently to remove toxins. And having a much shorter life span, toxins cannot be eliminated gradually as they are in humans, thus many dogs succumb to illness and chronic disease at an early age. What is worse, our dogs cannot verbalize when they are feeling ill or when exposure to their food, tap water, lawn chemicals, cleaning supplies, veterinary preventatives and vaccines, for example, make them feel sick or cause irritation.

If your dog’s body becomes overwhelmed with the toxin load, elimination is not possible and their bodies will store the toxins until the detoxification processes are able to remove these stored toxins along with the new toxins being introduced daily. And as you can probably guess, many dogs will never have an opportunity or ability to eliminate stored toxins at a later date. Indefinite toxin accumulation is a very real and serious concern for too many dogs. Toxin accumulation creates cellular inflammation resulting in cellular abnormalities. This generally leads to growths and tumors which can end ultimately in cellular damage and cancer.

Is it, therefore, realistically possible to detoxify your dog’s body (and yours, for that matter)? You bet it is! Your dog has several pathways through which to remove toxins. These pathways are the liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, respiratory system (lungs), bowels, and even the skin if the toxin load is high. If we are to focus on the main organ responsible for detoxification it would be the liver.

The liver has more than five hundred functions which includes the body’s primary role of detoxification. To detoxify the body, the liver filters the blood, neutralizes toxins, breaks the toxins into smaller particles, and then conjugates them for removal via the bile, urine, and feces. A healthy body would have standard metabolic waste from normal cellular function, old red blood cells and unhealthy or damaged cells, and microorganism such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites that would be easily removed via the liver’s detoxification processes. However, in a world abundant in toxic chemicals, many of which are lethal, the liver of the modern canine (and human) now has to perform far more detoxification work to prevent the body from succumbing to damage from chemical exposure. Your dog has not only the above metabolic waste to contend with, but also an environment abundant in poisons and chemicals, heavy metals, toxins in the water supply, all xenobiotic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, veterinary preventative chemicals and vaccines, polluted indoor air, and the list goes on.

Since the CDC and many other research studies have already proven that toxins accumulate in the body tissues, then we can easily conclude that the liver is not capable of detoxing without a consistent nutrient-dense species-appropriate diet along with additional support from foods and supplements; foods and supplements that have been proven to help remove toxins from the body tissues.

To put it bluntly, your dog’s liver and remaining body systems cannot function to their full potential if, firstly, excessive toxin exposure is not halted immediately, and secondly, if an abundance of required nutrients and building blocks along with specifically chosen foods and supplements are not provided daily. If your dog is getting “just enough” nutrients, especially from an already poor diet, his/her liver will never be able to adequately remove the hundreds, if not thousands, of chemicals they are exposed to daily. Disease will be the end result. What does the liver require on a daily basis?

The liver has a two phase detoxification process. After filtering the blood to remove the larger toxins, what follows is two phases that break down, neutralize, and eliminate the chemicals. Phase one is an oxidation process while phase two is conjugation. In phase one, the liver alters the toxins to form activated intermediates. The activated intermediates then enter into phase two where they are neutralized and converted into safer chemicals through oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis reactions. Phase one requires B vitamins (especially methylfolate), vitamins A, C, and E, glutathione, phospholipids, and specific amino acids. The second phase requires amino acids, sulfur, B vitamins, choline, fatty oils from fish, glutathione, and limonene. If your dog has a lack of any of these nutrients, liver function will not be optimal. If liver function is not optimal, toxins cannot be converted and removed, thus toxins will be deposited into the fatty areas of the body. When this occurs, your dog has become toxic and symptoms will manifest. One of the first and most overlooked signs of toxin accumulation is sluggishness and weight gain with the inability to lose body fat.

What can be done to support liver function? Simply put, a carefully planned out and implemented detoxification strategy that is followed and carried out on a regular basis. The number of studies that have conclusively shown that certain foods and supplements aid liver and tissue detoxification are in the hundreds. To believe that specifically chosen foods and supplements cannot assist in detoxifying the body is to deliberately turn a blind eye to the myriad of studies proving otherwise. Just as you cannot build a house without the specific and correct building materials required to construct a strong and solid building, nor can you maintain the integrity and beauty of that house in the years to come without the essential needed materials, you also cannot create and cultivate optimal health without the specific and specialized materials needed for each and every function of the body right down to each cellular organelle.

Because detoxification is so specific to each dog’s needs, history, and current health condition, I highly recommend contacting The Holistic Canine for a custom detoxification strategy plan.

In closure, I have included a mere two foods/supplements that will show without a shadow of a doubt that specific foods and supplements do offer tremendous detoxification support and assistance. Enjoy!

Example #1: Cyanobacteria/Spirulina:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17294329

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18158240

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23578649

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20046167

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22504531

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23555627

Example #2: Milk Thistle/Silymarin:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20564545 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21466434

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24672644 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31727359

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

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/detox-myth-health-diet-science-ignorance

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20806995


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


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


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


Nutrient Balance

What a Balanced Diet Truly Means for Your Canine

I believe the single most important piece of nutritional information that all pet parents must understand is the proper meaning of the word balanced. And this goes for us humans as well. Providing your dog with a balanced diet should be correctly understood as offering a varied diet from the wide array of nutrient saturated, highly digestible, species-appropriate, whole foods that are essential, high value, and cultivate optimal health in order to receive required nutrients in proportions that will allow for optimal absorption. When focus goes toward individual nutrients, problems begin to arise.

Foods are more than simply sources of protein, fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. Foods, whether from an animal or plant, are complex molecular structures (cellular) that were once living organisms. These structures contain networks of components that once functioned as a whole unit. Food possesses potential energy that originates in the sun, and in a complex and miraculous process, inorganic minerals from the earth are taken up by plants and together with the energy from the sun, water, and gases, are converted by the plant into biological organic matter. Animals and people consume the plants, and carnivores consume the herbivorous animals; thus all receive what began with plants and originated in the sun and earth. Just like the plants, in an intricately complex process, biologically-appropriate foods become one with the consumer leaving behind very little waste. What was once life gives life; life begets and sustains life. It is an undeniable intimate relationship.

Life is complex. Thus it comes as no surprise that nutrition is no different. The scientific focus on individual nutrients has helped us to understand the function and purpose of each amino acid, saccharide, fatty acid, vitamin, mineral, and so many others. And with that understanding came the awareness that nutrients function either synergistically or antagonistically. Thus, it is not enough to simply learn or recognize the value and necessity of each life-sustaining nutritional requirement on their individual basis. Nutrients function inter-relationally and are never found individually. Rather, nutrients exist among numerous others in a complex unit of various vitamins, minerals, enzymes, cofactors, and other factors within food. Publicized studies on individual nutrients create difficulties causing many misunderstandings and confusion. Learning about a specific nutrient’s function and benefit is the reason why people flock to bottled supplements. This drives the supplement industry to mass produce bottled nutrients. Sadly, most bottled nutrients are laboratory produced synthetic and inorganic pseudo-nutrient isolates. Individuals and pet parents purchase nutritional supplements believing that these bottled “insurance policies” are boosting their own and their pet’s nutritional needs. And heck, if a little is good, more is better, right? Wrong. And this is a WRONG in a big way. Synergy and antagonism are the reasons why picking and choosing nutrients on an individual basis creates problems. Some of which can be fatal.

Nutrients require careful balance that only a variety of food choices can provide. The bodies of all humans and animals receive their nutritional requirements through the digestive process. Foods contain a complex of nutrients that differ even among the same foods. This is a result of where and how plants were grown and their soil and weather conditions during the growing season, and for feed animals, what the animals were fed and how and where they were raised. These are all determining factors for nutrient levels, composition, and saturation or deficiency. For omnivorous humans, it is far easier to consume a wide range of foods (often times an enormous range of food types) than it is for our animals who are under our direct care. The pets that are stuck eating the same commercial food over a lifetime is the reason why the vast majority have numerous health complaints throughout their entire life. These complaints can range from seemingly minor issues such as doggie odor, gum disease, dry flakey skin, troublesome chronic ear infections, and physical signs of premature aging to the more serious conditions such as hair loss, allergies, chronic intestinal issues, severe infections, tooth loss, ligament and joint destruction, chronic disease, and cancer. Consuming the same food with the same ingredients, sourced from often the same place, with the same nutrient profile, with the same formulation of synthetic nutrient isolates and inorganic mineral compounds is the direct cause for the vast health conditions we are seeing in the modern canine. Many of these conditions are resultant of deficiencies and toxicities. Just because a food hypothetically meets all the scientifically determined nutrient requirements, it does not mean the consistent consumption of the same food with the same nutrient profile is going to be sufficient. Here is why.

Nutrient absorption occurs mostly in the small intestine and, to a smaller extent, the large intestine where water, sodium, and potassium are absorbed. The small intestine is comprised of three sections, the duodenum, jejunun, and ileum. Most of the nutrients are absorbed in the duodenum and jejunum. It all sounds very straight forward, but that is not the reality of what happens on the physiological level. There are very specific nutrient interrelationships that must be considered if all required nutrients are to be adequately absorbed. There must be a homeostatic equilibrium among and between the nutrients. This is most easily achieved by varying the diet which in turns varies the nutrient profiles. If nutrient equilibrium is lost, adverse effects occur upon health. Balance is vital! A loss of nutrient balance leads to subclinical deficiencies followed by illness and disease, and worst case scenario, death.    

Through hair tissue mineral analysis (which I offer through The Holistic Canine), mineral interrelationship understanding has advanced. It is understood that a mineral cannot be affected without also affecting two or more other minerals, and further, each of which will then affect two others. One mineral will affect another mineral, but how much of an effect is dependent upon mineral quantity and the number of enzymes or biochemical reactions in which the mineral is involved. Not so simple, is it? And this is why providing a stagnant diet to your dog is ineffective at creating overall nutrient saturation within their body tissues.

Two relationships exist among nutrients, and as already expressed above, these are synergy and antagonism. The biggest concern is the trace minerals. These include iron, cobalt, chromium, copper, iodine, manganese, selenium, zinc, and molybdenum. Inhibited absorption of a trace mineral is due to an excess intake of a single mineral. One example was the craze over zinc. Many people jumped on the supplemental zinc bandwagon more than a decade ago and a host of problems resulted. For one, copper deficiency occurred. This is due to zinc depressing intestinal copper absorption. Many others were experiencing mild zinc toxicity symptoms. High intake of one trace mineral decreases the intestinal absorption of another mineral. And this is not simply among the trace minerals. For example, a high intake of calcium blocks intestinal absorption of zinc. So even among macro minerals, consuming high doses of any mineral creates disrupt in balance. Further complications then follow at the metabolic level. Antagonism is experienced with an excess of one element. The excess interferes metabolically with the functions of another mineral. Even more, excesses contribute to disproportionate excretion of another mineral due to what is known as compartmental displacement. This occurs with zinc and copper, iron and copper, cadmium and zinc, and calcium, magnesium and phosphorus [1].

Antagonism also exists among the vitamins. Vitamins A and D are naturally antagonistic while thiamine (B1) often creates an antagonistic action on cobalamin (B12). Some antagonism is indirect. One such example is iron’s antagonism on cobalt which is a vital component in B12, thus adversely affecting B12.[2] If this is not complicated enough; hormones have an influence on nutrient absorption, excretion, transport, and storage. And conversely, nutrients have an influence on hormones. Thus it can be easily understood why homeostasis is vital for optimal nutrient absorption and the cultivation of optimal health. In terms of our dogs, what, then, is the best approach to nutrition? Variety.

Offering your dog a variety of species-appropriate foods that are nutrient saturated and rotated regularly in differing combinations and quantities offers the best approach to optimizing nutrient absorption. One of the reasons I never recommend creating or purchasing a single raw dog food recipe is due to the antagonistic relationship among nutrients, notably the trace minerals which often come up deficient in audited homemade meals. The same foods in the same combination and amounts day in and day out will in time create deficiencies. And if a pet parent has decided to include supplements in the same dosages with every meal, both deficiencies and toxicities are likely.

Another difficulty that creates antagonism is offering foods that are not species-appropriate. Many foods contain anti-nutrients to species that have not adapted physiological processes to counteract the antagonists. Anti-nutrients are mineral and enzyme antagonists such as oxalates, phytates, lectins, and enzyme-inhibitors. Offering your dog anti-nutrient-containing foods coupled with a diet that is not rotated regularly is a surefire way to initiate deficiency pathologies leading to chronic conditions and disease, organ damage, joint deterioration, heart conditions, and cancer.

Below is an example of a mere few nutrient antagonism:

  • Vitamin A + Vitamin D + Vitamin E
  • Zinc + Copper + Manganese + Iron
  • Calcium + Iron
  • Calcium + Zinc
  • Calcium + Vitamin E + Vitamin A + Potassium
  • Vitamin C + Copper
  • Vitamin D + Magnesium + Potassium

Below is an example a nutrient synergy:

  • Vitamin D + Calcium + Vitamin K + Boron
  • Iron + Vitamin C
  • Fat + Vitamin A, D, E, & K
  • Vitamin B6 + vitamin B12 + folate
  • Vitamin C + Vitamin E
  • Potassium + Magnesium + Calcium

Creating and providing meals with synergy is vital, but it is also necessary to know when antagonism may be beneficial. For example, many raw feeding pet parents are offering Vitamin A-rich liver on a daily basis. This can cause Vitamin D levels to suffer. To create balance, providing a Vitamin D-rich meal in rotation while significantly reducing or eliminating liver will give Vitamin D levels a chance to rise. Feeding copper-rich beef liver with inadequate zinc levels will eventually lead to a zinc deficiency; thus providing a zinc-rich meal with a lower copper meal aids zinc absorption. Adding Vitamin C-rich foods or a food-source Vitamin C supplement assists the absorption of iron and is also beneficial with meals too rich in copper. Conversely, antagonism helps to prevent hypervitaminosis if a balance exists between antagonistic vitamins and minerals. Likewise, mineral antagonism also helps to prevent mineral toxicity.

While this may sound bewildering or even frustrating, I want to assure you that there is a straightforward solution. True balance can only be attained by varying meal ingredients, food combinations, and quantities of ingredients. This is why The Holistic Canine creates at least three recipes for our clients, especially for growing puppies who require precise nutrients daily. If you have a spreadsheet calculator, pay close attention to antagonistic nutrients and vary your amounts over several meals. Many raw feeding proponents teach and advocate balance over time, and in fact, they are quite correct. This is because balance is factually achieved over time. Nutrient balance is achieved in biological perfection over several meals. For dogs who consume one meal a day, this is achieved over several days. For dogs consuming two meals, this can be perfected in two days. No matter how perfectly balanced you believe a single meal to be, understand there will always be antagonism.

Welcome to orthomolecular nutrition!

Knowing how and when to supplement for optimal nutrient absorption is for another post. Stay tuned!     

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

[1] Davies I: The Clinical Significance of the Essential Biological Metals. M.B. London, 1921.

[2] Forth W, Rummel W: Absorption of Iron and Chemically Related Metals in vitro and in vivo: Specificity of Iron Binding System in the Mucosa of the Jejunum. Intestinal Absorption of Metal Ions, Trace Elements and Radionuclides. Skoryna SC, Waldron-Edward D., Eds. Pergamon Press, N.Y., 1971.