Friday, April 23, 2010

Optimal Health for Pets

Understanding the healthy diet for carnivorous pets is quite simple, if you begin with an open mind.  Cats and dogs evolved to eat whole prey.  Whole prey for cats consists of small animals, such as bird and rodents.  Whole prey for dogs consists of larger animals, such as chickens, rabbits, goats, deer, and sheep. If fed whole prey, cats and dogs eat either the whole animal, including feathers or fur and guts, or most of the animal, except the hard, inedible bones and hide. By eating whole prey, carnivores get a variety of meats and meaty bones, including all the minerals and vitamins they need to be healthy.

If  owners cannot conveniently feed whole prey, and most cannot, they need to approximate whole prey in their pets' diets.  Approximating whole prey is pretty easy with a raw-meaty-bones diet.

Randy Wysong, DVM, began his company, Wysong, more than 30 years ago.  His Optimal Health for Pets program recommends feeding whole prey or a variety of raw meats and meaty bones as the best nutrition for pets.  Although his company sells tons of junk food each month, because that's what pet owners buy, his dietary recommendations are contrary to his company's business practices..  Ethical considerations aside, his Optimal Health hierarchy for pets makes a lot of sense.
Best diet: Hunted, whole prey
 Second best: Raw meats and meaty bones, with minor amounts of vegetables and nuts (preferably organic)
Third best: Dehydrated raw meats (such as,Wysong Archetype), with the addition of fresh raw meats and raw meaty bones.
Fourth best: Dehydrated raw meats with added cooked fresh foods or leftovers
Fifth best: Wysong or other premium kibbles and canned mush (junk food) with added  fresh raw meats and meaty bones
Sixth best: Junk pet foods with added cooked fresh foods or leftovers
Seventh best: Commercial kibbles or canned pet foods alone
Eight best: No food at all.
Please note that feeding what most veterinarians recommend -- a monotonous diet of commercial kibbles and canned mush alone -- Dr. Wysong rates nearly as bad for pets as starvation.  It's just a slower death.

Understanding what pets need to be healthy is quite simple:  RAW meats and meaty bones, not cooked foods and not commercial pet foods.  Feeding the same junk pet foods -- kibbles and canned mush -- monotonously is a sure route to pets' chronic diseases and early deaths. 

Dr. Wysong does recommend and sell a number of diet supplements that can alleviate some nutritional problems caused by feeding pets inferior diets.  No dietary supplement, however, will keep pets' teeth clean, gums healthy, and prevent chronic diseases caused by periodontal infections. 

When I have a litter 3 to 6 weeks old puppies, before they can chew bones effectively, I add Wysong Call of the Wild to their meats to make sure they get enough minerals and vitamins. Wysong makes excellent supplements from organic and natural sources.  After 6 weeks of age, when puppies can chew up chicken thighs and drumsticks and gnaw on meaty beef bones, they don't need supplements.  The RMB diet, and their mother's continued nursing, supply all the nutrients they need.

Wysong promotes its series of essays, "100 Truths about Pet Foods ", that help pet owners understand what pets need and how wrong is the advice they hear from veterinarians and pet-food companies.  For pet owners who are new to the idea of raw-meaty-bones, these essays are worth reading.

Feeding carnivorous pets an excellent diet is really quite simple, once you understand what they evolved to eat (whole prey) and how you can supply the elements of whole prey in a diet of varied raw meats and meaty bones.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Poodle Expert Recommends Raw-Meaty-Bones!

Recently, I decided to expand my kennel to include a breed that should be more popular in Hawaii -- standard Poodles.  When a member of the Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op brought her black standard Poodle to my farm, I was reminded of how lovely these dogs are and how seldom I see them in Kona.  So, I began to look at standard Poodle web sites, looked for breeders in Hawaii (none), and migrated to my favorite canine web site, Dogzonline, the Australian online marketplace for purebred dogs (it also lists NZ dogs).

For dog lovers in Hawaii, where we have no rabies, importing dogs from the mainland US is a torturous process of quarantine, immunization, and testing that requires 9 to 10 months.  Puppies cannot be imported from the mainland (or anywhere else in the world, except the UK and Guam) until they are nearly a year old.  Australia and New Zealand, however, are also rabies-free, so puppies can come directly into Hawaii at 2- to 3-months of age, without quarantine.

Australia has many dog breeders, and pets are a major export.  Unfortunately, Australia has puppy mills that supply US pet shops with questionably bred puppies that received poor early socialization, many of whom end up in shelters.  Fortunately, Australia also has very fine, reputable breeders, who raise world-class dogs and who are quite picky about who buys their puppies.  Dogzonline screens its breeders carefully, requires them to be members in good standing with their regional kennel clubs, and to adhere to a code of ethics that excludes puppy mills.

After searching Dogzonline for several weeks and contacting half-a-dozen standard Poodle breeders, I found Stuartlea Poodles in Victoria, which breeds gorgeous red standards.  Minna agreed to send me two puppies, a boy and a girl.  By the way, most Poodle breeders will not sell puppies to someone who breeds Labrador retrievers, because they fear cross-breeding (Labradoodles).  My quest for Poodle puppies was more difficult than most people would encounter.

My two babies, Teddy (left) and Ruby (right), arrived two weeks ago.  They are sweet, smart, funny, loving puppies, and I am thrilled with them.

 
With Poodle puppies coming, naturally I needed to read more about care and rearing, so I went to my favorite books web site, Amazon.com, to search for books on standard Poodles.  There are fewer books than I imagined about standard Poodles, a fraction of the number of books on Labrador retrievers.  After reading reviews and contents, I selected a few, notably one that reviewers said is the "bible" of standard Poodles -- Eileen Geeson, The Complete Standard Poodle, NY: Howell House, 1998.  1998?  That's an old book.  I ordered it anyway.

As soon as my Complete Standard Poodle arrived, I dove in.  The author has bred, shown, and judged standard Poodles in the UK for three decades (by 1998).  She is recognized as the leading British authority on the breed.  To my total astonishment, she feeds her champion Poodles, and recommends you feed your Poodle, the RAW-MEATY-BONES diet! 
There is no doubt that dogs like a variety of foods.  Being natural carnivores they love the internal organs of other animals such as beef (usually complete with well-chewed grass and vegetables), their meat, bones. everything.  As natural scavengers they eat anything from scraps to the compost heap.  Dogs descended from wolves and still carry their natural instincts.  These instincts are often depressed by an owner who refuses to accept their dog is a dog.  I have had Poodles come to stay with me who will not so much as look at a raw meaty bone while there is a human in sight, yet leave the dog alone with the bone and you will soon hear it crunching with great passion.
In addition to RMB, she says table scraps and cooked veggies are good supplements to the diet.  Tom Lonsdale (author of Raw Meaty Bones) could have written Ms. Geeson's feeding recommendations.  I would love to know if she read Dr. Lonsdale's earlier writings; his major book was not published until 2001.  The book has no index and acknowledges only a few Poodle experts and photographers.  Perhaps, Ms. Geeson is simply a sensible dog expert, who recognizes their wolf origins and the dietary needs of carnivorous pets.

My Poodle babies adore raw-meaty-bones.  In fact, they spend a lot of time gnawing on each bone to get every last scrap of meat -- more time than my more "casual" Lab puppies, who rush on to the next bone before finishing the first.  Poodle puppies are tidier than Labs, less likely to strew their food over a wide area or leave morsels behind.  Regardless of how they approach RMB, all the puppies get lots of minerals and clean teeth from their hours of gnawing on meaty bones.

I am happy to follow Ms. Geeson's advice to feed my Poodles RMB.  I wonder how many other standard Poodle owners have similarly followed her advice.  She is the leading Poodle expert in the UK ....  

As my puppies mature, they will be joined by other standard Poodles to form a breeding program.  My friend
and Poodle collaborator, Joslyn, is importing a brown (we prefer to say, chocolate) female from a Montana kennel, who will join us in August after all the Hawaii quarantine requirements are met.  I am still looking for more red and chocolate Poodles in rabies-free areas.  Our newly launched web site, Kona Poodles, will keep you abreast of developments.  

While we raise Poodle puppies to maturity, we plan to try a litter of Labradoodles with a black Labrador retriever female Joslyn owns, mated by AI to a red standard Poodle from the same Montana kennel that is sending us the chocolate girl.  We shall see how we like F1 Labradoodles.  They are much in demand.  The only one I know is a gorgeous honey-colored, large boy with a delightful personality.  He was bred as a service dog for a Kona Raw member's paraplegic husband.  Unfortunately, the husband died, but the dog became the wife's best friend and companion.  Oliver thrives on raw-meaty-bones, which may explain his happy disposition.

Regardless of breed or species, all carnivores on my farm eat raw-meaty-bones.  It was delightful to find the UK's leading Poodle expert recommending the same.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to Celebrate National Pet Month.

Every year, April is National Pet Month.  Promoting pet ownership is very big business.  Every vendor of pet toys, clothing, leashes, crates, flea medications, treats, and, of course, pet foods welcomes attention to how owners can spend money on pets.  Most owners' expenditures to celebrate Pet Month probably do not enhance pets' lives or well-being.

Tom Lonsdale, DVM laments that too many pet owners view their cats and dogs as furry toys. Furry toys do not have needs; they are inanimate baubles that serve only to amuse their owners.  Dogs and cats are very animate species, whose specific needs must be met or their health suffers.  Dressing pets in designer clothes may be silly, because cats and most dogs don't need clothes, but the practice is relatively harmless.  Feeding pets so-called gourmet treats that are nothing more than cooked, sugary starches is not harmless. They lead to obesity.  Feeding pets a diet of cooked, sugary starches day after day, year after year, is neglect and abuse.

The cruelty of feeding dogs and cats inappropriate diets is not featured in National Pet Month.  Rather, glossy advertisements on television and in magazines make cooked starches and canned mush appear to have fresh wholesome ingredients that nourish your pet better than real carnivore foods.  Promotions of ever more expensive kibbles, with ever more exotic ingredients, is the pet-food industry's response to consumers' growing mistrust of commercial pet foods.

Some common ingredients in pet foods, such as corn and wheat, have developed a reputation for causing allergies (as well they should).  Vets tell their clients to avoid pet foods based on corn and wheat.  So, manufacturers advertise that their pet foods DO NOT CONTAIN CORN OR WHEAT.  So did they put in more animal proteins and fats?  Of course not.  That would cost more and reduce their profits.  Instead of corn or wheat, the new formulation uses potatoes or tapioca or rice or sweet potatoes.  The product is still cooked, sugary starches that will sicken and eventually kill your pet. Manufacturers hope you don't know that these new ingredients are also starches that should not be ingredients in pet foods, ever.

Selling pet owners on the "benefits" of exotic pet-food ingredients, such as blueberry pulp, spirolina, and alfalfa sprouts, seems to work, because high-priced kibbles are the fastest growing segment of the highly profitable pet-food market. Pet owners don't know why watercress stems or some other exotic vegetable matter should benefit their pets, but manufacturers tell them these "new" ingredients enhance pets' nutrition, so they pay more to buy the new, "enhanced" junk food.

Manufacturers, such as Proctor & Gamble, Mars, Colgate-Palmolive, Heinz, and Del Monte, make trusted brands for human consumption.  These companies control the global, human and pet processed-food markets.  Consumers trust them to produce healthy macaroni & cheese, breakfast cereals, and spaghetti sauces for their families.  Pet owners have trusted these giant companies to promote their pets' health with Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba, Purina, and other well-known brands, but something is very wrong.  Pets have more illnesses and early deaths than anyone expects.  Health officials now tell us the same companies' human products make us obese, and more likely to suffer diabetes and heart disorders -- just like our pets.  Perhaps, consumer confidence in the benevolence of their human products will be shaken, as well.

When you see whole chickens and beef steaks pouring into a kibble bag in the Pet Month television ads, please know that these are not ingredients in the expensive pet food you buy.  If pet food labels were truthful, you would know that "chicken" is feathers, feet, and beaks, and "beef" is rendered waste.  When you are told that some new exotic ingredient replaces one that made pets sick, ask yourself why the new one will be better.  Can you trust global food manufacturers with your pet's health or your own health?

Let's celebrate National Pet Month with something that really benefits pets: An appropriate diet to keep them healthy throughout long lifetimes.  Carnivorous pets are not furry toys.  Cats and dogs are predators that feed on whole prey.  They need a raw-meaty-bones diet that approximates whole prey.  When shopping for groceries, pass by the processed food aisles for yourself and your pets.  Head straight to the meat coolers to buy fresh meats and meaty bones for your pets and your family.  Then go to the produce area to gather fresh fruits and vegetables for your human family.  These are the foods that will promote your pets' health and your own health, as well.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Getting the RMB Diet Right

A well-know aphorism is, "Variety is the spice of life."  In the case of food, variety is more than the spice of life, it's a lifeline to health. 

In our own diets, we include a variety of foods, from different "food groups", to make sure we get the wide range of nutrients our bodies need.  No need to include all nutrients everyday, we just vary our foods across a week or two.

The same aphorism applies to pets: A variety of raw meats and bones assures they get all the nutrients they need to grow and stay healthy.  Dogs' and cats' "food groups" are not the same as ours, however, because we are omnivores, who get essential proteins and fats from vegetables and grains, in addition to animal proteins and fats.  Dogs and cats are carnivores, who must get all or most nutrients from animal sources. 

Cats lack enzymes to digest vegetables and grains.  Cereals and vegetables (as in kibble and canned mush) poison their guts, causing digestive disorders and urinary tract stones.  Cats get all the nutrients they need from eating whole prey -- muscle meats, organ meats, and bones.

Dogs/wolves can digest some vegetable matter and derive nutritional benefits from partially digested grasses that cling to the guts of their herbivore prey.  They don't eat the contents of herbivores' stomachs and guts, just the partially digested matter that adheres to the surface.  Dogs benefit from organ meats such as green tripe that contain partially digested vegetable matter and from occasional family left-overs, such as cooked vegetables.

Pet carnivores cannot be healthy on muscle meat alone.  Muscle meat does not contain all essential nutrients, and it has too much phosphorous and too little calcium.  Pets must have edible bone for calcium and various organ meats for vitamins.  Pets cannot be healthy if they don't have bones to gnaw to keep their teeth clean.  Feeding minced mixtures of meats and bones omits Nature's toothbrush and makes pets vulnerable to periodontal disease and the chronic diseases that follow.

A complete diet for carnivorous pets includes items, such as green tripe, guts, and other parts of food animals that many pet owners would not willingly eat.  Many people have trouble feeding their pets foods they would not themselves eat.  Get over it!  Your pets are carnivores.  If you choose to keep a carnivorous pet, feed it an appropriate diet, which is NOT your omnivore diet or muscle meats alone.

A complete diet for dogs includes muscle meats, organ meats, and meaty bones, with occasional human left-overs. A complete diet for dogs does NOT include cooked grains, extruded from machines and sprayed with synthetic vitamins, manufactured minerals, preservatives, and animal fats to make the cereal appeal to carnivores (aka, kibble), or cooked mixtures of grains, meat byproducts, and vegetables, with added preservatives (aka, canned mush).

A complete diet for cats is simple:  Just the equivalent of small, whole prey (think birds and rodents): Meats and edible bones.  No leftovers or vegetable matter required or desired.  A complete diet for cats emphatically does NOT include dry, baked carbohydrates (aka, kibble), or cooked, canned mush.

When feeding carnivorous pets, the best image to keep in mind is WHOLE PREY.  That's what you are trying to approximate in your pet's diet.  You can't leave out the innards, such as liver and tripe, and provide a well-balanced diet.  Grit your teeth, hold your nose, do whatever it takes, to feed your pet the variety of carnivorous foods he needs.  Remember, "Variety is more than the spice of life."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Humane Society Launches Inhumane Dog Food

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) launched its first-ever dog food in February 2010.  HSUS is the largest animal welfare organization in the country.  Why market their own dog food?  According the HSUS, proceeds from dog food sales will support more actions against inhumane puppy mills and other dog abuses.  The press had criticized HSUS for their failing to close abusive animal facilities, so they decided to raise more funds by branding their own kibble for dogs.

HSUS also opposes the inhumane practices used to farm food animals, such as cattle and pig feed lots, mass dairy milking barns, and chicken factories. No doubt these "farming" methods do subject food animals to inhumane conditions.  So, HSUS refused to include any meat or dairy products in their dog food.  Dogs fed HSUS kibble will receive only vegetable fats and proteins -- NO animal proteins or fats and NO dairy or egg proteins or fats.  HSUS dog food is VEGAN!  A VEGAN diet manufactured in Uruguay!  Two veterinary nutritionists approved the VEGAN dog food, which says a lot about the unreliability of veterinary nutritionists.

How humane is feeding carnivorous dogs, whose natural diet is whole prey, nothing but vegetables? No doubt they have to add manufactured, synthetic vitamins and minerals, which are not supplied by vegetable matter.  Vegetables are a very unnatural and inadequate diet for carnivores.  In addition, HSUS veggies are cooked and extruded from machines.  How humane is that for dogs, whose diet should consist of muscle meats, organ meats, and meaty bones?

HSUS says they have not figured out how to manufacture cat kibble from vegetables alone.  Cats must have meats and meaty bones to live.  Perhaps, they can manufacture their cat food from all the dogs they kill with their VEGAN dog kibble.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Further Experience with Packaged RMB

The two weekly menus for 40- to 50-pound dogs were a great hit -- with both the dogs and their owner.  She said the dogs were very excited every day when she got out the baggies with their daily portion of meat chunks and meaty bones.  Feeding her two bull terriers was easy -- all she had to do was open the bag and hand out the food.  Her greatest joy was seeing how happy and excited they are about raw-meaty-bones.

I wondered if she would venture into ordering a la carte from the web site.  Not yet.  She ordered two weekly menus again.  When she picked  up her bags of meals this afternoon, she met two other dog owners who were picking up their large orders of varied rmb.  We all discussed the many items available for dogs, and the more experienced raw feeders encouraged her to try making up weekly menus for herself.  By next week, she thinks she'll be ready to order independently for her dogs.

I'm ready for some new customers to ease into the rmb diet with prepackaged meals.  They helped one pet owner to switch immediately from Science Diet to rmb.  I don't want many customers for packaged rmb at any one time, however, because they take a lot of time and cutting to get approximately the right amount of meat and meaty bones into 7 baggies.  It's a labor of love, though.