Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Some Breeders Feed Junk Food

It is hard for me to understand why some reputable dog breeders choose to feed their breeding stock a canine starvation diet of cooked, dry starches.  Obviously, they do not choose deliberately to malnourish beloved, valuable dogs, but that is the effect of veterinary misguidance and ignorance of canine evolution.  The following message is from a leading breeder in Australia:
I used to feed all my dogs the raw-meaty-bones diet.  I would buy beef mince and steak direct from the pet produce place who would mince the meat the day the cow was slaughtered. It was FRESH!!  The meat looked beautiful, nice and red and the dogs loved it.  (Breeder had a bad experience with bacteria in raw mince for pets, details of which will be skipped here.)

My vet told me to stop feeding fresh, pet-quality mince and to feed a top quality dry food and feed raw meaty bones/beef/mince that is of human grade.  Also to freeze, then thaw before feeding it to my dogs. Freezing it kills all the bacteria.  All my dogs are now fed this mixture.
Another issue we have here with a pure raw meaty bones diet is dogs becoming constipated.  (Feeding too much bone and too little organ and muscle meats can cause constipation.  Commercial raw minces in Australia often have too much bone, not enough meat.)

Nature is a lovely beast for the animals that nature created.  Nature is an awful beast for the animal that humanity created. This is my firm belief. 

Humanity created the Labrador against the will of nature so in order to maintain the breed, we as humans must continually intervene, otherwise many of the best of our breed would simply perish.
  • We as humans line breed. This is avoided in nature. (Actually, not true.  Wolves and dogs breeding is usually within a pack with a dominant male and female doing much of the successful breeding.)

  • We as humans help the bitch with the birth and care of a litter, meaning the chances of 100% of the puppies survival is rather high.  In nature, the bitch is on her own and nature will cull the weaker or sick in the litter.

  • We as humans help with the breeding. Some bitches will not accept a dog of OUR choosing. So we AI the bitch or use a stud master to aid in the breeding.

  • We worm and vaccinate puppies....again, against the will of nature.  Whatever nature throws at us, we find a cure, name it, Distemper, Parvovirus, worm burden, ticks, fleas, etc . --  we have a cure.

  • We as humans research into the diet of a dog and have come up with premium dry foods that are cooked and healthy for our dogs.

  • We have intervened so much that any decision to change diet back to nature or refusal to vaccinate, worm, or whatever, could mean the reduction or death of your breeding stock.

  • Raw meaty bones once a week is fine and good for the teeth.

 Where to begin...?  There are two issues to address: (1) contamination of raw meats; and (2) a faulty view of canine evolution.

  • On the first point, raw meats from cattle, wild animals, and poultry are very likely contaminated with bacteria after slaughter.  Some of this meat is contaminated with bacteria and parasites before slaughter. Hunted game can have parasites, such as worms.
  • You mentioned in passing the solution to this problem: Freezing.  Freezing meats at -12 degrees F for 48 hours cures these problems.  That is what we do with local grass-fed beef and any game brought to us.  Poultry arrives in Hawaii deeply frozen from the US mainland.
  • After deep freezing, the threat of these parasites is eliminated, I believe.  Of course, we worm our dogs as well.  I feel quite comfortable feeding our dogs a diet of raw-meaty-bones when meat is treated in this way.
On the second point, you are simply mistaken.  Yes, of course, we reduce puppy mortality and treat our beloved dogs for illnesses that could have proved fatal in the wild.  None of that speaks to the diet that canines and felines need to thrive.  
Genetic studies show that dogs are wolves, yesterday and today:  99.8% of genes in common

Some Northern breeds of dogs (e.g., Huskies, Malamutes, Samoyeds, Shibu Inus) are slightly more closely related to contemporary wolves than they are to contemporary dogs of other breeds.  This I find fascinating.  Main point, however, is that all contemporary breeds of dogs are classified as wolves, not as a separate species.

Subsistence is not the same as thriving.  Feral dogs, of which there are many packs in the world, have been studiedBoth feral dogs and wolves can subsist on garbage from human dumps, and they do, in many parts of the world.  Feral dogs and wolves hunt small animals as their preferred diet.  Analyses of the stomach contents of feral dogs and wolves show identical preferences for animal prey and scavenging for animal sources of food.  Dogs/wolves do not prefer to eat carbohydrates (e.g., grains, potatoes, vegetables)  which they have difficulty digesting.  They do not get optimal nutrition from anything but flesh, organs, and meaty bones.

Mince is an aberration of human invention.  Dogs/wolves need to chew their food to get gastric juices flowing and to begin the digestive process.  Chewing meats and gnawing meat off raw bones cleans their teeth.  
The only dogs to whom I feed mince are puppies under 5 weeks of age.  Mince with raw eggs and yogurt is a human attempt to supply  partially digested foods that mother dogs/wolves regurgitate for young puppies.  Some of our mothers actually regurgitate food for their puppies.  I watch them sit by the regurgitated mess with huge pride while the puppies hurry to eat their mother's vomit.  Don't tell me dogs are not wolves!

Phenotypic differences between contemporary dog breeds and wolves make it hard to recognize their genetic identity.  Most observable differences between dog breeds and wolves are trivial genetic differences that cause large differences in conformation.  Toy dogs, dwarfed dogs, and those with brachycephalic muzzles depend on single genes that stunt, dwarf, and smash their faces. 

Yet-to-be identified genes cause fear responses of domestic dogs to be delayed in a long juvenile period.  A long, fear-less period allows dogs, and not wolves, to become benign human companions.  Fear responses in wolves begin when their eyes open.  Puppies do not begin to fear people for several weeks after their eyes open, which allows us time to socialize them to comfortable human contact.  (Puppy mill puppies and feral kittens that are not socialized to people in this period, are famously fearful for life.)  My bet is these large differences in behavior rest on a very few genes that regulate timing in development.

Selective breeding to create and maintain breeds: Yes, we humans have artificially isolated sub-populations of dogs and limited gene flow between breeds, often to the detriment of dogs' health.  In the natural world of commensural dogs, who live off human hand-outs and throw-aways, gene pools overlap geographically, and there is gene flow across populations.   
Village dogs, the common canine around the world, are medium-sized, brown, short-coated and look pretty much the same everywhere except in extreme Arctic climates.  Breeders have taken this basic dog form and bred it to conform and perform to our preferences.  Because animal breeding is an ancient art, and genetic variation is available at many loci,  it did not take many generations to get quite startling differences in appearance and behavior among breeds.

None of this selective breeding was for DIET.  As studies have shown, both wolves and dogs can subsist on human garbage.  Commercial pet foods bear striking resemblance to discarded human waste: Old pizza crusts, mashed fruits and vegetables, thrown-away rice, and bits of stew -- look like kibble ingredients to me.  In fact, Saturday Night Live did an hilarious spoof of commercial pet foods as GARBAGE.
Why would one choose to feed a starchy diet to carnivorous pets?  

  •  Another answer is we believe that our companion animals will thrive on the same diet we eat.  A lot of thoughtful, conscientious pet owners want to cook for their pets and share their own good food with pets as family members.
With members of our local raw-pet-food co-op,  I have to persuade them that, while humans are omnivores who need a variety of whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, etc., their carnivorous pets need raw meats and meaty bones.  Emphasizing that dogs ARE wolves, which they already know from National Geographic and Discovery Channel TV, brings them to the realization they don't have to cook for their dogs and cats.  They can simply hand them hunks of raw meats and meaty bones. 
Changing one's thinking to accept the carnivorous nature of dogs and cats is the hardest part of feeding raw-meaty-bones.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Are You Shocked and Outraged Yet?

When professional standards of behavior are clear, and a professional violates those standards, we are shocked and outraged.  As an example, if a physician refused to offer life-saving treatment to an injured person, we would be shocked and outraged, because physicians are pledged (and required by law) to provide emergency care. 

If an attorney leaked a client's confession to the press and caused the client to be found guilty of a crime, we would be shocked and outraged, because attorneys are required by professional ethics to maintain client confidentiality. 

Priests are not allowed by the standards of their profession to gossip about what they hear from parishioners in confessions. 

What do we expect of veterinarians?  Vets are pledged professionally to provide the best care for animals brought to their practices.  What standards of conduct does the public expect?  Pet owners expect vets to provide preventive care for healthy pets, medical interventions for illnesses and injuries, and good advice about raising pets.  How well do many veterinarians meet public expectations of professional conduct?

More often than not these days, pet owners are shocked and outraged at the large bills veterinarians generate to provide routine pet care,  the enormous charges for laboratory tests, prescription drugs, surgeries, and hospitalizations for sick pets, and the disastrous advice veterinarians give about how to keep pets healthy.

Let's take routine inoculations as an example.  When a person acquires an 8-week-old puppy from a reputable breeder, the puppy has had a thorough veterinary exam and its first inoculation against 4 or 5 dreaded diseases in that area.  New owner is instructed to make sure the puppy receives additional inoculations at 12- and 16-weeks of age to provide long-lasting immunities.

When the new owners takes healthy puppy to the new vet at 12-weeks of age, he will likely end up with a $100 to $150 bill.  For what?  The bill will itemize a vet exam at $45, a stool sample test at $15, and the 12-week inoculation at $60.  If the puppy has a small infestation of round or hook worms, and chances are good he does, vet will add $25 for prescription worming medication.  What did the owner really need for the 12-week old puppy?
  • A $60 inoculation?  The same vaccine can be purchased online and at local feed stores for about $6.00.  No prescription needed.  
  • A $45 vet exam?  Puppy already had a vet exam for heart, lungs, joints, bite, eyes, and any anomalies a vet can detect at 8-weeks of age.  Puppy was declared fit for placement with no health problems.  Puppy's basic health conditions have not changed in 4 weeks.  
  • A $15 stool sample test?  Breeder wormed the puppy several times before placement.  Owner can give puppy another dose or two or harmless worming medication (available for less than $5.00 at Walmart and local pet shops) or use a heartworm medication that also treats other worms as well. 
  • Why pay for a stool test and then prescription worming medication (another $25), when less expensive and equally effective options are available?
So, the first veterinary rip-off new pet owners encounter is when their new puppy is  12-weeks of age.  They are then subjected to a repeat rip-off at 16-weeks of age.  Again, one year later, when the puppy has a booster shot for canine diseases, pet owners get the same scenario, same inflated bill, same unnecessary expenses.

Sitll worse, veterinarians often require annual booster inoculations, which the American Veterinary Medical Association says are unnecessary.  With one booster after a 16-week inoculation, the dog likely has lifetime immunity to the most prevalent canine diseases.  

Dogs are often over-immunized, which carries its own danger of allergic reactions to ingredients in the vaccine and suppression of immune responses to disease.  It goes without saying that the bill for annual visits is enormously inflated by heartworm tests (totally unnecessary for dogs on routine heartworm medication), blood tests, stool tests, and more.

Which brings me to diet.  It is likely that the waiting room at the vet clinic is lined with shelves of commercial pet foods.  Starchy, inappropriate foods for carnivorous pets.  Pet food sales make up as much as 40% of the revenue in a vet practice, and the profit margin is over 100%.  Only laboratory tests rival pet foods as a profit source for vets.

Commercial pet foods create still other sources of revenue for vets, because they cause allergic reactions in pets that vets treat with anti-histamines, steroids, and prescription diets that are even more profitable than ordinary kibbles.  Ear infections are another common symptom of inappropriate diet.  Allergies and ear infections call for lab tests and diet elimination trials -- all very expensive for  pet owners. 

In the long run, commercial pet foods will lead to chronic degenerative diseases -- cancers, heart,, liver, digestive disorders -- that require even more expensive veterinary treatment.  These chronic degenerative diseases are painful for pets, financially disastrous for pet owners, and very lucrative for vets.  Losing a pet to an awful disease is heartbreaking.  Knowing it would likely been avoided with proper diet is enraging.

How well do many veterinarians meet public expectations of professional conduct?  What's your experience?

Correctly Classifying Dogs and Cats as Carnivores MATTERS

Pet food's biggest lie is that domestic dogs are not really carnivores that need animal proteins and fats to thrive.  Dogs, they claim, are "opportunistic" carnivores, which is interpreted to mean they can be fed anything people don't want to eat.

Spent brewery waste, grain byproducts, feathers, fur, and hooves -- all approved for dog food.  Old boots pass the pet-food tests as suitable ingredients as well, though they are completely indigestible.  In other words, the pet-food industry interprets dogs' dietary needs as anything people want to throw into a kibble extruder or seal in a can.

Let's get evolutionary facts straight.  Dogs are wolves.  Domestic cats are closely related to wild, desert cats.  Teeth of dogs and cats are those of carnivores, who tear meat off carcasses and chew up tough muscles of animal prey.  Sharp, pointed carnivore teeth are not like herbivore teeth, which are broad and flat to grind grains and vegetable foods. Carnivore teeth evolved for a diet of animal flesh.  Herbivore teeth evolved for food from grazing.

Cat and dogs have carnivore digestive systems.  Carnivore guts are highly acidic and short.  Meats and bones are digested and waste is eliminated quickly.  Herbivores have long, complex digestive tracts to process vegetable matter over many hours through multiple organs.  Carnivores do not process grains and vegetable matter properly, because that's not an appropriate diet for their teeth or digestive tracts.

The pet-food industry and veterinarians, who deny evolutionary facts, want pet owners to believe that dogs and cats can thrive on a largely herbivore diet of grains and other starches.  Why?  Because starches are cheap byproducts from human food processing by the same companies that make pet foods.  Pet food is an enormously profitable byproduct for global food companies (Mars, Nestle, and P & G make a lot more than candies, cereals, and boxed meals).

We know that processed foods are poor substitutes for fresh foods in human diets.  Just imagine what the waste products from human food processing do to the health of carnivorous pets.

The pet-food industry promotes AAFCO trials as the gold standard for pet food quality, when in fact AAFCO trials test the lower limits of how little animal protein and fat will keep dogs and cats alive for 6 months.  Used as a recipe for pet food, AAFCO trials are, instead, a prescription for lingering death.

As long as the pet food industry can deny that cats and dogs are carnivores, they will continue to profit from foods that sicken and eventually kill pets.  Veterinarians, who largely support their benefactors -- the pet food companies -- will continue to profit from the illnesses the starchy, commercial pet foods cause.  It is an unholy alliance.

More Animal Protein in Pet Foods

In December 2010, Wysong launched a new line of starch-free dry foods, Epigen.  Epigens offer the convenience of dry food that requires no refrigeration in a healthier, high-protein formulation for carnivorous pets.  Epigens contain 60% protein and no starches.

What did Dr. Wysong say about pet diets to promote Epigen?  Here's a quote from the Epigen bag:
    Wysong Epigen is a truly new (patent pending) pet food innovation.  For the first time, a dry extruded 'kibble' pet food more closely resembles the meat-based, high protein, starchless foods carnivores are genetically designed to eat.

    Pets are genetically indistinguishable for their wild carnivorous counterparts.  They are designed to eat as carnivores eat.  Nowhere in nature do canines and felines consume a steady diet high in starches (a poly-sugar).  Yet, contrary to the natural model, pets today eat such foods meal after meal, day after day, year after year.

    Not living and eating -- as nature intended --  has consequences. Research has shown that a steady high starch (sugar) diet  can lead to a host of chronic degenerative conditions.  These include insulin resistance, diabetes, dental disease, arthritis, immune compromise, cancer, premature aging, and more.
Dr. Wysong has always promoted variety in pets diets and decried veterinary advice to feed the same (usually starchy) food, meal after meal, day after day, year after year.  Wysong's 100 Pet Health Truths Program condemns sole feeding of any food, especially commercial pet foods.

Wysong's advice about variety includes fresh raw meats and meaty bones, but not exclusively.  Variety also includes Wysong's own starchy kibbles and cooked canned mush.  "Nowhere in nature do canines and felines consume" Wysong's starchy kibbles or cooked canned mush, either.

In December 2010, I wondered where this truth-telling was going to lead the company.  Would Wysong cease producing its long-established, starchy pet foods?  In the spring of 2013, they brought out revised versions of their traditional dry foods.   New formulations reduce starches and increase animal protein contents, in keeping with their Epigen message. Better, if not perfect.

Would this improvement in Wysong's traditional dry pet foods prompt global pet food manufacturers to increase the animal protein contents of their starchy, junk foods?  In September 2013, Purina began a campaign to promote Purina One with increased animal protein in the bag.  "How much animal protein is in your pet food?", says the ad.  "20%, 24%; well, Purina One has 30% animal protein." 

Commercial pet foods are still damaging to pets' health, and slight improvements in contents do not fix health problems, especially if they are fed exclusively day-after-day for pets' lifetimes.  Perhaps Wysong is leading the way toward healthier commercial pet foods,  but nothing can replace a raw-meaty-bones diet for lifelong pet health.

Natural Rearing Diet Fails

October 1, 2013: Thanks to one of our Kona Raw Pet Food Co-op members, I read The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat by Juliette de Bairacli Levy.  She was a fabulously interesting British woman who roamed the world with gypsies and nomads to learn their herbal practices.  Before World War II, she left veterinary school because they did not understand the evolved nature of carnivores (and still don't).   She raised champion Afghan Hounds that won at Crofts and Westminster shows.  She fed her dogs a diet of 75% raw meat and meaty bones, because they are carnivores!  The rest of the diet was herbs, raw eggs, goats' milk,  and whole grains. 

Advice in the book is a challenge to follow, because I know so little about herbs, but I am willing to learn.  I shopped the local health-food stores and ordered some of her composite herbal mixtures for puppies and pregnant bitches online.  I already feed my dogs and puppies raw eggs and yogurt.  I don't know if the addition of specific herbs, goats' milk, and some whole grains to their diet will make a difference in the health of puppies and mothers-to-be, but we shall see.  Remember, though, that 75% of the diet is what we already feed -- raw meats and meaty bones.
Diet Experiment Results: Last week I reported on adding some grains and supplements recommended by Juliette De Bairacli Levy as part of her Natural Rearing diet.  Although she recommends a canine diet of 75% raw meats and bones, she also includes rolled oats, barley, rye flour, wheat germ, and the like.  I shopped the health food stores, ordered her supplements online,  and began to feed my 16 dogs her recommended grains and supplements.  I bought raw goats milk locally @ $7.50/ quart.

Within a day, we noticed that the dogs' poop was larger, yellower, and it smelled!  Those are signs the dogs are not digesting grains as well as a straight raw meat diet.  It's the same problem dogs have with commercial pet foods: Dogs and cats do not digest carbohydrates well, because they evolved to eat MEAT and MEATY BONES! I knew better, but it was interesting to try a diet so widely admired. I don't know what the raw goats' milk did, but I do not plan to buy it again.

As soon as the grains were eliminated, the dogs' poop returned to its smaller, darker, and odorless state.  I am continuing her supplements, because they don't seem to do any harm.  I don't know if dogs need algae, barks, and herbs, but they don't seem to be disturbing the dogs' digestion.  It was instructive to try Levy's diet for a week, but now the chickens are getting the grains.  Chickens are well equipped to digest grains and lots of other stuff -- just like us (we are Omnivores; dogs and cats are Carnivores).

 Thank you for the enlightening experiment! I tried adding grains to the raw diet I fed my anorexic 20 year old feline upon recommendation by a vet but it did not help at all. It turns out he needed digestive enzymes and probiotics to help him assimilate his raw food (at this late stage). He's since gained a whole pound for the first time in 4 years and seems very content. Yeah to raw diet and supplements when need be!
Caroline (: