Newsletter - January 2006

The News At Home

How strange to be walking just one dog and how very odd to see this dog turn into her own ‘person’. In the past, I’m not sure Cassie being on leash was best described as walking. It was always a ‘pull’ to beat Zoey being even one step ahead of her. She seems to know how to walk nicely now that she’s unchallenged. See, training does pay off – it just took nine years.

What’s more interesting to us is seeing her so friendly toward other dogs. Cassie’s never been much of a dog person. We found that rather odd given that she’s never known life without dogs in her home. Her best friend is a female Rottie but otherwise, dogs were always considered uninteresting at best and a threat at worst. These days, she buddies up to nearly every dog she meets. Her tail wags furiously and she offers play bows if a dog stands in front of her for more than a minute. Could she want a friend in the house again? Time will tell, but it sure is nice to see her adjusting and to know that she can really like dogs after all.

What’s New at monicasegal.com: Proactive Nutrition Seminar CD Set  

For those of you who could not attend, we now offer a recording of my recent Michigan seminar, which took a proactive approach to canine nutrition and busted some myths. We recorded the day and condensed the seminar’s give-and-take into two hours of dietary guidance. Listen to discussions about supplements, nutrition pitfalls you can recognize, and guideposts for feeding individual dogs. This 2-CD set will walk you through principles that apply to both raw and cooked diets.

Myth of the Month “No need to worry – just feed a variety of foods”

This story comes with the permission of a client who was happy to share the errors, problems, and success seen after the diet was corrected. Mandy is an eight year-old, 48 pound mixed breed dog that was placed on a raw diet five years ago. She has an iron clad stomach and was fed according to what’s become a typical diet – a lot of variety. This method was agreed upon when her owner was advised by several people on a variety of discussion groups that science is flawed and Mandy would be doing just fine if fed a diet based on whole prey. At first, this seemed to be the case but over time Mandy’s skin looked a bit flaky despite her coat being lovely. This was followed by some eye goop and scratching. It wasn’t long before she had a couple of peeling nails, some muscle soreness and slower healing time.

Whole prey, caught from the wild, does indeed offer great nutrition. Farmed animals do not have the same nutrient profile. In fact, since they’re fed diets that aim to bring them to market at optimal weight and condition, few if any farmers are actually raising animals and thinking about what nutrient profile they might provide for a dog. Even if we dismiss this fact, the problem in Mandy’s case was the same one I run into almost weekly. Very few people feed a whole animal including the head, feet, glands, etc. Some make up their own animal and it seems to have the neck of a turkey, liver of a cow, kidneys of a pig, and so forth. Here’s what Mandy used to consume over the average month:

4 pounds, turkey neck 2 pounds, chicken backs 2 pounds chicken frames 5 pounds, chicken quarters 2 pounds, pork ribs 1 pound, turkey thigh 2 pounds, turkey wings 2 pounds, chicken wings 12 eggs, with shells 2 pounds, ground beef, medium fat 4 pounds, beef liver 1 large container, whole milk yogurt (16 oz) 28 oz salmon, sockeye, canned 1 pound, goat meat 2 pork kidneys 1 pound, chicken giblets. The main problems of this diet are as follows:

The diet provides 60% of its calories from fat but we do not have a source of vitamin E to work as an antioxidant. There is an excess of vitamin D. More importantly, the diet provides about double the amount of calcium that this dog needs and about half the requirement for zinc. Since the excess calcium makes some of the zinc unavailable to the body, this creates a serious problem and is likely to be a major cause of slow healing. The amount of copper in this diet is just shy of six times requirement. Not only can this be toxic but the interaction between copper and zinc plays a role and translates to even worse news for the status of both minerals. Magnesium, important for mineral metabolism, is in very short supply. The amount of phosphorus is almost double requirement while potassium is insufficient and sodium is more than four times requirement.

The revised diet, now being fed with success for well over a year, eliminated or reduced some of the raw meaty bones, reduced beef liver and salmon to lower copper and sodium, increased the amount of ground beef and introduced canned oysters for their zinc content as well as beef heart to provide more iron. The difference between a diet that’s fed ‘willy nilly’ and one that has been formulated to meet a dog’s needs can make a large impact. We can continue a raw meat and bone diet without vegetables or grains but nutrient values need to be kept in mind. Mandy’s nails are strong, her skin and eyes are clear. As her owner says “ It’s more than just changing the diet and hoping for the best. These changes were obviously thought out and they showed drastic improvements in less than two months.”

Happy New Year and Thanks SO much!

Morley and I would like to thank everyone who went out of their way to show us such gentle support last month. We’ve received over 200 hundred sympathy cards and notices of monetary donations made in Zoey’s honor. It was overwhelming to see that our girl touched people from so many parts of the world. Your kindness and generosity during this time have been more comforting than words can express. Here’s to 2006! May it bring peace, health and happiness to you and yours.

Monica

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

 
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