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Newsletter - February 2009

The News At Home

Like many other dogs, Tori has issues. One of her health problems is temporal lobe atrophy. This affects her hearing, but not in the way you might expect. She can hear a pin drop, but where she determines that noise is coming from is another matter. Let me give you an example of how this can be amusing rather than a big problem. The other day, a snowplow inched its way down the street, toward our house. The plow makes a relatively low scraping noise as it moves along, and Tori acted as if we were being invaded. She boldly dashed to the back door and barked non-stop. I opened the door to show her there was nothing there, and being a Cavalier (not what one might consider to be a brave breed), she sniffed the air and eyed the yard while remaining safely inside. Once the door was closed and the noise continued, the barking started again.

The plow finally stopped right in front of the house. I placed Tori in front of the window so she could see it. However, her ears remained defiant no matter that her eyes told her differently. Now she didn’t know what to “defend” first. The front of house that was being attacked by a strange object removing our rightful property of snow, or the back where some terrible noise was prompting her to warn the neighborhood? My guess is that this little dog lost a few ounces that day. The running back and forth had to have accomplished that much even if it did nothing to remove the obvious danger we were in.

Fact of The Month: Dogs with gastrointestinal problems can be helped

The list of gastrointestinal diseases is long, but from a dietary perspective, most can be dealt with in the same way. By far, the best results come from feeding a low fat diet. The type of fat matters as well because most plant-based oils (safflower, sunflower, canola, corn, etc) have a pro-inflammatory affect. Primrose and borage oils are exceptions. These oils should not be added when the dog is displaying problems because, despite that they are better suited, they do add fat, and we don’t want to do this yet. In fact, we may not want to do it at all if the diet ends up providing sufficient omega 6 fatty acids. Still, keep these two oils in mind because one of the consequences of low fat diets is poor skin and coat. It doesn’t take much primrose or borage oil to help.

The second, or arguably the first step is to feed novel foods. Inflammation in the gut, such as when a dog has IBD, translates to a permeable mucosal barrier. When there is permeability, intact proteins can seep through, prompting the immune system to launch an attack. Food allergy is born, and the best way of dealing with it is to avoid that food. Many dogs with GI problems that include inflammation also have food allergies.

Supplements can play important roles for dogs with GI diseases, but the type of supplement, despite that the name is identical to another, is critical. For example, L-Glutamine helps to strengthen the gut lining. However, this supplement is usually derived from an animal product or wheat. Both items can cause problems for sensitive dogs, so be sure to try a product that is hypoallergenic (the one on our site is but it took me years to get there). The same is true of probiotics. Yes, acidophilus is the best studied probiotic in dogs, (multiple strains of probiotics don’t necessarily work as well) but even acidophilus should be purchased with an eye toward a lab assay that proves purity and potency. It wasn’t that long ago that some brands were recalled due to containing lactose despite the label stating otherwise. Some lactose intolerant people were hospitalized, and I have no doubt that lactose intolerant dogs didn’t fare well either.

Obviously, dogs with GI problems and food allergies would have been in this group. In conclusion, use a hypoallergenic L-Glutamine for 2 week before adding a tiny amount of high-quality acidophilus. Increase acidophilus once you know the dog tolerates it well. Use novel, low-fat foods, and you’re likely to start the beginning of a successful dietary switch.

Be patient. Healing takes time, and food allergies can keep you on your toes while you sort them out, but you’ll get there.

Raw Diet of The Month

Amongst the many positive emails I received regarding the cooked diet offered in a previous newsletter were a few complaints from raw feeders. Did you think I’d forget you? Not a chance! Here’s a raw diet for an inactive 25 pound dog.

Remember that feeding more or less of a diet in order to provide your dog’s required calories doesn’t necessarily translate to a balanced diet. This is because a highly active 25 pound dog may very well need many more calories than his couch-potato brother, but both dogs have the same nutrient requirements. More or less food equals more or fewer nutrients being fed. So, if you need to adjust this diet, be sure to do a bit of arithmetic as explained in Optimal Nutrition and/or in K9Kitchen. Finally, remember that a dog’s nutrient requirements are not linear to bodyweight. In other words, a 10 pound dog does not have 50% of the requirements of a 20 pound dog, and a 100 pd dog does not have 10 x the requirement of a 10 pound dog. If you’re going to use this diet plan, be sure it suits your own dog’s weight and activity level.

Feeding supplements that differ from the ones below will change the diet. Here are the details: 1 tsp. kelp provides 1,150 mcg of iodine, 18 mg sodium, and 12 mg potassium. It is the iodine content that matters most. Wild salmon oil (500 mg capsule) provides 56 mg of naturally occurring vitamin D. Do not assume that all wild salmon oil created equal - it’s not. One tablet of vitamin B compound provides 50 mcg of vitamin B-12, and 50 mg of all other B vitamins.

Disclaimer: Choosing to feed this diet is at your own risk, and with the understanding that it is being provided for educational purposes only. Seek veterinary advice before making dietary changes.

Weekly Raw Diet

18 oz chicken necks

7 oz sardines with bones, canned, drained

22 oz beef heart

2 oz beef liver

16 oz chicken breast skinless, boneless

16 oz green beans

16 oz sweet potato

1/4 cup blueberries

1 medium apple (approx. 2-3/4” diameter)

4 oz cantaloupe

1 medium banana (7”-8” long)

3 x  500 mg capsules wild salmon oil

1 tsp kelp

4 mg manganese

55 mg zinc gluconate

1/4 tablet, vitamin B compound fed 2 x weekly

3 capsules, vitamin E 100 IU

250 mg taurine DAILY

This diet provides approximately 500 kilocalories, 55.20 grams of protein, 26.77 grams of carbohydrates, and 18.93 grams of fat per day. It should support the weight of an inactive 25-pound dog.


“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.’ -- Author Unknown



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