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Newsletter - January 2007

Confessions of a toy dog ‘mom’:

I take it back. Everything I’ve ever said about silly people dressing up their dogs - I take it all back. Tori seems to be heading into her first season so I was in Petsmart shopping for ‘undies’ for her. A rack of adorable clothing seemed to wave at me. There were baby pink coats with matching sweaters, stuffed toys in matching colors and all kinds of little boots. My first thought was that none of these would match her new denim ‘panties’. My second thought was that I was losing my mind. Dressing up a puppy? Puhleeze!

There was a line-up of people with all breeds of dogs, waiting to have pictures taken with Santa. I regretted not having brought my girls. If a Bouvier wearing a stud collar could have a picture with Santa, why couldn’t my little Tori have one? I pouted my way back to the clothes rack and stared at clothes again. Finally, Morley pulled me away and we checked out. As it turned out, Tori wanted to chew the denim panties or throw them around the room. I can’t imagine her putting up with sweaters and such but I continue to have a silly urge to see her ‘pretty in pink’.

What’s New at New Supplement: Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium plays important roles in the mineral structure of bones and teeth, enzyme functions, nerve, cell, and muscle membrane stability. Many of the diets I analyze are deficient in magnesium. Citrate forms of minerals are well absorbed but many supplements are full of fillers that I prefer not to feed. Our magnesium citrate contains no filler. The gel caps are quite easy to undo, making the addition of a partial capsule convenient and cost effective. Each capsule provides 170 mg of magnesium citrate.

We have waited for a long time to add this mineral to our product line because I wanted to confirm the correct amount per capsule. Most diets seem to need magnesium in an amount that makes 170 mg ideal to work with whether we need half this amount or the full capsule. We’re very proud of this product and know that it offers the highest quality, hypoallergenic, magnesium capsule possible.

What’s Coming Up

My new book, Optimal Nutrition, is in the final stage of editing and should be available in April.

Myth of the Month: Formulated home-prepared diets try to duplicate commercial diets.

People making this claim lack some of the basic understanding of nutrition and diet formulations. The first major difference is that commercial diets are formulated to meet the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) guidelines. While home-prepared diets can also be formulated to meet these guidelines, many if not most are formulated to meet the National Research Council (NRC) recommended allowances of 2006. The two bodies shouldn’t be confused. AAFCO is a regulatory body that has government officials from each state to monitor animal feeds sold in their state. The pet food companies have liaisons that go to the AAFCO meetings and try to work with the AAFCO on regulations. On the other hand, NRC is an independent body of researchers without affiliation to pet food companies or AAFCO. The hundreds of thousands of studies that NRC presents and reviews over the years are the basis of recommended allowances rather than minimum requirements or toxic levels. Unlike commercial diets, formulated home prepared diets can be as simple or varied as the dog owner wishes and the dog tolerates. They can be balanced on a daily basis or over a one or two week period. In fact, we could balance the diet over the course of many months but of course, this wouldn’t be considered optimal nutrition because dietary nutrients need to be delivered in a more timely fashion.

Formulated home-prepared diets can be viewed as a buffet menu of many foods where one need not consume the same thing at every meal but rather, feast on a variety of fresh foods - as long as the end result is indeed a balanced menu. Below, are two examples of varied diets for a 50 pound dog. The first is unbalanced despite the variety fed over a one-week period. The second is balanced. Explanations follow.

Unbalanced Diet:

36 oz chicken necks

10 oz lamb rib

42 oz turkey necks

8 oz mackerel, canned, drained

8 oz ground beef, raw, lean, 15% fat

12 oz chicken, dark meat with skin, raw, boneless

4 oz chicken liver, raw

4 eggs, raw, without shells

1 tsp. cod liver oil

3500 mg wild salmon oil

4 oz yogurt

16 oz mixed green vegetables

1 small apple

16 oz sweet potato

6 oz cottage cheese

1 tsp. kelp

2 tsp. Alfalfa

1400 IU vitamin E

This diet provides more than triple the required amounts of calcium and phosphorus. The iodine content is greater than is considered healthy for the thyroid gland. There are also gross deficiencies of copper, iron, manganese, potassium and zinc. How can there be deficiencies when a diet is obviously so diverse? Wouldn’t it balance over time? Unfortunately, deficiencies may be caused by too much variety. I’ll explain. A dog is only able to consume so many calories before he becomes overweight. A 50- pound dog with average activity level consumes 900-1200 calories a day. When there is a great deal of variety in the diet, there may not be enough of a nutrient. For instance, a 50- pound dog requires 21 mg of zinc per day. This would be provided by 17 oz of ground beef that contains 15% fat. Zinc is available in other foods; however, beef is very high in zinc so we would require less of this food than of many others. Even so, this amount of beef provides approximately 1044 calories. Therefore, if a dog consumes enough beef to meet his zinc requirements, we have little to no caloric room left for other foods. The dog would be eating an all- meat diet lacking in other important minerals. In light of this example, consider that a diet with a great deal of variety would include less beef because it would be “diluted” with other foods. As a result, a zinc deficiency is not only possible but also very likely. The same is true of other vitamins and/or minerals.

Balanced Diet:

2 oz chicken neck

14 oz turkey neck

3 oz lamb rib

24 oz beef heart

3.25 oz. beef liver

30 oz ground beef,15% fat

36 oz ground turkey

3 large eggs without shells

1 tsp. cod liver oil

7,000 mg wild salmon oil

6 oz yogurt, whole milk

16 oz broccoli

2 small apples

32 oz sweet potato

0.5 tsp. kelp

2 tsp. alfalfa powder

3 capsules, vitamin E 200 IU

6 capsules Allergy Research Multi ViMin without copper and iron

15 mg zinc citrate

This diet provides 898 kilocalories that break down as 37% from protein, 20% from carbohydrates and 43% from fat. * The supplements noted provide the following nutrient profiles. Look at the details and be sure to purchase items that offer comparable values: - Kelp: 750 mcg of iodine per 3/4 tsp - Cod Liver Oil liquid (1 tsp.): 3750 IU of vitamin A and 375 IU of vitamin D - Wild Salmon Oil: not to be confused with regular salmon oil. The latter is derived from farmed fish which, as headlines have reported for years, contain a load of PCBs and Mercury. - Vitamin E: This is natural vitamin E, also known as d’alpha tocoperol. We would need more of the synthetic version, known as dl-alpha tocopherol, to achieve the same benefits. ** MultiVimin without copper and iron is a trade name for a mineral supplement made by Allergy Research. It is available in some stores and also available on a number of websites.

You will notice that the new diet plan is not much different from the original, but the changes made are critical. Eliminating chicken necks frees up more calories to be applied towards increased amounts of beef heart and ground beef; more nutrient dense foods. Beef liver, rather than chicken liver, provides a larger amount of copper. The increased amount of sweet potato provides more potassium, manganese, copper and iron. Eliminating the cottage cheese and mackerel reduces the sodium content and provides more caloric room for the above additions. Any dietary changes must take place within certain caloric parameters. In this case, our revised diet plan provides about the same calories as the original. Still, despite the changes, the diet falls a little short on a few minerals, most noticeably potassium and manganese. To bring the diet up to optimal levels of all minerals, the addition of the multi-mineral formulation becomes necessary. This may not be necessary, or another product may do a better job of filling in nutrient gaps if a 50 pound dog required more calories and so, more food. More variety and different diet plans are possible when working with formulated diets.

The point is not that formulations are based on commercial diets - nothing could be further from the truth! Rather, the focus of formulated home-prepared diets includes knowledge of mineral interactions and an understanding of how ‘variety’ can translate to excellent nutrition rather than a willy-nilly approach and hoping for the best. Formulated home-prepared diets may have another bonus to offer. Someone working within the field of animal nutrition may have insight to current changes of farm animals feeds. For example, farmed cattle were being supplemented with copper and even grass fed cows were given more copper by dusting their pastures with this mineral. In turn, beef liver had a greater copper content that the USDA showed for over two years. Thus, the changes in animal feed affect the final consumer - in this case, our dogs.

Happy New Year!


“I like driving around with my two dogs, especially on the freeways. I make them wear little hats so I can use the car-pool lanes.” -- Monica Piper



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