I believe that nutrition is the foundation of health. It's a phrase that is used frequently, but what does it really mean? To me it means that without a solid foundation of appropriate nutrition, health will not be achieved. There are millions of chemical reactions that support the health of the body which are not able to occur unless the animal is ingesting the required nutrients for these reactions to take place.
The food our pets eat is broken down in the digestive system. This breaking down process is accomplished by acids, enzymes and microbes. Protein for example is broken down into individual amino acids. Once the food is broken down into nutrients, these are able to pass through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. From there the nutrients can be transported where ever they are needed in the body through the blood. Blood delivers water, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, glucose, oxygen, salts, hormones and proteins to all the cells in the body.
An animal's metabolism is the set of life-sustaining chemical reactions that are constantly occurring within their tissues. The three main purposes of metabolism are to convert food to energy, to convert food to building blocks and to eliminate wastes. These chemical reactions are what allow the animal to grow, repair and maintain their physical bodies. In order to keep up with an ever changing environment, the reactions of metabolism is finely regulated to maintain a constant condition within the cells, a process called homeostasis.
Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they act as catalysts - allowing reactions to proceed rapidly, and regulating the rate of metabolic reactions. Vitamins and minerals function as co-enzymes and co-factors, which can be thought of as helpers that are required in order for enzymes to carry out a chemical reaction. Most vitamins and minerals need to be supplied from the diet as they cannot be synthesized by the cells.
The food our pets eat is what gives their bodies all the information and materials they need to function properly. If they don't get the right food that carried the right information and materials, they become undernourished, metabolic processes suffer and their health will decline.
Nutrients give our pets:
1)Instructions about how to function and
2)The resources to carry out those functions
The foods our pets eat along with what they are exposed to in their environment directly affects their DNA and its expression. Epigenetic factors (beyond the gene) are directly and indirectly influenced by the presence or absence of key nutrients in the diet, as well as exposure to toxins, chemicals, pathogens and other environmental factors.
Food is the primary way that we are all interacting with our environment and it can alter genetic information in the space of a single generation. Researchers have come to understand that how any particular gene is expressed, is determined by epigenetic up or down regulation in response to certain nutrients. For example - if there is not enough calcium and vitamin D in the body, certain genes remain dormant (turned off) and less bone is built in the body. Until the required nutrients are again available. A dormant or "turned off" gene can be turned back on and function optimally in the right environment.
Your pet can have the a super healthy lifestyle - getting the right amount of exercise and rest, a low stress environment, low exposure to toxins and so on, but without proper nutrition they will still not be able to maintain their health effectively.
You might wonder if your pet needs a vitamin or mineral supplement. Read more about that here.
The bottom line is that food has incredibly powerful effects upon the body and there are no shortcuts or magic pills to pop that will compensate for poor nutrition.
Support your pet's good health with a solid foundation through excellent nutrition!
Check out other blog posts on the topic of nutrition.
Contrary to popular belief, a recent study has confirmed that dogs do in fact create Amylase in their saliva.
Amylase is an enzyme that breaks down starch during the digestion process. It has long been thought that dogs did not create ANY amylase in their saliva, only in the pancreas. Previous studies failed to detect amylase in canine saliva.
A lack of amylase in canine saliva has been used to support the notion that dogs are carnivores, not omnivores. So what is the relevance of this finding that dogs DO create amylase in their saliva? Does this mean dogs are actually omnivores?
Not so fast...keep in mind that what happens in the dog's mouth is just one small part of the whole digestion process. To understand what a dog's dietary needs are, the entire digestive process should be understood.
We know that good health is dependent upon a healthy gut, both in people and animals. Unfortunately thousands of pets are facing a continual assault on their gastrointestinal system causing nagging symptoms to develop that diminish their quality of life and shorten their lifespan.
There is not a single kibble on the market today that is"healthy" to feed your dog or cat.
No, I haven't evaluated every single kibble out there. But such a task is completely unnecessary in order to state that none of them offer optimal nutrition. It's the way in which kibble is made that is the big problem. Even if you start with the most nutritious ingredients - the kibble that you end up with is not providing the nourishment needed for your pet to thrive.
The first problem is that kibble cannot be made without including a high amount of starch. It won't form into pellets without starch. Of course "grain free" pet foods have become very popular because pet owners realize that their dogs and cats A do not require carbs and B they are being used as cheap fillers so the pet food companies can make more profits. Dogs and cats gain no benefits by eating carbs, quite the contrary actually.
Anyone who has been reading my blog or Facebook page can see that I am an advocate for raising animals naturally. I have reached this standpoint because of many personal experiences and much questioning, research, evaluation and critical thinking. There are certainly many benefits to feeding raw, skipping the antibiotics, chemical flea preventatives and vaccines. But what is so important to understand is WHY these choices make such a difference in the health of our animals.
So what I want to delve into today is how we perceive the means by which our pet's maintain their health and also identify the mechanisms that allow them to regain their health after illness. The truth of the matter is possibly quite different than what you currently believe.
The cost of raw pet food can vary greatly. If you are buying pre-made small packages from a pet food store it will be a higher cost compared to sourcing food from butchers and buying in bulk. The cost you will pay depends a lot on the effort you put forth to locate affordable sources. In many instances raw food can actually cost less than a "premium" kibble.
But to gauge the true cost of a pet's diet there is more to measure than simply the price of the food. For a true picture the impact on the animal's health needs to be assessed and also how the animal's health affects their human family's: time, emotions, and financial resources.
I see many people proclaiming that a raw food diet cured their dog of this or that. But raw food isn't really a miracle cure. It is however a powerful way to strengthen your pet's innate healing abilities.
Nothing outside the body actually has any power to cure. The only cure comes from innate biological processes. Say for instance your dog gets a deep scratch. Chances are that the scratch will heal up on it's own. There doesn't need to be any special creams or sprays applied to the scratch in order for healing to happen. The dog's body undertakes all the needed biological processes to heal the scratch. In simple terms, the cut will first be coagulated, then white blood cells come on the scene to destroy any germs and then cell reproduction begins to replace the damaged skin. These processes are completely automatic and happen without any intervention.
As another example say your pet breaks it's leg. If you do absolutely nothing (I'm not recommending this course of action!) the bone will heal and fuse back together, although likely not straight. If the bone is first set and immobilized into the correct position when the bone begins to fuse back together it will heal straight. There are no special medications required to make bones grow back together. It is a natural and automatic process. This is how all healing takes place.
ALL living creatures are equipped with the capability to heal themselves.
When our pets are living unhealthy lifestyles their vitality will be reduced. If they are not receiving appropriate nutrition then their body will not have the resources to complete these natural healing functions. This results in what I call surviving, not thriving. This is when we start seeing the symptoms of dis-ease. If we make adjustments to the animals lifestyle to be more in line with it's species needs, it is possible to restore the biological functions and have an improvement in health.
Vitality is the key factor in determining health and a species appropriate raw food diet is the foundation of vitality. Anyone who has put a kibble fed pet onto a raw diet will tell you of all the wonderful changes they saw happen in their animal. It is the effect that optimal nutrition has upon the bodily processes that allows the animal to actually heal itself.
To ensure that our animals have vitality we must provide the living conditions that are ideal for their species. Please contact us for guidance on how to raise your animal's vitality!
I'm not telling you anything you probably didn't know already when I say that veterinarians have negligible training in the area of animal nutrition, right? Most veterinary training programs contain a couple of days of nutrition education. Should nutrition counseling even be considered within their scope of practice if they have little training on the subject? Scope of practice is limited to that which the law allows for specific education and experience, and specific demonstrated competency. According to Wikipedia if requirements for practicing a skill or profession satisfy all three of the following requirements then it is within that persons scope of practice.
So I guess the day or two of "nutrition education" (hosted by pet food companies) counts for the education piece in this case. How do you feel about that? Do you think this makes them qualified in animal nutrition?
All living organisms need fuel. Each organism thrives consuming the types of food best suited to it. Dogs, cats, horses, trees and humans attain the highest standard of health when they are provided with the most suitable food for their individual species.
Can a deficient diet be overcome by supplying the specific deficient elements in the form of supplements?
For the record, raw diets do not contain too much protein. Raw animal products contain the ideal amount of protein to nourish our carnivore companions.
According to the USDA nutrient database:
A whole raw broiler chicken is 15.5% protein
Raw chicken liver is 15% protein
A whole raw turkey is 22% protein
A beef shank is 21% protein
Raw beef liver is 20% protein
Raw beef tripe is 12% protein
A whole raw egg is 12% protein
Keep in mind that the USDA nutrient database does not include the nutrients contained within the bone content because humans aren't generally eating bones.
Author - Jennifer Lee
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