Sunday, January 18, 2009


The following questions are being asked of you so that the right puppy and the right placement of each puppy is made by bringing the various requirements of both the puppy and his or new owner(s) into perspective, BEFORE a choice is made. I hope you will agree that the animal's welfare must be my foremost consideration in considering a placement.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Do Dogs and Cats Need Grains?

By Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

Dogs and cats are designed by nature to be primarily meat eaters.

Dogs are scavengers. Their diet included almost any food that provided calories -- but rarely grain. A major factor in the domestication of dogs was the food available at the human garbage dump. The "tamer" wolves, those least afraid of humans, over a period of tens of thousands of years, became our close companions.

According to a recent study by biologists Ray and Lorna Coppinger, the natural diet of dogs included, "Bones, pieces of carcass, rotten greens and fruit, fish guts, discarded seeds and grains, animal guts and heads, some discarded human food and wastes."(1)

However, cats are more selective about food by nature and anatomy. Their ancestral diet consisted of small rodents. Their usefulness to humans had much to do with their eagerness to dispatch the rodents so plentiful around human habitats.

Almost No Grains

The natural diet of both species includes high levels of protein, fats and water, and very little carbohydrates. The "recommended" diet of dry foods, which is the diet of most cats and dogs, is the complete opposite of this natural diet: High in carbohydrate, low in protein, fat, and with almost no water.

Dogs and cats do not need carbohydrates, and most veterinary textbooks agree:

Canine and Feline Nutrition "The fact that dogs and cats do not require carbohydrate is immaterial because the nutrient content of most commercial foods include (carbohydrates).(2)

Small Animal Clinical Nutrition III, written by the founder of Science Diet (Mark Morris Sr.) and his son (Mark Morris Jr.): "Some question exists regarding the need of dogs and cats for dietary carbohydrate. From a practical sense, the answer to this question is of little importance because there are carbohydrates in most food ingredients used in commercially prepared dog foods."(3)

The Waltham Book of Companion Animal Nutrition: "There is no known minimum dietary requirement for carbohydrate..."(4)

For more details, see thei book, See Spot Live Longer.

More Grains, More Insulin, More Inflammation

A highly processed, grain-based diet fed to an animal designed to thrive on a meat-based, fresh food diet is very likely to produce symptoms of ill health over time. Diets to address disease most frequently deal with the symptoms that are the result of a lifetime of inappropriate food, not the true cause of their symptoms. The optimum diet for a dog or a cat should closely resemble their natural diet.

A diet balanced heavily toward grain promotes insulin production and the production of inflammatory chemicals. Over-production of insulin makes it hard for the body to maintain its correct weight, and can lead to diabetes and other problems. An overabundance of inflammatory chemicals means more aches and pains.

Improve the balance of your dog's diet by reducing grain, and you may not need the dangerous non-steroidal and steroid drugs so commonly prescribed for dogs. Readers who follow Dr. Mercola's Total Health Program will agree eating fewer grains means less inflammation! Toxic drugs certainly make animals more comfortable, but will shorten their lives too.

A word of caution: Diabetic animals or any other medical condition making a switch to a more protein-based diet should be under the close supervision of a veterinarian.

Making the Switch to Meat

We believe the best diet for a dog or cat is a fresh, raw meat, bone and vegetable diet. Still, we may not always follow that advice due to financial constraints. Understanding that every step helps, we hope these suggestions will help you to move toward that goal.

Add meat to promote your pet's health: As you add meat to your pet's diet, at the same time, reduce the grain content of your pet's diet.

Add up to 15 percent fresh meat, raw or cooked: This increases the protein and reduces the carbohydrate content of the pet's food, but will not unbalance the levels of any essential nutrient in your animal's diet.

Also, ensure the meat scraps you're adding are mostly meat! Your doggie bag is likely to have much more fat in it than meat. Fat is a very important nutrient but one that needs to be kept in balance. Every fat gram provides double the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate.

Avoid senior, lite and diet foods: These varieties usually have fewer calories per cup because manufacturers have increased the fiber and carbohydrates and reduced protein and fat, compared to adult maintenance diets. This is the opposite of what they really need, and has no scientific foundation. Older and overweight pets need meat, not grains.

Add canned food: Good canned food has no grains, and has more protein and fat than dry pet foods. Two good choices we recommend are Nature's Variety and Wellness. "Complete and balanced" canned diets may be fed as an animal's sole diet.

For cats, we highly recommend switching all the way. Cats should not eat dry foods. Urinary tract problems and kidney failure in cats have been closely related to dietary water, which has a different effect on their bodies than the "real" water an animal drinks. It's much better for the cat to eat her food with the water in it!

Add a commercially prepared frozen raw diet: As with canned foods, if these are "complete," they can replace all other food fed to your animals.

Research proper homemade meat, bone and vegetable diets and supplement with good dry food to cut cost: Homemade foods can be nutritious and affordable, but must be made correctly. (We'll write more about this in a future article.) This option provides the protein and fat our pets need, reduces the amount of grain they eat, and is affordable by most people.

Feeding your pet a meat- and vegetable-based diet is clearly the best choice to protect and optimize their health. By following these simple recommendations, you will radically reduce the deadly toxins your dog encounters. Read more of our recommendations in See Spot Live Longer.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Keeping Your Dog Healthy With Natural Treats: Chewing For Your Pet's Better Health

By Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

Dogs, especially puppies, need to chew. If you don't provide them good chews, speaking from experience, we've learned they will find their own, often your own furniture! Chew treats provide pleasure, mental and physical exercise, and help make for a dog that is easy to live with.

Appropriate chew treats help keep dogs' gums and teeth healthy. Canine dental work has become a "routine" maintenance procedure, one that requires a general anesthetic. Surgery is expensive and never without risk.

Healthy dogs that eat a fresh, meat and vegetable diet often have much cleaner teeth and better gums than those who consume grain-based dry food, and seldom need dental work. Chews and stuffed toys, some designed for dental stimulation, can provide the necessary exercise for gums and teeth and aid in plaque removal.

For some dogs, chews are not an option. Poorly aligned teeth may break when dogs chew hard objects. Some dogs have thin tooth enamel, which can be easily worn away. Consult your veterinarian about the safety of hard chews for your dog. If they can't chew, you may need to brush their teeth on a daily basis. This small chore may save your dog additional health risks, not to mention the expense of dental cleaning by your veterinarian.

The Eight Do's and Don'ts of Chew Treats

Don't use rawhide! Rawhide chews are high in fat, add no beneficial nutrients and can cause blockages in the stomach or intestines, a life-threatening event. Any form of rawhide can be irritating. We have known many dogs with chronic diarrhea, diagnosed with food issues, who actually had a problem with rawhide.

Green treats promoted for dental health or just for chewing often have a gluten base. Gluten is one of the most common allergens for dogs. It has no place in a dog's diet.

Other cooked or smoked body parts require careful evaluation for each dog. Chews like tracheas and tendons are digestible and add beneficial cartilage to the diet. However, an enthusiastic large dog can choke on them. Discard pieces that are small enough to swallow.
(Be careful of hoofs. Dogs can break a tooth on them. We do not recommend pigs' ears either, because they are extremely high in fat.)

Bones provide a natural source of glucosamine, chondroitin, collagen and calcium for healthier joints and connective tissue. Bones can sometimes be excellent, and sometimes a danger. That's why it's important to know your chewers!
Whether the bones are raw or cooked, heavy chewers can destroy a large knucklebone in a short time. This is a heavy digestive load. Dogs raised on bones seldom overdo chewing (this may not apply to the average Labrador!), but they should be supervised closely until you are confident they are safe with the bones you give them.

Bones cooked at high temperatures may splinter. Sterilized and cooked bones may be fine for a light chewer who will gradually wear the bone away. Slow-roasted bones rarely splinter.

Raw bones are best. Small dogs do well with slices of femur -- the round bones - that can be cut to under an inch or up to a foot. Beef knucklebones are great for larger dogs and some smaller ones. Fresh bones are a rich source of good fats, but they also provide a lot of calories.
If your dog doesn't need these calories, however, remove as much fat from them as you can. Start slow, allowing for a five- or 10-minute chewing time. Dogs that destroy what they are given rapidly need to move up a couple of notches in durability.

Raw bones may be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, but thaw them out before use. Ice is very hard!

Promote mental health and agility with treat balls and food-stuffed toys. They provide an interesting challenge for your dogs, and have no side effects! Few dogs can destroy the all-purpose Kong. These can be stuffed with almost anything: A few crunchy bits, piece of cheese and a smear of peanut butter can keep dogs working for a long time. Kongs can be left safely with most dogs when you leave the house, and can help a dog through the difficult first hour you are gone.
Treat balls stimulate the brain. They work best when stuffed with tiny crunchy treats. If you feed dry food, use some of the food for stuffing the ball, and watch your dog roll, bounce or shake the ball to get at the food!

There are many new choices in both these categories. These toys take a beating, so look for durability.

Supervise all chew activities carefully.

Good chews provide mental and physical stimulation, entertain dogs without your active participation, and help keep their teeth and gums clean and healthy. They add to the quality of your dog's days, helping them live longer, more satisfying lives.

Exercise, Healthy Eating Helps Your Dog Live Longer

By Beth Taylor and Steve Brown

Our dogs have many of the same needs we do. To be at their best, they need real, fresh food in the balance that's best for their individual needs. For dogs, real food in its natural balance means meat and vegetables. Yet, all too frequently, we are advised to feed our dogs senior food, often for dogs starting as young as 6-years-old.

Veterinarians started recommending senior food years ago, when research seemed to show that dogs (and humans) with kidney problems would do better on a reduced protein diet. So, the reasoning went, we could avoid kidney failure by feeding a reduced protein diet as dogs aged.

This has not proved to be true for dogs or humans, and the big pet food companies agree. 1-4

Senior foods are higher in grain than adult foods, which will cause their bodies to increase their production of insulin and inflammatory chemicals. These foods are designed to be lower in fat and protein, with increased fiber. However, older dogs need better protein and more of it. 5 In our opinion, senior and light diets are detrimental to the health of older dogs.

If Sparky could talk, he'd tell you it's true. When we met Sparky, he was a 9-year-old stout Brittany Spaniel that was not feeling very well. His family switched from senior dry food to a fresh frozen diet as an experiment to see if a lower carbohydrate diet would help him lose weight.

In four months, he had lost about 10 pounds, and the following health issues were resolved:

Flaky coat
Itchy skin
Frequent bladder infections
Multiple aches and pains
Most of the tartar on his teeth

Read More About the Top-Recommended Healthy and Natural Treat for Dogs Now!

Today, Sparky has plenty of energy and no longer qualifies as an old dog.

Why? A species-appropriate diet, based on meat and vegetables, provides the protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants needed to keep the immune system and the brain working well. Good fats keep inflammation in check and hormonal systems functioning properly.

Delaying Old Age

In a 14-year study that compared two groups of Labradors (one group free-fed and the other kept lean), lean dogs lived two years longer, and the muscle wasting associated with old age was delayed by two years compared to the group allowed to become overweight.

In addition, lean dogs did not develop arthritis until many years after the overweight dogs that began to show arthritic changes at age 2. 6 Even if your dog has not been kept lean, you may see most of these benefits when you help your dog shed those extra pounds with a meat and vegetable-based diet. It's never too late!

Those with achy and overweight dogs will be amazed to see the difference in how their dogs feel and act when they are fed meat- and vegetable-based diets. We have often seen the health of dogs transformed by a change of diet.

Dogs with common chronic medical conditions need the supervision of a veterinarian who is skilled with fresh food diets to supervise and fine-tune a fresh food diet. Almost all chronic conditions (diabetes, arthritis, irritable bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, liver and kidney problems, dental disease) will improve on a home-prepared diet designed to support the specific issue.

Learning New Tricks

Good food keeps dogs lean, but they also need exercise. If our older animals are not fit, the best diet in the world won't keep them with us.

At your spring veterinary wellness checkup, find out what level of activity your veterinarian thinks is suitable for your animals to start with, and add from there. Many conditions we have discounted as "just old age" diminish or disappear with good exercise.

Digestion improves, elimination becomes more regular, animals are less achy and their brains work better. Getting more oxygen circulating builds lungs and heart and improves overall muscle tone and general health immensely. Brisk walking is a great start, but dogs need to get moving enough to get out of breath as well.

For smaller dogs, this is easy to accomplish. Very out-of-shape dogs will get winded pretty quickly, too, but as their fitness increases, those with big dogs will need to find ways to get them really moving.

In our experience, we've also found dogs often fade away from simple boredom. With an improved diet, they are likely to feel more like being active, but they need mental stimulation as well. The following are some simple games you can play with them to do just that:

Include your dog in family activities, and play with him.

Small games like "catch the popcorn" and "find the treat" take very little human effort and provide fun and mental stimulation.

Modify activities your old guy is no longer able to accomplish so he can do them. For example, throw the ball so it lands closer to you and make sure he sees it before letting him go for it. Help him in and out of the car.

Many dogs have self-appointed tasks: Encourage them to keep at their jobs! Being needed keeps a dog happy.

Learning something new keeps dogs happy, too. It's a mutually beneficial activity. Both human and animal brains get a workout, and your connection to your dog gets even better.

Supplements abound for older dogs and cats. They may prove to be of great benefit, but more to the point is good food and good exercise. Studies have shown supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin to be of use in joint issues. Still, the need for many of these supplements is minimized once an animal is eating real food and getting enough exercise to make use of it.

If you do use supplements, look for those made with whole foods. We consider a wide range of oils (fish and cod liver oil available from Dr. Mercola's Web site) to be necessary ingredients of a good diet. And we consider them an essential food, not an isolated ingredient or supplement.

Read the book, See Spot Live Longer, for more details on commercial diets and adding real food to your dog's diet. If your dog has a specific condition, we suggest you consult with a veterinarian who is experienced with fresh food diets to fine-tune the diet to your dog's needs.

Get them moving, feed them well and engage their brains and you'll find a dog that is more interested in life and feels much better. We've spent a long time perfecting our relationships with our old dogs. Let's keep them as long as we can.

Brazil Nuts Can Help Your Dog Live Longer

By Steve Brown and Beth Taylor

Human nutrition and lifestyle studies prove there are ways to improve the odds that we will live long, healthy lives. It's simple: Eat a variety of fresh, minimally-processed foods, especially fruits and vegetables; stay lean; exercise often; and avoid toxins. Good nutrition is key. Dietary habits may be instrumental in about 60% of cancers in women and about 40% in men.1

Good diets are just as important for dogs. Unfortunately, many of our dogs are eating diets composed exclusively of highly processed, grain-based foods with synthetic vitamins and minerals. Even the best of the "healthy" dry foods fall into this category. No wonder one in three dogs will die of cancer!

In our book, See Spot Live Longer, we discuss many easy things you can do to help your dog live longer. One easy step we can take is to add crushed Brazil nuts, a source of natural forms of selenium, to our dogs' food.

Selenium is an essential trace mineral of fundamental importance to human and canine health. Adequate selenium is necessary for the normal functioning of the immune system and thyroid gland. Selenium is receiving considerable attention for its possible role as an effective naturally occurring anti-carcinogenic agent.

Recently, the American Association for Cancer Research reported than high selenium consumption may protect humans from bladder cancer.2 Animal studies have shown a beneficial effect of high selenium levels in the prevention of cancer.3 The form of the selenium is important: Natural, food-derived forms of selenium may have beneficial effects not shared by human-synthesized selenium compounds.4

Dogs evolved consuming two organic forms of selenium: selenomethionine (an essential amino acid found primarily in plants) and selenocysteine (an amino acid found mostly in organ meats). Most dry and canned dog foods today use an inorganic type of selenium, sodium selenite or sodium selenate. These forms of selenium are considered toxic by the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services.5

The body reacts differently to the selenium in food as compared to food supplemented with sodium selenite. A 2003 study in The Journal of Nutrition stated that "the absorption, distribution, and excretion of selenium in food were ... distinctly different from sodium selenite."6 Natural forms of selenium are superior to human synthesized forms. Dr. John W Finley, supervisor of the Trace Element Absorption and Bioavailability Laboratory and the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, and one of the leading researchers on selenium stated:

"Something in the whole foods must boost selenium's anticancer property," and "These results are further evidence that broccoli may be an especially good source of selenium, and nutrition professionals may be wise to take this info into account when giving nutritional advice."7

Is selenium deficiency a contributing factor to canine hip dysplasia?

Insufficient selenium intake can cause serious health problems, including Kashin-Beck disease, which is characterized by the degeneration of the articular cartilage between joints8, thyroid disease and a variety of cancers. We've read unpublished, yet well researched, reports linking selenium deficiency with hip dysplasia.9 There is a wealth of data about farm animals which shows organic forms of selenium (selenomethionine) outperform sodium selenite. One of the reasons for this is that natural forms of selenium can be stored in the body for later use, while selenite cannot.10

Perhaps some dogs are not able to sufficiently use the inorganic forms of selenium found in most dry dog foods. Therefore if a bitch were unable to fully utilize sodium selenite, her puppies would be more likely to have joint problems. Pottenger's classic study with cats shows that problems due to nutrient deficiency get worse with each generation.11 Is the source of the selenium used in most dry dog foods one of the reasons many dogs, purebred and mixed-breed, have hip problems? It may be one of the nutritional causes.

It's easy to correct this situation. Whether you're feeding dry, canned, or the best frozen raw diets, you can easily ensure that your dog is getting enough selenium by adding Brazil nuts. The selenium in broccoli and other vegetables will vary according to the amount of selenium in the soils. Brazil nuts, on the other hand, are a reliable source of selenium. Of course, the fresher the nut, the better. In our home tests with our dogs, freshly shelled Brazil nuts won over shelled nuts bought at natural food markets, in both flavor and fragrance.

We recommend that people add one-half of a crushed Brazil nut per day for every 50 pounds your dog weighs. Since natural forms of selenium are stored in the body, you can easily add one crushed nut every other day, or, for toy dogs, ten pounds or less, one crushed nut per week is great! Please remember, feed all foods in moderation. A meal of just Brazil nuts is not healthy for any dog or any human.

May your Spot live a long, healthy life.


Milner, John A. "Nonnutritive Components in Foods as Modifiers on of the Cancer Process" Preventive Nutrition: The Comprehensive Guide for Health Professionals, 2nd edition, p 131. 2001.

Mary E. Reid, Anna J. Duffield-Lillico, Linda Garland, Bruce W. Turnbull, Larry C. Clark, and James R. Marshall, "Selenium Supplementation and Lung Cancer Incidence: An Update of the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial," Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention. November 2002; 11.

Patrick, Lyn, Selenium Biochemistry and Cancer; A Review of the Literature," Alternative Medicine Review, Volume 9, Number 3, 2004. 239 -- 258.

Schrauzer, G.N. "Selenomethionine: A Review of its Nutritional Significance, Metabolism and Toxicity," Journal of Nutrition, 130, 2000. 1653-1656

National Toxicology Program, htdocs/ST-studies/TOX038.html

Hawkes, Alkan, and Oehler "Absorption, Distribution and Excretion of Selenium from Beef and Rice in Healthy North American Men," Jounral of Nutrition, November 2003. 3434.

Finley, J.W., Ip, C., Lisk, D.J., Davis, C.D., Hintze, K.J. and Whanger, "Cancer-protective properties of high-selenium broccoli" J Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 49, #5, 2679-2683, 2001.

Burk, R.F. & Levander, O.A. "Selenium," in Shils, M. et al. Eds. Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th Edition. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. 265-276.

Parker, Jay, "Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Why Seleniuim Deficiency Will Cause It." Unpublished manuscript.

Schrauzer, G.N. "Selenomethionine: A Review of its Nutritional Significance, Metabolism and Toxicity," Journal of Nutrition, 130, 2000. 1653-1656.

Pottenger, Francis. Pottenger's Cats A Study in Nutrition 1983. Dr. Pottenger compared four generations of cats fed cooked and four generations of cats fed the same diet, except raw. With the cooked diet, Dr. Pottenger found that each generation developed health problems at earlier ages than the preceding generation. The raw fed cats remained healthy. We now know that the cooked diets were deficient in taurine and thiamin.