The Ideal Diet for Your Pet?Pets | Dr. Gibran Ramos | June 18, 2010 at 10:30 am
This is a continuation of a conversation I recently had with pet food expert, Chip Sammons. He is owner of Holistic Pet Center in Clackamas, Oregon. In this part of the interview, what to do to keep your pet optimally healthy from the raw food diet and dental care, to fleas and free-feeding. Read the first part of the interview here.
What do you think is optimal nutrition for a pet?
Optimal nutrition is based upon the pet’s ancestral diet. Dogs and cats have very short digestive tracts and have not evolved to digest grains so we use grain free products. A lot of dogs and cats suffer from dermatitis and other allergy symptoms so you should really avoid feeding them beef, corn, wheat, soy and yeast. Some dogs and cats do okay with corn but others do not.
When we look at the ancestral diet of a cat or dog, we know that they most efficiently digest protein and fats, not carbohydrates. Cats and dogs were not eating any grains. They definitely weren’t farming. They definitely foraged for some vegetables and fruits, but definitely not wheat, corn, etc.
Before the modern grain-containing pet food, cats and dogs didn’t get obese, didn’t get diabetes, didn’t get thyroid disease. Some estimate that 60% of overweight pets are because of too much grain consumption. People tell me that they don’t overfeed their pet too much cat or dog food, but overfeeding often sneaks in as too many unhealthy treats. Many pet treats found in the store contain a lot of what’s on the “avoid” list like artificial ingredients and lots of grains.
So for our store, we avoid the primary list of artificial ingredients, find products that use real meats and no by-products, and don’t use wheat or corn.
Do you recommend free-feeding?
We don’t recommend that you leave food out all the time. It’s best for your pet physiology and pancreas that they eat only twice per day. It’s also best for your pet’s sense of security that they know they will get food twice per day at a specific time. Pets don’t like to have to guard their food and worry about it all day long. If they know that at a certain time in the morning and certain time in the evening they are getting fed, its much less stressful. What a lot of pet owners who free-feed don’t notice is that most dogs and cats don’t nibble throughout the day and will actually choose on their own to only eat early in the morning and then again in the evening. Leave clean fresh water out all the time and pick it up 20 minutes before eating to preserve your pet’s healthy stomach acidity.
The raw food diet thing is probably the most controversial and debated subject in the pet food world right now. What’s your take on this?
I think the best diet you could feed your dog or cat is a well balanced raw food diet and the worst diet you could feed your pet is an imbalanced raw food diet. A lot of people try it, but the don’t do enough research to find out what the balance should be. A common mistake is for people to think that an all meat diet for their dog is healthy. Dogs will die with an all meat diet. Also, a raw food diet is not the same as feeding from the table. Dogs don’t do well with a lot of cooked foods or spices. A comprehensive well-balanced raw food diet is better than any bagged or canned food, but it’s the most challenging way to feed a pet. It also takes a lot of time.
The second best way to feed your pet is a using a frozen or dehydrated raw food diet. You don’t want to cook the frozen or dehydrated raw food, because heat destroys the raw food’s natural vitamins and enzymes making it less nutritious. I was one of the first retailers to have a frozen raw food section in my store. I used to buy hundreds of pounds of kidneys, livers and meat and make the food for my customers. Today, there are pet food makers that do this and I sell their products pre-packaged. I sell the best five frozen raw food diets. These are complete balanced diets.
The third best option is a dry kibble grain free diets. These somewhat match the balance of protein and vegetables in the form of dry food. We have the best three dry and canned grain free diets for dogs and cats. The problem with any consumer product is that there are a lot of other people trying to make grain free diets, but they don’t have the knowledge base on how to make a truly healthy and balanced diet.
What do you recommend for pet dental care?
The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) came out with a study about 10 years ago that found that dry dog food is only responsible for 5% of tartar reduction. Their recommendation was to use some sort of dental cleaning chewing device. An example of this would be a natural and toxin free raw hide, raw bones, or Nylabone. Basically it would be something that would mimic your dog chewing on a stick – a dog toothbrush found in the wild. Another option is brushing their teeth from the time they are a puppy or kitten. This is a really good way to bond with your pet.
Let’s move on the subject of fleas. Is there a way to avoid poisoning our pets?
I wrote a book titled Flea Control: A Holistic & Humorous Approach. The purpose of the book was to help people understand how to control or eradicated fleas without resorting to poisoning their pets. Many of the conventional veterinary flea control methods involve using topical poisons or pesticides on your pet or in your home or yard. A conventional flea collar, Advantage (Imidacloprid), or a flea bomb are all insecticides and poisons to humans and pets. These are neurotoxins with serious side-effects that persist on your pet and in your house for weeks getting absorbed by all members of your household, humans and animals.
What are some of the signs of an adverse reaction to some of the spot-on treatments?
Convulsions, seizures, shaking, vomiting, drooling, and more. The problem is many people apply these flea control chemicals to their pets and usually don’t notice the connection. They just think that their dog or cat is getting sick. The CDC got so many adverse reaction reports to these flea control chemicals that now the EPA is investigating the topical spot-on flea and tick control products for safety. The EPA has made recommendations for clearer labeling.
My book educates pet owners on the life cycle of fleas and how they can stop flea reproduction not only on their dog, but also within the home and yard. There are stages of the flea life cycle in which it is much easier to eradicate fleas than other stages. Diet also plays a factor in making your pet a desirable place or host for fleas. In the book, I teach pet owners how to have natural flea control without using harsh and toxic chemicals. I teach people how to take a holistic approach by treating the cause of why fleas reproduce in homes and on pets. I like to remind pet owners that just because it says the flea control product is naturally derived; it still may harm their pet. Natural is not always safe.
Dr. Gibran Ramos completed his six year training and internship in Naturopathic and Chinese Medicine at National College of Natural Medicine. Dr. Ramos helps patients transform their lives and optimize their well-being at a private practice in Portland, Oregon.