Dogtor J’s Food Handout
This handout has “morphed” significantly over the last two years as I became more aware and knowledgeable of the foods that were doing us all harm. Also, the pet food industry is in a dynamic state and the “safe food list” has been changing like a chameleon, thanks in part to the addition of soy to both dog and cat formulas (errrh). I now advise pet owner to check the ingredient list of their chosen food at least every other purchase. I also strongly urge owners to add fresh vegetables, fruits, and a source of natural protein (meats, eggs) to these commercial diets for completeness.
Keep in mind that this handout is given to my personal veterinary clients when they visit my office for the first time. In most instances, the exam room lecture they receive from me is the first time they have heard about the problems we see with the average commercial diet. Most of these dog and cat owners have been buying their pet’s food at the grocery store, oblivious to the totally unnatural and potentially devastating ingredients found therein. I usually spend a large portion of each office call explaining food intolerance and how it relates to their pet’s condition (often leading to a deep discussion of the client’s medical woes, as well).
I am aware of the fact that there are many other high-quality commercial diets available on-line and in other areas of the country. I have most of them listed on my Dogtor J’s Recommended Pet Foods page. I do try my best to keep that page current. The main criterion for a particular food being listed is that it be free of all gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn, including the oils of those ingredients. I have additional restrictions for those patients suffering from epilepsy or related neurological conditions. I also attempt to stay current when it comes to recalls and adverse publicity but this task is getting harder to accomplish as my time is now being consumed in other areas. I do appreciate it greatly when people write to me, pointing out the necessary changes in this ever-evolving list of acceptable commercial diets.
The following is meant to be a quick reference guide for those just starting down this path. I do hope it helps.
DogtorJ.com’s Elimination Diet
Food allergies are on the rise in veterinary medicine in both dogs and cats. These are manifested mainly as dermatological (skin and ears) and gastrointestinal problems. Chronic ear problems in the dog and chronic vomiting in the cat are big “red flags” for food allergies and intolerances. However, many immune-mediated diseases (those caused by or triggered by the immune system) have been linked recently to food intolerance. Such things as hypothyroidism, diabetes, lupus, coronary artery disease, epilepsy, asthma( cow milk and corn), hyperthyroidism (Grave’s disease), and rheumatoid arthritis as well as many psychological disorders (such as autism and ADHD in people) have been tied to food intolerance in the recent past.
Dog foods and treats many times contain the food ingredients that have been most often incriminated in food allergies and intolerances. Historically, the main allergens have been dairy products and cereal grains (wheat, barley, and corn) in the dog and cat. Now soy is also a major cause of problems. So, when deciding which foods to buy for your pet, especially for the allergic pet, try to follow these basic guidelines first.
Things to Eliminate:
1) Wheat, barley, rye – All of them. (including bread, crackers, treats, & wheat gluten)
2) Dairy products – All of them. (including all milk, cheese, whey, and casein)
3) Soy – This is also a major problem in people. (See anti-soy links below)
4) Corn – (including corn gluten meal)- This is important in asthma and epilepsy
By eliminating the above items, you will be taking care of the majority food allergens and all four of the major sources of food intolerance (gluten in grains, casein in dairy, corn, and soy protein.) This must be considered in all foods, including TREATS and TABLE FOOD. Most commercial dog and cat treats are loaded with wheat, soy, corn, artificial preservatives, and many of the animal proteins to which pets may be secondarily allergic. In addition, the typical cat treat is often a “who’s who” of artificial preservatives and colors.
Below are some of the “safe” foods for your pets that leave out most or all of the above ingredients. ALWAYS READ LABELS. Not every flavor variety is safe.
*Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance potato, sweet potato and rice-based foods.
*Lamaderm by NaturalLife – Available at select WalMarts
*Taste of the Wild – Multiple formulas available (Bison, Salmon)
*Life’s Abundance – Dog and Cat foods (www.manna4pets.com ) Available here.
*Canidae and Felidae Grain-Free Pet Foods –
*Wellness- Core – Both Dog and cat formulas available. (Pet Supplies Plus)
*Merrick- Before the Grain – Both cat and dog formulas available.
*Solid Gold – “Barking at the Moon” (dog) and “Indigo Moon” (cat) only.
If symptoms persist after 3-6 weeks of starting these diets, then blood testing is available to identify other food allergies. These can be varied and numerous, especially in aged pets. The most common secondary food allergens are lamb, rice and chicken due to their commonness in pet foods. Strive to use a novel protein.
Above all, BE STRICT. Food allergies can be very sensitive conditions and the least amount of the offending substance may trigger reactions that can last for days. Be creative in finding safe treats for your pets- those that MATCH the diet. This will be a lot harder on you than your pet.
Important Internet Links:
www.dogtorj.com (My Site) www.manna4pets.com (Life’s Abundance) www.celiac.com www.mercola.com
www.growingupwithpets.com (An informative site about raising your four-legged friends in a two-legged household)
www.gfcfdiet.com – A great site for ADHD/Autism sufferers www.mercola.com/article/soy/ – Anti-soy information
www.notmilk.com www.nomilk.com www.foodallergytest.com – The Sage Systems test for food allergies (Very important for human sufferers)
www.dldewey.com/hydroil.htm – Print out and read “Hydrogenated oils- The Silent Killers” and his paper on aspartame.