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“What do I feed my pet?”

Here is a brief post I made on a forum during the pet food recall of 2007 in answer to this important question: “What do I feed?”. It is one of the most commonly asked questions in the exam room and in Emails I receive every day…and rightfully so. Most people are quite confused at this point, with some bags of commercial food having banners proudly stating “No wheat, no corn, no soy and no dairy products” with the bag next to them having one or more of these “controversial” foods in the top four of the ingredient list.

We are in a strange place in veterinary medicine right now, with many manufacturers understanding that wheat is a problem (e.g. the top pet food allergen) but not comprehending why it is so. The answer to this conundrum is simple: They don’t understand the nature of gluten. We and our pets become allergic to wheat because of the damage done to the intestinal villi by an intolerance to gluten. The allergy is the by-product of the damage done by this sticky, inflammatory glycoprotein in individuals who have become sensitized to gluten. The jury is still out on the number of individuals who are gluten sensitive but the numbers are rising every day. Researchers are finally coming to the conclusion that gluten is not good for anyone, only better tolerated by some than others.

So, it makes not sense to use the other gluten grains- barley, rye, triticale, kamut/kawmut, spelt, duram/durham- in pet foods knowing that gluten is the issue, does it? But it also makes no sense to use the other foods that can induce villous damage in pets and their people, namely dairy (casein), soy and corn- none of which would the dog even come across in nature, much less eat the stuff. (For the history of wheat, cow milk use, soy and corn, see the FAQ’s page.)

So, what should we feed our pets? Common sense dictates that they receive a biologically-appropriate, non-damaging diet that meets their nutritional needs. Dogs and cats are carnivores, with canines also being scavengers by nature. Cats would basically consume a pure meat diet, with a little pre-digested vegetation from the intestinal tract of their herbivorous prey. Dogs would eat meat, eggs, fruits, berries, vegetables, and animal scat, the latter seeming quite repulsive to most owners but actually loaded with B complex and other nutrients. (For example, rabbits make a lot of B complex in their colons).

How do we duplicate this? Are we willing to do what it takes to feed our beloved pets what they need? That’s what the article is all about.

Dogtor J

“What to feed, what to feed???”- A Forum Post

by Dogtor J

That’s a great question…quite involved, but a good question. We should feed the pet as close to a natural diet as possible. “As possible” means:

1) As close to what we understand “natural” to be; or…

2) As close to natural as we can afford; or…

3) As close to natural as it fits with our own pet philosophy and what we are willing to do.

The vast majority of pet owners are not going to do more than feed something out of a can or a bag. Sad but true. Remember: The vast majority of pet owners are not on a forum like this seeking information about how to best feed their pet. It has been like pulling teeth just to get my hospital clients to go to the pet shop for food rather than the grocery store, the latter having no dry foods that meet my criteria of eliminating all gluten, dairy, soy and corn.

So, you have those owners who will seek out the best commercial food but stop there. Then you have those who will occasionally add some table food while others will do some home-cooking on a regular basis to supplement the base diet of commercial foods. At the other end of the spectrum, you have “the elite” who try to make the diet perfect and natural in every way. That is a very small but growing group.

Where do each of us fit into this spectrum? It has been shown that those pets that get table food in addition to their commercial diet live longer, contrary to what most vets- including me for the first 20 years of my career- have said all of their lives. It should not surprise us to find this to be true when we think about the incredible nutritional value of fresh meats/eggs, veggies and fruits. There is no replacement for fresh ingredients, especially when you read how commercial pet food is made. Dry kibble becomes the definition of “processed food”.

The answer to “What to feed?” then becomes this- Feed a food that is not harmful and as nutritionally complete as possible. My goal since April of 2000 has been to eliminate the harmful ingredients alone and watch what happens. Miracles have happened after the elimination all gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn. These are very harmful to large numbers of pets and people. Dogs and cats are clearly gluten intolerant just as large numbers of people are. For those who doubt that, look up “gluten enteropathy” in the Irish setter. I was taught about this over 30 years ago in veterinary school. Oddly enough, even those who taught me this in veterinary school have forgotten this “fun fact”.

I am now focusing on making the diet as nutritionally complete as possible by adding fresh sources of protein (meats, eggs) and fresh sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in the form of veggies and fruits. Lastly, we should be using select supplements that may not be provided by the above, such as omega three fatty acids, D3, magnesium, selenium, or things that the individual seems to need specifically such as glucosamine for its joints or kelp for its thyroids. (I will be placing a page on my Website with a list of supplements and their dosage in the near future.)

Again, my site has an ever-changing list of “clean” dog foods (those that contain none of the “big 4”). The bottom line of this pet food recall at this point is that the new wheat gluten additive was the source of problems, so foods without wheat gluten- which should be avoided anyway- are safe to feed. But, stay tuned. This story is not over yet.

I hope this helps,


Related articles…

The Truth about the Ingredients in Pet Food

Is the Pet Food Industry in the Business of Population Control?

Dogtor J’s Recommended Pet Foods

Just Desserts

These are little tidbits of knowledge I’ve discovered or insights I’ve gained over the years while doing my in-depth studies.For example, did you know researchers have found that nearly 40% of the genetic information in our DNA is viral information? This explains what we call “genetic diseases” including familial and breed tendencies toward food intolerance (e.g. celiac disease), neurological disorders (e.g. epilepsy), and numerous cancers.

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Blogtor J

Welcome to the blog of the new New research into the origin of our medical woes has revealed something startling: As it turns out, we are our own worst enemy. Yes, the Pogo quote of yesteryear found in the title of this article is quite accurate when applied to our medical lives. We love to discuss those things that we call “causes” of diseases even though we often have little clue as to how these things really cause illness. Even medical professionals can have difficulty grasping the true cause-and-effect. But that is understandable once some insight is gained into the true nature of medical training.

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News Flash!

In this section, I will be placing links to the latest breaking news in the food world, including updates on the use of elimination diets to control disease, articles on pet food, the truth about GMO foods and more. I will do my best to balance the bad with the good, but try to remember: Much of this will seem like bad news but at least we know about it now…and can change it!


With some of these stories, I will include a link to a blog entry so that you can comment on the article. This idea came to me after reading the first entry, which is a news flash that made my blood boil.

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As misconceptions go, this is a high-priority item. Hip dysplasia is not what we were taught.

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Dogs and cats are carnivores yet most pet foods are grain-based. Knowing how to read a label is also very important. Does your pet food really have vegetables in it? Really???

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I have been successfully treating pets with epilepsy using diet changes alone for nearly 10 years. The results have been astounding. This paper helps to summarize my findings and recommendations.

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This is the first blog placed on (6-24-07) and pretty much covers the gamut of topics – from heartburn to cancer – that are discussed on this Website. The bottom line? Viruses and bacteria are not the enemy. We are! The good news: We do have our health destinies in our own hands.

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Gluten Intolerance and Your Pet

This paper is an article I wrote for the newsletter of when asked about the prevalence of celiac disease (gluten intolerance) in the dog and cat. This condition has been definitively diagnosed in the Irish Setter but not many other breeds of dogs. I will not be at all surprised when we find that it does exist in numerous other breeds… and even the lovable mutt…but as this article explains, that may very well be a moot point. Gluten is only the beginning.

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The Answer

This 40-plus page paper is my first major paper, written in 2001 and hurriedly placed on this site on that fateful and tragic day of 9-11. It represents the culmination of nearly two years of research on the subject of food-related disorders and contains an amazing amount of facts that have been hidden from public view concerning this subject. It covers how the “big 4” trouble foods- gluten, dairy, soy and corn- came into being, catapulted into common usage, and became directly involved in most of our serious medical conditions, including epilepsy, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, ADHD, pain syndromes, depression, and allergies. Severe immune-mediated diseases such as diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis are also covered.


Yes, it is quite long, but it appeared on my computer screen and was placed onto the Web just as it came out of my head. And it is wordy in places. But, as I tell my clients, “There is no law that you have to read it all in one sitting. Think of it as a free, short book rather than a long research paper. It’s all how you look at it, right?”


The one thing I can say is that this information WILL change your life…guaranteed!!!

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