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Anne Luther, BA, MS, DVM, CVA

Nutrition is the Key to your Pet's Health
Anne Luther, BA, MS, DVM, CVA

It is probably no surprise that proper nutrition is the most important factor in your pet's health. Feeding an optimal diet will prevent many health problems in your companion including skin and ear disease as well as more serious issues such as metabolic diseases, arthritis, and cancer. The allergies that are so common here in Florida may be significantly reduced or eliminated by feeding a healthy diet. Click HERE for more.

What may be surprising to some folks is that most commercial dog food is junk food. It contains only the minimum daily requirements for pets, not the optimum requirements. While these foods are AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) approved, they may still contain dehydrated garbage, numerous chemical preservatives, poultry, cow and pig feces, antibiotics and chemotherapy agents, plastic, and poultry feathers. Believe it or not, these are officially allowed on the AAFCO list of approved substances. Animal carcasses may also be found in these foods. Although the FDA does not officially approve of Sodium Pentothal (a common euthanasia agent) to be in pet food, a 1998 study by the FDA showed that many of the foods tested had measureable amounts of this substance in many popular brands of pet food.

The best food is composed of fresh, preferably organic, vegetables, meat, and fat. A raw diet is ideal because all of the vitamins and enzymes are still intact in this food. Dogs and cats are carnivores and they are designed to derive their necessary nutrients from raw food. Because dogs and cats have a limited amount of their own enzymes, they depend on the enzymes present in raw food to fully utilize the food. These enzymes are destroyed by cooking the food at high temperatures. All dry foods are cooked at high temperatures and, therefore, they lack the enzymes necessary for dogs and cats to extract the most nutrients out of their food.

Because dogs and cats digestive tracts are different than humans, they are not as susceptible to the bacterial contamination which may occur in raw food. In the wild, they eat dead carrion which is crawling with bacteria. However, our pets are not accustomed to this bacterial load so they may still develop digestive upset when they consume rancid food.

In order to avoid possible intestinal upset due to rancid raw food, I recommend a pre made frozen raw diet. There are a number of pre made frozen raw diets available from specialty pet food stores. These diets are formulated by veterinary nutritionists and many of them are designed to provide a complete diet. They are also screened for bacterial contamination at the manufacturing facility, reducing the risk of bacterial exposure.

Variety is also important for your pet's diet. Feeding the same diet every day may lead to some nutritional deficiencies. There are numerous formulations available and I recommend varying them so that your pet is more likely to obtain all of the proper nutrients.

If you plan to cook for your pet, it is extremely important to have the diet formulated by an experienced veterinary nutritionist. Although many books are available which have recipes for animals, none are complete diets to support the long term health of these pets.

While many pets love the raw diets, some pets do not like them and refuse to consume them. For dogs, mixing a good quality canned food and dry food may be an option. For cats, feeding a variety of canned foods is recommended. Cats should not eat dry food because they do not consume enough water and dry food tends to dehydrate them, leading to many disorders, especially kidney failure.

Dry foods do not prevent tartar buildup in cats because they do not chew their food very well.

As a rule, anything you can buy at the grocery store is not good for your pet. Also, price does matter. If a food is cheap, this means the ingredients are cheap and probably contain some of the undesirable ingredients listed above.

Many of the health problems which I see in my practice could have been prevented with a better diet. However, it is never too late to improve your best friend's diet. Make the transition gradually as the more nutritious food may take some time for your pet's digestive system to adjust to. Your holistic veterinarian or knowledgeable holistic pet store personnel should be able to give you advice for making the transition. Remember that the right diet for your pet is the one that they thrive on. Every animal is different and what is ideal for one, may not be right for another one. If they do not enjoy the food or have digestive upset, try a different food. Geriatric pets or those with significant health issues should consult with their holistic veterinarian prior to changing the diet.

In summary, feeding the optimal diet to your pet is the best way to ensure that they live a long, healthy life. Although the frozen raw diets or the premium foods found in specialty pet food stores are more expensive than those found at the grocery store, the health benefits far out weigh the expense. You can either pay for the good food now or pay the veterinarian later to treat your pet's health issues.

With over 23 years of experience as a small animal veterinarian, Dr. Anne Luther has the expertise to provide your pet with the care you want for your best friend. She takes pride in developing great relationships with her patients as well as their best friend (you).

Dr. Luther is a certified veterinary acupuncturist and herbalist. She is also trained in the ancient Chinese art of Tui Na, which is a form of bodywork similar to massage and acupressure.

Dr. Luther studied with renowned veterinary homeopath, Dr. Richard Pitcairn (author of Natural Health for Dogs and Cats) and practices classical homeopathy currently in her practice.

She is a Reiki Master and combines Reiki with other treatment modalities, such as crystal therapy and acupuncture to strengthen the outcome.

Dr. Luther has studied Ayurvedic and Chinese Nutritional theory and utilizes these as a part of her treatment plan. She also utilizes whole food vitamins and glandular therapy to supplement the diet, when necessary.

Dr. Luther also utilizes the revolutionary Bicom 2000, a bioresonance machine which is extremely useful for diagnosing and treating allergies, as well as numerous diseases, including cancer.

To learn more about Dr. Luther, visit her website at: http://srqvet.com

The Role of Supplements
By Jaime Gonzalez, DVM, CVA

Supplements are an integral part of any nutritional plan designed for overall good health. They complement the diet and can be specifically tailored to a pet according to age, physical needs, body condition, and even personality type. Their healing properties of cell detoxification and anti-aging make them invaluable tools for easing pain and inflammation, helping to resolving infections, and boosting the immune system.

Supplements therefore can have preventative or therapeutic benefits and certainly enhance the quality of a pet’s life.

Here are but a few that are routinely and safely used:

  • Essential fatty acids: Fish oils, Flaxseed oils (Omega -3) and evening primrose oil (Omega -6) have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antioxidant effects. They have a direct effect on skin and help with joint pain.
  • Nutraceuticals: Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds required for the formations of glycosaminoglycans, which build cartilage and maintain joint fluid. They are also essential in blocking destructive enzymes within the joints.  
  • Probiotics and digestive enzymes: These help in the digestive process, which in turn improves general absorption and metabolism, improves the immune system’s response against cancer cells, and helps restore overall health.
  • Antioxidants: These help clear toxins from the body at cellular and blood levels. The toxins are called free radicals and are unstable molecules, by-products of the body’s enzyme reactions which are liberated during the clean up process.

Common antioxidants include:

  • Vitamin C (sodium ascorbate):  A water-soluble vitamin that, among other actions, enhances natural killer cells and lymphocyte activity, helps neutralize cancer-producing chemicals, and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.    
  • Vitamin A and mixed Carotenes: Especially good for respiratory mucosa, helping with sinusitis, and lung problems.
  • Vitamins E with Selenium: Acts as an anti-inflammatory decreasing swelling in the joints and musculoskeletal system.
  • Coenzyme Q-10: A potent antioxidant, helping with oxygenation of the blood, lowering blood pressure, and acting as an antihistamine and anticancer supplement.
  • Quercitin: This is found in blue-green algae. It is a Bioflavonoid that helps with Vitamin C absorption and helps to lower cholesterol.

When looking for these supplements make sure they are from a reputable source. Try to become knowledgeable by asking your veterinarian which ones are appropriate ones for your pet and incorporate them into your friend’s diet.     

To learn more about Dr. Gonzalez, visit his website at: www.bearcreeksarasota.com


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