YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT AND SO IS YOUR DOG!
I’m lucky to have grown up in the 1970’s feeding our family dogs as learnt from ’back in the day’ on meats, especially lamb’s hearts, leftovers, veggies, and raw bones from the butcher.
When I brought Molly, my first Miniature Bull Terrier home in 2002, I was confused when, at our first vet appointment, we were gifted a bag of biscuits – apparently the new way of feeding dogs for maximum health?!
On the way home I quickly reflected on this. As we lived near an excellent butcher’s, I thought I didn’t need this bag, especially as Molly’s breeder had recommended raw green tripe.
After realising that vets were not at all supportive in helping source raw green tripe, my quest for raw green tripe led to the only two suppliers back then. My butcher could only source white or bleached tripe for human consumption.
I learnt the expression: You Are What You Eat early on, and abide by it on a human level. This is why I never eat processed foods and I don’t own a microwave.
My passion to feed Molly for optimum health inspired my study on canine (and feline) nutrition at the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies.
The field of nutrition changes almost daily with science increasingly confirming the health value of fresh functional wholefoods.
These foods should be ‘bio-available’, meaning the type of food that can be digested, broken down and absorbed seamlessly into the bloodstream from the small intestine. Before being circulated to every cell in the body and fuelling them with ‘nutrients’ and energy.
It’s interesting to think of food as impacting positively on your cellular expression. But many foods like overly processed options are classed as an ‘environmental stressor’ or anti-nutrients, which can be defined as: “a toxic contagion in your surroundings that accumulates overtime to impact negatively on health and mental wellbeing”.
Appreciating the key role of food, the new science of Epigenetics investigates the interplay between everything in our environment, including diet, that impacts either positively or negatively to genetic expression, which either promotes health or creates disease.
Each of our trillions of cells is surrounded by a semi-permeable structure called the Epigenome, which is responsible for selecting and transferring nutrients like metabolites into the Genome - where the DNA is stored in almost every cell.
Ideally only ‘good’, appropriate nutrients should be allowed into the genome, but inevitably in our modern environments, many contaminants like sugars, antibiotics, and chemicals will also enter through its semi-permeable structure. Over time contributing to distorting our genetic expression causing inflammation and disease.
Dogs can’t choose and buy the food they eat. They’re dependant on their Pet Parents / Owners to do that for them.
I’ve seen how many dogs have been transformed by a switch from processed to a raw unadulterated balanced and species appropriate complete diet.
Not least with my own Mr Binks, who I re-homed aged two. He’s an English Toy Terrier and nearly 12. He has a degenerative health condition called Legg Calve Perthes Disease, which affects his bones and hip joints.
It’s classed as an idiopathic condition: vets are split as to whether it is environmentally caused from over exercise as a puppy or whether its congenital, inherited from damaged DNA.
Either way feeding him on foods meant for a carnivore, including fresh raw meat, offal and ground bone didn’t only put hairs on his bald chest!
Along with appropriate exercise, massage, Physiotherapy (including ‘red light’ therapy), his diet helped strengthen his joints, build his muscles and strengthen his bones by fuelling him appropriately at a cellular level.
He’s proof that along with a focus on the holistic health principle: You are what you eat!
- Remember you make all your dog’s life choices from what they eat to appropriate exercise, training and socialisation. In choosing a raw brand, take time to read the company’s ethics, especially about the farms where their meats are sourced. The quality of ethically reared livestock is essential. I prefer not to opt for ‘white label’ brands, but for independent family run firms like Paleoridge. It’s important for me choose a brand that maximises its sustainability through appropriate packaging and production that offsets Co2 simply with the mantra: reuse, reduce and recycle.
- Every dog is an individual and one size does not fit all. Create a lifestyle that’s appropriate for your dog individual’s life stages. That goes for adding supplements appropriately too. Dogs begin to age at three to four years, so I suggest adding an all-round supplement to boost the immune system like Keeper’s Mix from Dorwest. I add fresh blueberries to Mr Binks diet along with Seatone Green Lipped Mussel, packed with species appropriate Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and Collar-gen from Pawable to support his degenerating bones. Most recently as Mr Binks is approaching 12 years, I’ve added the new BrainCopa from Dorwest, which combines DHA and the brain ’tonic’ herb, Bacopa.
- Don’t underestimate the capacity of a raw balanced species appropriate diet (with no starches) to help with your dog’s behaviour: counter anxiety, hyperactivity, and reactivity. Plus, the relationship of a non-sterile diet containing good bacteria helps fuel the Microbiome, where 90% of the immune system resides. It feeds on trillions of live bacteria that must be present if your dog is to thrive. A healthy microbiome also scientifically proven to influence clear cognition and brain health.
- Be aware of the role that water plays in your dog’s body. In fact, like humans, dogs are 70-80 per cent water! Keeping your pooch deeply hydrated at a cellular level helps the body’s metabolic function, regulating temperature, glucose modulation and aiding digestion. I like to add Bone Broth at least to one meal a day offering an intense boost of minerals and vitamins known to boost the immune system, reducing inflammation and offering an isotonic, deeply hydrating boost at a cellular level. I filter our drinking water in a bid to remove as many chemicals as I can.
- Avoid over sterile environments and be aware that many household cleaning products contain chemicals that can negatively impact cellular expression.