Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a pretty frightening word, and certainly not one you want to hear associated with the health of your beloved canine. This condition has been in the news a bit lately and can be especially worrisome to hear that certain forms of the condition may be related to diet. It’s worth taking a moment to understand the issue and what you as a pet parent can do to make sure the condition doesn’t affect your dogs.
Dilated cardiomyopathy, or DCM, is a condition in which the left ventricle of the heart becomes enlarged and weakened, leading to poor circulation, more extensive heart damage, and eventually heart failure. Though the condition is often hereditary when observed in dogs, an increasing number of cases have been observed in dogs without any known genetic predisposition. So what has been happening in the last few decades that may account for the increase in affected dogs? It turns out that, as with many modern illnesses in pets, diet may be to blame. In this case, grain-free kibble diets high in potato, pea, etc. starches.
First a Bit About Taurine
Taurine (aminoethane sulfonic acid) is an essential amino acid, meaning that, though the body may be able to produce small amounts of it on its own, the primary source needs to come from food. Taurine is especially essential because of how vital it is to heart health. It’s an important osmoregulator that stabilizes membranes and mitigates oxidative stress and contractile function. Taurine is also essential to eye health, insulin sensitivity, hearing function, and electrolyte balance. Luckily, taurine is found in high levels in heart and other muscle tissue, which are both often found in pet food. However, it absolutely matters how the meat is treated, and what else the food contains.
Raw Food Preserves Intact Amino Acids
In other Steve’s Real Food literature, you can read all of the science-y goodness about how and why amino acids are more bioavailable in raw pet food, but the basic idea is this: raw foods retain all of the natural unaltered amino acids in the food. Not only are the amino acids found in naturally high concentrations, but they are in their most basic and usable form, meaning that they are ready for your dog to use directly after digestion. Cooked foods simply do not have much (if any) actually usable amino acids present, after undergoing the high heat process that most kibbles endure. Though many foods include supplemental taurine, it will still never be as good as the real, straight-from-the-source taurine found in raw meats.
Starches Can Prevent Amino Acid Absorption
Grain-free kibble needs some kind of starch to hold the doughy mixture together through processing, so many companies turned to alternative sources for starch, such as potatoes and peas. According to Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, a possible link between low taurine absorption and high-starch content may be related to a “chemical reaction (called the Maillard Reaction) between taurine and a carbohydrate during the extrusion process that depletes the digestible taurine level in the food”. The high heat processing that causes the interaction of carbohydrates and amino acids also promotes the proliferation of gut bacteria that can further inhibit the absorption and recycling of taurine. So basically, the high carbohydrate content in the food and the high heat process the food undergoes lowers the amount of taurine in the food and makes it harder for your pet to absorb what taurine is present.
Ways to Ensure Your Pet Has Adequate Taurine in Their Diet
Though we will always recommend raw feeding above all, we realize that this is not ideal for everyone. Luckily, there are ways to add taurine into your pet’s diet, no matter what you choose to feed. Try any of the following methods to make sure your pet has a healthy intake of taurine:
- Avoid foods that are high in starches including grains, potatoes, legumes (such as peas or beans), or tapioca
- Avoid foods that are processed (extruded) at very high heat; a “lightly baked” or equivalent is a better bet if you are not able to do raw food
- Add raw muscle meats (especially heart) into your pet’s current nutritionally balanced diet
- Look for pet foods that have supplemental taurine added into the recipe
- Add a can or two of canned fish to your pet’s diet per week
- Add raw goat milk into your pet’s diet—try our enhance line of products, all made with raw goat milk
Taurine is especially high in the following foods, so try to incorporate them into your pet’s diet! Raw is always best, but if you must feed these foods cooked, make sure they are as minimally processed as possible. Remember that variety is the key!
- And other animal muscle meats
Becker, K. S. (2018, July 9). Are Dogs With DCM Taurine-Deficient? Retrieved from https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2018/07/09/link-between-dog-food-taurine-deficiency-and-dcm.aspx
Lourenco R, Camilo ME: Taurine: a conditionally essential amino acid in humans? An overview in health and disease. Nutr Hosp. 2002, 17: 262-70.
Yu, H., Guo, Z., Shen, S., & Shan, W. (2016). Effects of taurine on gut microbiota and metabolism in mice. Amino Acids, 48(7), 1601-1617. doi:10.1007/s00726-016-2219-y
Most dog owners go a long way to keep their four-legged friend healthy; routine checkups, regular exercise, quality food, and so on. But what about his dental health? According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), periodontal disease is the most common oral disease in dogs. A healthy dog’s teeth should be white and free of tartar and plaque. They should also not be broken or jagged.
The Importance of Dental Health for Your Dog
Proper dental hygiene is a critical part of your dog’s overall wellbeing. The plaque which builds up on your dog’s teeth is a mixture of food debris, oral bacteria, and proteins in your pet’s saliva. Plaque forms a biofilm that sticks to a tooth’s surface. Plaque requires physical scrubbing to remove, and once cleaned, it can return in under 24 hours. The plaque hardens to form tartar (a.k.a. calculus), a rock-hard crust that forms along the gum line, which is a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. This leads to gum infection (gingivitis) or gum inflammation. Gingivitis leads to the spread of harmful inflammatory substances known as cytokines through the bloodstream to internal organs such as the heart, pancreas, kidneys, and the liver. Thus, periodontal disease is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases in dogs.
The Major Source of Dental Disease in Dogs
Although the lack of proper dental hygiene and old age contribute to periodontal disease in dogs, the major source of such is an improper diet. Contrary to the belief that kibble helps maintain good dental health, the truth is that kibble is what crunchy crackers are to your teeth. They can only succeed in removing some of the plaque on your dog’s teeth but will be ineffective in removing the plaque on the gumline.
The predominant ingredient in most kibble products is starches or carbohydrates which are used to bind ingredients to form the kibble shape. As dogs do not have the enzyme amylase in their saliva to break down the starch, the bacteria in the mouth feed on these sugars and carbohydrates. This leads to rapid tartar and plaque buildup, which explains why dogs that feed on kibble have more dental issues than those which feed on raw diets and bones. Your pet’s immune system responds by trying to fight back the bacteria build-up which leads to inflammation or gingivitis. This is the onset of periodontal disease.
If left untreated, tartar continues to build up and pulls the gumline away from the teeth. This creates pockets where more bacteria grow. This causes tissue and bone deterioration causing your pet to lose its teeth.
Benefits of Raw Pet Food and Raw Bones on Your Dog’s Teeth
The best way to prevent periodontal disease in your dog is by providing it with the best diet; raw meaty bones and raw pet food. When your pet is gnawing on a raw bone, they have to chew through the meat and bone which helps scrape off the plaque on its teeth. In addition, raw meat has live enzymes that destroy the dangerous bacteria which build up on your pet’s gums. Chewing on a bone provides your dog with an outlet for their natural species-appropriate behavior. It releases calming endorphins and exercises your dog’s jaws, neck, and shoulders.
Raw diets are a natural dental abrasive, that effectively acts as a toothbrush when your pet is eating. Raw diest are also rich sources of minerals, calcium, phosphorus, and protein. Raw pet foods contain natural live enzymes as well as “good” bacteria which help prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Raw and barf diets also provide a suitable habitat for your pet’s healthy oral microbiome.
Professional dental cleaning under anesthesia has become quite common and can be attributed to starch laden diets and kibble. In fact, a recent study shows that raw fed dogs showed signs of dental diseases when fed with kibble for only 17 days. You can avoid this by ensuring that you provide raw meaty bones and a natural diet to your pets.
Diarrhea is quite a common canine affliction as your pet will put almost anything in its mouth. This problem is a symptom of gastrointestinal issues and is characterized by loose, frequent stools which may be accompanied by abdominal pain and lethargy. Diarrhea varies in duration, intensity, and frequency from one dog to another.
While you might not be able to completely prevent diarrhea in your pet, knowing as much as you can about it could help you limit the occurrence of these nasty episodes.
Benefits of Kelp for Dogs
When slimy seaweed floats beside you in the water, it can startle you; but kelp is actually really good for both people and dogs.
Kelp is a natural source of amino acids; it is 25% protein with only 2% fat in this sea veggie. Kelp is known for its iodine, which is important for healthy thyroid function. While other plants from the sea are nutrients for dogs, kelp contains 60 different minerals and vitamins and 21 amino acids, making it a great ingredient to have in dog food.
Pets experience body joint issues with some displaying symptoms such as reluctance to rise, lameness, reduced mobility, among other symptoms. Due to the side effects experienced from the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) drugs when treating osteoarthritis in pets, there has been mounting interest in nutraceuticals of which the green-lipped mussel (GLM) is one.
Just like babies, puppies grow rapidly during the first few months of their lives, and a proper diet provides the necessary nutrients to meet their needs. This developmental stage needs to be well fueled for a healthy pup. In this article, we will talk about the benefits of a puppy being fed an AAFCO-approved, commercially-prepared raw pet food.
It’s time to feed your kitties, and as the two-legs in charge, it’s up to you to feed a diet that satisfies your cat’s tastes, nutritional requirements, and moisture content needed to stay sleek, fit, and purring.
CBD oil has gained popularity recently for its numerous health benefits, leading many people to wonder if they can give it to their pets. While CBD can come from either marijuana or hemp plants, CBD cannot actually get a pet “high”. Most CBD comes from hemp plants – not marijuana plants, which contain a higher amount of CBD and very low, to no THC. Without the THC, CBD products are generally safe for pets to use.
Just as people benefit from eating organic, non-processed foods, so do our pets. In the past, pet parents could only find real food for cats and dogs in frozen form. Recently, a new concept in pet food-preparation has evolved. Feeding our pets the healthy diet they deserve is now easier than ever before– with freeze-dried raw food for cats and dogs.
While almost every pet owner knows that a healthy and well-balanced diet is necessary for a healthy pet. For those who might not know, essential fatty acids are nutrients that are carried by fat throughout the pet’s body.