The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

More Pet Food Issues

DEAR READERS: Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, noted veterinarian, has posted an alert at healthypets.mercola.com relating to pet food recommendations.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association aims to act as an “educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers,” according to the group’s website. Dr. Becker writes: “WSAVA has 113 member associations and over 200,000 member veterinarians worldwide,” as well as a “Global Nutrition Committee that provides recommendations for selecting pet foods. Recently, Ryan Yamka, Ph.D., founder of Luna Science and Nutrition and the Guardian Pet Food Co., took an in-depth look at WSAVA’s recommendations and found them lacking. He determined they provide a false sense of security to anyone offering pet food advice based on the association’s criteria.”

For more details, go to healthypets.mercola.com.

Dr. Becker and I both recommend becoming a member of the Association for Truth in Pet Food (associationfortruthinpetfood.com), which is the only organization committed to holding the regulatory agencies accountable. I also recommend ordering Susan Thixton’s annual Truth About Pet Food List (truthaboutpetfood.com/the-list).

BOOK REVIEW: ‘BIG KIBBLE’

“Big Kibble: The Hidden Dangers of the Pet Food Industry and How to Do Better by Our Dogs” by Shawn Buckley and veterinarian Dr. Oscar Chavez

Every veterinarian in companion animal practice, every veterinary student and all people with dogs should read this book. It documents how a handful of multinational agribusiness-connected corporations recycle crop and animal wastes into highly profitable pet foods -- many of which are making our animal companions ill -- and they are still getting away with it, much like Big Tobacco did a few years ago on the human health frontier. These manufactured pet food monopolists profit even more by marketing “prescription diets” to correct many of the health problems in dogs and cats that result from them being fed these products in the first place.

This book is well documented and should help stimulate a long-overdue revolution in agriculture, and specifically in what we feed our dogs. The authors, who are also the founders of a new dog food company (justfoodfordogs.com), are enjoying the fruits of efforts by earlier writers and advocates to inform the public and improve pet nutrition. (A few of those previous works: “Foods Pets Die For” by Ann Martin; “Canine Nutrigenomics” by W. Jean Dodds, DVM and Diana R. Laverdure; and “Not Fit for a Dog!” by veterinarians Elizabeth Hodgkins, Marion E. Smart and myself.) It is also regrettable that they do not give any vegetarian recipes or mention the hazards of food-irradiation.

This new company is one of a growing number being supported by informed consumers who know that paying more for quality foods means paying less for health problems down the road. I spoke with the book’s co-author, Dr. Chavez, and was encouraged to learn that the company is also developing some biologically appropriate foods for cats, who have suffered in so many ways from the products from the Big Kibble pet food industry. For example, endotoxins from bacteria in the animal parts recycled into pet foods, along with mycotoxins from moldy grains, may cause intestinal inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, food allergies/intolerances and microbiome dysbiosis. This book does not index bacterial endotoxins, but covers enough about aflatoxins to make its point.

I would add another concern -- not a conspiracy theory, but reality -- about the link between the pet food and pharmaceutical industries. This is exemplified by the widespread TV advertising for pharmaceuticals, and by more and more veterinarians prescribing Apoquel for pets’ food allergies. Many vets rarely investigate what their animal patients have been given to eat, believing manufactured pet foods -- kibbles, in particular -- are safe for their patients to eat.

DEAR DR. FOX: I came across your webpage while searching for help for my 4-year-old chocolate Lab. For at least six months, my poor guy has had chronic diarrhea: It started as soft-serve ice cream consistency, but is now a watery/oily substance that he strains very hard to produce.

He has been to two different vets and has had multiple tests, food changes, steroids, antibiotics and probiotics. Nothing has made even a slight improvement in his bowels, but his ears have cleared up after previously having stinky, gooey discharge. His fecal tests show some white blood cells. He is in on Bravecto to stop fleas.

He is playful, will fetch a ball until you make him take a break, and drinks aggressively (but that is normal for him). However, he has not been eating as much as he used to, he drops some food out of his mouth while he is eating, and has lost a slight amount of weight.

I love my dog, and I am baffled as to what to do or try next. -- T.S., Tulsa, Oklahoma

DEAR T.S.: There are many possible causes for your dog’s intestinal issue. Giardia in the guts must be ruled out, since it is quite commonly picked up from infected dogs in parks and from water contaminated by infected wildlife. The anti-flea and tick medication could also be the problem: Bravecto is reported to cause diarrhea in dogs and cats. So can the lectins in some legume ingredients (such as peas and lentils) in grain-free chow.

Try giving him a tablespoon of aloe vera liquid before meals, and feed him three small servings a day of my dog food recipe (posted on my website). Be sure to add some unsweetened shredded coconut.

Keep me posted on your progress. A fecal infusion (microbiome transfer) from a healthy dog may be the ultimate solution. Chronic loose stools can lead to malnutrition and many health complications, including allergies, if there is gut inflammation.

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)