Category Archives: diet

the Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute

By Dr. Becker

Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, interviews Dr. Donna Raditic, an integrative veterinarian and board-certified veterinary nutritionist, about the limitations of conventional training in animal nutrition.  VIDEO

Today I’m talking with Dr. Donna Raditic. Dr. Raditic is an integrative veterinarian and also a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition (ACVN), and a co-founder of our not-for-profit organization CANWI (Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute).

As many of you know, nutrition is my passion.  However, I’ve never pursued board certification from the ACVN because my beliefs are so different from the conventional veterinary viewpoint on animal nutrition.

In fact, I’ve felt judged and disrespected by many of my peers for my belief that whole fresh foods are the best nutrition for pets.

Dr. Raditic was the first board-certified nutritionist who said to me, “There’s a place for your beliefs about whole food nutrition.”  She was respectful and welcomed my ideas, thoughts and questions.  She was very supportive, which I greatly appreciated, and we became fast friends.

Why Is There No Independent Research on the Best Nutrition for Pets?

Dr. Raditic and I are both frustrated with the lack of independent research being conducted in the area of veterinary nutrition.  There’s a lack of funding for this type of research, and sadly, there’s also a lack of interest.  I asked Dr. Raditic to talk about her own frustrations coming from the world of academia.

“One of the reasons I became a boarded nutritionist was, I was like you,” she responded.

“I was in general practice doing integrative medicine and people would ask me questions about nutrition. I decided I had to learn everything I needed to learn. I pursued a course of study in nutrition and became a diplomate of the ACVN.

Another deciding factor for becoming boarded was when a pet owner told Dr. Raditic that her veterinary education was paid for by a pet food company!  “That upset me,” she says, “because I felt like, ‘No, that’s not true.  I have independent thoughts.  I can think for myself.'”

Is the Pet Food Industry Interested in the Health of Our Animal Companions?

As an integrative veterinarian, Dr. Raditic understands the impact of nutrition on health. No matter the type of medicine we practice, nutrition is the foundation.  Becoming a diplomate of the ACVN, which takes the traditional view of nutrition, ultimately felt very limiting to her.

Dr. Raditic felt there was much more she needed to know.  She also learned through her association with the ACVN that:

“There’s a tremendous amount of money being put in by the pet food industry to support the training of diplomates, as well as for research. But it’s going to have some bias. It has to. They’re developing diets. They’re a business.”

We all understand the motivation of businesses, but as Dr. Raditic asks, “Who is really invested in our pets?”

Dr. Raditic and I share a common goal: we’re invested in learning everything we can about optimum nutrition for pets.  And we want to know how we can use nutrition to keep our patients healthy and prevent disease.

“Someone asked me recently to write an article on what age dogs and cats live to,” says Dr. Raditic. “I said to him, ‘I don’t want to write about that, because that hasn’t change in several decades. What we need to know is what’s keeping them from living longer.'”

I absolutely agree, and underlying everything we do to keep our animal companions healthy is the way in which we nourish them.

Can We Help Pets Live Longer, Healthier Lives? We Think We Can

Dr. Raditic and I also agree that researching a particular type or brand of food shouldn’t be the goal.  Toward that end, Dr. Raditic and I have started a non-profit organization called CANWI, which is shorthand for the Companion Animal Nutrition and Wellness Institute. Can we?

We definitely think we can,” says Dr. Raditic. “It’s probably going to be grassroots, because it’s going to need financing from people who care and are passionate like you and I.

What it represents is our desire to get true information, unbiased information. Studies that we can support. Nutrition studies that can help us understand how to better feed our patients.”

We want to answer questions like, “How can I help a dog live beyond age 13?” and “How can we prevent disease?”  For example, we know certain breeds are predisposed to develop certain disorders.  Is there a way to manipulate their diets to prevent those genes from turning on?

The Goal of CANWI

Dr. Raditic and I are believers.  We think we can.  But we need funding for research.  We also want to develop nutrition-based training programs so we can bring more people along with us — people who are open-minded and can appreciate the long journey ahead of us.

I’m very excited to be involved with CANWI because I know there are many things we need to research in the realm of whole food nutrition and what animals require in order to unlock the healing potential in their bodies.

We’re hoping to find funding for groundbreaking research that will help both pet guardians and veterinarians make better choices.  We’ll also have the opportunity to pass along what we’re learning in the form of biased, open and objective training for interested veterinarians.

Much of the nutrition information veterinarians receive comes through the pet food industry, and is therefore inherently biased.  Our goal is to gain a broader understanding of how nutrients affect the body.

Is there a way to feed pets that promotes an appropriate immune response so they can live longer and healthier lives?  We want to train veterinarians to think in new ways, not just the same way.

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Woman works to help 40-pound dachshund foster lose weight

Rescue group helps overweight Dachshund – VIDEO Link

HOUSTON – A dachshund at an area shelter should weigh around 15 pounds, but the dog is coming in at nearly 40 pounds.

Melissa Anderson volunteers with K-9 Angels Rescue.  She said the owner of 7-year-old Vincent died a few weeks ago and the man’s family did not want the dog anymore, so they turned him over to a local shelter.

“Someone contacted me and said can you foster this big Dachshund?” Anderson said.  “I have three dachshunds of my own, so it kind of pulled at my heartstrings.”

Since then, Anderson and a friend have been working with the dog day in and day out.  Vincent swims in the pool for 20 minutes a day and has daily walks.

He’s lost a few pounds in the past couple of weeks, but he still has a long way to go.

Anderson said she thinks the original owner was actually feeding the dog fast food regularly and that’s how the weight was put on.

“When I went through Starbucks, when the intercom came on and said, ‘Can I take your order,’ he <Vincent> immediately perked up and he was down on the floorboard of the passenger seat.  He jumped up in the seat, which he didn’t do at the time, and came over to the window and his little nose was going crazy,” Anderson said.

As the four-legged guy continues on the road to better health, Anderson said she knows it’s going to be a long one.

At the current rate, she said it may take five to six months to get to the ideal weight.

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Overweight pup gets second chance at life


Obese, unhealthy and mourning the loss of his owner, Vincent was surrendered to a county animal shelter in Houston two weeks ago.  His prospects didn’t look good.

He weighed in at 38 pounds, double the healthy weight for a 7-year-old dachshund.  He had high cholesterol and his back dipped from the extra weight, putting him at risk of nerve damage.  Mary Tipton, the intake coordinator for K-9 Angels Rescue, and a member of the board of directors for Harris County Animal Shelter, happened to be at the shelter for a meeting when she spotted him.

“Vincent was just enormous,” Tipton said.  She took a picture and posted it on Facebook to find him a foster parent.  Within 15 minutes, dachshund rescuer Melissa Anderson volunteered to take Vincent in.

Vincent’s case is extreme, but obesity affects a lot of pets.  In 2014, an estimated 52.7% of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese, according to the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey.

Vincent was 38-pounds at the shelter, but two weeks later weighs in at 35.2.

Now Anderson is slowly bringing Vincent back to health.

The first week wasn’t easy for either Vincent or his foster parent.  When leaving the vet with such a large dog, Anderson said she felt fat-shamed by someone walking on the sidewalk.

“They told me, ‘Now that’s just abuse,’ and acted like they had to go out of their way to walk around Vincent,” said Anderson.  “Some people just don’t know other people’s story.  They just make assumptions by their appearances.”

When she took him home, Vincent got sick, both vomiting and upset bowels, when he ate the healthy dog foods she gave him.  Anderson could tell he was despondent.

“I am not sure what the previous owner fed him, but I think it was all fast food.  He was literally detoxing the first week,” she said.

Anderson said when she went to a Starbucks drive-thru one day, Vincent got really excited by the sound of the intercom.  “He jumped on my lap and stuck his nose outside the window, just sniffing away.”

But after just two weeks, Anderson said Vincent is well on his way to a healthier lifestyle.

Vincent eats a special dog food; Anderson offers him green beans or carrots as “treats” but he hasn’t really gone for those yet.

He’s on a pretty rigorous exercise regime, participating in water aerobics five times a week and playing with her others dogs in the yard.  The water aerobics help take pressure off Vincent’s strained joints.  Plus, with the 100-degree weather in Texas, it offers a nice cool-down for both Vincent and Anderson.

At first Vincent just floated at his water aerobics class, but he's started swimming.

At first, Vincent would just float in his life jacket.  But his endurance is growing.  Vincent can now paddle in the pool for about 15-20 minutes, five days a week.  Before, he could only waddle around the yard with the other dogs.  Now he is able to jog.

“He is really happier now then he was,” said Anderson.  She said he keeps a positive attitude and seems to know they are trying to help him.

Vincent has gained energy as he's begun to lose weight.

K-9 Angels Rescue is hoping to get him to a healthy weight so he can be ready for adoption, but they aren’t opposed to him being adopted in his current condition.

“We take adoptions case by case.  If there was a perfect home that wanted to take over his weight loss journey we may take that into consideration,” said Tipton.  “We are in no hurry to get rid of him but there are other dogs at the shelter that are ready to be saved.”

Now, Fat Vincent is on his way to become Skinny Vinnie.  He was 38-pounds and two weeks later weighs in at 35.2.  His weight loss will be a slow process but with the help of K-9 Angels Rescue he is on his way to his new life.

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K-9 Angels Rescue Working to Regain Fat Dog’s Health

Group working to regain fat dog's health
A dog dropped off at the pound following his owner’s death is getting lots of attention for his size.
But now, a local group and vets are slowly bringing Vincent back to health.
Friday, August 28, 2015 07:07PM

Every step and every run was a struggle for Vincent a couple of weeks ago.  At 38 pounds, double the size vets say he should be, Vincent’s size takes a toll on him.  His back even dips from the weight.  VIDEO LINK

Foster parent Melissa Anderson with K-9 Angels Rescue says, “People can be kind of mean.  They’ll say things like that’s abuse and they’re thinking it’s my dog and I’m like I’m trying to help this dog.  It just made me think people can be kind of harsh.”

Vincent was dropped off at the pound in Harris County after his owner died.  Fearing he would not get adopted Anderson stepped in because she did not want Vincent to be overlooked or worse, be put down because of space.

Vincent’s vet has him on a diet and Melissa and her friend Lauren are getting Vincent healthy again through swimming.  Vincent enjoys it and is pushing himself.  After weight loss, will come walks.

Already, Vincent has lost two pounds.

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Pumpkin Recipe – Dog Biscuits from YOUR oven


Stop giving your dog treats from China that is killing our dogs!  Here is a Pumpkin Recipe that is healthy for them.

Brown rice flour gives the biscuits crunch and promotes better dog digestion.  Many dogs have touchy stomachs or allergies, and do not, like many people, tolerate wheat.

Makes up to 75 small (1″) biscuits or 50 medium biscuits

* * *  Use organic ingredients when available  * * *

2 eggs
1/2 cup canned raw pumpkin (not pie filling)
2 tablespoons dry milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon dried parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

In large bowl, whisk together eggs and pumpkin to smooth.  Stir in dry milk, sea salt, and dried parsley (if using, optional).  Add brown rice flour gradually, combining with spatula or hands to form a stiff, dry dough.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface (can use the brown rice flour) and if dough is still rough, briefly knead and press to combine.

Roll dough between 1/4 – 1/2″ – depending on your dog’s chew preferences, and use biscuit or other shape cutter to punch shapes, gathering and re-rolling scraps as you go.  Place shapes on cookie sheet, no greasing or paper is necessary.  If desired, press fork pattern on biscuits before baking, a quick up-and-down movement with fork, lightly pressing down halfway through dough.

Bake 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and carefully turn biscuits over, then bake additional 20 minutes.  Allow to cool completely on rack before feeding.

Keep refrigerated, or freeze, for up to 2 weeks as there are no preservatives.

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Consumer-Funded Test Finds 11 of 12 Pet Foods Contaminated

A number of pet food brands are contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria and other contaminants that could cause negative health effects to humans and their pets, according to a testing project funded by a group of pet owners and coordinated by the Association for Truth in Pet Food.

The project is the first of its kind to use crowdfunding to test pet products.  The problems revealed by the project could make a big impact on general awareness of food as a source of illness in pets for both pet owners and veterinarians, one veterinarian told Food Safety News.

Pet owners were able to coordinate the fundraising using popular crowdfunding website IndieGoGo.  Together, 240 people contributed a total of $15,705 to test pet food brands for a range of harmful contaminants and other problems.

The tests found 11 out of 12 pet food varieties contained bacteria considered serious health threats by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) such as Staphylococcus and Acinetobacter, including drug-resistant varieties.  They also found 3 out of 12 foods exceeded regulatory levels of nutritional content, and 4 out of 8 had medium or high levels of fungal toxins.

The pervasiveness of the bacterial contamination alarmed Susan Thixton, co-director of the Association for Truth in Pet Food and author of  Thixton and her colleagues organized the project, with laboratory testing coordinated by food scientist Tsengeg Purevjav, Ph.D.

Data produced by the project help explain the numerous human foodborne illness outbreaks linked to pet food in recent years, Thixton said.  Clearly there’s a disconnect between the test results and claims from pet food manufacturers that bacteria are eliminated during production processes, she said.

“They say that the processing of kibble foods or canned foods kills the bacteria, but we’re finding multi-drug resistant bacteria in a kibble and canned pet food,” Thixton said.  “Veterinarians that looked at these results asked, ‘How can this happen?’”

Dr. Cathy Alinovi, a veterinarian in Indiana, reviewed the group’s report prior to release and said the procedures adhered to good scientific standards.

Alinovi echoed Thixton, saying that the extensive bacterial contamination was the most alarming aspect of the report.  She often sees dogs and cats with gastrointestinal problems and no explanation for their illness other than the food they’re eating.

“My motto is that 80 percent of what walks into my clinic is fixed through food,” Alinovi said.  “These data really help veterinarians to say that there are common, everyday foods that have common ingredients that could be causing health problems.”

The project tested a number of name-brand dog and cat foods, including Beneful dog kibble and Fancy Feast canned cat food.

There was only enough funding to test 8 out of the 12 foods for mycotoxins, which are toxins produced by molds and other fungi that have been shown to cause serious health effects in animals.

Two of the eight brands tested above levels considered “high risk” for mycotoxins: Meow Mix Tender Centers and Beneful Original dog kibbles.  The Meow Mix product, in particular, was found to have more than three times the high-risk level for mycotoxins.

The tests showed nutritional content exceeding levels allowed by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in three dog foods:

  • Hill’s Prescription Diet C/D Urinary Tract Health Canned Dog Food (exceeded maximums for calcium and phosphorous)
  • FreshPet Vital Chicken, Beef, Salmon, Egg Recipe Grain Free Moist Dog Food (exceeded maximums for calcium and phosphorous)
  • Cesar Top Sirloin Beef and Grilled Chicken Moist Dog Food (exceeded maximums for calcium)

Three cat foods were also found with levels of sulphur exceeding standards set by the National Research Council, but AAFCO does not set regulatory maximums on nutrients in cat food.

On a positive note, the tests returned no traces of melamine or euthanizing drugs in any of the 12 samples.  Both substances have caused significant pet food scares in the past.

Thixton said that she hopes the report shines a light on the need for improvements to pet food manufacturing standards.

“It’s called ‘pet food,’ but by regulatory standards it’s considered animal feed,” she said.  “Most of these are feed-grade ingredients.  Feed is often dumped on the ground, not brought into homes.  It’s a huge difference, and if they’re calling it ‘food,’ it needs to be held to the standard of food.”

Alinovi recommended pet owners bring the report to their veterinarian if they suspect food might be causing health problems in their pet.

“It’s a great starting point for conversation with your veterinarian,” she said.

The full report and other materials are available at the website for the Association for Truth in Pet Food.

© Food Safety News
By James Andrews | January 7, 2015

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Pets Are People, Too.

Cooking – frying, baking, boiling, heating in any manner – severely alters food. High heat kills the food in the sense that valuable enzymes are destroyed, and vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids and various other micronutrients are altered, depleted, or lost completely.  Worse yet, heat can initiate chemical reactions, which can turn perfectly wonderful foods into toxins such as carcinogens.

The old adage “an apple a day…” is more important now than ever before, since we could literally go a lifetime eating packaged pseudo-foods and never touch upon the health-enhancing nutrition available only through raw foods such as the fresh apples.  Fortunately, with increasing awareness and cynicism toward packaged products, many people are feeding themselves and their families more carefully by seeking fresh vegetables, fruits, meats and whole grain products. But what happens to the family pet?  Are cats and dogs so physiologically different that they don’t have the same need for freshness?  Common sense would tell us that they aren’t different at all. But what about the pet food manufacturers’ strong caution against supplementing their “complete” foods for fear of upsetting the delicate balance of their nutrition-in-a-bag?  Nonsense.  Fresh and raw foods are as crucial to a pet’s body as they are to ours.

Fresh foods should be supplemented to all pets’ diets.  Regardless of the boasts, no processed can or bag can possibly provide the total nutrition your pet needs. It is up to you to go beyond packaged foods.

Although some foods should not be fed completely raw, there are dozens of enzyme/vitamin/mineral-rich raw foods which will delight your cat or dog. Please see our brochure, How to Apologize To Your Pet for suggestions on easy, raw food supplementation.  Moving beyond exclusively feeding processed foods will bring remarkable results you will witness firsthand.  Such obvious benefit is the clear marker that you are doing what is right.

Dr. Wysong

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