Don’t Be Fooled Grain Free is Not Carb Free! By Dr Karen Beker

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90 Percent of Pet Foods May Cause Disease in Your Pet

As you might suspect, the driving force behind the pet food industry is not to create a nourishing, species-appropriate diet for your pets; the focus is on making a profit, unfortunately often at the expense of your dog’s or cat’s health.

Dr. Becker explains:

” … 90 percent of pet foods out there contain totally inappropriate ingredients that are not nourishing and actually create low-grade inflammatory processes, diabetes and obesity. All the same health issues occurring in the pet world are occurring in the human realm in terms of overall health. But additionally, these pet foods are rendered, [which means]… not approved for human consumption. On top of the inappropriate ingredients in pet food, if people really knew the quality of food they are feeding their pets, they would be totally appalled.”

For example, the scrap meat that is deemed unfit for human consumption (because it contains tumors, abscesses, diseased tissues, etc.) is often rendered and used as “protein” in pet food.

Bottom line – if you feed a mass marketed commercial pet food, your dog or cat is typically getting a low grade concoction of rendered, leftover animal parts (including not only diseased tissues but can often include beaks, feathers, snouts and feet) and other inappropriate ingredients like genetically modified (GM) corn or soy, as well as wheat and rice.

Your Dog or Cat Wasn’t Meant to Eat All Those Carbs

Another biologically inappropriate ingredient found in plentiful supply in the vast majority of commercial pet foods are grain-based carbohydrates.

“Dogs and cats are by nature carnivores. Kitties are obligate carnivores. Dogs are scavenging carnivores. These two carnivore species don’t even have a carbohydrate requirement. We are putting into their bodies a bunch of foods that are metabolically unnecessary, that are setting up the same degenerative processes that are occurring in human bodies,” Dr. Becker said.

If you’ve ever wondered why dog and cat foods contain so many grains if they’re not nutritionally necessary, it comes down to profits once again. Grains are cheap fillers, and this is why they’re added to most pet foods – not because they have any nutritional benefit for your dog or cat. To create a truly meat-based food costs more, and it is far less expensive, and easier, for pet food manufacturers to load their foods with corn, rice and wheat than it would be to figure out how to make a competitively priced food that would actually be species-appropriate.

“Grain-Free” Doesn’t Mean Carb-Free

Even many of the higher end pet foods marketed as “grain-free” contain carbohydrate fillers like potato or pea fiber. And adding to the problem is the fact that many veterinarians will tell you these and other carb fillers are “good sources of energy,” which could not be further from the truth.

Dr. Becker continued:

“It’s interesting that veterinarians have started marketing some of these carbohydrates as a good source of energy. But absolutely, we know that dogs and cats are not requiring any of these grains – they break down into sugar.

Sugar, of course, causes an insulin release. Insulin then causes blood sugar to drop. Cortisol is then released to rebalance blood sugar. So dogs and cats are dealing with this whole cycle of carbohydrate ingestion, insulin release, and cortisol release. The metabolic syndrome that’s occurring in people – leptin resistance – is absolutely occurring in pets as well. We’re seeing diabetes in dogs and cats, most certainly, and obesity that leads to musculoskeletal issues and secondary organ degeneration. The whole cycle is occurring in pets.”

Your Vet Probably Doesn’t Know Much About Dog and Cat Nutrition

Shocking? Yes. But true nonetheless. Many nutrition courses offered at U.S. veterinary schools are not taught by nutritionists… they’re taught by representatives of major pet food companies. It’s obviously a major conflict of interest, and as a result most veterinarians graduate without having any unbiased nutrition information.

The “education” being offered by pet food companies can quite blatantly promote their products. Dr. Becker remembers being given a laminated chart in veterinary school that listed nationally known dog and cat food brands as the “prescription solutions” to various pet conditions like liver failure or kidney failure. Vet students weren’t taught what to look for in terms of nutrients to support health and healing… they were taught to “prescribe” a certain brand of food.

She continued:

“Veterinarians are graduating totally incompetent and unable to effectively talk about foods outside of what they learned from pet food manufacturers. If they did receive any nutritional counseling, it was archaic…” They are graduating not only with a lack of knowledge about pet nutrition, but also with a skewed perception of what whole nutrition really means.”

This could explain why your veterinarian may have told you to only feed your pet a certain grain-heavy “prescription” diet, or to avoid offering “people food” (even if it’s healthy, species-appropriate food for your pet). And if you’ve ever tried to discuss thinking “outside the box” regarding your pet’s diet, as in providing fresh, whole foods instead of highly processed kibbles or canned varieties, there’s a good chance your vet was not impressed.

“Veterinarians, oftentimes, become pretty defensive – as do medical doctors – when they’re confronted with these issues, because they don’t have enough knowledge to be able to confidently defend their position. They weren’t given a whole lot of nutrition training,” Dr. Becker said.

A Homemade Diet is Best – IF You Do it Right

Your veterinarian may try to discourage you from cooking whole foods for your pet, or feeding raw foods, but if done properly, this is almost always the healthiest way to nourish your pet (just as it’s the healthiest food for you, too). The whole debate about feeding pets raw food (and many veterinarians will discourage you from feeding raw) doesn’t make a lot of sense considering dogs and cats have consumed living, raw meats for thousands of years; it’s what they’re designed for.

“I’m a big proponent of people home cooking or home preparing food for their pets,” Dr. Becker said. “And really, homemade food’s the best and worst food you could possibly feed your pet.”

What Dr. Becker means by best AND worst is… you must remember that simply feeding your pet some raw beef or chicken will in no way meet his nutritional requirements. And if that’s all you feed him, it can be even more dangerous than offering an inexpensive commercial pet food.

Skeletal issues, organ degeneration and endocrine abnormalities are just a few examples of what can occur due to dietary deficiencies of essential fatty acids, calcium, trace minerals and other nutrients from an improperly prepared homemade diet. Well-meaning pet parents are trying to feed species-appropriate food to their dogs and cats, but what many are missing is the need for nutritional balance.In the wild, animals do not just eat the muscle meat of their prey – they consume organs, glands, bones and other body parts that provide for their nutritional needs.

According to Dr. Becker:

“Wild dogs – wolves, coyotes, dingoes, and African wild dogs – have all been documented to sample their environment. They may eat some berries and some grasses. Kitties, certainly, will occasionally nibble on grasses. But hands down, 95 percent of their diet is whole prey. That means skin and fur for fiber; tendons, muscles, and ligaments for additional fiber; whole protein in terms of muscle for energy source.

The contents of the GI tract of prey provides predigested vegetable sources, as well as an abundant source of gastric juices, plus vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

But also remember the head is consumed… They eat the pineal gland, pituitary, liver, spleen, heart, and kidneys. All of those glands provide a whole food source that makes a perfect nutritional package for that particular species. Canis lupus, the wolf, is 99.9 percent genetically identical to the domestic dog. There really is no genetic differentiation between a wild wolf and a domestic dog… That gives us some idea how we should be nourishing our pets.”

If you’re interested in preparing a homemade diet for your pets, see Dr. Becker’s cookbook Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats. Based on the ancestral diets of canines and felines, this book provides a rotational feeding plan and recipes for a meat-based diet that includes appropriate levels of vegetables, fruits, and supplements to complete the diet, analyzed to ensure nutritional needs are met. It will closely mimic what your dog or cat would be eating in the wild, if given the choice, but using ingredients that are easy to source and prepare in your own kitchen.

For example, to mimic the gut contents of prey animals, Dr. Becker recommends adding a mixture of pureed vegetables and probiotics to your dog’s or cat’s meals. This mixture provides highly beneficial antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and phytonutrients not found in muscle meats. There are actually four main categories of balanced nutrition for pets. These are:

  1. Meat, including organs
  2. Veggie and fruit puree
  3. Homemade vitamin and mineral mix
  4. Beneficial additions such as probiotics, enzymes, super green foods that aren’t required to balance the diet, but can enhance the vitality of your pet

Dr. Becker’s recipes for dogs are based on 75 percent meat/organs/bone and 25 percent vegetables/fruits. For cats it’s 88 percent meat/organs/bone and 12 percent veggies. These are the ratios that seem to work well for most healthy pets. That said, if you decide to use a commercial pet food, Dr. Becker offers some helpful guidelines for selecting a quality food, such as avoiding the toxic preservatives ethoxyquin, BHA and BHT. In addition she notes:

“Home cooking is the best thing you can do. Second best is to know the company you’re purchasing from really well so you’re able to discern that the ingredients it uses are U.S.-sourced, human-grade, preferably organic, and of course, species-appropriate – meaning, carbohydrate-free.

These are usually very small companies. The majority of commercially prepared pet foods I can truly wholeheartedly recommend are brands no one has ever heard of. You will never find them at the grocery store. You will not find them at big-box stores like Petco or any of the PetSmarts around.

…Needless to say, you’ve got to really read the labels very, very well. My rule of thumb is this: when you read the label on a dog or cat food, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient or wonder what it is, if you’re not able to clearly discern exactly what it is, don’t put it in your pet’s mouth.”

 

A message from Dr. Karen Becker on feeding a raw food diet.

 Dr Mercola:

I recently interviewed Dr. Karen Becker, who has been in charge of our Healthy Pets site for the past four years.

If you have a dog, cat, or some other type of furry or feathered companion, and you haven’t yet visited Dr. Becker’s site, be sure to sign up for the Healthy Pets newsletter. I think you’ll find it an invaluable resource to help you change your pet’s life for the better.

Just as we’re trying to improve health for humans here with the Mercola.com newsletter, Dr. Becker is doing the same for pets.

In our interview above, we talk about an important topic that’s every bit as vital for animals as it is for humans, and that is the food your pet eats.

And just as there’s massive deception, fraud, and misinformation in the human food industry, there’s an equal if not greater amount of misinformation and deception in the pet food industry.

90 Percent of Pet Foods May Cause Disease in Your Pet

As you might suspect, the driving force behind the pet food industry is not to create a nourishing, species-appropriate diet for your pets; the focus is on making a profit, unfortunately often at the expense of your dog’s or cat’s health.

Dr. Becker explains:

” … 90 percent of pet foods out there contain totally inappropriate ingredients that are not nourishing and actually create low-grade inflammatory processes, diabetes and obesity. All the same health issues occurring in the pet world are occurring in the human realm in terms of overall health. But additionally, these pet foods are rendered, [which means]… not approved for human consumption. On top of the inappropriate ingredients in pet food, if people really knew the quality of food they are feeding their pets, they would be totally appalled.”

For example, the scrap meat that is deemed unfit for human consumption (because it contains tumors, abscesses, diseased tissues, etc.) is often rendered and used as “protein” in pet food.

Bottom line – if you feed a mass marketed commercial pet food, your dog or cat is typically getting a low grade concoction of rendered, leftover animal parts (including not only diseased tissues but can often include beaks, feathers, snouts and feet) and other inappropriate ingredients like genetically modified (GM) corn or soy, as well as wheat and rice.

Your Dog or Cat Wasn’t Meant to Eat All Those Carbs

Another biologically inappropriate ingredient found in plentiful supply in the vast majority of commercial pet foods are grain-based carbohydrates.

“Dogs and cats are by nature carnivores. Kitties are obligate carnivores. Dogs are scavenging carnivores. These two carnivore species don’t even have a carbohydrate requirement. We are putting into their bodies a bunch of foods that are metabolically unnecessary, that are setting up the same degenerative processes that are occurring in human bodies,” Dr. Becker said.

If you’ve ever wondered why dog and cat foods contain so many grains if they’re not nutritionally necessary, it comes down to profits once again. Grains are cheap fillers, and this is why they’re added to most pet foods – not because they have any nutritional benefit for your dog or cat. To create a truly meat-based food costs more, and it is far less expensive, and easier, for pet food manufacturers to load their foods with corn, rice and wheat than it would be to figure out how to make a competitively priced food that would actually be species-appropriate.

“Grain-Free” Doesn’t Mean Carb-Free

Even many of the higher end pet foods marketed as “grain-free” contain carbohydrate fillers like potato or pea fiber. And adding to the problem is the fact that many veterinarians will tell you these and other carb fillers are “good sources of energy,” which could not be further from the truth.

Dr. Becker continued:

“It’s interesting that veterinarians have started marketing some of these carbohydrates as a good source of energy. But absolutely, we know that dogs and cats are not requiring any of these grains – they break down into sugar.

Sugar, of course, causes an insulin release. Insulin then causes blood sugar to drop. Cortisol is then released to rebalance blood sugar. So dogs and cats are dealing with this whole cycle of carbohydrate ingestion, insulin release, and cortisol release. The metabolic syndrome that’s occurring in people – leptin resistance – is absolutely occurring in pets as well. We’re seeing diabetes in dogs and cats, most certainly, and obesity that leads to musculoskeletal issues and secondary organ degeneration. The whole cycle is occurring in pets.”

 Original Article

 

Give Them Meat: Why Are Vets Resistant To Raw Dog Food?

 

At a Waltham Nutritional Sciences Symposium, researcher Professor Wouter Hendriks presented more evidence that dogs are carnivores (you can see the video summary here). Those of us who feed raw are inclined to say, “Yeah? So what?” We’ve all taken that for granted, given the dog’s sharp, pointy carnivore teeth and carnivorous ancestors. So when I saw some web pages discussing this “new” finding, I was curious to see what anyone would get excited about.

Well, it seems like this might be news to some vets. “In veterinary school we learned that cats are carnivores; horses, rabbits and ruminants are herbivores; and pigs and dogs ­­— like people — are omnivores” says veterinarian Dr Patty Khuly in a recent article.

The vets further solidified their position of dogs as omnivores when a study was published in the scientific journal Nature earlier this year. The summary of that report was:

“Our results indicate that novel adaptations allowing the early ancestors of modern dogs to thrive on a diet rich in starch, relative to the carnivorous diet of wolves, constituted a crucial step in the early domestication of dogs.”

Dogs Are Carnivores…

Last month, professor Hendriks added another dimension to this study. His work shows that just because dogs have adapted to omnivorous diets doesn’t make them omnivores. Although the researchers in the starch study found a few genes that reflected adaptation to starches, “just a few genes’ difference is regarded as an adaptive shift to a condition. These alone can’t possibly alter the entire digestive evolution of a species” says Dr Khuly.

Dr Khuly also adds that dogs have the following carnivorous traits:

  • Dogs’ teeth are adapted to a carnivorous diet (for tearing muscle and crunching bone to extract marrow).
  • Many of their innate behaviors are carnivorous in nature. Consider digging, for example. Like wolves, dogs dig to hide parts of meals for future ingestion.
  • Dogs, like many large mammalian carnivores, are metabolically able to survive for long periods of time between meals.
  • Dogs have a lot of flexibility in metabolic pathways to help make up for a feast-or-famine lifestyle and a wide range of possible prey.

I’d agree with her up until this point. Dr Khuly then concludes, “The result of these findings, argues Dr Hendriks, is that the dog is undeniably a true carnivore. The dog just happens to have an adaptive metabolism as a result of living with humans for millennia. That’s why the dog is perfectly capable of eating a grain-based diet, as most commercially fed dogs do.

…But Not To Vets

Hold on there. How did we get from “dogs are undeniably carnivores” to “keep on feeding them a grain based diet” in the same paragraph? What just happened there?


Diabetes, a condition where the body is  unable to properly metabolize glucose from carbohydrates, is the most common endocrine disease affecting dogs today and its prevalence is growing every year. Thirty years ago, 0.19% of dogs suffered from diabetes. In 1999, the rate tripled to 0.58%. Today, up to 1.5% of dogs suffer from diabetes.

I’d be the first to admit that diabetes is an autoimmune disease and I’d happily attribute it to vaccine damage. But it also bears stating that unnatural foods lead to unnatural outcomes … like diabetes.

I know that when this article is published, the conventional vets and proponents will say what I’m writing is mostly speculation, there’s no science to back it up. And they’d be right.

But to those vets who continue to feed carbohydrate-laden foods, despite the growing body of research showing that dogs are carnivores, and despite the rise of metabolic disease related to carbohydrate intake, I have this question to ask:

Where is the research backing your carbohydrate-based diets? Feeding trials? Give me a break – just because a dog lives for three months eating your food without any overt signs of disease doesn’t mean that food will sustain him and keep him healthy for a lifetime.

I’m tired of being asked for references and research when vets and kibble companies continuously make huge leaps in logic, despite the overwhelming evidence that dogs are carnivores. Somewhere along the line, shouldn’t somebody stick up their hand and ask why we started feeding dogs corn and rice in the first place? What drove that initial decision?

My vote is MONEY.

Kibble Is Made For People With Wallets, Not Dogs

From the time James Spratt tossed hard tack off the side of his ship to the dogs on the docks, to the first kibbles that had dogs chasing chuck wagons around the house, kibble has had one goal and one goal alone: make money from pet owners.

Does your dog have a wallet? Mine don’t, so I buy all their things for them. And the kibble manufacturers figured that out a long time ago, and directed their marketing to the people with the wallets, not the furry beings who would be consuming their food. So we as humans watched the chuck wagon commercials and thought our dog would really like that stuff. We never paid much attention to what was in the bag, just that it looked cool and we loved potatoes and corn, so why wouldn’t our dogs? Now that we pet owners know better, I have to wonder how much thought vets have given to what’s in the bag.

Now there are two kinds of vets. Those who mindlessly chase chuck wagons and those who don’t. Do you know how to tell the difference between them? That’s simple. One will have shelves full of kibble in their waiting area and one won’t.

I for one wish vets would wake up and see kibble for what it is. It’s a relic from days long gone, when we didn’t know any better. Nobody took the time to figure out what dogs should eat and when people started pumping money into dog food, the pet food companies were more concerned with making their brand better than their competitor than asking, why are we putting starches into these foods? Well, they probably did ask that question and the answer was likely, “because it’s cheaper.”

So now, pet owners are starting to see their furry family members as the little carnivores they are, and the kibble manufacturers are up against it. They need those starches to hold that food together – without starch, those little kibbles would disintegrate into a bag of dust. That’s why the so-called grain free diets are still full of starches like potatoes. They’re just as unnatural for carnivores as corn and wheat, but they’re needed to hold that stuff together.

But while vets may now concede that dogs might not be omnivores, they’re clearly still reluctant to move away from kibble and they’ll continue to view every piece of research through their kibble-colored glasses. They have to, because they’ve got too much invested in it to change so readily. It must be tough to stand in front of a longtime client and say, “Sally, it seems that I’ve been wrong all along and that kibble that I told you to feed Spot might be making him a little sick. You see, I thought he was an omnivore, despite his pointy teeth and relative lack of digestive enzymes to make any use of starches and grains. And then, when research came out saying that he wasn’t an omnivore, I ignored it because, hey, I’ve got all that kibble sitting in my front lobby and all the other vets are doing it. So I hope you’ll forgive me when I still charge you $100 a month for Spot’s insulin.”

Yeah, that’s a tough conversation to have. But wouldn’t we pet owners so love to hear it?

But pet owners have grown up and we can see past the politics and marketing ploys; we just want our dogs to be healthy. That’s why many pet owners don’t see dogs as carnivores as big news; we knew it all along. It’s just common sense – something that’s severely lacking in the conventional world today.

Are you still chasing chuck wagons?

By in Holistic Care, Nutrition And Diet