Diet Related Problems
A lot of health problems in our cats and dogs are either directly related to diet or could be greatly improved by better diets.
Ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies, and the most common allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit and fish. Click this link to read about the ingredients in Nutriment’s raw foods, and why we use them.
We use several sources of proteins from fresh meats, seeds and plants to give a wide range in amino acids and nutrients. Over-consuming any single protein is not good, and poses a risk of developing an allergy over time. If your dog has been eating the same food every day for months or even years, there is a good chance he or she has developed an allergy to it. Contrary to popular belief, pets need diversity in their diets just like humans do.
However, the protein structure in raw meat is different from that in a cooked or processed dog food, so dogs with known allergies to these may find that they are fine on a raw diet.
If your dog has an allergy, it may show itself as one of several symptoms:
- digestive problems (gas, diarrhea, vomiting)
- itchy or oozing skin
- red, irritated eyes
- nasal discharge
- coughing or sneezing
- inflamed ears
- swollen paw
If your dog is displaying any of these symptoms, you should consider trying an allergy elimination diet to help isolate the source of the symptoms. This should last two to three months to allow the animal’s body time to detoxify, and may consist of a single protein food, although you may want to obtain specialist advice from a holistic vet. At the end of the period, add new foods slowly, one at a time, to see if there is any response. It is not uncommon for pets to be able to tolerate previously problematic foods once the body has been allowed to detoxify.
Tooth Decay, Gum Disease & Bad Breath
Tooth decay and gum disease leads to long term suffering for your dog or cat and huge vet bills for you. Acid-producing bacteria in the animal’s mouth feast on starches (carbohydrates). These bacteria live on the teeth in a biofilm called plaque. It’s the acid produced by the bacteria that slowly eats away at the tooth enamel, rot the tooth and causes bad breath. This follows on to a build up of bad bacteria leading to gum decease and total tooth loss. Cats and dogs were never meant to survive on a diet of carbohydrates. In the wild tooth loss met death. In evolution it meant the end of a species. Feeding a low carbohydrate raw diet such as Nutriment will therefore help ensure that teeth are kept clean and healthy – with no bad breath!
Yeast (Fungal) Infection in Dogs
Is the most common undiagnosed illness I hear about. Vets will frequently treat the secondary symptoms but not the source of the yeast. In mild cases you just have a smelly dog that often scratches with an oily coat. In more severe cases over time untreated will lead to unbearable suffering in your dog, ear infection, chewing feet, blacking of the skin, hair loss and open weeping sores. The problem begins in the gut with the diet they are fed. The common treatment for the symptoms are anti fungal shampooing plus antibiotics and steroids that destroy the natural gut flora. The antibiotics and steroids temporally make the symptoms go away but you are still left with the yeast in the body. The bodies natural defense to the yeast has broken down and yeast has overtaken in all the moist areas. They need to be on a diet that is very low in carbohydrates. The yeast feeds on these sugars in the diet. You will also need to put them on a quality probiotic with all meals. Yeast is very hard to beat but it can be done. It takes time on the right diet, probiotics and shampooing every week in a very mild non medicated shampoo. A common secondary problem is ear infection. See your vet. Follow their instructions on the care for the ears but remember diet and probiotics. It may take 3-6 months for all the signs to disappear.
Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, causing leakage of the digestive enzymes whereby the pancreas literally starts to “digest itself”. Pancreatitis can be acute (sudden) or chronic (happening over a course of time). Both acute and chronic forms are serious and can be life-threatening, especially the acute form.
However, this condition is much more common in dogs on processed kibble. Dogs are designed for digesting meat, bones, organs with some plant material. Nature never intended dogs to eat a heavily processed grain-based diet. When processed food is fed, the pancreas simply gets overworked and it becomes inflamed.
Signs for Pancreatitis
The signs can vary from mild gastrointestinal upset to collapse and death. Most animals show common gastrointestinal signs such as:
- Repeated vomiting
- Not eating
- Painful abdomen, hunched appearance (more common in dogs)
- Fever or below-normal body temperature
- Dehydration, evaluated by noting sunken eyes, dry mouth, and increased skin turgor (skin tents when pinched)
Cats are much more difficult to diagnose due to the vague signs they exhibit with chronic pancreatitis – depression/lethargy and poor appetite are seen with regularity, and gastrointestinal signs of vomiting, diarrhoea, and pain.
If you feel your pet may be showing these signs, SEE YOUR VET! If it is an acute attack you may have very little time to save their life.
Prognosis and Follow Up Care
Pancreatitis can be a very unpredictable disease. In most cases, if the pancreatitis was mild and the pet only had one episode, chances of recovery are good. In other cases, what appears to be a mild case may progress, or may be treated successfully only to have recurrences, sometimes severe.
It becomes very important to consider the work load the pancreas has to do. This should be done with your vet.
- Multiple small feeds 3-4 per day, the last one being at the very end of the night
- No snacks between meals
- A natural raw diet with lower fat amounts
- To help reduce the strain on the pancreas it is recommended that you use Panzym Concentrated Pancreatic Enzyme Powder and Protexin Pro Kolin Enterogenic
Astonishingly, 1 in 400 dogs suffer from diabetes – the disorder that prevents the body from regulating its blood sugar levels. However, this disease can be prevented from eating the right food, which is primarily a low glycemic index diet.
Dogs which are elderly, or who are on a restricted exercise schedule due to illness or surgery are very vulnerable to diabetes, and it is therefore very important to be aware of what you are feeding them to reduce the risk of this disease.
Rice, bread and cereals should be avoided at all costs, even as a snack, as these cause blood sugar levels to spike quickly – and rapid increases in blood sugar sends signals to the pancreas to increase insulin secretion, which in turn will lead to a sharp dip in blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Over time, high glucose levels and excessive insulin secretion will impair the pancreas’ ability to secrete insulin, and this can lead to diabetes.
Furthermore, eating high glycemic index foods can make your dog feel hungry again very shortly after the meal (just like in humans), and this makes them want to eat again, starting a vicious circle which can cause excessive weight gain, taxing the heart and gallbladder.
By eating low glycemic index foods results in lower, but more sustained, increases in blood sugar, putting less strain on the pancreas. It also increases physical endurance, improves blood cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular and gallbladder disease.
All Nutriment foods are made with low glycemic index ingredients, and will never contain any cereals, rice or grains. Our products promote healthy weight management and help overweight dogs lose those unwanted pounds – giving you a healthy happy hound! Click these links for a full list of our raw food ingredients, and their glycemic index.
Cushing’s Disease or Hyperadrenocorticism
Other symptoms may be an increase in appetite, a pot belly due to the enlarging of the liver and the abdomen muscles weakening, hair loss and lethargy. This condition is much more common in dogs compared to cats.
Any dog (or cat) with Cushing’s should be fed as natural a diet as possible. Ideally it should be high-protein, low-fibre, low-carbohydrate, low-fat and low-purine, and there should be unrestricted access to fresh drinking water.
Nutriment’s Low Purine formula has been especially designed to be beneficial to dogs or cats with this disease, containing not only high quality proteins, but also healthy fibre that is low in carbohydrates and fats. Click this link for a full list of our raw food ingredients.
This is a deficiency of cortisol and/or aldosterone, caused by faulty brain signals to the adrenal glands or by faulty adrenal glands. This causes the levels of sodium and potassium to be abnormal, and whilst it is a rare disease, some breeds of dog have a higher incidence than others, such as Great Danes, Rottweilers, Westies and Poodles.
The disease can be fatal, but may be treated with medicine and diet. Your pet will be weak and may vomit, the heart may not beat normally, and they may become dehydrated. Unless treated with fluids and cortisol, he or she may die, but a pet diagnosed with Addison’s will usually require lifelong treatment.
Whilst diet cannot cure Addison’s, foods consisting of poor quality ingredients are a significant source of stress for dogs suffering from this disease. Foods made with high quality animal proteins which are easy to digest work best, and those which contain probiotics are even better. Nutriment’s Low Purine diet should therefore be an essential part of the treatment for any dog suffering from this disease. Click this link for a full list of our raw food ingredients.
Bloat and Gastric Torsion
These illnesses can strike very suddenly in dogs of any age, although deep chested and large active breeds suffer most commonly. Symptoms can include extreme restlessness, salivation, successful or unsuccessful vomiting and progressive abdominal swelling. Unless spotted very quickly, these symptoms can lead to severe shock and death in as few as six hours from the onset. Irreparable damage can be caused to the dog’s internal organs even if the symptoms are spotted quickly, due to shock, which can severely complicate treatment. Should your dog show any of the above signs it is imperative that you seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible. In the case of torsion, the immediate decompression of the stomach is vital, and surgery will be required if the dog is suffering from bloat.
Torsion occurs when the stomach becomes swollen as a result of bloat, and then rotates causing a loss of circulation to the stomach and other organs.
Most of the research in to the causes of bloat have been inconclusive. A few suspected causes (such as exercising after meals, or consuming a large amount of water after eating a large meal of dried food) but there are still a number of likely causes which have not been discounted. These include sudden changes in diet, vaccinations, or exposure to high stress situations.
Each of the suspected factors can result in destruction of probiotic (friendly) bacteria in the dog’s system. These bacteria are essential in maintaining the correct pH in the digestive system and also important to carbohydrate digestion. Carbohydrates, if not properly digested, can quickly ferment – although it is possible that some dogs are genetically predispositioned to have poor carbohydrate digestion. However, in many of the cases of bloat and torsion which have been studied, the dog was fed on a low protein that contained a large amount of grains and carbohydrates – and undigested carbohydrates can result in gas being produced by the bacteria in the system, leading to bloating and therefore possibly torsion.
However, bloat and torsion is almost unheard of in dogs that are fed a quality, high protein diet, containing at least 75% raw meat – such as that produced by Nutriment.