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The Veggie Controversy

I talk to a lot of dog owners, a lot. Most get their information about feeding a fresh food diet from the internet, their friends, or pet professionals with limited experience.

Firstly, let me say that there are MANY different approaches to feeding a species appropriate, fresh food diet and that the majority of them are just fine. The purpose of this post is to dispel a HUGE myth that the majority of folks believe is true.

FACT: Dogs do not have the digestive enzyme amylase in their saliva.

MYTH: Because dogs don't have amylase in their saliva they shouldn't eat vegetables and if they do it makes their pancreas work harder.

FACT: Dogs do not have ANY digestive enzymes in their saliva. In a dog, there is no pre-digestion in the mouth for proteins, fats, nor carbs. All digestive enzymes are produced by their pancreas.

MYTH: Because wolves do not produce a lot of amylase, dogs shouldn't eat vegetables.

FACT: Dogs have been studied and found to produce MORE amylase than their undomesticated counterparts.

FACT: Studies have shown that the inclusion of certain fruits and vegetables in a dog's diet can reduce the incidence of certain cancers up to 90%!!!

FACT: Natural Pet Market continually educates and researches the latest FACT based nutritional information about keeping our dogs and cats the healthiest they can be.

PS - eat your veggies  :-)

GMO’s and Your Pet
Tracy Werner
President, Natural Pet Market

We’ve all heard the debates whether GMO crops and food are bad for us, the environment, and the animals. There are a lot of conflicting stories and evidence out there about their safety and it can be confusing forming an educated opinion. I hope to clear up some of the information so you can make the best choice when feeding your companion animals.

What is GMO?
According to Responsible Technology “A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. The foreign genes may come from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or even humans.”

“Although there have been attempts to increase nutritional benefits or productivity, the two main traits that have been added to date are herbicide tolerance and the ability of the plant to produce its own pesticide.”

Herbicide tolerance is what I’m going to focus on in this article. Roundup Ready GMO crops are foods that have had their genetic data manipulated in order to survive being sprayed with the Monsanto Company’s wildly popular and effective herbicide Roundup. The main ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate.

The National Pesticide Information Center states that “Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide, meaning it will kill most plants. It prevents the plants from making certain proteins that are needed for plant growth. Glyphosate stops a specific enzyme pathway, the shikimic acid pathway. The shikimic acid pathway is necessary for plants and some microorganisms.”

In 2015 alone, 220 million pounds of glyphosate was used on American crops.

Pet Foods and Glyphosate
Research scientist Dr. Anthony Samsel found levels of glyphosate ranging from 0.022 – 0.30 mg/kg in cat and dog foods using the accepted EPA method of analysis. All brands tested were positive for the presence of glyphosate. Purina, Beyond Natural, Rachel Ray Grain-Free, Iams, 9 Lives, and Friskies pet foods among others were found to contain levels ranging from .022 - .30 mg/kg.

​Pet foods are exempt from the new law in the US mandating labeling of foods with GMOs. However, a pet food is allowed to label their product GMO-Free if they obtain certification under the Non-GMO Project or the USDA National Organics Program.

Health and Glyphosate
There is on-going research how this herbicide can affect the long-term health of humans and animals that eat GMO crops. Many, touting its safety, are funding by Monsanto itself and are not unbiased. Independent research published “Glyphosate, Pathways to Modern Diseases IV: Cancer and Related Pathologies” has linked Roundup’s glyphosate to numerous health conditions including: reduction of gut bacteria, liver damage, autism, anxiety, reproduction issues, osteoporosis & arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and thyroid dysfunction.  The same researcher has found that glyphosate damages gut enzymes and when ingested, mimics glycine and penetrates cell biology. The International Agency for the Research on Cancer found glyphosate to be a probable cause of cancer. Another recently published study in the journal Nature found that rats fed FDA and EU allowable levels developed non-alcohol induced fatty liver disease. This is concerning because any damage to the liver can have causative effects on the whole body.

But I Don’t Feed THOSE Foods to My Pets
Soy and corn are the two major components of commercial animal feed and 95% of agriculture animals in the US are feed commercial feed. The top GMO crops in America are: soy, corn, cotton, alfalfa, papaya, canola, and sugar beets. So, unless you are feeding organic meats or meats that are pasture fed, the animal that you feed to your animal is most likely eating GMOs.  In reviewing published studies performed by Monsanto Dr. Anthony Samsel, research scientist at SEAPHS, is concerned by their finding of little or no glyphosate presence in meat, milk, and eggs of animals fed Roundup ready feed. He states that if the glyphosate isn’t freed from the protein molecule before testing that the current standard test will not find it. He is evaluating meat, milk, and eggs using a variety of testing protocols that will have separated the glyphosate from the protein before it is monitored for its presence. The results are forthcoming, stay tuned…

Why Rotational Feeding & Variety is the Healthiest for Your Pet

Tracy Werner

President, Natural Pet Market

In light of the recent Evanger's dog food recall, I am obligated to again remind you NOT to feed the same food every day, for years and years. Why? There are a myriad of reasons and I'll go over each and every one with you:

A Broader Nutritional Profile Over Time

The nutritional guidelines for pet foods give reference ranges for each nutrient. For example, the recommended allowance for Calcium ranges from 5.91g/kg body weight to 19.7g/kg body weight of an adult dog. That's just one of a whole slew of essential nutrients that your dogs and cats need in their diet. As you can see, that's a wide range and each and every commercial pet food has to have their nutrients fall somewhere in that lower and upper limit. So by rotational feeding you are offering your pet's body a safer range of nutrients over time. One food might have a mineral that's closer to the upper limit while another might be much lower. Over time, by feeding different foods from different brands, the nutrients will average out for a healthy level.

Prevents Picky Eaters

Just like children the more dietary options you offer your pets the more they will be willing to try new things. They might not accept the new food item at first but if you keep putting it in their bowl, over time it becomes familiar to them and they are more likely to try it. The broader their palate the more options that you have to feed in case of any of the practical reasons below or if you have to change their diet due to illness or disease that can be managed nutritionally.

Creates a Stronger Gut/Immune System

Think of the digestive tract as a muscle that needs to work out to be strong and healthy. For instance, if you feed the same kibble every day, that's the tummy's equivalent to a couch potato. Rotational feeding allows for the digestive tract to exercise it's enzymes and biome breaking down new foods into usable nutrients and energy for the body. The digestive tract is 70% of the immune system and therefore a strong one is equal to a healthy immune system.

Averts Food Allergies & Sensitivities

Feeding the same food over time can actually create food allergies. How? Let's say that you feed kibble brand X every day and one day your dog gets an ear infection, or maybe breaks her toenail and requires a round of antibiotics from the vet. Antibiotics kill all bacteria, the good, the bad, and the ugly. By decimating the good gut flora, digestion & immune systems suffer and studies show that it can take years to rebuild the biome after one 10 day round of antibiotics! Now, your dog is due for her routine vaccines. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to build a response against the disease that you are vaccinating against, so if exposed, the dog's body will be able to fight it off. However, take into consideration that your dog's gut biome is wiped out from the antibiotics and now you have an immune system that is in overdrive challenged by the vaccine. What can happen is that the food you feed can potentially cross the gut/blood barrier because of the hindered biome and when those food particles enter the blood stream, the immune system recognizes them as a foreign invader and will build an attack response. Now your dog has a food sensitivity. 

And Now for Other Practical Reasons

Natural Disaster/Weather Emergency, Food Recalls, Formula Changes, and Out of Business/Distribution Issues

In all of these scenarios, your regular food is not available and if your pet is not used to variety and rotational feeding, you will potentially have a very sick pet on your hands. Dogs and cats who are fed the same food over and over will most likely have a very hard time transitioning to any new food or formula change.

Common Sense People

In the beginning, when switching foods or adding in your own pet safe fresh foods, do it gradually. Remember the muscle/exercise analogy? Well, you wouldn't run a marathon without training first would you? Same applies to your pets - build up that gut slowly and steadily with healthy rotational feeding and it will pay off for the health and longevity of your pet in the long run.

​Canine Massage: Is It Right For Your Dog?

Kristina Dodge, NCCMT

Natural Pet Market

Canine massage is a helpful and simple way to make your dog feel and move better.  Massage is a calming and very effective treatment modality that brings each pet into better range of motion and facilitates healing.  Properly functioning muscles can lead to a whole new level of mobility and health. 

A Nationally Certified Canine Massage Therapist is a person that has fulfilled a required number of hours being educated in anatomy, physiology, behavior, gait assessment, palpation, massage techniques, body systems, passive range of motion and injury and tissue repair. The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage has a standardized exam, not required to practice, but ideal to obtain to set yourself apart as a practitioner. 

In addition to regular veterinary care, canine massage can help out so many of our pets. Let’s review some reasons why massage is right for your pooch. 

⬥ Muscle imbalance or overuse from too much or not enough exercise
⬥ Anxiety from storms, holidays, or other transitions (moving, new baby, etc.)
⬥ Pre- and post-surgery (pain relief before and after surgical intervention)
⬥ Edema relief (decrease swollen area after injury or surgical intervention)
⬥ Hip dysplasia or Arthritis and other debilitating diseases
⬥ Amputee (scar therapy at amputation site, remove fascial adhesions)
⬥ Recent adoptee (self-confidence issues)
⬥ Lymphatic drainage (removes toxins and improves immune system)
⬥ Pain reduction in general (the brain releases feel good hormones during massage)
⬥ Stress reliever (massage decreases stress hormones)
⬥ Restores energy and vitality
⬥ Puppies (tumbles and falls, handling awareness) 
⬥ Basic stretching (create elasticity throughout tight, shortened muscles)
⬥ Pairs well with homeopathy, acupuncture, reiki, and chiropractic care
⬥ Palliative or hospice care (brings peace and comfort during this time)

What to look for…

Here are some things to check for at home, to see if your dog would benefit from a massage:

1. Do a light, open hand scan over the dog’s entire body. Here you are searching for   areas of tight muscle, heat, lack of heat and swelling.  Gently apply pressure to these areas to check for discomfort.  Pulling away or turning to look at you are indications they may have an area of concern.  Over time, your pet will allow you to check them, and you will become more sensitized to the slightest change. 

2. Observe your pet as they go through specific movements. Observe your dog while he walks. Is he dragging his nails on the back feet? Does he have a head bob when moving one of the front legs forward? Does he hop up the stairs or make contact with all feet? Does he have difficulty going into a sit or stand? Can your dog squat or lift his leg to potty comfortably or is he weak? These can all be indications there is muscular or joint pain occurring.  

Massage is a medication free option that can be right for your pet.  A directory of skilled Nationally Certified Canine Massage Therapists is available at nbcaam.org.

For further information on canine massage visit kristinadodgecaninewellness.com or email Kristina at kristinadodge@ymail.com 

To schedule an appointment with Kristina call us at (630) 682-4522.

Healthy Food Add-Ins for Dogs

Tracy Werner 

President Natural Pet Market

I try to eat as healthy as I can and also like to extend that energy to my dogs when I’m preparing their meals. I eat a lot of vegetables and am always eager to share my food with the pups. I even buy my dogs foods that I wouldn’t necessarily eat, but I know are good for them, since having them around makes me happy and I want to extend that time as long as possible. I’ve compiled a list of my dogs’ favorite food bowl add-ins to help you experiment and see what your dogs like and do well on. I will preface the list with, if feeding a commercially prepared diet (such as any complete and balanced kibble, canned, or raw diet) add no more than 20% of the total volume of add-in foods. You can throw the diet’s nutritional balance o! if adding much more than that on a regular basis. Also, it’s important to note that variety is the spice of life, don’t get stuck in a rut giving your dogs the same add-ins day after day.

Turmeric - It's a prominent medicinal tool in ayurveda, the ancient medical tradition that began in India, where turmeric is widely used and the prevalence of cancer is much lower than the US. Researchers attribute part of this to curcumin, a compound that gives turmeric its deep golden color, and human studies suggest curcumin may protect against cancer and Alzheimer's and also improve circulation, prevent blood clotting and tame a variety of pains. I buy the fresh tubers at Whole Foods or my local ethnic market and prepare them by peeling (like you would ginger root) and either grating or giving it a whiz in the food processor. Turmeric is well studied for it’s anti-inflammatory, anti- cancer, and longevity properties. If you can’t find fresh, a high quality dried (in the spice aisle in your market) can be a good substitute. Go easy on the amount, no more than 1tsp fresh and 1/2tsp dried per 20lbs of body weight.

Blueberries - Fresh and sweet, dogs can’t resist gobbling up these anti-oxidant powerhouses. Chocked full of antioxidants and phytoflavinoids, these berries are also high in potassium and vitamin C. When selecting berries, note that the darker they are, the more anti-oxidants they have. Human studies suggest they can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, they are also anti-inflammatory.

Fresh Sprouts/Microgreens - Sprouts and microgreens are chocked full of nutrients including protein, vitamin C and enzymes, even more than their fully grown counterparts. Because of their high enzyme content they are easy to digest too. Alfalfa, broccoli, and mung beans are super easy to sprout at home in a mason jar on your counter and it just takes about 4 days from start to finish! Kale/Broccoli Stems - All cruciferous veggies (think cauliflower, cabbage, kale) contain cancer-fighting properties, and contain sulforaphane, a particularly potent compound that boosts the body's protective enzymes and flushes out cancer-causing chemicals. A recent University of Michigan study on mice found that sulforaphane also targets cancer stem cells—those that aid in tumor growth. I eat a lot of these green veggies but don’t always like the fibrous stems - that doesn’t make me throw them away. The stems have even more of the “good stuff” anyway so I pulp them in the food processor raw or lightly steam them to make them more digestible for the canine tummy.

Black Rice - I know, I know - dogs should be on a grain-free diet... but, this healthy add-in has too many benefits not to share with your dogs on a regular basis. Like brown rice, black rice is full of antioxidant-rich bran, but only black-rice bran contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, purple and reddish pigments (also found in blueberries) that have been linked to a decreased risk of human heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits. You can find it at a specialty market like Whole Foods or Super H Mart. Make up a batch and share it with the whole family!

Egg Whites - Have an older dog? Worried about your dog’s kidney health? Egg whites are a wonderful addition to his meals because they are rich in essential amino acids and protein but very low in phosphorus and even help eliminate excess phosphorus out of the body. Only buy eggs labeled specifically “Humanely Raised” for the wellbeing of the chickens providing the eggs as well as your dog’s health. Nutritional Yeast - This is a deactivated form of yeast that provides a good source of B-Complex vitamins and provides all of the essential amino acids in a cheesy/nutty tasting flake or powder form. It aids in the metabolism of protein, fat, and carbs in your dog’s diet which is crucial for all bodily functions. Buy the fortified nutritional yeast at health food stores in the supplement aisle for an added punch of Vitamin B12. I like recommending sprinkling it over a picky eater’s food to piqué their appetites.

Fermented Foods - Got Kraut? Yes, fermented foods like sauerkraut, unsweetened yogurt and kefir (make sure they are from goat or sheep's milk or A2 cow's milk only) are really great sources of natural probiotics for your dog. Probiotics in the digestive system have been studied for their health promoting attributes not only for gut health, but for immune, brain/behavior, kidney, skin, and allergy health. Start slow and just a a teaspoon of the ferment of your choice per 30lbs of the dog's weight. 

This is just a partial list of the many healthy, canine-friendly foods that you can use to liven up your dog’s mealtime. Hopefully by having many fresh, whole foods in your kitchen for your dogs, it can encourage you to eat healthier too! 

Is Your Pet Moisture Deficient?

by Tracy Werner

President, Natural Pet Market

Only feeding your pet dry foods? Check this out - for example, a dog that's eating 3 cups of dry food a day would have to drink an EXTRA 1/2 GALLON of water to compensate for the lack of moisture in dry food. This is in addition to the normal daily water consumption that they would need. Also, dry food actually robs the body of moisture by borrowing it from other body systems in order to digest the dry food. Chronic dehydration leads to whole body/organ dysfunction including liver, kidney, joints, etc.

To add sufficient moisture, for every cup of dry food add 3/4 cup water, no sodium broth, raw goat milk, etc. Fresh fruits and veggies are a GREAT addition for more than just moisture but remember that they are not 100% moisture but rather about 75-80% moisture. Be careful not to throw off the nutritional balance of the diet though, add up to 20% fresh foods and the rest water, broth, etc.​

Garlic, the Stuff Legends are Made of...

from Deterring Vampires to Poisoning Pets.

by Tracy Werner

President, Natural Pet Market

A quick search of the Internet for “garlic for dogs” will retrieve about 13 million results. Of these pages, in a vast see of so-called experts and the real deals, one will find excruciatingly conflicting ideas and opinions about the safety of feeding garlic to our companion animals. I set forth to seek the truth as the real experts know it, the people on the forefront of canine health and nutrition but also with years of scientific study under their belts.

First I visited the ASPCA, the group that runs the Animal Poison Control Center. The APCC is the definitive resource for information regarding the toxicity of common household items, plants, and foods. The ASPCA states, “An occasional small amount, such as that in most commercial pet foods and treats, may not cause a problem, but because of the risk, we generally recommend that you avoid feeding your pets products that contain more concentrated amounts of garlic.” 1

But that didn’t really tell me what is a ‘small amount’ vs. ‘a more concentrated amount’. To hopefully clear up the confusion I visited Dr. Karen Becker, DVM’s site. She is a nationally recognized leader in the world of alternative pet care and nutrition as well as a regular contributor to the Mercola Health Network. Dr. Becker says, “Do not feed onions to dogs or cats as it causes hemolytic anemia. Although garlic is in the same family, pets can ingest small amounts of garlic and reap huge benefits.” “Fresh garlic should always be used, giving cats and small dogs ¼  to ½ clove/day, medium dogs a ½ to 1 clove daily and big dogs 1–1½ cloves daily. Onion, a relative of garlic, produces anemia in pets and should not be fed.” 2

So now I have specific amounts that are safe, but why in the heck do I want to feed garlic to my pets anyway? In order to get that answer I relied on my main reference when it comes to administering herbs to cats and dogs, world renown Master Herbalist and Author of numerous publications on the use of herbs in pets, Gregory Tilford. Mr. Tilford writes, “Used properly and in the correct form, garlic is valuable for treatment of virtually any form of internal or external bacterial, viral, fungal infection, including parasites (such as tapeworms) and protozoan organisms (such as Giardia).   Fresh garlic or properly dried powder (from a reputable market source) can be fed as part of your animal’s diet to fight infections of the mouth, throat, respiratory tract, stomach, or intestines.” “Freshly crushed garlic, or juice can be infused or diluted into olive oil for use as a topical antiseptic for minor injuries, ear infections;, or mites. The rule here is to be sure the garlic is diluted sufficiently— the volatile oils are very strong and can cause burning irritation if applied to the skin in concentrated form. Never… never apply essential oil of garlic to any part of the body; it’s too concentrated.   And never use garlic preparations in the eyes.” He goes on to mention numerous more health related benefits including lowering cholesterol, boosting the immune system, and even fighting cancer.

“Although toxic side effects from consumption of garlic are rare in animals and humans alike, the possibility of harming your dog, cat, or herbivore with garlic does exist, and there is a growing controversy about how much garlic is enough and how much is too much. At the root of this controversy is a dangerous misconception: the notion that more garlic is always better. This is seriously untrue. Despite all of the grand attributes we have just described to you, moderation ; the cardinal rule of herb use, applies very strictly to garlic— particularly when used in cats.”3

Since I often have a fact-driven, common sense approach I also wanted to find out exactly where all of these experts gleaned their information from and found a 2000 study by the American Journal of Veterinary Research entitled - “Hematologic changes associated with the appearance of eccentrocytes after intragastric administration of garlic extract to dogs”4 What the study found out is that you would have to give your dog 1 large clove of garlic per 2.2lbs of body weight for 7 days before any signs of damage begin to start. For example, that means a 50lb dog would need to eat almost 23 large cloves of garlic a day for 7 days straight before there is any indication of danger going on inside the dog’s body. This is an unlikely scenario for the pet owner consciously feeding garlic to their pets either in treat form or as an herbal supplement to their daily diet.


1 http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/ask-the-expert/ask-the-expert-pet-nutrition/isgarlic-toxic-to-pets.aspx

2 http://www.drkarenbecker.com/nutrition/raw_food_diets.htm

3 http://theanimalherbalist.com/?page_id=169

4 http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/abs/10.2460/ajvr.2000.61.1446