As pet owners, we all want our pets to live long and healthy lives.
However, there are many factors that we as pet owners have zero input on; most notably...genetics.
Thankfully though, there are factors that we DO have control over.
Your pet’s nutrition is the #1 thing you have absolute control over and it’s the biggest preventative care measure you can address.
The reason this is so important, is that about 80% of your pet’s immune system is in their gut.
That means if your pet is allergic to anything in the diet you're feeding, there are a lot of negative health consequences that can crop up.
Pets can exhibit chronic ear infections, engage in chronic licking / chewing of the feet, or scooting their bum across the floor due to anal glands being swollen (preferably when company is over).
They’ll occasionally even exhibit upper respiratory congestion, just like people do during the height of spring and fall allergy seasons.
Many pets are affected so severely, that they'll experience seizures and be diagnosed with something called, “idiopathic epilepsy”.
An improper diet triggers severe inflammation and can start a snowball effect with health issues like the ones just discussed.
Inflammation is the root of many chronic diseases and it most definitely shortens the lifespan of your pets.
Therefore, it’s EXTREMELY important to do everything possible to give food and treats that aren’t going to trigger inflammation.
The ingredients I recommend avoiding are:
Fish that isn't hydrolyzed
Chicken may also have to be avoided, as some pets are extremely allergic to it too.
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Many of my clients will do a great job feeding high-quality food without these ingredients, but then they'll occasionally feed some table scraps or unhealthy treats here and there.
This is when problems tend to develop.
They can easily make the mistake of giving a piece of bread, some fish, or part of a cheeseburger -- thinking, "It won’t hurt anything. It's just a bite.".
Unfortunately, over the years I've found that just a small “treat” can trigger severe inflammation and allergy problems.
We can see the bad skin and the seizures manifest with our eyes, but what we can't see, is all the damage that chronic inflammation causes our pets beneath the surface.
Here are some steps you can take to help decrease inflammation in your pets:
Supplement with coconut oil (it's rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which makes it a great anti-inflammatory agent)
Supplement with omega-3 fatty acids (which can be found in krill oil, fish oil, or flaxseed oil)
Give a high quality probiotic (to help maintain good bacteria in the gut)
If you haven't read my post on the benefits of probiotics, check it out here.
I do realize that incorporating all these supplements can seem pricey, but it's definitely worth it!
The way I like to explain it -- is that it's like purchasing health insurance for your pets.
Invest a few dollars a day in supplementation, and it will save you a ton of money in the long run by avoiding unnecessary vet bills down the road.
Also, I recommend giving pets water that has zero fluoride in it, which means...don't just give your pets city water out of the faucet or water hose that hasn't been filtered.
Outside of the fact that city water is treated with fluoride, it also doesn't filter out all the pharmaceutical drugs that are flushed down toilets or poured down sinks.
That stuff can only be filtered out through a process called, "reverse osmosis".
(So, unfortunately, not even a Pur or Brita filter will help you filter out pharmaceuticals.)
I don't know about you, but I don't really want my pets (or myself) to be ingesting water that's contaminated with anti-depressants, hormone therapy drugs, or statin medications with all kinds of crazy side effects.
The easiest way to avoid this, is to invest in a reverse osmosis system for your kitchen sink.
There are many options out there, but the easiest solution is just to call your nearest Culligan location and have them come out and install one for you.
(They even offer monthly payment plans.)
If you're on well water, then you could potentially be safe, but I'd have someone like Culligan come out and test your water first to ensure that it's safe for both you and your pets to be drinking.
If your pet is ever in really bad shape, I highly recommend a cleansing diet where you feed them ONLY green beans and sweet potatoes for 6 weeks straight.
This is by no means a balanced diet, but it will help many pets to shed chronic inflammation, so they can begin to heal and start feeling better.
Many veterinarians will recommend various anti-histamines to battle the inflammation (since it often manifests via allergies).
Anti-histamines are the drugs of choice for most humans who suffer from allergies and inflammation (like Benadryl, etc.).
However, the chemical responsible for pet allergies is a substance called interleukin 31 (also known as IL 31) and anti-histamines have no effect on IL 31.
There's a popular prescription drug called Apoquel that specifically blocks IL 31, but it's very expensive and in my experience the effects seem to lessen over time.
That's why I firmly believe that Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) had it right when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.
The key takeaway I want you to leave here with today, is that inflammation is the primary trigger for many chronic diseases (and it can also lead to cancer).
Fortunately, the primary thing responsible for causing inflammation, is something that YOU as a pet owner have complete control over -- the diet!
This is the single most important (and easy) way to prevent health issues from developing.
Below, I've added a signup form where you can download my free pet nutrition cheat sheet (in the event you haven't already).
This is a simple 5-step PDF that will cut through all the noise of researching pet nutrition online and give you the foundations for taking proper care of your beloved dog or cat companions TODAY.
I hope you find it helpful!
And as always, please share this post with a friend or family member (so they can learn all about preventing inflammation in their pets and sign up for the cheat sheet as well).
Until next time,
Dr. Terry R. Wood