Healthy and Happy Dogs and Cats
Your guide to feed healthy and happy companion animals, cruelty-free!
A book by
David A. Weseloh, Ph.D.
Mateus Mendes, Ph.D.
Note about colour codes:
Text in Blue: comments for us
Text in Red: text to be removed
Text in Green: text recently introduced (possibly subject to discussion)
Text in Brown: Doc proposes to remove
Text in Violet: Doc wants to introduce
Include section about behaviour, referencing the human becoming the alpha dog.
Talk about psychological problems like their fear of thunder and lighting.
Also about leaving them alone in your home and they destroy it?
Table of Contents
2.The science behind nutritional requirements for dogs and cats 4
2.1.Dogs' nutritional needs 4
2.1.1.Diet of wild animals 4
2.1.2.The amino acids 5
2.2.Cats' nutritional needs 6
2.2.1.Taurine and other amino acids 6
2.3.The problem with industrial food 6
3.Saving animal lives 8
4.A vegan diet is healthy for animals too! 10
4.1.What's inside commercial food 10
4.1.1.The problems with industrial foods 10
4.1.2.Vegan food is usually comparable to the best foods in the market 11
4.2. Kibble and dental disease 11
4.3.Variety is key for best nutrition 12
4.4.A word about veterinarians 12
6.Truth and myths about vegan companion animals. 13
7.Suggestions for raising healthy companion animals 13
Most people love their companion animals but what do they really know about them other then they are carnivorous. It is true that cats are carnivorous but dogs are omnivores. By the time that you finish this book you will understand your companion animal much better then you do now.
Several people have contributed to the information in this book. We accumulated the latest scientific information about the nutritional requirements of companion animals. This is covered in chapter 2. In chapter 3 we go into the life span of various animals and how you can increase your companion animals life span. In chapter 4 we talk about vegetarians and vegans feeding their companion animals flesh, dairy, and eggs. Chapter 5 has testimonies from the owners of companion dogs and cats that have been fed most, if not all, of their lives, a vegan diet. Chapter 6 discusses common myths about vegan companion animals. Chapter 7 outlines some suggestions and good practices for those that care for their companion animals. Finally Chapter 8 summaries the most important content of the book.
This chapter highlights some important information about the nutritional requirements for dogs and cats. Cats are carnivores. Dogs are omnivores and can eat a more varied diet. In both cases, cheap so called pet foods often do not provide a balanced diet.
Dogs, in general, adapt very easily to different diets. Their needs also vary for each dog by breed, gender and age.
Dogs are not carnivores. In fact, they show many characteristics of carnivores, but also share some characteristics with herbivore animals. A parallel can be established between dogs and bears, for example. Both dogs and bears seem to retain many characteristics of carnivores, but also adapted to a diet with plant-based food. In fact, the polar bear, which adapted to life in snow and ice, where no significant vegetation is to be found, is perhaps the only bear in all the world that follows a flesh-based diet. Bears in general are regarded as truly carnivore animals, except perhaps for some pictures of bears stealing honey from bees. In fact, apart from the polar bear, other bears eat a lot of fruit and vegetables when given the opportunity.
The dogs' ancestors in the wild are wolves. For the vast majority of wild wolves their diet consists mainly of meat. But they will also eat vegetables, to save energy hunting other animals, or to enjoy a more varied diet. Many wolves supplement their diet with wild berries, apples, pears and even melons, when given the opportunity. It is known that wolves visit melon fields and orchards for eating. Also, just like domestic dogs, wolves sometimes eat tender green grass.
The fact that dogs and wolves eat grass may actually have been misunderstood in the past. In the mainstream literature there are many references to that grass-eating habit, which is well documented. But the popular justification for the behavior may be wrong. It was believed dogs and wolves would eat grass to clean their digestive system. However, the number of observations of perfectly healthy dogs grazing when they see green grass seems to show the contrary. Many people report observing their happy, healthy and well fed dogs grazing. Therefore, the old assumption that dogs would graze to clean their digestive system is now being questioned. In fact, green grass may be part of a healthy diet of healthy dogs and wolves. In the wild, wolves also eat almost all of their prey, including partially digested grass and grains from their digestive system.
In fact, they have large canine teeth, which is a characteristic of a carnivore animals. Those canine teeth are used to kill prey, hold food and tear it apart. Herbivores do not need large canine teeth, because their source of nutrition is not prey that they kill. In fact, animals such as cows, horses and deers, for example, either do not have canine teeth or have very small canines. That is reminiscences of their past in the evolutionary line. Rodents are another class of animals that lack canine teeth.
Dogs also have large and powerful paws and claws, which are useful to catch and hold prey. They are also useful for other protective purposes, such as digging holes to hide.
Dogs also have very prominent jaws, with powerful muscles. That is another characteristic they share with carnivores. Their lower jaw cannot move forward or sideways. Instead, it is used to make strong bites and tear apart pieces of flesh, which can be quickly swallowed. Herbivores, instead, have enzyme-rich saliva and can chew grass and vegetables, effectively starting digestion in the mouth. Dogs' saliva does not contain amylase, which is useful to digest uncrushed vegetable matter.
On the other hand, dogs also share some characteristics with herbivores. For example, the dog's intestines are about six times the length of its body. Carnivores have short intestines. Herbivores, on the other hand, have long intestines, which give the vegetables time to ferment, which release the nutrients and allow them to be absorbed into the blood stream.
There are over 20 types of amino acids in human and dogs' bodies. Of these amino acids, 12 are classified as necessary. Humans and dogs will get eight of these from a vegan diet. The other four will be synthesized by the eight. The eight are classified as essential since they can not be synthesized in the body. Essential amino acids are critical to life. They are the building blocks of proteins and are essential to the proper functioning of the body. Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, heart, retina, and even in blood cells called platelets. Taurine is an amino acid that supports neurological development and helps regulate the level of water and minerals in the blood. Taurine is also thought to have antioxidant properties. A vegan diet will supply a human or a dog with these essential amino acids.
Taurine is a necessary amino acid that must be added to vegan cat food. The same is not necessarily true for dogs. Most dogs do not need added taurine but there are some breeds that may need a supplement if they are going to be on a vegan diet. Breeds like Scottish Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Chihuahuas, Basset Hounds, Australian Shepherds, Newfoundlands, and Basenjis often need taurine supplements if they are going to eat vegan dog food. If your dog has heart disease the deficiency can lead to an enlarged heart called cardiomyopathy.
Besides some breeds having a predisposition for needing taurine, there is also an inherited disease called cystinuria. It leads to the formation of kidney stones and other stones in the bladder and the ureter.
If you suspect your dog has a taurine deficiency then you need to have your veterinarian give a complete physical examination including examining your dog's heart. To help your vet you need to supply a detailed history of your dog along with a history of symptoms. The exam should include a biochemistry profile, a complete blood count (CBC) and a urinalysis. If your veterinarian finds that cystinuria is the cause of a taurine deficiency he or she will send the blood sample to a laboratory for an evaluation of level of taurine in the blood.
If heart disease is suspected then a chest X-ray will be needed. An electrocardiogram (ECG) and other diagnostic tests may be used to evaluate and diagnose the diseases effect on health. With a taurine deficiency, retinal damage is common so your vet should do a detailed eye examination.
Cats, unlike most dogs, can not synthesize taurine. Without taurine a cat's retina slowly degenerates, causing eye problems and eventually, irreversible blindness. It is a condition known as central retinal degeneration (CRD). It also causes hair loss and tooth decay. Taurine concentration has been shown to be associated with feline dilated cardiomyopathy. Luckily this condition is reversible with taurine supplements. Taurine is now a requirement of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and any dry or wet food product labeled approved by the AAFCO should have a minimum of 0.1% taurine in dry food and 0.2% in wet food.
Modern factories are usually advanced processing facilities. They have very efficient machinery and technicians qualified in different fields. The quality of the final product is guaranteed within known limits. Nonetheless, the goal in industry is usually to minimise production costs and to maximise profits. Therefore, the large majority of industrial foods found in the market suffer from many unsolved problems.
Industrial foods often incorporate many ingredients which are used only as fillers. Those ingredients are chosen not by quality, but by price. Fillers are inexpensive, so they often account for a large percentage of the whole formula. It is not uncommon to find pet food in the market where fillers are within the first two or three ingredients of the formulation, which means they are a large percentage of the food. However, most of the fillers are remains from human food industry. They are often of very poor quality and have lost most of the nutritional value during processing. Poor quality grains, white flour and brewer's rice are examples of poor fillers.
Besides fillers, industry often uses remains of dead animals or sick animals. Animal remains from 4-D animals may in some circumstances be used, which means the remains may come from animals which were Dead, Diseased, Disabled or Dying when they were slaughtered or incorporated into the mixture. Processing at high temperatures kills the bacteria, virus or microorganisms which could pose health problems to the pets that will eat the food. Nonetheless, the nutritional quality of the food is still compromised.
Industrial production requires very large quantities of almost all ingredients. Therefore, the trade-off between quality and quantity is often impaired on the side of quality. It is difficult to select only the best ingredients and still obtain huge quantities of them. Plus, there is always the pressure to produce more at a lower cost.
Another important issue when comparing the diet of pets fed with industrial food and pets in the wild is that of growth hormones, antibiotics and toxins. Wolves and cats in the wild did not hunt farm animals. Modern farm animals are fed very poor diets. They are also given large doses of antibiotics to prevent infections. They are often sick animals which cannot move during their whole lives. Parts of those animals are selected for human consumption the remains, like fat, bones and lower quality flesh are used for industrial production of pet food. Those remains will still carry away important quantities of antibiotics, growth hormones, toxins and other harmful substances.
In summary, industrial pet food is, in general, produced with very strict quality control standards using advanced machinery and facilities. But if the ingredients used are of very low quality, the final result will still be of very low quality. Therefore, it is important to make a careful choice when choosing what to feed to pets. Industrial food which uses animal by-products may have significant quantities of harmful substances carried from the animal remains used to produce the food. Vegan dog food will not have those animal remains. However, even vegan dog food is better if it does not incorporate large quantities of poor quality fillers.
Facts on the number of animals killed during the average lifespan of the companion animal eating other animals.
Vegetarian and vegan often feed their companion animals other animals. That is so contradictory to ethical veg'nism.
- here perhaps we could expand about production of animals for food ?
Links about dog's lifespan
Apparently there are not many references to
Mentions 8 years vegan cats [still alive]
The average life span of dogs fed a normal non-vegan diet is ______years. The average life span of cats fed a normal non-vegan diet is ______years. On the other hand the average life span of dogs fed a healthy vegan diet is ______years. With cats, the average life span of those fed a healthy vegan diet is ______years. There are many reasons for the differences. First, the non-vegan "pet" food has a lot of waste products in them. Almost everyone has heard the story of old poor people eating dog food. That is a myth. Dog and cat food cost much more then hamburger. So you might ask, if dog and cat food has all the waste products of meat served to humans then why the great difference in price. The answer is simple. It is the law of supply and demand. People will pay for it.
If dogs and cats need the flesh of other animals to survive then why the difference in life span figures shown above. As shown in chapter 2, they, especially cats, need ________________ which is in meat. Now we have a way to purchase it without killing another animal. By giving your companion animal a good vegan diet they will get the nutrition that they need and they will not be eating scraps filled with antibiotics, growth hormones, and just plain filth from the slaughter houses. Have you ever seen the undercover videos of these slaughter houses? That alone will keep you from eating meat and you would not want to feed it to your companion animal. Vegetarians and vegans often feed their companion animals other animals. That is so contradictory to ethical vegetarianism and ethical veganism. Think about the number of animals that your dog or cat eats over their life time? So to save the life of one animal we take the life of many animals. The bigger the animal the more lives it takes. Is that really ethical? With vegan food for animals it solves that dilema. Your friend can eat vegan and not harm another animal or when you look at his or her life span, many animals.
So were do we get the vegan food for animals. There are two major ways. First, we can purchase the food from most health food stores. Second, we can buy the supplement and mix it with your own homemade recipes. The second option takes more time but it is less expense and you may get better results getting them to eat it. Here is a little trick to get you older companion animal to eat a vegan diet. Start putting the supplement in the recipes that you want them to eat adding some food that they normally eat to the mix. Then start decreasing how much meat, dairy, and eggs are in the meal that you want them to transition to. It generally works. Puppies and kittens get use to it if you start right after the weening period is over.
Dogs and cats can not only live on a vegan diet but could thrive on it.
There are a lot of misconceptions about commercial dog and cat food. Some groups take the exceptions and make it look like it is the norm. It is true that there have been cases that seem too hard to believe. Here are a few examples of the exceptions instead of the rule. Contaminated fish oil has mercury and heavy metals. Metal contaminants can also come from dogs identification tags and pet collars.
Out of date meats plus poultry and fish from supermarkets are brought to rendering plants. Much of the flesh are in their Styrofoam packaging including in their shrink wrap. Sometimes they do not take the time to unwrap the packaging. As of today any of the following ingredients, if used in companion animal food, are not illegal, even though it seems like they should be:
Euthanized dogs and cats.
Road kill like rabbits and deer.
Farm animals that were killed, died, disabled, or even diseased.
The waste of dead animals like the intestines, organs, heads, feet, hooves, etc.
The waste from distillers.
Spoiled supermarket food.
Restaurant waste including grease.
Even dead zoo animals.
Almost half of the dogs in the USA are obese. Many die of kidney, liver, heart disease and cancer. None of us want our companion animals to suffer and we do not want to spend a lot of money on vet bills. A little education about dog and cat health as related to food can save you a lot of money and improve your companion animals' health. This book is giving you the information that you need to know about your companion animals' health and diet.
Most Americans know nothing about rendering plants. They have no clue as to where the products above come from. Here is some information about rendering plants:
The process starts with cooking raw animal material in order to remove fat and moisture. A giant auger at the bottom of the pit begins to turn. The sound of popping bones and squeezing flesh are sounds you will never forget. Then they blend the raw product to maintain a ratio between the carcasses of livestock, companion animals, poultry waste, and the rejects from supermarket. The dead animals lay on the floor with maggots swarming all over the carcasses. The maggots become part of the mix. Often the plants are stifling hot in the summer.
The mass is cut into small pieces and placed in another auger to shred into fine pieces. Then it goes into an oven and is cooked at 138 degrees Celsius (280 degrees Fahreneight) for one hour. The flesh is separated from the bones. The cooking process produces a fat of yellow grease that raises to the top and is skimmed off. The next step is to send the cooked meat with the bones to a hammer mill press where the remaining moisture is squeezed out and pulverizes the result into a gritty powder. Finally it goes into a shaker screen to sift out excess hair and bone chips. The final product is a yellow grease, flesh, and bone meal in three separate containers.
When dead companion animals are collected from animal shelters, sometimes their flea collars have not been removed. This is not the only contaminant that gets into the mix. Pharmaceuticals and antibiotics in the bodies of livestock get into the mix. Even drugs that are given to euthanize an animal will get into the mix. How would they get the drugs out of the mix even if they wanted to do it? Dead animals can bring many different things into the mix including diseases. Of course the 280 degrees will kill most of the diseases but not all. It may seem odd to imagine that the final product of this grisly process is sold as protein and fat in animal food. What may seem even more odd is that there are hundreds of rendering plants around the USA and they ship thousands of pounds of this mix each day. They ship to farms, ranches, feed lots, and of course to dog and cat food producers.
Animals hunted by cats and dogs in the wild would not have many toxins, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. On the other hand industrial food has a lot of each. Growth hormones cause the so called food animals to grow faster. Antibiotics have the same effect but to a lessor degree. They do not see that giving antibiotics to the animals, except for true illnesses, will cause the viruses to develop immunities. Then these antibiotics will no longer work for us. There are now viruses that are immune to all antibiotics thanks to those that raise animals for food. These animals full of antibiotics and growth hormones are put in food that is fed to companion animals. That increases the immunity even more. Besides growth hormones and antibiotic getting into the food that animals eat there are other things that are in a small percentage of so called pet food.
The things that I mentioned above are not common but sometimes they do occur. Some expensive animal food does not go to a rendering plants. They just kill healthy animals for the food. Over the life of a companion animal that eats this expensive food, many healthy animals are killed. A vegan companion animal food does not have animals in the food so it eliminates the possibility of the above horror stories.
Another advantage of a vegan companion animal food is that it does not have to have "unfit for human consumption" on the label. Actually most, if not all, vegan dog and cat food can be eaten by humans. Wholesome "people food" is also good for dogs. Just as a good vegan diet is nutritious for humans, it is also nutritious for dogs and cats (if the cats' have taurine added). A good vegan diet will save you a lot of doctor and hospital bills and the same diet will save you a lot of vet bills.
For years people have been hearing that kibble will prevent dental disease. It is true that most dogs over the age of three have dental disease. Even with eating kibble dogs still have dental disease. If kibble was so great then our companion animals would not be having these problems.
Most of us do not want to brush our dog's teeth so we listen to others and purchase kibble. These claims are not backed up with scientific evidence. Most kibble is loaded with corn. This corn is not the kind that humans purchase and eat. It is feed corn. It can even be cheap feed corn remnants or corn meal dust. All these are cheap fillers in order to lower the cost and increase profits. In some cases it could even be corn that was rejected for human consumption. Plus, the government puts no upper level for pesticide contamination in "pet" food
Most kibble is preserved artificially, while canned food generally is not. A lot of preservatives are required in order to keep the kibble from being spoiled so it can be left out all day. Studies have shown that kibble is linked to kidney and bladder problems in cats. Bloating is a deadly problem especially in large broad chested dogs plus it is dehydrating.
We are not saying that canned food is the way to go. Please see Section 5.1.1 on "The problems of industrial foods". Fresh is always best. Following fresh is frozen and then freeze dried or dehydrated.
Just as with humans, nutritionists recommend people and companion animals to eat a variety of foods. This will improve nutrition. You would never accept eating feed stock corn and rancid fats for every meal even if they mixed with vitamins and minerals. That is the same with dogs. Yes, they may eat it but it is not that they like it. They just need to eat. They also need and want variety in their diet. If your companion dog has been on the same diet for a long period of time then here is something that you need to be aware of. It can cause gastrointestinal upset in the short run. If they have been deprived of a nutritional diet they could have a sick digestive system. It may take a short period of time to heal their digestive system but once it is healed they can eat different foods just as we can. Switching foods should be done gradually over several weeks in order for your dog's digestive system to heal.
Kibble is bad but rawhide chews and cooked bones might cause major health problems. They could even require emergency surgery. You probably already know that chocolate can kill a dog. But there are many other dangers, like raisins, grapes, onion, Xylitol (an artificial sweetener), and some other common foods. They can be toxic for dogs. Even wheat in their food and treats may cause allergies. Humans can eat chocolate and the other items but like dogs we can also develop allergies. Their digestive system is very similar to ours.
Do not be mislead with terms like "complete and balanced". It just means that the food reaches what someone says in the requirement for an average dog. The food may have gone through trials but that usually is only for a short period of time and only on a small number of dogs.
Another point about kibble and other foods for dogs and cats is because they are packed with corn, which is fattening. That can cause your companion animal to become obese. Obesity, just as in humans, can cause diabetes. Spend a little extra and purchase a high quality vegan dog and cat food, stay away from kibble, cooked bones, and rawhide chews. Even better, feed them what you eat, making sure it does not contain those few foods that can cause them problems.
Veterinarians are very much like medical doctors. They do not learn much about nutrition during their advanced studies. Most of what vets do learn comes from the pet food industry, sales reps, seminars, and articles. Vets generally have not experimented with raw or homemade diets. They probably do not know good food from bad.
A lot of what they think that they do know comes from outdated information. Myths also get in the way. When vets profit from selling one brand to the exclusion of other brands, they do a disservice to
their patients and their companion human. It is also a conflict of interest. When they influence the choices of others just to make money for themselves and do not worry about how good the items are, it is unethical.
For this reason we must learn the differences between human and companion animals' nutritional needs. They should not eat chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, spicy foods, and a few other foods. If you eat something spicy then take a few moments and rinse off the rich spices and sauces. You should also be careful with the carbs and avoid wheat and corn.
Dog food may legally contain meat from dead, dying, diseased, and disabled animals. It is a shame that more vets do not see that most so called "pet" foods are really unhealthy. Many medical doctors are discovering the medical benefits of a vegan diet. Now some vets are also discovering the medical benefits for companion animals eating a vegan diet. Of course cats must have taurine added to their vegan diet but with that additive they can also live a very healthy life.
Actual testimonies from the owners of dogs and cats