Species Specific Nutrition

By Dr. Jeannie Thomason Certified Animal Naturopath & co-founder of American Council of Animal Naturopathy

Nutrition is the foundation of health for our animals (and ourselves).

I believe what we choose to feed the animals under our stewardship is the most important decision we will ever make for them. Proper nutrition directly influences every aspect of our companion animal’s life. Things like how they grow, their behavior, health, overall emotional and physical well-being and even appearance are all closely connected to the nutrition we provide – it’s a big responsibility.

So many people want to share their lives with domestic animals but honestly know very little about them and their unique species requirements that need to be met to live a long healthy life with us. It is so easy to just go buy a sack of pellets for our horse or a bag of kibble for our cats and dogs – they even have pelleted bird food now for our pet parrots! However, we need to ask ourselves why we are feeding this de-natured, processed garbage to the animals that are so important to us, that we claim to love like our own children. Is this what their digestive system was designed to eat? Is it really what’s best for them?

Let’s face it, without proper nutrition every virus, every allergen, every parasite, every bacterium, and every fungus are made all the more pervasive, powerful, and dangerous. Not because they are strengthened in any way, but because the body’s ability to remain balanced and strong enough to fight them off is dramatically suppressed.

The natural defense against all these things – the animal’s own natural immune system – is dependent on proper nutrition to maintain balance and adequate protection against invasion. With proper nutrition, there is a huge decrease in the need for things like antibiotics, vaccines, and parasiticides (in reality there is virtually never a need for any of these toxins).

Species Appropriate Nutrition

Any discussion of animal nutrition needs to start with one basic premise – different species have different nutritional requirements. Dogs, all dogs – no matter what the breed – are carnivores not omnivores. The assumption that dogs are omnivores remains to be proven, whereas the truth about dogs being carnivores is very well-supported by the evidence available to us. Of course cats are carnivores as well and horses are herbivores.

All dietary decisions for our companion animals must conform to feeding and caring for them as the species they are and fed appropriately. This is not something we can change to suit our own likes, needs and beliefs.

Animals do not eat cooked or processed food in nature. There are eighty million species of life on the earth, (about 700,000 of which are animals) and they all thrive on raw food. In fact, humans are the only ones that apply heat to what they eat. Humans on average as a race, die at or below half their potential life span of chronic illness that are largely diet and lifestyle related. Domesticated animals have also been wrongly fed cooked, processed, packaged food that likewise is denatured by heat. As a consequence, they suffer with human-like chronic ailments including diabetes, pancreatitis, cancer, arthritis and other degenerative and auto- immune diseases.

The different animal species living in their natural (once pristine) environment tend to live seven times past their age of maturity. Not so in our domestic environments feeding processed/cooked foods.

Heating or cooking foods denatures protein, destroys enzymes and alters the structure of the food rendering it void of nutrition and often carcinogenic.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, denaturation is a modification of the molecular structure of protein by heat or by an acid, an alkali, or ultraviolet radiation that destroys or diminishes its original properties and biological activity.

Denaturation alters protein and makes it unusable or less usable. According to Britannica, protein molecules are readily altered by heat: “Unlike simple organic molecules, the physical and chemical properties of protein are markedly altered when the substance is just boiled in water. Further all of the agents able to cause denaturation are able to break the secondary bonds that hold the chains in place. Once these weak bonds are broken, the molecule falls into a disorganized tangle devoid of biological function.”

Dr. Kouchakoff of Switzerland conducted over 300 detailed experiments, which pinpointed the pathogenic nature of cooked and processed foods. Food heated to temperatures of just 120 to 190 degrees F (a range usually relegated to warming rather than cooking which, nevertheless, destroys all enzymes) causes leukocytosis in the body. Leukocytosis is a term applied to an abnormally high white corpuscle count. Within a short time after eating food cooked at these low temperatures, white corpuscle counts tripled in the participants of Dr. Kouchakoff experiments.

What is most healthy for our pets? What is best for the pets we are responsible for? What’s in it for the animal? We must be guided by this imperative when making decisions about our companion animals’ diet.

This is just a little taste of what you can learn in our Carnivore and/or Equine Nutrition Classes at the American Council of Animal Naturopathy.