Jackie Leftwich BSc MSc AMC MMCA FRCC (Animal)
Chiropractor [McTimoney/STR/IAVC] (Qualified to treat humans and animals)
Registered with GCC and RAMP
Telephone: 07738 110570
E-mail: info@watersidechiropractic.co.uk

Waterside Chiropractic & The Truth About (Your Dog’s) Food

February 08, 2014  |   Canine Chiropractic,Human Chiropractic,Latest Posts   |     |   Comments Off

‘The Truth About Your Dog’s Food’, a programme about the dog food industry was shown on Thursday 30th January 2014 at 9pm on Channel 5.  Unfortunately, I have only just got round to watching it, but it was great to see a documentary discussing the views of various dog food producers, professionals and consumers getting some air time.  If nothing else, it may have made people think about what they feed their animals.  There were some, what I would consider, bizarre views about what we should feed our dogs.  The film looked at processed foods, home-cooked foods, raw foods, and even vegan/veggie diets.  With 8 million dogs in the UK and a £2 billion per annum processed dog food industry, it was bound to be emotive at times.  Now everyone is entitled to an opinion and if you are interested, I would strongly recommend that you watch the programme for yourself.

One of the main messages seemed to be that ‘cheap dog food is cheap for a reason’, i.e. that it contains cheap ingredients.  I would agree with that.  The same way that cheap processed human foods also contain cheap ingredients – remember the horse meat scandal.  You only have to look down the list of ingredients on most processed dog foods, or human foods, to see that most of what is included seems to be derivatives, colourings, cereals, sugars, additives, preservatives, flavouring – basically a list of mainly crap and chemicals, most of which, we don’t even know what they are!  One participant in the film said that the additives, flavouring and colourings were needed to make the dog food look the same a week later/every time – I would be extremely concerned if the fresh meat and vegetables that I  bought for us to eat still looked exactly the same a week or more after I had purchased them!  However, although cheap dog food is cheap for a reason, scientific veterinary prescription diets are conversely extremely expensive and although they may contain some more expensive ingredients, they still also contain a lot of crap and chemicals.  Like with the pharmaceutical industry, all the scientific research that they have done is an expensive outlay, and together with the patenting, packaging and advertising costs, results in an expensive product and this financial outlay has to be recouped from somewhere…hmmmm, I wonder from where?!  Could it be from you, the consumer?!

Now, I’m no nutritionist, nor am I a vet, I am a chiropractor that treats people and animals.  I can only speak from personal experience about the effect that processed foods have had on my animals in the past. Today I am going to tell you about my past experience with processed dog food.

I have a (nearly) 3 year old Boxer dog called Sol who at 5 months old, developed and intussusception.  Intussusception is an uncommon but potentially life-threatening condition that can occur in many species and is the sliding or telescoping of the intestine within itself.  It occurs primarily in the small intestine but may occasionally occur in the large intestine.  When the intestine slides within itself the blood supply to that section is greatly reduced and the tissue begins to swell and then die.  Sol had to undergo major surgery where a relatively large portion of his intestines at the ilio-caecal valve (junction between the small intestine and large intestine) was removed.  As you can imagine, Sol was very poorly and even after surgery, we were not out of the woods as it was always possible that he would develop peritonitis, in which case, it would have been likely that this would have been the end for little Sol.  Being a little fighter, after a few days of touch and go, he pulled through and was sent home with a well-known veterinary prescription diet.

We were told that Sol may have diarrhoea for a few weeks after surgery, and possibly even for the rest of his life, and that as he was lacking a large part of his intestines which helped him to absorb the correct nutrients from his food, that we would need to be careful with his diet and give him small but more regular portions.  We fed him the prescription diet and as advised, he had diarrhoea.  Over the following couple of weeks, the diarrhoea got worse and worse.  He would reluctantly eat his food and within about 20 minutes he would have to go out and this poor little pup would have diarrhoea like you have never seen, with a stench that stimulated your gag reflex from 5 – 10 metres away, along with flatulence that a builder would have been proud of.  It was heart-breaking but we were told that this was to be expected.  Instead of getting better, he began to become incontinent, with bouts of diarrhoea sometimes every half hour.  Again, we were told that this was par for the course.

I went back to an old friend and veterinary surgeon that had just returned from referral-only practice to primary veterinary care for advice (Mark Elliott BVSc VetMFHom MRCVS MLIHM PCH DSH RSHom) .  “Get shot of that prescription muck and get him on to a biologically appropriate raw food diet (BARF)” he told me and gave me the contact details for Honey’s Real Dog Food.  I rang Honey’s and they were amazing.  They took all of Sol’s details and referred his case to their Chief Veterinary Surgeon and their team of nutritionists.  They came back to me and advised me that they believed that Sol would definitely benefit from a raw food diet.  I changed Sol (and Merlot, my other 6 year old Boxer) on to a Honey’s Real Dog Food diet and within a few days Sol was no longer having uncontrollable diarrhoea and wind.  After a couple of weeks he was having small solid poos which didn’t smell – and he was loving the food; Merlot and Sol could not wait for mealtimes and their bowls gleamed after eating as much as they did before the dinner went in to them!  Since then Sol (and Merlot) have continued to be well and they still love and really look forward to their Honey’s, raw chicken wings and regular offerings of uncooked bones.  They look great; they have good coats, lots of energy and are happy, fit and healthy dogs.

Now Merlot, my other 6 year old Boxer dog, had previously enjoyed a predominantly raw food diet in the past, as had Bod and Harvey, previous Boxers of the family.  However, I had listened to some veterinary advice a year or so before I got Sol that raw food was now considered to be bad for dogs, with dried processed food the bright future offering a more balanced nutritious diet with the biscuit formation providing a complementary teeth cleaning service.  Looking back I don’t know how I actually came to believe this, but I followed the advice and changed Bod and Merlot on to a ‘high quality’ and quite expensive processed dried food.  Bod and Merlot would generally eat some of their dinner, but more often than not they would sniff what I had put down and then walk away, perhaps eating it later on.  When questioned at an annual health check, the vet had said that if a dog was hungry, they would eat it!  And they probably would, but that’s not saying much is it – should you have to be starving to want to eat what you don’t like or want to on a daily basis.  Since being given Honey’s and a BARF diet, Merlot has never not eaten his dinner and will regularly check both his and Sol’s bowls to make sure that not the slightest morsel is left!

If you would like to consider a BARF diet for your dog, then do contact Honey’s.  Jonathan Self and Vicky Marshall (co-founders of Honey’s Real Dog Food) took part in the Channel 5 documentary and they and the Honey’s RDF team are so extremely passionate about the health of your dog, that even if you don’t want to buy from them, they are so ethical and helpful that they will help you to DIY with free advice, information and support even if you never plan to become a customer.  Their ‘poorly dog’ team, headed up by an escapee from the pharmaceutical sector, their Chief Vet Tom Farrington MVB MRCVS VetMFHom, a veterinary nurse and someone with 20 years experience managing a veterinary practice, are also available for free consultations.  Jonathan Self has written a ‘Honey’s Natural Feeding Handbook for Dogs’ and has blogged on the Honey’s website about the programme and his response to a vet’s comments following the programme.  You can see these by clicking here and also read his published national newspaper article on raw feeding, which featured in the Daily Mail on the 27th January 2014.

If you would like to watch ‘The Truth About Your Dog’s Food’ for yourself you can click this link and catch up on demand on Channel 5.  It should be available via this link for about another ten days.  Next week I’ll tell you about my experience with processed horse feed – another story that is mirrored in many web forums!


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