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Dr Bruce Syme

Vets All Natural - Perfect Puppy Nutrition

395 posts in this topic

For anyone interested in some of Dr Bruce's articles. Some of this information is what he has presented at Australian Veterinarian Association conferences.

Perfect nutrition for the perfect puppy

If we could go back in time to the very first day man befriended the dog, I'm sure we would find it all started with a puppy. Puppies are the picture of innocence, love and affection, and will warm the coldest of hearts with their instant adoring attention and playful antics. And it was these traits, that carry on into adulthood, along with many of the common hunting, protecting and scavenging skills that dogs possess, that ensured the dog's place as "man's best friend". But even though that happened over 10,000 years ago, man's actual impact on the dog, on an evolutionary level, is less than 0.01 %. The dog family (Canidae) have been evolving for over 40 million years, and for the first 39.99 million years, they had no human contact. So if we are to ask the question, what should a puppy eat to get the optimum in nutrition, healthy growth, strength and vitality; should we ask a scientist? a veterinarian? a pet food manufacturer? a zoo keeper? or mother nature herself ??

Common sense feeding practices are they key to good health !

In just about every situation where mankind has altered the natural feeding practices of domesticated animals, whether it be for reasons of increased growth and production, better condition or speed, convenience, profit, or simply by the nature of domestication and confinement, which prevents natural migration patterns, we see deterioration in health, and the emergence of new diseases. Mother nature, for want of a better name, or Darwin's theory of evolution, has been at work for millions of years evolving genetic traits and structuring every single organism to best survive and thrive in it's given environment.And the basic essentials are how to eat, how to survive, and how to reproduce. Dogs are no exception. They have been evolving for over 39.99 million years eating raw food (prey) and scavenging scraps. And that is exactly what they thrive on !

Nature has a counterpart for every domesticated animal, be it dogs and wolves, cats and lions, horses and zebra, cows and buffalo, pigs and boars........ and in every situation, you will find diseases and degenerative conditions that are not prevalent in the wild counterpart. Yes, domesticated animals often live longer due to their protected environment and help from mankind, but in almost every situation, the domesticated animal will suffer from diseases that are either not found or are very rare in the wild. And why ? Because in every situation man has changed their natural diet !

Do wolves suffer from allergies, flea hypersensitivity, gingivitis and gum disease, anal gland blockage, sensitive bowels and food allergy, hip or elbow dysplasia, diabetes, thyroid deficiency, early onset arthritis, autoimmune diseases or the vast array of cancers that are diagnosed in dogs today ? No !

Why not? Because they eat a natural raw diet, the same diet they have evolved to eat over 40 million years.

Their whole body, from teeth, salivary glands, stomach, intestines, organs and enzymes, has all been finely tuned over 40 million years to process and digest raw food: meats and organs, bones, fur, feathers, insects, plants, fruits and nuts, grasses...fresh today or weeks old, they can handle it all. And they thrive on it.

So how different are modern domestic dogs in 1999 ? ......... about 0.01 %

So what should a puppy eat to achieve maximum optimal nutrition, health, growth and longevity........a natural, raw, uncooked, unprocessed, unadulterated diet.

What is a natural diet for a growing puppy ?

Natural nutrition starts in the uterus, and in the diet of the pregnant bitch. Although you can't always know the parentage of puppies, if you have a choice, try and find a breeder who feeds raw food. The health and vigor of new born pups is a direct reflection of both diet and genetics. The importance of the bitch's nutritional plane continues through lactation, where for the first few weeks the pups are completely reliant on mum for all their nutrition (growth), immunity (collostrum), and waste disposal. You can usually pick the strongest pup (often the pick of the litter) at about 2 weeks. At this age the pup is a direct reflection of his genetic make-up, and the bitches nutritional intake.

From the time the pup cuts its first milk teeth ( approx. 2-4 weeks old) he or she is ready to tackle solid food. This coincides with increasing discomfort at feeding time for the bitch ( those nice sharp teeth we all know so well !), who is stimulated to start offering solid food. In the wild state, she does this by regurgitating food (voluntary vomiting) for the pups to eat. Food (or prey) she may have eaten minutes or hours earlier, is then regurgitated ; pre-masticated (chewed), warm (38.5 'C) and part digested, for the pups to devour back in the security of the den (or whelping box). Many bitches today will still start vomiting at this stage of lactation, even if you are offering solids already, which is the cause of many a panicky phone call from in-experienced breeders.

And what do the pups then eat ? Exactly what mum has eaten. Pre-chewed, partly digested, raw meat, organs, gut contents, bones, fur, feathers, and any other plant or organic material the bitch has eaten. But remember, the bitch is often eating for herself and 6 or more pups, and as a result, her diet is often more varied and ravenous than usual. Infact, the concept of cravings for certain foods, which are experienced during pregnancy and lactation, may play an important role in ensuring balanced early nutrition of pups and people in the same way.

By 6-8 weeks, the pups will tackle whole carcass and food brought back by the bitch intact. And by the age of 6-8 months old, the pup has grown and learnt to hunt and scavenge for itself..

So how does this translate to the modern domestic puppy of 1999 ? Very simply : We try to recreate the core elements of the natural diet, with easily accessible ingredients currently available, that will supply the equivalent constituents of a natural diet. It is not that complicated or time consuming, and there is only one golden rule :

Do Not cook Anything for your puppy!

The cooking and artificial processing of dog (and cat) foods, that began back in the 1950's with the post-war popularity surge in canned foods, is the single most significant impact that man has had on the domestic dog. It represents the most dramatic deviation from nature that we have imposed on any domesticated animal, and is integrally linked to the rapid decline in health, fertility and longevity that our "best friends" suffer from today. The nutritional damage caused by cooking is insidious and far reaching, and too involved to go into in great detail here. As a bare minimum, it damages/destroys essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and trace elements in the diet.It denatures (mutates) proteins, inactivates natural enzymes, and kills all natural bacterial flora (sterilises food). It results in decreased nutritional content, increased digestive effort and enzyme output, poorer absorption and intestinal vitamin production, and greater waste production. This all adds up to a diet that is nutritionally deficient, has lowered bioavailability (harder to digest and absorb), and contains mutated protein fragments that may be absorbed across the bowel. Cooking is a completely unnatural, man-made process, and should not be involved in the preparation of a dog's natural diet.

What are the ingredients for a modern 'natural puppy' diet ?

The ingredients in a natural diet vary only slightly from puppy to adulthood. They comprise the four basic food groups : Proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vegetables. The ratios of these in the diet will vary with the different nutritional requirements of age (stage of growth), metabolism, energy expenditure or exercise levels and reproductive status. A diet based on raw meats (both muscle meats and some organ/offal), bones, mixed cereal grains, vegetables and fruits, and a few basic natural supplements to ensure vitamin/mineral balance, can be adjusted to suit all stages of a dog's nutritional needs. Our aim is to mimic the omnivorous diet (both animal and vegetable) that wild dogs consume.

The basic constituents of a weaning diet are no different to that of a growing diet, except that the very act of pre-digestion and regurgitation introduces several key points. The meat portion must be finely chopped or ground to match the pre-chewed state. This increases the actual contact surface area for easier digestion and absorption. The time spent in the gut of the bitch also introduces both a mix of digestive enzymes, and a mix of pro-biotic bacteria (normal bowel bacteria or flora), which are both underdeveloped in the weaning pup. This can be re-created by the addition of enzyme supplements (e.g. viokase, pancrease, Thrive-D), and pro-biotic supplements (live culture, non-harmful, bacterial additives e.g. Protexin powder, live culture yogurt). These two additives will greatly enhance the digestive and absorptive capabilities of the pup, which results in vigorous healthy growth.The mix should also be highly moist, and served at body temperature (38.5"C) .

The weaning mix should be made available to the pups as soon as you see or feel the milk teeth erupting (2 weeks plus). Spend some time introducing the food to the pups; let them suckle your finger and then dip it in the mix and repeat the suckle, show them where the bowl is etc. Make sure your bitch is well fed if she is in with the pups during this process, as it will lessen the chance that she will eat the lot herself.

The mix should be available as often as possible (ad lib), but the pups should still have full access to mum's milk at least until 5-6 weeks old, or ideally, when the bitch naturally dries up and weans the pups herself. The practice of making weaning diets that are high in dairy products, and often high in cereals, is unnecessary while the bitch is lactating. There is no substitute for the bitch's milk, and certainly not pasteurised milk from a cow. If you must use a milk substitute for any reason, raw (un-pasteurised) goats milk is the best alternative.

High cereal diets (farax, porridge etc.) are not ideally suited to the pup's needs. They provide a rich source of energy and easily processed starch and sugars, but the pup has not developed a normal glucose metabolism at this age, and will experience sugar highs and sugar lows (bursts of high energy followed by collapse and sleep). Cereals are also too low in protein for the rapidly growing pup (proteins are the building blocks for body tissues), who is doubling his/her bodyweight every 3 weeks at this stage. The basic nutritional ratio for the growing pup is 70% protein (raw meat), 20% carbohydrate (cereals), 10% vegetable/fibre.

The final ingredient is access to raw bones. Bones are a vital ingredient in any dog's diet ; they provide for good abrasive dental action, which maintains healthy teeth and gums, they are the best natural source of calcium in a dog's diet, and they provide solid matter for proper stool formation which aids bowel cleansing and appropriate anal gland function. Bones should be raw, soft enough to be chewed completely, and therefore digested completely, and of a size large enough to prevent swallowing whole. The ideal puppy bones are raw chicken carcasses or frames. They can be made available as soon as the pups are starting to chew solids (or chew on soft toys), and can be continued for life. The pups we raise can easily devour a chicken frame at 4 weeks old.

The growth diet (from weaning as a pup to mature adult size) is designed to provide the pup with all the raw materials required for rapid growth. The pup needs higher levels of protein and fats, and more concentrated vitamin/mineral content to keep pace with the rapid growth of body tissues, organs and bones. Correct ratios of key elements like calcium and essential fatty acids, and micronutrients like iodine, chromium and zinc, are all vastly more important when designing a diet for a growing puppy, than that of a fully grown adult dog. The diet outlined below is the result of years of research and trial. We have fifth generation pups due shortly, that will be weaned and grown on this diet, just as their parents, grand parents and great grand parents were. Every generation raised on raw food benefits both nutritionally, and genetically, as they grow to reproductive age. A natural raw diet is the key to better health, vitality, reproductive vigor and long life.

The puppy diet for all breeds

There has always been a lot of discussion about the different needs of large and small breed puppies, but with a properly balanced puppy diet, the only difference is in the amount you feed, and the length of time you feed it for. All pups need small regular meals during the early stages (the amount is relative to the size of the pups) ; 4 feeds a day up to 6 weeks old, 3 feeds per day up to 12 weeks, 2 feed per day up to 6 months old. Small breed dogs will reach mature size between 6-12 months old, and can be fed once a day.

Large breed dogs continue to grow for up to 18 months to 2 years, and should be maintained on 2 feeds per day until then. As long as the diet ratios are correct, this is the main significant difference.

The following recipe is designed to make up 1kg of "ready to eat" puppy mix.

700g raw meat

180g of soaked cereal mix

80g vegetable mix

40g nutritional powder mix

One teaspoon of flax seed oil (optional.See below)

The meat should always be raw, preservative free, and meat inspected. I prefer kangaroo and rabbit, as they are both free range and organic, they are a likely natural source of prey, they are lean meats (approx. 4% fat), and they are cost effective to boot. It is a good idea to add some organ meats on occasion (once or twice a week). A mix of 100g organ to 600g meat is rich enough. Use liver, kidney and heart primarily, and only buy from a butcher or supermarket. Try and always have a bone offering (chicken carcass or equivalent) at least once daily or every second day.

The cereal mix is a combination of 5 parts rolled oats, 2 parts cracked barley, and one part each of soybean meal, linseed meal and whole grain oats (although only add the whole oats when the pups are about 8-10 weeks old). This mix is then soaked in an equal volume of water ( i.e. one cup mix to one cup water), and left for 12 hrs (summer) to 24 hrs (winter) at room temperature. This allows for seed germination, and the un-locking of starch and other carbohydrates in the grain, which improves digestion and absorption greatly.

The vegetable mix can be very varied. The more soft and rotten the veggies, the better. We use primarily carrot, pumpkin and parsley, with green beans, peas, and any other greens available.Soft mushy fruits are also great..just avoid fruit stones (seeds) and hard cores. Peelings and fruit juice pulp are also great.... basically the contents of your compost bin. The whole lot is then vitamised or put through the food blender until it is a pulp. I also add about one clove of garlic for every cup of veggie mix and pulp it in. The pulping process is essential to allow the dog to be able to digest and process the veggie mix (dogs have a poor ability to digest plant material in tact), and it also prevents fussy dogs from selectively sifting out and leaving the vegetables. The mix can be refrigerated for about 4-5 days, or frozen.

The nutritional powder mix supplies the vitamin and mineral supplements that balance off the diet in regard to content and ratios. It contains 12 parts calcium carbonate powder, 9 parts brewers yeast, 3 parts kelp powder, 3 parts lecithin granules, 1 part barley green or wheat grass powder, and 1 part vitamin C powder as sodium ascorbate.

Flax seed oil is used as an Omega 3 fatty acid supplement, which are vital for the development of the brain and nervous system. The diet above will provide adequate Omega 3 levels as it is, but given that many people may not choose to feed this every day, a flax oil supplement will make up for any deficiencies in other diets used (especially if dry food is fed).

When making a weaning mix (up to 6 weeks old), chop meat finely (minced), add the equivalent of 2 viokase tablets (or Thrive-D as directed), and one sachet of protexin powder per 1kg of mix. Add extra water to reach a thick soup consistency, and serve warm (not refrigerated). Do not use whole oats in the cereal mix.

All of the ingredients listed can be easily purchased from your local produce store, health food shop and pet supply outlets / butcher. Most parts of the mix can be made up and stored in bulk (cereal mix, frozen vegetable mix, powder mix). The fully prepared mix will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days, and can also be frozen, however fresh is always best.

This simple diet plan will help you to rear strong, healthy , show winning pups every litter. Continuing this dietary advice throughout the lifetime of your dogs will guarantee them optimal health and longevity, and will save you money on both feed bills and vet bills. The ultimate result will be to maximise the genetic potential of your chosen breed(s) by eliminating the damaging nutritional trends of the past 40 years.

Dr Bruce Syme B.V.Sc. (Hons), M.R.C.V.S.

Vets All Natural Animal Health Centre,

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sas   

I find it pretty odd that you state that Cererals are not ideal yet your product is mostly Oat....?

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I find it pretty odd that you state that Cererals are not ideal yet your product is mostly Oat....?

Hi Meh,

Have a read of this article. Also the whole oats in Complete Mix are designed to not be digested. They are there to assist with anal gland expansion on the exiting journey.

A grain of truth

Dr Bruce Syme BVSc(Hons), MRCVS

For those of you who have been reading and researching information on natural diets for dogs and cats, it is time to set the record straight on the issue of grains.

There is conflicting information being published on the use of grains, as part of a natural diet. Some vets advocate no grain at all but lots of vegetables, and some believe a diet based on just raw meaty bones is all a dog needs. Others recommend a small portion of grains in the diet. So what is the truth ?

The basic controversy has arisen because of the very high cereal content used in processed pet foods. Many canned and dry dog foods contain up to 4 times as much cereal content as meat. This cereal is cleverly flavoured with meat render (boiled offal and carcass remains), and is often disguised as “meaty chunks” using food dyes and gums. The simple fact is that dogs and cats are not designed to eat such a high content of highly refined starch (cereals ground into flour). These cereal flours are used as cheap fillers, to bulk out the pet food, and increase profit (decrease manufacture costs) as meat proteins are very expensive. Cheap starch has little nutritional value, except for calories, and can result in a diet with too much refined sugar.

It is this fact that has lead some vets and nutritionists to broaden the issue on cheap carbohydrates, to encompass grains in general. But this is not true. I agree that cheap carbohydrates used in commercial pet foods are not good for health, but this does not mean that dogs and cats do not actually eat some grains.

We must remember that both dogs and cats often do ingest grains when they catch and eat live prey. The natural source of prey for dogs and cats is generally herbivores….plant eaters. When a dog catches its prey, it will first eat the organs and then the gut content of the prey animal, which is full of semi-digested plant and grain material. This can make up almost 30% of the weight of the prey animal. After this feast, they finally eat the meat and bones. The order in which they consume the prey is a simple and clear indication that the grain / vegetable content of the diet is vital to their health. Why else would they eat it first ?

Dogs are considered omnivores, not obligate carnivores (unlike cats). This means that they are able to survive on a diet that does not contain meat. The most basic indication here being that they can survive on a diet of plant based material….grains, fruit, vegetable matter etc. It simply stands to reason that if an animal can survive like this, then their bodies must be fully equipped to digest and process these types of food groups.

An important point to mention here is that dogs and cats cannot digest whole grains. They do not graze fields of barley and eat the grains. What they do is ingest the grain from the gut content of the prey animal. This grain has all ready been masticated (chewed), partially digested, and has been fermenting in the animals gut at 38.5’C. Presented like this, a dog or cat can now easily digest the grain material. The same goes for plant material. Dogs and cats have a poor ability to digest intact plant material (they lack the enzymes to digest the cellulose plant cell wall). When they eat plant material, it is either direct from the gut of the prey, predigested, or they scavenge old composting vegetable matter, which is auto-digesting (decaying). The same goes for fruit material. Dogs generally eat fruit off the ground, not off the tree, where it has all ready ripened, and started to decay.

The only time cats and dogs can digest fresh plant material, is when they eat very young shoots. If you watch them eat grass, for nutrition, not as a means of making themselves sick, they are very selective, eating only the very fresh green shoots, not the bigger, greener leaves. This is because the new shoots have a thin cell wall that can be digested, whereas older plant cells develop a tough, indigestible, lignified cell wall.

Cats are true carnivores, which means they must eat meat to survive. They are not scavengers like dogs, and will only eat fresh prey. They do eat the gut content of their prey (grains and all), like dogs, and do consume small amounts of fresh green plant material, but in general, their diet is much higher in fresh meat content. Grain material would make up only 10-15 % of their diet.

When I developed my grain/vegetable mix (Complete Mix), I modelled it on the way dogs and cats would naturally eat grain. The grains are crushed / cracked, the vegetable matter finely chopped or powdered. The mix is soaked (fermented) just as it would be, in the gut of the prey. The carbohydrate in the grain is then readily digested by the dog or cat. The nutritional value of the whole grains are preserved, and not damaged by processing and bleaching, as is the case with cereal flours. The amount of grain/veg to meat has been carefully calculated to meet the energy and growth requirements of the animal, and its natural dietary intakes. The cat mix has only 10% grain/vegetable matter (dry weight), and the dog mixes vary from 15% (puppy) to 20-25% for adult and senior dogs. This is an accurate reflection of the normal carbohydrate intake of a wild dog, and is presented to the dog in a state that it would naturally digest it.

So the final word on grains. They are ok, as long as they are unprocessed, cracked or crushed, pre-fermented, and make up a much smaller portion of the diet than the meat content. It may be true that some dogs and cats may fare better on a diet with little or no carbohydrate, but on the whole the are a valuable source of nutrition.

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Hi Megan,

I have quoted the relevant section. We certainly do suggest bones, just not as the sole food source. The nutritional powder mix is part of our 'Home Made' recipe for people wanting to follow a totally home made, raw diet.

Try and always have a bone offering (chicken carcass or equivalent) at least once daily or every second day.

The nutritional powder mix supplies the vitamin and mineral supplements that balance off the diet in regard to content and ratios. It contains 12 parts calcium carbonate powder, 9 parts brewers yeast, 3 parts kelp powder, 3 parts lecithin granules, 1 part barley green or wheat grass powder, and 1 part vitamin C powder as sodium ascorbate.

Dr Bruce Syme B.V.Sc. (Hons), M.R.C.V.S.

Vets All Natural Animal Health Centre,

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megan_   

Thanks. So does the dog need the bone offering for it to be getting a balanced meal, or if there was no bone ever fed would the diet be balanced? I ask because the instructions on the packet only ever refer to meat.

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We advocate bones for dental hygiene and environmental enrichment. Without the bones the diet is still balanced. Chicken wings are great for teeth cleaning.

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Guest english.ivy   
Guest english.ivy

We advocate bones for dental hygiene and environmental enrichment. Without the bones the diet is still balanced. Chicken wings are great for teeth cleaning.

Only for dogs who don't gulp their food. My two wouldn't chew a chicken wing.

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We advocate bones for dental hygiene and environmental enrichment. Without the bones the diet is still balanced. Chicken wings are great for teeth cleaning.

Only for dogs who don't gulp their food. My two wouldn't chew a chicken wing.

That's good, english.ivy, that you have identified your dogs not being suitable candidates for chicken wings.

Have you found a suitable size bone for your two? Chicken wings are good, as both sides of the teeth get a little abrasive action, but as you have found, if they get gulped whole there isn't much tooth action happening.

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minyvlz   

Hmm... my kitten eats a raw diet with whole prey and frankenprey. When she eats whole prey, she generally starts with the feet or the head, and often leaves organs behind. When my dogs eat whole prey, they shake out the stomach and leave the stomach contents uneaten (for me to clean up :/).

Plus when I bought VAN to try on my animals, they sniffed it and left it, even when I put more mince than advised. The fermented grains is not a nice smell to them either I s'pose. My westie itched and had red rashes when he was on kibble. This was gone on raw while it returned on VAN.

When I feed prey model, their teeth get cleaned with every bite. Mince is more susceptible to bacteria, taurine losses, encourages hoovering, and does not provide a workout for both cats and dogs, and of course, dental benefits are comparable to that of wet food.

Also, my dogs and kitten have no problem defecating without unnecessary oats. If cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they derive all their nutrients from meat (+bones+organs) then I see no point in feeding them grains or vegetables. If dogs can survive on a pure vegetarian diet why do we all not feed them vegetables instead of meat? After all, they can thrive on vegetables. My dogs turn their noses up at any form of veggies or fruit, and an itchy dog does not need all that unnecessary sugar when they can get all they need from raw alone without supplements.

I would also not give my animals brewer's yeast and kelp, or probiotics when there hasn't been a stomach upset or AB usage prior.

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Greyt   

I have a question. What is the nutritional value of the chicken frame itself? If it does have value and weighs say 600gm with the fat cut off, what proportion of a dog's meal should the frame make up? (assume the dog is 30kg).

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Erny   

My previous girl "Kal" (bhcs - gosh I miss her) did very well on VAN. Her coat became darker, richer, shinier and she held her condition very well. She thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful and her plate was always cleaned to within an inch of its life.

My current boy isn't keen on it and it doesn't necessarily do him well. But then, at the moment, nothing much does him well unless I keep every food type on an almost continuous rota. The food that produces the healthiest poop is Hills Science Z/D (taste aside), although VAN comes in second to that, provided I don't feed a lot of it.

My point being - all dogs are different and some will do well on some things and not on others and vice versa. In my general experience and knowledge though, I know of many dogs who have done well and who have improved in condition on VAN.

I think that if your dog does well on VAN, it is "up there" as a food in my books. I'm no dog-nutrionist though - it's just my opinion based on what I've seen and know.

*As an aside, the funny thing is that my boy quite likes the pre-made allergy VAN (except that if I feed it too often he goes off it, but like I said, that's fairly typical for most if not all things in his case) and has the inclination to lick the plate clean. But when I make it myself by adding the meat and the Complete mix together, he does not. :shrug:

Edited by Erny

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Erny   

The cereal mix is a combination of 5 parts rolled oats, 2 parts cracked barley, and one part each of soybean meal, linseed meal and whole grain oats (although only add the whole oats when the pups are about 8-10 weeks old).

This would be in part why Mandela can only handle a meal of VAN here and there .... I used the Dr Jean Dodds & Nutriscan Food Intolerance Saliva test and one of the ingredients he has proven to be intolerant to is soy.

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I would love to have Masons saliva analyzed as I have worked out what he can and can't have through elimination diets. Thought he couldn't have oats but got tired of pulping a veg etc mix for him so I have started feeding him the VAN puppy complete mix as its what my puppy is eating, 2 weeks later and he isnt itching more and no digestive upset, in fact his stomach has been better than its been in a long time, I will be very happy if he continues to be able to eat it as kibble just doesn't work for him, in one end and out the other .

Edited by Mason_Gibbs

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Erny   

I would love to have Masons saliva analyzed ...

You might find the following page link interesting, although if you have things under control now, you may not need it.

Nutriscan - Dog Food Sensitivity kit

The FAQ page will provide the answers to most of the questions people reading would be interested in :

FAQs: NutriScan Diagnostic Test for Food Sensitivity and Intolerance

I am very much waiting for news of the Test being expanded - anticipated sometime early this year, I believe.

Edited by Erny

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I would love to have Masons saliva analyzed ...

You might find the following page link interesting, although if you have things under control now, you may not need it.

Nutriscan - Dog Food Sensitivity kit

The FAQ page will provide the answers to most of the questions people reading would be interested in :

FAQs: NutriScan Diagnostic Test for Food Sensitivity and Intolerance

I am very much waiting for news of the Test being expanded - anticipated sometime early this year, I believe.

Seeing the dermatologist Friday so will give it a mention. Mason is like Mandela in that he tolerates things for awhile and then has an issue usually about 3-6 weeks of eating the problem food, thought he could tolerate chicken the other day as he doesn't reac by scratching anymore, 5 weeks later he was pooping blood, he had the runs a few times leading up to this so it wasn't totally out the blue. Chicken, beef and wheat are off our list totally :(

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I have a question. What is the nutritional value of the chicken frame itself? If it does have value and weighs say 600gm with the fat cut off, what proportion of a dog's meal should the frame make up? (assume the dog is 30kg).

Hi Greyt,

Bruce likes the use of the frames for dental health. Good question about the ratio of the frame to the meat/VAN portion. There is no definitive answer for the exact ratio, as with feeding raw the dogs body condition is the best indicator. If you are following the feeding guidelines with Complete Mix and also giving a frame every second day and the dog started to carry more condition, I would cut the frames in half and also slightly reduce the the amount of Complete Mix/meat. Bones are great for dental health, so we don't want to cut out the chicken frames. I am going to get Bruce, who is working in his clinic today, to provide a better answer as to the potential kilojoule and percentage of diet the chicken frames could make up.

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The cereal mix is a combination of 5 parts rolled oats, 2 parts cracked barley, and one part each of soybean meal, linseed meal and whole grain oats (although only add the whole oats when the pups are about 8-10 weeks old).

This would be in part why Mandela can only handle a meal of VAN here and there .... I used the Dr Jean Dodds & Nutriscan Food Intolerance Saliva test and one of the ingredients he has proven to be intolerant to is soy.

Bruce has always said there are dogs with genuine allergies, and the saliva test could be incredibly beneficial in identifying those. Bruce does believe that too many dogs are diagnosed with carb intolerance, when in actual fact it is the processed carb's that are causing unnatural immune system responses.

For Mandela, you could make up a meal with meat, the above recipe without the soybean and then add the VAN Health Booster. The Health Booster is the vitamin and mineral supplement that is used as a base in the Complete Mix. Each variety then has applicable ingredients. Senior has chondriotin and glucosamine, Sensitive Skin has our Skin & Coat Formula etc.

Edited by Vets All Natural

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We often hear people say their dogs vomit up bones, and have noted this issue discussed here on Dogzonline.

The following explains the gut acidity and conditioning that is required to digest raw meat and bones

Gastric Acidity, Digesting Bones, Gut Transit Time and Salmonella

There has been much debate about the “potential” dangers of feeding bones to dogs, and also of the potential risks of food poisoning and salmonella infection that the feeding of raw meat to dogs and cats may carry. So it may be of interest to note that much of this information, or mis-information, relates back to the very nature of the gastric environment of the dog and cat, which in turn, is directly related to diet.

The gastric acidity (gastric PH) of the stomach of a dog or cat eating a diet predominantly made up of raw meat is very low (very acidic), with a PH of 2 or lower (relative to the level of meat protein). This highly acidic environment favours the breakdown of raw meats, and raw bones, into soft digestible material. The low PH also is highly effective at killing bacteria, particularly potentially pathogenic bacteria like salmonella spp, clostridia, campylobacter and E Coli. So the natural ‘wild” diet of dogs an cats has evolved a gastric environment that favours the breakdown of raw meats, raw bones, and a PH that kills potentially harmful bacteria – consistent with the requirements of carnivores, and in particular, the scavenging nature of dogs.

Also matched to this highly carnivorous diet (raw meat diet) is a very effective digestive process, which occurs in a relatively short gastrointestinal tract. Dogs and cats have a significantly shorter GI tract compared to other non meat eating (herbivorous) animals, whereas man has an intermediate length. The relative length of the gut reflects that nature of the diet, and how efficiently or slowly the food is broken down and absorbed. Fresh raw meat is easily digested and absorbed compared to vegetable matter, and as such, carnivores have a short gut, and rapid gut transit time – fresh meat can be digested and processed in the carnivores body in as little as 8- 12 hrs, whereas plant and vegetable material in a herbivore’s gut can take 3-5 days to be processed.

What we see with the advent of processed pet foods, is a significant change in the general nature of ingredients in the diet. It is a simple commercial fact that meat protein is the most expensive component in any pet food, and as a result, there is always commercial pressure to keep meat protein levels to a minimum, thereby keeping costs down of the end product (and / or maximising profits). Modern processed pet foods have adapted to these financial constraints firstly by significantly increasing the carbohydrate component of dog and cat foods – corn, wheat, rice, potatoe and other forms of carbohydrate are often the first and most major ingredient in many pet foods. Secondly, processed pet foods have also begun to substitute meat (animal) proteins with plant based proteins that are much cheaper – ingredients like Soya bean and lupins are cheap sources of protein that will increase the overall protein % on the label, but without the associated increase in cost. The problem with this type of substitution is that it does directly impact on the digestive environment of the dog or cat.

In dogs and cats that eat these diets with high carbohydrate, high plant protein and lower meat protein, we find that the acidity level of the stomach begins to decrease (gastric acidity relates to meat protein), and the stomach becomes progressively more alkaline (PH 4 and above). In this less acidic environment, several key issues arise;

1. With the altered PH, gastric digestion and emptying slows down

2. With the altered PH, food bacteria and contaminants are not destroyed as effectively

3. With the altered PH, raw bones and bone material is not softened and broken down effectively (digestive enzymes loose function) and this can result in obstruction.

These problems become clinically apparent when a dog that is fed a highly processed diet is offered a raw bone, or a meal of raw meat. Because the stomach acidity is directly dictated by the meat protein content of the diet, these dogs all ready have a less acidic stomach, which is not able to soften and breakdown raw bone material, nor is the stomach PH able to cope with a load of bacteria. The result can be a sudden “rejection” of the bone or meat, in the form of vomiting, or it can take the form of a bout of acute gastroenteritis, from an overgrowth of bacteria, or it may result in a bone obstruction in the stomach. With the delayed gastric emptying effect, any bacteria that do survive are also able to grow up into much larger numbers, and this effect is continued in the large bowel, with further fermentation of the plant fibre, and a delay in overall gut transit time (up to 24 hrs cf 12 hrs) – this can also result in constipation from excessive water reabsorption, or in loose stools from the over production of short chain fatty acids in the colon.

The problem is that it takes from 7-10 days on a meat based diet for the gastric acidity levels to drop down to the natural (preferred) PH 2 level, so it is not possible for the body to quickly accommodate to such diet changes. What we learn from this are a few fundamental feeding tips :

1. If you intend to feed fresh meat or a raw food diet, you must make this change gradually over 7-10 days - a common complaint I hear is from people who feed bones or fresh meat on odd occasions to their dog that eats primarily dry food is that “he/she cant handle fresh meat or bones because she vomits” – as we see from above, these dogs can handle it if it is introduced gradually, and the gastric acidity is allowed to normalise.

2. If you intend to feed raw bones (which I strongly advise as an important part of every day pet health) then you must include some fresh meat every day as part of your overall diet plan to make sure the gastric PH remains low (acidic)

3. Feeding a raw food diet will actually protect your dog or cat from bacterial contamination and food poisoning, and greatly reduce the chance of an obstruction from eating raw bones. It is a fact that dogs that eat processed foods are even more likely to shed salmonella bacteria in their faeces than are dogs that eat raw food !!

In summary, most of the dietary upsets we see that involve raw meat and bones are actually directly related to the dog or cats general everyday diet, and not so much in relation to the meat or bones.

Given that cats and dogs have been eating raw meat and bones for over 40 million years, it just makes sense that this is what they will thrive on.

Dr Bruce Syme BVSc(Hons).

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