Dog Owners Are Unsure About Choosing Pet Food

I recently received the current issue of Pet Food industry Magazine, and found a report on a survey performed by Purina and PSB Research. The focus of the survey was finding out what concerns owners had about their dog’s health and wellbeing, and where they found it difficult to make informed decisions. I was not at all surprised at the five following findings:

  • Half of owners surveyed thought choosing the right food for their dog was the most difficult part of pet ownership
  • 52% of all and 68% of millennial owners thought dog nutrition is more confusing than human nutrition
  • 79% of millennials believe their pet food is not a perfect fit for their dog
  • About 1 out of 4 owners felt overwhelmed by the choices and spent more than 10 minutes in the dog food aisle making their choice
  • 57% expressed interest in a food that could be personalized for their dog’s nutritional needs

These results are encouraging to me, an advocate for a natural diet for dogs. They show me that a huge number of dog owners realize the importance of nutrition, and know that commercial pet food is not a perfect fit for their dog.

Kibble with water

Kibble with water


Can you tell what was used to make this kibble?







Owners need to know that it is not that difficult to feed a dog a “personalized” diet that meets their needs. It’s simply called food, and it comes in a few key forms. Meats, with bone and fat. Organ meats, rich in vital nutrients. A bit of vegetable for fiber (or not, depending on the situation). All human quality, carefully handled, and fed in appropriate amounts and sizes for the dog. It does not have to be difficult, or confusing. And best of all, it puts the control of ingredients and quality in the owner’s hands, rather than the hands of companies who use unfit for human consumption ingredients, and process them into a form that is contrary to the dog’s biology.

Close-up shot of a raw beef steak in the shape of a question mark served on a white plate



Or this?


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The Two Books Every Dog Owner Must Read

As I typed this title, I was struck by how infrequently we go to books for information. We pull out our tablet or phone, or run to the computer to search for information. Sometimes this results in accurate information, oftentimes not. Sometimes a staggering number of results come up (about 179,000,000 in 0.30 seconds for dog cancer).  We then make our searches more and more detailed, only to realize that two hours have passed and we are more confused by what we’ve found than before.

I’m writing this blog to simplify things for you, the dedicated, wanting to learn more and do the best for your dog, dog owner. The three things you are most likely to ask me about are vaccinating your dog, feeding your dog, and treating your dog’s cancer. For the first, I recommend my book — look for more about that in a future blog.

For the second, feeding your dog, you need Nutrigenomics – the New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimal Health, by Dr. Jean Dodds and Dina Laverdure. Don’t be scared that this book is too scientific to be easily understood! The authors clearly explain how your dog’s food affects the body at the cellular level, and how that results in disease or health. They cover how to design your dog’s base diet, as well as how to address common health conditions. The final section of the book shows you how to apply what you’ve learned to your individual lifestyle and situation. This makes it easy to stay on track for your dog’s entire life. What I love most about this book is the superior organization, with key points clearly marked, and a concise summary of important concepts at the end of each chapter. Case reports also make it easy to understand how the theory integrates into real life situations.


Cancer is one of the most feared conditions dog owners face. You might think a book about dealing with it would be a very depressing read. But in fact, quite the opposite is true!  The Dog Cancer Survival Guide should be in the hands of every person who faces this diagnosis with their dog. It is written by Dr. Damien Dressler, a veterinarian based in Hawaii, and Dr. Susan Ettinger, a renowned veterinary oncologist in New York. Together, they cover both alternative and conventional approaches, and help you clearly understand cancer stages, treatment options, and more. The concept of full spectrum cancer care — combining conventional treatments, nutraceuticals, immune support, diet management, and more  — in an individualized treatment plan stacks the odds in the dog’s favor for the best possible results.  Should you face cancer with your dog, this book will help you understand and make informed, confident decisions every step of the way.

dog cancer







I find myself referring to and recommending these books almost daily in my practice.  Add them to your collection by following the links above, either in paperback or eBook format. Want to see more of my recommendations? Check out the Wholistic Vet Bookshelf on Amazon.


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Natural Health Seminar March 30

I’m very excited for my first seminar of 2014! It will be held at Shawna’s Dogs, in Glenmont, NY, on Sunday, March 30, 10:00 AMSlide1 – 1:00 PM. I hope you can join us.


In this seminar, I share how I manage and care for my own dogs. (And believe me, after a day of treating the health issues of my clients’ dogs, the last thing I want to do is have to treat my own!) My dogs do not suffer from anything on the “top 10” list of reasons dogs go to the vet (ear infections,  skin infections, GI upsets, allergies, hots spots, dental disease, etc). Why? Their health is supported, rather than challenged, by the food they eat and the veterinary care they receive. In other words, a natural diet, minimal and appropriate vaccines, minimal and appropriate chemicals and drugs.

Stay tuned for more news about my upcoming book, future seminars and events, and more!

To register for the seminar, please call Shawna’s Dogs at 518-937-2544.TrinkeEyesChicken

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Update on AVMA’s New Raw Food Policy

Just when I thought the uproar over the American Veterinary Medical Association’s asinine raw food policy was dying down, the stupidity that goes with trying to spin this as anything but inspired by the pet food industry has resurfaced. On AVMA’s own blog site, a wrap up of the House of Delegates actions at the annual meeting was devoted to the raw food policy. Evidently all the other actions of the HOD were so unimportant that reporting them was put off to focus on the raw food policy. (You can read the whole post and the comments here.)

I was particularly puzzled to see the following statement near the end of the AVMA site post: “Please keep in mind that this policy is NOT a ban on raw foods for pets and it is not a regulation that requires veterinarians (regardless of whether they’re AVMA members or not) to comply, or even agree with it. It’s not a debate on the healthiness of or risks associated with raw foods versus other commercial pet foods. Nor is it an attempt to force a ban or restrict pet owners’ rights to feed their pets how and what they want.” If it is not a ban or regulation, and you’re not speaking to the advantages or risks of raw or commercial foods, and you are not trying to restrict owners’ feeding practices, what the hell is the policy for? Just how will it advance the health of pets, or improve the level of service, knowledge, or skill of veterinarians?

Please take a moment and read the comments on that AVMA blog — consumers clearly get it. This sort of policy only benefits one group, commercial, non-raw pet food producers. And notice the comments that state how this policy erodes consumer trust in veterinarians — now there is something AVMA should dig their teeth into! Oh, wait, they would rather chew on some Science Diet. Look at the first five ingredients for Adult Large Breed.  From the Hill’s website, Adult Large Breed Dry contains “Whole Grain Corn, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Meal, Animal Fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols and citric acid), Soybean Oil…” As a veterinarian with some knowledge of animal nutrition (my undergraduate focus at Cornell University, and subject of my Honors Research), this ingredient list horrifies me. Corn and soy are completely inappropriate for a species that is naturally a meat eater, as well as some of the more common allergens I see in practice. Chicken by product meal is the cheapest of meat meals, and can include heads, feet, undeveloped eggs and intestines, and more.  And what animal was the source of animal fat? If it can’t be named, it is also likely to be of the lowest quality, and could even include dog or cat fat. Think I’m crazy? Watch this quick video with then AAFCO President Hersh Pendell.

Clearly this issue is not going to go away — the real question is where are the AVMA and the pet food industry going with it.  Will it be a policy that is on the books but six months from now is not even remembered? Or will it be trotted out at opportune moments for the benefit of commercial non-raw pet food manufacturers? Will AVMA members be resigning their memberships over this apparent sell-out to “Big Pet Food”? I confess I am considering it, especially if my professional liability insurance premiums increase or my policy does not cover the recommendation of a natural diet. I believe it is my responsibility to recommend what my training, experiences, and research have shown me to be the best for my patients. Whether that is a way of feeding, a specific medication or surgical procedure, or other treatment plan, I will not recommend a lesser or potentially damaging approach for my patients just because a veterinary organization has a policy against what I know to true. First and foremost, my duty and obligation is to my patients. As it should be for any health care professional.

One of the most inspiring and moving parts of the graduation proceedings at Cornell University’s Veterinary College was taking the Veterinarian’s Oath. I  believe it would benefit all veterinarians to review the oath often, and strive to practice in such a manner.

Veterinarian’s Oath

Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.

I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity, and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.



News from Truth About Pet Food

One fun and one serious video for you…

Note: The documentarybelow periodically becomes “unavailable” from video sharing sites. This copy, though lower quality than I like, is more likely to stay available. You may be able to search out a higher quality version.

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Veterinarian’s Holiday!

Ever wonder where a veterinarian might go on vacation? Maybe you heard about the scuba diving vet that removed the frisbee ring from  the shark? Well, I have something a bit more relaxing on my calender — the Canine Club Getaway in Lake George! I’m excited to be the resident veterinarian for some of the days, which means I am “on call” for any minor emergencies that occur. (Thankfully in the past getaways there has been nothing more serious than a bump or scrape). So you will likely find Prank and I lounging a bit, exploring the resort, and having some fun! I’ll also be giving an evening talk on a wholistic approach to managing arthritis, and Prank will demonstrate his therapy ball skills and other physical therapy techniques.

While we are there, I hope to catch up on some reading. A couple books have been given to me, and I am eager to get into them. The first is The New Holistic Way for Dogs and Cats.The author, Dr. Paul McCutcheon, has an interesting way of looking at the big picture when it comes to pets’ health.

The second book on my list is Ever By My Side, by Dr. Nick Trout. Dr. Trout is a British veterinarian, who is currently a staff surgeon at Boston’s Angell Memorial Veterinary Hospital.  He recounts some of the memorable things that happened as he grew up that led him to where he is today. One chapter and I’m a fan.

There are a few slots left at the Canine Club Getaway, contact them here if you want to join us. And please share any other vacation ideas or experiences you may have in the comments!

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Natural Diet Class

Announcing the Natural Diet Class! For those who missed our previous Natural Diet Seminars, or who are looking for a review, please join us for a 3 week class in May.

We’ve divided up the information into bite sized pieces (pun intended!) and have an easy to follow plan to get your dog on a more natural feeding plan.

This is the first step toward a healthier dog — dump the dog food and feed your dog what he really needs!

Click here for a PDF of the course announcement, and registration form.

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