Cats evolved primarily in the desert, and as desert animals, their kidneys naturally conserve water by super-concentrating the urine. They are not natural drinkers: they get their water from their food. Their natural diet includes birds, bugs and rodents. Kibble food is dehydrated and feeding it is one of the most harmful things that we do to cats. It puts tremendous strain on their kidneys, so the kidneys wear out and eventually fail. Kibble has also been associated with cystitis (bladder inflammation). DO NOT FEED YOUR CAT KIBBLE FOOD. The idea that kibble is good for teeth has been disproved and there is evidence that commercial foods (canned and dry) along with vaccines are the two most significant causes of dental disease (see Pottenger’s Cats*).
Clinical nutrition means that we use food as medicine. Food is medicine (nutritional therapy) when we feed a natural diet to correct a nutritional deficiency or when we use specific supplements to nourish sick organs or glands. Food is also medicine when we use supplements for detoxification.
Nutritional disease is more common than we realize. One reason for this is that we have been feeding our animals processed (packaged) foods instead of whole, fresh foods. Processed foods are almost always deficient and/or unbalanced and/or contain toxins. Another kind of nutritional disease is food intolerance, which develops because of damage to the GI tract, unbalanced GI flora, lack of digestive enzymes, etc. Chemical and heavy metal toxins contribute to most of the diseases we see in our patients and nutritional therapy is our treatment of choice.
How does it work?
The first step is to find a biologically appropriate diet that will help build and maintain health. We recommend a variety of recipes made from whole, unprocessed foods. There is no single recipe or diet that is "complete and balanced". This is only achieved through the use of a variety of foods.
In sick animals, an additional step is needed: a carefully designed supplement program. The program is designed to correct nutritional deficiencies, provide support for healing and (if indicated) facilitate detoxification. Though we utilize conventional testing methods (blood tests, urinalyses, etc.), the best way to obtain information about the nutritional status of a patient is to use applied kinesiology (muscle testing). This video demonstrates the technique in people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha_YHRaEphg. For more information about muscle testing, see the references listed below.
Used as a diagnostic test, muscle testing helps us determine what organs are stressed and what is causing the stress (chemicals, metals, a food sensitivity, radiation toxicity, infectious organisms). It is a non-invasive test that gives us immediate results. We then test for the supplements that will best alleviate the stress and help restore function. Thus, we can treat most diseases that would otherwise be treated with drugs (lameness, anxiety, hyperthyroidism, gastrointestinal disease, cardiovascular disease, etc). We can also use nutrition to treat difficult infections (viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic). The specific technique we use is Acupoint Integrative Testing (which we call Acupoint Energy Testing), a very sophisticated testing and treatment method designed by Dan Newell, MS, CN. Learn more at www.acupointintegrativetesting.com. Visit the New Clients page for information about fees and how to schedule an appointment.
We use whole food supplements, made with organ meats and organic plant materials (www.standardprocess.com). This is based on the philosophy that mother nature put all the bits and pieces together so that the vitamins and minerals are complete and balanced. Whole food supplements contain the whole vitamin complex: the enzymes, co-factors & synergists are all there in the right amounts. This is in contrast to the use of nutraceuticals, which contain fractions of vitamins in mega-doses. When you buy Vitamin E or Vitamin C at the health food store, you are buying a nutraceutical - a product that acts pharmacologically (and is probably made by a drug company). A meta-analysis of 220,000 people revealed a higher death rate in those taking "anti-oxidant" supplements than those who did not. Thus, mega doses of vitamins can be harmful and I do not recommend them.
Feeding a species-appropriate diet is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your animals. Although the pet food industry has been largely successful in convincing us to feed packaged foods, these unnatural diets contribute to many health problems: dental disease, digestive troubles, urinary tract disease, nutritional deficiencies, etc. A natural diet is one most suited to the unique physiology of the species. For healthy dogs and cats, this is a raw diet. Horses are designed to graze on a variety of grasses. Switching to a natural diet provides benefits that are quickly apparent and easy to accomplish. Sick animals may not be able to handle a natural diet, but will benefit from a diet that supports healing.
Horses evolved to graze most of the day, on a variety of grasses. Modern feeding practices (pelleted food, twice a day feeding, etc) contribute to digestive problems. Soil depletion further complicates our efforts to provide all the nutrients they need. Thus, many horses need supplementation.
contaminated with heavy metals (aluminum, lead, arsenic, mercury) as well as pesticides. Toxic levels of fluoride were found in some dog foods (bone meal). Artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, and nitrates are carcinogens. Bisphenol-A (a hormone disrupter, used in the lining of canned foods) is one suspected cause of hyperthyroidism in cats fed canned food.
In addition, pet foods are not “complete and balanced” in spite of label claims. They have been cooked until much of the nutritional value is lost. In fact, vitamins and minerals have to be added back into the food or the test animals will not survive the feeding trials. Synthetic vitamins and minerals are used instead of whole food sources. Taken out of context, they lack the co-factors that make them usable by the body. Formulated pet foods will never be superior to real food: they can and do result in nutritional deficiencies and toxicities. Thus, they contribute to modern day health problems and can be an obstacle to cure. In addition, foods that are processed at very high heat (kibble, canned foods) contain Maillard Reaction Products, which are in themselves harmful and which contribute to accelerated aging.
Raw food diets are the optimal diet for dogs and cats, provided that they are properly formulated. However, not all animals can tolerate raw food: immune compromised animals and animals with gastrointestinal disease may need to eat home-cooked foods until healthy enough for raw food. If you decide to go raw, seek guidance about making the transition and about proper handling methods.
Dogs are carnivores, but they are also successful scroungers. Their natural diet includes prey animals (raw organs, muscle, skin, bones), herbs, ripe fruit, compost. They have no requirement for grains: fiber is supplied in vegetables, fruit and organ meats. As human companions (for 10,000 years) they have done well on a diet consisting of fresh foods and whatever they could scrounge. Since the introduction of commercial diets, there has been a significant decline in their health.
Commercial Foods: The Hidden Cost
Published incidents of pet food contamination may catch our attention (briefly) but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In spite of the advertising, commercial foods are far from safe. To cut costs, some manufacturers use meat and poultry by-products (waste products from slaughterhouses), toxic preservatives, sugar and non-nutritive fillers. Genetically modified foods (corn, soy, canola oil, alfalfa) contribute to an increasing incidence of food sensitivities and bacterial infections, because they damage the GI tract and immune system. Some foods (especially grains) are
For More Information:
Schedule a nutritional consultation (by phone or in person) with Dr. Chalmers.
www.feline-nutrition.org This website has excellent articles about feline nutrition, written by a veterinarian.
The New Natural Cat: A Complete Guide for Finicky Owners, by Anitra Frazier. Plume, 1990
Give Your Dog A Bone, by Dr. Ian Billinghurst. Published by Ian Billinghurst, 1993. Order from Direct Book Services (800) 776-2665 Order #DN138.
Pottenger’s Cats: A Study in Nutrition, by Francis M. Pottenger, Jr. MD. Price Pottenger Foundation, Inc. 1983. Order this book from the Pottenger Foundation; (619) 574-7763.
Natural Nutrition for Dogs & Cats: The Ultimate Diet, by Kymythy Schultze. Hay House, 2000
Holistic Horsekeeping, by Madalyn Ward. Order from www.holistichorsekeeping.com
Dr. Joyce Harman offers information about equine nutrition: www.harmanyequine.com
Your Body Doesn't Lie by John Diamond (1981) Excellent introduction to muscle testing. Paperback available through Amazon.com
Video by Dr. Link re Applied Kinesiology http://energyhealingsystems.com/video/
Dr. Andrew Weill: article about Applied Kinesiology: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03410/Applied-Kinesiology.html