Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog.

Dogs, Diets + Disease

Dogs, Diet & Disease

By Caroline D. Levin, RN • October 2002 Newsletter
This month we are pleased to bring you information from a special guest author, Caroline D. Levin, RN, who has written “Dogs, Diet, and Disease: An Owner’s Guide to Diabetes Mellitus, Pancreatitis, Cushing’s Disease and More.”

The phrase itself might be trite, but scientists continue to find intricate and amazing connections between diet, immune system and endocrine (hormone) function. Commercial pet food, completely processed and laden with grains and chemicals, is a chronic irritant to many dogs. In response, the body secretes cortisol – the stress hormone.

Cortisol is secreted from the adrenal glands. It normally soothes inflammation and keeps the immune system in check. When irritation is excessive, however, so is cortisol release.
Symptoms may include: increased thirst and appetite, incontinence, confusion, insomnia, seizures, chronic infection and the expression of some genetic predispositions, such as cancer or autoimmune diseases. A tumor on either the pituitary or the adrenal glands is referred to as “Cushing’s disease.” In these cases, the above-mentioned symptoms can be quite severe.
Along a different route, the high cortisol levels may contribute to autoimmune disease, a situation in which the body attacks its own tissues. For example, if the adrenal glands (and the ability to produce cortisol) are destroyed, the disease is known as Addison’s disease. Key symptoms include lethargy (weakness) and loss of appetite. Since some cortisol is necessary for life, a sudden loss of the hormone can be a life-threatening condition. Such a “crash” requires immediate veterinary care.
If the body attacks the beta cells of the pancreas, the result is termed diabetes mellitus type 1. In this scenario, the body destroys the cells that normally produce insulin – the hormone that allows nutrients (primarily sugar) into the cells of the body. Without insulin, sugar cannot enter the cells and accumulates in the bloodstream, and later, in the urine.
As the body tries to rid itself of this accumulated sugar, the dog experiences symptoms such as excessive urination, and consequently, excessive thirst. Since the cells remain unnourished, the brain is under the impression that the dog is starving. Such dogs may lose weight even though they have enormous appetites. They may also develop high cholesterol and lipid levels, as well as diabetic cataracts.
Autoimmune thyroid disease (hypothyroidism or low thyroid) is probably the most common type of autoimmune disease diagnosed in dogs, today. Without the thyroid hormone, the dog’s metabolic rate slows. Weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, mood changes, seizures, and heat-seeking behaviors are common symptoms of hypothyroidism.
While most of these conditions require prescription medications or hormone replacement, the immune system response may also be minimized when chronic irritants are removed. Appropriate nutrition may also minimize the development of additional health problems in the future. Consequently, it is never too late to try a more natural diet for your dog.
Caroline D. Levin RN
For a more detailed discussion of these topics please see “Dogs, Diet, and Disease: An Owner’s Guide to Diabetes Mellitus, Pancreatitis, Cushing’s Disease and More” by Caroline D. Levin RN, available at Lantern Publications, 503-631-3491, www.petcarebooks.com
Thank you Caroline, for such a timely address on this issue! So many of the body functions fail to perform to standard when it is given less than adequate nutrition. In order to help the body to work at optimum performance, easily digested foods are necessary.
These include animal proteins, fats, essential fatty acids and easily digestible fiber (such as in raw meaty bones and pulverized vegetables). Dogs can digest these foods easily. When a dog is served a homemade diet, fresh foods served either raw or lightly cooked, it offers a higher digestibility factor and more minerals and vitamins.
Also helpful for conditions brought on by adrenal disorders are digestive enzymes (which help break down and assimilate nutrients), Salmon Oil (for the Omega-3 fatty acids helps regulate the immune system) and antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Helpful additions to your dog’s diet would be the Food Science All-Zyme, Salmon Oil capsules and the Bertes Daily Blend.
Lew Olson, PhD Natural Health
On another note . . .
I would like to mention what a wonderful time I had in Minneapolis over the weekend of September 28th and meeting the great group of folks who came out for the “Fresh Foods for a Healthy Dog” seminar. The weather was cool and crisp and the leaves were just starting to turn on the trees. It was great to have a live ‘exhibit’ on hand to help eat the demonstration food . . . there is nothing quite like a Great Dane puppy to make everyone smile!. Thank you again to everyone who came. I hope to meet more of you in Chicago in January!
. . . and a special thank you to Sue Barta for letting us use your food processor!
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