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Holistic medicine?

Discussion in 'Pre-Veterinary' started by Groominator, Dec 13, 2008.

  1. Groominator

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    So I am procrasticating on writing a paper and wondering how one gets involved in holistic medicine? I heard that Colorado is associated with holistic medicine, but are any other schools? Are there special programs? Residency?

    I'm interested partially because there are certain companies that are lets say heavily involved with most mainstrean veterinary practices whose products i would never use on my dogs and would not recommend for anyone else to use. I'm wondering if it is possible to survive as a vet without affiliating with some of the major companies, first of all. I uneducatedly feel that there are better alternatives, particularly when food is involved. And on the other hand i am genuinely interested in holistic medicine itself, with natural remedies as opposed to traditional, when they applicable. I don't believe in strictly relying on one or the other, but rather a combination. Also, as a client and pet owner, it seems to me that there is a definite shortage of holistically minded veterinarians.
     
  2. Bill59

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    The first step would be to define "holistic medicine".
     
  3. Fairyblastt

    Fairyblastt UC Davis class of 2013
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    The second step (as far as the food goes) is to get vet schools to include a real nutrition class in the curriculum... not an infomercial for Hills. Sorry it's slightly OT, but this is my biggest pet peeve in vet med. There are tons of better things to feed your pets than Hills/Iams/Purina/etc.

    Back on topic though, I think a lot more vets are going the direction of holistic med, though not nearly as many as the ones that are becoming more like human doctors. :rolleyes:
     
  4. vetgirl09

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    I am very interested in Holistic Medicine as well. I just figured once I got into vet school I would ask about it. I know the University of Florida has an holistic medicine club (or at least they used to) so I was thinking of getting involved that way.
     
  5. Groominator

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    Very much agreed.

    Defining holistic - I guess that's tough :p I have an idea in my head but its hard to articulately explain it. Essentially I feel that many animals are overmedicated, overvaccinated and overexposed to chemicals, at the vet's office, in their food and in their daily lives. I don't mean to sound like a hippy, i feel that medical advances in the field are extremely important. But I feel that in many cases traditional medicine is relied on too much when a "natural remedy" may bring the same results and might be gentler on the animal's system. Anyway, these are just ramblings, I don't feel that i know enough detail about the field to say anything concrete obviously. It is just an impression of the direction that i would like to take my practice someday, theoretically. Like i said, i'm just curious.
     
  6. EqSci

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    I feel the same way you do, and although I'm not really interested in holistic medicine per se (acupuncture, herbal treatments, etc) and I'm not as gung-ho about it as some people are, I still agree with you that animals and people alike are over-medicated, -vaccinated, and -chemicalized (haha). I'm sure you know there are steps being taken to reduce vaccination in small animals (hoping horses will soon follow suit).

    I'm very big on letting the body do it's own natural thing (I very rarely take even Advil) and am a big believer in not messing with natural systems unless necessary. Unfortunately, you run into the same problem doctors do - people come to you expecting a solution, and they want to SEE a solution (i.e. pills). You also have to take into account that while something may run its natural course and be over with, by providing medication you can shorten the length, make it less contagious, make the animal more comfortable, etc. Bascially, while I recognize MY beliefs of letting the body do its own thing as much as possible, I also recognize that they are not EVERYONE'S beliefs (proven by the overwhelming amount of medications people take every day). Ultimately, I think the important thing is to do no harm.

    As far as chemicals, I don't think there's much to do about that just because of the way we live. The good news is that pets have a much shorter life span than people, so usually their bodies wear out before the exposure to chemicals can cause problems. How much the chemical exposure plays a role - I don't know. But I doubt that most clients will be completely changing their lifestyle because their veterinarian tells them it will be better for Fluffy.

    Someday I would like to raise a pig and steer each year for meat, and have a garden to grow vegetables and fruits. I know I will never fully eliminate harsh chemicals from my environment and food, but I'll do the best I can. I do the best I can for my animals too, and will do the best I can for my clients.

    So I know that's not what you were asking, just thought I'd chime in with my views!!!

    BTW I 100% agree with you on the food, too. It's frustrating.
     
  7. FlyOnTheWall

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    Got any facts to back up this statement?

    I agree the major companies are too present in the curriculum.. But to play devils advocate: The companies you mentioned also spend 100's of thousands of dollars on nutritional research. Research that's lacking with alot of diets advocated by breeders/trainers/others.
     
  8. projekt

    projekt UGA c/o 2012
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    Indeed. I have noticed that many "premium" diet companies don't even care enough to run an AAFCO feeding trial. (I feed a "premium" dog food that has been shown to be complete and balanced by such a trial.)
     
  9. projekt

    projekt UGA c/o 2012
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    To answer your original question, it is most certainly possible to be a vet without pimping heartworm meds and flea/tick. You can write prescriptions and send them to someone else if you want to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. But, you should realize that many alternative practices are not mainstream because they do not have the same level of scientific scrutiny that the things veterinarians usually recommend do. Natural does not necessarily mean safe or healthy, and only scientific studies can show safety and effectiveness.

    In terms of heartworm, from what I know so far, I'd say that both cats and dogs should be protected against it. For cats, that's probably a matter of keeping them indoors, but they tolerate ivermectin and selamectin well, so owners who want to be on the safe side might give heartguard and revolution.

    For dogs, they are almost always outdoors some of the time, and they will do a lot better on a breed-appropriate preventive. In the South, for example, it's only a matter of "when" will a dog get heartworm.

    If you read about holistic treatments with a skeptical eye, you'll see that many of them are not what they're cracked up to be. This is true for human medicine as well as animal medicine. The stuff that's proven to work, vets generally recommend. And the stuff that isn't, only holistic vets recommend.
     
  10. Groominator

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    Sometimes it seems that "proven to work" is a matter of how much funding is behind something. I'm more interested in independent trials than those run by companies themselves. But when a certain company "proves" that an obligate carnivore can do much better on a food that is primarily corn than lets say a protein-heavy diet, i just can't accept it.

    I try to take both mainstream and holistic stuff with a grain of salt. Extremists on both sides bug me, really. Also I think that what's important isn't so much in using proven vs. unproven but in giving the client the choice of treatment and explaining the risks and benefits of both.
     
  11. FlyOnTheWall

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    Me too. But regardless of mainstream or alternative or natural someone needs to test and compare treatments with basic scientific method. Just 'cause it's natural does not mean it's better or if it even works. Same argument needs to be made for standard therapies that have never been tested... It's good to be skeptical, but be careful just disregarding science done in the name of a brand name pet food. There are a lot of good people in academia and working at these companies that have done a lot for companion animal nutrition.
     
  12. EqSci

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    As far as I know, most of the research done by these companies is not 'their food vs. other food' it's 'their food vs. awful food' or 'correct amount of their food vs. incorrect amount of other food'. Like the recent 10-year Purina? study where they put out a TV commercial saying that dogs live 2 years longer on their food. If you read closely, you'll see that they live 2 years longer than dogs who are extremely obese. Well of course they do! It has nothing to do with the brand/quality of food, it has to do with the amount of food fed.

    Just pointing out that they aren't necessarily doing studies on the quality of their food, even though it may seem like it. I'll admit I haven't researched ALL the studies they have done, so they very well could be, but just in the last couple of years that I've been paying attention I haven't seen any, and they tend to deliberately make it seem as though they are.
     
  13. mistifical

    mistifical VMRCVM 2012
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    I think the Purina study you are referencing is the Purina Lifespan study where they had two groups of labrador puppies. Each puppy had a "partner" in the other group of the same gender and body weight. For the first few years of the study, the control group received unlimited food for 15 minutes/day, the amount of food consumed was measured for each dog, and the partner in the experimental group was given 75% this amount of food. http://www.longliveyourdog.com/TwoPlus/Methodology.aspx There is the link to more info about the study. I thought it was really interesting because we all know that most dogs will eat as much as they can with no control for volume... This may not have been the same study though, since you are referencing something for ten years and are saying that they were fed different kinds of food, but then again, how much can you really get out of a TV commercial? I haven't seen this one...

    Ok. Seriously. Must study biochem...
     
  14. FlyOnTheWall

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    That seems to be the problem. You ever heard of the Morris Animal Foundation?
     
  15. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    One thing you have to remember is not all "holistic" practitioners are into Reiki, crystals, light therapy, homeotherapy, and that sort of thing. It just means you're looking at the whole picture for wellness and building up the body to help heal itself. I'm into holistic medicine myself (particular with respect to nutrition and behavior) and I don't have anything against acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine and that sort of stuff per se, I'm just more into the nutrition aspect. I do think what the ingredients are matters a lot and that you are what you eat.

    I was trained as a scientist in grad school and so I also like to see evidence based medicine and science when possible. But it all costs money to run. Even though I'm kind of a free spirit, that's why I do appreciate companies like Natura who are getting involved with veterinary medicine. They've now got two boarded veterinary nutritionists on staff and the ingredients just can't be beat. That's one thing that always bugged me about Hill's and Purina's research (and Iams and Royal Canin to a lesser extent, because they don't do quite as much). They have all these studies, which are great, but the ingredients are still awful. Why pay $2+ a pound for pet food that it is 25% the equivalent of saw dust and peanut shells? Natura takes those studies (and independent ones as well) and came up with a vet product guide so vets can recommend diets to manage most of the same medical problems with their diets as the veterinary diets of other companies, with a few exceptions. So you get good ingredients and well thought out medicine. :thumbup: I don't mind doing a home prepared diet, but it's a lot for some people to do. So Groominator and EqSci, make sure you go to a school with a Natura feeding program and they'll hook you up. ;) (Disclaimer: I'm the Natura student rep, so yeah...didn't mean for that to sound like an infomercial!).


    In the future, I'd like to do two things if and when I do a nutrition residency:

    1) come up with veterinary diets that people can prepare at home without having to run out to the store and buy perhaps the wrong ingredients (have the ingredients either pre-cooked or raw in chubs along with the vitamins/minerals so people can cook them at home)
    2) have some kind of a medical facility where people can board their overweight/obese dogs with strict controls on diet, exercise, rehabilitation if necessary AND training to at least get them started back to good health so owners can see, yes, it can be done. I saw that special on Animal Pets about obese pets in the UK and I was just outraged. :mad:
     
  16. Groominator

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    It seems that some vets hide behind the research factor when recommending Hills. I've had this discussion with several different vets about why they recommend it, particularly when my own dog had a stomach issue and they wanted me to put him on it. I said i wasn't comfortable about the ingredients and they said it wasn't about the ingredients. I asked why this brand as opposed to other brands (i said Wellness as an example) and they said research, other companies don't do research. Any followups i asked were brought back to the fact that the company does research. No one could tell me anything specific about the research or what benefits there are to Hills, or why the food would actually be better for MY pet. I don't buy it. IMO if you're going to recommend a product, know something about it. Know more than something.
     
  17. cozycleo

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    For me, the proof is in the pudding.

    If you could see the difference switching to a better food has made in my animals, you'd be amazed. The coats are softer and shinier. They have either slimmed down or maintained their weight. They have more spunk in their personalities than ever. The transformation in their overall health has been all the proof I've needed. I will never recommend Purina, Iams, or the like to any client, whether I go into small animal medicine or not.
     
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  18. FlyOnTheWall

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    Seems like a good rule of thumb if you're going to trash a product too.

    Check out http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org see what they're up to notice they support research into alternative therapies and not just commercial dog food. Probably the single most important funding source for veterinary research (and the deadline for fall grants is today.. I better get back to writing).
     
    #18 FlyOnTheWall, Dec 15, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008
  19. dyachei

    dyachei vet robot pirate zombie
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    Disclaimer: I am a student rep of one of the big pet food companies.

    I have seen the research that they do, and for the most part, they compare their food to each other, not necessarily Ol' Roy. Every product that they choose to go into food has been researched with food trials. When they look at the outcomes, they do take into consideration general well being of dogs, what their coat looks like, etc.

    I am more nervous about the smaller companies that can't afford to do the research yet. Because their ingredients may or may not be better, and I don't have the science to back it up.
     
  20. Jochebed

    Jochebed Ye Must Be Born Again
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    #20 Jochebed, Dec 15, 2008
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  21. projekt

    projekt UGA c/o 2012
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    Premium companies that do not do AAFCO feeding trials, as far as I can tell: Eagle Pack, Taste of the Wild, and I'm sure there are others. The ingredients can sound great, but until you actually see what it does to dogs, you can't say for sure. Sometimes formulations that meet minimum standards end up deficient in nutrients as fed. AAFCO was actually going to force vendors to do feeding trials, but they flip-flopped at the last minute. A shame.

    Those who go to Georgia hear the cliché, "Animals Require Nutrients, Not Ingredients," over and over again. That's because it's true. You can serve your dog food made from filet mignon, but if it's inedible or overprocessed, it won't do a bit of good.

    Nutrients like corn, corn gluten, etc., are really not fillers. They are fine sources of energy and most dogs can live healthy lives eating mostly corn and meat by-products. Most dogs do. They are omnivores. The most popular brand of dog food is Pedigree, followed (I think) by Purina Dog Chow. These dogs are not dying of malnutrition.

    On the other side, obesity does not seem to be related to the premium-ness of food. It's a training problem, specifically of owners.

    Don't get me wrong! I feed a premium food. My dog is a bit picky and so am I. I prefer tocopherols to ethoxyquin. And I like to know that the ingredients don't change much. Purina, Pedigree, etc., get reformulated all the time, and they don't even have to change the label for 6 months.

    Finally, you have to feed for the dog. If a dog has a bad coat, it's probably a good idea to experiment with another kind of food. If the stools are too hard or soft, try something else. If your dog seems allergic to his food, change to a different protein source.
     
  22. projekt

    projekt UGA c/o 2012
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    BTW, everyone. I don't want to come across as someone who is in vet school and thinks he knows it all. I really don't. But what I have learned is that some of my beliefs I had before school, like that Purina makes crap food, are actually wrong. That's what I want to get across.

    In fact, for the price, I don't think you get 100% more quality by paying 100% more for food.
     
  23. Fairyblastt

    Fairyblastt UC Davis class of 2013
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    That does seem to be a lot better than the 2 to 3 week overview that I've heard about at some schools (though considering when those vets went to school, maybe it's totally outdated :D). But are the classes you took mostly required core classes, or electives you chose instead of something else?

    My biggest problem with the Hills, Iams, Purina etc boil down to faulty info on the bag, lack of transparency into the formulas, and them using cheap ingredients. SBM and corn should not always be IMO the first ingredients in dog food, and they often are, though it's hidden sometimes by reporting those two on a DM basis and 'chicken byproducts' on a wet basis (therefore with all that water inflating how much 'chicken' is in the feed).

    My dream list for commercial diets include: formula transparency. Ie I want to know how much available P is in the feed. I want to know the Ca/P ratio, how much Se is in it etc. I want to know how many vitamins are in it (and how much over the requirement they’re provided at). I want to know more than they used a ‘vitamin premix’. I want to know if the vitamin A includes the amount of provitamin A included in the diet. Saying that there will be a max amount of 'ash' doesn't tell me a whole lot beyond they at least didn’t use limestone as a filler. Hills is decent on giving this info on the website, the other two do the bare legal minimum.

    I want a breakdown via amino acid on what is provided protein-wise in the diet. At the very least, I’d like to see more use of at least lysine, methionine, and tryptophan as single ingredients to minimize the overall CP when they do use SBM, corn, rice etc.

    I also personally don't think it's healthy to feed cats high levels of SBM or corn. I want at least the majority of the food to be meat. And on the meat, I want the ingredient list to be more specific than 'by-product' as that tells me nothing.

    I'm not demanding much, am I? ;)
     
  24. Fairyblastt

    Fairyblastt UC Davis class of 2013
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    I agree with your first statements, most dogs seem to do well on cheap food. And I'm also of the, if it's not broken, don't fix it. I'm more skeptical about the ingredients used in specialized diets though.

    And I disagree that we haven't seen the ingredients used change much, over the last few years we have, thanks in large part to the huge rise in corn prices (and therefore the price of the other commonly fed grains as well). And I think this trend will continue in the future.
     
    #24 Fairyblastt, Dec 15, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2008
  25. EqSci

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    I did too, I couldn't watch more than 5 minutes of it. Made me sick.
     
  26. StealthDog

    StealthDog U of MN 2010
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    To get back to the original question topic, I think "holistic" medicine is the way that veterinary medicine is trending, in that a good practitioner treats the whole patient, not just symptoms. Do you keep giving Otomax to the dog who presents every two months for an ear infection, or do you start looking for underlying causes? Do you consider that there may be a behavioral component to FLUTD, or do you keep putting the cat on antibiotics whenever he starts straining in the litterbox? Do you bring up dental care at your puppy visits? Do you consider nutrition when thinking about things you could change to improve a pet's health?

    Of course, when most people think "holistic" they think of alternative treatment modalities like acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine, etc. The AHVMA is a good place to look for practitioners in your area who might be willing to let you shadow and get some hands-on experience with various modalities.

    Colorado's Dr. Narda Robinson has been instrumental in the field of evidence-based 'alternative' medicine, and acupuncture in particular. She has a nice series of papers on her website that give an evidence-based approach to analyzing holistic modalities: http://csuvets.colostate.edu/pain/articles.htm

    The University of Minnesota offers an acupuncture service in the teaching hospital with Dr. Keum Hwa Choi, a practitioner trained in both traditional oriental and western medicine. You can take a rotation with her during your fourth year just like you can behavior, cardiology, etc. We also have a week-long integrative medicine elective that you can take at the end of second year to introduce the various modalities, the controversies, the data, etc. It's open to students from any school as well, so you can consider that even if you don't come to Minnesota. That course is coordinated by Dr. Lynelle Graham, who is a board-certified veterinary anesthesiologist in real life, but is trained in acupuncture and herbal medicine and spends a lot of time speaking at conferences about holistic modalities.

    Last, we have a very active Holistic Medicine club that brings in a lot of good speakers and has wetlabs once a semester. I think the canine massage wetlab was relaxing for the dogs and the humans :)

    Hope that helps!
     
  27. projekt

    projekt UGA c/o 2012
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    Well, of course. What's the point of diagnostics if it's not to figure out the disease and stop that rather than trying to dull the symptoms?

    So "holistic" medicine, by that definition, is what vets do every day. So why is there an AHVMA? :) Hmm.

    One reason the term is used is because modalities like Homeopathy are practiced by people who believe they are affecting the animal and the disease, even though their stated MO is to treat symptoms. But that's neither here nor there. I have a strong distaste for that sort of quackery.

    Another reason is because everyone else uses the term now. Holistic nutrition, holistic psychology, holistic detective agencies :). There's obviously a market.

    I agree entirely that there are herbal, behavioral and manipulative remedies that can have efficacy in certain situations. But I read through the message board for CAM practitioners on VIN and it's just totally bizarre. Herbs are definitely used "off label" for many wild reasons and I don't think the evidence is there for effectiveness in all those cases.

    Another thing I wonder about herbals is when herbal medicine causes creation of pure compounds like atropine from belladonna. Why keep using belladonna when we have atropine?
     
  28. StealthDog

    StealthDog U of MN 2010
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    No, it's how vets should practice every day. You can't tell me you've never seen a vet grab some pred for that itchy dog rather than bothering to go through a food elimination trial, have you? Or how about the clinic where I watched techs perform "non-anesthetic dentals"- they got some plaque off the teeth, but the act of pinning a dog down and going at them (unsedated) with a scaler was enough to ensure that those dogs never wanted to come back to the clinic again. They treated the teeth witout considering the dog attached to them.

    I was just giving you a definition of 'holistic' in the broadest sense of the word to point out that yes, a good vet will practice in a holistic fashion, considering an animal's clinical signs, behavior, environment, owner, etc when determining the best treatment for the problem. That doesn't mean that that's the definiton used by the AHVMA or by anyone who asks about holistic medicine.
     
  29. Jochebed

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    #29 Jochebed, Dec 16, 2008
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  30. FlyOnTheWall

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    That's just lazy. Practicing good medicine is not a holistic vs conventional issue.
     
  31. Fairyblastt

    Fairyblastt UC Davis class of 2013
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    I don't mean it in that way... I don't have a problem with cheaper cuts or organ meat going into pet food... but I want to know what it is. Ie I want them to be more specific than using the term 'byproducts' as a catchall term for anything and everything they can think of. Basically my biggest problem with a lot of the dog food companies is the total lack of information they give out. But I'm willing to spend the money to feed my dog food that comes from a company that's willing to tell me what's in it. Not everyone is willing (or able, I have a tiny dog so it's a littler easier ;)) to do that.

    The other issue that's going on is the lack of accountability as to the sourcing and tracking of the ingredients... But considering how many problems we've had keeping track of the ingredients going into the human food supply, I doubt we'll solve this problem anytime soon.
     
  32. Jochebed

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    #32 Jochebed, Dec 16, 2008
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2011
  33. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    I don't know about Eagle Pack (never personally tried it), but Taste of the Wild is a very recent edition to the Diamond line, such as Chicken Soup, which does AAFCO feeding protocols. AAFCO feeding protocols are actually fairly weak. I'd be all for seeing them beefed up tremendously, but alas, it will likely never be. AAFCO cannot "force" manufacturers to do anything as it's not the same sort of regulatory body as the FDA, nor do they "approve" diets.

    Animals do not just require nutrients. StealthDog can back me up on this, but when we toured the Natura plant, we talked to Dr. Sean Delaney, one of their two boarded veterinary nutritionists. He's also president elect of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition. He was asked this question and said yes and no and I agree.

    For example, the liver may not be able to tell the difference between soy protein and chicken protein when its breaking down the amino acids, but having done 4 years of research on phytoestrogens in diets, the reproductive organs sure can tell the difference! The GI tract sure knows the difference between plant based protein and animal based protein as for both stool volume and digestibility (egg protein is considered the most, corn is really quite far down on the list).

    It's not just about nutrients. Why do human nutritionists encourage the exact opposite of many veterinary nutritionists to eat a variety of fresh, whole foods, and not just pre-packaged junk? Would you feel completely comfortable eating the equivalent of a "complete and balanced" cereal FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE just based on a test that 6 out of 8 people had to eat it for 6 months and survived? I doubt very many of us would.

    Hmmm, I readily disagree. They may be surviving, but they are not thriving on these diets. I have fostered dogs from the local shelter for several years and I see a bunch of scruffy, Frito smelling, dull and flaky haircoats with little muscle tone, disgusting teeth, and haliotois when they've been on that junk. Many of them are not strays, but owner turn ins. I switch them to something like Chicken Soup, EVO, or California Natural, and lo and behold, the coat and all starts to INVARIABLY improve as early as 2-3 weeks. This is with literally dozens of dogs. Anyone who makes the argument that a dog food that has nothing but grain fractions and maybe a meat by-product in the top 5 ingredient spots is species appropriate for a carnivorous omnivore, they need to re-evaluate.

    Obesity is WAAAAY more than a calories in, calories out issue. It's about the most multifactorial disease I can think of. Training is certainly an issue, but far from the only one. Incidentally, it's actually a good thing to rotate diets over time for a couple different reasons (avoiding overexposure to allergens, individual variation in how the animal assimilates the nutrients may lead to deficiency over the course of years, and avoiding GI upset when the diet is never changed and finally is changed or reformulated). But yes, the cheap diets get reformulated all the time to basically whatever they can get the cheapest. Afterall, why would a multi billion dollar company pay $0.50 a pound for chicken meal when soybean mill run is $0.05 a pound?
     
  34. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    It's the AAFCO annual publication. It's like $50 or so to order, if I recall.

    http://www.aafco.org/Home/OrderAAFCOPublications/tabid/75/Default.aspx
     
  35. Groominator

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    I feel like I'm learning a lot from this thread, I'm glad I started it :)

    And I must say, in terms of nutrition I agree entirely with Electrophile.
     
  36. Groominator

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    I'm pretty sure I've seen the definitions published. Possibly by those who have purchased it from AAFCO. In fact I'm pretty sure i read the breakdown in a book that i purchased some time ago.

    I like to use this site as a reference when i need info - http://www.dogfoodproject.com/index.php?page=labelinfo101
     
  37. StealthDog

    StealthDog U of MN 2010
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    Note I didn't say that my (very broad) definition was what most people think of as 'holisitic medicine'- it's just one interpretation of what it means to be holistic. Being thorough, considering more than just the body system that appears to be affected, thinking about the animal's mind and environment in addition to its body. I think *most* people think about holistic medicine as being "vs conventional", as you wrote, but that's not the only way to look at it. You can be a very non-holistic "holistic" vet who uses acupuncture and nothing else and does his patients a disservice. You can be a very holistic "conventional" vet who uses good diagnostics, considers behavioral management, nutritional therapy, encourages dental care, etc and provides gold standard care.

    Dr. Delaney is dreeeeeeeamy. Sorry, just had to get that out there. ;)

    I was the one who asked if it was true that "pets need nutrients, not ingredients", and his response was basically that yes, the body sees and uses nutrients, but the source of those nutrients makes a difference in how accessible they are for the body to utilize. I'm sure we've all heard Hills' example that you can make a complete and balanced diet out of boot leather (protein), cardboard (carbs), and motor oil (fat), but that doesn't mean an animal can survive eating it.

    I agree that the AAFCO trials are a good thing to see on a bag, but they sure don't mean a lot in the grand scheme of things. 6 out of 8 dogs surviving for 6 months on a food without losing more than 25% of their body weight. And you don't need to report why those 2 dogs didn't finish the feeding trial. Yikes.
     
  38. projekt

    projekt UGA c/o 2012
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    I think it's safe to say that if human nutritionists could convince their clients to eat a specified amount of kibble each day, they'd do it in a heartbeat. We're dealing with an entirely different situation.

    The only way we really know what a complete diet is for our animals is by doing scientific studies and looking at the indicators of health. We're never going to feed dogs their natural diet, are we? Innova's EVO has a very misleading claim to being an "ancestral" diet. It's basically a human diet without grain. Where are the mice and chipmunks?

    There is a lot of hand-waving about the ingredients, but has anyone shown extruded chicken or beef to be remarkably better than soy meal and corn gluten? Since that's what you're trying to say, show me the evidence.
     
  39. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    Could you point me to all these human nutritionists that you know that want us all to eat one standardized "complete and balanced" kibble? For one, the research on both human and animal nutrition seems to have a major shift every 5-10 years (ex: the importance of omega 3 fatty acids, the importance of taurine for large/giant breed dogs, etc), so I cannot imagine a nutritionist advocating that their complete and balanced human kibble is infallible. That's what you're basically saying when you proudly proclaim that one single food will work for an animal or human for the rest of their life, and that's just not what we know to work. Keeping it in perspective, commercial kibble for pets has only been around 50-60 years and only within the last 25 years has the vast majority of pets been on a commercial kibble instead of getting a home prepared diet or one the "pet" had to hunt itself. However did those poor hapless kitties ever manage all by themselves on a diet of mice and birds? :rolleyes: I think this is a good article about getting back to nutrition as a whole picture instead of trying to reinvent Mother Nature's wheel:

    http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/living-well-usn/2008/04/07/diets-that-promote-health-and-always-have.html

    And yeah, I do know people who feed dogs a whole prey model diet (I did this myself for several years before my hubby got laid off and it got too expensive), which is generally considered their "natural" diet. For me, this included green tripe, organ meat, bones, muscle meat, a fruit and veggie mix and a small amount of grains or starches (rice, sweet potato, whole grain breads, etc). Basically trying to recreate the critters they ate plus a small amount of vegetation. I don't encourage them to eat mice as I have two rats that I'd like them to leave alone. :D But I did offer them each a frozen/thawed mouse once (my snakes eat mice and rats, so I had a surplus). They weren't particularly interested, though they were very stinky mice.

    I'm not sure why you see EVO as having a misleading claim. They have two formulations: one with chicken, turkey, and herring and another with beef, lamb, egg, venison, and bison. I don't know too many humans that eat those particular ingredients lists. Though what is wrong with them eating a "human" diet? Coppinger, Mech, and other wolf biologists think that the evolutionary ancestor of the dog could have been proto dog/wolves as late as 15,000 years to as early as about 100,000 years ago scavenging our kills and food as well as eating their own.

    As far as plant protein versus animal protein, it's been known for likely decades that dogs and cats assimilate animal protein for bioavailability better than plant protein. I believe there is a chart on that in Small Animal Clinical Nutrition IV, though I don't have that book, so I can't give you a page number. That's not really something up for debate. They know this from studying the fecal volume and quality (what goes in versus how much comes back out) among other parameters. I would personally feed almost twice as much kibble on a grain heavy diet as a animal protein diet, even calories to calories (i.e.-I'd feed 3-3.5 cups of California Natural or Chicken Soup versus 6 cups of Ol' Roy, Beneful, or Pedigree to my dogs). I view ingredients as a symphony that work in concert, not a bunch of single notes.

    Speaking of studies, I'm going to try to see if I can do a research project this summer on that subject with our nutrition professor. Perhaps weight loss in cats on a high animal protein, low/no grain species appropriate diet versus your "standard" high carb, high fiber weight loss kibble? Should be fun if we can get it done. :D
     
    #39 Electrophile, Dec 17, 2008
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2008
  40. projekt

    projekt UGA c/o 2012
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    I agree that different foods have different digestibility. Ol'Roy has a much lower digestibility than Hills, but Hills is on par with other premium foods. Yet holistic people are always disparaging Hills.

    My comment about EVO was simply that they call their diet "THE ANCESTRAL DIET" (meets modern nutrition), and I assume this is meant to make people believe that it has something to do with what dogs used to eat before the people came along and domesticated them. I find that misleading, because they're just feeding human foods, not the small rodents and stuff we'd expect to see in a dog diet.
     
  41. Electrophile

    Electrophile Working Dog Doc
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    The shelter I foster for uses Hill's because they get it for like $0.30 a pound or something. I am quite used to seeing the output of dogs on Hill's versus dogs on the low/no grain foods of several brands that I switch them to (so the dogs are their own controls) and actually, having fostered dozens of dogs, no, they don't compare cause I have to pick up after the fosters. ;) I have also heard at least half a dozen comments from folks switching from other brands (including the dirt cheap Hill's and free Purina we get at school) to Natura they both have to feed much less and they have to pick up less as well.

    Although I'm a relatively free spirit and I've used many different brands and will share opinions/experiences on them, I am technically a Natura employee as a student rep and I don't want to bash other brands, but I do think Natura's ingredients (which I've actually seen get made up) AND research (yes, they do research and they have two boarded veterinary nutritionists, so no, they're not just making up batches in the bathtub along with the moonshine) speak for themselves. I'm all for the research that Purina, Hill's, et al. do (Purina in particular, as I agree with more of their overall strategies in their veterinary diets moreso than some of the others, though the ingredients I'm still iffy on) and it's important research as otherwise, no one else can afford to do it. But I think if they put more $$ into their ingredients being species appropriate (feeding carnivores/carnivorous omnivores instead of cornivores) and less into their marketing, I'd like them more. :D

    As for the ancestral diet stuff, I do feel they are doing a pretty good job of mimicking what would be in whole prey in both terms of ingredients AND nutrients (high protein, low carb), without the possible drawbacks and hassles of a raw diet. But if you disagree because there are no mice and chipmunks in there, you are certainly welcome to. :) Who knows, maybe that would be a good market niche?
     
  42. Pandacinny

    Pandacinny VMRCVM c/o 2013
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    Electrophile, it's strange that you say that about hills vs low grain/no grain alternatives. I switch my dog's food periodically for various reasons. I've had him on several "super premium" brands before switching to Hills recently. I find that he has firmer stool with less volume on Hills sensitive stomach than he did on solid gold or canidae. I tried him on wellness, too, and that was a complete disaster. It's why I switched him to sensitive stomach, actually, at the advice of my vet. Turns out that when my old dog gets even two or three kibbles of wellness, he has completely liquid diarrhea. Poor guy. Put him on the sensitive stomach and he improved immediately. I can't say I'll necessarily feed it forever, but for right now he's looking great on it. To each his own, right?
     

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