This information concerns our pets, specifically dogs and cats. It is directed primarily at our dogs, but will very briefly make a gross distinction between cats and dogs dietary requirements.
I cannot improve upon the following quote:
To begin with we must get a good grip on two terms . . . carnivore and omnivore. The cat is considered by scientists to be a strict carnivore and the dog is considered to be an omnivore. Both species are in the Class Mammalia and the Order Carnivora, but here’s the difference: The cat cannot sustain its life unless it consumes meat in some form. Dogs, however, are able to survive on plant material alone; they do not have to consume meat. But always keep in mind that dogs do best and by nature are primarily meat-eaters. Just because by definition they are omnivores (can digest and utilize plant and animal food sources) does not mean that plant material alone makes a good source of nutrition for the dog. Far too many dogs have been undernourished by those cheap grain-based dog foods. And grain-based cat foods are even worse! 
Note what was said about grain based foods for dogs as it’s an intro into what this information concerns primarily. One last word on cats; read the ingredients to see how much grain (non-protein ingredients) is in their commercial foods.
While I can buy into the notion that dogs are omnivores; my problem with this is I think it is used to give license by too many to justify the use of “cheap grains” in the diets.
The partial list below was compiled from caring for more than 20 Pyrs for over 30 years and running a boarding kennel since 2002. How many of these have you seen in your dogs over the years?
1. Skin infections
2. Ear infections
6. Heart Problems
7. Many forms of cancer
9. Geriatric and even juvenile cataracts
10. Inflammatory based problems like pancreas, kidney, GI, etc.
There is a good chance part or all the problems above are related to the diet we feed our dogs. Even the best dog foods fed without supplementation have marked deficiencies that, over time, will result in health problems for our dogs. Raw diets also can be a problem. The main food fed in most diets are chicken and turkey (poultry). Commercially produced poultry, as a whole, is highly inflammation producing for both humans and pets. This is especially true of the cheaper cuts i.e. the ones being fed to our animals for raw diets.
· Sufficient Omega Fatty Acid content.
o Many dog foods claim sufficient content, but the quantities in the foods appear to me to be too low for any substantial benefit to our pet’s health.
· Correct balance between Omega-6 fatty acids and Omega-3 fatty acids
o Ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 should be about 4 to 1 or lower.
· Food content (ingredients) are not inflammatory i.e. grains, dairy and potatoes (sweet potatoes are actually great) are the main culprits.
o These foods are inflammatory as rated by the Inflammation Factor (IF) index. For an extensive list of foods rated go to Nutritiondata.com URL footnoted below. 
These consist of Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Omega-3 Fatty
Acids. Even though Omega-6 is critical to our diets they are not the problem
mostly. The great problem is the Omega-3 Fatty acids and the ratio of Omega 6 to
Omega 3 fatty acids in the diets of our pets (this is also true in us humans).
There is way too much Omega 6 as compared to Omega 3 fatty acids in our pet’s
foods. If you have not already guessed, Omega 6 is supplied by carbohydrates.
Omega 3 is supplied by some proteins and fats. Paleontologists and
Anthropologists tell us that early man (read that cave men and genesis biblical
man) had an Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio of 1 to 1. In our contemporary human diets
the ratio is 20 to 1. In our pets it is even likely more pronounced. This
imbalance is well documented to cause severe problems. This documentation is
increasing to the point that finally there is some attention being paid to this
dietary area in humans. We have not arrived yet to the point that the same can
be said for our pets. Maybe it’s because the dog food manufactures drive the
information and knowledge in this area. I do not want to indict them all by the
next statement. They are not as a group able to make objective observations and
decisions when grains are so cheap.
Additionally the protein and fat that they can produce in such a fashion that it actually makes it to the pet is extremely hard, if not impossible under present food delivery sources and practices to achieve. The main problem is having a dehydrated food product (kibble) with a two (2) year shelf life.
Unfortunately science in this industry has “officially” looked very little at these areas of nutrition The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) does not even acknowledge they exist for recommendations in what is needed in our pet’s foods. Many charge that AAFCO is controlled or too much influenced by these pet food manufactures. Some people think that most (all?) of the information AAFCO uses in their recommendations come from the pet food industry.
These Fatty Acids are termed “Essential” for good reason. They are essential to the life and health of our pets and also to us. Purdue University recognizes this as is demonstrated by their Omega-3 Learning for Health and Medicine. They offer information for consumers, and professionals. They cover both humans and animals in the information. They have a email list you can subscribe to receive information about the various aspects of Omega-3 fatty acids. It is a great resource for good information and spotlights the importance of this area in the nutrition of both us and our pets.
There are marine sources (Fish Oil) and vegetable sources. This area is extremely confusing to most of us. One has to be careful in reading labels and nutritional information of products as some manufactures treat them as the same and imply they all work the same. This is not quite true, at least in some cases with people and in many cases with our dogs. We have already seen that Omega 6 is generally not the problem. Omega 3 is what we need to improve. There is also Omega 9 that has to be converted to Omega 3 as well. Olive oil is an example of Omega 9 fatty acid. It is easy to loosely throw around these terms and it is hard for us, the consumer, to know “who is on first base” with many of these products.
Examples of vegetable sources of Omega Fatty Acids are:
· Flax seed oil
· Soya oil
· Canola oil
· Safflower oil
· Sunflower seed oil
· Borage Oil
· Evening Primrose oil
· Corn oil
Why do the vegetable sources not work as well?
o The body uses long chain fatty acids (15 carbon atoms).
o Vegetable sources of Omega 3 fatty acids are shorter chain fatty acids i.e. less than 15 carbon atoms. My understanding of this area is it takes two enzymes that have to be present in the body to convert the short chain fatty acids to the long chain fatty acids the body can use effectively.
o The reasons vegetable sources like flax seed oil, etc are not preferred are:
§ The conversion process is not very efficient, so long chain (15 carbon atoms) fatty acids are significantly diminished
§ Some people and many dogs do not have the two enzymes to make the conversion. Consequently no or very little of the Omega 3 fatty acid from the vegetable sources are available for the body to utilize.
I could go on for many pages documenting the problems with the diets of our pets, especially our dogs, but it will be tedious to many of you. Following are my recommendations for feeding your dogs.
· Feed a diet that is absent any grains.
o Buy grain free dog food or
o prepare fresh, preferably devoid of chicken and turkey, that includes complex carbohydrates (no grain).
o If you feed raw stay away from chicken and turkey.
· Get a better ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3
o Feed any form of safe wild caught fish
· Increase the amount to Omega 3 from marine sources in the dog’s diet.
o Fish oil with high EPA-for some information about what you want in fish oil see this link.
· Add Vitamin D3 to your pet’s diet.
o Not the D2 which you will see as tablets, but the gel caps that clearly says D3. 5000 IU daily for our dogs of any size.
· Probably should give some Vitamin E daily to be safe.
· Other antioxidants like Vitamin C, Co enzyme Q10, etc are also beneficial as per you choices.
Yes of course. A little rice or bread will be OK, especially if you are giving fish oil daily, but keep it down. I would not feed it daily also. Grains are a large component of most dog foods as you will find out when searching for some without it.
Dairy is also a problem, but not used much in our dog’s commercially prepared food. Bitches milk is ideal obviously, but our formulas are not so good. Sugar is also very bad, so syrups are to be avoided.
I have not had a litter of puppies while feeding like this, but I think I would go from bitch’s milk to soft (gruel) food (grain free food), beginning with the softened food being a supplement to the bitch’s milk as a way of weaning. BTW I had been seeing an increased incidence of mastitis in nursing bitches the past 20 years. There is no doubt in my mind now this was caused or greatly contributed too by the diet fed our dogs; especially our lactating bitches.
I am not sure when I would start fish oil with puppies, but think it might be right from the start. In young animals the DHA is more important for brain formation than later in life, but I think they would get enough in the normal course of the above approach.
 Dunn, Jr, Dr. T.J., Cats Are Different, The Pet Center, ONLINE:http://www.thepetcenter.com/article.aspx?id=3405
 International Omega-3 Learning and Education Consortium for Health and Medicine, ONLINE: http://www.omega3learning.purdue.edu/