Dr. Al Danenberg ● Nutritional Periodontist
January 10, 2021
I love “Cricket”. My wife adores Cricket. Cricket is our beautiful, fluffy, and oh-so-spoiled Ragdoll cat. Here she is above, posing after her appointment with the cat groomer. I would not be surprised if my wife loved Cricket more than me (well, at least as much).
We would do anything to assure that Cricket is healthy. That’s why we feed her raw, desiccated cat food. This food is close to what cats eat in the wild. Wild animals thrive because they live off the land. Cricket has no diseases, a beautiful coat, and a healthy mouth.
Wild Animals vs Domesticated Pets
When we look at animals in the wild, one thing stands out – none are obese. Another observation is that chronic diseases are mostly nonexistent. Also, dental decay and periodontal diseases are rarely problems.
But our domestic cats and dogs are plagued with chronic diseases, gum disease, and tooth decay. When we investigate a cause, we find that our pets suffer from a leaky gut – just like humans.
Human Food & Lifestyle
The far majority of humans live an unhealthy lifestyle and eat foods that are inflammatory and lack sufficient and bioavailable nutrients. Many of us also drink tap water, which includes chemicals like fluoride and chlorine but lacks beneficial trace minerals. The result of these actions helps develop a leaky gut.
People suffering with a leaky gut develop chronic diseases, compromised immune systems, and unhealthy mouths. And just like the majority of the US population, our precious pets are suffering and dying because of similar causes emanating from their unhealthy gut.
New research clearly shows that our fluffy friends are dealing with poorly conceived diets just like humans. The foods we feed our cats and dogs are causing them to develop leaky gut. And providing your furry companions with tap water to drink or to rehydrate dry pet foods can cause their gut microbiome to become further compromised.
Animals in the wild are physically active and eat what they’re metabolically designed to eat. Unfortunately, most of the commercial foods that are available for our domesticated pets are causing ill health requiring attention by veterinarians.
Look at the ingredients in the cat and dog food you buy at the store. Most petfood includes wheat, corn, soy, emulsifiers, preservatives, other chemicals, and various processed products along with low-quality animal byproducts.
Cats are obligate carnivores; dogs are more carnivorous within the spectrum of omnivores. Obviously, wild animals don’t cook their meals before they eat them. That means cats must eat other raw animals and dogs prefer eating raw animals. And they eat nose-to-tail. That’s the way their digestive system has evolved. So why do most pet owners feed their four-legged buddies inappropriate commercial petfood?
The answer is, “Many pet owners don’t know that most petfood is unhealthy for pets.”
Unhealthy and unsuitable pet foods will damage our pets’ microbiome causing gut dysbiosis. Other factors disturbing the garden of gut bacteria include environmental chemicals, medications, stress, and vaccines. As in humans, dysbiosis will weaken the epithelial lining of intestines. The result is leakage of unwanted toxic elements and pathogens into the blood circulation. This is called a “leaky gut”. And this triggers immune responses and inflammation coursing through their body. Just as it can do in humans!
Some of the common symptoms of leaky gut in our pets include:
- Allergies (itchy skin, ear infections, chewing at the feet, hot spots and rashes)
- Digestive issues (diarrhea, gassiness, vomiting, bloating)
- Behavior issues (anxiety, aggression, separation anxiety)
- Poor wound healing
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Seizure disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
- Weight fluctuations
- Bad breath
- Joint pain
Importantly, and often unrecognized, our pets’ teeth and gums become compromised. Resulting mouth diseases can seriously affect our pets’ overall health and digestion.
Cats and dogs want raw food, just as it is available in the wild. They also don’t want to ingest toxic elements. For me, the best compromise is to purchase high quality frozen or dehydrated raw foods for my cat. Two excellent raw dehydrated food brands I have purchased are Stella & Chewy and Primal. Dehydrated foods are simple to prepare. I only need to add water.
Cricket loves both of them. I even add 1/3 capsule of the spore-based probiotics I consume along with the powder from a capsule of desiccated organs I eat daily. She gobbles them up. I use natural spring water not only to rehydrate her food but also to fill her water bowl. And she is a healthy specimen of a 5-year-old indoor Ragdoll cat.
There is a spore-based probiotic designed specifically for dogs. It is called FidoSpore and is available from Microbiome Labs. Although the label says that it is for dogs, cats also may benefit since their microbiome is similar to that of dogs. However, cats have not been studied to the extent of dogs. (If you want to order FidoSpore from Microbiome Labs, you will need to enter a “Patient Direct Code”. Email me, and I’ll send you the code: Al@DrDanenberg.com.)
Microbiome Labs described the research regarding spore-based probiotics for dogs. These studies have shown that the spores in FidoSpore produced digestive enzymes, strengthened the immune system, produced short-chain fatty acids, and maintained the gut barrier. This product treated digestive symptoms like constipation and diarrhea. Another benefit was that the spores crowded out unwanted pathogens in the gut. Gut symptoms from dysbiosis were greatly reduced or disappeared entirely. Total body inflammation and leaky gut markers were dramatically reduced.
Our Pets & Us
It is important to note that spore-based probiotics will not solve gut dysbiosis alone. Diet and environmental factors must be addressed too.
Aren’t these facts interesting? The causes of chronic diseases in our pets are similar to the causes of chronic diseases in humans. If we improve lifestyle and diet, remove toxic substances, and heal the gut, amazingly the body will respond – the body of our pets and the body of ourselves.
Think about the processed foods that are sold in supermarkets for our own consumption. Just getting rid of processed foods from our own diets can go a long way to help our guts heal. That is why I emphasize putting quality food into our body as well as perfecting lifestyle and gut health in my one-on-one coaching program and consultations.
In reality, it will take time to change all the factors that cause leaky gut in our precious pets. But the goal of wellness begins with changing the diet and improving the gut microbiome.
My slogan is: Your Gut. Your Health. Your Choice.®
Check out my new training on the Better Belly Blueprint! You can watch it HERE.
Glad you raised this topic. I have had lots of dogs and cats. My parents bred dogs. All the animals lived beyond the normal life span for their breed and we never had a case of cancer. My black cat was 22 when I had him put down as his life had become difficult for him. We always fed meat and offal. The cat often had some of the meat or fish that I was eating. I used tinned meat pet food once per week or the animals would have starved in the cattery/kennel when occasionally they had to go. Good to get them used to a varied carnivore diet.
Thank you for sharing this information Dr. Danenberg! I have two toy Aussies that I switched to a raw food diet and their allergies practically disappeared and I can see how much more energetic and vibrant they are!
We have fed our 3 dogs raw for 7/8 years, our vet bills are minimal, they are now 11 and 12 yrs old.
Happy, healthy dogs, the pet food industry is about conveniences and profit.