Healthy foods for Fido

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The Food and Drug Administration warns about the dangers of going grain-free and damaging hearts. Too much synthetic foods can add to joint pain. Processed foods pack on the pounds.

No, this isn’t for you but our furry, four-legged friends. Real food can make a real difference for our pets.

Something called Eastern food therapy is helping to heal dogs from the inside out.

From the well-behaved to the well-coiffed, the little ones to the big ones, young and old, what you feed Fido impacts his health.

"There's a hole in what we're doing for our animals," Marney Prince said.

Prince began studying Eastern food therapy, or EFT. Now she uses it in her shop, Side by Side.

Winston, a 2-year-old Bernedoodle, was having problems with his digestion.

"He broke with this big hot spot on his side, he's got these red eyes,” Prince said.

Five weeks after being put on an EFT-specific diet, his symptoms are almost completely gone.

EFT is based on the idea of warming, neutral and cooling foods. Dogs that suffer from slow circulation, are lethargic, have loose stool, watery eyes or anxiety need a warming diet that includes chicken, lamb, turkey, mussels, trout, pumpkin, kale, carrots and coconut oil.

"A dog that needs a cooling recipe would need attributes in the food that moisturize the body and take down inflammation," Prince said.

Hobbs, a 12-year-old border terrier, is hard to stop now, but that was not always the case.

"He had blown out one knee and had a knee surgery," he said.

Hobbs was laid up for six weeks. When his other knee needed surgery, his owner started EFT. The recovery on that knee took just three weeks.

People are using food to help your dog play harder, jump higher and live longer.

Prince has now opened a second Side by Side shop in Chicago and has plans for more.

RESEARCH SUMMARY
HEALTHY FOODS FOR FIDO
REPORT #2715

BACKGROUND: Although seen by some as nonessential, grains actually play an important role in a dog's diet. They provide carbohydrates which give your dog energy and supply fiber to promote digestion. Grains also include essential nutrients like protein and linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid for dogs. Any dog food made without wheat, corn, rice and other grains is considered "grain free." Dogs still need carbohydrates for energy, though. So no-grain dog foods use alternative sources of carbs like potatoes and pea flour. Although grain allergies in dogs are uncommon (affecting less than 1 percent of dogs), they can occur. Many people assume grain free means low carb, but that's not the case. In fact, some dog foods without grains are higher in alternative carbohydrate sources like potatoes and peas. This could result in unintentional weight gain. (Source: https://www.purina.com/articles/dog/nutrition/grain-vs-grain-free-dog-food)

FDA SPEAKS OUT ABOUT GRAIN-FREE: Dr. Jerry Klein, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the AKC, shared, "The FDA is investigating a potential dietary link between canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and dogs eating certain grain-free dog foods. The foods of concern are those containing legumes such as peas or lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes listed as primary ingredients." DCM is a type of canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle. The hearts of dogs with DCM have a decreased ability to pump blood, which often results in congestive heart failure. The reports submitted to the FDA span a wide range of breeds, including many without a known genetic predisposition. When early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicated that recent, atypical cases in breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, Bulldogs, and Shih Tzus all consistently ate grain alternatives in their diets, the FDA began investigating. (Source: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-fdas-grain-free-diet-alert/)

NEW STUDY IN HEART DISEASE FOR DOGS: A University of Florida team of veterinary cardiology specialists are conducting a first-ever lifetime study evaluating the influence of genetic mutations on the development of a potentially fatal heart disease that commonly affects nearly half of all Doberman pinschers. Amara Estrada, D.V.M., a professor of cardiology at the UF College of Veterinary Medicine said, "Important questions have arisen during these evaluations, and we have now launched a prospective clinical trial enrolling 300 Dobermans that have been screened for DCM and followed longitudinally at our respective veterinary practices, national and regional shows." Although DCM affects many breeds of dogs, it strikes Dobermans more than any other breed, the researchers said. The inherited disorder can cause sudden death or can eventually lead to congestive heart failure. More than 1,000 Dobermans have collectively been evaluated over the years. "We have multiple projects happening simultaneously that are designed to understand why some of these Doberman pinschers develop the disease and others do not," Estrada said. (Source: https://www.vetmed.ufl.edu/2018/11/26/14541/)