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PET INDUSTRY IS SEEING BOOM IN ALTERNATIVE DIETS DISCOVERING YOUR PET'S DNA
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THE PET ISSUE
PET INDUSTRY IS SEEING BOOM IN
Alternative Diets Owners Turn Toward Paleo, Keto and Grain-Free Diets By M. Gillan Ritchie
ellness – it isn’t just for humans anymore. Since the pandemic, more people are focusing on physical and mental well-being. But improving the quality of life isn't just about mankind. Exercise regimens and alternative diets have extended to furry, four-legged companions over the last two years. In 2021, nearly 1 million animals were adopted in the United States (U.S.) while birth rates declined – both statistics can be attributed to the pandemic. Many pet owners, primarily younger adults, are devoting more time and consideration to what their companions consume. When Kelly Peak and her husband, Mike Tompkins, adopted their second greyhound, Bear, the animal rescue advised that Bear should be on an alternative diet because of his sensitive digestive system. Their other dog, Barney, was already on a grain-free diet so they decided to use the same food for Bear. However, Bear didn’t respond well to the diet. “We tried various kinds of food and found one that he liked and didn’t throw off his stomach,” Peak said. Bear, now on a low-fat diet, is just one of many pets in the U.S. on an alternative diet. The pet wellness industry has been seeing a boom in raw food, vegan and vegetarian, gluten-free, and grain-free diets. There’s even specialty items like immune support for dogs and cats, and daily nutritional greens supplement. With so many different food options available to pet owners, it can be hard to decide what to feed pets. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require pet food products to have pre-market approval. The FDA’s website states that products should be made out of safe ingredients and have an appropriate function within pet food. Outside of that, guidance from the FDA on pet food ingredients is vague. But in July 2018, the FDA announced its investigation of a potential link between grain-free diets and non-hereditary canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). According to the FDA, anything that is labeled as “grain-free” contains high levels of peas, lentils, other legume seeds (pulses), and/or potatoes in various forms (whole, flour, protein, etc.) within the first 10 ingredients. DCM cases previously reported to the FDA include dog breeds that aren’t previously known to have a genetic predisposition to DCM. Some pet health experts are cautioning against alternative diets due to misinformation on the internet and the lack of regulation currently from the FDA. Alternative diets – whether for humans or pets – aren’t backed by substantial research, and pets become at
4 | HOME | April 2022
risk for potential health problems. “Due to the potential link for grain-free and legume heavy diets (peas, lentils, etc.) to cause diet related dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) we recommend feeding all the dogs in our care a complete diet including grains and ideally one of the three major brands (Royal Canin, Purina, and Science Diet) to avoid any potential risk for diet-related heart disease,” said Sam Orr, vet director of
Angels Among Us Pet Rescue. ”We also consult with our valued vet partners for nutritional advice to make sure we are doing the best thing for each individual dog.” Despite the FDA’s investigation into grain-free diets and DCM, there has been a significant increase in the number and sales of foods and treats over the last decade. According to Dr. Stephanie Clark, PhD, CVT, PAS, CFS, Dpl. ACAS, board-certified companion animal nutritionist at BSM Partners, there is no research that indicates a definitive connection between grain-free diets and DCM. “Our team of animal nutritionists, veterinarians, and veterinary cardiologists is undertaking projects to help bridge the gaps in DCM research,” Dr. Clark said. “We recently collected cases of DCM from around the country diagnosed by veterinary cardiologists and found no significant increase in DCM cases in recent years, while at the same time sales of grain-free pet food rose 500%. Another study we are actively working on is evaluating the relationship between nutrition and canine cardiac disease.” As misinformation continues to spread on social media platforms, pet owners feel a sense of distrust with their veterinarians and veterinarians feel frustration as a result. Animals have different
dietary needs from humans – what works for pet owners will more than likely not work for their pet. Diets such as raw food can be very dangerous for pets because of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in meats, and homemade meals lack certain nutrients. There are also certain foods that pets can’t digest and detoxify from their bodies such as onion and garlic. “At a September 2020 symposium on DCM hosted by Kansas State University, which brought together veterinary nutritionists, cardiologists, researchers, and personnel from the FDA, Dr. Steve Solomon, the director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, noted it is best to talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s specific dietary needs based on their health and medical history” Dr. Clark said. “Moreover, with no reason to believe pulse [lentils, peas, chickpeas, field beans, and cowpeas] ingredients are inherently dangerous, more research is needed to fully understand this issue.” Every pet is unique and that means that their diet should fit their nutritional needs. Humans may benefit from certain diets and exercise regimens – but that doesn’t mean pets will. If a pet owner has questions about what to feed their companion, they should consult with their vet before making any lifestyle changes. H
April 2022 | HOME | 5
THE PET ISSUE
Pet's DNA By M. Gillan Ritchie
t had been almost two years since Lauren Kime and her family lost their canine companion. Loki, their 15-year-old rescue dog, was struggling with muscle and bladder control, and the family decided it was time to put him to sleep. In December 2020, Kime’s 6-year-old daughter started begging for a new dog and the family realized that they were ready to welcome a new four-legged member into their home. Kime logged onto Petfinder.com and found a 6-month-old female puppy available for adoption at their local shelter. They decided to head to the shelter to see if the puppy would be a good fit for the family. “We saw her in the puppy room and they took her out to the room for a meet and greet,” Kime said. “She just was so friendly and licking everyone.” A week after meeting with the puppy, Kime and the family brought her home. Kime’s daughter decided to name the puppy Ginger. “[My daughter] thought she looked like a gingerbread cookie and we thought ‘Ginger’ was appropriate with the holiday timing and her somewhat ginger coloring,” said Kime.
Uncovering the DNA Most dogs in a shelter or at a rescue, like Ginger, are considered a mutt – a dog that is made up of several different breeds rather than one identifiable breed. At first glance, Kime thought Ginger was an American Staffordshire Terrier and Boxer mix. The family’s veterinarian recommended that they do a pet DNA test such as Wisdom Panel or Embark. “We used [the] Wisdom Panel brand as it was highly recommended by our vet,” Kime said. “We wanted not just the DNA results, but also the medical complication screening they offered.” To Kime and her family’s surprise, Ginger’s DNA results showed that she was a mixture of American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. The test also showed that Ginger was not at risk for any chronic or terminal illnesses. According to the test, Ginger is at risk for hip dysplasia, like Loki, which is common in older dogs. Kime and her family are not the only people that have tested their 6 | HOME | April 2022
PET DNA If you have a mixed breed canine in your family and you’ve always wondered about their breed, then a doggie DNA test may be for you. Here’s the low down on DNA test kits for your furry, four-legged friends.
Are dog DNA test kits regulated? No. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate testing kits for animals the way it regulates DNA tests for humans (think 23andMe or Ancestry).
What are the costs associated with these kits?
Annie Rose four-legged friend out of curiosity. Allison Palestrini’s parents, Ted and Lynne Bayer, adopted Gabe and Annie Rose separately from Ruff Dog Rescue of Milton, Ga., in early 2020. In 2019, Ted and Lynne lost Palestrini’s grandfather at the age of 96 and then shortly after, they suddenly lost their dog Heyward on Thanksgiving. “He [Heyward] had a heart issue that was a total surprise,” Palestrini said. “He was great one day, sick and dying on their stairs with a rush to the vet the next [day]. My parents’ house got very quiet and they knew they needed puppy energy back in so they started looking at rescues for a dog to get.” After Ted and Lynne Bayer adopted Gabe and Annie Rose, Palestrini and her siblings gave their parents’ dogs DNA tests as birthday gifts to learn about the new fur babies. According to Palestrini, the family came together during the pandemic to have a doggie DNA reveal party in August 2020. During the reveal party, the family spent time guessing the breeds, eating from newly purchased dog bowls, a dog-themed music playlist, dog-themed treats and trophies. Palestrini’s mom carried the test results around in a dog-shaped tote bag until it was time to reveal Gabe and Annie Rose’s DNA and family trees. Palestrini joked that the reveal resembled the Oscars. “There were [child] tears when my nephew, Cameron, swept the wins for both dogs while randomly guessing their breeds,” Palestrini said. “I actually brought my old test results for Punky [my dog] to try to guess Annie's mix since they sort of look similar. So much for strategy. All in all a memorable, fun way to pass the time and reveal dog breeds …”
Depending on the brand, test kits can range from $60 to $200. Basic kits will only include breed information; more expensive kits can include other information such as health risks and family trees.
What companies offer dog DNA test kits? • Wisdom Health Genetics: Wisdom Panel™ Essential, Wisdom Panel™ Premium and Wisdom Panel™ Complete for Cats • Embark Veterinary Inc.: Breed ID, Breed + Health, and Purebred for pet owners; Breeders Standard and Breeders Package; and Veterinarian Kits • DNA My Dog: Breed Identification, NEXTGEN Breed Identification and Genetic Age Test, Breed Test PLUS Wolf - Canid/Hybrid Test, Deceased Dog DNA Breed Testing, and Allergy Test My Pet Canine Allergy Test
DNA Testing Boom DNA testing in dogs has been quietly happening for more than two decades – researchers were using methods to examine certain conditions in canines. But the industry took off in 2005 when April 2022 | HOME | 7
THE PET ISSUE
scientists mapped out dog genes and then published the results. According to The Harvard Gazette, an international research team, led by scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, decoded the DNA of the domestic dog. Results of the study, published in the Dec. 8, 2005, edition of Nature, show genetic similarities between dogs and humans, and could lead to discoveries that improve the health of both species. Wisdom Health Genetics–maker of Wisdom Panel™ Essential, Wisdom Panel™ Premium and Wisdom Panel™ Complete for Cats and a business unit of Mars Petcare – has tested more than 3 million cats and dogs worldwide. The Essential DNA test includes breed, traits and 25+ actionable health tests. The Premium includes everything Essential offers pet parents, and includes a health analysis made up of more than 250 health and trait tests. According to Mars Petcare, part of Mars, Incorporated, the company’s DNA tests can detect contributions from 350 different breeds, types, and varieties. The Wisdom Panel™ Essential and Wisdom Panel™ Premium tests are the only ones in the marketplace that features MDR1 gene mutation screening. Developed by Washington State University, the screening can detect medication sensitivities in dogs. Embark, Veterinary, Inc., another well-known company in dog genetics, announced its first-ever canine health discovery at the beginning of March. Scientists at Embark found a genetic mutation
in the EPS8L2 gene which is associated with early-onset adult deafness in Rhodesian Ridgebacks. The research comes after a decade of collaboration between breeders, scientists, and dog breeders. The study was conducted on more than 185 Rhodesian Ridgebacks and used more than 220,000 genetic markers. “When we started this research over 10 years ago, we knew a discovery in earlyonset adult deafness – one of the most common disabilities in humans and dogs – could provide valuable tools for life science companies using regenerative medicine to develop therapeutics for childhood hearing disorders," said Dr. Mark Neff, Embark senior director of scientific discovery, in the press release from March 2.
or more different breeds in their family trees. “Identifying a dominant breed helps you know how to work with them as well as making sure you find a home that is a good fit,” Chapman said. “For example, you may know the size that they will grow to be, whether they will be super active or working dogs and may need a fence or large yard or might not be the best ‘starter’ dog. Of course, the results do not predict every dog's future, but it can serve as a guide.” Thanos found his furever home with Chapman.
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Beyond Curiosity The majority of DNA tests ordered by pet owners are done to satisfy curiosity about breed identification. But others, like Kris Chapman of Marietta, Ga., use DNA tests with a specific intent. Chapman, a volunteer at Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, has used test kits on foster puppies to identify the breed and help market the puppy for adoption since potential adopters may search for certain breeds or avoid others. According to Chapman, she also uses the test to help rule out breeds that are restricted on a potential adopter's lease. Chapman used Wisdom Panel twice and Embark once to test three foster puppies – Ragsdale, Thanos, and Henree. The test showed that Ragsdale was more than 35% Labrador Retriever, Thanos was a mixture of Saint Bernard and German Shepherd, and Henree was 50% Boxer and 16% Bulldog. The DNA test found that each puppy had three
Flaws of Testing DNA tests offered by Embark and Wisdom, along with other companies such as DNA My Dog, give dog owners the chance to understand everything from personality traits to family tree to allergies. Despite Wisdom Panel and Embark’s growing databases and resources, DNA testing for dogs and cats is relatively new. Some scientists argue that the accuracy of these tests – or their ability to predict health outcomes – are not validated. Canine and feline genetic tests are also not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and could potentially be misinterpreted by veterinarians or pet owners that don’t understand the limits of testing. Without regulations or peer-reviewed publications reviewing these tests for accuracy, there are risks for potential breed misidentification or misinformation on illnesses. If you have any concerns about your pet’s health or risks for potential diseases, pet owners should always talk to their vet. The DNA tests are fun and can provide some insight but should be taken with a grain of salt. H
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CAN HELP YOUR OVERALL HEALTH By Sudie Crouch Sleep. Something we all do every night but probably take for granted its importance until we find ourselves not getting enough of it. When we’re younger, we probably relished the thought of burning the midnight oil and staying up as long as we could, until we realized that sleep – or the lack thereof – can have a profound effect on our health and well-being. As children, we were often put to bed early, sometimes around 8 p.m., to make sure we had adequate sleep. This was important for our developing brains and growth. But, sleep is still just as important as we age. The average recommended amount of sleep for adults is between seven and nine hours. Sleep quality can make a big difference in how those hours of sleep feel, too. When we wake up still feeling tired and groggy, we know that we’re not getting restorative sleep.
What happens when we don’t get enough sleep? We often think not getting enough sleep can just make us tired and lethargic, but lack of proper sleep can impact our overall health and wellness in many ways. Studies have found that not getting adequate sleep can contribute to memory issues (think of the brain fog you experience when you’re tired); decreased immunity; weight gain/difficulty losing weight; and an increase in heart disease and diabetes. Hard to believe that sleep can impact so many areas of our lives, but it’s true. Sleep allows our body to kind of ‘re-set’ each night on a cellular level and can even help improve our brain function. Think of how much better your phone or laptop performs after restarting. On a much bigger level, sleep does that for our bodies. 10 | HOME | April 2022
Things that disrupt sleep Many things can disrupt our sleep, but some of the primary ones include: 1. Screen time – studies have found that looking at our phones for long periods of time can actually disrupt our bodies ability to produce melatonin, a hormone our bodies naturally produces to help us sleep. 2. Stress – this is something that can be one of the biggest disruptors on our health, and it can greatly affect our sleep routines. When we are stressed, we experience higher levels of cortisol and anxiety, which can make it difficult for our bodies to get out of ‘fight or flight’ mode so we can truly rest. 3. Diet – eating large meals can make it uncomfortable for us to sleep, and too much caffeine can affect us as well. (Plus, when we’re tired, we tend to reach for one more cup of coffee, which creates a cycle that makes the situation worse.) Sometimes spicy foods can disrupt our sleep, causing indigestion that makes it difficult to sleep; same goes for eating too close to bedtime. Giving ourselves enough time for our stomach to digest our last meal can help tremendously.
How to improve your sleep? Recent studies have found that taking melatonin is not as helpful as previously thought. Other sleep inducing aids also run the risk of creating a cycle of dependency. (Always consult your medical professional before taking any supplements as well, as even things that are natural and sold over-the-counter may have adverse effects.)
So what’s the best approach? Creating a sleep routine can help. This means having a set schedule you do that helps your body recognize that it's preparing for sleep. Reducing screen-time at least 30 minutes prior to sleep helps our bodies to naturally get in the rhythm of sleep. A bit ironically, there’s several apps on our Smart phones that can help us put these routines in place. If you do find that reading helps your brain shift from the stressors of the day and into a more restful state, switching to a regular book versus e-book can make a difference. Making the room as dark as possible can also help prevent anything that may disrupt our sleep cycle; this can also be so important for night-shift workers who have to sleep during the day. Black out curtains and sleep masks can help keep the environment dark enough to be conducive for sleep. Light stretching and meditation have been found to be helpful as well, as it can help loosen tight muscles and release worries. Another way to help get better sleep is to limit beverages closer to bedtime; when we don’t have to wake up to go the bathroom, we can avoid the struggle of falling back to sleep. Keeping a sleep journal can also help find patterns of what helps you get good rest, too. I’m very pro-journaling to help discover what affects any aspect of your health and being able to see what helped you get good sleep versus what interrupted it can help you take steps towards finding what works best for you.
Getting a good sleep routine in place can take some time and effort, but the overall benefits are definitely worth it. H Sudie Crouch is a health and wellness coach, helping clients create healthy, attainable changes using positive psychology and cognitive behavior approaches. Sources: https://www.healthline.com/health/sleep-deprivation/effects-on-body Photos: Clock: Photo by Mpho Mojapelo on Unsplash Apps: Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash Sleep deprivation effects: from Healthline.com April 2022 | HOME | 11
Make Hiking Adventures YOUR GOAL IN 2022
By Alexander Popp firstname.lastname@example.org
n 2021, we in the outdoors industry saw something really amazing. Amidst a global pandemic which halted travel around the world and kept people isolated in their homes for months at a time, more people than ever before began going outdoors, hiking, backpacking, camping, paddling, and enjoying nature in ways they never had before. But if you weren’t a part of that movement, don’t feel bad because there’s still time to get outdoors in 2022, and hiking, backpacking, and camping are a really good way to do that.
Is hiking and backpacking right for me? To make a long story short, yes. Hiking and backpacking are great activities for basically anyone of any age, skill level or physical condition. Not everyone is climbing 12,000-foot mountains on their first outing, but no matter where you live there will almost always be a hike for your skill level. 12 | HOME | April 2022
In addition to its accessibility, hiking is also a really great way to get in shape and stay in shape. Hiking is an exercise that mixes aerobics, endurance, strength training, and is very good for the lungs and heart.
How do I start hiking and backpacking? Starting to hike is simple, find a nature trail near you and start walking. If you’re new or aren’t in the best shape, start with something flat and not too long, walk and enjoy the scenery. From there, start looking for new short hikes (which we call “day hikes”) in your area and as you grow stronger and more used to the exercise, make the hikes longer and more intense. Boom, you’re a hiker now. For backpacking things get a little more complicated, because with backpacking you need gear, food, plans, permits and a bunch of other things that take a bit more planning. Getting started backpacking on your own is definitely possible, but in most cases it’s easier to get started with a friend, family member or professional guiding service that can help you on your way. For more tips on backpacking, visit www.worldsbestadventures.com.
Why take a trip with World’s Best Adventures? If you are interested in the outdoors, but don’t have the gear, knowledge, or time to plan a trip for yourself, we totally understand. Everyone who loves the outdoors has been there at some point or another. World’s Best Adventures was founded on the idea that you shouldn’t have to be an expert with tons of time for planning and preparation to have a meaningful wilderness adventure. Our adventures are all-Inclusive, giving you a hassle free adventure that includes all gear, food, planning and permits, with exceptional service, tons of fun and education on outdoor skills that will lead you on future adventures into the great outdoors.
Learn more about our upcoming Spring 2022 adventures to North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains at www.worldsbestadventures.com.
This article comes to us from our sister company, World’s Best Adventures, based in Gainesville, Ga. H April 2022 | HOME | 13
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