Page 24

A Healthy Gut is Your Pet’s Best Friend FINDING A SIMPLE SOLUTION TO PET FOOD ALLERGIES By Kristina Dow


ack in the day not so very long ago when dry kibbled pet foods were loaded with corn, wheat, and soy, we saw a lot of food sensitivities and intolerance (aka allergies) that were a result of the gluten in those grains creating an inflammatory response throughout the body. As a result, the pet food industry all but eliminated them, along with most other grains, in favor of grain-free foods. Nevertheless, food allergies have continued to plague our dogs and cats, but now poultry, meat, and fish proteins are often identified as the culprits. But there’s a big problem with a diagnosis of a carnivorous mammal’s being allergic to poultry, meat, or fish proteins: The amino acids found in those proteins are absolutely essential for the survival of carnivorous mammals, including our carnivorous dogs and cats. So how do we deal with a diagnosis of an allergy to essential poultry, meat, or fish proteins? For most conventional veterinarians and their clients, the answer is a veterinary prescription diet. While veterinary prescription diets are a boon to veterinarians, they are an absolute bust for most pet owners and their pets. The truth is, veterinary prescription diets contain absolutely nothing necessitating nor worthy of a prescription. The whole veterinary prescription diet angle is nothing more than a market manipulation to protect those products’ exclusive sale through veterinarians, but, with the illusion that there is something regulated and of true medicinal value in these diets, pet owners dutifully pony up, no questions asked, and pay a very high premium for them. With veterinary prescription diets, the cost of initial veterinary visits and bloodwork, and the cost of the diets themselves, to say nothing of the cost of follow-up veterinary visits and bloodwork required to renew the “prescription,” can all add up to a substantial financial outlay by pet owners and a substantial income stream for prescribing veterinarians. But what pet owners and their pets get in return for that expense is typically a godawful nutritional package designed to mask – not cure – an often very simply solved digestive issue.

Let’s take a look at one of those god-awful veterinary prescription diets, how it works, and how we are likely to find a better solution. One of the more popular veterinary prescription diets is a dry kibble called Hill’s® Prescription Diet® z/d® Canine (Skin/Food Sensitivities) by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. You will be hard-pressed to find a worse ingredient profile for a carnivorous mammal. Corn starch is its first ingredient, hydrolyzed chicken liver is its second, powdered cellulose comes third, followed by a bit of soybean oil 24

Summer 2018 | www.OurBerkshireTimes.com

and a very long list of synthetic vitamins and minerals. This is a food that has as its primary ingredient a thickening agent with zero percent daily value protein and zero percent daily value fat, its third ingredient can be, for all intents and purposes, sawdust, and its iota of meat falls second on the ingredient list only because its 75 percent water weight is included for that ranking. Once that 75 percent water is removed during cooking and the meat is converted to a meat meal, the dry weight of the meat included in the final product would probably move its order of appearance on the ingredient panel somewhere down with the vitamins and minerals. It ought to be illegal for a product like Hill’s® Prescription Diet® z/d® Canine to be marketed and sold as “high quality protein and thoughtfully sourced ingredients” for a carnivore. It’s absolutely terrible nutrition for a carnivore, even on a short-term basis, and I am appalled anew as I am reminded why I retired into the pet food industry: Somehow we have to put a stop to this nonsense. It is truly unconscionable that such a product is passed off as a “prescription” for canine health. Any prescriber should be ashamed of their ignorance or their greed (or perhaps both) at our pets’ expense. But let’s get back to the issue of allergies. Although z/d® dry is marketed as a hypoallergenic dry kibbled dog food, it contains chicken, one of the most oft-cited protein allergens, yet it is often “prescribed” for use in dogs who test for a chicken allergy. While that would all seem to be counter intuitive, the fact that the chicken liver in the food is hydrolyzed makes that possible. Protein hydrolysis is a process by which long, complex amino acid (protein) chains that could be recognized as allergens are broken down (effectively predigested) into small enough units that they do not prompt an allergic response when they enter the intestines and the bloodstream. However, be advised that a by-product of protein hydrolysis is MSG, which is not required to be revealed in the food’s ingredient profile since it is not a direct addition to the food. When fully broken down, poultry, meat, and fish proteins are seen as the same amino acid units that naturally occur in a dog’s or cat’s body, and they do not, therefore, prompt an immune response when they enter the intestines and the bloodstream. An immune response is prompted only if the breakdown of those complex, long-chain proteins is sufficiently incomplete so as to leave protein chains sufficiently intact so that they are recognizable to a dog’s or cat’s immune system as something other than the dog or cat itself. It’s not that the poultry, meat, or fish protein per se is actually the problem. The real problem lies in a disruption in the digestive process that does not allow those proteins to be fully broken down. The undigested

Profile for Our BerkshireTimes Magazine

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Summer 2018  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine, Summer 2018  

Our BerkshireTimes Magazine is your resource for local events, community news, and vibrant living in the Berkshire region of Massachusetts....

Profile for timesave