Healthy Pet Month - Anna Webb

09th August 2022 6 min read

Guest Blog: Anna Webb

Anna, a well established Nutritionist and Behaviourist explores what is causing so many health conditions in our dogs today. Read on for expert views!

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Healthy Pet Month - Anna Webb

Anna Webb – Broadcaster, Author, has studied behaviour, nutrition and therapies with the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). She lives in London and is owned by Prudence a Miniature Bull Terrier and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier. www.annawebb.co.uk

As its ‘Healthy Dog Month’ it’s shocking to reveal that cases of disease in dogs continues to rise in the UK.

With over 50% of Britain’s dogs diagnosed with a cancer before they’re 10 years, a quarter of dogs nationwide also suffer from allergies and atopic conditions. A third are arthritic and over a million dogs have ‘mental health’.

Just as in people, there’s been an epidemic of weight gain, labelling half the UK’s dog population as being overweight or obese.

Apart from triggering a huge rise in ‘fat’ related diseases like heart disease, arthritis and diabetes, being ‘porky’ means a body contains a lot of inflamed cells. We know that inflammation is at the root of all disease.

Could lifestyle choices including switching to a natural, unprocessed, species appropriate diet make a difference to our nation’s dogs health and longevity?

The new sciences: Nutrigenomics and Epigenetics concur that lifestyle choices, especially where diet is concerned can reverse disease and promote vibrant health.

Taking into consideration genetic predispositions, and life stages by combining a species appropriate, fresh, functional diet, appropriate exercise and balancing the negative impact of environmental stressors.

Food can be considered as an ‘environmental stressor’ along with the air we breathe, the water we drink, the overuse of medication and vaccines, a sedentary lifestyle, and being emotionally stressed out.

Dogs like humans are made up of trillions of cells. Each cell is surrounded by a semi-permeable membrane called the Epigenome. It’s designed to allow only ‘healthy’ substances into each cell for positive genetic expression.

But in our modern world, we’re increasingly living in a ‘toxic’ soup, and cellular function can be damaged by toxins permeating into our cells. Creating a ‘body burden’ where cells become sick and inflamed, which leads to disease.

With the majority of dogs eating an ultra-processed, kibble diet, could the common denominator in the rise of obesity, cancer cases and disease be related to overly processed foods?

A dog’s digestive system is biologically and physiologically designed to eat meat. They’re carnivores, pre-programmed to thrive on a variety of animal fats and animal proteins. Unlike us humans, we’re omnivores, and rabbits are herbivores.

These classifications have become blurred in recent years, with claims that dogs have suddenly adapted to become omnivorous, and therefore able to digest proteins from plants, like we do.

Hence the proliferation of Vegan diet options and the perpetuation of industrially manufactured foods through a process called screw extrusion creating cremated sterile pellets that comprise little or no meat.

Yet 30 to 70 % of the ingredients commonly comprise: barley, rice, maize, white potato and sweet potato.

Whilst not only inappropriate for dogs, but the combination of additives, meat meal, rancid fats and a raft of artificial additives, colorants and synthetic supplements make for an unhealthy mix, especially for a carnivore!

Plus, the invasive processing called screw extrusion optimises extreme heat, which changes the molecular structure of the ingredients, creating Acrylamides – a known carcinogen to people.

Another ‘stressor’ and carcinogen found in ‘kibble’ are Aflatoxins, or mycotoxins: a type of toxic mould. It thrives in carbohydrate rich and oxygenated environments like warehouses where bags of dry dog food can be stored for months before being despatched.

Flashy advertising often disguises the ingredients on the label, which offers percentages of the protein and fat contents. Despite dogs being unable to ‘metabolise’ protein from plants, and considering meat meal is not the same as fresh whole meat. The protein is calculated combining its heavy plant-based ingredients component, and its ‘meat meal’ content.

As its name suggests dry food is devoid of any moisture, which is anathema to a carnivore. Meat eaters are designed to receive at least 70% moisture from their food, to help with its digestion and bio-availability.

The health of your dog’s gut is proved to support your dog’s immune system, and evidence shows that the role of the microbiome goes way beyond the gut, its responsible for 99% of the immune system and is linked to dogs’ brain health.

A study at Kings College London compared the ‘health’ of microbiomes of dogs fed on kibble, and those fed on a variety of fresh functional whole meats (following the ancestral diet formula).

It’s no surprise that the latter have a healthier gut microbiome, than those fed on overly processed alternatives.

If feeding raw can boost your dog’s immune system, offering species appropriate ingredients that naturally reduce inflammation, arguably your dog will be less likely to become ill, and require less trips to the vet.

For me, over 20 years feeding a raw complete, balanced diet as provided by Paleoridge is simple peace of mind in a bowl.

Further Reading

23rd May 2024

Guest Blog: Anna Webb

It’s interesting that there are many flea ‘species’, including dog fleas, hedgehog fleas, human fleas, but 90% of the world’s flea population is the very well adapted ‘cat flea’ otherwise known as 'Ctenocephalides Felix’.

Read more