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3 Common Ailments: Parasites, Obesity, and Paw Chewing

By Dr. Kim Bloomer
Updated: 2009-06-11 2:03 PM 3563 Views    Category: Health and Behavior
 
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To clarify before I share my own approach to handling three of the most common ailments I hear about parasites, obesity and paw chewing. I am a veterinary naturopath. I help my clients learn how to care for their dogs through nutrition and species specific feeding. Typically I can give them a "what I'd do if it were my dog" answer but I always suggest they get a diagnosis from their holistic veterinarian before embarking upon any natural remedy or treatment.
 
I’m lumping the three ailments or symptoms of parasites, obesity and paw chewing together for a reason. They all come together under poor nutrition and a weakened immune system which can often be addressed through a proper diet along with some natural modalities to control the parasites. Before I elaborate on just exactly what a proper diet is for a dog, let’s ask a couple of questions first so I don’t get any arguments regarding the diet. I’m just eliminating some of the typical responses beforehand!
 
1. What does a wolf eat?
2. What does a coyote eat?
3. What does a wild dog eat?
 
I’m betting most of you answered they eat what they catch in the wild – prey animals. You’d be right of course and we all know that because we watch the Discovery Channel. All three of the species I just mentioned have a few things in common:
 
1. They are all scavenger carnivores
2. They all have sharp pointy teeth designed for ripping, shredding and tearing – I know it’s gross but it’s how they’re made and what they’re made to do.
3. NONE of them have teeth made for chewing grains or cud and they all have shorter intestines to more quickly digest the animal flesh they eat.
 
I’m sure all of you already know all this and are wondering why this lesson in anatomy, right? Well, because our dogs are in the exact same family of species as the wolf, coyote and wild dog and yes they are also scavenger carnivores. Contrary to popular belief they also have not evolved into omnivores. Unless you are an extreme expert in wolf DNA, you would not be able to discern the difference in a wolf’s DNA and your dog’s DNA.
 
So what does all this have to do with obesity, parasites and paw chewing? Everything! We keep trying to feed our dogs things herbivores were designed to eat so it’s no wonder they are having major problems with their health. As I stated earlier obesity, parasites and paw chewing are a result of a weakened immune system that has been taxed beyond what it can handle. By not feeding our dogs properly we’re just setting them up for all these problems and yes that does include obesity.
 
The next problem are parasites. Parasites are only attracted to a weakened host –i.e. your dog – because they want to consume their host and grow up into big bugs. If your dog has a strong, healthy immune system, parasites will move on to the next weakened specimen and leave your dog alone. How do I know? Well it’s worked very well for me to switch my own dog to a natural, raw meat and bone diet. Yes a RAW meat and RAW bone diet. This natural, species appropriate diet will also help the obesity problem because raw fed dogs don’t typically have a problem with weight gain. The grains in commercially packaged foods are the problem with the obesity in most dogs because they just can’t properly digest the grains in the food because as carnivores they were not designed to eat grains. They don’t have the proper enzymes to digest foods made for herbivores and omnivores. The myth of dogs evolving into omnivores is partly due to blame for the adding of grains into their diet. Scavenger carnivores will eat what they need to survive but that does not mean they will thrive.
 
Grains are carbohydrates that will convert to sugars and we all know excess sugars lead to obesity and also other health problems eventually such as diabetes. So we’ve solved TWO of the problems by just changing your dog’s diet to a natural raw meat and bone diet. And it bears reminding one more time that dogs just cannot digest the grains properly which will puts extra burden on their digestive system as well.
 
The last problem is paw chewing: that annoying, licking, biting chewing problem that will leave your poor dog’s feet soggy, sore, red, raw and even bleeding. Typically this can be either a food allergy, contact allergy or a behavioral problem.
 
Allergies are a SYMPTOM alerting us to an imbalance wrong in the body. Whenever I’m approached about this problem my first question is always: what are you feeding your dog? More than likely the problem is a food allergy which is the most common problem with paw chewing. As I stated above, it can also be a contact allergy meaning that it is something the dog is in contact with in his or her immediate environment on a regular basis.
 
I’ve experienced the above problems with my own dogs and my own dogs are always my gauge for discovering better, more effective ways to care for dogs in general. Once I switched my current dog, Shadrach, to an entirely raw meat and bone diet, feeding him 2-3% of his total body weight per day in meat and bones in a 1:2 bone to meat ratio ALL of the above problems were resolved. His veterinarian couldn’t believe how shiny his coat was and how clean his teeth were with no fat on him because apparently she is used to seeing dogs of his breed, Neo Mastiff, at his age, 7 years old (now nearly 9 years old at the date of release of this article), being obese with dirty teeth. When I removed any grain-based kibble (commercially packaged dry pet food from his diet) years ago, that eliminated his paw chewing and any weight problems typical to his breed. Some more great “side effects” of raw feeding are:
 
1. No doggie body odor
2. Small poop that is not half as smelly as a kibble-fed dog
3. No bad breath
4. Shiny, healthy coats that shed little
 
As for parasites and raw meat, well they are much more of a problem with kibble fed dogs. Kibble-fed dogs don’t have the nutritional support to their immune systems they need to fend off parasites. Many people think it would be the opposite with raw fed dogs regarding parasites but it is exactly to the contrary since a raw meat and bone fed dog has the food his body needs and was designed to eat in order to thrive.
 
I think it is therefore a simple solution to the above, aforementioned problems to just change your dog’s diet to a more natural method of feeding. Also, as regards allergies or paw chewing, seek to eliminate any possible environmental problems in your home and in your yard that could be contributing to allergy problems - which could be a part of the problem with paw chewing and pulling out fur. This means getting rid of regular toxic household cleaners and switching to more natural, environmentally friendly products along with switching your yard products to organic fertilizers using natural pest control. There are natural parasite removers you can also use, such as food-grade diatomaceous earth, along with doing a natural detox on your dog that will help to jump start your dog’s immune system back into full gear –like a tune up – and the parasites, paw chewing and even obesity should become a thing of the past.
 

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Kim Bloomer is a veterinary naturopath and a proficient blogger and writer on natural pet health. She is also a host of two online radio shows Animal Talk Naturally, Holistic Pet Audio. Visit http://www.aspenbloompetcare.com/ for more info.
 
 
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