Arthritis in older dogs is common but it is not normal. It is almost an automatic assumption that because an old dog is slowing down and becoming stiff that he must have arthritis. If your dog is having more difficulty getting out of bed and is less agile, less energetic and less willing to go for long walks, this does not mean he has arthritis. Your dog's quality of life may be compromised by something, but it might not be arthritis.
Appropriately fed and exercised throughout their lives, dogs can continue to play and leap around until the day they die. Wear and tear does not naturally lead to permanent damage and degeneration, because the body has the most remarkable recycling and repair abilities,given the right resources.
Without a thorough physical exam it’s much too easy to reach for the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids) . In a physical examination the dog’s joints would be properly checked and a true diagnosis of canine arthritis might be made.
If you suspect your dog may be suffering from arthritis, your veterinarian will be able to examine the sore joints and prescribe pain medication to reduce inflammation of the joint.
They could recommend various joint supplements which may contain anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. The aim of treatment is to help slow the deterioration of the painful joints by reducing inflammation. Once the pain is reduced, mobility of the affected joint may be increased by non-weight bearing physical therapy, such as hydrotherapy, where the dog will be encouraged to walk on a rolling mat while supported in warm water.
It would also be wise to address the cause of the problem instead of just trying to reduce the symptoms. Provide your dog with
So with regard to that last point, turn off all electrical appliances at the wall (as the wires generate ‘dirty electricity’ EMFs), turn off all mobile phones (or use airplane mode), computers, routers, modems, smart meters and cordless phones (these are the worst) whenever they are not actually in use.
All creatures have evolved with a certain degree of flexibility so that they can move around. It is our joints that allow this essential function. Every joint is encapsulated by a fibrous sheath to form a watertight bubble, filled to capacity with joint fluid. This fluid is secreted and reabsorbed continuously by the membrane lining the joint capsule, so removing any toxins and refreshing the joint surfaces with nutrients.
The surfaces of every bone forming the joint are coated with shiny, smooth articular cartilage, a special type of ultra smooth cartilage which allows the joints to move freely and without friction. The glistening articulating surfaces are not supposed to actually contact each other, but if they do, they should glide over each other with absolute ease.
All the tissues associated with every joint are continuously recycled, removing any damaged tissue and rebuilding it with new, healthy tissue. Joints are not unique in this! The entire body is continuously repairing itself from whatever is available, and this is the key.
Nourish the body with health-giving lifestyle choices and the repairs will be of high quality. The converse is equally true. So let’s take each type of arthritis in turn and look at it in more detail.
The commonest type of canine arthritis is degenerative joint disease.
In the cases of normal joint wear, natural repair mechanisms may have failed due to poor diet, dehydration, reduced blood flow or other underlying medical conditions.
Degenerative joint disease is usually diagnosed as the deterioration of the articular cartilage, but also including all the tissues involved in each joint. If the articular cartilages repeatedly touch each other, their surfaces become damaged and need repair.
Common causes include weakness of the joint capsule, lack of joint fluid, abnormal use of the joint and excessive force being applied to the joint with obesity and violent or excessive movements and sudden turns.
Prevention is the key, so choose healthy lifestyle options for your dog (and yourself) and save yourself a fortune in medications, time spent visiting your veterinarian and heartache from inadvertently inflicting such misery on your dearly beloved dog, your best friend and faithful companion. This condition is entirely preventable!
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system is so damaged that it sees its own body as the enemy. In this case all sorts of auto (self) immune diseases manifest. In autoimmune arthritis, the white blood cells attack the joint tissues causing pain, swelling and abject misery. Anything that interferes with the immune system can cause this situation, like vaccinations, chemical overload, stress and poor nutrition and lifestyle choices.
Natural systems are finely tuned and need to be treated with respect to prevent such deviations. Removing all potential causes will allow the immune system to correct itself over time.
A dog may also get symptoms of arthritis from an infection. For example as a result of a foreign body like a thorn or grass seed penetrating the joint or an infected bite wound which could both result in septic arthritis.
This is the rarest type of arthritis in the dog and once diagnosed can be promptly treated with a full course of antimicrobials and possibly surgery. Healthy lifestyle choices render the body more resistant to infections of all types, so will help to prevent infective arthritis from becoming a serious problem.
Septic arthritis is more unusual in dogs than it is in cats because cats’ teeth are much sharper and finer than those of dogs,and cats seem to fight more often than dogs.
In short, yes, kibble can cause pancreatitis and here is why.
Highly processed dry foods like kibble are completely devoid of enzymes. Enzymes help with digestion. But in cases where food is devoid of enzymes, the body is forced to produce everything required to digest the kibble.
The job of producing the missing enzymes falls mostly on the pancreas. But this causes the pancreas to become enlarged and often inflamed. Pancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas.
It is exceptionally painful, causing the dog to attempt to relieve the pain by adopting a praying posture, with its bottom up in the air and its chest on the floor. It will often cry and generally does not want to eat, until it is starving and just has to eat something.
Eating increases the pain, as the inflamed pancreas valiantly tries its best to make to required enzymes to digest this so-called food.
A large number of experimental rats were divided into two equal groups. One group was fed species appropriate raw food, which for a rat is virtually anything!
The other group were fed the same food, but cooked. When you cook food you kill all the enzymes in it - so the cooked food was devoid of enzymes. After just 3 months, the poor rats were sacrificed so that scientists could study their organs.
The pancreases of the rats fed with cooked food were three times bigger than those of rats fed with raw food. In other words the rats who ate cooked food had hugely inflamed pancreases. The difference in size was massive and caused by forcing the rats to make all their own enzymes so they could to digest the cooked, (processed) food they were forced to eat.
The exact same thing is happening inside your dearly beloved kibble fed dog.
Your dog will probably continue to eat and suffer the pain rather than die of starvation. If you continue feeding kibble, the situation will worsen unless you add a well sourced range of enzymes to take the load off the pancreas and still allow the kibble to be digested.
Chronic pancreatitis usually leads to diabetes. Insulin producing cells, which are called the Islets of Langerhans, are dotted around in little clusters, within the pancreas.
When the pancreas is inflamed and enlarged, these little groups of cells become squashed and end up with a reduced blood supply. The Islets of Langerhans are further damaged by the inflammatory byproducts of the inflamed pancreatic cells.
The ability of the Islets of Langerhans to produce insulin is dramatically reduced. This leads to Type 2 diabetes which adds to the already miserable chronic pancreatitis your dog is suffering.
All this pain is not worth the convenience of throwing some indigestible dried old biscuits into a bowl instead of making a bit of effort for your dog, as you would for the rest of your family.
Don’t you think your faithful friend deserves better fuel to power his wagging tail? The little time you save by feeding kibble is soon lost when you spend heart wrenching hours at the vets, treating the condition that you have caused your pet to suffer.
The drugs are expensive and not without further side effects and negative consequences. Prevention is better than cure, for everyone involved.
If you like to see your dog enjoying a crunchy snack, then you can make your own raw kibble crunchy biscuits, by dehydrating raw ingredients at low temperatures.
As long as you dehydrate at temperatures below 41 degrees Celsius (105 degrees Fahrenheit), you won't destroy the enzymes in the food and won't stress your dog's pancreas.
Yes, eating kibble dry dog food can easily cause constipation because it is dried and rarely contains enough fibre to stimulate defecation.
Constipation is when the large bowel does not empty 2-3 times daily. The faecal matter accumulates, stretching the large bowel, causing discomfort.
Did you know that dehydration is a cause of constipation?
The main function of the large bowel is to regulate the fluid levels of the body. This homoeostatic mechanism relies on the colon’s ability to reabsorb water from the faecal matter when the body is dehydrated.
When the body is properly hydrated, no such resorption is necessary, and soft, formed faeces are excreted with ease from the well hydrated, well lubricated large bowel and rectum.
The large bowel is lined with a delicate mucous membrane which is just one cell thick, just as is the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.
This mucous membrane secretes mucous to enable smooth passage of the soft gut contents and to protect itself from any nasties in the ingested food.
In the dehydrated animal, if there is enough liquid available to produce any of this lubricating fluid at all, this mucus is thick and sticky instead of thin and slippery.
This not only impedes the progress of the gut contents through the gut, but it also reduces the mucous membrane’s ability to absorb the digested nutrients into the blood, for distribution around the body. This is partly why constipated animals (and people) are so tired and sluggish.
Dehydration leads to constipation which leads to poor digestion and nutrient deficiency
As digestion is largely a water dependent process of enzyme facilitated hydrolysis, the dehydrated animal is less able to even digest the ingested food, let alone absorb, distribute and use it.
Generally, dehydrated animals will not eat.
I always remember offering our horses some dried pellets, comprising chopped, dried grasses. When they all refused to eat, I had to investigate.
I discovered to my horror that the stream upon which they relied for their beautiful fresh drinking water had become contaminated with nitrogen-based fertilizer that a nearby farmer had spread liberally all over his fields, in the pouring rain.
His compacted, saturated fields were unable to absorb this chemical "fertilizer", and it washed off into the stream, contaminating the whole river system right down to, and including, the sea.
The animals were unable to drink contaminated water and became thoroughly dehydrated
I could smell a chemical smell and noticed that the water was slightly blue. I immediately filled buckets with my clean borehole (well) water and they all drank copiously. Once hydrated, they enjoyed their buckets of dried grass pellets immensely. A salutary tale!!
When unable to find clean water to drink, the large bowel of the dehydrated animal is forced to reabsorb as much fluid from the faecal matter as possible. It does this to maintain hydration and prevent death.
As the faeces are the main exit route for toxins, processed by the liver and excreted via the bowel into the gut, the faeces of course are full of toxins.
Faeces are packed with toxins - for good reason!
Many of these are soluble, so when the large bowel resorbs the fluid from faeces, it also inadvertently reabsorbs a load of toxins.
These circulate round the entire body in the blood, delivering much needed water, but sadly, also, delivering the very toxins of which the body is trying to rid itself!
This makes the constipated animal feel absolutely terrible. They are much more likely to display behavioural problems such as aggression when constipated.
What can a dehydrated body do with all these accumulating toxins? It will excrete as many as possible via vicarious elimination. So through the sweat, breath and urine. But a dehydrated animal cannot afford to sweat or lose much fluid in respiration or in urine.
You will have noticed how concentrated you own urine becomes when you are dehydrated! And the smell. Eugh!!!
But the body is clever and also will do anything to survive. Fat cells are pretty stable, as anyone who has tried to reduce their own can testify.
So the toxins of the constipated animal are stored in fat. This is why constipation and weight gain are inextricably linked.
Fat cells are used for storing toxins - far away from organs where they can do damage.
Circulating toxins are also very irritating to the cells and so cause inflammation and many degenerative diseases, such as cancer. Hence the link between obesity and cancer, well documented in humans.
One of the other essential jobs of the large bowel is to nurture and produce probiotics. Living throughout the gut, the digestion of fibrous material is dependent on probiotics.
Equally, probiotics are dependent on a good supply of fibre. Many kibble biscuits lack fibre, so the probiotic colonies in the gut of a kibble feed dog are pretty unhealthy.
A large proportion of faecal matter is in fact dead probiotic bacteria being expelled from the body. This is one of the reasons why dogs deficient in probiotics are very keen to eat other animals’ faeces.
It's not natural for dogs to eat cooked, processed, dried food. It's not surprising it causes such havoc in the body.
The feeding of dried food impedes every aspect of nutrient availability to the animal and is so not recommended.
To minimize these deleterious effects of feeding kibble, make sure there is always fresh clean chemical free water available at all times, so your dog can do its very best to remain hydrated.
Always ensure your dog has had plenty to drink before feeding kibble. You can also soak the kibble in clean water for an hour or so and mix in some liquidized organic green vegetables to try and improve their diet.
Yes, dry dog food sometimes known as kibble, can cause vomiting. Kibble is a dehydrated food and is deliberately made to smell very appetizing.
Given an unlimited supply of this moreish dog food, dogs will tend to wolf down way more than they need. The kibble sits in the stomach, where it is rehydrated. It swells, becoming easily twice the size it was when it was dry, in the dog’s bowl.
If you are lucky, the dog will manage to vomit the excess, so the stomach doesn’t end up being stretched.
You've probably experienced this yourselves when eating too much of something delicious that is dry. You tummy ends up feeling seriously distended and uncomfortable.
As the distended stomach takes up a huge space in the abdomen, it presses up against the diaphragm, reducing the space available for breathing. If your dog suffers from any breathing difficulty, this event will exacerbate it, big time.
The heart also shares the thoracic cavity with the lungs, so if this whole cavity is smaller because it’s being compressed by an overfull stomach and abdominal cavity, heart function will also be compromised.
This will naturally lead to your dog being less energetic, unwilling to come out for walks, wanting to sleep a lot and puffing and panting much of the time, especially for an hour or so after eating a big bowl of kibble.
Another reason dogs may vomit their kibble is because their body is already suffering from the toxicity of having eaten kibble day in day out for years.
They cannot process any more of the toxins in the kibble. Quite often, they are too hungry to leave it, so they will slowly and reluctantly eat some of the partially digested kibble they just vomited.
In a group feeding situation, a dog may feel pressured to eat the bowl full of kibble as fast as possible, to prevent the other dogs from eating it. This dog may well go out into the garden and vomit up the rapidly swallowed kibble.
In peace and quiet, the dog can then slowly eat it again. The dog is effectively using the stomach as a carrier bag!
Another dangerous side effect of overfilling the stomach and not managing to vomit out the excess is the increased chance of the stomach twisting on itself, resulting in the life-threatening gastric dilatation and torsion.
Full of hydrating kibble, the stomach hangs in the abdominal cavity like a lead balloon. It is unstable and swings from side to side as the dog moves, especially in deep chested breeds.
If the dog makes a sudden movement to the side, or rolls over, the stomach can flip over too, rotating on the oesophagus (swallowing pipe) and the duodenum (first bit of the small intestine).
This blocks the exits from the stomach completely, so the dog cannot vomit or burp, nor can the digested food move along the digestive tract. The blood supply to the stomach becomes severely impaired.
Packed with swelling kibble which starts to ferment, the stomach expands even more as it fills up with gas. The lining of the stomach, the gastric mucosa, absorbs the products of fermentation and any other toxins and nutrients that are released during this process. This makes the dog feel absolutely terrible.
Unable to burp, the stomach continues to expand and the dog gradually suffocates and dies. You may have seen this happening with sheep when they are very pregnant and get stuck on their backs, unable to burp out the gases of fermentation (see Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy)
This is an absolute emergency. Your dog will die withing a few hours unless you get to the vet for emergency surgery.
Prevention is of course much the best option! If you want to continue feeding kibble, feed small amounts, mix in a top quality supplement which includes enzymes to help with digestion and ensure there is plenty of fresh water available at all times.
It is best for your dog to be well hydrated at all times, but especially before eating dry food such as kibble.
Does kibble, or dry dog food help to keep your dog's teeth clean? Take a good look at your dog’s teeth. They are sharp and pointed with very few flat grinding surfaces.
Take a piece of kibble and hit it with something sharp and pointed to mimic dog teeth. What happens? Pieces of kibble fly all over the place. Sharp, pointed teeth will do the same and break the kibble into dusty little pieces.
These tiny pieces of dry dog food stick to the moist surfaces of the teeth. Because the kibble is dry, it is very hydrophilic - in other words it is attracted to anything wet or damp. This means it is attracted to the moist pellicle layer on the surface of the teeth.
If you feed your dog kibble, you'll have to clean their teeth every day
Particles of dry dog food are difficult to remove once stuck to your dog's teeth so unless you brush them after every kibble meal, the dusty particles of kibble will adhere to the teeth long term.
Bacteria in the mouth will be attracted to this fantastic microbial food source and so will set up home in this moist layer on the teeth.
The mouth is a veritable cesspit of bacterial activity. Just think about all the places your dog loves to investigate, chew on and lick … his or her own bottom for starters!
Combine the bacteria from say, his bottom with a lovely warm damp environment (teeth and gums), add plenty of food debris (bits of old dry dog food) and the bacteria have an absolute field day.
In this situation, up to a point, the bacteria are helpful, as they will gobble up the accumulated food debris on the teeth. But, and this is a big BUT ... the presence of bacteria is very irritating to the gums and periodontal ligaments.
But bacteria in the mouth, constantly fed by the heavily plaqued teeth is problematic. It causes inflammation around the gums.
The irritation produces a massive inflammatory response which unfortunately destroys the surrounding ligaments and bone structures that hold the teeth in place.
Further, bacteria produce endotoxins to help with their digestive processes and these damage the teeth and gums as the layer of debris (plaque) thickens.
Within the growing layer of plaque, the bacteria at the bottom don’t see the light of day and have no access to oxygen. This causes them to morph into anaerobic bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria are generally much more aggressive, and will speed up the destruction of the tissues supporting the teeth.
It's incredible how a simple decision to feed your dog on dry food can lead to such a catalog of health catastrophes.
The presence of bacterial plaque is associated with numerous other systemic diseases, like heart disease and chronic inflammatory conditions throughout the body.
Plaque gradually becomes mineralized by calcium and other minerals from the saliva and blood to form calculus which is as hard as stone. Having a rough surface, it attracts even more food debris, creating more plaque and more damage, and so the process continues until the teeth are lost after a period of painfully loose teeth.
What is kibble? Should you really expect your dog to eat dry dog food?
Dog food kibble is dried dog biscuits with a moisture content of about 20%. It is made from various ingredients which have been blended together, formed into shapes.
To make them look more appealing to dog owners, they are also coloured. The shapes are dried at high temperature to sterilize them, then sealed in airtight packaging, ready for sale.
Some dog kibble dry dog foods on the market are freeze dried. Freeze-drying is a much better option as long as the original ingredients are raw foods, which are species appropriate and suitable for dogs.
Not all kibble is low quality - but the vast majority is not fit for purpose. This means the vast majority of kibble is not good enough for your precious dog.
A kibble diet is not a great choice for your dog - but there are some types of kibble that are better than others.
However, if you do choose to feed kibble dog food long term, avoid using one that contains animal protein. There are cleaner sources of protein and other nourishing ingredients can be found in ethically sourced organic vegetables.
Also you will need to clean your dog's teeth after every dry food meal. Dry dog food is generally very bad for teeth so if your dog eats kibble, you must take steps to minimise the damage to his or her teeth.
Some kibble is grain free, vegan and even organic, so in this case the ingredients are health promoting, clean and ethically sourced.
More and more crafted vegan dog kibbles are appearing on the market. They are created by small companies who are very experienced at balancing the nutrients required for dog diets. The result is that they have created vegan kibbles that work well with the dog’s digestive system.
As dogs are adaptable, scavenging carnivores, they can survive on a huge variety of foods. The pet food industry is well aware of this fact, so it happily uses the least expensive food products as ingredients.
Because the dry kibble ingredients are unrecognisable, the pet food industry can use cheap waste from human grade slaughterhouses such as chicken feet, wings, beaks and in the USA, condemned carcasses. These are listed on labels as "animal protein".
The remainder of most kibble comprises cheap fillers such as vegetable waste, grain and cereals, all in the proportions accepted by the pet food industry as providing a balanced diet for your dog.
Just because a hungry dog will eat anything, it doesn't mean low quality kibble is good for your dog.
But this low quality kibble is erroneously called food for dogs. Just because a hungry dog will eat virtually anything does not mean your dog likes it or that it is good for them.
Before a dry pet food can be sold to the public, it has to be tested. The manufacturing company has to feed kibble to a remarkably small group of dogs for 6 months, during which time at least 50% of those dogs have to survive.
Did you know that kibble is only required to be tested on a small group of dogs, and only 50% of them have to survive the test?
If they all die the day after the trial ends, the dog food is pronounced safe. It's not the kind of test you might expect.
Theoretically high-quality kibble that claims to be made from a specific species, like lamb or salmon, for example, by law only has to contain 3% by weight of that animal.
By law, if the dry dog food packet says it contains a specific meat such as lamb or fish, it only has to contain 3% to be legal.
The rest is flavourings, preservatives, colourants, cheap cereal fillers and the ubiquitous "animal protein" which covers a multitude of sins!
Profit of course is the main driver in the production of dry dog food. The most important area of expertise in these highly profitable companies being advertising and marketing.
In other words, advertising and marketing trick us into buying the prettiest packet of all the food on the supermarket shelves. Most dry dog food manufacturers also make human food, mostly sweets and other health-denying, disease-producing junk.
The problem for us is that dry dog food - kibble - is convenient which explains its popularity with dog owners.
The convenience of feeding a packaged dry food diet is vastly outweighed by the time, money and heartache caused by your dog’s ill-health associated with feeding such poor quality food, unless you choose a carefully produced vegan kibble.
If you told your doctor you were going to feed your son or daughter kibble for the rest of its life, child protection agencies would remove the child from you. But yet, most veterinary surgeries and pet shops sell tons of kibble for profit purposes only, at the expense of your beloved dog’s health.
The very best diet for all animals, including humans, is a "species appropriate raw diet". There is much debate currently about what exactly this means!
As we learn more, we're finding that many vegan sources of nutrients are superior to traditional foods for dogs.
As the science of nutrition uncovers more and more information, it is becoming clear that many vegan sources of nutrients and micronutrients are superior to those provided by meat.
A well researched, organic, carefully prepared homemade diet can easily provide better quality nutrition than virtually any kibble that money can buy.
Take a look at Just Be Kind Vegan Dog Food for some excellent homemade dog food recipe suggestions. This site has been created by a raw vegan veterinary surgeon in the UK.
The commonest reason people feed kibble to dogs is for convenience. It’s easy to tip a recommended amount of kibble into a bowl a couple of times per day.
With kibble, there's no mess, little odour and people often don’t even bother to wash the dog’s bowl between servings.
When travelling with pets, what could be easier than taking a packet of kibble with you to feed your dog?
Why is arthritis increasingly common in cats and how can we prevent it?
Please know - it's not normal for cats to suffer from arthritis or any degenerative joint disease.
Suffering from degenerative joint disease is an unnatural situation for cats or any other animal. This is because the body is designed to constantly repair and regenerate, assuming it is given the right resources to do so.
Most of the time arthritis in cats is a lifestyle disease and it could be prevented by offering your cat a more natural life experience.
As cats are such supple, agile creatures, it is particularly distressing if they develop arthritis.
Older cats are ore likely to be arthritic because they've been exposed to unhealthy living for many years ...
The reason we tend to see arthritis in older cats is because they've been exposed to unhealthy lifestyle practices for longer. These lifestyles have been unwittingly imposed on them by their loving owners, who of course think they're doing the best for their much loved cat.
These poor arthritic cats are often overweight for several reasons :
Due to pain and inflammation in their joints, they are loathe to exercise. They'd rather lie in the sun. This is an attempt to provide themselves some pain relief via the sun's heat. Unfortunately they are not using up the calories they gain from food.
An unhealthy lifestyle causes toxins to build up and then get stored in body fat. Storing toxins in body fat gets them out of the way, preventing them from doing further damage to the cat’s joints, organs, muscles, skin and entire body.
The normal detoxifying mechanisms (mainly via the liver) are likely to be overloaded from a lifetime of unhealthy living. Then, because the cats are unable remove toxins naturally, the body resorts to storing them in fat.
This existing toxic overload is then compounded by the cumulative side effects of the long-term steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nsaids, usually used as treatment for arthritis.
All these drugs do is attempt to reduce the symptoms of arthritis, whilst doing nothing to address the real cause of arthritis.
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. The word arthritis stems from "arthro" meaning joint, and "itis" meaning inflamed.
There are several causes of arthritis including
Cats get into fights with other cats. As feline teeth are very sharp, a bite from another cat usually becomes infected, resulting in an abscess.
If the infection enters a joint, a very painful, infected arthritis is likely to develop. The joint will be hot, swollen and often too painful to touch. The cat will usually develop a temperature to encourage the immune system to speed up its attack on the invading organisms (mostly bacteria).
Viruses can also be involved in arthritis in cats, but this usually resolves itself.
After accidents where bones have been broken and ligaments and tendons torn, the joint capsule may be damaged, allowing pathogens to enter the joint fluid and cause infection, pain and inflammation.
Surgical repair of the broken bone may also involve associated joints which could lead to arthritis.
If a joint is being used in an unnatural way, weaker areas of the joint surface may be exposed to excessive wear. This can damage the cartilaginous joint surface and cause arthritic change.
Such abnormalities can be the result of lameness, injury, developmental deformities or distortions during repair after trauma.
The surfaces of the bones forming the joints are covered in a layer of slippery, shiny articular cartilage to allow the bones to glide smoothly over one another without friction.
This cartilage is nourished by the joint fluid secreted into the joint space from the blood. The tough joint capsule seals the fluid inside the joint space forming a cushion so the articular cartilage doesn't actually touch anything.
The strength and integrity of both the joint capsule and this special cartilage are dependent upon the quality of nutrients in the joint fluid in which it is bathed.
The quality of nutrients in the blood inform joint fluid health. What your cat eats really matters!
This in turn depends on the quality of nutrients in the blood from which the joint fluid is formed and constantly replenished.
Whatever food the cat eats, digests, absorbs and uses determines the nutrients in the blood and consequently the health of the joint fluid, joint capsule and articular cartilage.
As the cartilage and capsule consist of living cells, they use nutrients and excrete waste products, just like all the other cells in the body. So the joint fluid has to provide the nutrients and remove the waste in order to maintain healthy, functional joints.
The amount of joint fluid within the capsule is critically important. Too much and the joint capsule will be painfully stretched. Too little and the articular cartilage will touch the articular cartilage on the other side of the joint causing pain and the erosion of the articular cartilage.
Cats with immune systems compromised mostly by exposure to
may suffer a degradation of the articular cartilage. This is because the damaged immune system has lost the ability to differentiate between invading organisms and healthy body tissue.
Several things need to be addressed simultaneously to limit the chances of your cat developing arthritis.
The most important thing to do is remove the causative agents, identified earlier.
Filter you cat’s water, to enable proper hydration without increasing toxicity from the chemicals found in tap water.
Cats will rarely drink tap water due to the chemical content. They prefer to drink from rain water puddles or fish ponds. You see, fish die in tap water, so the water in a fish pond has to be clear of chemicals.
Feed your pet raw food, to prevent further accumulation of toxins contained in processed pet foods. Dry, kibble, biscuit "foods" are of course dehydrating.
As cats are naturally designed to obtain much of their fluid requirement from the raw prey they eat, it is not in their nature to drink very often.
Raw food - BARF - will also enable the much needed weight loss, as the cat will no longer need fat in which to store toxins from food, as there won’t be any toxins.
The enzymes and nutrients in the raw food will also give the body the resources it needs to gradually release the toxins from the fat.
In humans, this process is often called a "healing crisis", where the toxins released from the fat are taken by the blood to the liver for processing and release.
A cat is biologically designed to thrive on raw food.
Whilst in the blood, these toxins can contribute to a feeling of fatigue and general malaise.
Joint supplements can provide the nutrients required for the body to repair the damaged joints. It is essential that these are in natural forms and not limited to one compound, such the drugs glucosamine and chondroitin for example.
These drugs have been isolated in the mistaken belief that they are all the body needs to recreate cartilage.
There are various omega 3 rich supplements available as well. Most of the ingredients in Pet Plus are great sources of these omega 3 essential fatty acids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory activity, but work best in combination with enzymes, anti-oxidants and the whole spectrum of micronutrients, as found in Pet Plus
This is why the dietary supplement Pet Plus for Cats has been found to be so very effective in supporting the healing process. After all, if the joints are degenerating, other parts of the body will be degenerating too, but just not so obviously.
Degenerative disease can be body wide - feeding PET Plus helps all of your cat, not just their joints.
So don’t limit your treatment and attention just to the one painfully obvious symptom of this degenerative disease.
In addition, it may be necessary to give some form of pain relief in the form of a natural anti-inflammatory. The transparent, clear jelly from the middle of aloe vera leaves works very well.
Cats will often eat that from a spoon. As with many plants, the outer green skin covering and the white latex-sap taste disgusting and can cause irritation and diarrhoea, so must be avoided!
There are plenty of Aloe Vera gel drinks available for humans. Find a clean one without chemical preservatives or additives and give about 2.5 mls 4-6 times daily by mouth for as many weeks as required.
The aloe vera not only reduces the inflammation, swelling and therefore the pain, but it also encourages healing and repair.
If the signs of arthritis are very severe and fail to respond at all to all the above suggestions in the first week, which is extremely unlikely, you may decide to add nsaids or steroidal anti inflammatories.
These will reduce the pain and allow the poor cat to increase exercise as its energy levels increase with the wonderful nutrients and micronutrients provided by its new healthy lifestyle. This drug treatment must be very short term though, as the drugs will slow the healing process down and add to the toxic load which is the basic cause of the degenerative process.
How do you feed starving stray animals when you live deep in the Colombian rainforest as raw vegans?
In the foothills of the Colombian Andes, Dwelling In Symbiosis is regenerating 120 hectares of damaged rainforest while creating living spaces from native bamboo.
Visitors sleep in tree tents, suspended on the steep hillside between three trees, truly immersed in nature.
Walking from a tree tent through the regenerating rainforest in the early morning rose-tinted mist, something moved on the pile of shade cloth.
A tail was feebly wagging, just a tiny bit. The skeletal dog was peering up through pus filled eyes, cowering in fear. With a little encouragement he wobbled to his feet and staggered up to our kitchen.
What do you feed a dog that urgently needs food when you live as a raw vegan?
The dog was not dehydrated as there is plenty of water in the rainforest, but he was absolutely starving to death. A bag of bones wrapped in dry skin with dusty, dry sparse ‘fur’ and numerous ticks.
What could we offer him from our raw vegan food supplies? A banana? He ate the first mouthful, thought about it for a moment, then devoured the rest.
Bananas to the rescue ...
A second banana was gobbled down. Then a third, a fourth and over the following two hours, he ate thirteen bananas.
The following few hours were spent clearing the pus from his eyes, removing ticks and fleas from his whole body and giving him the love and care that he had clearly never experienced in his short little life.
Clearly exhausted, the bed of towels under the table was greatly appreciated and he slept for the rest of the day. Two more bananas, then bedtime.
We were amazed to find the dog was still alive in the morning. Bananas were clearly not desired - so what could we use as vegan dog food? Could we work out a suitable plant-based diet for him?
How about soaked, dehydrated cashew nuts for essential nutrients? Nuts are a mainstay of a vegetarian diet. The first nut was sniffed then devoured. And the second, third, then a small pile on a plate.
Time to clear his body of internal parasites now, so Diatomaceous Earth was given in water, to be repeated daily for three weeks.
Maybe he’d like some coconut oil, still solid in the cool of the early morning. Yes! Devoured! That will help his dry, flaky skin to recover.
What about some coconut flesh? He certainly enjoyed that! Maybe a bit of avocado. Another success. We were managing his diet in the absence of meat-based food.
Pet nutrition became focused on high calorie, nutrient dense foods to help him regain some muscle.
Chia porridge made with brazil nut milk was lapped up. When caring for a starving creature, without relying on animal protein it is important to feed nutrient dense foods a little and often, one type at a time, to make digestion as easy as possible.
His body would probably not be able to deal with much at a time, having clearly existed on virtually nothing for so long.
Dogs are carnivores but they are also scavengers which makes them very adaptable
So what are the protein and fat rich vegan foods that an adaptable, scavenger carnivore, such as a dog, could use effectively?
Avocados, nuts, seeds and coconuts are the simplest, prepared by "taking advice" from nature to maximize the nutrient availability and avoid any toxins.
Bananas, avocados, chia seeds, nuts, coconuts, raw eggs
Avocados are simple to eat, peeled and stoned. They are also versatile, being readily incorporated into numerous delicious recipes.
It is important to note that avocado stones and skins are thought to contain some toxins so these are not eaten by animals or humans. But the avocado flesh is highly nutritious and well balanced, an excellent source of fat and protein.
Nuts and seeds contain all the nutrients and micronutrients that the baby plants they are destined to become need in order to grow, so they are absolutely packed with nutrients and micronutrients, all just waiting to be activated by water.
Bring out the full nutrition in nuts by soaking first
The nutritional value of dry nuts and seeds increases dramatically once their enzyme systems are activated by soaking. This mimics nature, when the nut or seed falls to the ground or is consumed, it is soaked, removing the enzyme inhibitors and allowing the nut or seed to germinate, sending out shoots and roots.
This process requires a vast amount of energy, which is available to any animal that eats and thoroughly chews these soaked, germinating nuts and seeds.
Carnivores are not well known for thoroughly chewing anything, except maybe your best shoes or the table leg! So we blended the activated (soaked for over 4 hours and discarding the soak water) nuts or seeds with water to increase their digestibility, creating a nut/seed milk.
But don’t sieve it to remove the pulp, as that contains half the nutrients! The flavour can be changed by adding nutritional yeast, raw miso, raw soy sauce, herbs etc. to provide variety and improve palatability where necessary.
Our meat-free diet could be adapted successfully for dogs.
A drop of incredibly sweet Stevia can be added to sweeten it but be careful. If you add too much, it becomes disgustingly bitter. The consistency of this milk depends on how much water is added.
Nut and/or seed milks or coconut milk (blended coconut "meat") can be mixed with various seeds to make a porridge. Chia seeds are the easiest to use.
A dessertspoonful mixed in with 250 mls nut/seed milk, stirring frequently, absorbs the liquid to make a thick porridge in about 15 minutes. Any excess can be divided into portions and frozen or stored for a day or two in the fridge, but, as with everything, fresh is best.
Chia seeds are rich in omega 3, the anti-inflammatory essential fatty acid, as well as other fats, proteins and some carbohydrate. Apparently, the indigenous peoples of South America, where it grows readily, avoid feeding too much chia to children under 2 years old as it is so calorific, they get too fat!
To vary the texture, crackers can be made in the dehydrator. Mix the nut/seed/coconut milk with seeds like chia, flax, hemp, sunflower.
Making Dog Biscuits ... Well, Crackers
Season to taste (yours and your dog’s!) and spread thinly on the teflex dehydrator sheets.
Dehydrate at 40 Degrees C for about 12 hours, then turn over onto the mesh sheet below and gently peel off the texflex sheet. This temperature is the highest possible to prevent damage to those all important enzymes, so keeping the crackers alive and raw. Dehydrate for another day or two, until the mixture is dry and crisp. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container or bag.
Coconut flesh is easily digested by, supplying plenty of fat and protein. A hole is made in the shell to drain out the delicious coconut water, much loved by humans, cats and dogs.
The coconut is then smashed with a hammer and the flesh removed, being rapidly consumed by the carnivores. The shell is impossible to digest, so is crushed and used in the garden.
Another great source of readily available protein is sunflower greens. These are sunflower seeds, soaked, sprouted and grown in soil for a week or so, and cut when they have just one pair of leaves. Once they grow beyond that, their nutritional density reduces. These can be blended and mixed with other tasty morsels. The same applies to pea shoots and wheat/barley grass.
Cats love to eat Chlorella tablets as I discovered when I dropped one on the floor. Again, these algae can be mixed with pulverised coconut "meat", chia porridge, crackers, or any other delicious nutrient dense creations.
The worm-ridden starving kitten that recently arrived as a gift loves coconut meat, mashed, blended or pre chewed (!!!) and mixed with chlorella and a pinch of crushed raw egg shell (for minerals).
Chia porridge is another favourite. Egg yolk was rapidly lapped up daily for the first ten days but is no longer desired on the menu. Pet Plus and Diatomaceous Earth are mixed with a little water and given daily as a paste on a spoon. Chunks of Aloe Vera flesh are much enjoyed too. And vegan cheese is the favourite.
But cats are obligate carnivores
Cats are obligate carnivores. As this kitten suffers some growth deformities of his front legs from previous nutrient deficiency (in reality, starvation), a chunk of raw meat was offered.
The kitten pounced on it and devoured it in next to no time, immediately hunting around for more.
Hmmmm. Not ideal for a family of raw vegans who have become pet parents, but when a very carnivorous carnivore arrives, what can you do with regard to their pet food?
Their biological requirements must be respected. If the body is designed to consume animal products - other animals’ meat, bone, fur, guts, organs and offal - then that is what is required for healthy growth and maintenance. 100% vegan cat food may not be biologically appropriate.
So, in summary, the dogs (yes, there are now two!) enjoy all the raw vegan food created for the humans, with extra protein rich crackers and chia porridge, raw egg (just the white when the kitten has the yolk!), Pet Plus, diatomaceous earth and sometimes, crushed egg shells. It has turned out to be an excellent diet for dogs.
The kitten has the same with a little bit of meat or egg yolk (separated from the less nutritious egg white, which the dogs enjoy as a bonus) most days. And of course, fresh spring water available to drink always.
We don't have 100% vegan pets with 100% vegan diets - they are taking eggs and some meat as required - but they are nearly vegan which is far cry from the heavily meat-based diets they might have followed elsewhere.
The spring fed stream supplies the most delightful fresh clean water, pumped 80 metres up the hill by the energy free Ram pump. No need to filter out any chemicals, as there aren't any! But we do run it through a UV water purifier to zap any microbes, just to be sure! Their water bowls are replenished daily.
Find out more about the best vegan dog food books for learning all about raw vegan food preparation and nutrition for our pets.
You can also learn about raw food preparation and food combining through the following books.
Learn about the health and nutritional benefits of eating raw.
Simple, everyday recipes that you can be adapted for you and your pet.
You can find Dwelling In Symbiosis on Instagram at @dwelling_in_symbiosis.
Dogs eat pooh because they are short of readily available nutrients and micronutrients (vitamins etc.) in their diet.
When you dog experiences hunger, his body is asking for nutrients and micronutrients. The body prefers to receive these essential vitamins and minerals in their whole, natural form. This means all food should arrive in your dog's stomach raw, and with natural enzymes attached, as it would in the wild.
Cooking and processing destroys precious enzymes. This is turn makes the nutrients and micronutrients in the food unavailable to the body. So even after eating, the body does not get what it needs and the sensation of hunger continues.
This is the main cause of obesity in both the human and pet population.
There are lots of reasons why a dog may eat poop. They may eat their own faeces or the faeces of other dogs or other animals. Faeces must appear attractive to a dog they decide to eat it. But there are two main reason they eat poop.
Firstly, the digestive system is unable to break it down and absorb processed food. Therefore it remains largely undigested.
When a dog eats processed food, undigested parts of it reach the large bowel where most of the beneficial bowel flora (probiotics, 'friendly' bacteria) live. They attempt to digest and break down this undigested food, releasing noxious gases (flatulence) as they do.
This process is the same within the faeces once it has been expelled from the body. because the dog ate processed food, his or her pooh contains partially digested food and loads of probiotics. The pooh therefore becomes a very attractive prospect for the same dog, or another dog that is starved of micronutrients.
When you add Pet Plus to dog food, you are adding the missing digestive enzymes. This will enable the dog food to be digested, absorbed and utilized in the gut, reducing flatulence. The dog's poo won't end up containing anything like as much attractive nutrition!
Secondly, dogs fed on a processed food diet will not be able to access nutrients and micronutrients efficiently. So they'll be hungry for these essential ingredients.
The poop of dogs fed a processed diet will be full of bacteria and undigested food particles. This will lead them to eat their own pooh in a desperate attempt to nourish themselves.
Adding Pet Plus to your dog's diet diet supplies them with desperately needed micronutrients. Your dog will no longer feel the need to eat their own poop to satisfy hunger.
Of course, there are other reasons that dogs eat poop. It could be a behavioral problem as opposed to nutrient one. If a dog eats poop out of habit, this is called coprophagia, but luckily coprophagia is very, very rare.
Cats rarely suffer from this condition as they are much more careful about what they eat. Cats are obligate carnivores, whereas dogs are more adaptable carnivores, being happy to scavenge whatever they can.
Also, cats are usually able to hunt, so can contribute to satisfying their nutritional needs by hunting and devouring wildlife.
Dogs love to eat herbivore poo because it is bursting with excellent nutrients. In the wild, carnivores would consume whole herbivores, guts and all, so would naturally eat their poo whilst still warm inside their prey.
Herbivores eat grass and other vegetation. They also have the teeth to grind it up and the digestive system to digest and absorb grass and vegetation. Carnivores on the other hand, are not good at digesting vegetation.
There are two digestion systems in land-based herbivores, depending on where the fermentation chamber is.
Ungulates, such as cows and sheep, have a huge fermentation chamber at the beginning of their digestive tract. There's the rumen (tripe), followed by three other stomachs, all involved in the digestion of vegetation.
The rumen especially is full of healthy bacteria and other microorganisms which digest and ferment the cellulose cell walls of plants.
The rumen contents are burped up and chewed again many times (eructation, chewing the cud). This aids the bacterial fermentation process and, releases the nutrients inside the cells. The cow, goat or sheep is then able to absorb the nutrients.
Their pooh is full of good bacteria and some partially digested vegetation. But you never see cows, sheep or goats or any other ungulates eating their own pooh. Why is that?
It's because their digestive system is very efficient. They've got the fermentation chamber at the beginning of the digestive tract and they chew the cud many times. So they are always chewing them swallowing then digesting then regurgitating the food and repeating the process many times. So many times that they don't need to poo it out and do it again.
However, other types of herbivore such as horses and rabbits have their fermentation chamber at the end of their digestive tract. So to get all the available nutrients in their food, they do have to eat their own poo.
This is called coprophagia and is an essential part of their digestive process. Horses and rabbits that are denied this activity suffer from severe nutritional imbalances.
Chewing vegetation and plants helps break down the cell walls of those plants. Enzymes do more work to break done the tough cell walls of plant food.
This allows a certain amount of nutrient to be absorbed in the small intestine and be available for use by the body. But many cells get through into the large intestine without being digested.
Micro-organisms in the large bowel of horses and rabbits ferment the partially digested food. This breaks down more of the cellulose walls of plant cells and releases more nutrients. But much of this fermented food, along with the goodness within it, is lost at defecation.
It is essential for the horse or rabbit to eat their excretion so they can absorb the nutrients that have been released.
Dogs also love to eat poo because it provides them with partially digested vegetation, probiotics and the prebiotics necessary for their health.
If you provide your dog with all the nutrients and micronutrients they need, they won't need to go looking elsewhere for extra nutrition. There will be no need for them to eat their own poo or anyone else's poop.
Feed your dog with bioavailable food (raw meat, bone and liquidized greens). To really make a difference, add a whole food supplement like Pet Plus to satisfy all their nutritional requirements. For more details, please see the diet sheet.
In relation to food and nutrition, BARF is an acronym or short name which can stand for either of the following two terms.
However, the world seems to have standardised on BARF meaning Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.
This means the term BARF can then apply to all forms of life whether they be carnivores, omnivores or herbivores. For example bids, dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, fish, humans and so on.
When applied to your pet, BARF means feeding your dog or cat natural, raw food that is absolutely suited to his or her biology. BARF is the best feeding decision for your pet as a raw diet maximises their chances of a long and active life.
Food is deemed biologically appropriate if it's the food an animal has evolved to eat. Our bodies and the bodies of all living creatures on the planet have changed and adapted over millions of years of evolution.
For millennia, the ancestors of living creatures we see around us today ate food that allowed them to thrive. If our predecessors had eaten unsuitable food, none of their descendents - nor ours - would be here today.
It makes sense therefore to continue to eat foods that our biology likes best. However, the importance of wholesome, appropriate food is often not fully appreciated because commercial food production has changed our understanding of what defines normal food.
Processed food - which includes cooked food - is biologically inappropriate and has been proven to cause sickness in humans and in animals. Cancer, heart disease, obesity, hypertension and dementia are all related to the food we eat. Although there can be other causes of these illnesses, the largest statistical cause is linked to nutrition.
When you think about it, feeding cats or dogs with processed food makes very little sense.
During our evolution, convenience foods and dried pet food were not available. It is not surprising therefore that the characteristics of processed food are contrary to everything we need to live healthily.
We and our animals are surrounded by various bacteria, viruses, parasites and other organisms that can cause infections and harm. All animals stand a better chance against invasive threats if their immune systems are functioning at full capacity.
Inappropriate food and poor nutrition compromise the immune system causing it to malfunction or operate at inefficient levels. A less than optimal immune response will place any living creature at greater risk of infection, disability, sickness or death.
Dogs and cats were not designed by nature to eat kibble or any form of cooked food.
Given the risk of ill-health and disease, it makes sense to consume food that limits these risks. Yet most people do not even do this for themselves.
In fact, most people feed their pets processed food as if it were perfectly normal to do so. Unfortunately for them, our animals have to eat what we provide in their bowls. They don't wolf down dried pet food because they like it. They devour it because they are hungry.
Dogs and cats were not designed to eat kibble and they suffer when they do.
What does BARF stand for? It stands for a commitment to health and well-being that can only be provided by the right type of food for the person or animal.
In the case of dogs, BARF is raw meat, offal, organ meats and bones, and also some raw but pre-digested vegetable matter.
BARF is largely raw meat, offal, organ meats and bones with significantly less pre-digested vegetable matter for cats.
The Biologically Appropriate Raw Food regime is a way of eating that makes sense for all living creatures on the planet, including ourselves.