I really enjoyed talking with Tracie Hotchner (author of the excellent books The Dog Bible and The Cat Bible) on her radio show, “Cat Chat” on Martha Stewart Living Radio (Sirius #112 / XM #157). We both are advocates of quality nutrition for pets. We both realize that many cats and dogs suffer from chronic medical problems due to ingredients in some commercial pet foods. In fact many dogs and cats will live shorter lives and suffer needlessly because of what we feed them!

I know that sounds harsh, but consider the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, skin, ear, and bowel problems that is occurring. Ask your vet what he or she does everyday. Every vet will tell you the same story. We see a parade of itchy dogs with ear problems and cats with stomach and bowel problems that never seem to clear up.

I have found that feeding individual dogs and cats differently leads to a better life. If your pet seems to thrive on what you are feeding them, then stick with that diet. However if they aren’t, simple changes to the diet, or a better quality food may really help.

Unfortunately veterinarians and commercial pet food companies feel nutrition is much too complicated for the lay person to comprehend. The truth is that true nutrition is not complicated, but the way that ingredients are listed and combined to make up for the poor individual quality of various by-products make the labels seem complicated. Once you know what to look for, and what you don’t want to see on the label, it becomes easier. We are all overwhelmed by information and the promise of good health by adding this or that. In the Dog Dish Diet I teach you how to choose a better food or to even make your own. It is super easy to crock pot your own dog’s food and can be less expensive than some commercial diets! In fact the recipe can be adapted to cats by increasing the meat portion and adding taurine!

Veterinarians are taught that all animals should be kept on a commercial food and fed nothing else, or risk deficiencies or excesses of nutrients. Before my nutritional revelations, I use to give the same advice. I was taught that all we could trust was “complete and balanced” pet food. I also discouraged the idea of adding a cooked piece of chicken or fish to the normal kibble. Why add something to the “perfect” nutritional mix? Now I know that pieces of muscle, or an egg add amino acids or essential fatty acids not present in ground up chicken carcasses and rice.

Wholesome healthy ingredients add valuable protein and healthy fat to the diet…how can that be bad? I now realize I was not taught nutrition, but that dogs and cats should be kept on a commercial diet and not fed “human food” or anything else. The truth is, some healthy “human food” gives both dogs and cats a chance to enjoy wholesome food and it’s variety of ingredients.

Commercial foods contain many types of animals, grains, vegetables, and fruit. Many companies select the cheapest ingredients that will meet “nutrient requirements”. A food can have the right nutrient profile and not do much for the animal. The protein level in a leather shoe may even look good on paper! Individual animals may need more or less of ingredients to feel good. Too many carbs make some animals fat and diabetic. Too little oil or fat causes a dry or itchy coat, allergenic grains make cause itching, red ears, and soft stools. Choosing the right ingredients may help a suffering animal get better!

For example, Halo products (halopets.com) contain wholesome, hypoallergenic ingredients that help prevent or may clear up chronic medical problems. You can read the label of a Halo product without taking a chemistry class! In fact the label is easier to read than most labels on commercial human or pet food. Halo products have helped me treat seizures, chronic pancreatitis and bowel problems, urinary problems, and skin and ear problems with their mix of high quality proteins, mix of complex carbs, and natural preservatives.

Some commercial pet foods that are advertised as “complete and balanced” contain too many carbs, allergens, or not enough healthy fat and oils for individual dogs and cats. That means if your pet suffers from obesity, skin problems, ear infections, diabetes, or other medical problems…changing the type or ingredients of the commercial food may really help.

That is why I am so passionate about quality nutrition in animals. It often makes a big difference in the quality of life. Our pets are dependent on us to choose the food they need to thrive. Read my book, Dog Dish Diet and Tracie Hotchner’s books, The Dog Bible and the The Cat Bible, so that your pets have the best shot at a healthy, happy life!

A 30 year career and a lifetime dedicated to animals have provided Greg Martinez,DVM (UC, Davis, 1980) the opportunity to observe the steady increase in chronic medical conditions—ailments ranging from dry, itchy skin, hotspots, and red, goopy ears, constant bouts of vomiting and diarrhea, diabetes, mild seizures and an epidemic of overweight pets. He has studied the human and veterinary literature to come up with his perspective of nutrition that has helped thousands of pets in his practice. He wants everyone to be able to give their pets the gift of health. A long-time advocate of Halo Spot’s Stew, Dr. Greg believes anyone can be part of their dog’s health-care team with solid information.

Dr. Greg shares his perspectives on vaccinations, dog treats, how to avoid expensive dental cleanings, home remedies, and homemade dog food recipes, at www.dogdishdiet.com.

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