Dr. Ian Billinghurst’s Targeted Nutritional Therapy, Which Includes a Ketogenic Diet, Can Kill Your Dog’s Cancer

 This is an important article from Dr. Karen Becker DVM

Story at-a-glance

  • World-renowned veterinarian, author and the father of raw pet food, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, has written a new book about treating cancer with nutrition
  • Dr. B’s book, “Pointing the Bone at Cancer,” lays out the science behind the use of a ketogenic diet in treating cancer in dogs, cats and humans
  • Dr. B has successfully treated dogs with many different cancers, including aggressive lymphomas and mammary tumors, and seen them live years longer, with an excellent quality of life

By Dr. Becker

I’m very excited today to be interviewing the father of raw pet food, Dr. Ian Billinghurst, or Dr. B, as he is often called. Dr. Billinghurst is a very well-known veterinarian and author who wrote the first books on raw feeding. For that, we are forever indebted to him. Today Dr. B is here to discuss his latest book, “Pointing the Bone at Cancer.” I asked him to talk about what inspired him to write a book about cancer in dogs, cats and humans.

‘Cancer Is a Problem That Has a Lot to Do With Nutrition’

“This was a book I most definitely had to write,” says Dr. B. “I had no choice. We, as veterinarians and as medical doctors, are losing this war against cancer. This is a war that we’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, but very specifically, since Richard Nixon began that first battle against cancer in the 1970s, when he initiated all that research. That research, unfortunately, has done very little to defeat cancer.”

“This whole problem became very personal to me when members of my own family developed cancer,” he continued. “I watched them pass away under the current standard of care. I knew this didn’t have to be.

As a veterinary practitioner for many years, and as someone who advocates raw feeding and evolutionary nutrition, I also watched my own patients who had developed cancer. I watched them become free of cancer. I watched my patients who didn’t eat processed food not develop cancer. If they did develop cancer, it happened later in life. I knew this was a problem that had a lot to do with nutrition.”
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Toppers Are Important Part 3 – Hearts

Hearts are high in natural taurine and make an excellent treat or topper!

Taurine  Dr Karen Becker DVM says, “Taurine, especially essential for cats, is an important amino acid for liver and gallbladder support. It’s essential for optimal blood flow, cardiovascular health, and the production of bile in both cats and dogs. Pets with less-than-optimal levels of taurine may be at greater risk of adverse effects from toxins. Although a minimal level of taurine is included in most commercial pet foods, taurine is easily depleted in stressed pets”.

Taurine can be found naturally in milk, eggs, meat, and seaweed, however, amino acids like Taurine are easily damaged by high heat cooking, which is why you’ll generally see kibbles and cans supplemented with synthetic taurine. If cats don’t get enough taurine from the foods they eat they can die, but many holistic vets believe that it’s incredibly important for dogs as well.  (more…)

A few Myths about Senior Dogs and Nutrition

We all want to make sure we’re supporting our senior pets as they get older, but there are a few myths that persist about what is nutritionally appropriate for senior dogs.

Myth #1: Seniors need lower protein diets

It’s true that we used to be instructed to lower protein when dogs get older, but current research shows that older dogs actually need significantly higher protein than their younger counterparts. Their bodies become less efficient at metabolizing proteins as they age, so increasing the amount (and the digestibility) of proteins is key to supporting them and helping to prevent muscle wasting.

Pro Tip: Raw foods have the most bioavailable proteins, but if you feed a kibble diet, mixing in a nugget or two of prepared raw diets from our freezers can be a delicious, affordable, and super nutritious way to get whole food vitamins, minerals and important amino acids that haven’t been damaged by high heat cooking. Senior dogs need these tools to thrive as they age, and this easy solution is better and cheaper than any commercial supplement or food in a can!

Myth #2: But couldn’t too much protein hurt their kidneys?

This idea was based on studies done on rats, not dogs. Rats have evolved with different nutritional requirements than dogs have, so when they did study this question in dogs, it was determined that no amount of protein can hurt a healthy kidney. Mary Straus of dogaware.com says , “In fact, senior dogs fed high protein diets live longer and are healthier than those that are fed low protein diets, even when one kidney has been removed. Studies conducted at the University of Georgia in the 1990s demonstrated that feeding protein levels of 34 percent (on a dry matter basis) to older dogs with chronic kidney failure and dogs with only one kidney caused no ill effects. The mortality rate was greater for the dogs fed 18 percent protein than for the dogs fed 34 percent protein. Another study done on dogs with only one kidney showed that protein levels up to 44 percent of the diet had no harmful effect on the remaining kidney.” For a more comprehensive discussion of protein in dog diets, see this link

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Green Tip – Why You Should Avoid Farmed Salmon

Seafood Watch Guide to Salmon

When we are evaluating a pet food or treat to sell at the store, there is an (ever-expanding) list of ingredients that we will not carry, and farmed salmon is definitely one of them. Some items we don’t like because the ingredients are harmful to the environment, some because practices are inhumane or these animals are fed things that might remain in the meat, and some because they are harmful to the animals that consume them. Farmed salmon has the special distinction as being all of these things.

Farming salmon is factory farming at its worst – it’s devastating to the environment, large overcrowded pens require massive amounts of antibiotics and pesticide usage to combat health problems, contagious diseases and escaped fish are a big risk to wild populations of fish, and the resulting product is high in PCBs and other chemicals.

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Bone Broth – Part Two in Our Toppers Are Important Series

Bone Broth

photo from https://www.canva.com/

This is the second segment in a series covering the benefits of whole food toppers.  We try to source the very best dry pet foods on the market, but the truth is that all kibble diets are highly processed foods.  Multiple heat processing steps during production damage valuable nutrients like amino acids, enzymes and vitamins, and can create chemicals like acrylamide .  Adding small amounts of  whole foods to your dry food as toppers can provide valuable nutrients that can help to support their health.  It’s amazing how often adding whole foods to processed food diets can help to clear up nagging chronic health problems like itchy skin and other irritations.  Don’t miss the introductory blog post in this series.

Chicken soup isn’t just good for the soul: slow cooked bone broths of all kinds have legitimate healing properties for our own bodies and for our pets.  These broths are staples in the traditional diets of all cultures throughout history and for good reason.  Slow cooking bones in water takes the valuable parts that can’t be directly consumed and turns them into more food.  They create an incredibly nutritious and very inexpensive elixir that can be eaten on its own or become the base for soups, stews, and sauces.  For our pets, broths can be a handy mix to any diet for hydration and appetite stimulation, as well as helping a picky animal think their food is delicious!  Many people use expensive canned foods to mix into their kibble, but broths have big advantages over this – broth is far less expensive than cans, and cans come with some downsides such as trace amounts of BPA or other hormone disrupting chemicals in their linings (regardless of what a company might claim ). It also takes a great deal of energy to create and then recycle these cans, as well as fossil fuels to transport them.

What is bone broth?
You can make broths with meat and water, but the real magic lies in the use of the bones.  Combining bones with water and ideally some veggies (avoid onions for pets and people with chronic digestive issues), and a splash of cider vinegar.  Let it all cook over low heat or in a crock pot for a long time–this extracts valuable minerals and other nutrients as well as breaking down connective tissues which releases collagen, glucosamine, chondroitin, and valuable amino acids that greatly improve the health of the joints, skin, and gut lining (where the immune system lives).

Check out some of the amazing benefits of bone broths:

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Whole Food Toppers are Important

Screen Shot 2016-12-07 at 11.04.27 AMWe try to carry the best dry foods on the market, but it’s important to realize that even the best ones are still a heavily processed food. Some ingredients are put through multiple layers of processing, and the whole batch is baked or more often extruded, which can damage nutrients, enzymes, and valuable amino acids that have important jobs to do in the body.

Most pet owners find one kibble that works and just stick with it, but this really limits the number of nutrients available to your pet. Some pet food companies say you should never ever  switch your dog’s food, but that doesn’t make much sense (they just don’t want you to feed someone else’s food!). Why should you sometimes switch your pet’s food? No matter what, even the best brands of kibble are highly processed foods that lack whole food nutrients and enzymes that can help their bodies thrive. Topping off their kibble diets can make a huge difference for their health! Even the nicest raw food diets can be lacking nutrient diversity – no matter how thoughtful and knowledgeable we are, we couldn’t make a single meal for ourselves that we could eat every single day of our lives and not have a deficiency or excess of something for our personal nutritional needs. We can certainly say the same for our pets! Variety over time creates nutritional balance. Adding whole food toppers are a great to help to round out their meals, especially if you rotate through different ones!   Just like for people, a diet for pets made entirely of processed foods with no fresh whole food nutrients is a recipe for chronic illness. With the rapid rise in chronic illnesses like cancer, we should (in our opinion) be doing everything we can to boost the diets of our precious, short lived pets to try to take advantage of whole food nutrients. But what to give?

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Safety First – A Reminder When it Comes to Pet Food

We really try very hard to carry products that we trust from companies who have rigorous safety protocols for their manufacturing facilities and who source good ingredients. These pet food companies are pretty big companies though, providing a lot of product nationally to a great number of pets. Problems are fairly uncommon, though they are still possible. Remember, we can’t report problems to the company unless we have the date codes and lot numbers. If your pet’s food seems to have changed, or your pet suddenly doesn’t want to eat something they usually like, or you open a new bag and your pets suddenly start having issues, here are 4 things you should do:

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Colostrum for digestive health and immune system support

whol_cancolostrum_rgb300For the first few days after giving birth, all mammals produce something called colostrum in their milk. This amazing substance is critical for the early development of newborns, as it serves as a concentrated source of proteins, growth factors, and antibodies. Its properties have been revered for thousands of years across many cultures, as it is a powerhouse of nutrition and tools for healing and protecting the body.  Many human health benefits have been attributed to bovine colostrum including: increased energy levels, lower risks of upper respiratory illnesses, reduced risk of intestinal damage from anti-inflammatory drugs, increased ability of the body to burn fat and increase muscle, and the acceleration of injury healing. 

The immunoglobulins in colostrum have specific immune system activity against many common pathogens such as E.coli, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Rotavirus. Another of the many beneficial attributes in colostrum is that it is rich in “Proline-Rich Polypeptides” or PRPs, which are specifically designed to modulate the activity of the immune system, stimulating its activity when needed to fight off an infection or quelling its activity to prevent tissue damage once the infection has been defeated. PRPs have also been shown in studies to be potent stimulators of natural killer (NK) cell activity (cancer fighters).
One of the most important things that colostrum can do is to help seal the lining of the gut. The gut lining (ours and those of our pets) is fragile, and can be damaged easily by the many stresses of life which include a poor diet, chemical exposure, vaccines, medications (especially NSAIDS), and adrenal stress. The lining is naturally permeable to allow tiny nutrients to enter the blood stream, but when the lining is damaged, larger gaps are created, allowing things like toxins, microbes and waste materials to travel into the blood stream. The immune system is designed to spring into action to prevent these things from hurting the body, but when this condition is chronic, it can cause the immune system to become over reactive. Holistic vets and Naturopathic doctors believe that it can lead to a host of symptoms, such as seasonal allergies and asthma, skin issues, yeast overgrowth, chronic problems with stool quality, food intolerances, and IBD.  Colostrum has a unique ability to help to seal and heal the lining of the gut and calm and support the immune system. It also helps probiotics to work more efficiently, preventing their loss through that leaky gut, and providing the soil for the seeds of probiotics, so to speak. 

Colostrum can also be used topically! On the VCA Hospital’s website it says that it’s “useful for accelerating the healing of insect bites, wounds such as abscesses or ruptured cysts, warts, and surgical incisions”.

Photo by: Magnus Rosendahl

The good news is that the benefits of colostrum are not species specific – the colostrum produced by cows is just as beneficial to humans and pets as it is for cows. When cows are born, their needs are met first, as calves will likely die or have serious health issues without colostrum in the first hours of life. Luckily, the mother continues to produce enough extra colostrum that it can be collected for use in supplements.  The other piece of good news is that colostrum has been proven to be safe and therapeutic. Colostrum is food and should be thought of as such. There have been no significant side effects from supplementation with bovine colostrum reported in the abundant literature. It is best taken on an empty stomach with liquid – you could also add it to a small spoonful of food, like yogurt, cooked sweet potato, etc, or even better, added to Answers brand of probotic-rich goat’s milk! When shopping, look for colostrum that is from grass fed cows, ideally organically raised. Read more about colostrum here

Cat Nutrition

IMG_5020_2By Green Dog Pet Supply

Nutrition can be the key to keeping your kitty healthy, avoiding chronic illness and ultimately saving lots of money at the vet. We might be called Green Dog, but the owners and staff of Green Dog are actually made up of some pretty serious cat people. We know there’s a lot of info in here, but after 10 years of serving the cat community of Portland, our hearts are often heavy from the overwhelming numbers of cats with chronic illness, much of which we feel could have been prevented with better nutrition. Whether you’ve gotten a kitten or an adult cat, we hope that these tips will come in handy for you:

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Foods We Carry at Green Dog

Here is a list of the current foods we carry at Green Dog Pet Supply DSC01177

Some of our guidelines for pet foods:
Our criteria for foods are that they all be made from human grade ingredients. None of our foods have corn, wheat or soy and are naturally preserved. We also make every effort to evaluate the safety standards of the company that manufactures the foods, seeking transparent companies that have 3rd party inspections with excellent marks for manufacturing safety and quality control. We also want to ensure that ingredients like fish meal are not pre-preserved with chemical preservatives that would not be on the label, and that they are making an effort at sustainability with sourcing. We try hard to avoid factory farming of meats (especially battery cages for poultry, feedlots (CAFOs) for cattle, and gestation crates for pigs). We are opposed to the use of farmed salmon in foods and treats. Our treats and foods contain no chemical preservatives, nitrates, propylene glycol, carrageenan or artificial flavors/colors. Note: We can often special order foods for you that are not stocked on our shelves.

Check out our blog posts on how to read a pet food label and learn which ingredients to avoid (and why):

Your Bag of Kibble Might Have Pretty Pictures, But Do You Know What’s Inside?
A Discussion of Sustainable Choices in Foods for Pets
Cat Nutrition – Please read this if you have a cat
Tips for New Puppy Owners
Claiming Raw Foods Are Dangerous Isn’t Backed Up With Data
Why Dry Pet Food Isn’t The Best For Your Cat
Carrageenan and our Quest to Change the World One Ingredient at a time
Just Say No to Soy in Pet Food

Raw Foods and toppers:
Rad Cat
Answers Foods (dog), as well as Cultured Goat’s milk, Cow’s Milk Kefir and Cultured Fish Stock
Small Batch (cat and dog)
Primal foods (cat and dog) and bones
Nature’s Variety (cat and dog)
Northwest Naturals (1# bars and breeder bars for dog and some bones)
Max Meal (cooked) Food Topper  (dog)
Green JuJu

Freeze Dried/Dehydrated Foods:
Honest Kitchen (dog)
Sojos (dog)
Pureformance (dog)
Stella and Chewy’s (cat and dog)
Orijen (dog)
Small Batch (dog)

Kibbles:
Nature’s Logic (cat and dog)
Orijen (cat and dog)
Acana (cat and dog)
Open Farm (cat and dog)
Nutrisource Grain Free (dog)
Pure Vita (cat and dog)
Pulsar (dog)
First Mate (cat and dog)
Nature’s Variety Prairie (dog)
Nature’s Variety Instinct (cat and dog)

Cans:
Nulo (cat and dog)
Nature’s Logic (cat and dog)
Lotus (cat and dog)
Hound and Gatos (dog)
Nature’s Variety Instinct (cat and dog)
Tiki (cat)
Weruva (cat and dog)
Tripett (dog)
Wellness (stews for dog)
Wild Calling (cat and dog)