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How the BARF Diet® Helps You Manage Urolithiasis

By:  Robert Mueller

This affects 3% of dogs and 7% of cats

What is Urolithiasis?

Urolithiasis is a general term describing a common disorder of the lower urinary tract in dogs and cats.  It refers to stones or uroliths that develop in the kidney, ureter, bladder or urethra affecting approximately 7% of cats and 3% of dogs seen at veterinary clinics.

It is typically a condition found in adult animals. There is a difference in the age and onset periods between the two species. This condition is rarely seen in cats younger than 1 year and most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 2 to 6 years of age. In contrast, for dogs the mean age at time of diagnosis is between 6 1/2 to 7 years.

There is also a relationship between gender and mineral prevalence. Struvite crystals are more common in females, while oxalate containing stones are seen more often in males. It is speculated that breed characteristics such as low activity levels and a tendency toward obesity may be influential factors.

Struvite Crystals are the size of a
grain of sand or smaller.

What are the signs?

Clinical signs of urolithiasis in dogs and cats are nonspecific and depend on the location, size, and number of crystals present within the urinary tract. Most crystals are the size of a grain of sand or smaller. Clinical signs of this condition include:

  • frequent urination
  • dribbling of urine
  • urination in inappropriate places
  • strong ammonia odor in the urine
  • hematuria
  • prolonged squatting or straining following urination
  • constant licking of urogenital region
  • depression
  • anorexia
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • dehydration

Can I manage this condition through my pet’s diet?

A raw meat diet meets the requirements for dietary management of this condition. Maintaining a diet that has urine-acidifying properties, proper levels of magnesium, high digestibility, caloric density, and high water content seems to reduce the formation of stones.

A carnivorous diet such as the BARF DIET has the effect of increasing net acid excretion and decreasing urine pH. This urine-acidifying effect is primarily a result of the high level of sulfur-containing amino acids found in meat. In addition, a diet that contains a high proportion of meat is lower in potassium salts than a diet containing high levels of cereal grains like kibble, which has been shown to produce alkaline urine when metabolized.

It can be theorized then that inclusion of high levels of cereal grains and low levels of meat in some commercial pet foods may be contributing to the development of struvite urolithiasis. (Struvite crystals are soluble at a pH below 6.6 and will form at a pH of 7.0 and above). Alkaline urine is required for the initial formation of struvite crystals.

Water Content Is A Key Factor

An equally important consideration in reducing formation of stones is to increase water content. Kibble diets that have a low water content (usually 10%) tend to cause a decrease in total fluid turnover and urine volume resulting in increased urine concentration, both of which contribute to struvite formation. The value in feeding BARF, a meat based diet containing 70% moisture, is obvious.

Surgical removal of uroliths (stones) is necessary in most cases of struvite urolithiasis in dogs. A major advantage of this treatment is that the clinical signs are quickly relieved, and then treatment can be focused on eliminating urinary infections and preventing recurrence.  Properly formulated meat based diets, such as the BARF Diet, is the best way to control, aid, and prevent this condition in dogs and cats.

Urolithiasis is a complex condition with many varying factors that require   analysis and treatment by your vet. As always, we recommend checking with your veterinarian before making any changes in your pet’s diet.

ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s® BARF Diets® patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF®) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox, click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

 
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There’s Protein and Then There’s Protein

By:  Dr. Richard Patton

All protein is made of building blocks called amino acids.

When shopping for pet food, people usually look for the amount of protein listed on the bag.  For comparative shopping, this can be useful information, but it ignores a very basic and important fact about protein.

Suppose I told you the score of the ball game between the Yankees and the Red Sox was 5.  You’d look at me as either stupid or withholding information. You’d expect more information… like the rest of the score.  Well, when evaluating protein, you need more information besides “amount” or “percent.”  The percent protein on the bag is nearly useless information; only half the ball score.  To make any sound judgment, besides the amount of protein, you must also know the quality of the protein.

There are two kinds of amino acids; those able to be made from diet components, and those required preformed in the diet.  These are called essential (meaning they must be in the diet) and nonessential (can be made by the animal itself from other ingredients in the diet).  The more essential amino acids there are in a protein, the higher the protein’s nutritional value.  For example, the protein in egg is very high quality.  This stands to reason, as an egg must become a complete creature without any further input.  Egg protein has a high level of essential amino acids.  Milk protein is high quality, also logical, as milk is the sole nourishment for a young mammal.

All proteins can be ranked for quality based on the amount of their essential amino acids.  This ranking is referred to as “Biologic Value”.  No protein contains more essential amino acids than egg protein, so egg protein is arbitrarily considered 100, or the best.  Milk protein is ranked at 93.  Beef and fish are 75. A Biologic Value of at least 75 is required to support the growth of young mammals.  Most plant proteins are ranked below 75, animal source proteins are 75 or higher.  Therefore diets strong in animal source proteins are going to be of higher biologic value.

The protein in rice is unique for a plant because it has a biologic value of 85.  This is fortunate, as half of the world gets much of its protein from rice.  It is possible, by careful formulation, to blend different proteins and achieve a sum that is higher in value than any one ingredient.  And this is what pet food formulators do… hopefully.  But when all you know is the amount of protein stated on the bag, it is not possible to assume anything about quality of that protein.  If a pet food’s major ingredients are quality animal protein sources, it is safe to assume it is better protein quality.

ggggDr Richard Patton has been an animal nutritionist for over three decades. “Most everything I have learned has been from my clients.” admits Patton.
His book, Ruined By Excess, Perfected By Lack, discusses the worldwide problem of overweight behavior—both of pets and people—is a critical aspect of any proper diet.

 

 
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The Balancing Act Of Water

By:  Robert Mueller

Approximately two-thirds of your
pet’s body is made up of water!!

The importance of water and its effect on all body mechanisms is one of the most critical balancing acts that the body performs.

It’s important to recognize the relationship between urinary infections, urinary blockages from crystal formation and dehydration or reduced total fluid intake and turnover. Take cats as an example. In comparison to dogs, they are more susceptible to urinary urolithiasis. A cat can try to increase its voluntary water intake when eating a dry cat food but will not be able to sufficiently compensate for the lower moisture content in the food. A dog however is better able to compensate for low moisture levels, (which is why cats have a higher level of urinary problems than dogs).

Problems With Low-Moisture Foods

Dogs and cats that are given a continuous diet of low moisture foods may eventually be subjected to elevated levels of urolithiasis. A suggested recovery program for both cats and dogs with low moisture intake from their diets is to switch to a higher moisture content diet (the BARF Diet) that offers a more utilized and absorbed intake of water than you can get from voluntary ingestion of water. When water content is increased in the body, the urine will contain a lower concentration of the mineral components that lead to urolith formation. And the increasing urine volume stimulates frequency of urination thus decreasing the time available for struvite formation.

Other body mechanisms that are affected by low moisture intake are cellular function and cellular formation. One has only to look at the following to understand the importance of an adequate supply of water in your pet’s body:

 

  • Approximately two-thirds of an animal’s body is water.
  • Brain is 90% water
  • Bones are 22% water,
  • Muscles have 75% water content
  • Blood is 83% water.

Here’s what else water does for your pet:

  • Transports nutrients and oxygen to the cells, moisturizes the air in the lungs
, helps with metabolism
, helps the organs to absorb nutrients.
  • Regulates body temperature
- detoxifies
- protects and moisturizes the joints.

Overall, water makes up around 80%

of your dog’s body mass.

A separate report can be made on the requirements of the kidney and the delicate balancing act it performs in regulating the water balance in the body. Lack of water, known as dehydration, has harmful effects such as lethargy, constipation muscle cramping, irregular blood pressure, kidney problems, digestive system malfunction, and dry skin.

Dry Skin

A majority of new cases that we see every day are allergy and dry skin related issues. We are amazed to see the dry skin condition change when the pet is switched to food with higher moisture content. In fact, this is one of the first observable differences that our customers see when making the switch to the “water rich” BARF Diet.

A little known fact is that the skin is the largest organ in the body and it requires its share of water too. This is why hair coat is an important indication of adequate hydration. Is your pet’s hair coat dry and coarse instead of soft and shiny?

Sometimes the easiest cures come from the simplest solutions. Increase the water content and watch the entire operating system improve dramatically. Decrease the water content and witness the devastating effects of dehydration. If you have ever been rehydrated with IV fluids you will you remember how much better you began to feel as the fluids entered your body.

A Detoxifying Agent

The body uses water to help flush out toxins and waste products. Feeding a diet with 70% moisture will automatically induce a detoxifying effect. The quick release of toxins from the body may cause a skin condition to worsen temporarily, but eventually, the reduced toxins and waste products will promote better health and vitality. Itching and scaling skin conditions improve quickly by merely switching to a high moisture diet. Naturally some skin conditions take longer than others to correct due to the amount of toxins and waste material to be removed.

A Hydrated Immune System is God’s Best Medicine

The immune system is nature’s secret to good health. A hydrated immune system is God’s best medicine. Our overall goal, in recommending a biologically appropriate raw food diet, is to improve hydration and thus improve the immune system. You can now see the importance of water to your pet’s body and the benefits it produces and the importance of feeding the water-rich BARF Diet.

-Robert Mueller

ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF Diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox, click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

 
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It’s Natural. Really?

By:  Robert Mueller

The misleading natural claim is not just limited to pet products…

The word “natural” can be defined as “existing in or caused by nature; not made or processed by humankind”.

By this definition, most dog foods on the market today would NOT be able to be classified as “natural”. And you would think that a diet that contains chemicals that you can’t pronounce, and offers ingredients that are of low quality and are far from being “natural” would not qualify as a natural pet food product. But it’s not quite that simple…both in the human and the animal realm.

Here’s the way the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) sees it for us humans:

“From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.”

It gets a bit trickier when it comes to pet food labels.  (Why is this so often the case?)

“Natural” in the name doesn’t mean that the ingredients are.

According to AAFCO:  “Natural” – A feed or ingredient derived solely from plant, animal or mined sources, either in its unprocessed state or having been subjected to physical processing, heat processing, rendering, purification extraction, hydrolysis, enzymolysis or fermentation, but not having been produced by or subject to a chemically synthetic process and not containing any additives or processing aids that are chemically synthetic except in amounts as might occur unavoidably in good manufacturing practices.

You might want to read that again.  It’s a direct contradiction to the definition of the term “natural”.  And if you think about what happens in a rendering facility and everything that gets “rendered” (just about everything) the definition is really quite meaningless.

In essence, almost anyone can call their product “natural” without repercussion, making it all the more important to be vigilant in your study of the labels of pet foods on the market today.

Why is it important to use “natural” ingredients in a pet food diet? Using heat to process a dry pet food creates a much different result than what Mother Nature intended.  I like to use the analogy of what happens when you cook an egg. Once the alteration and chemical structure is changed there is no way to reverse it. Unfortunately, once it has been altered, the utilization and function is changed and becomes less effective in the body.

The bottom line for all pet caretakers is to try and find the right fuel for the tank. Which ingredients and what processing method produce the most advantageous nutritional result.  Ask yourself this question; which diet produces the most natural, untainted, source of balanced nutrition for my pet?

Depending on the processing, good ingredients could lose their potency.

When all comparisons are made, it is really easy to pick out the winner. The one diet formula that meets the challenge of superior ingredient quality, lack of heat processing, and elimination of harmful chemicals and toxins, is a natural, raw meat diet – the BARF Diet.

There are few that can challenge the winner based on these specific criteria.  Each pet food product carries specific advantages and disadvantages. No pet food item is 100% a winner in all areas, but it is a hard challenge to find one that supplies the maximum nutrient advantages of a raw meat diet while offering the convenience and health promoting properties unmatched by commercially prepared formulations.

Ben Franklin was remembered for establishing what he called the pro/con comparison chart.  He suggested that you take a piece of paper and draw a vertical line down the middle of the paper. On one side, list all the reasons why the product or situation is advantageous and on the other side list all the disadvantages. Your decision will become immediately clear using this exercise because the side that lists the most advantages is the winner.

Try it for yourself and see if you agree with all the benefits of the “BARF DIET”.  You might also want to review all the qualifications for use of the term “natural” if you see it on your pet food label.

Fortunately, the “BARF DIET “ philosophy does qualify as a naturally formulated pet food and as such can consciously be labeled as biologically appropriate for the species.

-Robert Mueller

ggggRobert Mueller, BSc, Pharm. is a registered pharmacist, author of Living Enzymes: The World’s Best Kept Pet Food Secret”, and co-developer of BARF World’s BARF diets patties, nuggets and supplements – the first company to make the Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods (BARF) diet conveniently available to animals everywhere.  To receive more articles like these in your email inbox, click here to sign up for “The Intelligent Pet” weekly e-zine absolutely FREE!

 
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