Your Dog Is Fat (And You Don’t Even Know It)

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

Last week we discussed the dangers of pet obesity, and ways that we as pet owners can reduce the risk of dog illness and disease by ensuring our pets maintain a healthy body weight.  Many of you responded by asking, “Well, how do I know if my dog is overweight?”  This is actually a very important question – one that EVERY pet owner should ask themselves, because even one pound of excess body weight on a dog can lead to health problems down the road. If a Chihuahua were to gain just one extra pound, it would equate to twenty (20) lbs. of excess body weight on an adult woman!

Dog Feeding Guidelines Are Worthless

As pet owners become increasingly concerned over the weight of their dogs, questions begin to arise regarding calorie levels and whether to feed special, weight-control dog food…and pet food manufacturers have taken notice.  Walk down the aisles of your local pet food store and you’ll see diets touting low, reduced calorie formulas, prescription diets formulated for weight loss, and diets for overweight management.

What I am about to say next may cause an uproar in the veterinarian and breeding communities but it needs to be said: dog feeding guidelines are, for the most part, worthless.  The plain and simple truth is that every dog is different and that there are many variables that need to be considered before deciding on what the proper amount of food to feed your dog is, for instance:

  • Differences in metabolic rate
  • Metabolism efficiency
  • Variations in activity level due to age, condition, or seasons of the year
  • Environmental temperature
  • Environmental humidity
  • The age, sex, breed and size of your dog

However, the most important thing to consider when attempting to achieve dog weight loss is to analyze the quality and source of the calories being consumed by your pet.  For one thing, calories from starches and sugars cause much more weight gain than calories from protein or fat.  Food processing also plays a huge role in weight issues in dogs.  Despite the identical caloric calculation, cooked or extruded foods (i.e. canned and kibble pet foods) differ in their levels of metabolizabled calories.  Those same ingredients, if left in their uncooked, unadulterated, natural state provide better nutrition and better utilized calories for your pet, maintaining optimum weight and health.

To get a better idea of what your dog’s weight should be, take a look at the canine body condition scoring chart below:

If you find that your pet is overweight (or underweight), give my office a call for a complimentary nutritional assessment for your pet: 1-866-272-BARF (2273).  You might want to consider a health consultation with a holistic veterinarian to determine whether there may be an underlying issue that is causing abnormal weight issues in your pet.

Be sure to read next week’s issue of “The Intelligent Pet” as I touch on common pet diseases that can attribute to weight issues in dogs and cats.

Robert 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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Alarming Statistics on Pet Obesity A Serious Cause For Concern

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

Obesity in dogs and cats has become an alarming problem in America and throughout the world.  A 2012 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity revealed that 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats seen by veterinarians across the country are considered overweight or obese.  This ever-increasing health epidemic can lead to serious health disorders, including diabetes and cancer.

The physical effect of carrying excess body weight contributes to a rapid deterioration of joints and often promotes hip, joint, and mobility problems, such as arthritis.  As additional weight puts stress on the already weak joints, your pet will begin to slow down, reducing their amount of daily exercise, which further perpetuates the vicious cycle of obesity.  Excess weight also puts a strain on the circulatory system, which in turn stresses out the heart, leading to pulmonary and cardiovascular disease down the road.

So what is causing all the pet obesity in this country and why do the numbers continue to rise?

The underlying cause of obesity in dogs and cats is a simple imbalance between energy intake (food) and energy expenditure (exercise), which results in an energy surplus (fat) or weight gain. This sounds like an easy problem to resolve, but there are many underlying factors that need to be considered.  Some of these factors include:

  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Genetic predisposition to dog obesity
  • Activity level and lifestyle
  • External influences (such as food)
  • Diet composition and palatability

While proper breeding practices can help minimize the risk of some of these factors, there are a few things that we as pet owners can do to eliminate some of the risk factors that contribute to obesity in pets.


Many of today’s pre-packaged, processed, commercial pet foods are loaded with grains, fillers, preservatives, and other inferior quality ingredients.  These formulations contain an overabundance of carbohydrates and low-quality proteins, which are hard for our pets to digest.  Foods such as these do not offer our pets the necessary amount of nutrients needed for optimum health and development.  As a result they are constantly “hungry” and have to eat more of this “junk food” than necessary in order to feel “nutritionally satisfied.”

A much better choice is a raw food diet like the BARF Diet.  One of the advantages of raw diets for dogs and cats, is the high level of nutrition they receive compared to cooked, kibble, or canned pet foods.  A raw fed dog or cat will noticeably consume less raw food than pets fed a dry, canned or moist food diet yet they will utilize a higher percentage of nutrients even with less quantity intake.  This is the food that nature intended for your pet.


Regular exercise is the second part of keeping your pet in shape.  Once you begin feeding a raw diet, you will notice an appreciable difference in the energy level of your pet.  The BARF (biologically appropriate raw food) diet, being high in protein and low in carbohydrates, promotes a trim, toned body and gives your pet the energy required for increased exercise and activity.   “My dog acts like a puppy again,” is something we often hear from our ecstatic clients.  Like, Claudia Hetzer from San Diego, California:

“Our dog, Captain, a 85-pound lab retriever, was eight when we switched him to the BARF World diet.  Already after the first few weeks, he seemed invigorated, more energetic and his joint stiffness (arthritis) improved markedly.  Now he chases the ball around like a puppy, his coat looks wonderful, he barely sheds and is overall a happier and healthier dog.  We will never feed him anything else.”

A natural, raw diet and regular exercise will help prevent obesity and extend the life of your pet.  These two simple health recommendations – a wholesome and nutritious diet, and daily exercise, are the same suggestions that we as humans hear from medical and nutritional experts on a regular basis.

Take care of yourself and take care of your pet.  You will be amazed at how well you and your pet look and feel when you both eat properly and take a walk every day.

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Are Eggs Good For Dogs?

By Robert Mueller, B. Pharm.

dog-eggsMay is National Egg Month (remember the “incredible edible egg”?) so it seems to be the perfect time to highlight the benefits of raw eggs for dogs.  Pet owners new to feeding dogs raw meat based diets will often ask about whether raw eggs are good for dogs too.  The answer is YES!  Eggshells, in particular, are a great source of calcium for dogs and cats.  Calcium, as you know, is needed for normal growth, strong bones, teeth, and claws, as well as for optimum muscle contraction.
Normally, using raw meaty bones as a calcium source is the most common and natural way to provide this vital nutrient to your dog or cat.  Raw bones can usually be fed whole; though for those pets that have damaged, fragile teeth (or no teeth at all) or for people who are not comfortable feeding whole bones to their pet, there is the option to grind up the raw bones before feeding them to your raw fed dog.  Unfortunately, most pet owners will quickly find that it is very difficult to get a hold of the equipment needed to grind hard bones, like beef, pork, or lamb.  In these cases, pet owners making their own homemade dog food often resort to using Bone Meal to supply calcium to their dog or cat.  I personally DON’T recommend using bone meal, as it is an inferior ingredient derived from the animal rendering process.

Eggshells however, present a healthy, balanced calcium source, mainly due to some trace amounts of other minerals contained in the shells.  There is a combination of 27 different mineral micro-elements in eggshell and, interestingly enough, the composition of eggshell is very similar to those found in bones and teeth.

The advantages of using eggshells as a calcium supplement for dogs include:

  1. Eggshells provide one of Nature’s best natural sources of calcium
  2. Powdered eggshells are easy to digest and are adequately absorbed by the digestive system
  3. Using powdered eggshells in combination with magnesium and vitamin D3 (like cod liver oil) improves bone mineral density.

A great way to powder the shells is to use a coffee grinder.  This works much better than a food processor or blender.  Using a variety of eggshells sourced from chickens, ducks, or geese is also very beneficial for your pet.

One thing to consider, when supplementing your dog or cat’s diet with calcium, is to ensure that the calcium and phosphorus levels in your pet’s diet are correct.  The calcium/phosphorus balance is extremely important!  Each nutrient must be in perfect balanced in order to prevent skeletal issues in your pet.  A ratio of 1.5 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus is appropriate for most dogs.

Another great thing about eggs is that they are highly digestible to dogs.  In fact, animal nutritionists will use eggs as the baseline for the digestibility of other protein sources, such as muscle meats, organ meats, dairy, fish, soy, and grains.  (You may not be surprised to know that one of the LEAST digestible protein sources – which is commonly found in dry kibble and canned pet foods – is corn).

So rejoice! Eggs are good for your dog – and even more so when fed raw.



Robert 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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Canine Epilepsy and Seizures in Dogs

By Dr. Cathy Alinovi, D.V.M.

One of the worst experiences for pet owners is to watch their dog or cat have a seizure.  Canine seizures can range from mild ones that look like your dog was bitten by a bug, moderate muscle tremors and drooling, to full-blown laying on the side, screaming, arching the back, defecating and urinating on themselves.  Seeing this happen to your dog and not being able to do anything about it leaves the pet owner with a terrible feeling of helplessness.

What Causes Seizures in Dogs?

Most of the time seizures develop in adult dogs, although even puppies have been known to suffer from epileptic seizures.  There are various causes of canine seizures such as dehydration, heavy-metal toxicity, or a negative reaction to vaccines. Infection and diabetes can also cause seizures.  And yet, sometimes there is no known cause – this is what we refer to as idiopathic epilepsy.

Seizures are a problem when they happen repeatedly, occur with increasing frequency or duration, or have the potential for more life threatening problems.  The overwhelming concern is for a dog that goes into status epilepticus.  This is a condition where the seizures don’t stop and the body gets so hot that the dog’s brain cannot cool down, causing permanent brain damage. Sometimes, status epilepticus can even result in death.

Some dogs have seizures just once and then they never happen again. This is obviously preferable, but not always the case.  The usual preliminary diagnostics when a dog has seizures is to review their blood work and urinalysis results.  Infection and diabetes are two of the most common causes of seizures that can be found in their blood work.

How You Can Help A Dog With Seizures

Diet to treat seizures in dogs

Once all the preliminaries are investigated, I would start with making sure that dog is on a high-quality diet of real food.  For many dogs, it’s as simple as getting them off the kibble and getting them onto a raw dog food diet or a home-prepared diet that is free of grains, byproducts, and chemicals.

Phenobarbital to treat seizures in dogs

For some dogs it takes more work, like heavy metal or liver detoxification, herbal medicines, homeopathic remedies, or even western anti-seizure medications like phenobarbital or potassium bromide. The problem with these medications is they have significant side effects, especially phenobarbital.

Herbal medications to treat seizures in dogs

As far as herbal medications, I use formulations that depend on the individual patient’s presenting picture.  For some patients, a formula called “Di Tan Tang” works very nicely.  Di Tan Tang is an herbal blend that is very similar to phenobarbital in action, without the negative side effects of liver toxicity.  For other patients, herbal formulations that address the liver help very well.  I have used formulas like Liver Happy or Tian Ma to treat epilepsy in dogs.

Another example is the use of whole herbs to treat seizures.  Typically lobelia isn’t used for seizures, unless a respiratory issue is causing the seizure.  Lobelia is an asthma/respiratory herb.  More common herbs used for dog epilepsy include European Mistletoe, Passionflower, Lily-of-the-Valley, Black Hellebore, and Valerian (for calming).

In conclusion, for dog owners whose dogs have seizures and want to seek more natural therapy:

  1. Start with a great real food or raw dog food diet.
  2. Seek the advice of a veterinary practitioner who will look at your dog’s individual symptoms to determine the right natural treatment for your dog.

Dr. Cathy Alinovi is the owner of Healthy Pawsibilities in Indiana. Certified in Veterinary Food Therapy, Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Therapy, and Aromatherapy, Dr. Cathy’s approach provides whole body support through both the best in veterinary medicine as well as high-quality, all-natural foods, supplements, and health care products.  She offers phone consultation services as well as in-office appointments. Visit for more information.

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