The first thing I want to talk about is the three biggest things affecting your pets, longevity, dog, and cat. And I’ll just say dog from now on, but I mean, dog and cat.

So 1st is genetics and size — the Bigger the pet, both dog and cat, the shorter, the life expectancy. Large cats like Maine Coons live shorter periods of time than, say, the average four and a half kilo cat, just as Great Dane live Less time than Maltese on average.

The second factor is obesity.

And then the third factor is nutrition.

Those last two factors are totally controllable by us. Obesity, the fatter your pet, the shorter the life expectancy – and provide good life-stage nutrition, and your pet will live longer.

Let’s talk more about size – the bigger your pet, the more that’s a factor.

For example, if we have an obese Maltese or Shih Tzu or small breed, that dog will typically live six months less than a well-weighted similar size Maltese or Shih Tzu.

Whereas if you have an obese German Shepherd, that obese German Shepherd is going to live on average two years, two years less time than a healthy weight German shepherd. That is huge.

The same applies to cats
An obese Maine Coon will live less long than a healthy weight Maine Coon, and the same with a small breed cat.

Remember: You have total control over whether your pet is obese or not.

Let’s talk about nutrition, which is the biggest factor that we’re talking about tonight.

I’m going to divide this into about five different sections.

At each different life stage:

  • Puppy or kitten
  • Junior
  • Adolescent
  • Adult and
  • Senior

… at each of those life stages, your pets’ nutritional requirements are very different.

And it’s really important that at each of those life stages, there are adequate resources, nutritional requirements, nutritional components for what’s SPECIFICALLY needed by your pet, but also nothing in excess.

If your pet doesn’t receive enough nutritional resources to meet his or her needs, then your pet will be nutritionally ‘compromised.’

And if there’s too much present or if the nutrition is unbalanced, then the liver and kidneys and the rest of the body need to do far too much processing and will wear out early, and that is going to affect longevity.

You need to feed your pet on a life stages basis.

If you’re home-cooking—and we’ll talk about home preparation in a minute — but if you’re home preparing, then you need to prepare differently for the different life stages.

And if you’re feeding commercial food, then you need to buy different commercial food for different life stages.

Let’s talk about commercial and home-cooked diets

The first watchword or the thing to be really concerned with is; no matter the life stage that you’re feeding for, the food must be complete and balanced.

And unfortunately, in Australia, there are no laws pertaining to dog foods.

There are requirements and recommendations, but pet food manufacturers don’t have to stick with that. For example, you and I could get together and make our own pet food and put it on the market and call it Wonder Food or whatever and maybe meet certain minimum food requirements, and that will be okay; it will be legal. And that food might totally be not balanced and be a totally incomplete food.

Food needs to be complete and balanced

Therefore you should look for a brand that uses those words specifically on their packaging because when those words are used on pet food, there is a legal requirement by that company to make that food complete and balanced. If those foods are not on there, then that company doesn’t have to stick to making the food complete and balanced because they’re not on the label.

You and I can put food out there, and if it didn’t say complete and balanced on there, then we wouldn’t be legally liable if it wasn’t complete and balanced. If we put ‘complete and balanced’ on there, then we need to step up to the plate and make that happen.

Food needs to be complete and balanced, and you need to buy food that is complete and balanced.

As I said, there are no laws holding pet food manufacturers to stick to that unless those words are on the bag.

To make a complete and balanced food costs MORE money

On the other side of that coin, if you can have cheap complete, and balanced food, then you can also have expensive complete and balanced food.

However – the ingredients in both those foods are going to be totally different.

The expensive food is going to have really high-quality ingredients, and the cheap food is not going to have those same high-quality ingredients.

If you and I go shopping at any of the big supermarkets, and if we’ve got a $400 or $300 household budget, we’re not going to put a $100 bag of dog food in our trolley. We’re going to get a $30, $40, $50 bag of dog food.

And those cheaper dog foods are typical of inferior quality to dog food that you would go and get from a Pet Barn or from an online store or from us here at HIGHlands, where foods are typically between a $100 to $150 for a 15-kilo bag — and they are much better quality.

For Example – The cheaper dog foods can’t afford to put a lot of meat in their food because the meat is expensive. The more expensive food has much more meat in their food, relatively speaking.

Dogs are carnivores, and cats are the ultimate carnivore; so if you’re putting a lot of fillers in dog and cat foods — and by fillers, I mean vegetable materials, pumpkin, rice, potatoes, chickpeas, legumes — they may make the food complete and balanced, but the protein will be from a vegetable protein source which is much poorer for a cat or a dog than animal protein.

Whereas the expensive foods will have chicken, beef, lamb, horse, ‘roo, fish, turkey; and they will be an animal protein which is going to make for much better dog food than a cheaper quality dog food.

Realistically, you need to pay as much as you can afford to for your dog food.

My suggestion will be a 12-15 kilo a bag; you should be looking to pay $85 or more. If you’re not doing that, then I’m going to suggest that your dog food may not meet your dog’s best nutritional requirement as it could be inferior.

I’m happy to talk about this at more length at the practice, and Leianne and Felicity and the other nurses are experts on these as well, so you can talk to them as well.

Now, that’s the importance of fillers versus really good quality food.

The last thing I want to know about with commercial versus home-cooked is; if you’re home cooking your dog’s or cat’s food, I would have to assume that you have done a professional nutritional course either online or at TAFE or somewhere else….

….. Because if you haven’t got/done a professional nutritional degree or certificate, or even if you’ve done a short ad-hoc 16-week course online—If you haven’t done that, then you really aren’t going to be able to make a complete and balanced food. Because – with respect – you don’t have the required knowledge/skills to do so!

It’s just not a matter of getting some meat, getting some vegetables and cutting them up, and mixing them up. That misses out on so many essential requirements that your pet needs nutritional-wise, that over time is going to cause many health issues.

And most of these ‘problems’ you would not even be able to notice because;

  • You’re not going to notice the kidney doing excess processing,
  • Or notice the liver doing excess processing,
  • Or the pet missing out on certain vitamins or minerals
  • Or the joints lacking certain essential substrates
  • Or something else like that…

… which is going to cut short your pet’s life by a number of years.

But that wouldn’t be noticed because you would never have known how long your pet could have lived if he/she a really good quality complete and balanced food.

The fact that so many people are doing home nutrition is a real challenge because they’re not doing their pets any favours at all, unless… as I said, they’ve done a professional nutrition course, or they’re following specific recipes online.

AND – if you are following online recipes – do the people writing those ‘recipes’ have appropriate certification and degrees!

Let’s talk about those online recipes

You and I could sit down and make up a recipe for a dog’s kidney diet or liver diet or a brain diet or whatever and post it online and do all the search engine optimization stuff and pay Google to send it out there.

But that doesn’t mean that we’ve done a good job with a good diet.

So, if you’re going online and looking up diets for your dog or cat — whether that’s for your healthy cat or dog, young dog or cat, old dog or cat, dog or cat with the disease — whatever it happens to be, don’t assume that the website you go to actually knows what they’re talking about.

I’ll transition to rabbits for a minute

It’s interesting that over the last three or four weeks, we’ve seen a stack of rabbits come in with nutritional upsets.

Most of them have been because the owners were feeding inappropriate foods.

In other words, they were feeding a lot of concentrated pelleted foods, rather than what rabbits should live on, which is grass, meadow hay, and lots of greens.

These clients had been sold these foods by the local pet produce type of places, and online places as well.

When I talked with these clients, they say “Why wasn’t I told what the good diet was where I bought the food?” and I pointed them at some websites with some really excellent resources, whether it’s about food and what to feed them from rabbit specialists.

And I said to them, “You went into a pet store; they’re not going to make any money from selling you kale and beetroot tops and stuff like that because they don’t sell Bok Choy. They make their money out of selling pelleted commercial foods.”

Look at it this way; if you look back a million years ago when rabbits were out there in the wild, they were NOT eating pelleted commercial foods, so it’s no wonder that rabbits get sick on those foods.

Let’s talk about grain-free, which has been the fad for the last 7 or 8 or 9 years

I’m not a fan of grain-free diets. I’m certainly not going to talk you out of it if you want to do it. However, I will say that in the last 7 or 8 years, there has become an obvious and very strong correlation and the relationship between grain-free exotic diets and cardiomyopathy in dogs, especially large breeds but also in the smaller breed of dogs. These grain-free diets that have this relationship – they’re typically the more esoteric, exotic type of diets. They’re often very legume-based.

That being said, there is a relationship between grain-free diets and cardiomyopathy, heart muscle disease in dogs, which is typically fatal, but that’s not to say specifically that grain-free diets cause cardiomyopathy – but there IS a relationship there.

If you’re going to feed a grain-free diet, may I suggest that you do your research first and really explore that particular brand that you want to use.

Go online and look up cardiomyopathy in grain-free diets. You’ll find lots and lots of information about it, and you’ll also find the exotic type of foods that are more related to causing this problem.

Then look at research about the particular grain-free food that you’re looking at, and see if there is a correlation between the grain-free diets that have been incriminated in the cardiomyopathy and the grain-free diet you want to feed. As I said, be careful there.

The next thing I want to talk about is what not to feed

We’ve done a little bit of training about this before, and I’ll just run through it very briefly. Avocados, chocolate, onion, garlic, anything fatty, preserved, salted, cured, all those things are very nasty to animals; tummy upset.

Rich foods, especially pork, can cause issues as well.

All bones should be given raw.

Macadamias are really popular and expensive – and are very toxic to dogs, BUT not to all dogs. Some dogs can eat plenty of them and be fine; others can just eat a portion of the nut and drop dead.

The jury’s out on bananas. I’ve read research both ways, one in which banana is safe and the other in which bananas are not safe.

The way I look at it

Suppose my clients ask me if this is something I should feed my dog. I say this to them, “Think of a dog a million years ago out in the wild, would that dog have eaten ‘this’ or not? And if the answer is no, well then, I wouldn’t feed it to my dog. And if my dog would have eaten it a million years ago, then yes, I would feed it.”

We see huge numbers of dogs and cats — but more dogs — at Easter with chocolate issues; at holiday time with being thrown food off the barbeque and they get tummy upset and pancreatitis; and on other camping occasions and what not when we see those sorts of things being given to dogs as well.

My suggestion is if your dog wouldn’t have eaten it a million years ago, then don’t give it now.

The last thing I want to talk about is CDS – which stands for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome

You can call it Alzheimer’s; you can call it dementia —- it’s becoming more and more common in pets now.

The studies in dogs show that 50% of dogs over 15 will have dementia, and something like 25% of dogs over 12 years.

We’re now seeing it in dogs as young as 5 or 6 years of age.

I’ve just been on a webinar that I’m transcribing at the moment, and there are a lot of studies that show that the very early signs are seen in dogs as young as 5 or 6 years of age.

These studies also show that adjusting or altering their nutrition at 5 or 6 or 7 years of age will hugely slow down the decline of your pet’s brain — in other words, slow down the onset of CDS hugely by years and years and years.

I will do a Facebook live on that in the not too far distant future.

What I will just say for now is to watch your pet carefully

If at 5, or 6, or 7, you just see a bit of vagueness starting to happen, or just some 2 or 3 seconds of being spaced out or disorientated, that may be CDS happening.

My suggestion would be that you come in to see me, and we’ll talk about some dietary changes, which will slow down the process incredibly.

There is a lot of research on that, and a lot of the diet change involves the simple use of coconut oil, giving increased amounts of arginine to your pet, and a few other very simple things like DHA….

In other words – no medication as in ‘drugs,’ but just some simple nutritional changes can improve your pet’s brain health tremendously for quite a long period of time.

We don’t see CDS nearly as much in cats

We do see it a bit, but not as much, and there has been no research that I’m aware of in helping cats’ CDS.

That will be the end of this Facebook live. I look forward to catching up with you on our Facebook live in December.

Thanks for joining me, see you soon.