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    Degenerative Diseases and How We Can Slow Them Down


    The most prevalent diseases our cats and dogs are suffering from today include:

    • Cancer*
    • Kidney disease*
    • Arthritis, musculoskeletal disease
    • Allergies including skin problems
    • Dental problems
    • Heart disease*
    • Pancreatitis Diabetes
    • Recurrent bladder problems
    • Inflammatory bowel disease

    Most veterinarians and authors of cat and dog texts would agree that the most prevalent three diseases, which not only effect health, but which can dramatically reduce longevity are Cancer, Kidney Disease and Heart Disease.

    According to Dr. Billinghurst, author of 'Give Your Dog a Bone,' most diseases in the older cat and dog are caused by a lifetime of poor nutrition usually made up of processed and cooked foods and the absence of raw meaty bones. However, most diseases in old age can certainly be avoided, "disease in old age is not inevitable. It is possible for your dog to live a longer, healthier life than many of you imagined possible..." (Dr. Billinghurst 1993)

    In support of Dr. Billinghursts theory, author of To Your Dogs Health, states that raw food is 40% more easily assimilated than cooked food. The raw diet, reduces the number of visits to the vets, but also improves skin and coat, reduces size of stools and reduces or eliminates eye and ear discharge. (Poveromo 2010).

    As commercial pet food is always not only cooked but also heavily processed, it is strongly associated with sickness. Corn, being the bulk of most pet foods is known to cause allergies such as hot spots, eye and ear irritation, anal gland problems, poor skin and coat and ultimately a lifetime of degenerative diseases.
    Corn, is a cheaply manufactured, major source of unnecessary carbohydrate, which usually carries toxins such as herbicides and pesticides. These are the toxins, which are known to attack the liver. Whilst pets do require a small amount of carbohydrate in the diet in order to utilize fats and proteins, the huge amount placed in commercial pet food is damaging to their health.

    Apart from poor diet being a major cause of degenerative diseases, many holistic veterinarians advice against yearly vaccinations. The immune system is thrown into a state of over stimulation when an injection containing up to three diseases are injected into the body. According to author of A Holistic Guide for Healthier Dogs, even the strongest of immune systems are not designed to fight several attacks at the same time and this is exactly what combination vaccinations stimulate.

    "in addition to antigens and viruses, vaccinations contain formaldehyde and mercury," (Khalsa 2009).

    Long term, vaccinations given on a yearly basis could indeed be a major cause of many allergies we see in our pets due to the overstimulation of the immune system. Common sense tells us that no individual is ever subject to several diseases on the same day, so why do vets and doctors consider it acceptable to bombard the immune system in such an unnatural and dangerous way?
    Dr. Goldstein, author of, The Goldstein’s Wellness & Longevity Program Natural Care for Cats and Dogs,’ suggests yearly vaccinations contribute to a weakened or suppressed immune system and maybe the underlying cause for many autoimmune diseases, which lead to kidney, liver and heart failure. Interestingly, almost 60% of a veterinary practices income comes from yearly vaccinations of pets. (Goldstein et al 2005)

    Allergies, whilst not as life threatening as other degenerative diseases can cause a lifetime of pain, which include, ongoing veterinary drugs (with undesirable side effects), secondary infections from allergic reactions and a massive hindrance on activity and enjoyment of life. Allergies include common problems such as asthma, hot spots, skin problems and ear problems. Not to mention the cost to the pet owner in vet bills!

    Whilst the cause of allergies is varied, they can certainly be avoided by eliminating:

    • -Vaccinations
    • -Commercial pet food
    • -Processed foods
    • -Environmental toxins
    • -Chemical additives
    • -Pharmaceutical drugs

    Interestingly, pharmaceutical drugs subscribed for allergies suppress the immune system in order to eliminate or reduce allergic response. They unfortunately also alter the body pH, cause atrophy in the adrenal glands and (like all other pharmaceutical drugs) are toxic to the liver. (Khalsa 2009)

    Casey cat being treated for liver disease at the Vets. A cuddle from his Dad certainly helped:-) Lets never underestimate the healing power of love and kindness.

    Natural remedies and treatment for allergies include, first and foremost a change in diet and the addition of the following supplements:

    • -Omega 3 fish oil
    • -Omega oil from plant matter (e.g.: borage seed oil, evening primrose oil)
    • -Flaxseed oil
    • -Vitamin E
    • -CoQ10 enzyme
    • -Alfalfa
    • -Vitamins A, B and C
    • -Zinc picolinate


    Louis Pasteur, known for creating the vaccine against rabies and for the introduction of pasteurization said, "the microbe is nothing, the terrain is everything." This clearly tells us that sickness, is not caused by the microbe, it is instead caused by a poor body condition, a weak immune system and a bad diet.
    Microbes which surround us all of our lives, can only 'cause sickness' if the body does not have the strength to fight them. As our strength comes from the fuel we put into our bodies, it makes perfect sense that the diet is of upmost importance when faced with a challenging disease.

    Cancer is one of the most dreaded diseases, especially when we all know someone, either human or animal, who have gone through or are fighting this disease. It is quite controversial as to what causes it, toxins, genetics, diet, stress, vaccinations, pollution to name but a few. However in cats and dogs, there is growing evidence that cancer is linked with many common veterinary drugs such as the overuse of antibiotics, flea and tick treatments, heartworm drugs and flea collars. Even if these chemical based agents do not cause cancer they certainly contribute to the weakening of the immune system. (Goldstein et al 2005)

    Even though many people view cancer as a terminal disease, there are many followers of holistic and alternative healing methods who claim that cancer can be overcome and health can be restored. Personally, I am a strong believer and advocate that cancer can be overcome in both humans and animals. When diet, lifestyle, mindset, mental and physical activity is radically changed in accordance with nature, cancer can be conquered.

    Nutritional support for dog and cat cancer patients includes a high protein diet, which is also high in fat, low in carbohydrates and includes lots of eggs, tofu and fish.
    In the words of Dr. Goldstein, holistic veterinarian and author, "dietary changes make a remarkable difference in the course of the disease..." (Goldstein et al 2005)

    Heart Disease

    Heart disease in cats is strongly linked to taurine deficiency, viruses, and autoimmune disorders. In other words, the disease is strongly linked to the diet. (Coscia 2009)

    Early warning signs of heart disease can be a combination of a loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, shortness of breath, swollen limbs (from fluid accumulation, edema), continual sleeping and an overall weakness. (Goldstein et al 2005)

    Although there are many holistic, alternative methods of treatment for all degenerative diseases, dietary changes always form an essential part of the healing process. The first and foremost dietary change in almost all holistic literature recommends the elimination of a commercial fed diet in exchange for a healthy, fresh, high quality produce diet.
    Whilst there are some animal nutritionists who recommend cooked produce, others argue that the best diet is raw. However, they do all agree that human grade, unprocessed foods are the key to fighting any disease.

    In regards to supplementing a healthy homemade diet, important additions are taurine and l-carnitine.
    Whilst taurine is more important (and can be deficient) in cats, dogs can also benefit from this amino acid supplement. L-carnitine is also an important amino acid normally produced in the kidneys and liver of both cats and dogs. Unfortunately during times of disease, l-carnitine production may stop leaving the body less efficient at metabolizing fats in the production of energy. This alone can have negative effects on the performance of both heart and skeletal muscles. L-carnitine is naturally found in red meat and dairy, however there is no harm in supplementing the diet with this amino acid to ensure no deficiency occurs. (Messonnier 2001)

    Another highly recommended supplement is 'Hawthorn.' Hawthorn is a heart and vascular tonic, an antioxidant, it helps to improves the pumping action of the heart, it assists to lower blood pressure which in turn increases blood flow through the coronary arteries and as a result encourages the oxygenation of cells (Goldstein et al 2005).
    Hawthorn is a herb and can be bought in powdered form from health shops. It is also known to stimulate the immune system.

    A recommendation to prevent water retention in cats and dogs is to reduce sodium intake to a minimum. Commercial pet foods are very high in sodium, one of many reasons why processed foods should never be part of the road to recovery.

    CoenzymeQ10 is also an essential supplement for heart disease patients. It is a powerful antioxidant and plays a fundamental role in the mitochondria, the site of cellular respiration. (Messonnier 2001)

    Other supplements recommended to assist a cat suffering from heart disease are:

    • -Vitamins A, C and E (antioxidants)
    • -Kelp (a source of minerals)
    • -Colloidal minerals
    • -Essential Fatty Acids including for example: Flaxseed oil, fish oil, and evening primrose oil.
    • -Dandelion, a natural diuretic (Coscia 2009)
    In conjunction with a good diet and supplements, your pet may also require the assistance of pharmaceutical medicines from the Vet.

    Kidney Disease

    As older pets on a lifetime of commercial pet food commonly suffer from renal (kidney) degeneration, the most popular answer to the problem is to reduce protein consumption.
    In theory this sounds reasonable, as the by-products of proteins, creatinine and urea, are difficult for impaired kidneys to eliminate.
    However, without high quality, highly digestible protein, the kidneys have no way to repair themselves and are unable to function to their optimum level. Adult and senior cats just like puppies and kittens, require lots of high quality protein for growth and repair. Although, in aging, calorie input may change due to more sedentary behavior, nutritional requirements do not. (Hodgkins 2007)

    My senior cat of 18 years has damaged kidneys after having eating a commercial pet food diet for most of his life. Fortunately I changed his food several years ago and he now thrives on a raw, minced bone, meat and offal diet, which is mixed with supplements and puréed vegetables.

    Author of 'Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs,' informs his readers,

    high protein diets have no negative effects on their bodies or kidneys." (Olson 2010)

    In agreement with Olson, author of, "Your Cat," advices readers that senior cats require a high protein diet to have a fighting chance against degenerative diseases,

    "older cats that stay on their kitten diet maintain their hard, lean body condition, their healthy glossy coat; and their natural activity level." (Hodgkins 2007)

    There is a general agreement that although protein levels should remain high, the lowering of phosphorus where possible is an advantage. Phosphorus is very taxing on damaged kidneys. Foods high in protein and low in phosphorus include cooked egg whites and couscous, which can be incorporated into food mix on a regular basis. Foods high in phosphorus are for example offal and sweet potato.

    In relation to protein requirements for the older cat and dog with renal disease, there remains to be conflicting views on whether protein consumption should stay the same, be reduced or increased. In the world of commercial pet food, most renal diets contain less protein, higher fibre and lower fat, assuming the animal will benefit from reduced protein, is less active, more prone to obesity and as a result requires less energy. (Olson 2010)
    However this logic does not take into consideration the pet's need for protein to assist in the repair of the kidneys and the fight to avoid other degenerative diseases.
    Not only do older pets with renal disease require adequate protein, the protein given needs to be of a high quality and preferably raw to assist digestion, assimilation and absorption of nutrients. Low quality protein is not only difficult to absorb from the gut to the tissues, it lacks the essential nutrients required for growth and repair.

    "the cat on a protein stricter diet cannot repair its own ailing body or produce enough energy to meet its needs." (Hodgkins 2007)

    A low protein diet for the adult cat or dog with renal disease, leads to further degeneration, not recovery. Organs lack the nutrients to repair themselves, problems with the skin and coat are common, the immune system weakens, the animal becomes more lethargic and it can cause hypersensitivity to drugs. (Olson 2010)

    "restricted protein diets have no effect on the development or progression of renal disease and only questionable effects on symptoms." (Zucker 1999)

    Apart from the importance of high quality protein in the fight to help the kidneys repair and function, the diet can be supplemented with:

    -Vitamins B6, B12, C
    -Coenzyme Q10
    -Fish oil
    -Amino acid leucine

    to help regulate blood sugar levels.
    Another suggestion is to introduce glandulars into the diet. 'Renatrophin' is a glandular which helps to repair kidneys, based on the theory that ' like cures like.' (Poveromo 2010)

    In order to slow down the degeneration of the kidneys all processed foods need to be eliminated which includes food additives, preservatives, coloring agents, insecticides, pesticides and other chemical additives. This means a radical change to a raw, living, preferably organic diet, which will automatically lower the stress on the kidneys, allowing them to function more efficiently and give them the opportunity to repair themselves.

    Natural remedies in the treatment of renal failure are dietary supplements including:

    • -Dandelion leaf
    • -Parsley
    • -Red clover
    • -Vitamin B6
    • -Greens including spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass
    • -Alfalfa
    • -Vitamin C
    • -Cranberry
    • -Lecithin granules
    • -Antioxidants such as CoQ10 enzyme

    Other common degenerative diseases seen in cats and dogs are also heavily related to the diet.
    Feline Diabetes for example is linked to the long term, regular feeding of dry 'kibble' food. It is also common to see obese cats with diabetes.

    Hepatic Lipidosis (fatty liver disease) is linked to rich processed foods, which generate a high blood sugar to pass through the liver and pancreas.
    There is also a danger of obese cats that are placed on a low calorie diet, depleting their energy stores too quickly, causing fats to flood the liver and disturb normal processing. The accumulation of fat in the liver causes problems for other liver functions. (Hodgkins 2007).
    As with any other degenerative disease, the diet needs to be changed, and it should include some supplements to assist the liver clear itself of toxins such as the herb milk thistle.

    Another common problem seen particularly in cats are bladder problems such as 'Urinary Tract Inflammation' (UTI), bladder crystals, stone formation, all of which if left untreated can lead to renal failure.
    Again, high carbohydrate, heavily processed diets are linked to these degenerative problems.

    Change to a natural, raw, human grade, species appropriate diet for your cats and dogs. This food is live and is truly the best medicine for the body.

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