Welcome to Acu in Practice! This week I presented information on food therapy, food formulations and food rotation to pet owners at a local healthy pet food store in my area. The main take home message was that feeding the same food with the same nutrients to your pet every day for the long term will eventually result in an excess of some nutrients and a deficiency of others. Veterinarians who practice TCM and food therapy know this to be true! In light of the recent news and controversy around diet related DCM (Dilated Cardiomyopathy), it has never been more important to talk about broadening the nutrition plan for our pets. While the cause of diet related DCM is still under investigation, it is a fact that 452 of the 560 cases that have been reported (according to the most recent FDA statement) were eating dry kibble as their sole nutrition source. A few tips that I shared at the presentation were:
1. Feed more than one formulation of food: for example, a combination of dry, canned, dehydrated and/or raw. (For felines we recommend 100% moist food to support kidney health and hydration). Include home cooked toppings if it works for your lifestyle, these can make up 30% of your pet’s calorie requirement. If you would like to feed 100% home cooked food you will need to consult your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary nutritionist to ensure that your pet’s diet is complete and balanced.
2. Rotate foods: this can mean rotating formulations as listed above, meat sources (flavors) and even companies throughout the year. For home cooked toppings, rotating foods that are in season is ideal.
3. Complete an annual or semi-annual exam (semi-annual for seniors and pets with health concerns) with your veterinarian and have a face-to-face conversation about nutrition to include calorie requirements and specific recommendations.
4. For food therapy advice tailored specifically to your pet, find an Integrative Veterinarian who practices Traditional Chinese Medicine. Most are happy to be your pet’s primary care provider or to work in conjunction with your conventional vet by providing only the alternative options such as acupuncture that they do not offer. You can find a certified veterinary acupuncturist at: www.ivas.org using the “Search for a Vet option”
5. We must always be “on our toes” when it comes to the foods we are feeding our pets. Recalls and “scares” happen frequently. Nutrition and Medicine are dynamic – information changes and evolves as new studies become available. However, the principles of TCM Food Therapy have been working for over 3,000 years!
This post was created by Nell Ostermeier, DVM, CVA, FAAVA and is intended for informational use, not to replace medical advice.