Dr. Patrick Mahaney’s Book Review- Dog Obsessed by Lucy Postins of The Honest Kitchen

March 1, 2017

Are you obsessed with your dog?  Are you seeking for a common-sense approach to feeding your pooch and creating healthy day-to-day habits?  If so, I’ve got a great read for you.

Lucy Postins, founder and CEO of The Honest Kitchen, write an insightful text, Dog Obsessed, which shares her practical approach to canine care along many insights on the merits of feeding dogs whole food diets instead of processed meals (kibble, most canned, etc.) made with feed-grade ingredients that are subpar to those we eat (i.e. human-grade).

As a holistic veterinarian I’m always curious about the perspectives of other influencers in the pet space, so I gave Dog Obsessed a read and have cultivated my top five pearls, including:

1. What Exactly Is in His Bowl- Protein (Page 55)

The amino acids in protein are the basic building blocks for our dogs’ muscles, but not all protein found in pet food is optimally bioavailable.  Bioavailability is the ability for nutrients to be absorbed by the digestive tract.  Postins points out that “the amino acids in feathers, for example, are more difficult for the body to assimilate that those in muscle meat.”  Such is why I advocate that pets consume protein that’s sourced from fresh, moist, cooked muscle meats (including some organs, like the heart) from chicken, turkey, beef, pork, fish, and other creatures.

Additionally, Postins states “animal or meat by-products may include beaks, feet, hide, dried blood, feathers, and visceral freed of their contents in quantities that occur unavoidably in good processing practices.”  I recommend my clients avoid such undesirable ingredients by carefully reading pet food and treat labels or instead choose home-prepared, whole foods just like those we serve our human family members. 

After all, as a dog obsessed owner don’t you see your canine companion to be an integral part of the family fold?

2. The Importance of Color (Page 61)

As a society we want on our dogs’ food to look as much as possible like real meat.  In such cases, I wonder why dog obsessed owners don’t just feed real meat instead of highly processed, “medium brown”, kibble or canned foods that may contain artificial colors or have little or lack natural plant pigments.  Caramel color is an artificial color that is commonly added to pet food and has come under fire as a toxic food ingredient as it contains 4-methylimidazole (4-MIE), a known animal carcinogen. 4-MIE has been added to California’s list of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity as studies have correlated long-term exposure to 4-MIE with lung cancer in mice.

Natural plant pigments that make fruits and vegetables appear brightly colored “red, green, purple, yellow, and orange do more than just make a pretty meal; they also possess powerful antioxidant properties that can have a profound effect on total health.”  These phytonutrients provide a variety of benefits for the internal organs, skin, bones, muscles, and other organ systems and are best consumed in natural form as compared to the synthetic form added to many pet foods as part of the vitamin mix.  Natural vitamins have irregular binding surfaces that are better suited to bind to receptors inside the body as compared to their smooth-surfaced, synthetic counterparts.  Postins also gives examples of foods of each color that are appropriate for your canine companion.

Dog obsessed should always strive for their dogs’ food to be naturally colorful.

3. Transitioning to a New Food (Page 76)

Postins smartly recommends our dogs’ food changes occur over a four to seven day period to help prevent soft stools, vomiting, or other digestive tract upset.  For picky or digestively-sensitive dogs the transition period should be longer, like seven to 14 days. 

I appreciate how Postins delves into the science behind her recommendations, as giving time for the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) living in the gut to acclimate to the new food will increase the likelihood of success in the food-change process.  I also like how Postins gives other helpful tips in acclimating your dog to his new food like adding a small amount of ground meat, low-sodium broth, plain yogurt, cottage cheese, or shredded cheese.  Postings also introduces two of Honest Kitchen’s digestive tract supplements, Perfect Form and Pro Bloom, which have benefitted my dog Cardiff and many of my patients many times over the past few years I’ve been recommending them.

Dog obsessed owners carefully consider the implications of their actions, such as changing foods, before doing so to strive to prevent health problems associated with their actions.

4. The Dog Who Resembles a Coffee Table: Four Fixes for Fat Dogs (Page 91)

Pet obesity has reached epidemic proportionsin the U.S.In 2016, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) conducted its annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey which concluded that 54% of dogs and 59% of cats are overweight or obese. That’s nearly nearly 41.9 million dogs and 50.5 million cats that may suffer irreversible health consequences related to being too heavy as a result of their owners ongoing provision of excess calories.  I feel this trend is an unacceptable reflection of how we treat our beloved pets.

Postins gives practical tips including “cut down on treats,” “start rationing,” “beware a too-big bowl,” and “work it out” along with sharing a Body Condition Score chart so you can determine where your pooch is on the 1 (“very thin”) to 9 (“obese”) range and make appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications in partnership with your veterinarian.  Also see Chapter 10 Run, Play, and Fetch.

Dog obsessed owners know that being overweight and obese are conducive to a healthy lifestyle and make daily efforts to keep their pup’s bodies slim on a lifelong basis.

5. Keeping Your Pup’s Pearly Whites in Great Shape (Page 102)

Along with obesity, periodontal disease is one of the top preventable conditions that we veterinarians diagnose in our canine and feline patients.  I love the fact that Postins brings up the fact that dry dog food does nothing to clean teeth in saying “the surface of kibble isn’t abrasive enough to scrape tartar from the teeth. Would you rely on munching pretzels to clean your own pearl whites.”  I use this pretzel analogy all of the time when consulting with my clients.  Additionally, she sheds light on the fact that many dogs don’t chew their food, which means that kibble has even less potential to act like an edible toothbrush.

Postins also states “most kibble is so packed with processed simple carbohydrates tat it runs the risk of forcing starches and sugars into the gum line, increasing the likelihood of periodontal disease one the long term.”  This perspective is also held by veterinarians as Canadian Veterinary Journal states “a diet high in highly refined and easily fermentable carbohydrates will favor the development of caries” (dental decay).  Such is why Postins and I both advocate feeding whole food diets that appear structurally similar to how food appears in nature.

I appreciate that Postins advocates partnering with your veterinarian to determine the most-appropriate dental care plan for your pooch, which may entail cleaning with our without anesthesia.  She also drives home the message of periodontal disease prevention in stating “remember that preventing a problem is much better than trading one. So, whether you invest in a specialty dental products or good old fashion meat and bones, reducing the risk of plaque buildup is much less unpleasant for your dog and your wallet then a visit to the vet to have your dog’s teeth pulled.”

Dog obsessed owners treat caring their dogs’ teeth just like they do for their human family members to prevent potentially irreversible health issues associated with periodontal disease.

Dog Obsessed concludes with Meals for You and Your Dog- With Wine.  I’m a fan of both cooking my own meals at home and a great glass (or two) of Merlot, Chardonnay, and many other vino selections I appreciate Postins’ culinary recommendations and look forward to trying them out soon.

Also, as I work with The Honest Kitchen as a veterinary consultant Postins had me contribute my perspective to a few sections of this book.  Check out Your First Veterinarian Visit (Page 38), Heartworms and Ticks (Page 112), How to Choose a Vet (Page 135), and other spots where my advice may pop up to hopefully benefit the health and quality of life of your canine companions.

Get yourself a copy of Dog Obsessed and share it with other canine companion caretakers.  Happy dog obsessing!

Lucy Postins and Dr. Patrick Mahaney are Dog Obsessed

 

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Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome.
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Copyright of this article (2017) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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