Acorn Dog Training

Acorn Dog Training

Food and good health

Good Citizens Scheme

This article has been written by Catherine O'Driscoll of Canine Health Concern. Whilst I agree with 99.9% of what Catherine says below, I do not agree that raw feeding can "rid your dogs and cats of parasites". I have found that raw feeding has drastically reduced the number of parasitic infestations with my own dogs, but they still occasionally require worming. However, a dog belonging to a good friend of mine, still suffers with tick infestations, despite being fed raw meat. In every other respect, he is an extremely fit and healthy dog.

Food and Your Pets
The Key to Good Health ~ By Catherine O'Driscoll

Canine Health Concern was founded in 1994 to separate marketing hype from sound healthcare advice for dogs. It is the only independent, non-profit-making organisation that puts your dogs first.

The simple fact is this: your dogs and cats don't need to be constantly ill, forever at the vet's with one complaint after another. If you pay heed to the basic nutritional requirements of your pets, give clean fresh water, fresh air and exercise, and keep them away from harmful chemicals (such as flea control products) and unnecessary annual vaccinations . . . then you will see a health transformation take place in front of your eyes.

Hundreds of Canine Health Concern members from around the world can attest to this fact. So obvious is the transformation to positive health, that it can change the way you think about life in general!

The Trouble with Commercial Pet Food

What most people feed their pets is largely dictated by big business - companies that have the financial muscle to pay for advertisements in the press, and also on TV. One pet food manufacturer in the UK spends around £35 million each year on advertising alone to tell you that its food is the best (this figure doesn't include PR or sponsorship).

But big business influence stretches further than advertising, through sponsorship of veterinary and research establishments. Ask a vet how he was trained in pet nutrition, and he will usually admit that, if he received any nutritional training at all, an employee of a petfood company was wheeled in to do the teaching - for maybe two days. Then, once qualified, vets are 'educated' by visiting sales reps, and the 'food' they stock in their practices is often the 'food' with the biggest margin. Veterinary nurses are also fooled into thinking they are learning about nutrition when they go on pet food manufacturers' sponsored 'training' courses.

Similarly, magazines dedicated to dog and cat enthusiasts are heavily reliant upon advertising revenue and so are reluctant to bite the hands that feed them.

The result is that pet owners and 'experts' are being hoodwinked into ensuring that we have a pet population that is sadly undernourished, and sick. These days, we expect our pets to be ill. It's 'normal' to be constantly at the vets. But how could these species have survived for millions of years without such lavish scientific intervention? Would our farming ancestors really have kept animals that were constantly needing to be 'fixed'?

Consumers Respond

Canine Health Concern (CHC) was formed to answer one simple question: "why are our pets so ill, and why do so many of them die years before their time?"

The answer is also simple. We've known it for years - we just forgot. In 1922, one veterinary manual stated: "The really well and wisely cared for dog (of average stamina and constitution) is so fit and hearty, so full of healthy power of resistance, as to be largely immune and proof against contagion and infection. Correct feeding, cleanliness, housing and exercise are the four vital corner stones of perfect health for dogs; the true basis of that prevention which is better than the best of cures."

In 1996, CHC conducted research among the people who had changed their dogs from processed pet food to natural food. The results gave us such hope for the future of our beloved pets. We asked two key questions: "how many times did you take your dog to the vet in the twelve months before changing to natural food?" and "how many times did you take your dog to the vet in the six months after changing to natural food?"

Dog owners reported a massive 85 per cent drop in veterinary visits. Not only were the dogs healthier, but they were costing their owners considerably less in veterinary fees. Owners reported more vitality, glossier coats, illnesses disappearing - even the fact that drugs from the vet, in some instances, were no longer required. Those who breed and show were reporting that they were winning everywhere they went - against the dogs who were still being fed processed food.

So what is this real food? We've forgotten how to feed a diet that Nature intended, so bombarded have we been with commercial propoganda. Think back to a dog and cat's life in the natural environment. How would he feed himself?


A Natural Diet

Dogs are carnivores, and also scavengers. They are omnivores. They would catch and eat small-to-medium prey: rabbits, birds, small lamb. They would eat the skin, fur and all. They would steal eggs, eat berries, munch on rabbit, lamb and horse droppings, and maybe find or steal human leftovers. They would also eat the vegetable matter in the stomach of their preys.

In short, dogs would enjoy a vast array of different, natural, foodstuffs - and remarkably, they would never cook their food or open a can! Contrary to pet food manufacturers' myths, a dog's stomach is not delicate!

Similarly, cats would eat small prey: mice, fish, rabbits . . . white meat, and a small proportion of grains from their preys' stomachs. Cats are largely carnivores, and they're not great cooks, either!

Today, vast multi-billion-dollar international businesses exist to help pet owners feed their friends in a convenient way. But how convenient is it, ultimately, to be nursing a sick animal - sick due to nutritional inadequacy - or to be forever at the vets?

Pet Food Ingredients

Few of us actually know what's in pet food. All we know is that it contains things vaguely described as 'ash', 'derivatives of a vegetable origin', 'animal byproducts', etc.

In 1981, the American vet Wendell Belfield wrote a book called, "How to Have a Healthier Dog". In it, he spoke of his time as a veterinary meat inspector for the Department of Agriculture and the US air force. He writes: "Condemned parts and animals that are rejected for human consumption are commonly used in commercial pet foods. So called '4-Ds', meaning dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals are also used for pet food".

In 1990, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article, with photographs, to show that dead dogs and cats, as well as out of date supermarket produce, including the polystyrene containers and plastic wrappers, were going into dog food via the rendering plants.

In 1996, the Animal Protection Institute of America published a report to confirm the Chronicle's article, with further confirmation from the American Veterinary Medical Association. In 1997, Canadian pet owner Ann Martin published a book called 'Food Pets Die For', which looks at the chemical, as well as carnivorous content, of pet food in North America.

Although Professor Richard Lacey filmed it taking place for a Granada TV programme some years ago, the UK's Pet Food Manufacturers Association insists that dead dogs and cats do not go into their members' food. They say they only use 'parts' from animals that have been certified fit for human consumption.

These 'parts' are often the parts that cannot go into the human food chain: spleen, lips, feathers, toenails . . . whatever no-one can charge human prices for in beefburgers or sausages. Similarly, vegetables are often vegetable 'derivatives' that cannot be sold for human consumption. Meat protein is often replaced with vegetable protein - protein that lacks many essential nutrients for dogs, and which cannot be easily assimilated.

These ingredients are then de-natured through cooking at extremely high temperatures, and chemicals are added to ensure that the resulting 'food' can sit for some time on supermarket shelves - chemicals that have been shown in laboratory experiments to cause cancer and birth defects. Add to this sugar and salt for taste (not health), chemical food colourings so that you don't mind how it looks, and a digest slurry to make it taste anywhere near edible, and you have your so-called 'complete and balanced' pet food.

So . . . we ask you to conduct an experiment with your pet. Try him or her on real food for a time, and tell us whether you see an improvement. We are certain you will!

Feeding Guidelines

"In order to live, a dog must eat. How long the dog lives, as well as health, immune system, behaviour and temperament, the ability to reproduce successfully, and to recover from trauma, all depend on what is eaten. An animal that eats well lives a long life, coping with everyday stresses and strains. One that eats poorly is unhealthy and with age will begin to suffer from chronic disease."

Wendy Volhard,
"The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog"

"Most modern dog owners are taught to believe that feeding dogs is such a difficult task, it is best left to the dog food companies. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Dr Ian Billinghurst,
"Give Your Dog a Bone"

"It is fair to say that dogs will not only survive well on home-conceived, home-prepared diets, but will thrive enormously. Their immune systems should also be more robust. I have seen spectacular turn-arounds in chronic disease from using diet modification alone. What is needed is restoration of our confidence in ourselves to be able to feed our dogs. No one sells us complete diets for our children, why do we accept them for our dogs? On such diets the daily repetition, even of tiny errors, becomes significant over a period, even in so-called 'natural' brands. Diets formulated from freshly-prepared wholesome ingredients can bring untold benefits in joie-de-vivre, activity and health, in addition to greater life expectancy."
Christopher Day
MA VetMB VetFFHom MRCVS "Feeding Dogs the Natural Way"

Foods that are Good for DOGS:

RAW meaty bones, and lots of them: chicken wings, lamb necks, oxtail, rabbit and pork ribs (some dogs are allergic to pork, so check).

Animals should not be given cooked bones, as these can splinter and cause problems. But dogs (and cats) have thrived on raw meaty bones for millions of years. In addition to providing valuable nutrients, raw bones act as 'nature's toothbrush'. They will remove bacteria and tartar, and prevent bacterial build-up which otherwise would infect your pet's system.

Raw bones will also promote healthy breath, rid your dog and cats of parasites, and avoid the need for expensive veterinary dentistry. Animals fed a natural diet, with a quality vitamin and mineral supplement, are virtually flea proof, too. (Parasites thrive on weak hosts.)

Are bones dangerous? Cooked bones can be dangerous, and there is a remote (one-in-a-million) chance that a raw bone could cause an obstruction. However, a child could choke on a piece of apple, too. The health benefits of natural feeding, in our opinion, far exceed the possible risk. Thousands of dogs around the world are now being fed raw meaty bones - and their owners are raving about the health transformation.

Also feed lightly steamed or mashed raw vegetables. Place raw vegetables in a food processor or juice extractor so that cell walls are broken down to resemble the stomach contents of prey. Alternatively, when you cook your own vegetables, lightly steam some extra for your dog.

RAW liver, heart, kidney, meat, and raw green tripe are beneficial. Also cottage cheese, sardines, tuna, eggs, yoghurt, ripe fruits, garlic, grains, and good quality human table scraps.

For CATS: Follow the same principles as for dogs, but use smaller prey such as raw rabbit, chicken, lamb, organic free range eggs, pulverised fruits and vegetables. Cats need a higher ratio of meat and bones than dogs.

Vitamin and mineral supplementation: we recommend Hawaiian Pacifica Spirulina, available from Blackmoors, telephone 0208 842 3956. Comes in powdered form to mix with your pet's food, and also in tablet form for you! (We have no ties, financial or otherwise, with any commercial concern.)


Canine Health Concern recommends a number of books to its members. We feel that it is important that pet owners read-up on the dietary requirements of their pets. This is because it is possible to make a few common errors. Although you don't need a degree to feed your animals well, a basic understanding goes a long way towards helping you avoid the pitfalls. Diets do need to be balanced. You can do harm if you decide to feed only minced meat, or only organ meat, or only bones, or only vegetarian.
Recommended reading

Wendy Volhard's book, "The Holistic Guide to a Healthy Dog" is a mine of information for the advanced home feeder. The book contains easy-to-understand diet sheets, and explains why various nutrients are required, and the deficiency diseases that can result. The book also serves as an introduction to herbs, homoeopathy, kinesiology and other alternative therapies. Highly recommended!

Order from your local bookshop - the ISBN is 0-87605-560-9, published by Howell Book House.

Vet Ian Billinghurst's book, "Give Your Dog a Bone" explains the natural diet with humour and ease. Ian explains why pet food isn't good for your dogs, and why bones, vegetables and table scraps are.

Available from Bookwise on the internet.

Christopher Day is one of the country's leading homoeopathic vets. He maintains that a good, natural, diet is key to good health. His inexpensive booklet, "Feeding Dogs the Natural Way" outlines the basic feeding principles with common sense, a wider appreciation of the environment, and a respect for all life forms.

Available from Chinham Publications, 43 High Street, Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire SN7 8NQ, priced £5.


In addition to good quality food, your dogs and cats also need to kept away from environmental poisons. For example, many flea control products on the market contain harmful chemicals that can cause cancer and birth defects, and disrupt the central nervous system. With a natural diet, flea control is often unnecessary.

Less harmful alternatives, plus many useful and interesting facts designed to help your dogs lead healthy, happy, lives, are detailed regularly in our newsletters.

We are also extremely concerned about the over-use of pet vaccines. There is absolutely no requirement for annual boosters - just as there is no requirement for your children to be vaccinated every year.

Vaccines are currently causing untold suffering in the pet population. But many vets are beginning to take note of the damage caused by vaccines, and Veterinary Record published a letter from a vet urging his colleagues to read Catherine O'Driscoll's book, 'What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines'. Other vets are suggesting that pets be blood-tested before vaccination to ascertain whether it is even necessary. Often (invariably) it is shown not to be necessary.

Indeed, veterinary colleges across America are on record as saying that annual vaccination is unnecessary, and even harmful. Practising vets in the US, who also rely on vaccines for income, are slightly slower to heed this advice!

How are vaccines harmful? They are scientifically proven to cause arthritis, epilepsy, cancer, skin disease, leukaemia, autoimmune diseases, and more. Scientists have also shown that vaccines can be contaminated with retroviruses that can permanently alter genes - causing untold suffering in subsequent generations.

Vets in the UK and elsewhere are, in growing numbers, relying upon the homoeopathic alternative to vaccines to protect pets from viral and bacterial disease.

Dog owners around the world are also relying upon less harmful forms of disease prevention: optimum nutrition, herbs, homoeopathy, acupuncture, and more, to both prevent and treat illness in their pets.

If you have heard the rumours about pet vaccination and don't know what you should do, please listen to your vet. But please also inform yourself of the other side of the story! 'What Vets Don't Tell You About Vaccines' will help you to make a more informed decision about your dog's, cat's, or horse's preventative healthcare regime.

The ISBN is 0 9523048 3 X, and it's distributed by Abbeywood Publishing at the address below.

We wish you many happy, healthy and love-filled years with your animal friends.

PO BOX 6943,




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