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Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Merriam-Webster describes "holistic" as the following: relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts; holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body; holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system.
Many pet-food companies have jumped, nay, leapt, on the "holistic" band-wagon, and pet owners cannot get enough of them. Based on my experience, most pet owners do not have a good (or any) understanding of what "holistic" is. That their pets are eating some sort of "holistic" diet is the only thing that many pet owners care about, but don't really understand why.
Example: if I am using an holistic approach to treating osteoarthritis, I would be giving NSAIDS for pain and inflammation, Cartrophen injections to maintain healthy cartilage and joint fluid, omega fatty acids as an adjunct to anti-inflammatories, weight loss to reduce strain and stress on joints, exercise and physical rehabilitation to prevent muscle atrophy and strengthen bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc, and possibly tramadol or gabapentin for pain or concurrent neuropathic pain. This is an holistic approach to treating osteoarthritis. The use of the word holistic to describe pet foods irks me, as much as the word "organic" and "natural." Rocks, twigs, and chicken bones are all "natural," but I don't want your pet eating these things, savvy? Organic foods are those limiting or excluding synthetic ingredients. I will sooner recommend a non-organic food that has undergone studies in animals before recommending an organic pet food having undergone none.
In all fairness, many of these holistic foods seem perfectly balanced, are recognized by the Association of American Plant Food Conrol Officials (AAPFCO), and whose quality of ingredients make me wonder why human beings are not eating half as well as our pets and livestock.
Ultimately, we should be reading pet food labels as if we're eating these foods ourselves. Be curious, ask questions, confirm mysterious ingredients with your veterinarian and don't buy into the hype of "holistic" or "organic" foods unless the proof is in the pudding, or rather in the pet food.


both genuinely organic... but don't feed to your pets.


martha said...

I was advised a few years ago to dismiss dog food that is located on the "outside" of the isles in the pet stores. Start to read the labels of the dog food that is in the interior of the section. Remember the ingredients are listed from most to least.
Don't use fancy (expensive) treats for training-take a portion of the dogs daily allowance to use for "treats". or
try carrots,blueberries!!! or small pieces of apple for training.
As long as there is wind- nothing can be fully organic.
ps don't let your dog get overweight-that in it's self is a huge health issue.

GoLightly said...

LOL, so true.

I bought some "Natural balance" (?) canned food for Flip, (Dick Patten's brand?)
Anyway, Flip puked it all up, and I only gave her a tiny little bit to test..

Back to vet gastro diet. They stay consistently healthier, and they don't seem to crave bad stuff as much.
Not that Flip won't eat a bit of racooon poo, but she's not desperate for it..
Have a great weekend, Doc!

Dr V said...

I wouldn't dream of feeding these to animals: they don't contain three varieties of blueberries, kelp, dandelions, carrots, oil of rosemary, etc., etc., etc. The more ingredients you can pack into a can, the more holistic it is! :-)

GoLightly said...

My old red dog had a real taste for grasshoppers as she aged. Now that's organic!

OldMorgans said...

Very well said.
I deplore the ignorance that drives the use of the terms "natural" "wholesome" "holistic" and so on.

Ginkgo100 said...

I work from the theory that cats shouldn't be eating carrots, blueberries, or whole grain rice to begin with.