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Pumpkin: Scary or Sweet?


Healthful Dog


Updated 24/10/2016

H B Turner

For some reason I’ve always had an uncomfortable/irrational negative feeling when people recommend pumpkin or any other of the myriad of varieties of squash, and I have avoided feeding them, or even eating them myself, other than the odd courgette.
Upon further investigation is appears that the calcium to phosphorous ratio within them is not optimum for the use of the body, recommendations being 1:1 or technically 1:0.8 (AAFCO) and squash being closer to 1:2. However recommendations for laboratory animals are between 2:1 & 1:2, as long as Vitamin D levels are high enough, so this shouldn’t be a problem right?

Pumpkin contains high amounts of both alpha and beta carotene, known to boost immune function in older dogs and with side effects of too much being Carotenemia (skin discolouration), known to be harmless and reversed when ingestion is halted, but would we…

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The Phenol Allergen Issue


How do food allergies effect pets?

An allergy is an inappropriate and excessive reaction of the immune system to an allergen.

Allergies manifest as:

  • Itching
  • Infections of the skin and ear
  • Hot Spots
  • Chronic diarrhoea and/or IBD
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Behaviour Problems/Hyperactivity
  • Pancreatitis
  • Chronic Liver Disease
  • Lethargy
  • Cancer

Food Allergies

The most common food allergens for dogs are Chicken and Beef, we understand that these are mainly due to vaccines reactions, in that vaccine components are often grown in chicken embryo/bovine serum etc. therefore Chicken and Beef are the first proteins recommended to be removed from an animals diet when an allergy is suspected.

The next most common allergen, known to cause all sorts of bowel issues due to food sensitivities and intolerances are caused by Phenols i.e. Gallic Acid

Gallic Acid is found in many fruit and vegetables, including, but not restricted to:

Whilst Food Allergies cause immediate reactions, food sensitivities and intolerances have a delayed response. They may start as simple itching and progress down the above reactions list to cancer if fed even in small amounts on a regular basis.

Let us not forget that the microbiome in the bowel represents 80% of the immune system and if that is negatively effected, exposure to something else that would normally cause a mild reaction, could actually end up being catastrophic.

Due to this and other issues with these foods we do not recommend feeding them, especially on a regular basis.

For a complete food product that does not contain these ingredients check out

Healthful Pet Mince

The Gluten/Starch Misinformation 


Gluten free pet food is not necessarily Starch free

There appears to be much confusion among pet owners on this subject; a great deal of the blame must be placed squarely at the feet of pet food manufacturers.

Many pet owners are aware of the issues with grains, found in most dried food products. In that those grains could well be GMOs (genetically modified organisms), meaning they contain pesticides designed to rupture the stomach and intestines of their consumers, and legally require no label that they are included; but also the presence of mycotoxins (toxic mould).

Therefore many pet food manufacturers have started producing ‘gluten free’ products, where instead of grains they use rice or potato.

This is where pet owners have been led down the garden path!

As well as the issues of GMOs and Mycotoxins, grains are high in starch.

Our carnivorous pets not only have no requirement for starch, but they cannot digest it.

Potato and rice contain more starch than grains!

In order to digest starch, humans produce an enzyme called Amylase, we produce most of this in our saliva initiating the digestive process as soon as it is in our mouths. Dogs do not produce amylase in their saliva, in fact canine saliva is mostly water and its function is to lubricate swallowing. Digestion in dogs does not begin until food enters the stomach.

Whilst dogs do produce a very small amount of amylase,  this comes from the pancreas and is released into to duodenum and is destined to deal with the small amount of starch a dog would have taken in from the stomach and viscera of its natural prey. Any starch surplus to being able to be digested by this small amount of amylase can only be digested by bacteria in the gut, the waste product from which is mostly gas. This non-natively produced gas passes one of two ways: out or up, the later being a risk for bloat.

Starch also has a negative effect on the digestion of proteins, both in the stomach, by raising stomach acid pH, which has a knock on effect on inactivating other enzymes and also in the rest of the digestive tract.

So you see ‘gluten free’ is a misnomer and pet owners should be looking at feeding a mostly ‘starch free’ diet.

Product Review: Pet Protector


The Non-Chemical, Anti-Flea, Anti-Tick and Anti-mosquito Collar Tag

This device claims to utilise magnetic and ‘scalar waves’, triggered by blood circulation to produce “an invisible energy field around the entire animal’s body”. It also claims that “Scalar waves are totally harmless to people and animals….and they are only effective against external parasites.”

96.97% effective—100% safe for your pets,

your family and your environment

During the 4 year long, non-independent study of 88 animals, a number of ticks were found in quarterly records, but no fleas, it is unfortunate that these tests were performed on  pet animals kept in a variety of environments which are not detailed, nor are their diets, making this paper unsubmissable to a scientific journal and therefore not considered proof, regardless of countless testimonials.

Also the claim of “100% safe has not been substantiated”.

In Konstantin Meyls’ 2011 paper in ‘DNA and Cell Biology’ details how ’Scalar Waves’ are in fact used by DNA as a form of communication and are involved in DNA expression. As we know from Genomics an alteration to DNA expression can be responsible for both disease and repair, most notably DNA expression changes are associated with the formation of cancers.

If DNA utilised Scalar Waves have a wavelength of 126nm ± 6nm and a frequency of 1015 Hz of UV then what effect can a device have on DNA that emits a field ’surrounding the animals’ with wavelength and frequencies of ….  Ah, they’ve taken down the page that explained that, so…  difficult to say.

Dryden et al. (2000) investigated claims of the parent company ‘CatanDog’ on its’ use in preventing fleas in cats and found no benefit at all.

I have personally been approached on a number of occasions to re-sell this product and told that I’d :

“be generously rewarded for recommending this life-saving product!

However, until proper scientific research has been done on its’ efficacy and long-term testing on DNA expression and the results of any changes induced by this product in order to be able to substantiate the claim of 100% safe it will not be on my recommendations list.


Dryden, M.W. Payne, P.A. & Smith, V. (2000)  Evaluation of the CatanDog’s tag to prevent flea infestations, inhibit flea reproduction or repel existing flea infestations on cats. Vet Parasitology. 92[4]:303-8

Konstantin, M. (2011) First Transfer Centre of Scalar wave Technology. DNA and Cell Biology. [Online] Available from: (Accessed 26/03/2015)


The Pork and Worms Conclusion


A colleague of ours recently posed the question in an open forum as to whether or not she should freeze pork before feeding it to her dogs. We rarely answer such questions directly, but on this occasion wanted to help out a friend and her dogs. After posing this question to ourselves many years ago and going to the horses mouth, so to speak, by asking a free range pig farmer, and seeing puppies die from worm burden due to being fed raw sausages, we felt we knew the answer and dutifully wrote:



As expected the inevitable negative response:


The issue is that as this was human grade pork people think it’s worm free: they are wrong!

“Trichinosis has been historically associated with pork”, pigs require ‘worming’ daily, for 7 days, for a 95% efficacy rate, within 3 weeks prior to slaughter; this only happens on very good farms and isn’t really an issue for human consumption anyway as the worms are killed in the cooking process – obviously this does not occur in feeding raw to our pets and in fact slaughter house testing has proven inefficient for worms. Whilst it is true that raw fed pets are more resistant to worms, unless you are absolutely certain of your source we recommend freezing first.

Spotlight on…. Canine Transmissible Cancer


Infectious Canine Cancer

The percentage of canine cancer patients has grown exponentially in the last few decades, so much so that an Animal Cancer Registry was established in 1985. Research has established that 45% of dogs over the age of 10 are dying of cancer and an estimated 1 in 3 have the potential to develop it, with a prevalence in certain breeds, the highest risk being in:

  • Boxer
  • Golden Retriever (60% of breed mortality)
  • Rottweiller
  • Bernese Mountain Dog

The risks are higher in female than male dogs due to mammary cancer accounting for 70% of all incidences (Merlo et al. 2008), and three to four times higher in spayed and neutered pets (Torres et la Riva et al. 2013).

Whilst many holistic owners believe that this is due to the combination of commercial food products, vaccines and other chemicals that our pets are exposed to, there has been recent media coverage of a transmissible cancer, which is scarier still.

Picture1Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour (CTVT) is a unicellular pathogen, where the infectious agent is the cancerous cell itself. Microsatellite analysis indicates this tumour is over 6,000 years old and originated back when dogs were first domesticated.


The vector is sexual, cells reproduce on the new host over a period of two to six months to form a tumour-like growth usually around the genitalia.

Picture2    Picture3

Without treatment these tumours usually regress due to the hosts natural immune response (Siddle & Kaufman, 2014) after one to three months and with complete regression comes complete immunity (Rebbeck et al. 2009).

CTVT is one of only two known communicable cancers and the oldest cancer in the natural world (Lakody, 2014). DNA analysis shows that CTVT first occurred in a dog with “low genetic hetrozygosity” (i.e. that was highly inbred) 11,000 years ago, therefore it was initiated due to human selective breeding (Murchison et al. 2014).

CTVT is prevalent in at least 90 countries and all inhabited continents, and is estimated to have infected at least one percent or more of dogs in at least 13 countries in South and Central America, as well as at least 11 countries in Africa and 8 in Asia.


In the USA and Australia it has only been reported in remote indigenous communities and prevalence has declined in Northern Europe. This disease is mostly prevalent in areas with free roaming canines and has disappeared from the UK (Strakova, 2014).

Surgical removal of tumours has been shown to leave a 30% reoccurrence rate, however this was only studied in 10 dogs, the same study found no recurrence in 10 dogs given chemotherapy, but these dogs were only followed for six months (Awan et al. 2014). CTVT tumours are generally not fatal as the hosts’ immune response controls or clears the tumours after transmission and a period of growth (Siddle & Kaufman, 2014), however metastasis does occur in immune-suppressed animals. The most immediately effective allopathic therapy has been reported to be ‘Vincristine’ (VCR) also used as an immunosuppressant, with known side effects of:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low White Blood Cell Count
  • Bladder Irritation (Canine Cancer Library, 2014)
  • Chemical burns on skin contact


Picture5Therefore if a strong immune system, developed from a natural balanced diet, preferably through generations of dogs, as Epigenetics have been shown to be a contraction factor (Siddle & Kaufman, 2013) can destroy these tumours and render the host non-susceptible to reinfection, is the recommended protocol of surgery and chemotherapy (Awan et al. 2014) simply not worth the risk of metastasis, (as one single cell left on an immune compromised animal could lead to this) and further damage that these leave particularly for natural rearers, and future genetics, dependent of course on the severity of the tumour?

N.B. For further details on the risks of spaying and neutering please see Turner, H. (2014) “The Spay/Neuter Health DenigrationHealthful Dog 1[2]:52-53


Awan, F. Ali, M.M. Ijaz, M. & Khan, S. (2014) Comparison of Different Therapeutic Protocols in the Management of Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour: Review of 30 Cases. Global Veterinaria. 12[4]:499-503

Canine Cancer Library (2014) Common Chemotherapy Side Effects. Available from: (Accessed 16/11/2014)

Lokody, I. (2014) The Origin and Evolution of an Ancient Cancer. Cancer Genetics. 14:152

Merlo, D.F. Rossi, L. Pelligrino, C. Ceppi, M. Cardellino, U. Capurro, C. Ratto, A. Sambucco, P.L. Sestito, V. Tanara, G. & Bocchini, V. (2008) Cancer incidence in pet dogs: findings of the Animal Tumor Registry of Genoa, Italy. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. 22[4]:976-984

Murchison. E.P. Wedge, D.C. Alexandrov, L.B. Fu, B. Martincorena, I. Ning, Z. Tubio, J.M.C. Werner, E.I. Allen, J. De Nardi, A.B. Donelan, E.M. Marino, G. Fassati, A. Campbell, P.J. Yang, F. Burt, A. Weiss, R.A. & Stratton, M.R.  (2014) Transmissible Dog Cancer Genome reveals the Origin and History of an Ancient Cell Lineage. Science. 343:437-440

Rebbeck, C.A. Thomas, R. Breen, M. Leroi, A.M. & Burt, A. (2009) Origins and Evolution of a Transmissible Cancer. Evolution. 63[9]:2340-2349

Siddle, H.V. & Kaufman, J. (2013) A tale of two tumours: Comparison of the immune escape strategies of contagious cancers. Molecular Immunology 55[2]:190-193

Siddle, H.V. & Kaufman, J. (2014) Immunology of Naturally Transmissible Tumours. Immunology. DOI: 10.1111/imm.12377

Strakova, A. & Murchison, E.P. (2014) The Changing Global Distribution and Prevalence of Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour. BMC Veterinary Research. 10:168

Torres de la Riva, G. Hart, B.L. Farver, T.B. Oberbauer, A.M. Locksley, L. McV. Messam, N.W.  & Hart, L.A. (2013) Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers. PLOS DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055937


Chemical Castration and Contraception


Non-surgical spay/neuter options

Several studies have established that surgical sterilisation raises significant health risks, particularly when performed at an early age; the most problematic of which is delayed closure of bony growth plates resulting in abnormal skeletal development that increases the incidence of orthopaedic problems such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.

Further studies have revealed that whilst spay surgery carries a high rate of complications, around 20%, such as infection, haemorrhage and even death, and that it the lack of oestrogen created leads to around 20-30% of spayed bitches developing urinary incontinence,  waiting to spay until after the age of six can increase longevity by 30%. Neutered males have an increased risk of prostate cancer (4 times the risk), both sexes have an increased risk of Osteosarcoma (bone cancer), haemagiosarcoma, hypothyroidism (triple the risk), obesity (3 times the risk), diabetes, urinary tract infections (3-4 times the risk), urinary tract cancer (double the risk), urinary incontinence and cognitive dysfunction in older pets. Behavioural studies have shown increased fearfulness, noise phobias and aggression.

If surgical sterilisation comes with all of the above risks, what about the new option of chemical castration?

According to chemical castration with Neutersol, recently renamed Zeuterin and released onto the market in February of this year, is FDA approved as 99.6% effective, and can be used on males between 3 and 10 months old.  The chemical is injected into each testes and the amount provided is dependent on their diameter. Apparently it does not have a significant effect on testosterone production, and does not appear to effect behaviour and the animal may succumb to irritation and inflammation at the injection site. Zeuterin contains Zinc Gluconate and L-Arginine and works by destroying existing spermatozoa in both the seminiferous tubules and the epididymis, resulting in the collapse of the empty tubules, leaving scar tissue to block any further transport (Ark Sciences, 2014).

The side effects are listed as:

  • Scrotal pain one to three days after injectionPicture1
  • Mild, temporary swelling
  • Scrotal irritation or dermatitis
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Anorexia
  • Lethergy
  • Diarrhea

There are also contraceptives available to bitches, in drop or pill form. Mibolerone is a drop given daily for 30 days prior to the heat cycle, with side effects such as:

  • Liver damage
  • Infertility
  • Increased risk of vaginal infection and indoor wetting
  • Body odour
  • Skin problems
  • Vaginal distortion
  • Personality and behaviour changes

Ovaban is a pill to be administered at the beginning of the heat cycle, with side effects listed as:

  • Uterine infections
  • Mammarian cancer
  • Breast enlargement
  • Weight gain
  • Changes in coat

The question then becomes a philosophical one, which only the owner can answer, are you happy to take the risk, or simply separate your pets for 3 weeks once or twice a year?

We recommend reading: The Spay Neuter Health Denigration & checking out Voss Pets

Ark Sciences (2014) Zeuterin. [Online] Available from: (accessed 31/07/2014)

Image rights — All Critters Pet Hospital (2014) Zeuter vs Neuter tOnline] Available from: (accessed 31/07/2014)