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Dr. Harvey's Healthy Animal Diet Philosophy

Dr. Harvey's humble thoughts on feeding pets, and herself for that matter...

{{ disclaimer: Take from this what seems to make sense to you. There are many "Known Knowns", "known unknowns", “unknown unknowns” and truths we don't want to know" in the world of nutrition and science. It makes life exciting and terrifying at the same time. Yes, exactly like a roller coaster. }}

Necessity is a good driver.

Recently, my husband and I have been adopted by a great dane puppy. As a vet, I know that these big guys of the canine realm not only grow to be goliath hunks of dog, but that they grow fast! Growing fast is great for your investment portfolio, not so good for a large breed puppy. Out of control large breed puppy growth, even with great genetics, can lead the pup to bone and joint disorders early in life.

Google it, it’s all there.

So although I council clients on the logic of good nutrition day after repetitive day, (yes even doing what you love can wear on your soul) our new pups human contacts have requested that I write something down for them to learn from, especially aimed at great danes.

Honestly, these diet principles apply to all breeds of dogs and not just danes. I’d love to do this in person, but we are saving our frequent flyer miles for our trip to Europe coming soon.

So I present to you, the basics. (cue heavenly music)


Einstein always said, and I remind myself of this very frequently, “Everything must be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” E=MC^2 Gives me chills!

So here is my

simple but not so simple breakdown of Dr. Harvey’s pet food philosophy.

#1 Feed your animal as you “should” feed yourself.

Underscore, as you should not to be confused with, as you do.

When vets say, “don’t feed your dog table scraps, people food” they are referring to the processed crap most people fill their diets with.

French fries, Snicker bars and cookies are entertainment, not food.

You and your pet should eat mostly food that can spoil when left unsealed and/or unrefrigerated. This makes eating "clean" easy-er....?

Clean food is not found in a box or in the isles. It’s found along the perimeters of the store .

That said, the super market marketers are on to us! They are creating shelf space along said perimeter for crap to tempt you to spend more money on processed food (($$$)) and back over to the dark side! Put the Ho-hos down and step away from the display... Good job. Phew that was close.

NOTE I am not suggesting that we all must only cook or feed raw food for our pets.

There are some decent choices of organic kibble and canned pet food.

Yes, cooked or raw meats, veggies, fruits and starch choices are best, but not everybody has that kind of time to prepare them every day. I get it, we get it.

I do encourage you to try though.

And if you eat clean, share your organic veggies, meat (without any added junk on it of course) with Fluffy or Fido. That will improve their diet itself. Try the 80/20 rule. 80% holistic commercial pet food, 20% your clean food added to your pets diet.

Speaking of clean food...

The jury is out for me on GMO foodstuffs. Until proven innocent by a non- financially connected source, I will side with the europeans and remain very leery. I aint’ no stinkin’ test subject. Oh wait, since I can’t avoid all GMO completely ( Carrabass, yum ) I guess I am...

I am a big fan of science, but I become cynical when there are gazillions O' dough to be made as a result of it. With age I got wrinkles, weaker bladder control and became cynical. Awesome...

Remember trans fats were a “technological and blessed by science” godsend in place of those nasty coconut oils and butter. How well has that worked out eh? Doh!!!!

Corn and soy are manna from heaven for fattening up livestock (and veterinarians).

According to the USDA, by 2012;

88% of all corn and 94% of soy produced in the USA are genetically modified. blink, blink... yup.

{this is Really important. Like capital R really} GMO aside, fats and oils from grain sources should be very limited in the diet in the first place. Grain sourced omega fatty acid profiles are upside down. They are high in omega 6 & 9’s and low in omega 3’s. Omega 3s, are found in grasses, algae and critters who eat such things. Omega 3’s basically are anti inflammatory.

(and yes I am generalizing big time here folks, so step away from the flame throwers)

Generally anti inflammation is good.

Omega 6 and 9s are pro inflammatory (and again, I am generalizing big time here folks) and we need them too! BUT IN MODERATION. Healthy inflammation brings healing to an area in need, like to the scratch your kitty who just stepped out of the nasty ass litter box planted in your arm, or face. Behold and embrace the redness and be glad for it.

We (your pet is included I hope you realise) should eat a diet that is higher in 3’s and lower in the others. That said, the SAD ( standard american diet ) is estimated to be 15:1 omega 6&9 to omega 3. It is probably about the same or worse in pet food, most but not all pet food. We now know that it should be closer to 1:1. Uh, yeah.

Dang it so now what do I eat or feed my pet!???

Your best meat source bet is organically raised livestock raised on grassy pastures.

It’s not an efficient way to raise them. I get it. I am a primarily large animal vet with a bachelors in animal science. Animal science is all about animals in agriculture and how to raise them, profitably. I get it. Oh do I ever get it.

Wild caught is mostly good depending on what and where.

Other things to avoid?

Chemicals in your food. Think mad scientist weird stuff. Yellow #5.0321 It’s an over simplification, but it’ll point us into the right direction I think.

Isn’t that simple? Too simple. There is more.....

#2 Feed based on the needs of the individual

Here is the million dollar catch. It’s not good enough to just select and feed good/high quality food. The types of meat, veggies,

fruit, starchy carbs selected depends on the needs of the individual.

I know, oh crap. How do I figure that out?

It’s not easy to quantify. But old asian clever insight can help and I’ll show you how. It is time tested and the P value is huge! Don’t worry, I will water down the 4,000 year old asian theory for you, cause’, well, that’s my job.

For our purposes here, we will focus on two principles that effect feeding choices.

Age: Young or old. The Thermostat setting of the animal: Tends to be hot, tends to be cold despite comfortable ambient temperature.

There is one more category, but your brain is probably fried as of now. The two factors above are the most crucial. I’ll include it ( Personality) below for complete it later, maybe... ;)

Age: young vs old

Young animals can digest just about anything. They have vibrant and relatively unadulterated GI health. They also tend to “run” hot and not cold. But it is at this time that the stage for geriatric health is being set. So stay away from carcinogenic stuff (see rule #1). Recent studies indicate that human cancers begin 20 years before we see or experience symptoms. I am sure that is accelerated within the much shorter lifespan of your dog or kitty. Let’s work as hard on prevention as we do on cures.

Old animals intestines are not what they once were. They are less efficient at just about everything.

I am now going to tick off the raw food crowd, but I have helped many “raw-ers" with their failing old dogs by getting them to cook their old dogs food.

Raw is fine if done correctly with younger and mostly healthy dogs or cats, but falls short if the GI tract aint’ what it used to be; Like in geriatric care. There is nothing “natural” about a teenage dog or cat anymore. They left that “natural” state, depending on breed, when they reached around 8 years of age for most breeds, less for large breeds.

Geriatrics tend to “run” cold. Warmth makes them more comfortable and they may seek it. That would be me.

Speaking of temperature of food....

Thermostat: hot or cold

How to tell if your pet is running hot, cold or is neutral.

Don’t be daft and try to evaluate them either outside after a walk in Florida before he got a summer haircut or after you forgot him in the back yard in Alaska in January. These are natural times to be hot or cold folks. How are they when relaxed?

And remember, old animals tend to run cold and the young tend to run hot, but not always. Is your pet:

Panting a lot? Red ears, tongue, eyes? Hot skin? Hyper? Loud? Prone to hot itchy skin with or without lesions? You have an animal that runs hot and Yin deficient.

Pale ears? Pale tongue? Quiet? Sleeps a lot? Prone to infections that are slow to heal? Seeks warm places most of the time even when it’s not cold?

You have an animal that runs cold and Yang deficient.

A pet is in balance when they are neutral in these qualities. Congrats!!! Keep doing what you are doing.

Don’t feel bad if they are one or the other! No organism is always in balance. But we can learn to identify when we are out of whack and keep it in check with food! I check my tongue every morning. Reddish? I need more cooling foods and less warming foods today. Salads with extra cucumber, watermelon, salmon, grass fed beef no cinnamon in my oatmeal this morning.

Foods, according to asian food theory, “run” hot, cold or are neutral.

If you Google chinese medicine food temperatures, you will find hundreds of examples of foods/ herbs and their temperatures.

If you have a hot pet, cool them with cooling foods. If you have a cold pet, warm them with warming foods.

But, it is important to remember a fact I have noticed in practice. The warmth of meat is made warmer when the meat animal is fed a warming diet. Like, corn......

Here is my favorite example. Novel protein sources, or is there something stupid going on.

Numerous hunters noticed that when their previously itchy, stinky, anal sack nasty hunting dogs got fed scraps from the wild game they helped score, most of those symptoms vanished. Poof!!! Like magic!

“It must be the novel protein source! Let’s raise deer for meat in pet food!” The hunters and their veterinarians declared. “We’ll have no more itchy dogs or goopy ears! Heck, ol’ Cleetus may stop dragging his butt across the old lady’s favorite carpet.” Sweet.

Lo and behold, it did not work. The dogs fed the farm raised deer meat got itchy again, and all the other nasty symptoms they had before.


The deer got switched from a grass fed diet to a corn / grain based diet.

“Dang! They must have gotten used to the deer protein. Hey lets raise kangaroos!!!! Will they eat corn???” And on and on it goes...

Some review, cause’ it’s important that y’all get this.

It is a fact that animal flesh, from animals fed a natural diet, have higher levels of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Look up the bennies of consuming a diet high in omega 3’s. In short, they are natural anti inflammatories. Omega fatty acids are all essential in a diet, but we all do best when the 3’s dominate the 6’s and 9’s. Veggie oils, and the flesh of animals fed veggie oils and grains these oils come from are chock full of the pro-inflammatory omega 6’s and 9’s. Voila, increased allergies and sensitivities of all sorts. That is not normal! Our bodies and our dogs and cats have not evolved to handle that for long, never mind as standard fare.

So, it’s a lot to wrap a head around. Let’s summarize.

  • 1) Feed whole foods or foods from whole food sources. Preferably organic and non GMO.

  • 2) Select commercial kibble/can/frozen pet food (kittys should get wet food.) according to #1.

  • 3) Avoid corn and corn fed meat sources.

  • 4) When using oils use grass fed butter, grass fed animal fat/lard, olive oil, coconut oil.

  • 5) Animals who are hot in nature feed asian theory cooling/cold in nature foods.

  • 6) Animals who are cold in nature feed warming/hot foods.

  • 7) Neutral animals, feed a zero sum combination of both warming foods.

  • 8) Neutral foods won’t hurt, but they won’t help an imbalance directly either.

This web sight seems to have a good list of food temperatures.

Ta Da!

That is my primer, as promised folks! Voila.

Loaded with this info, you can come closer to helping your pet and yourself live a nice long and happy life with fewer nasty bumps.

And, hey.

I earn my living by folks paying me for my knowledge and expertise. If you found this helpful, encourage me to keep the info gravy train flowing and make a donation on this site.

Thanks! That makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. :)

Happiness & Great Health

Vickie Harvey, DVM

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