“Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health”

 “Canine Nutrigenomics: The New Science of Feeding Your Dog for Optimum Health,” by Dr. W. Jean Dodds and Diana R. Laverdure. Dogwise Publishing. $24.95

This 315-page resource is packed with plenty of food for thought (pun intended). Or you can say tongue-in-cheek there is plenty to digest here, all designed to help you make the right nutritional decisions to keep your dog healthy.

Cells and genome are the common denominators throughout. “Understanding the genome,” the authors write in the Introduction, “is critical to treating, managing and preventing illness.” And on this literary journey they establish many canine illnesses can be traced to poor nutrition.

Canine NutrigenomicsThey note certain foods “show so much scientific promise to create cellular health and vitality in dogs” and have labeled them “canine functional superfoods.” After original mention, they are listed in bold italic type thereafter, making it easy to identify each.

Each chapter is packed with detail but nicely wraps up with key Takeaway Points, allowing the reader to review and focus on specifics. Don’t consider “Canine Nuitrigenomics” a feeding frenzy, rather a slow, rich nourishment appetizer to the next serving (chapter).

The authors nicely refrain from too many generalizations, noting that “every dog is an individual with his own genome,” and “because an ingredient that benefits one dog’s genetic code might not benefit a dog with a different genetic code.”

Some of the feeding lists include the The Dirty Dozen Plus and The Clean 15, along with a special section on honeybee products, with caveats on which to offer your dog.

They devote an entire chapter to non-functional foods, most of which will not surprise you. Add to that a fact-filled section on food intolerance/sensitivity, which is different than food allergies. Foods that commonly cause intolerances/sensitivities include beef, chicken, corn, cow’s milk products, soy, wheat and other grains. Conversely, “novel” proteins such as bison, buffalo, duck, fish, goat, lamb, pork, turkey and venison are recommended for dogs with intolerances/sensitivities.

Commercial mainstream products come under attack continually, with the authors urging readers to train “ourselves to assess food in a whole new way and to ignore marketing messages and manufacturers’ claims. We need to look at food products as the sum of their individual ingredients.” Then they emphasize that the ideal canine diet contains three key elements – variety, nutrient-dense and whole foods.

Yet another focus is weight control and the effect of obesity on the overall health of the dog. Here they identify breeds that have been identified as genetically predisposed to obesity, while emphasizing that no diet is “one size fits all.”

Arthritis, cancer, behavior and cognitive aging and other common health issues are also addressed in complete chapters.

The veterinary profession and its association with pet-food companies comes under fire, too. The authors boldly write, “We believe the only way for veterinary professionals to provide truly unbiased, cutting-edge nutritional advice is to remove the financial incentive to steer their clients toward the one or two brands of canned or kibble food that they sell in their clinics.”

Bottom line, however, the authors acknowledge is to keep any optimum meal plan “realistic and doable so that you stick with it.” The key parameters here are the owners’ lifestyle and financial resources.

While “Canine Nutrigenomics” is an academic project in the best sense, it is an incredible primer that is both ambitious and complex. Packed with fresh information and superb analysis by two respected authorities, it is an empowering manual designed to enable pet owners to coax a longer, healthier life for their dogs. A life that we all know often ends too abruptly and shortly in a heap of tears.

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