Beating the Odds
Over the past ten years, using 20 of our own dogs as a “laboratory”, we embarked on a grand experiment and have discovered that, as with humans, most disease risk is modifiable. That means, in the case of our own dogs, if a dog has certain risks determined by genetics, or environment (food), that risk can be modified, for better or worse, based primarily on that dog’s environment (food).
Our Big Question Was: If a dog is genetically predisposed to cancer, or if environmental factors (food choices) make a dog more susceptible to cancer, if we modify the environment (food), can we modify the risk?
Or, simply: if we feed our dogs a diet made of highly processed ingredients – powdered meats, garbage, chemicals, synthetic vitamins, rotting/diseased animals, feces, used cooking oil, and a whole host of other mystery/unimaginable ingredients, will that change the environment for the worse, and encourage cancer cells to form and grow?
If we feed our dogs a diet comprised of a few high-quality ingredients, fresh meat and bones, vegetables and fruit, will that change the environment for the better, preventing cancer cells from forming/growing?
This is highly significant, because cancer is still the leading cause of death in dogs.
So, change the environment (food), change the risk (cancer, and even other diseases like diabetes).
We have proven it over the past ten years, right here at Highmeadow Farm. It’s just as Dr. Ian Billinghurst says “Raw fed dogs rarely get cancer.”.
Some breeds are more prone, some bloodlines are more prone, but still, cancer is the leading cause of death in all dogs. In our case, the bloodline we were using was genetically predisposed to cancer. How do we know? Because, with a couple of exceptions over 30 years, each and every one of our dogs was diagnosed with cancer, as early as age seven. It was in the genes. Of course cancer doesn’t rear its ugly head until mid to later life, so we had no idea before falling in love with this bloodline.
Our common sense told us that dogs were not designed by nature to thrive upon dried-up nuggets made of powdered inferior meat, powdered feed-grade vegetables, spoiled grains, or processed garbage of any kind, with sprayed-on coloring and flavor. The same is true for canned, or refrigerated or dehydrated food of any type.
We sought answers, found and studied Dr. Ian Billinghurst, Dr. Karen Becker, and others.
It’s no surprise: dogs were designed to thrive upon fresh, whole food: primarily fresh meat and bones, a bit of vegetation, and a handful of other fresh natural foods that provide a natural source of all of the nutrition a dog needs to be healthy, for a very long time.
Yet, most of the dog-loving community, us included many years ago, are highly influenced by the photos on the dog food packaging and the commercials on TV, making certain claims about their "food". The pet food manufacturers have huge marketing budgets and are masters at convincing us all to pay a lot of money for processed garbage. Actually it's a brilliant use of waste, and earns stockholders lots of money.
From Dr. Billinghurst's "Pointing the Bone at Cancer"
"We are all guinea pigs. We have a situation today where both humans and their companion animals find themselves involved in a world wide experiment. This experiment is unwittingly designed to gauge the impact on their health....... of removing them from the diet they evolved to require and replacing it with a totally foreign diet."
To make matters worse, we were shocked to learn that the Mars Corporation (yes, the candy company) owns 16 different pet food brands, a crappy brand for every budget, and they now own 6 ultra-expensive corporate veterinary hospitals too, including Banfield, VCA, and Blue Pearl here in New England. The perfect storm? Conflicts of interest? You decide.
We are no longer being deceived by these corporations and their brands.
The deception is twofold: the fresh ingredients pictured and described are not what’s in the bag or can or package, and this processed garbage is not promoting the health of dogs, no matter what they claim, but hurting our dogs; causing many of them suffering and death over time. These diets are the ones Dr. Billinghurst describes as "almost totally lacking in the protective nutrients found only in fresh, whole, unrefined foods."
Our own dogs were slowly deteriorating while being fed the most expensive and well-known brands. The kibble and canned foods we were using were not promoting wellness, but instead damaging their environment and ultimately, their health.
Hint: does the dog food you feed look and smell like the fresh meat on the label – for example, like a meat loaf you made yourself? If it’s made with fresh meat, it should look like and smell like your own meatloaf, shouldn't it?
When we do feed our dogs what nature intended, ingredients that are recognizable to us: whole, unprocessed food (whole fresh chickens, real fresh beef, fresh turkey, fresh lamb, fresh eggs, yogurt, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit) a dog’s digestive system functions correctly because their bodies evolved to thrive upon the protective nutrients found in fresh food.
Everything starts there: when digestion functions properly, cells are nourished, and organs function properly for a very long time; health becomes vibrant, as it was meant to be.
When fed a proper, fresh, whole foods diet, dogs can and do experience a higher quality of life, all through their lives, instead of suffering through a lower quality of life for years, until the end, battling all of the usual health problems resulting from a poor diet of kibble, canned food, or other mass-produced commercial food (digestive problems, “sensitive tummy”, skin problems, diabetes, obesity, mobility problems, skin problems, gum/teeth problems, “allergies”, cancer, even behavior problems), not to mention the side-effects (and costs) from the drugs used to treat all of these conditions and diseases, and the never-ending and expensive tests that are many times inconclusive.
We learned the hard way that the damage to organs happens over time, and once discovered, it is too late to treat.
If you decide to feed your dog a proper, fresh, whole foods diet, will your vet object? If your vet is part of a corporate veterinary facility, he/she will most certainly object. If your vet is local, perhaps initially, but if you find the right vet (an integrative/holistic vet is best) and the right food and stick with it, once your vet sees the results over time, he/she will become a fan, because if they really care, they want your dog to be healthy too.
Should you make a fresh diet yourself? YES, if you have a complete and balanced recipe created by a vet with a very long track record that doesn’t use starches, beans, peas or grains in their recipes, and if you have the equipment and the time it takes to make it precisely as written. Dr. Karen Becker’s recipes are complicated, requiring planning and a schedule, but do-able, and highly recommended. Dr. Billinghurst’s formula is simpler, but requires a commercial-type grinder to handle whole, fresh chicken parts. And a lot of space and time to do it correctly, and a lot of freezer space. Don't use recipes you find on the internet.
If you can’t make it yourself, is any raw fresh food you find a healthy one? NO. Just because it is “raw” doesn’t make it a healthier option.
A badly-formulated fresh diet can do more harm than good, according to Dr. Becker.
There are folks who make “raw dog food” and seek out meats labeled specifically “not fit for human consumption”, other spoiled meats, out-of-date vegetables, and waste from human food production, fill it with grains or out-of-date potatoes, package it up, and call it a “raw diet”. They may not be inspected by the state or local health departments, their food may not been lab-analyzed as required by law, their labels may be non-compliant or non-existent. NO THANK YOU.
And, if you “make up your own”, it can be equally as damaging as feeding kibble or other commercial foods. It’s not OK to “just add some meat”.
This is one reason that veterinarians don’t support fresh feeding. Compliance.
You must find a fresh, whole foods diet that you are comfortable with, that uses only fresh human-grade ingredients that you easily recognize, and uses a tried-and-true recipe, with a long track record, from people you trust and have easy access to.
Will it cost more? Perhaps over the short term, but over the long term, there is no question that whatever the cost is, will be worth it, and will probably be less, if that is of primary concern. Feeding a fresh diet means fewer vet bills for visits, tests, drugs, and special diets.
And, how do you put a price on heartache and suffering? Leaving behind the heartache of watching so many of our dogs suffer and die from cancer for so many years is worth all the time, effort and money we now spend.
Peace of mind is priceless.
For those living close to Lunenburg, Massachusetts, our Highmeadow Farm produces Dr. Billinghurst’s recipes to feed 17 dogs presently, and the dogs belonging to 160 local dog lovers/friends that feel as we do, but don’t have the time or the equipment to make Dr. Billinghurst’s recipes themselves.
Dr. Ian Billinghurst, the pioneer of fresh feeding, has a 50 year track record and uses nutrition to treat his own patients, and teaches dog owners and veterinarians around the world how to use fresh whole food to achieve vibrant health in dogs and cats. He is the author of many books on the subject.
Our veterinarian of 25 years not only gave us his blessing 10 years ago to follow Dr. Billinghurst’s teachings, but has become a fan, as he rarely sees any of our dogs anymore, aside from three year rabies vaccines or occasional heartworm/tick disease test, and has not had to euthanize any one of our dogs for cancer in those 10 years either.
He agrees that our findings are significant.
Our dogs are vibrant, energetic, and happy. They suffer with no skin problems, digestive problems, gum/teeth problems either. Although we realize that no dog will live forever, we do know now that our dogs will live as healthy a life as possible, for as long as possible, because of their diet.
For the first time in over 40 years of owning this breed and this bloodline, our girl, Eva, will be 15 years old in April. We have never owned a 15 year old before, in all these years. This is particularly unusual for a giant breed dog too, who normally have shorter lifespans. We also have healthy 10 and 11 year olds, also unusual.
A high quality, fresh diet, like Napa Fresh, can indeed modify a dog’s environment (their food), to modify the health risks (cancer, for one), enhance their life (for a very long time), and hopefully make your vet a fan.
If you have comments or questions, just get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org