Do Grain-Free Diets Lead to Heart Disease?

grain-freeThere was an article published recently that seems to have incited quite a bit of confusion in the animal nutrition world.  The report claims that grain-free diets may be the cause of increased heart disease in dogs.  More specifically, a condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy.  The article, unfortunately, is very misleading.  This blog will discuss what the paper says, what is misleading, and where there may be some actual truth.

Grain-free, boutique, and exotic ingredients

First of all, if you read the article carefully – the article never claims that the sole culprit is grain-free diets.  Rather, the authors cite that the diets of affected animals feature “boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredients.”  They are actually lumping together numerous different diets into a group rather than focusing on one specifically.

Also, they never cite exactly what a grain-free diet is.  For example, if I were to feed my dog nothing but spinach it would be a grain-free diet – but that probably isn’t very healthy for my dog.  However, what if my pet’s grain free diet features meat and other nutrients to complete a well-rounded meal?  Both diets don’t include grain, but one is clearly better for my pet than the other.  Wouldn’t you agree?  I believe part of the confusion stems from the fact that grain-free can mean many different things.

Taurine deficiency and heart disease?

Next, the article implies that the heart disease associated with grain-free diets is probably related to taurine deficiency.  Taurine is an amino acid that has been implicated in heart disease for cats and dogs.  However, linking grain-free diets and taurine deficiency is nonsensical seeing as animals don’t derive taurine from grain.  Rather, the majority of taurine is found in muscle meat, and is completely absent in cereal grains.

Therefore, a diet absent of grains shouldn’t lead to taurine deficiency.  Logic would lead you to conclude the absence of meat would lead to taurine deficiency.  This is why your pet’s nutrition should feature real meat and not byproducts such as meat meals.  Byproducts and meat meals are highly processed, which can destroy the nutrient content of the meat – if there’s any real meat left anyways.  In my opinion, it is more critical to feed a high quality diet featuring real meat if you want to avoid the specific heart condition the authors are concerned about.

What about the other diets the authors list?

The authors never cite grain-free diets as the specific issue, rather they lump it together with other diets by phrasing it as “boutique or grain-free diets” – and I believe intentionally.  This article seems like it was meant to make pet owners question well rounded grain-free diets by grouping it with very generalized diets.  When you do this, you can make pretty large assumptions that relate to one group, but not the other.  For example, the author can claim anything as being boutique since they don’t define what they consider to be a standard diet and then attack a boutique diet.

With that being said, they do mention exotic meats as being troublesome throughout the article – and this may be well warranted.  Poultry, a pretty common protein source for our dogs, is very high in taurine.  However, certain foods such as lamb, venison, and rabbit contain much less of the important amino acid.  It is possible that feeding diets that feature only these proteins could contribute to heart disease.  Therefore, it may be worth rotating proteins that have higher taurine content into your pet’s diet.  Here is a list of some meats high in taurine content!

In the end, I believe the article is very misleading.  For one, it lumps together many diet types with grain-free diets so that the authors can make more generalized statements.  Additionally, grain-free can literally mean anything.  Feeding your dog rocks is grain-free, but guess what?  It’s not healthy for them.  Do I think a little bit of grain in a dog’s diet is problematic?  No, I do not.  However, feeding a diet that is predominantly grain probably sets your pet up for other chronic conditions such as diabetes.  Concerned about your pet developing dilated cardiomyopathy?  Focus more on high quality meat and less about grain.

Hannah the Lab and her Vestibular Condition

vestibularSay hi to Hannah! Hannah is a beautiful 15 year old chocolate lab that has been incredibly healthy her entire life. This past month Hannah began to exhibit signs of what looked like a stroke. Her head tilted, she was hardly able to walk, and her appetite was nonexistent (obviously something was wrong since she’s a lab!). After a visit to the vet she was diagnosed with vestibular disease, aka old dog disease. This condition mimics a stroke, however it appears much worse than it is. Think of it like doggy vertigo!

Hannah came to see us because the medication she was given hadn’t helped at all she was improving but at a snails pace. In addition, Hannah’s parents began giving their baby girl some CBD oil for pets, and man oh man did that start the healing process. Hannah started eating normal, even more than usual, and her gait improved quite a bit. Though the head tilt and slight wobble remained, she was doing much better.

After her first visit Hannah improved even more. She was running and playing, eating normally, and her head wasn’t nearly as tilted. She felt so great she decided to go for a swim! It has been almost one month and Hannah is practically 100%. In the morning she starts out a touch wobbly, but by later morning she looks fantastic. This girl givens senior dogs a great look and we are so happy that chiropractic was able to help fix her balance!

What is kibble?

kibble for health pets

We often get asked for nutrition advice with respect to pets.  We are by no mean experts, but we do hear a lot of things through the grape vine.  Nutrition is a super complex issue and there are many foods out there.  There is wet, freeze-dried, raw, kibble and more.  This blog’s purpose isn’t to compare the different types of foods.  Rather, it is to describe what kibble is and explain why you might want to feed a high quality product if you choose to feed kibble.

When was kibble created?

Kibble was invented in the 1850’s by an electrician named James Spratt who saw dogs eating left over biscuits on a ship dock.  Being a quick thinking entrepreneur, he realized there was a need for a food source in the community of pet owners.  Dogs were transitioning from working farm animals to integral parts of urban families, and they needed to be fed.  Spratt decided to mix flour, vegetables, beef blood and a few other ingredients to create a cost effective food source with a long shelf life.

What is kibble?

Kibble is essentially a combination of ingredients that are baked together to create the firm pellets we are all familiar with.  There are many benefits to using it.  To begin with, it is very convenient to use.  An owner can purchase a large bag that can last many months because of its shelf life.  Additionally, it can be stored in many environments and is very easy to feed.  Also, formulas can be modified to fit the different life stage of a dog.  No wonder it is the most popular food type for our pets!  However, are all kibbles the same?

Quality of the kibble matters

As I mentioned previously, kibble is a combination of many ingredients baked together.  However, not all brands are the same.  Many brands feature byproducts, toxins, and don’t always use high quality ingredients.  Your pet’s body is no different than than yours.  It requires excellent nutrition in order to function properly.  If it doesn’t get the necessary building blocks, it can lead to chronic disease, diarrhea, and much more.  Therefore, don’t reach for a bag just because it is the cheapest.  Rather, check the ingredients and make sure your dog is eating something that provides a benefit.

As you now know, kibble is the result of an entrepreneurial mind that solved a massive need in the 1800’s.  Because of its convenience and long shelf life, many owners choose to feed their pets kibble.  However, all kibble is not the same.  Make sure when you check the label of your pet’s food to ensure it is the highest quality kibble possible!

maintenance care

Stabilizing Your Dog’s Spine

dog spine foundationYour dog came to us in pain and limping, but after a few adjustments looks great.  This is awesome news, but now what?  As animal chiropractors, we definitely want to get your pet out of pain.  Additionally, we want to stabilize the spine so that your pet’s body resists breaking down and dealing with recurring problems.  How do we do this?  It requires more intensive care up front and periodic adjustments mixed with rehab exercises after they are out of pain.  How often should your dog be seen then?  Read on to find out.

How often should your dog be seen to stabilize its spine?

Unfortunately, there is not a one size fits all answer for this question.  It depends on the age, the problem, overall health, and more.  However, the one thing we know is that it typically takes more care initially that tapers off as the dog improves.

Think about your dog’s spine like the foundation of your house.  If the foundation is off, you would expect to see the walls crack, doors not close properly, and numerous other problems – right?  The spine is very similar.  When it is off, you may see muscles spasm, pain, limping and more.  To stabilize the spine, it takes a bit more work up front.  One or two adjustments may help get your dog out of pain but it isn’t necessarily stabilizing the foundation that is their spine.  It would be like patching the roads in Michigan rather than addressing the underlying primary problem.  The issue just keeps reappearing over and over.  However, with a bit more care up front and some rehabilitation exercises, we can deal with the major/primary problem that is causing all of the other secondary problems.

There are rehab exercises to help stabilize a dog’s spine?

The answer is emphatically yes!  It is a relatively new field when it comes to animals, but it is also an effective one.  Adjustments deal with the structural issues in your dog’s spine – kind of like the load bearing beams in your house.  These beams are essential for holding a house up.  However, the house is much more than just the primary beams.  There are kickers, molding, dry wall and much more than reinforce the integrity of the house – kind of like muscles.  When a dog has strong core musculature and limb strength, it reinforces the support beams.

As you can see, the spine is the foundation of your dog’s body.  We want to keep it strong and stable, so that your pet stays healthy and can function as close to optimal as possible.  When pet’s come to see us, our main goal with care is to get them out of pain.  However, we also want to keep them that way.  That can be done with a bit more care up front and some rehab exercises.  Want to learn more?  Contact us here and/or sign up for our newsletter!

CBD hemp oil

What is CBD Hemp Oil?

CBD hemp oilI don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time a patient whispered that they were treating their dog with CBD hemp oil.  She equated it to smoking weed and assumed it was a bad thing.  It took all my power not to chuckle at how secretive she was being about a natural supplement.  Unfortunately, she is not the only one with this belief.  There are big differences between CBD hemp oil and “traditional” marijuana, however.  In this article, we will explain the difference and the benefits.

What is CBD hemp oil?

CBD is short for cannabidiol, the active chemical in hemp oil which contains many therapeutic effects.  Hemp oil is different than traditional or medical marijuana because it is derived from hemp plants that are low in THC.  THC is the active chemical that contributes to a “high” feeling.  Traditional medical marijuana products are high in THC as well as CBD.  However, not everyone wants their pet to be high while receiving the benefits of CBD.  Therefore, hemp oil is an option to provide benefits without impairing its user.

What does CBD do?

CBD interacts with numerous systems in the body.  There are two types of receptors that we are currently aware of.  These are:

  • CB1 receptors – These are found throughout the body, but many are in the brain.  These receptors involve movement, pain, mood, thinking, appetite and more.
  • CB2 receptors –  These are involved in the immune system.  They affect pain and inflammation.

CBD is believed to help with inflammation in addition to providing natural pain relief.  It also has many other therapeutic effects.

What conditions might CBD help?

According to sources, CBD may be beneficial in treating epilepsy and other similar disorders without many of the potential side effects that common treatments have.  Additionally, CBD may have a role in treating cancer.  According to a review, the chemical may play a role in preventing the spread of cancer to other regions of the body in addition to suppressing the growth of cancer cells and also killing them.  Other potential therapeutic benefits of CBD hemp oil may help with anxiety, type 1 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and more.

While there doesn’t appear to be any data on the long term effects of CBD use, it does seem as though there are very minimal side effects.  These side effects include tiredness and potential diarrhea.

As you can see, CBD hemp oil has many potential benefits.  As animal chiropractors, our goal is to restore normal motion and alignment to the joints of the body.  This helps reduce pain and inflammation.  CBD hemp oil is a great adjunct to help us do our jobs and get your fur family back on track as quick as possible.

kibble for healthy dog

Turmeric for your dog

Turmeric for your dog

People often ask us what supplements we recommend for their dogs.  That is a great question that truly depends on the condition an animal presents with.  However, one supplement we recommend for pretty much any condition is turmeric.  Turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory that helps with joint pain in addition to numerous other benefits.  It is one of our favorite supplements to complement chiropractic care.  So, why use turmeric for your dog?  Read on to find out.

Why turmeric for your dog?

Turmeric helps with numerous conditions including pain, blood clots, irritable bowel disease, doggy dementia, and more.  It does this by behaving as a natural, powerful anti-inflammatory.  This is important because unfortunately, many dog diets are carbohydrate heavy.  Most mainstream dog foods feature grain or potato. These break down to sugar when the body metabolizes them.  Sugar is pro-inflammatory and leads to a whole litany of side effects.  If your dog is taking turmeric, it can help counter this and all of the negative effects of chronic inflammation.

Why is turmeric a great complement to chiropractic care?

As mentioned previously,  turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  The majority of people who bring their dogs, horses, or cats to us do so because they are in pain – or just not moving as well as they usually do.  Inflammation initiates the pain response in the body.  If we can minimize it, our pets experience less pain.  Therefore, turmeric is a great supplement for joint pain.

Additionally, inflammation is known to contribute to degeneration of joints.  Have you heard of arthritis?  Most people have.  Arthritis is the result of an abnormal load on a joint.  The pathological load leads to inflammation.  Prolonged exposure to abnormal loading and inflammation eventually wears down the joint leading to arthritis.  As animal chiropractors, are goal is to restore normal motion and alignment to the joints.  This will help reduce inflammation in the area.  However, adding turmeric expedites this process and gets your pup feeling better faster!

As you can see, there are a lot of benefits to turmeric.  Adding a natural anti-inflammatory supplement helps counter so many things, including the effects of a pro-inflammatory diet.  Additionally, it is a great complement to animal chiropractic care and enhances recovery.  There are a bunch of supplements on the market, but turmeric for your dog is as close to a home run as you can get!

animal chiropractor

Why should I continue visiting the animal chiropractor?

animal chiropractor

Why would anyone continue visiting the animal chiropractor after their pet is better?  After all, your pup came in with a limp and now it is gone.  So, the original problem is corrected – right?  The answer to that is probably yes.  However, there are multiple reasons to get checked every few months if your pet has suffered in the past.  We discuss a few reasons why below.

Your pet always shows pain, right?

Actually, many pets don’t show pain or an injury until it is advanced.  The reason for this has a little to do with evolution.  In the wild, an animal that shows weakness moves to the bottom of the food chain.  Predators try and sniff out the injured ones for an easy meal.  Therefore, it is best for an animal to avoid showing injury.  However, they feel pain just like you and I.  An animal chiropractor is trained to identify problems in the spine and joints before your pet shows any issues.  Getting periodic check ups will help catch issues before they become a big problem.

Starting over care may be more expensive in the long run

The great thing about animal chiropractic is that animals tend to respond quickly, and it is a much cheaper alternative than surgery and other costly options.  However, if your pet has gone through care before you understand that it takes a little more time up front to help them get back to normal.  Once they are back to normal, you definitely want to keep them that way.  A visit every few months can usually help maintain that.  However, if a pet goes longer without a check up sometimes the original injury returns.  The animal will require the same amount of care in frequency and duration as it did the initial visit.  It is much easier to try and protect the spine again regression!

Should you visit an animal chiropractor if your pet has never had a problem?

I would highly recommend periodic visits for a pet even if it hasn’t had problems before.  A healthy pet will not require an intense period of care up front.  Rather, the animal chiropractor will be able to assess the health of the spine and make recommendations based off that.  Frequently, animals that have never suffered with an injury can go months without a check up.  Fortunately, a periodic check up will catch any small issues before they snowball down the road into something serious.

So, why would someone continue visiting the animal chiropractor after they pet is healthy?  As we’ve discussed, animals don’t show pain unless it’s advanced, it is more cost effective in the long run typically, and you can catch small issues before they become major problems.  Interested in learning more?  Visit us at


Rascall the Rescue and her Arthritis

dogarthritisRascal is a senior gal dealing with some arthritis and generalized discomfort. She came to see us because she was struggling with her normal activities and just didn’t have that pep in her step like she once had. Her fur mom wanted to avoid putting her on medications long term and was looking for a natural way to make her baby a bit more comfortable.

When Rascal first came to see us she was walking with an unsteady and obviously uncomfortable gait. She was slow moving and really struggled to get herself up and down. During her first adjustment Rascall just completely relaxed. She plopped on down and allowed a full workup!

Her mom brought her back to see us one week later and what a difference that week had made! Rascal walked in with vigor, was able to handle the tile floor without any trouble and was able to sit/stand much easier than the previous week. Her mom tells us she has been spunky as ever, her hind legs seemed stronger and she was way more energetic. Sometimes the simplest things can give our senior dogs a new lease on life!

pain relief for pets

Pain relief for pets

Our society has a habit of masking symptoms rather than addressing them.  For example, if we have knee pain we pain relief for petstake a pain pill.  However, what does this pill really do?  It more or less tricks the body into thinking there is no problem with the knee – even though there clearly is.  Pain is a warning sign, kind of like the flashing symbol you might see in your car when the gasoline is low.  Now, there are without a doubt times where pharmaceuticals are beneficial.  However, we tend to abuse the system and ignore the underlying problem.  Our pets suffer from the same problems we do, and we often treat them the same.  When it comes to pain relief for pets, there are numerous ways to approach it.  However, did you know animal chiropractic care is an effective, natural option for your pet?

Chiropractic care and pain relief for pets

We have many clients that make their way to us because they want to try a different approach for their pet’s pain.  Often, we hear that their prescribed medication makes their dog sleep all day and affects their behavior.  They miss the way their dog behaved when they were healthy.  We don’t blame them.  Our pets are our family and it is not easy seeing them go through a rough patch.  Our goal with care is to help address any underlying problems that may be the cause of pain and get them back to their healthy self.  So, what is it that animal chiropractors do then?

Board certified animal chiropractors are trained to examine the joints of the spine and extremities for any abnormalities, known as structural shifts.  Structural shifts are problematic for numerous reasons.  They cause inflammation that stresses the muscles, joints, discs, and nerves of the body.  This leads to pain, muscle spasm, and prevents the body from healing itself and functioning optimally among other things.  Correcting these structural shifts helps pets recover from their pain and allows them to heal.

How long does it take to see results?

The great thing about animal chiropractic is that it doesn’t take long to see results!  We have a “trial period” of three visits to see if it will be an effective treatment.  The good news?  We frequently see results soon after the first adjustment and almost all pets see improvement by the third visit.

Seeing our pets in pain is a tough ordeal.  Pills certainly help, but should be a short term strategy until the primary cause is addressed.  The good news is that their are natural ways to treat the underlying problem.  One of these is animal chiropractic.  Don’t know where to find one?  Click here to find one near you!


Guinness the Dachshund with IVDD

IVDDMeet Guinness the dachshund, he has IVDD. Guinness is just a baby and he began having some serious back pain because of the disc disease. After going to their veterinarian, Guinness was given several options including medication for now and potentially surgery later on, maybe a wheelcart, depending on his own situation. That was certainly a lot of information to take in for such a young and once spunky guy. He was diagnosed with IVDD, a very common condition in the Weiner dog world. Once they got him home from the vet, his fur parents really wanted to look into other options for his care.

Guinness came to see us shortly after this bout of pain began. He was crying, shaking, and unwilling to do his normal everyday activities. Even bending his head down to eat was a problem, and he certainly wasn’t jumping up onto the sofa anymore. It all had happened quite quickly and what seemed to be out of nowhere. Guinness walked in all hunched up and was a tight little ball of muscle spasm. We gave his dad a few different exercises to try with him and told him to get back in one week later for another visit to get the ball rolling.

Touching base with his dad a few days later, Guinness was already 70 percent back to himself. He wasn’t on any medications, he was walking and eating, and he was back to getting on his bed and the sofa. After visit number two his hunch had completely disappeared and he was walking completely normal. Guinness will always have IVDD, and the risk of him getting hurt is definitely higher, however, because his parents have chosen to supplement his standard care with chiropractic, we are hoping to prevent the majority of what normally comes with the diagnosis. We have no interest in seeing Guinness undergo surgery or end up in a cart, that’s why he has become a well adjusted dog!