Itchy, Fussy, Tooty or Dopey… Pets?


Posted by Optimal Pet Foods | Posted in Allergies, Scratching, Hot Spots, Dull Coat, Fussy Pet, Irritable Bowel / Digestion, Raw Food, Weight Control | Posted on 19-10-2010

And we’re not talking about the seven dwarfs here either.

Many of the common problems our dogs and cats are experiencing all come down to one cause… diet.

Rather than treating symptoms by pumping our pets full of steroids, drugs, and questionable “prescription” diets, many problems can be alleviated or resolved completely through appropriate nutrition. Likewise instead of blaming genetics or breeding practices lets look at the single most determining factor in health, what we put into our bodies!

Do any of these sound familiar?


Itching, scratching, skin eruptions, ear problems and hot spots are all common symptoms of allergies. The most common allergies are food related, seasonal, and environmental.

Food allergies are certainly the most prevalent. Allergic dogs and cats can react to proteins in foods. Common allergens include chicken, beef, soy, and grains like corn and wheat.

Pets may also have adverse reactions to the plethora of chemical preservatives and additives present in most pet foods. Another cause includes over vaccination that increase sensitivities and occurrence of auto immune diseases.

Interestingly immunologists are finding that dogs and cats allergic to cooked or processed meats are not allergic to the protein in raw form.

Broiling and boiling kibble and canned food to oblivion denatures proteins, alters fats and destroys almost all nutritional value of the food, so much so that artificial vitamins and minerals must be added to make the food “somewhat” complete, never being able to fully regain what was originally lost.

Typical allergy tests utilize cooked protein isolates to test against, only telling us that the animal is allergic to the cooked protein, not raw.

The good news is this – there are plenty of healthy and affordable feeding options available that will improve or resolve food allergies. Raw food is the gold standard to resolve most allergies, while greatly improving your pets health to a level that can only be accomplished with an unprocessed diet.


Fussy or picky pets are out there. Some dogs and cats simply become bored eating the same food exclusively, day in and day out for years on end, creating “sensitive stomachs” anytime a switch is made. Other times our little carnivores simply don’t recognize their grain based food as, well.. food at all.

On the opposite spectrum some pets are so addicted to their poor quality, chemical laden and high carbohydrate grocery store food that it can take some patience moving them onto a healthy food.

Some relief can be found in that there is usually an answer for most of the fussy guys and gals out there. Whether it’s a new species appropriate dry food, canned, refrigerated, raw or supplemental home made diet, there are always options.


An increasingly common situation exists when a dog or cat is having trouble digesting their food. Irritable bowel, diarrhea, gas and sensitive stomach are used to describe the problem.

People turn to expensive grain based hydrolyzed diets that fail to work, or after seemingly trying everything give up all together.

We will share a story of a caring lady that came into our store who was out of options. Her dog was unable to “digest” his food. In an ongoing battle that lasted years, she tried moving from diet to diet, trying pro-biotics and enzymes, trying all sorts of exotic products, and spent a fortune on countless veterinarian visits that did not help.

The dog was miserable, and she could no longer afford the ongoing veterinary visits. The woman acknowledged she was willing to give it one more try before contemplating putting her dog down.

Having seen this sort of problem before we suggested moving the dog to a raw food diet. After some discussion she agreed and we asked she give us her feedback.

Amazingly to her within days of the switch the dog’s stool firmed up and digestive issues resolved.

Why did it work so well?

Quite simply, many animals simply cannot digest cooked or processed food.

When a food is cooked the enzymes that normally facilitate digestion are inactivated, proteins become damaged and denatured, fats can spoil, beneficial bacteria destroyed, and most naturally occurring vitamins depleted… it just cannot be the same.

To make things worse many foods are loaded with cheap grains, nutrition-less fillers and additives – the only function of which is to increase shelf life and the big pet food companies bottom line.

Canines and felines have been thriving on their natural foods for hundreds of thousands of years.

A dog’s, cat’s and ferret’s anatomy is to this day not designed to effectively ingest processed food, or high levels of vegetation. Likewise studies found no evidence of ingested grains in the stomach contents of wild dogs and cats. Carbohydrates and starches can increase yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract, adding to the problem.

While many dogs, cats and ferrets can do very well on a higher quality dry, canned or refrigerated diets, be aware that going back to their natural diet may be the best option to resolve this type of issue.


Overweight.. underweight.. many dogs and cats can never seem to find balance.

Some can never find satisfaction. Eating foods with little or no meat content, containing fillers like powdered cellulose and dried (sugar) beet pulp, rice hulls, and cheap grains bloat their tummies leading to an artificial feeling of being full. All the while their cells are starving for protein and proper nutrition.

Carbohydrates that are unused are easily stored in the body as fat. Unlike carbohydrates, extra protein is either metabolized for energy or secreted through the body’s natural functions.

Ultimately turning to more nutritionally dense food, including raw can be the answer to normalize weight problems.

There Are Seven Dwarfs, Aren’t There?

Of course! Let’s not forget about these guys either…


A dull, dry or poor coat is the first symptom of a nutritional problem.

Skin cells are among the fastest to overturn in the body. If an animal’s skin and coat are in poor condition, what does this tell us about the rest of their body?

Essential fatty acid supplementation, especially in the case of fish based Omega 3 can greatly improve skin condition while reducing inflammation and dryness. Omega 3 supplementation balances out the over abundance of Omega 6 in most diets.

When pets may be lacking trace minerals not present in their diet, kelp supplementation can also help.

Be aware that preservatives and additives can cause reactions and promote an inflammatory state in skin. Avoiding preservatives, additives, and colouring is important.

Ultimately, the cause is an unsuitable diet that doesn’t meet the nutritional needs of the animal. When moved to a more species appropriate diet, the results can be amazing.


It may be surprising to find out that body odor in many pets can be improved or eliminated through an appropriate diet.

How about doggy breath?

Many pet owners are concerned that not feeding a hard kibble will increase dental problems, this simply isn’t the case.

Most dental problems are in fact caused by processed pet food! Left unchecked, periodontal disease can cause persistent pain and literally take years off the life of your pets.

Eating kibble, even “oral care” varieties, is akin to us eating tortilla chips to clean our teeth. The sticky mess that comes from ingesting starches certainly doesn’t prevent dental issues. Regardless of the type of food fed, daily brushing is important to keep your pet and their teeth healthy.

Most foods contain high levels of carbohydrates and starches that only add to the problem, binding to teeth, increasing tooth decay and promotingĀ  yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract.

On the opposite side, raw food is starch free, unprocessed and is naturally less likely to contribute to dental problems than processed food. Wild dogs and cats use their teeth to rip and tear off flesh, grind bone and chew tendons to provide a natural brushing and flossing action.

Feeding muscle chews (bully sticks), dental chews and raw chewing bones are other great ways to keep teeth clean.


We may all have one of these without knowing it.

You may know what we’re talking about. An animal that just tends to mind their own business, not really getting too involved or enthusiastic about life. They appear to be well on the outside but appearances canĀ  be deceiving.

We have had a few of these, including one such ferret and cat, seemingly more lazy than the rest.

A few years ago, before we opened our store, our animals began coming down with all sorts of illnesses. This is when we began researching the pet industry.

As the story goes we realized the problem came down to diet. Soon after transitioning our animals to a raw diet, one by one the problems disappeared.

Lo and behold, our lazy ferret and cat miraculously had a new found jolt of energy!

No longer were they sluggish, with lack of interest in life. Instead they were bursting with energy, it was a pretty amazing thing to witness.

Unexpectedly, our seemingly healthy pets experienced the same effect. What pets we assumed looked healthy shifted into ultra sleek coats, their weight normalized and they glowed of radiant health.

This some years back, when we brought them to our vet, she was shocked at the results, despite her initial concerns of feeding them a “natural diet”. Many people find the frequent trips to the vet for preventable flare ups are greatly reduced when switching to a raw food diet.

So There We Have It

A growing number of veterinarians and nutritionists believe processed pet food is the number one cause of the illness and early death facing our dogs and cats today. Claims of 100% Complete and Balanced have repeatedly failed, despite various reformulations, they can never be fully complete.

Healthy options are available that are both species appropriate and affordable.

Before we began researching the pet industry, we assumed our animals were in good health. Eventually, one by one many came down with one issue or another. Only in taking a significant look at their diet were we able to improve their health.

Just think how many animals are out there are suffering from conditions that should have been prevented in the first place… it’s staggering. So many more pets out there can be helped!

Youth can be deceiving, most young pets appear fine until they become older and begin experiencing preventable degenerative diseases, getting stuck in a vicious cycle of not finding any relief to the basic problem.

The reason we write these articles, the reason we have such a passion for this, is because so much is wrong with the current system. Having gone through many similar issues ourselves only to see them resolve against all skepticism and bad advice is head turning. If pets were healthy this type of pet store wouldn’t exist.

Many people are already doing the right things and are on the right track, choosing species appropriate foods with ingredients their pets were designed to eat. Some are alternating foods and not relying exclusively on processed diets.

Many healthy dry and canned foods are available in the specialty pet food stores. Raw food diets continue to grow with popularity and convenience, providing optimal health for our pets.

We believe this trend will continue into the future as more people learn that eating healthier is better for our pets, just as it is for us.

Any questions? Feel free to drop in. Likewise if you’re interested in trying a new food, we have free samples of raw and dry food available for many products and would be happy to help you find the right food for your pet.

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Comments (2)

I have a teenage german shepherd who has had digestion problems and diarrhea for months. Vet has not suggested Raw Diet. Suggestions?


Hi Rick – Unfortunately many vets are not knowledgeable about raw dog food – we see many dogs who cannot handle any type of cooked food and experience chronic digestive problems and diarrhea until they switch to a raw diet. The resolution is immediate upon switching to a balanced raw diet.

If you would like support from an integrative vet or holistic vet you may find one near you at:



Also, a great site by integrative vet Dr. Karen Becker where you can learn more about raw feeding is:

Various recipe books are also available to help you make a balanced home made raw diet, including one at Dr. Becker’s site above.

Hope that helps!

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