Heredity & Environment- What Role Does Nutrition Play in our dogs?

LuLu & Dee JeanE's Boston Terriers
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Heredity & Environment What Role Does Nutrition Play?

Are many of our dog problems today due to their environment or to poor heredity and what role does nutrition play?

I believe that many of our modern day dog diseases and genetic problems are due to the foods that we them, the abundance of vaccines we inject them with and other chemicals they have received and the conditions under which their food may be grown as well as the environments that they live in. All of these mentioned, alters their genetic make-up which in turn is pasted on to their offspring. I have just read an article by Edmund R. Dorosz, DVM, BSA in his article he stated that he just read an issue of Time Magazine. The cover titled “To The Dogs – The shame of overbreeding” over a picture of a sorrowful bulldog. The cover story “That’s No Way to Treat a Dog … Decades of bad breeding have saddled a quarter of America’s purebreds with hereditary illness that cripple and even kill – and the nation’s canine establishment is to blame” and how it went into the many problems seen in dog breeds today.

Problems such as bone diseases, hip dysplasia, retinal degeneration, skin allergies, lymphatic cancers, muscular dystrophy, undescended testicles, small litters, deformed puppies and behavior problems are listed, many specific to certain breeds. All seen in greater prevalence today then ever before.

“The appalling truth is that as many as 25 % of the 20 million purebred dogs in America — 1 in 4 animals — are afflicted with a serious genetic problem.” Dr  Dorosz stated that he attributed most of this to the Show Ring.  I, being a very knowledgable, reputable and ethical, natural rearing breeder for over 20 years, am going to disagree with this particular point of his.

Most breeders (myself included) of dogs for the show ring take great painstaking efforts to research pedigrees sometimes years in advance, health test their own dogs on a regular basis to make sure they are not breeding dogs that have health problems to begin with and are always interested in learning the best diet for them and many have begun to ease up on all the vaccinations.  More likely the afflicted animals Dr Dorosz and Time Magazine were referring to; were produced to supply the public and fill the pocketbook by back yard breeders and puppy mills, with no thought what so ever of the health and well-being of the parents or grand parents that would most likely pass on any genetic problems to their offspring.

So,  on the questions that arise:  what causes these health problems in the first place?

“The astonishing thing is that despite the scope of these diseases, veterinary researchers know next to nothing about what causes them and how to cure them.” Time Magazine

I personally believe with many others today that many of these problems are due to poor nutrition not only of the dog in question but also poor nutrition in the sire, dam and even grand sires and grand dams. Could these problems be due to generations of dogs being fed highly processed and refined diets filled with additives and other unnatural ingredients?

Diane Stein in her book The Natural Remedy Book for Dogs and Cats, states: “America is the richest nation in the world but its people are malnourished, despite all the media hype about good health in a bag or can, so are our pets.”

It is now a well known fact that we are seeing more and more unhealthy conditions in our dogs than ever before. Are the problems due to the exclusive feeding of processed diets containing large amounts of cereals, slaughter house by-products and the long lists of substances that we can not even pronounce? What about the endless bombardment of other chemicals in our dogs’ surroundings? Pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, the list goes on and on.

What are the long term effects on our dog population, not only on the individuals but on subsequent generations? Where did the defective genes come from? Were they there all a long and inbreeding and line breeding brought them to the fore or have the genes with their DNA and RNA been affected over the years of poor nutrition and exposure to chemicals in the environment?

Could hyperactivity and unusual behavior patterns in our dogs be due to diet?

“Human medicine states that, yes, behavior abnormalities in children can be related to diet. Heart disease and cancers are the main death causing conditions in man today. These conditions are also more prevalent now then ever before in our dog population. We are also seeing more bone and skin and hair problems.

We hear of many dogs today being allergic to meat. Beef, pork, lamb, chicken and other meats are being fingered as the culprits. This is something hard to believe, for a species that has been carnivorous for millions of years to be now allergic to meat. Maybe its something in the meat or in the ” complete and balanced ” diets that are foreign and new to our dogs that are causing the problem. Why do so many of these dogs clear up when fed a home grown, home prepared diet?

Heredity plays a big influence on all of us including our dogs and livestock but just as big an influence is environment and nutrition. Maybe bigger if one asks what caused the alteration in the genes in the first place? “Once a gene is altered the offspring start to show the alterations.”  Dr Dorosz

Please, give this some long, hard thought:  Are we seeing some of the results of the food that we have been feeding our dogs and the environments that they live in ? Problems not only in our individual dogs but in their offspring as well?  Are our pets the mine canaries of our own environment?

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