Something Missing

1“Tell your clients to feed their animals a good commercial pet food and to avoid table scraps” These words, according to Dr Richard Pitcairn summed up the instruction he’d received on pet nutrition for his entire time in veterinary college!

His first job found Pitcairn in a busy practice that handled small and large animals. It soon became clear that the optimistic predictions of great results from an arsenal of drugs and surgical techniques in which he was trained, represented a disconnect from what he was experiencing. In spite of his best efforts, many animal patients failed to show significant improvement.

Providence Intervenes

In search of answers, Pitcairn providentially received an offer to teach in a veterinary college. That move soon led to him resuming his own studies, digging deeper into the science behind veterinary practice. After 5 years, and getting his PhD degree, the answers he was looking for still eluded him. So began a lifetime pattern of reading broadly on matters of health, nutrition and immunity. He’d try out alternate approaches on himself; then with initial successes using a more holistic approach Pitcairn started using homeopathy and healthier, often raw, foods with family members and pets.

Many of the results were dramatic including his own health and wellbeing. He started to feel younger, and more alert and alive, on the new food regimen.

As a result, Dr Pitcairn came to believe that proper nutrition is the true foundation of all health and healing. Introducing a natural diet to his veterinary clients for use on their pets he soon found the results in these animals 2“nothing short of amazing”!

What’s Wrong With Commercial Pet Food

Pitcairn notes that in the USA we now have 70,000 chemicals in use, many of which effect the food-chain. This problem, serious as it is for human grade commercial food, is typically exacerbated with pet foods. They are usually over-processed, denatured, and contaminated with meat byproducts. A 3list of undesirable things in these foods follows:

Slaughterhouse waste
Toxic products from spoiled foodstuffs
Non-nutritive fillers
Heavy-metal contaminants
Pesticides and herbicides
Drug residues
Artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
Bacteria and fungi contaminants

He’s convinced that many chronic and degenerative diseases so common today can be attributed in one degree or another to poor diet.

Balanced Approach

If one attribute stands out in the approach Dr Pitcairn has developed for feeding pets, it is that he tries to balance nutritional requirements, quality of ingredients, cost, and accessibility. Acutely aware, as we must be, of the environmental pollutants that find their way into the food chain, he tries to reduce exposure to food items which may be most effected. This consideration assumes particular importance when it comes to the various meats that we may feed our animals.

Meat: The Problem of Chemicals

Chemical accumulations in commercially-reared meat is one of the biggest concerns in feeding our dogs. Emulating the natural diet, as we’ve noted in our study of raw food – see article Raw Food Diets for Dogs – typically calls for more, not less, meat than the average commercially-produced foods. So, it is disturbing to note that the more meat they eat, the greater the accumulation of potentially toxic substances in the dog’s body.

Nevertheless, in spite of this problem, a largely raw diet which includes whole, unprocessed, meats has again and again shown itself to be far more healthy for dogs than commercially produced dog foods.

Combining Meat With Other Proteins

Pitcairn takes the approach that reducing the meat component and adding carefully selected grains and legumes which are high in protein, to make up the difference, actually provides a double advantage: First, less meat means less chemical accumulation. Second, these alternate protein sources result in a diet that is less rich than one where meat alone is relied on to provide the required protein.

He makes the case that canines in the wild expend far more energy in the course of their lives than the majority of domesticated dogs. Thus, he reasons that our pets will do better on the less rich diet that comes from reducing the meat quantities.

Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide…

I want to wrap up by pointing to this excellent publication: Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. The print version has more than 450 pages. It’s a comprehensive volume which includes plenty of details on what we’ve touched on above, along with a number of recipes which will prove immensely helpful for those interested in preparing healthy meals at home for their dogs.

Click the link below to go to the appropriate Amazon page for more details:

1Dr Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dog’s & Cats, Third Edition, page 5
2Ibid, page (whoops – I neglected to record the page#; will put it in when I find it!)
3Ibid, page 16



  1. my german shepherd is a 3year old nueterd male, he”s my third one, second male, I don”t have papers on him like my first which was a german import with many 2″ and 3″s, Shutsland? spelling? but having learned from the first two, the few books and experience, has turned into a wonderful intelligent, loyal, well, you know.. It”s just he and I , wife passed from cancer when he was 3 mos. always wanted another but wife, not so much. his name is Kiefer, after Kiefer Sutherland, my show 24. to get my wife involved she helped to name him and quickly became attached.

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