An important trend in nutrition research is aimed at preventing disease, not just treating it.
Susan H. Bertram, DVM |
Posted: Tue Feb 27 00:00:00 PST 2001
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Among the more innovative projects, the Morris Anima Foundation funds research at Colorado State University that studies how nutrition may help treat cancer. Dogs with cancer have an abnormal metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, which serves to enhance tumor growth while starving the patient of energy regardless of the amount the dog eats. Preliminary studies have demonstrated a diet with complex carbohydrates (instead of simple sugars), highly bioavailable proteins that can be easily digested and used by the animal's body, and moderate levels of fats (including omega-3 fatty acids) can help animals with cancer gain weight and respond better to chemotherapy, radiation or surgical therapy.
In some cases, the diet may slow tumor growth. Researchers emphasize no definitive "cancer diet" has been determined, so homemade recipes or commercial versions aren't currently available but are an ultimate goal.
Recent research has dispelled many dietary myths and led to the development of innovative specialty diets addressing large-breed puppies, geriatric and obese dogs, and those with diabetes, food allergies and kidney failure. Large-breed puppies used to be given calcium supplements for their big, rapidly growing bones. Current findings prove they need less calcium than smaller breed puppies.
Lower-calcium diets may stave off developmental bone diseases called HOD (hypertrophic osteodystrophy) and osteochondrosis. Pushing calories for rapid growth is equally harmful. "The adult size of a dog is genetically determined," Dr. Carey said, "and if large-breed puppies, those that will weigh 65 pounds or more as adults, are fed to grow more gradually, they have fewer problems with their bones but will still attain their full adult size." Several large-breed puppy foods incorporate these discoveries.
On the other end of the age spectrum, geriatric dogs were once thought to need less protein in their diet for maintaining muscle because they are more sedentary. In fact, the opposite is true: As long as they don't have preexisting kidney disease, older dogs actually need more protein, Dr. Hannah said. With this in mind, Ralston Purina developed two diets for older dogs that contain different fat levels, recognizing some older dogs are too thin and some are overweight.
Although obesity is the leading nutrition-related disease in dogs, many premium diets contain high fat levels, which improve palatability. Some manufacturers, such as Waltham USA Inc. in Vernon, Calif., offer diets that address various medical conditions - such as kidney and liver disease, gastrointestinal disease and food allergies - but also offer lower fat levels. "[They] rely on high-quality proteins and grains for palatability," said James Sokolowski, DVM, Ph.D., professional services manager for Waltham.Page 1 | 2 | 3
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