Optimum Pet Health

Recently, I read a veterinary report that was quite alarming. It said:

“In spite of all the modern advances in veterinary medicine today, we are seeing an increase incidence of disease in our pets.”

In order to achieve optimum health, complete wellness and a long life everything that affects pet health must be taken into consideration.

Pet Health Defined

The standard medical definition of pet health is simply the absence of any clinical disease.

I believe Pet Health is much more than that. For me, pet health should include all of the following characteristics:

  • An active, playful pet with noticeable energy
  • A lean muscular body
  • Healthy skin and a shiny hair coat
  • Mentally sharp, alert and responsive
  • All systems of the body are functioning at peak performance
  • A balanced, functional immune system
  • Absent of any clinically defined disease
  • Free of any age related degenerative disease

Did you know that very few animals ever die of old age? Most succumb prematurely to what is usually termed Natural Causes. Why is it that a long and healthy life is rarely achieved within our pet population today? The answer! Our pets are dying prematurely of chronic, degenerative diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, diabetes and heart disease.

The Forces of Life Affect Pet Health

As I often remind pet owners…there are three primary forces in life that directly affect overall pet health, well-being and length of life. They are: Genetics, Environment and Nutrition. They can assert their force individually or in concert with each other. Optimum health is achieved when all three are in balance.


Many animals are blessed with strong genes that enable them to live healthier and longer lives while others, it seems, are constantly faced with health problems. Fact: 1 in 4 of our pure-bred dogs suffers from health problems caused by genetic defects.

The evolutionary tale of how dogs descended from the grey wolf to 400 very diverse breeds sheds light on the genetic problems we face today. It has been well documented that the primary consequence of interbreeding to create man-made purebreds, each with unique type and individual traits, is that over the years many behavior and disease-causing genes have been introduced and concentrated in these breeds creating numerous health problems that persist today.

A quick glimpse into where many of our pets come from reveals that many of today’s genetic problems are a result of breeds becoming overly popular and thus being bred excessively without exercising any caution.


Environmental issues include both physical and emotional ones. Weather, pollution, pesticides, toxins, noise, parasites, mold, bacteria and viruses are just a few of the environmental forces our pets must contend with. All too often, the environment we place our pets into can wreak havoc with their health. When we choose a pet simply for how they look, we may not be equipped to provide them the space or attention they need. Convenience often usurps doing the right thing. And, it’s a sad fact that human abuse of animals, the most severe of environmental factors continues to be a major problem.

Pet Health Fact: Lung cancer is on the rise in pets as a result of second-hand smoke from owners.


Scientists teach us that food can make us healthy and strong or it can make us very sick and weak. In 450 BC, Herodotus said the following: “All diseases to which man is subject proceed from food.” This is also a widely held opinion among many scientists today yet it is all too often ignored.

Nutrition is considered the “Foundation of Life”. Nutrition is also the easiest of the three forces for most veterinarians to control. As such, nutrition is where the majority of our attention should be focused in order to defend any pet’s health to the best of our ability.

Pet Health Fact: Obesity is the number one health concern facing our pet population today. Obesity is a nutritional disorder not seen in wild carnivores. Because our pets eat what we provide, this is a man-made disease stemming from an inadequate diet. This problem really should not exist.

The Natural Process of Wear and Repair

Buildup vs. Breakdown

Normally, every cell in a dog or cat’s body repeatedly breaks down and is replaced throughout its life. The cells of the skin, muscle, bone, organs and blood all undergo death and rebirth on a very specific schedule. This natural process affects the trillions of cells of the dog and cat throughout growth, adulthood and senior life.

During growth, the rate of tissue-building is greater than that of tissue breakdown.

As adults, the process of buildup and breakdown is fairly equal or in balance.

When animals reach their senior years, breakdown begins to exceed repair, which leads to the onset of degenerative diseases and the acceleration of aging.

We are all programmed to accept that as we progress in years the signs of aging will become more prominent and age-related diseases will begin to manifest themselves. Does it really have to be this way?

Consider this – as animal’s age they become depleted in many of the nutrients they need for tissue repair. Less than optimum nutrition allows the forces of wear to exceed the forces of repair leading to premature cell death. If you are recommending a typical maintenance diet that does not support optimum repair and regeneration then premature aging and early death will result.

Supporting an animal’s natural power of self-healing through optimum nutrition can and will extend the period where tissue building and tissue breakdown remain in balance. This slows the onset of disease and will allow a dog or cat to remain healthy longer and age more slowly.

One certain way to extend the period where build-up and breakdown are in balance is by controlling genetics, improving the environment we place our pets in and providing optimum nutrition throughout an animal’s life. Optimum nutrition supports a pet’s natural power of self-healing, reduces the risk of disease and slows the process of aging.

Optimum Nutrition is the single most important factor when it comes to overall health & well-being.

My Personal Approach to Achieving Optimum Pet Health

Every day, hundreds of thousands of pet owners search the web for answers to questions like:

  • What can I do to keep my pet healthier?
  • What should I be feeding my pet?
  • Why don’t our pets live longer than they do?

Answers are abundantly available; however, many of them are:

  • Influenced by individual bias and opinion
  • Misunderstood, because most scientists usually do not agree on the facts
  • Downright untruthful at times as marketing hype and gimmicks are used to promote products.

For the best answers, veterinarians and pet owners alike need to understand how health, nutrition and longevity are all related. In my nutrition and health sections of the advancedveterinarynutrition.com website I hope to shorten the learning curve for all. I have found that studying the latest in science and applying some good old common sense usually works.

Did you ever wonder why there is often a difference between a dog or cat’s chronological age and their biological age? We see the same thing every day in our neighbors and friends. Some pets age faster than their calendar years while others remain youthful and more active.

Ever wonder why some pets are always sick requiring multiple visits to the veterinarian and constant medication while others remain quite healthy? Genetics plays an important part but so does the environment and nutrition. Given the proper genetics, environment and nutrition most pets possess amazing powers of self-healing and regeneration.

Did you know that most pets do not die of old age? Modern veterinary medicine has done much to eliminate early death due to such things as infection or trauma. The major causes of ill health and death today are the chronic degenerative diseases such as cancer, liver failure, kidney and heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.

If we could proactively protect against these chronic degenerative diseases we could give our pets the chance of living a longer life as well as having a better quality of life. Prevention is always better than trying to cure a sick animal.

I have been a veterinarian for 40 years now. During that time I have studied and practiced the scientific principles of living longer, preventing disease and what can be accomplished when we pay attention to Genetics, Environment and Nutrition.

Humans have been making nutritional mistakes for as long as I can remember. Just look at what sugar and corn syrup have done for us. We have also made the same mistakes with our pet’s nutrition. Just look at what poor quality protein sources, the abundant use of carbohydrates like corn, wheat and rice have done for the health of our dogs and cats. I have been lecturing on the benefits of feeding biologically appropriate foods to our dogs and cats for the past 30 years. Foods should be based on a dog or cat’s digestive anatomy and physiology not what is cheap or convenient. Remember, our pet’s ancestors naturally selected food sources over time that allowed them to remain strong, alert and as healthy as possible. Shouldn’t we be doing the same for our domesticated pets?

I would like to share some of the knowledge I have gained over the years. Because without a good understanding of the problems that face out pets we will undoubtedly continue down the path of making the same human judgment errors we have made in the past concerning the health of our pets.