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Un-process Your Pet’s Food

Un-process Your Pet’s Food

- Tracey Stewart

Just when I was getting cocky about all of the good changes I was making with my kid's food, I got knocked down a few notches after a visit from my beloved Doggy Acupuncturist, Dr. Steve Chiros of East Meets West Veterinary Care. Dr. Chiros left Animal Medical Center, and has been in private practice for 14 years. My sweet little poundcake of a senior dog, Barkly, suffered a herniated disk several months ago, and Dr. Chiros treated him back to his old self in no time.

When we first discovered Barkly’s injury, I let Dr. Chiros know that his appetite had greatly diminished. He looked down at his sad, dry bowl of brownish kibble and asked, “Can you blame him?” “I know, I know,” I said, “but I don’t know enough about canine nutrition to trust that I won’t f$&K things up by trying not to feed him processed foods.” Luckily, Dr. Chiros is the most calming person I know, and he assured me that he could teach me everything I needed to know in order to do things right.

If it were better for my kids to be eating un-processed foods, wouldn’t it be better for my dogs, too?

why should we make a dietary change for our pets?

A good diet can contribute to a healthier lifestyle, as well as some physical benefits for our pets. Going grain-free with our pet food is becoming a trend within the pet-owning community, and for good reason. Dr. Chiros’ background in Chinese herbal medicines, has allowed him to conclude that grains are dampening, which leads to an unhappy spleen and decreased blood production in our dogs. Biologically, dogs lack a digestive enzyme in their saliva called amylase, which is needed to break down and process starches. Therefore, as we feed our dogs high-strach food, the burden of digestion is falling entirely on the pancreas to produce enough amylase to digest the carbohydrates, causing it to work harder than it’s supposed to.

Sound complicated? Simply, dogs are just not meant to eat this stuff. From their sharp teeth to the vertical movement of the jaw, and their shorter gastrointestinal tract, their bodies are designed to process meat.

In order to get my dog’s health on track, Dr. Chiros wrote out a plan to implement into his eating regime. We were to follow a home-cooked diet, in combination with raw foods, and enhanced by additional herbs and supplements. All changes were to be made gradually over a 1–2 week period.

before you begin, determine the temperature of your dog.

When choosing a diet for your dogs, you must first consider if they are “warmer dogs” or “cooler dogs.” Defining what type of dog they are will help to determine which foods their diet should include and which should be mostly avoided.


1. Temperature preference - Does your dog like the hot or the cold weather? Does your dog sleep on a cold tile floor? Do they seek out warm sunny spots? If your pet sleeps in bed with you, do they sleep over or under the covers? Does your pet have a preference for warm or cold water?

2. Season - If it is hot outside, lean towards cool to neutral foods. If it is cold outside, lean towards neutral to warming foods.

Before designing a diet based on temperature, it is necessary to consult a veterinarian who practices traditional Chinese veterinary medicine to get a detailed assessment of your pet's temperature energetic from a Chinese perspective.

Once you have classified the temperature of your dog, there are Warming foods (Yang) or Cooling foods (Yin) to choose from:


Vegetable and Fruit - apricot, blackberry, cherry, ginger, papaya, peach, red pepper, plum, pumpkin, squash
, bean
Other - oats, quinoa, white rice, pepper, nutmeg, tumeric


Vegetable and Fruit - alfalfa, apple, banana, blueberry, broccoli, celery, cucumber, eggplant, kiwi, mango, mushroom, pear, persimmon, spinach, strawberry, tomato, watermelon, 
grain and beans
Other - barley, brown rice, buckwheat, most fish oil, flax (seed, oil), green tea, honey, millet, mint, soybean and tofu


Vegetable and Fruit - asparagus, beet, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, date, fig, lychee, pineapple, potato (white and sweet), radish, yam, 
grains, beans
Other - most beans, corn, peas

dietary suggestions from dr. chiros:

Some Tips:


  • Vary the type of foods you use, in order to guard against food sensitivities or nutritional deficiencies which may arise from always using the same ingredients.
  • Avoid carbohydrates unless your pet has trouble gaining weight.
    Carbohydrates include: Peas, Oats, Wheat, Grains, Corn, Potatoes, Rice
  • Vegetables can also be used to supply the right amount of carbohydrates. Any vegetable is okay - grated or steamed to make them digestible.
  • Pre-prepared frozen vegetables which have been sold to be fed raw, (see list below) can be lightly stir-fried and fed as a home-cooked diet.
  • Never feed your dog poultry or pork bones and never feed cooked bones.

- Use less vegetables - only 5% to 10%
- Add Omega fatty acids/fish oils

The above diet can be fed to your pet exclusively, or it can be used in combination with one of the other diets listed below.

pre-prepared RAW DIETS


The Honest Kitchen -- This is a dehydrated, raw diet that is totally balanced and healthy. Kept it in your cupboard, it has the consistency of oatmeal flakes, so it travels well. Just add water, let it sit for about 10 minutes and feed it to your pet. You can also add meat to this diet to make it tastier and increase the protein content.


Primal or Stella and Chewy's or Nature's Variety - These diets have the benefits of raw food nutritionally but, since they are freeze dried, they are somewhat processed and therefore easier to digest then a frozen raw diet. They don't need to be refrigerated, and can be kept in your cupboard. Crumble one of the patties over your pet's food to increase the protein content and make it tastier. Or soak the patty in warm water for 5-10 minutes and then serve.


Primal or Stella and Chewy's or Nature's Variety or Bravo Raw Food - These diets are completely unprocessed and are the most nutritious. Kept in your freezer, it should be allowed to thaw out to room temperature before being served.


Omega 3 fatty acids - This supplement in their food should help with their coat, and is a strong anti-inflammatory. A dose of fish oil is 300mg EPA and 200 mg DHA (contained in a double strength capsule of Fish Oil 1000mg) per 20 lbs of body weight daily. Beware: giving too much fish oil can cause diarrhea since it is so rich, so start with one drop in their food once daily and gradually increase the dose over 3-4 weeks.

Probiotic - These are a great addition to the canine diet and will help strengthen their good gastrointestinal flora. The probiotic recommended is called Proviable-DC by Nutramaxx Laboratories.


Dr. Steven Chiros graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1998 and completed an internship in 1999 at the Animal Medical Center in New York. His fourteen years in private small animal practice have given him an opportunity to learn and apply the principles of Western medicine and also recognize the necessity of its integration with alternative veterinary treatments. He is a certified veterinary acupuncturist through the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society and has received extensive instruction in Chinese herbal medicine.

He practices at East Meets West Veterinary Care, where he evaluates pets in the comfort of their home and formulates treatments based on their individual needs. Therapies may include acupuncture, herbal remedies, diet prescription, nutritional supplementation or a combination of these treatments.


live in nyc? visit dudley's paw to get everything you need for your dog >>

Posted in: Animal Kingdom   Recipes: In The Kitchen   

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Recent Comments

Linda said…

Although we don’t have a dog but a cat I completely agree on the grain-free diet. Our 14 year old Martha (yeah… I like Martha S…) had multiple health issues including skin rash, continuous hairloss, vomiting and eye infections. The vet gave her several antibiotics, injections and creams but nothing really worked. Then I stopped by at our pet store and asked if they had any suggestions. Basically, they told me exactly what is written here. We were lucky they sold an organic type of cat food that was grain free and we got a free pack just to try it out. Needless to say, it worked like a charm. We also feed her organ meat and fish for variation, although the pet store said that this should only be added in small quantities as a treat. She’s still a grumpy old tea cosy, but her health has never been better.

AJ Schott said…

I guess I’m lucky to live in an area where i can easily get frozen raw dog food (k-9 Kraving) and my pack of two dobermans and two min pins have never been healthier since switching their diet and eliminating grains. No more skin irritations and their coats, teeth (and breath) are so much better.

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