Why Are GMO Foods So Bad For Pets And People?

I just returned from the Veterinary Meeting Expo in Orlando, a large veterinary continuing education conference.  One of the most enlightening days I spent was attending a series of lectures put on by a prestigious group of integrative veterinary specialists.  This article is based on what I learned about foods derived from GMO and why it is widely believed to be one of the prevalent reasons the incidence of cancer and other metabolic diseases in dogs and cats are vastly on the rise (statistically, more than 50% of dogs and cats born in the last decade will die from cancer).  This article will focus on the likely role GMO derived pet foods will play in that troubling statistic, but fresh of my conference much more is to follow!

GMO stands for genetically modified organisms.  Specifically as it applies to food, the most passionate debate about GMO is its widespread use in agriculture where food crops grown from seed that is genetically modified to produce plants and their food yields that are resistant to damage from the mass spraying of an herbicide (weed killer) called Round Up.

Round Up and GMO seed were originally patented and mass produced by a company called Monsanto.  Critics of the use of GMO point to two troubling aspects of GMO: 1.) The resultant strains of produce food crops that are disruptors of the body’s hormone systems; and 2.) rather than having to take more care in spraying just the weed areas of their crops, farmers with GMO crops genetically modified to be resistant to damage from the herbicide, may now instead be less discerning and spray larger, widespread quantities.  The latter results in more herbicide sprayed directly on our food (and hence more direct consumption), more herbicide in the groundwater and soil, and a net compounding effect of the already inherent hormone disrupting effects of the food the crops produce.

In 2012, a group of French scientists performed a study of GMO derived corn with test rats.  The genetic line of rats used in the research has a long established history of control data and is widely used in scientific studies.  The study was published in the scientific journal Elsevier.

The findings of the research found an unusual statistically high incidence and mortality rate in rats fed GMO corn via kidney disease, liver disease, and most significantly, the incidence of mammary cancer (equivalent to breast cancer in people).  Once published in Elsevier, the store and the research behind it was vehemently attacked via a mass letter writing campaign.  Elsevier under mounting pressure, retracted the article in 2013.

It was later discovered that a majority of the letter writing and dissenting scientists of the French study had either direct or indirect financial ties to Monsanto.  This eventually led to a republishing of the article with all of its research findings in the German run scientific journal, Environmental Sciences Europe, in 2014.  French researchers that published the study have maintained the integrity of their research on GMO and Round Up and considered the initial retraction scientific censorship.  Here is an actual image of malignant mammary tumors that developed in test rats used in the study:

Rats Mammary Tumors Monsanto GMO Research

GMO remains banned in France and most European countries.  On the other hand, 95% of corn consumed in foods in the United States by pets and people comes from GMO crops.

I will leave you with an interesting development in the field of GMO…Monsanto no longer exists.  The company was purchased by animal and human pharmaceutical giant, Bayer.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Primary source for article: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/24/controversial-seralini-study-gm-cancer-rats-republished

Cannabis Medical Marijuana Uses For Dogs & Cats

Medical marijuana was just passed in Florida by referendum in the 2016 election.  Despite the voter referendum, conservative counties backed by our republican controlled executive and legislative state government are running interference across the state to disrupt the implementation of medical marijuana leaving it still largely unavailable.

The reality of medical marijuana is that it has a number of legitimate uses for disease management that are virtually side effect free when dosed properly.   The marijuana flower has glandular structures known as trichomes that contain essential oils.  When these glands are separated from the plant, “cannanioids” may be separated out and formulated into the proper ratios that facilitate medical uses with little to no side effects.

Cannabinoids fall into 2 categories.  Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is responsible for the psychotropic effect; while cannabidiol, or CBD, provides the main medicinal component.  However, CBD alone is not clinically as effective as combining it in proper ratios with THC, and the right combination provides enhanced medicinal efficacy via what researchers term the “entourage effect.”

One very common use of medical marijuana in people is treatment of seizure disorders, of which we see a great deal in veterinary medicine, particularly in dogs.  Life threatening complications or organ damage are highly unlikely with properly dosed medical marijuana in comparison to traditional anti-convulsant medications which are know to tax the liver.  Other applications for medical marijuana include management of GI disease, nausea, spinal pain, arthritis pain, anxiety, and cancer management (stimulation of appetite and control of pain).

Are there any risks to treatment with medical marijuana in veterinary medicine?  The biggest risk medical marijuana carries is accidental overdose.  Even then, life threatening reactions to medical marijuana are exceedingly rare.  Also, we must recognized that accidental overdose potential exists with traditional medications as well, often with far more devastating consequences.

Will we be prescribing medical marijuana in veterinary medicine any time soon?  The answer to this is: not likely.  The first barrier is that standardized dosing research in dogs and cats is still very much in progress with little clear consensus.  The second barrier is that the purchase of medical marijuana in states like California (and likely Florida once it is available) require a medical marijuana card.  In California where medical marijuana has been legal for years, there is no legal mechanism by which a dog or cat can be issued a medical marijuana card.  I assume the same will be the case here in Florida where I practice once medical marijuana is available.

The best option available to pet owners at this time is to talk to a veterinarian who has experience with pets being treated with cannabis oil about proper dosage and reputable manufacturers.  How these veterinary practitioners navigate the legal side of prescribing medical marijuana is not clear to me, however.

In summary, practical applications of medical marijuana are well established in people and early research and anecdotal reports indicate that the same is true for dogs and cats.  While it will likely be some time before this alternative treatment approach will available to dogs and cats, as research evolves and doses are standardized, there will likely be more pressure for a legal avenue to make it available to dogs and cats.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

Nutritional Cancer Prevention – Treatment Support In Dogs And Cats

CNatural Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in Dogs and Catsancer forms in our bodies of our pets every day, the vast majority of the time, without notice or consequence to us. Cancer begins through mutations at the cellular level, which leads to an abnormal proliferation of abnormal cells. The reason this process goes un-noticed and is inconsequential the overwhelming majority of the time, is because our immune systems are up to the task of identifying and clearing the abnormal cells before they have a chance to gain an established presence and/or spread in our bodies. The same is true for dogs and cats.

Thus, when endeavoring to prevent cancer or support canine and feline patients that are battling cancer, we must begin with immune system support. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and B complex vitamins, and beta carotenes are all immune system boosting, antioxidant, free radical sponging nutrients, and are invaluable for cancer prevention and support. These items can be found in supplemental forms in pharmaceutical grade, pet multivitamin formulations, as well as in nutritious diets geared toward immune boosting and free radical scavenging nutrition goals.

Pharmaceutical grade Omega-3-fatty acids are an invaluable tool for guarding against the deleterious effects of cancer in the body, namely inflammation at the level of the cells and tissues of the body. This is especially true in the organ systems where cancer wreaks the most havoc, the central nervous system and the circulatory system. By directly blocking inflammatory pathways and directly healing cells through integration into the cell membrane, omega-3-fatty acids both protect and heal the body.

Regarding diet, beyond choosing diets rich in antioxidant and free radical scavenging nutrients, we should also avoid nutrient forms and foods that are known to cause cancer, as well as feed cancer. Simple sugars that result from refined grains are known cancer feeding agents. Cancer thrives on sugar, and carbohydrates presented in this simple form are little more than sugar. Processed meats that are laden with preservatives like sodium nitrate or other chemicals keep the meats from going rancid and make them more appealing, but they are known cancer causing agents.

Ideally, if one has the time to research home cooked diets for dogs and cats that properly represent species appropriate nutrient percentages would be ideal. Meats should be fresh and uncured, and can even be considered for raw feeding if purchased from reputable, raw diet sources. Make certain that you engage in dully diligent research in purchasing meat for raw consumption, however, as prevention of raw meat bacterial toxicity first and foremost starts with the meat’s source. My favorite sources are the ones frozen on site and shipped frozen. The one contraindication for raw meat feeding is dogs and cats undergoing immune suppressive therapy, such as chemotherapy or radiation, as these mitigating circumstances increase the risk of food born bacterial food poisoning.

Vegetables should be fresh, and ideally organic. If organic vegetables are too rich for the budget, make certain that they are thoroughly washed prior to feeding. Good vegetable options to feed dogs and cats include green beans, broccoli, green peas, and sweet potato (in moderation due to simple carbohydrate levels). Dogs and cats benefit from apples and pears in moderation as well (for fiber and antioxidants), however, avoid other fruits, as some are not safe for feeding dogs and cats. If a dog or cat may be finicky about eating veggies and/or fruits, blending them into a paste often make them more appealing. The breakdown of home prepared dietary feeding for dogs should be about 50% meats to 50% vegetable/fruits, for cats, 80% meats to 20% vegetables/fruits.

If schedule, time constraints, budget constraints, or all of the above preclude the ability to home cook/prepared diets for your pets, then seek commercial diets that are preservative free (but vacuum sealed for preservation), free of processed or refined grains, cured meats, and have ingredients that are fresh on site (and not from China!). There are a number of diets that fit this description, but be certain to ask your veterinarian’s opinion on the diet you are considering, or research reviews, Better Business Bureau, etc., prior to feeding.

Lastly, acupuncture is an excellent modality by which the body can be supported to maximize self-healing. From the ancient Chinese perspective, acupuncture works by increasing the body’s life force, called Chi. From the Western medical perspective, acupuncture’s health benefits stem from increased nerve conduction, circulation, and endorphin release that result from its practice. Either way, the health benefits of acupuncture are well documented.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.