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Advocates of a holistic lifestyle take it even further. In his book, The Natural Vet's Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs , Shawn Messionnier, D.V.M. notes that 50% of dogs will develop cancer in their advanced years. In outlining his general strategy for both minimizing the chances of cancer and treating cancer, he lists providing a proper diet among his recommendations. He asserts,


All dogs, though, require minimum quantities of six basic nutrients: Proteins , Fats, Carbohydrates , Minerals , Vitamins and Water .



PROTEINS AND AMINO ACIDS:  Dogs cannot survive without protein in their diets. Dietary protein contains 10 specific amino acids that dogs cannot make on their own. Known as essential amino acids, they provide the building blocks for many important biologically active compounds and proteins. In addition, they donate the carbon chains needed to make glucose for energy. High-quality proteins have a good balance of all of the essential amino acids. Studies show that dogs can tell when their food lacks a single amino acid and will avoid such a meal.


FATS AND FATTY ACIDS: Dietary fats, mainly derived from animal fats and the seed oils of various plants, provide the most concentrated source of energy in the diet. They supply essential fatty acids that cannot be synthesized in the body and serve as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins. Fatty acids play a role in cell structure and function. Food fats tend to enhance the taste and texture of the dog’s food as well. Essential fatty acids are necessary to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. Puppies fed ultra-low-fat diets develop dry, coarse hair and skin lesions that become increasingly vulnerable to infections. Deficiencies in the so-called “omega-3” family of essential fatty acids may be associated with vision problems and impaired learning ability. Another family of essential fatty acids called “omega-6” has been shown to have important physiological effects in the body.


MINERALS: Some minerals are found in all foods, but no single food contains everything needed in the proper balance for good nutrition. Mineral needs for dogs include calcium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium. sulfur and in trace elements, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, iodine, cobalt, and selenium. These make up less than 2% of any formulated diet, and yet they are the most critical of nutrients. A dog can manufacture some vitamins on its own, but he cannot make minerals.


"Minimize animal and plant by-products and chemical preservatives in your pet's diet. When possible, a homemade diet using quality ingredients is best; a holistic, organic processed food would be a second option."


Artificial preservatives in dog food. Chemical additives such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin have known some controversy over the years. Under scrutiny, many manufacturers are moving to the use of natural preservatives, such as Vitamin C (ascorbate) and Vitamin E (tocopherols). These are generally considered to be much safer, but the result is a much shorter shelf life for these products. BHA is short for Butylated Hydroxyanisole, and BHT is Butylated Hydroxytoluene and these are antioxidants. As such, oxygen reacts preferentially with BHA or BHT, rather than oxidizing fats or oils, thereby protecting them from spoilage. In addition to preserving foods, BHA and BHT are used to preserve fats and oils in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Both have been banned from human use in many countries. In the US, though, they are still permitted in pet foods. While for us, this would be enough said, studies actually have linked BHA and BHT with liver and kidney dysfunction. Ethoxyquin is a chemical preservative – and suspected carcinogenic – regulated by the FDA as a pesticide . While ethoxyquin cannot be used in human foods, it, too, continues to be used in many pet food brands. Ethoxyquin has been found to promote kidney carcinogenesis and significantly increase the incidence of stomach tumors and enhanced bladder carcinogenesis, according to several studies. Carcinogens (KART-sin-oh-JEN-eh-sis) is, quite simply, the process by which normal cells turn into cancer cells.  There are also reports linking ethoxyquin with allergic reactions, skin problems, major organ failure and behavior problems. In 1997, the CVM made a request to manufacturers of ethoxyquin and the pet food industry to voluntarily lower ethoxyquin residue in pet foods to 75 parts per million (ppm), from the currently allowed amount of 150 ppm. To date, there is still no mandatory requirement to meet the voluntary request.




Experts agree, when reading dog food labels, meat should be the first ingredient (per the CVM requirement that all ingredients are to be listed in order of predominance by weight). "By-product" is an oft-used term in ingredients lists. By-products are generally defined as animal parts that are not used for human consumption, such as bones, organs, blood, fatty tissue and intestines.


Some say the use of by-products in dog food is perfectly okay. Per reviews, what you don't want is, "unidentifiable by-products," such as the very vague, "meat by-products." The "meat" umbrella encompasses some very shocking members: zoo animals, road kill, so-called, "4-D livestock" (dead, diseased, disabled and dying), and even (yikes! ) euthanized dogs and cats. This last was confirmed by the American Veterinary Association and the FDA in 1990. We take some comfort in learning this practice was never widespread, but limited to, "small rural rendering plants and a few other assorted links in the pet food manufacturing chain," per . Pet owners are thus encouraged to look for specific origins of by-products in ingredient lists, such as "chicken by-product." If a label says "chicken by-product," all the parts must come from chicken; the same goes for lamb, beef, and so on. Others insist that foods that list by-products in their ingredients should be avoided altogether, considering the vagueness of the term itself.


Wendy and Jack Volhard are 30-year dog training veterans who developed their own "Motivational Method" and are strong proponents of the holistic approach. On their website , Wendy writes, We have made our own food for over 30 years now, and our dogs are living longer and longer each generation. Whereas the normal lifespan of a Newfoundland in 1998 was 6.2 -6.7 years according to a national survey done by the Newfoundland Club of America, our dogs, and other dogs following the Natural Diet, live up until 15 years of age. Those results are hard to argue or find fault with. The empirical data backing up such claims is limited, to be sure. But it is here where we find ourselves (out of sheer love for our pet, and the desire to do anything we can in his best interest) thinking, "Why not just give it a try?"



Dogs, on average, need about 30 calories per pound of body weight ​per day to maintain their current weight. 

Small active dogs, weighing less than 20 lbs. can use up to 40 calories per pound per day. 

Large dogs, over 50 lbs., can use as little as 20 calories per pound per day. 

Daily calorie requirements may be less for inactive or neutered dogs in hot climates. 

As you might expect, the requirements will increase for a working dog, a herding dog, and a dog that spends most of his time outdoors. 

Individual metabolism, exercise, age, environment and overall health will determine what your dog really needs to remain lean and healthy. 

If your Yorkie is overweight, increase his exercise, and feed him smaller meals, totaling about 60% of the typical calories required for its ideal weight. 

Since your dog can only have so many calories every day, it is important to pack lots of nutrition, bulk and appeal into those calories. 

If you make your Yorkies food at home, you will have to do some calculating to determine the caloric content of meals. You can feed those calories in several meals rather than in one large daily meal. 

It can be much easier on a hungry Yorkie to have 2-3 meals a day rather than waiting 24 hours in between meals. 

You can always add low-calorie vegetables or treats in between meals. Remember, a healthy dog is ready to eat at any time. Some dogs can eat while flat on their side and more or less asleep. 

Therefore, it is pointless to use your dog's begging behavior as any indicator of how much to feed him. Knowing how many calories your Yorkie needs and how that translates into food will help keep him trim and healthy. 

Energy needs for the dog change throughout his life, increasing the more active he becomes, and obviously decreasing as the dog reaches his senior years. Factors That Affect Your Yorkies nutritional needs, male and female sex hormones affect metabolism. When these hormones are reduced, through neutering, for example, many dogs develop a tendency to become overweight. After a dog is neutered, you will need to reduce his intake by perhaps as much as 20%. The goal is to maintain the pre-surgical weight. If he starts to lose weight, gradually increase the amount until you meet his needs. Pregnant dogs require very little increase in food until late in their pregnancy. Increase her food by 10% only during the last four weeks of the nine week pregnancy. Post-birth and while lactating, she may need up to three times her normal daily food consumption. Lactation needs are greatest by the third week after birth, and increase with the size of the litter. Dogs that are confined to small areas and get little exercise need fewer calories than those that are exercised regularly or allowed access to large yards. On the other hand, energy requirements increase by as much as 300% over a typical maintenance diet for hard-working dogs, such as those that hunt, race or herd. Variations in temperature influence a dog's diet. The colder the temperature, the more energy a dog requires to maintain his body temperature. If your dog spends at least half his time outdoors during the cold winter months, for example, the amount of food he needs may double compared to what he normally eats during the summer. As dogs mature, their metabolism and physical activity slow down. To help prevent your older dog from becoming obese, you will want to decrease the amount of food offered.



Your Yorkie is not getting enough to eat if you can easily see its ribs, vertebrae, and pelvic bones, feel no fat on the bones, and possibly notice some loss of muscle mass. If chronically underfed, adult Yorkies may experience impaired ability to nurse young and perform work, and increased susceptibility to bacterial infections and parasites; Yorkie puppies may be stunted in their growth; adult Yorkies may develop osteoporosis.

Ideal weight:

Your Yorkie is at an ideal weight if you can easily feel its ribs. The waist should be easily observed behind the ribs when viewed from above. An abdominal tuck is evident when viewed from the side.


Your Yorkie is overweight if you cannot feel its ribs, see fat deposits over its back and the base of its tail, discern no waist behind the ribs when viewed from above, and see no abdominal tuck in profile. Obesity occurs in one out of four dogs in western societies. Its incidence increases with age and is more common in neutered animals. Health risks include diabetes and osteoarthritis.

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