Arthritis, hip dysplasia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, psoriasis, kidney failure, gum disease, low immunity, dementia and a shortened lifespan in pets can all be linked to chronic inflammation. An animal’s body uses inflammation for healing, but excessive, chronic inflammation wears the body down from head to toe.
We hear a lot about anti-inflammatory foods, but there are also foods that can cause inflammation. Pro-inflammatory foods don’t necessarily have to be avoided all together in homemade pet diets, we just have to balance them with anti-inflammatory foods. To provide that balance, we have to know both the anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory ratings of food and nutrients. For example, a diet that is high in omega-6 and very low in omega-3 promotes inflammation.
An excellent reference regarding the ‘inflammation factor’ (IF) of foods, both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory, is the book The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan by noted nutritional researcher, Monica Reinagel. It contains the inflammation factor ratings for more than 1500 common foods, based on the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects of 20 nutrients. Ms. Reinagel also shares years of scientific research and data in an easily understood manner. This book has improved my entire family’s health, including our companion animals… even the fish!
Virtually all pets can be negatively impacted by inflammation, including dogs, cats, horses, birds, fish and farm animals. However, some species of pets may be less impacted by what is classed as pro-inflammatory foods than others. How we apply nutritional information that is based on human research, must be influenced by what we know about the natural diet of the animal species in question.
Highly-inflammatory foods that some may consider for homemade pet food or treats are:
- Processed meat, including hotdogs (chicken and turkey hotdogs too), sausage, bologna, ham and bacon.
- Feedlot meat comes from animals raised in typical commercial conditions, which results in meat that is high in saturated fat and Omega 6, while being very low in Omega 3. Organic, grass-fed meat is much better.
- Egg yolk
- Most hard cheese (excluding Romano, Parmesan and Feta)
- Refined grains such as white flour & rice
- Polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as sunflower, soybean, and corn oil.
- Margarine & shortening
It is very difficult to offset the inflammatory effects of highly inflammatory foods, so it’s important to eliminate or limit their inclusion in homemade pet diets. This becomes critical if your pet already has (or is prone to) an inflammatory condition, such as arthritis. Mild to moderately inflammatory foods, such as honey, are more easily offset with anti-inflammatory foods, and the benefits make their inclusion worthwhile.
✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Pet Arthritis: Holistic Prevention and Natural Treatment
Muscular Sprains, Strains and Spasms: Natural Treatment for Pets
Sea Cucumber for Dogs, Cats, Horses, Fish and Invertebrates
Self Nutrition Data
Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Reinagel, Monica. The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan
Halpern, Georges M. The Inflammation Revolution: A Natural Solution for Arthritis, Asthma, & Other Inflammatory Disorders
Messonnier, Shawn DVM. Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats: Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements 2001.
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