Book Review – Paleo Dog: Give Your Best Friend a Long Life, Healthy Weight, and Freedom from Illness by Nurturing His Inner Wolf by Jean Hofve, DVM, and Celeste Yarnall, PhD
Written by Carol Petersen, RPh, CNP – Women’s International Pharmacy
Paleo Dog is a primer for the care and wellness of your dog. However, by following the principles outlined by Jean Hofve, DVM, and Celeste Yarnall, PhD, you might do yourself and your human household a lot of good as well.
Dogs are “opportunistic omnivores,” meaning that they will eat almost anything, but dogs actually evolved eating prey animals. So, what does a modern-day Paleo Dog eat? The Paleo Dog diet excludes all cereals and grains, and processed or synthetic foods. Paleo Dogs eat primarily bones, organ meats, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and fish oils. This is basically the same diet that has become increasingly popular for humans, with names like the “Stone Age” diet or “Caveman Diet.”
According to the authors, approximately 78 million dogs live in US households, with 85% of those dogs eating a typical commercial dog food diet (which closely resembles the composition of a human “fast food” diet). About half of the dogs eating commercial dog food diets are overweight, and about 75% of them have some sort of dental disease by the age of three. The death rate due to cancer is over 40% for dogs under ten years old. Death in dogs typically occurs between 10-13 years of age, and most often from cancer.
Many dogs show early signs of health disturbances that owners and veterinarians might accept as normal. For example, excess weight leads to joint disease, heart disease, respiratory problems, diabetes, liver disease, skin and coat problems, decreased immune function, cancer, and a reduced life expectancy. (Sound familiar?) If your dog has “doggy” breath, this is most likely a sign of dental disease. If the dog’s coat is lifeless, greasy, flaky and not very appealing to stroke, this could be another sign of trouble. In addition, smells coming from every pore and a build-up of a waxy substance in the ears could indicate allergies. Your dog’s eyes might also exhibit a build-up of mucous in the corners, or persistent tear production. Dogs with allergies might also have bouts of wheezing or sneezing, or constant scratching of the ears, or scooting to scratch his butt. Doggy flatulence, along with foul smelling and large volumes of stool, may also be present. None of these symptoms are “normal” with a Paleo Dog diet.
The authors suggest that the Paleo Dog diet will address these and many other health-related symptoms or behaviors. Following the guidance in this book should help improve a dog’s digestion and periodontal health, as well as produce healthier skin and a shinier coat. In addition, allergies can be tamed and muscle strength, performance, and stamina can be improved.
The authors include lots of instruction to help transition your pet from a typical grain-based diet to one containing lots of raw meats and foods. While perusing the recipe section for Paleo foods to feed your dog, you might find that the recipes sound appealing for people as well (the Paleo Wraps sounded particularly tasty to me).
Paleo Dog addresses many other health-related topics beyond diet. For example, the authors describe how we expose our canine companions to a whole host of interventions that their wild cousins never encounter, such as vaccinations, spaying and neutering, deworming, and chemicals to control fleas. In addition, our pets face greater exposure to the chemicals we put in our yards and homes. Is it any wonder that they endure less than perfect health?
The book also offers a wonderful tableau of alternative treatments to explore for your dog, or even for yourself. The authors include information on treating your companion with herbs, acupuncture, emotional freedom technique, flower essences, and massage therapy. People who have not sought out these types of treatments before may be pleasantly surprised at the many options available.
Paleo Dog offers many practical tips for ensuring a long, healthy life span for both you and your canine pet. The authors include so many brief (but good) explanations for the dazzling array of choices that you may find yourself going back to it, over and over again, for years to come.