Canine Nutrigenomics: A Review

canine nutrigenomics cover
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If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you’ll know that Nix has had several stomach issues in the last year. We had apparently found a kibble that worked for her, the Brit Care Lamb & Rice (see our review here), but at the end of June she had very loose stool for a couple of weeks, and the vet recommended changing to a special kibble (the Advance Gastroenteric Low Fat), which she’s still eating. During this time, we were instructed to give her nothing but this kibble.

What Manel and I started to be worried about is, what next? We’ve been told that for a dog with sensitive stomach like hers, it’s likely that we’ll have to stick to special kibbles for the whole of her life. However, I’m not particularly fond of big-brand kibbles as I’m not sure about their ingredient quality, and even less after seeing the Pet Fooled documentary and listening to Dr. Becker’s YouTube video.

In order to educate ourselves on the topic, we bought the e-book Canine Nutrigenomics, by Dr.  W. Jean Dodds and Diana R. Laverdure. It’s summarized in the publisher’s (Dogwise) web as “Nutrigenomics is the science of how diet affects gene expression and health. Learn how to use diet to prevent, improve and even resolve many serious canine health conditions. Written by the authors of Canine Thyroid Epidemic“.

Content and Structure of the Book

The first part of the book introduces the topic of nutrigenomics and how food can help or hinder the expression of certain genes which in turn may result in health or disease. It also explains the factors that result in functional foods for dogs and the foods which can help promote doggy health. The last chapter in this part deals with the opposite: foods that are toxic for dogs and those that, although not toxic, it’s better to avoid.

The second part of the book focuses on building a balanced diet for dogs (the basal diet) considering what has been explained in the previous two chapters, and what additional supplements may be necessary.

The third part explains how the diet can be adapted for dogs suffering certain conditions, such as food intolerance, obesity, arthritis or cancer, to mention a few.

Finally, the fourth part of the book deals with how to put in practice what has been explained so far. It explains the different types of diet (raw, kibble, canned or homemade) and how the principles of nutrigenomics can be incorporated into them. Then, it goes through the process of applying the principles in the book and how to stay on the course of this approach.

My Opinion

To be completely honest, I haven’t read the whole book. I read all the chapters except those that dealt with specific illnesses which I felt were not relevant for Nix’s current situation (Chapters 7 to 11). Still, I think I’ve read enough of the book to be able to form a valid opinion.

Overall, I’ve really liked the book and I think it’s worth having for any dog owner who’s interested in their dog’s health. It’s very well-written and for the most part easy to understand, but at the same time it’s not a light read. Plus, I also found that it’s complicated to use it, as it is, as a reference. Let me explain.

After reading Chapters 2 and 3, for example, I had to go through them again and compile a list of the foods or ingredients that are healthy, toxic, and those that it is best to avoid. Although the book does include lists of the “main” ones, in a sense, there are some others which should also be considered and which do not appear in the lists.

I should also mention that if you’re looking for a book on recipes to make home-prepared meals for your dog, look elsewhere. Despite this, this book gives you the knowledge to get creative and make the meals yourself. Hence, it empowers you to decide what goes into your dog’s food. But, you know, with great power comes great responsibility. And here’s the main problem for me: I find the prospect of preparing food ourselves very daunting.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as boiling rice, grilling some chicken and giving it to Nix, as the food needs to be complemented by other elements to be balanced. I don’t think finding the necessary supplements would be easy living where we live. An easier alternative would be to feed raw or freeze-dried food. However, both are impractical. To begin with, raw food is not easily available here (I haven’t found any yet). Even if it was, I’m not ready to jump in the raw food bandwagon. On the other hand, I’ve found Orijen’s freeze-dried food, but it’s way too expensive.

I think, then, that for the time being we’ll probably stick with kibble and complement it by some home-made food that is good for her. Let’s hope we are able to work out a meal plan that keeps Nix’s stomach in check. We’ll keep you posted.

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