This article was in a 1985 Newsletter writen by one of our well known International Judges Mrs Pat Heath of the Seefeld Kennels in the UK

In this day and age one hears so much about the perils of chemicals and you ever thought if the same problems might apply to all sorts of foods. I myself am llergic to many of the chemicals in food, l am allergic to all corrn products, onions and alcohol (no, I don't miss the alcohol, but I still cheat on the onions).

These days I seem to spend half my time changing the diets of various dogs. As I still take the obedience classes every week in the Village Hall, the news spread and my telephone seems to be the last resort of frantic dog owners trying to cope with problem dogs. A few of these case histories might give you something to think about.

BOXER BITCH - 9 months old. Very nice type, arrived with a couple who must be saints to put up with her. To says he was hyperactive was a gross understatement, she was so excitable she was almost out of control, and also painfully thin but in excellent glossy coat. I tried for a couple of weeks to instill some Sort of control and training but it was hopeless. I then asked how she was fed and found the diet was an "all-in-one" flake food PLUS 3 large tins of dog meat. Cor! she was hyped up like a racehorse on oats. I suggested the protein content was far too high and persuaded them to get her off the tinned meat and replace it with half the quantity of fresh meat or tripe. The next week there was a slight improvement so I then suggested 100% wholemeal biscuit meal instead of the flake. The effect was amazing - she put on weight, she calmed down and began to respond well to training. Not quite believing this was the answer, the owner put her back on to tinned meat - within 24 hours she was back to her excitable self. She is now again on her new diet, is fat and plump as a puppy should be, and although still an extrovert, is under control and responding well to training.

GREAT DANE puppy,. 5 months old. Beautifully grown, huge bone, but had constant loose motions. Told by the Veterinary Surgeon that this was because of the quantity of food she had to have to grow. This could well be, but on the other hand she was not going to absorb the best of her food if the motions were for ever loose. Again on a very high protein complete diet and tinned meat. Seeing the improvement in the Boxer puppy, the owner then put the Dane onto wholemeal biscuit and tripe and the loose motions ceased, within a few days. As soon as the old diet is reintroduced, her problem returns.

As soon as one person starts discussing problems, others join in with similar troubles, and now a little LABRADOR BITCH has also been put onto biscuit and fresh meat with impressive results. FOUR BOXERS AND A SPRINGER SPANIEL - all from one family, had different problems - unable to put weight on and a permanent scruffy skin. They were fed on an "all in-one" diet of to me an unknown make, which contained quantities of unrolled maize. Transferred to a similar flake product but from a different manufacturer, and the improvement was dramatic. The content of the flake must have been different or of much higher quality.

Some years ago a gentleman telephoned for some advice. He had a 3 year old Boxer which had permanent mouth ulcers and despite months and months of Veterinary treatment and research, no reason could be found for them, no infection, nothing, and euthenasia was the likely outcome. Each time I asked "what do you feed him on" the answer was "oh, that is all right, his food has been analyzed and is 100% all right". I eventually got out of him what it was - it was a well known flake complete diet. I knew the breeder of his dog had tried this for some time, and whereas in the early days it had produced some glowing results, as time went on the dogs began to have skin problems, and they were returned to their old diets. I suggested he tried a different feeding pattern and take the dog off the flake food completely. A month later a very excited gentleman phoned to say his dog was cured.

I have probably by now incurred the wrath of some dog food manufacturers, but I have purposely refrained from naming any products, because the best of them are absolutely first class and rear puppies and adults extremely well. But, as with some humans, some dogs are allergic to colouring, some are allergic to corn and possibly other cereals, and many can be allergic to Soya which is in many tinned foods and complete feed products. The public are bombarded with adverts for packet and tinned foods and complete foods galore for dogs and cats. The cat foods have already been changed to cater for kidney problems which became apparent when they were first introduced on to the pet market. Some household pets are fed bread in their daily diet - did you know that white bread can contain up to 27 additives? Any of these could cause allergies in problem dogs.

Recently yet another case helped to establish this fact. A local lady seemed to be permanently on the telephone complaining her Boxer puppy had constant bouts of diarrhoea, vomited at intervals and was so excitable and what could she do. It didn't really make sense as her breeding came from very healthy and stable parents. I persuaded her to bring her to see me - she was right on two counts the bitch was painfully thin, a bag of bones in fact, and excitable A visit to her Veterinary Surgeon brought forth the profound advice "there's nothing wrong with her, all Boxers are hyperactive and thin and you must learn to live with it". Three months followed with the complaint continuing and the bitch losing more and more weight and all my suggestions fell on deaf ears. After all, if the Veterinary Surgeon says so, it must be right In most cases that is so, he is the expert after all, but I would venture to point out that a very small percentage of the Veterinary profession have ever reared puppies and I think it only fair in those instances to say that a good breeder may know best.

When the Boxer puppy's weight had reduced to 28 Ibs. at 9 months of age, I lost patience and pointed out that if something was not done soon, she would be dead n a month. This worked. The owner insisted on action, the bitch was X-rayed (nothing wrong there), opened up the next day and found to have inflamed stomach and intestines. The verdict was "Auto-immune Deficiency Syndrome" (AIDS!!!). Whilst the owner was content, I was not my query was why was inflammation confined to the digestive tract. An eventual visit to the Veterinary College revealed a food allergy her diet was changed to wholemeal biscuit and a tin of meat/cereal product (CHAPPIE). The result was nothing short of amazing. After a few weeks her weight was up to 48 Ibs. her vomiting and diarrhoea had stopped and her excitable temperament had calmed down to a normal Boxer puppy.

Are you still with me? If colouring and chemicals can cause hyperactivity in children, why cannot it do the same with some dogs. I am not saying all temperament problems are dietary, some are undeniably hereditary, but many problem cases of one-dog owners may well be that their dogs are allergic to the convenience foods which they are persuaded to use. I have never been one to feed the family the easy way - convenience foods don't find their way onto my pantry shelves, and so it will be no surprise to know my dogs are fed as natural a diet as I can get for them. They have wholemeal biscuit, tripe, fresh meat, seaweed powder, Vetzymes (Vit. B) and occasionally tinned meat.

However, 4 years ago a lovely red/white puppy dog joined us as a pick of litter or a stud fee - he had been reared solely on tinned rice and a well known complete pellet product. I was so impressed with his well being I then decided to wean MY puppies the same way. Great success - hard motions every time, bonny puppies, and an easy diet to give to new owners when the puppies changed homes. I decided after a time that after 1 2 weeks they did not seem to be putting the bone on I liked for my males and so reverted to the normal biscuit and meat but substituted one third of the new product for the biscuit. then decided to give this to all the dogs and they loved it. I felt I must be giving them extra vitamins and goodness.

All went well for nearly 2 years, then things began to happen. FOUR dogs died - a 1 year Champion bitch with a brain tumour, a 1 year Champion dog with aches tumour, 31/2 year bitch with a stomach tumour, and a 51/2 year Champion dog with a bowel tumour. A 6 year bitch collapsed with internal bleeding, but a 4 hour operation saved her - my clever Vet removed a massive cancerous spleen. This all happened in a space of 1 3 months.

My reaction was WHY? I know that statistics show that Boxers head the list for tumours, but my dogs always have been long living - 1 2, 13, 14 years was quite normal. These five were obviously related in some way, but not that closely -they had five DIFFERENT Champion sires (1 American, 2 Norwegian, 2 British). Soon had to look elsewhere. Everything had gone exactly as it had for the last 20 years but for one thing - the introduction into their diet of this pelletted food. It obviously' had preservatives, but what worried me more was that it was coloured, even the motions had a pink tinge to them so you knew when it had been fed and when hadn't.

Rightly or wrongly, I decided that was the culprit. I stopped feeding it from that day onwards and over 2 years have now gone by and not another case of tumour have we had.

Now you can see why I headed this article FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Skin trouble patchiness and baldness, eye infections over excitability etc., have in many case responded to a change of diet. If this article gets you thinking I shall have achieve my objective.