Wednesday, March 21, 2018

DO phytonutrients really work? Meg Smart DVM , PhD

"Processed foods represent nature stripped away with little bits added  back as fortification” (Prescott and Logan 2016)

While doing research for the advanced on line nutrtion course  for Dogs naturally magazine I came across a review section on the role of a healthy gut microbiome in the production of active phyto chemicals from the relatively indigestable phytonnutrients found in the cell wall of  inggested plants (The Secret Life of  Your MIcrobiome Prescott S.L. and Logsn A,l.2017 New Society Publishers).I felt that this was important as I feel just feeding a natural source of phytonutrients to pets that are  nutririnally  and/ or environmentally stressed and sufferiing for symptoms of  chronic inflammation (diabetis,allergies, obesity, auto immunity), may not be effective unless the  associated disfunctional gut mircobiome is corrected. Life is far removed  from the benefits derived from nature. Urbanization results in diets filled with sugar, rich foods, and beverages, ultra- processed, fast foods. Our moods and that of our children are being controlled by antidepressants, anti-anxiety, attention deficit and sleep enhancing medications. 30,000 dietary supplements emphasize our need for a fix. All market propaganda promising us a better life. Stress related problems are on the rise especially in children. We see these problem in our pets as a reflection of ourselves.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


         I would like to share with my readers This tribute written by my dear friend and collegue Michael Fox. Durig this period of pollitical uncertianty  and conflict we must heed the warnings of concerned individuals with life experieinces and before it is too late open our minds, We have a responsibilty to act and protect this planet we live on. Meg Smart DVM, PhD

                                                           By Dr. Michael W. Fox
In memory of Dr. Alan Wittbecker, (1946-2018), dear friend and my former graduate student who dedicated his life to the recovery of our humanity and the conservation and restoration of the natural environment, indigenous animal and plant species and communities with the designs of sustainable human communities and eco-economies. (See his writings at at his spirit live on in all we embrace.
The deteriorating human condition, paralleling and aggravating the deteriorating condition of the environment, cannot be denied unless we ignore the rapidly declining indices of quality, health, viability and sustainability of planetary life: Of ecosystems, biodiversity, individual animal and plant species and communities including indigenous human peoples along with their culture and native wisdom, many already extinct.
The planetary drivers of the rising tsunami of anthropogenic planetary dystopia---overpopulation, pollution and over-consumption, coupled with increasing emotional and cognitive detachment from the natural world---if not arrested by political, financial and educational intervention, will mean the escalation of transgenerational suffering as the wastelands spread along with famine, pestilence and war.
These drivers are surely in our reach to control since, after all, we are the drivers. To invest in the future is to commit to the present, the existential crisis of declining quality of life on Earth. Otherwise, if our “Manifest Destiny” fails to embrace the global bioethics of respect and reverence for all life, humankind will surely join the Dodo: And if not physically extinct we will be extinct in spirit, of those qualities of humility, empathy and compassion that make us human.
Are these ethical and therefore moral and political imperatives---to serve, protect and facilitate the collective good of all life--- not part of what being human means for every transient one of us on is the planet?  Or is the rising tsunami of our collective inhumanity toward forests and mountains, whales and wolves and the life community of Earth to be the nemesis of Homo sapiens? This tsunami is already upon us in the quickening and inexorable deterioration of the Earth’s climate and accelerating loss of biodiversity. President Donald Trump’s virtual dissolution of the Environmental Protection Agency and withdrawal from the international community of other industrial nations to stem climate change highlights the drivers of the nemesis of unbridled capitalism spurred by America’s 19th century imperialistic ethos of “Manifest Destiny”. Our collective existential angst could lead us to self-destruction in a culture of bio-fascism and is pause for concern since such an absurd and ignoble destiny is not preordained by nihilism, rational materialism or religious fundamentalism but by our individual and collective states of mind and heart.
So a first step is to give equally fair consideration to all living beings with scientific understanding of their place in the life community and healthful ecosystems, and of animals’ sentience and suffering under our inhumane dominion. To rectify the pathology and harmful consequences of anthropocentrism and replace it with an evolving eco-centrism, compassionate action and service is enlightened self-interest. (For further details see Animals & Nature First by M.W Fox & Alan’s books at

Generations to come will experience internecine strife and wars
 So long as we fail to control and lower our consuming and breeding scores:
 Do not try to heal the planetary sores from our poisons, sucks and gores:
Do not feel the pain, beauty and life force in all sentient cores.
 Can we not hallow all covenants of peace established through laws
That protect all life (especially the insect kingdom) with harmonizing mores?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Arguments Against the Sale of Veterinary Prescription and Wellness Diets by Veterinarians


A student paper written  as a final assignment for SACS 455 Year 3 Nutrition Elective  Western College of Veterinary Medicine;  Supervisor  Meg Smart DVM, PhD, Professor  in Clinical Nutrition 

Veterinary Prescription Diet Debate
Arguments Against the Sale of Veterinary Prescription and Wellness Diets by Veterinarians

In 400 B.C. Hippocrates stated “Let food be medicine,” and this central dogma constitutes the foundation of the practice of veterinary nutrition. According to the Veterinarian’s Oath, it is the professional and moral obligation of every practicing veterinarian to uphold the highest standards of care in order to integrate their medical knowledge with current industry standards to provide a well-rounded approach to the health and well-being of their veterinary patients, and this includes providing professional advice to clients regarding the nutrition requirements of their pets in a manner that is consistent with the principles of veterinary medical ethics. According to the Veterinarian’s Oath, it is the professional and moral obligation of every practicing veterinarian to uphold the highest standards of care. Veterinarian's must strive to integrate their medical knowledge with current industry standards in order to provide a well-rounded approach to the health and well-being of their veterinary patients. This includes providing professional advice to clients regarding the nutrition requirements of their pets in a manner that is consistent with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.
With the advent of retailing in the veterinary profession and inherent economic basis of the retail pet food market, there is some speculation that the immediate goal of providing high-quality veterinary care to our patients has taken a back seat to potential conflicts of interest associated with the use of retailing and the commercialization of the veterinary industry. The sale of “premium” pet food products for therapeutic benefit and maintenance in healthy animals is believed to constitute 10-30% of the income in many private veterinary practices and constitutes approximately 10-11% of hospital-wide profit (Jerving-Bäck and Bäck 2007), associated with an average 40% markup in price. At present, the most popular veterinary therapeutic products are Hills (Prescription Diet), Medi-cal, Purina and Iams, all of which provide not only “high quality pet nutrition” but also opportunities for financial benefit to veterinary profession in the form of feeding programs, research and educational funding and pet food merchandise, to name a few. Although the distribution of veterinary therapeutic and wellness diets through veterinary clinics has the potential to promote a more complete and balanced health care approach within the private practice setting, the constitutions underlying the use of “prescription” or “therapeutic diets” in veterinary practices are only ethical if the products provide potential benefit to the patient, if the veterinarian is not biased in their recommendation of a particular brand, and if the sale and use of these diets are not misleading to the client (Jerving-Bäck and Bäck 2007).
This article appraises relevant information regarding the potential pitfalls which may be associated with the sale and distribution of these diets due to the poor regulatory standards of pet food, the lack of superiority of veterinary therapeutic diets, the current deficit of nutritional education held by veterinarians. Veterinarians need to keep in mind that public perceptions of their nutritional recommendations are that they are “credible” and central to dietary selection.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Evaluating Nutrional Research for Pets - Update by Meg Smart DVM, PhD

 Nutrition an Ancient Science is the Cornerstone of All Animal Research
The first organisms formed on earth survived if they could extract the necessary nutrients available from their environment for their survival. The science of nutrition is as old as life. Because of this association nutrition is found to impact on or influence many diverse disciplines. These complex relationships makes large scale nutrition research in both man and their companion animals difficult to control. On the other hand, small controlled studies are limited in their application to the general population.
Nutrition is the cornerstone for all scientific research done on live organisms. Any research involving live plants, insects, microbes or animals is first and foremost a nutritional experiment. Unfortunately this concept is not held by many in the scientific community who study the impact of their experimental design on the research animals they use... The diets for these animals are often not described or they are commercial diets formulated to meet the book requirements for the animals studied. And not necessarily the genetic groups the researchers are using. The argument is if the diets are the same for all control and  treatment groups then there is not a problem as they are investigating the impact that a certain pharmaceutical, vaccine, genetic mutation, or myriad other alterations have on a certain outcome. But what if the genetic mutations have different nutrient requirements than the original organism, could this impact negatively or positively on the outcome of the research result? We have determined through research what the basic nutrient requirements are for many species of plants and animals.  But these survived, grew and reproduced on foods long before nutrient requirements were known.

My 50 Year Career as an Academic Teaching Veterinary Students: What Nutrition Means!

Not Fit For a Dog
Marion Smart DVM PhD

I am privileged to be a co-author of “Not fit for a dog! The truth about manufactured dog and cat food.” This book opens a new and exciting chapter in my academic career as veterinary clinical nutritionist. I have always been an academic and I would like to share with you my background and my thoughts about nutrition, the pet food industry, the veterinary curriculum, and our profession.
Nutritional education of veterinary students has changed very little over the last 40 years with the primary emphasis being on food animal production and feed stuffs. At the same time, the demographics of our students and society have changed from rural males to urban females. In keeping with these changes, the veterinary curriculum has adapted to the shifting demographics and the advances made in pharmacology, traditional medicine and surgery. Yet in most veterinary colleges, small animal nutrition is subsidized by — if not wholly dependent on — lectures, brochures, pamphlets and samples from major pet food manufacturers.  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Nutrition: Is it Directed by Modern Science, Ancient Code or Both? Meg SmartDVM, PhD

To understand nutrition a nutritionist must keep an open mind and be familiar with many of the disciplines that impact on or are influenced by nutrition. The following is an incomplete list:
·       Soil and plant sciences
o   Factors that impact on nutrient availability
·       Animal science:
o   behaviour
o   environment, climate, housing
o   water quality and supply
·       Veterinary Medicine
o   livestock and pet wellness
o   toxicology
o   immunology
o   physiology and patho- physiology  
·       Cellular  biology
·       Microbiology
·       Genetics

The following definitions apply to the topics that I will be covering in this paper (These definitions with much more detail can be found in Wikipedia):
·       Epigenetics:
o   “Functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of mechanisms that produce such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA. These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell's life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently”

·       Nutrigenomics:
o    the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes, especially with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease
o   is the study of the effects of foods and food constituents on gene expression
·       Metabolomics:
o   The scientific study of the set of metabolites present within an organism, cell, or tissue.  
o   is the "systematic study of the unique chemical fingerprints that specific cellular processes leave behind"
o    The metabolome represents the collection of all metabolites in a biological cell, tissue, organ or organism, which are the end products of cellular processes
·       Generational effects of nutrition
All natural ecosystems experience variability in food availability necessitating organisms to adapt to these times of shortages through phenotypic plasticity depending on the life stage involved especially during a juvenile state and can cause irreversible changes in them in adult hood or even further into the next generation.
·       Nutriepigenomics:
Is the study of food nutrients and their effects on human health through epigenetic modifications. There is now considerable evidence that nutritional imbalances during gestation and lactation are linked to non-communicable diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. If metabolic disturbances occur during critical time- windows of development, the resulting epigenetic alterations can lead to permanent changes in tissue and organ structure or function and predispose individuals to disease