holistic health magazine





Focus on Pet Nutrition

An Interview with Dr. Randy Wysong

with Dennis Hughes, Share Guide Copublisher

Dr. Randy Wysong is the founder of Wysong Pet Foods and a former veterinary clinician, surgeon, and college instructor. For the past 20 years he has engaged in clinical, surgical and nutritional research. Dr. Wysong’s books include The Truth About Pet Foods and Rationale for Animal Nutrition.

Dr. Randy Wysong

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The Share Guide: Dr. Wysong, one of the things you talk about in your book The Truth About Pet Foods is that it’s a myth to believe that pet foods are 100% complete. Why shouldn’t we feed our pets only dry pet food, even if it’s a quality brand?

Dr. Wysong: For the same reasons people would not eat the same tired
old packaged product at every meal for a lifetime. We intuitively know variety and freshness are linked to health. 100% is not known about nutrition, and it is therefore absurd to claim one can fabricate a 100% complete diet. It seems that the ideal would be for people to make their own pet foods, but many people are too busy for this. The critical thing is to know the ideal, and for pet carnivores that is their natural prey diet--fresh, whole, and raw. Since it is never possible to achieve the ideal at all times, compromises must be made. By keeping the diet as close to the ideal as possible, one makes the fewest compromises and thus has the best chance at health.

The Share Guide: If a pet were to get quality pet food augmented by table scraps and nutritional supplements, would this be considered fairly good treatment?

Dr. Wysong: Yes, it would, provided the supplements were properly designed and the table scraps were of high quality--and meals were offered in variety.

The Share Guide: What do you do if your pet has digestive problems?

Dr. Wysong: They may not be able to handle table scraps or other things you recommend such as fruits, vegetables, or nuts. It is hard to believe any animal would not do well on the diet it is genetically designed for. For pet carnivores, that would be primarily raw meat, organs, and bones. But one must experiment.

The Share Guide:  You mention in your book that dog and cat foods are basically the same. So is this just a marketing gimmick?

Dr. Wysong: Yes. Cats and dogs eat essentially the same thing in nature. Some vegetarians believe that their pets should be vegetarians as well.

The Share Guide: But since dogs and cats are natural carnivores, doesn’t this adversely affect their health?

Dr. Wysong: Yes. It all has to do with genetic design. A cow eats grass, not fish; a fish eats little fish, not lasagna; pets eat prey, not lucky charms.

The Share Guide:  You recommend chicken wings, necks and tails for cats and puppies, but isn’t choking a risk?

Dr. Wysong: Not if they are introduced when young and the bones are not cooked. How many choking carnivores are found in the wild?

The Share Guide: You recommend raw bones for dogs. How important are these?

Dr. Wysong: They are very important for dental health, nutrition, exercise, and fun. It’s what dogs are designed to eat.

The Share Guide: What about rawhide bones? We’ve heard that rawhide breaks down into sharp pieces which can damage the digestive tract.

Dr. Wysong: Rawhide bones are a compromise, but I never heard of sharp pieces of rawhide damaging a carnivore’s stomach.

The Share Guide: Please talk about the problem of shelf life and pet food packaged in paper bags.

Dr. Wysong: If a pet food has nutritious fats and oils, these must be properly preserved or they turn into toxins. Natural preservatives can protect these fatty acids but many other factors need to be addressed as well. Light, heat, time, and air all degrade foods. Light and oxygen barrier bags and smaller portion packing is ideal. Large paper bags left open for significant time is unwise. Nutritious food is fragile and needs to be properly protected and packaged; rocks and sawdust are fine for bulk or paper bag storage.

The Share Guide: Do you think alternative medicine modalities for pets are viable, such as chiropractic or acupuncture?

Dr. Wysong: They may be--it depends on the condition and the expertise of the practitioner. People should be open to

The Share Guide: Exercise is obviously important for our pets, just as it is for us. What about housebound cats and/or dogs that don’t get outside much?

Dr. Wysong: At Wysong we have created a whole division devoted to this, where we try to find aids that will help make life interesting and enjoyable for pets. We call these “Quality of life” products. People have an obligation to pets to give them exercise and an interesting life.

The Share Guide: You mention in your book that wild animals eat the same diet their whole lives, after they are weaned. So why does your pet food line have different formulas for puppies, adults and seniors?

Dr. Wysong: These names are a carry-over from our beginnings some 25 years ago. Now we simply say they are the place people can start. All of our products can be fed in variety to cats and dogs with great benefit.

The Share Guide: Do you recommend supplements for older pets?

Dr. Wysong: Both the young and the old have extra nutritional demands. Older animals need less food but what they get should be of high quality. Using the guidelines in my book is the best way to accomplish this.

The Share Guide: What is your vision for the future of pet health care?

Dr. Wysong: Intelligent stewardship, not following marketing fanfare. People must be more self-reliant and informed. Health is not in a pill or a surgery but within the grasp of each individual. It is something you do to yourself, not something that is done to you.

The nonprofit Wysong Institute offers a free one hour CD, The Master Key to Health. To request a free CD, visit www.wysonginstitute.org.


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