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The New is done! Yes, the time has finally come for this homemade Website to go the way of the buffalo. I know that you all join me in looking forward to using a site that is better organized and more accessible....prettier, too! I've even corrected most of those annoying typos (I hope).

Feel free to check it out now at I am still working hard to populate all of the pages so don't worry if a link does not work. They should all be active in the near future. In the meantime, this current site will remain on-line until I get all of the bugs worked out.

Let me know what you think! It's not too late to make some changes.

Dogtor J

In This Section:


***First of all...let me make it clear that most of my previous food recommendations have been meant for the "average pet owner"- those will only feed commercially prepared foods. Having been in practice for over 30 years and on this dietary mission for the last 10 of those, I have developed more realistic expectations than I once had regarding what most veterinary clients are willing to do.

I have been criticized for "recommending" certain commercial foods, mostly by proponents of raw feeding or home-prepared diets. Some of them understand when I respond with the "average person" defense while others think I should be more of a purist and only recommend the best. Thus, this opening paragraph...

There is no doubt that the best diet for dogs and cats would be home-prepared foods consisting of biologically appropriate ingredients. Dogs and cats are carnivores. Some argue that pure meat protein diets are the only thing they need and they are certainly more right than wrong. But telling the low income owner of 5 large dogs to home-prepare all of their food not only gets the usual looks of confusion but also frequently generates bursts of laughter. As I have said many times, most of these people will barely consider going anywhere other than WalMart, Sam's Club or their grocery store for pet food. Getting them to the pet shop for a commercial diet free of wheat, barley, corn, soy and dairy often takes a Herculean effort- at least an hour lecture on why it is so important.

So, let me make this perfectly clear: I am a BIG fan of home-prepared diets. There is no question that a person- utilizing my elimination guidelines and fresh ingredients- could make a pet food that is infinitely better than anything being made by the commercial pet food giants. By using meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruits, and some common sense, we could not only meet their dietary needs but easily exceed that supplied in kibble and canned preparations.

Clients and veterinarians alike have been hypnotized by pet food labels sporting all of those added vitamins and minerals when, if fact, they have to add all of those elements because the food is so deficient in real, "living" foods. Plus, the "big 4"- gluten grains (wheat, barley, rye), corn, soy and dairy- can block the absorption of those nutrients normally absorbed by the small intestine. The result is that these offending foods do way more harm than good.

That is why I have taken my past approach: Focusing on the elimination of the harmful ingredients (the "big 4"), which is crucial in disease treatment and prevention, and suggesting readily available foods that meet this criteria. But I have always suggested that people supplement those diets with some "living" food- meats, eggs, fish, veggies, and fruits. A study in Europe a number of years ago showed that pets receiving table food in addition to their commercial diet lived on average 3 years longer. We just have to pick the right table food (with none of the big 4).

Therefore, we have three choices when it comes to feeding our pets: 1) Home-prepared diets (most ideal); 2) Commercial diets supplemented with real foods (next best); or 3) Commercial kibble and/or canned foods alone (least ideal).

I would certainly have it that all would choose the first option but, alas, that it not the case...yet. I applaud and support the efforts of those who are educating the pet-owning public as to the health benefits of raw and home-prepared diets. But I do not want to miss out on the opportunity to educate the majority of pet owners who currently do not fit into that category. Medical miracles have occurred by simply switching the pet from foods laden with the "big 4" to those devoid of them. There is no doubt in my mind that they would do even better on home-prepared diets but this pet food revolution is still in its infancy and we still need to reach the masses in order to affect the much needed change that will ultimately save and extend the lives of our four-legged family.

I hope this clarifies matters,

Dogtor J


*4-29-09 Alert: Nutro under investigation?: Click Here to read the allegations. However, if you do a search for "Nutro, FDA investigation" you will find conflicting reports. I have gone ahead and posted this alert because I have seen problems in my own practice and heard about Nutro-related illnesses from Internet contacts. These began as soon as Mars took over Nutro and quickly added soybean oil to their formulas. Sadly, IVD/Royal Canin did something similar. I cannot recommend foods with soybean oil due to its allergenicity and concerns I have about its trans fat content.

*NOTE (11-19-08): IVD (Innovative Veterinary Diets) formulas, which are now marketed through Royal Canin, now have soybean oil. Therefore, I can no longer recommend them as the "Cadillac" line as I once did. Although some pets will tolerate this change, many will not. (We just experienced this exact thing with Nutro last year.)
*On soybean oil: Although is it "just the oil", those individuals who are allergic to or intolerant of a particular protein (e.g. corn, peanuts or soy) can also react to other components of that protein, including the oils and "starches" made from those sources. For example, a peanut allergic child should not be given anything with peanut oil in it.
It is all about the antibody-sized proteins ("lectins") that even the smallest components of these foods contain. Lectins are smaller than viruses! (And, antibodies coat viruses to facilitate their removal.) Therefore , the oils of these foods (e.g. soy) can have more than enough protein in them to cause a reaction in the sensitized individual, depending upon their level of sensitivity, which is variable among individuals.
I now recommend the Dick Van Patten Natural Balance line as the substitute for these IVD/Royal Canin foods in seizure and severe allergy cases. For a list of other foods that are free of the "big 4" (gluten, corn, soy and dairy), please click on the link below.
Dogtor J

* Dogtor J.'s Recommended Pet Foods- (Link only) Once again, this area is in a dynamic state for the same reasons as above. Thankfully, there are still some pet foods at the grocery store and pet shops that will meet the budget-minded pet owner's needs while helping many of the chronic conditions from which their pet suffers. None of these are "ideal", but the elimination of wheat, barley, dairy, and soy can produce miraculous results in many pets (and people). Once again, I strongly urge owners to add fresh vegetables, fruits, and a source of natural protein (meats, eggs) to these commercial diets to  make them more nutritionally complete.

* Veterinary Diets to Control Seizures- (Link only) The response of epileptic dogs (and people) to the elimination diet (The G.A.R.D.) has been one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. The papers in the epilepsy section (Epilepsy and Diet) explain this incredible phenomenon. You can see DogtorJ's Recommended foods by clicking here.

* The Truth About the Ingredients in Pet Food- (Link only)  This article is something I put together after a week of discussing this subject matter with clients. Their reactions compelled me to put it all in writing. I hope this helps and motivates change. Please feel free to forward this to anyone who has pets. It can be the difference between a pet living to be 5 or 25.

* Is the Pet Food Industry in the Business of Population Control?  (Link only) This paper asks this and many other related questions and hopefully equips and motivates the reader to obtain the answers.

* DogtorJ. com's Elimination Diet Handout- (Link and below) This handout has "morphed" significantly over the last two years as I became more aware and knowledgeable of the foods that were doing us all harm. Also, the pet food industry is in a dynamic state and the "safe food list" has been changing like a chameleon, thanks in  great part to the addition of soy .I now advise pet owner to check the ingredient list of their chosen food at least every other purchase. I also strongly urge owners to add fresh vegetables, fruits, and a source of natural protein (meats, eggs) to these commercial diets for completeness.

* What to Feed, What to Feed???" - Here is a brief post I made on a forum in answer to that question.

* Special Order Premium Pet Foods - Links are now provided for those pet owners that have decided they would like to feed the best pet foods currently available. This should be a growing number as the message of this site reaches more of the pet-owning population. However, I remind the reader that I have no sponsors on this site and am in no way linked to these manufacturers other than a shared knowledge and "philosophy" of nutrition. It is clear that the pet food makers in this category have done their homework, formulating diets from a natural and logical viewpoint. "Strange" how that works.  It's almost embarrasing for us to have not thought of it years ago, isn't it? 

* Links to other Food-related Sites- Finally, I have a list of my favorite food-related sites, most of which apply to human health and nutrition. Many of these sites were utilized in my initial research and became valuable tools in the instruction of others, as well. These sites were the true pioneers and deserve a tremendous amount of credit in their respective areas of focus. My task was to attempt to pull all of this information into a single work- into a single concept, if possible- and relate it all in some way to the downward "spiral" of the plane of our health. The Answer was (and still is, as it is a work in progress) that work and the "glue" was that concept. These were the fuel. They deserve your attention and thanks.

                                                                                                                                                         's Elimination Diet

By Dogtor J.

Food allergies are on the rise in veterinary medicine in both dogs and cats. These are manifested mainly as dermatological (skin and ears) and gastrointestinal problems. Chronic ear problems in the dog and chronic vomiting in the cat are big red flags for food allergies and intolerances. However, many immune-mediated diseases (those caused by or triggered by the immune system) have been linked recently to food intolerance. Such things as hypothyroidism, diabetes, lupus, coronary artery disease, epilepsy, asthma( cow milk and corn), hyperthyroidism (Graves disease), and rheumatoid arthritis as well as many psychological disorders (such as autism and ADHD in people) have been tied to food intolerance in the recent past.

It has been known for years that the primary allergens in pets and people have been dairy (cow milk products) and wheat. According to the FDA, cow milk is the number one childhood allergen, followed in order by wheat, eggs, and soy. Eggs are actually a secondary allergen, meaning that we become allergic to them only after the intestine has been damaged by the first two early in childhood. This concept is explained in The Answer. The fourth most common allergen is soy. This is a primary allergen but has an interesting story behind it. Once again, The Answer goes into detail here, but suffice it to say that it would become number one if: one, we continue to eat it and do so in the quantity that is planned for us, and two, if it were as likely to elicit allergy antibodies as readily as the top two. Soy will be a "stealth" problem in that it is the least likely of the big three primary allergens to cause overt allergy symptoms.

The phenomenal thing is that we are about to repeat history in the pet food industry. When I graduated from veterinary school 24 years ago, most foods were corn-based. Even then, we were having allergy problems in ceratin breeds of dogs such as the Westie, Dalmatian, German Shepherd, and Cocker spaniel. My dermatology textbook at the time stated that food allergies were "uncommon" but when they did occur, the primary allergens were dairy products and wheat. So, why then did we start making nearly all dog and cat foods out of wheat about 8-10 years into my career... 15 years after that book came into print?

It was actually a political phenomenon. Suddenly we had a wheat glut in this country. China became the number one wheat grower in the world and we stopped exporting as much of it as in the past. Therefore, we had a wheat surplus that ended up in the pet food...despite current knowledge that wheat was the number two food allergen in dogs and cats. The "root of all evil" had kicked in, I'm afraid.

Veterinarians found themselves talking about the health of pets and the demise of the dog's immune system instead of golf at their weekly lunch meetings. Allergies were consuming all breeds rather than just the usual suspects. Autoimmne diseases were skyrocketing and pet owners who had dogs for years were longing for their pets of yesteryear. We had made a horrible, but predictable, blunder by making the number two food allergen the number one ingredient in their food.

Things improved a bit when the manufacturers removed all dairy from the pet foods. In the following years, the milk coated puppy and kitten chows went the way of the buffalo and some amazing things happened. Suddenly, there was a noticeable drop (to me, anyway) in the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and diabetes in the dog. I have not had a case of rheumatoid arthritis in forever. I see very few diabetic dogs while asthma and immune-related arthritis have been relegated almost exclusively to the cat. Why is that? Well, what is the classic treat for a cat? Uh huh...a saucer of milk.

The pet food industry has recently realized that the addition of these ingredients to dog and cat foods was a huge mistake. Although it has been known for years that wheat and dairy products were the main allergens in pets, the incidence of food allergies has been horribly underestimated. In the past, veterinarians were taught that food allergies were uncommon, even rare. However, the newest research tells us that at least 33% of pets with any allergies are now food allergic. I personally believe that this is also a major underestimation. In fact, I am not alone in the belief that inhalant allergies come only AFTER food allergies and intolerances have occurred. This rather novel idea is explained in The Answer

Fortunately for allergy sufferers, many pet food manufacturers are in the process of reformulating their diets to exclude wheat, barley, and dairy products. Many of the well known brands now have "sensitive skin" and "sensitive stomach" formulas, the benefits being derived from the elimination of these offending ingredients. Potato-based diets are more available and there is a new breed of foods...the BARF diets...that are becoming very popular. More manufacturers are focusing on eliminating the grains and focusing on the addition of vegetables. This is certainly the right direction to be headed. More on them later.

However, because of the soy glut in this country, this troublesome protein is making its way into many of the pet foods, including some that have been "safe" for years. I personally am shocked to see this move by some of the most well-known manufacturers. In addition, most of the pet treats are loaded with soy. This serious mistake on the part of the pet food industry will give rise to a number of horrible consequences, including sky-rocketing rates of epilepsy, pain syndromes, and gastrointestinal disturbances. The problem again is that, of the major food intolerances, soy is the least likely to produce typical allergy symptoms. Therefore, it will be a "stealth plague", as I like to refer to it. This is better described in The Answer. We are about to repeat history, it appears.

Which ingredients to eliminate is determined by the goal to be accomplished. If it is epilepsy, for example, then strict elimination of all grains including wheat, barley, corn, rice, and oats should be done initially to halt the seizures quickly. This leaves potato-based diets or those free of all complex carbohydrates. If the owner wants to then try a food that is less expensive and more readily available, I recommend that they move into a rice based diet like the Nutro Lamb and Rice. Seizures could begin immediately or be delayed for months if they are going to return. I have seen both extremes. If they recur, then remaining on a potato-based diet like the IVD Diet or using the home-cooked or BARF diet is required.

If allergy control is the goal, then there are three approaches. The best in my opinion is to test for food allergies and feed accordingly. However, I recommend strict elimination of all wheat, barley, dairy, and soy no matter what the tests show. These are the food that are involved in the food intolerances and are not always going show up as allergies, either in the tests or in the symptoms of the pet. Corn should also be eliminated in all cases when possible or practical due to its contribution to the malabsorption syndrome described in each of the major papers on this suet.

The second approach is to use a strict elimination diet, such as the IVD Duck and Potato or BARFdiet to halt the food allergies and then do a similar progression into other foods as described for epilepsy if the cost or availablility of the "cadillac"  food is an issue. I recommend transitioning from the Duck and potato to a pure rice-based diet, such as the Nutro Lamb and Rice. If all remains well and the owner absolutely must use a grocery store food, then they can transition into the Purina One Lamb and Rice.

The third approach is simply to do the above approach backwards. I have a difficult time getting many of my clients to even consider changing their pets food. "He's been eatin' this stuff all of his life, Doc. You expect us to change now?" they often say. For these more difficult clients, I simply say to pick up the Purina One Lamb and Rice instead of dogfood X with all of the wheat and soy and see how "Bowser" likes it. I have many pets on this food that are doing well. Getting them off of the wheat, barley, dairy, and soy has made a world of difference in many cases.

So, below are some of the "safe" foods for your pets which leave out most or all of the above ingredients. But, ALWAYS READ LABELS. Not every flavor variety is safe. Also, the pet food industry is in transition, so check the bags regularly. Remember: Soy is coming, and it is coming in a big way.

Summary: Dog foods and treats many times contain the food ingredients that have been most often incriminated in food allergies and intolerances. Historically, the main allergens have been dairy products, and cereal grains (wheat and barley) and beef in the dog. In the cat, the primary allergens are dairy products, cereal grains, and fish. So, when deciding which foods to buy for your pet, especially for the allergic pet, try to follow these basic guidelines first:

Things to Eliminate

1) Wheat, barley, rye - ALL of these grains. (including bread, snack crackers, treats, etc.) Oats are the safest grains from an immunlogical standpoint (least allergy-producing) but they do have high levels of glutamate in them and will contribute to pain and epilepsy.(See my paper Pain, Pain, Go Away on this site)

2) Dairy products - ALL of them. (including milk, cheese, whey, casein, dried skim milk, etc.)

3) Soy - ALL of it. (This is also a HUGE problem in people)

4) Corn- (including corn gluten meal)- Try to eliminate as much of this as possbible. This is especailly important in asthma, pain syndromes, lower gastrointestinal problems, and epilepsy. Eliminate ALL of this whenever possible.

By eliminating the above items, you will be taking care of at least 80% of all food allergens and all four of the major sources of food intolerance (gluten in grains, casein in dairy, soy protein, and corn.)

If food allergies persist after the strict elimination of the "big 4" above, then I highly recommend a food allergy blood test, such as the one offered by VARL (Veterinary Allergy Reference Labs) in California.

But please NOTE: I use this test strictly to determine the foods to which the pet has become secondarily allergic. The "big 4" above are the primary allergens as they damage the lining of the intestine and thereby elicit the allergic reaction. Unfortunately, any food passing through this damaged gut is subject to becoming an allergen due to the disruption of the natural barriers in the intestine.

As an example, I now see a lot of lamb and rice allergies. This is due to the fact that most commercial lamb and rice diets are not pure lamb and rice but rather contain one or more of the "big 4", any of which can damage the intestinal lining and promote these secondary allergies.

So, no matter what the food allergy test may show in the way of specific allergies, I always eliminate all of the "big 4" foods above. These are unnatural and harmful to all pets (and people, for that matter). Again, I use the blood tests purely to identify the secondary foods to eliminate, which ends the guess work that so many clients and doctors are doing in an attempt to control these all-important food allergies.

And, this strict elimination of allergenic foods must be considered in all foods, including TREATS and TABLE FOOD. Most grocery store dog and cat treats are loaded with wheat, artificial preservatives, and many of the animal proteins to which pets may be allergic. In the cat, these treats are a major problem in that they are a whos who of artificial preservatives and colors in addition to the fact that the main proteins are wheat and soy in most cases. I have had numerous cats that have recovered from chronic vomiting by the simple elimination of these treats from their diet.

Below are some of the safe foods for your pets that leave out most or all of the above ingredients. ALWAYS READ LABELS. Not every flavor variety is safe.

And please note: I am not saying that any of the below are ideal diets when fed alone. There is no way that the average commercial pet food can be complete is every nutrient with the extreme processing that these foods endure.

The first order of business is to make sure that the foods do not contain any harmful ingredients (e.g. the "big 4"). The next is to attempt to make the foods nutritionally complete. This is accomplished through the addition of fresh vegetables, fruits, and safe protein sources, such as meats and eggs. In allergy cases, one may need to determine through food allergy tests which of these proteins can be safely fed but some fresh source of protein really needs to be added to most commercial diets in my opinion, as does some source of omega three fatty acids.


What to Feed, What to Feed???

That's a great question...quite involved, but a good question. We should feed the pet as close to a natural diet as possible. "As possible" means 1) As close to what we understand "natural" to be; 2) As close to natural as we can afford; and 3) As close to natural as fits with our own pet philosophy and what we are willing to do.

The vast majority of pet owners are not going to do more than feed something out of a can or a bag. Sad but true. (Remember: The vast majority of pet owners are not on a forum like this seeking information about how to best feed their pet). It has been like pulling teeth just to get my hospital clients to go to the pet shop for food rather than the grocery store, the latter having no dry foods that meet my criteria of eliminating all gluten, dairy, soy and corn.

So, you have those owners who will seek out the best commercial food but stop there. Then you have those who will occasionally add some table food while others will do some home-cooking on a regular basis to supplement the base diet of commercial foods. At the other end of the spectrum, you have "the elite" who try to make the diet perfect and natural in every way. That is a very small group.

Where do each of us fit into this spectrum? It has been shown that those pets that get table food in addition to their commercial diet live longer (contrary to what most vets...including me...have said all of their lives). It should not surprise us to find this to be true when we think about the value of fresh meats/eggs, veggies and fruits.

The answer to "What to feed?" then becomes this- Feed a food that is not harmful and as nutritionally complete as possible. My goal for the past 7 years has been to eliminate the harmful ingredients alone and watch what happens. Miracles have happened by elimination all gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy and corn. These are very harmful to large numbers of pets and people. Dogs and cats are clearly gluten intolerant just as large numbers of people are.

We are now focusing on making the diet as nutritionally complete as possible by adding fresh sources of protein (meats, eggs) and fresh sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients in the form of veggies and fruits. Lastly, we should be using select supplements that cannot be provided by the above, such as omega three fatty acids, or things that the individual seems to need specifically such as glucosamine for its joints or kelp for its thyroids.

Again, my site has a list of "clean" dog foods that contain none of the "big 4". The bottom line of this pet food recall at this point is that the new wheat gluten additive was the source of problems, so foods without wheat gluten...which should be avoided anyway...are safe to feed. BUT, stay tuned. This story is not over yet.

I hope this helps,


John B.Symes, DVM (aka "Dogtorj")


Dogtor J.s  Recommended Pet Foods - Click this link to see some of the foods that meet my strict criteria of having no gluten (wheat, barley, rye), dairy, soy or corn.


Also, Check out these sites: and Two GREAT sites by a dedicated and well-informed cat lover. She lays it on the line and appeals to our common sense. I really like that approach.(smile)
What's In Pet Food? Earth Pets Natural Pet Market. This site has click-on links to some of the best pet food suppliers,including raw diet manufacturers.


Then, look into these food-related links:

These were the real pioneers in the area of food intolerance and how it was affecting our health so badly...and so commonly.They deserve your attention and your "thanks", really. They have braved the storm of deception that has overtaken us and stood alone many times to point out the truth about certain foods that have been considered "health foods" for years. A little time spent on their sites will give the reader serious insight into why they and I have developed such a passion for this topic. Our lives depend upon it. - One of the best medical sites on the web. He has over 15,000 pages of information on his site. His search engine can be used to find information on just about any medical condition imaginable. Be sure to read all about his Optimal Eating Plan. Antisoy articles- VERY GOOD!!! - THE reference site for the gluten intolerance sufferer. - Print out and read Hydrogenated oils- The Silent Killers". Also, his article on aspartame. These are both  MUST READS. - Read about autism here. You will be enlightened and amazed. - Soy is not a health food. Print this out. Its 15 pages, but well worth it. - Dairy has met its match. - an eye-opening anti-dairy site.

I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
Dogtor J
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You can now go to the new site!
The New is done! Yes, the time has finally come for this homemade Website to go the way of the buffalo. I know that you all join me in looking forward to using a site that is better organized and more accessible....prettier, too! I've even corrected most of those annoying typos (I hope).

Feel free to check it out now at I am still working hard to populate all of the pages so don't worry if a link does not work. They should all be active in the near future. In the meantime, this current site will remain on-line until I get all of the bugs worked out.

Let me know what you think! It's not too late to make some changes.
Dogtor J

would still like to hear from you personally, though.
I used to have a nice little form in this space that would allow readers to send me a quick comment or testimonial. Unfortunately, as the Interent goes, I started getting 50-100 junk emails through this form and had to remove it. 
So, until the new Website is up and running (soon!), I will have to ask people to formulate an Email of their own and send it. I do want to hear from you so I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to do this.
Simply title your Email "Visitor Comment" and include your name, occupationcomment/testimonial and return Email address (if you want to be contacted) and send it to:
dogtorj @ (Just remove the spaces on each side of the @ sign) 
Please do not use this form to ask medical questions. See the Contact section for instructions for sending DogtorJ an Email inquiry concerning a medical condition. 

Great News! will be getting a major facelift in the very near future. Yes, the time has finally come for this homemade Website to be taken over by someone who actually knows what they are doing. I know that you all join me in looking forward to having the site better organized and more accessible. It'll be prettier, too!
This is taking place for a number of reasons, the most of important of which will be revealed in the upcoming months. Yes, the book is finally in the works but there will be a major awareness project to go along with it.
So, please stay tuned. Anyone who would like to get on my mailing list can do so by simply using the visitor's comment area (like the one above) found at the bottom of each page.
Onward and upward!
Dogtor J