In a Nutshell

The health benefits obtained from simple whole organic foods are literally life saving. Pistachio nuts for example contain the highest amount of food derived melatonin which will augment restful sleep cycles in humans and assist body repair. The companion animals will sleep better when we do.

Admittedly it is not always accurate to extrapolate knowledge from the human world of natural medicine to animals, so I don’t recommend routinely using nuts in cat and dog diets.  Although interestingly, it was animals themselves that originally led to many discoveries for us during our close association with them over thousands of years. Our observations of the natural world and the behaviour of animals has helped humankind to adapt to a wide range of environmental stressors and has led to the discovery of many natural medicines.

I have written about this zoopharmacognasy elsewhere.

It is probably also safe and appropriate to extrapolate mammalian physiology given that we are all in the same family of organisms and share most of our cellular traits even though the mechanics of the digestive systems vary based on the evolution of dentition. Humans do have a greater capacity to digest and assimilate carbohydrates and grains as we evolved from carnivore to omnivore over centuries and dentition to grind and masticate more like ruminants. Arguably we have largely arrived at herbivore/plant based nutrition status. Our cats and dogs have not. That does not mean however that they will not attain benefit from plant foods as will be discussed in more detail in this post.

As holistic veterinarians that think deeply and widely about optimizing health through nutrition, my colleagues and I can attest to the parallels in nutritional approaches to cure. We are still endeavouring to understand many elements that have been widely studied in human medicine to see if they have a role in animal health. It is encouraging that these approaches are gaining traction with the relatively recent focus on the microbiome  and the importance of feeding the gut. I am sure that our efforts have brought this to light for mainstream veterinary practice and strengthened by animal carers like yourselves who challenge your veterinarians to account for nutrition based health decisions and real food recommendations for your animals.

It has been some time now since we developed dietary recommendations for cancer care for animals and whilst these have on occasion been challenged for evidence by schools of veterinary science nevertheless remain firm advice for most animals in my care with good results for improved wellbeing.

Not surprisingly, this diet is very similar to other health promoting suggestions of mushrooms, brassicas and fish oils. It can be hard to get dogs and cats to eat some of these things but there are many more options available these days with mushroom extracts and powders and access to Chinese teas and medicines.

This particular post arising on the high tide of virus paranoia that is currently sweeping the world addresses some very simple life affirming nutrients that protect mammals from virus invasion and replication.


I am grateful to my naturopathic colleagues in the human world for presenting a micro view of the cellular universe we all inhabit as much of the information I am about to share has been made available this year for obvious reasons.

Human medical research is a huge and lucrative enterprise on the world stage and most of us do not get to hear about a fraction of what is being studied or discovered unless there is a commercial market for it or we are rigorous in searching data bases for theses or scientific papers.



More specifically certain factors and enzymes are famous in the nutrition world for protecting us from viral or bacterial invasion.


The prize for 2020-2021 has been awarded to Sulphoraphane for being the most helpful nutrient to not only battle oxidative stress (cancer included) but also to prevent cell invasion by virus and bacteria. The complex biochemistry is well explained via terms like Nrf2 and signaling sequences and as with much of the natural world there are some enchanting paradoxes in this science for those of us interested in looking more closely. Suffice to say that in order to be resilient to cellular damage there needs to be a primary defence mechanism that stops the organism entering the cell and an off switch in the case the hull is breached.

Ironically the primary defence is also triggered by stress. Too much ongoing stress then of course causes trouble. Much of the damage caused by coronavirus invasion for example, occurs because there is no off switch that stops the body from damaging itself as an overreaction to this invasion. Fear is a mega stress for us all at present and fortunately not one that animals succumb to very often except from our example. Other emotions like anxiety, doubt, despair and anger will also lower immune function and the converse is that laughter and happiness will increase immune capacity.


The off switch is Nrf2 that comes from Sulphoraphane.


Needless to say many other whole foods are also hugely beneficial and it can be hard to get cats and dogs to eat broccoli and cabbage. It is also best that these vegetables be lightly cooked/cut/fermented for optimal benefit.

Plant based fibre is a boon to health for all animals. Hay and roughage are much more healthy rations for horses and livestock than grain based diets. Recent studies have confirmed that racehorses fed grain based rations will have a higher risk and incidence of gastritis (stomach inflammation) than those fed roughage or hay rations.

We have known for a long time that cattle and chicken raised in feedlots have higher inflammatory omega6 in their muscles and fat (meat), resulting from them being fed grains.


Adding fibre to your pets diet with plant foods will also enhance the gut-brain and gut-lung axes given that these interactions between certain naturally occurring healthy bacteria in the gut and the organs will augment optimal function. Baby mammals drink milk because the lactobacillus in the gut protects their lungs via a butyrate pathway. Fibre in the diet is the precursor (prebiotic) for these healthy bacteria to flourish for example. Arguably mature mammals do not need milk or milk products to remain healthy but fibre is always essential for myriad other good bacterial processes. Perhaps my increased desire for butter recently indicates a need for butyrate in my diet but I acknowledge it may also just be an excuse for comfort food. Dogs and cats on the other hand must have raw fats and uncooked oils for energy.

Some simple recommendations for enhancing viral immunity include

Brassicas (cooked/fermented/mashed)

Fibre from other raw vegetables pulp and plants/leafy greens

Tumeric (powder or fresh root)

Vitamin A and D (occur naturally in fish oils, meat/offal and dairy).

Quercetin (do NOT give cats or dogs onion which is highest in this, use leafy greens instead)

Good bacteria, Bifidobacterium for example

The above information pertains specifically to enhancing immunity.

Protocols for detoxification from harmful chemical assaults upon our bodies are similar but require refinement so please contact me should you be needing this kind of support for your family.


Recommendations for complete and balanced best diets for dogs and cats can be found at Dr Clare Middle’s website.   or by visiting or contacting Paws to Heal. 

Harness Mother Nature’s gifts….do not join the fight against Her.

Eat well to be well yourselves and provide the same boon to your beloved pets.

It can take an effort to get going but perpetual motion takes less effort as we try to move forward together towards a healthier planet and a higher purpose.


Question:…….I find it very difficult to pray for anything other than health because health is so important. I feel selfish when I pray for anything else.

Sri Chinmoy: You are doing absolutely the right thing. When you pray for health, you are praying not only for the physical body but also for the mind, vital, heart and everything. If your health is not good, if you are suffering from a headache or stomach upset or some other ailment, then how will you be happy? Your mind will be occupied only with pain; your heart will be breaking. The best thing is to pray first and foremost for health. Afterwards, you can pray for other things that you would like to have.

30. What do you want?
I want good health
Meditate on a vegetable garden
Meditate on a dancing child.


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