Maxhealth™ Pet Diet was created by a Vet in 2005 and is currently sold in and around Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Southern Cape/Garden Route. The way Maxhealth was formulated is rather unique, as it does not contain any tallow (cooked fat), intensive farming meat/by-products, fat or digest (digested animal tissue used to enhance palatability). The only animal protein and fat source is ocean fish, thus apart from being an excellent puppy and maintenance, low fat (6 %) and high protein (min. 26-24 % respectively) diet, Maxhealth can also be used to help sensitive dogs.
Some of the most common signs which may be noted in sensitive dogs are: red and watery eyes, dull dry and rough coat, dandruff, patchy loss of hair, foul skin odor, constant scratching, dry, moist dorsal and ventral skin inflammation, paw licking, chronic or recurrent inflammation of the ear/s, excessive desire to eat grass, blocked anal glands (resulting in scooting), halitosis (bad breath) which could persist after teeth cleaning and severe summer itch.
Many people still believe that these are signs attributable to an allergic reaction to the proteins contained in the food. Today it is accepted that dogs with actual protein allergy are in a minority (3-5 %). Furthermore, it is clinically impossible to distinguish allergy (immune system) from intolerance .
In the world the demand for animal meat and by-products is very high and to match it farm animals are raised in a very intensive way and the meat industry uses a long list of chemical/pharmaceutical products which range from vaccines, to growth modulators and antibiotics. These substances or their metabolites may remain in the animal meat and by-products as chemical/pharmaceutical residues which may cause dietary sensitivity. “Pets don’t actually develop allergies as a results of exposure to allergens but because they have suddenly become susceptible or vulnerable in some way”. Furthermore, a wrong food may deplete the immune system over time because it may be polluted with toxins (i.e. pharmacological residues in meat, meat by-products and fat).
The Maxhealth Vet believes that by just changing the dog diet to a land animal fat and intensive farming meat free diet many of these common but recurrent and difficult to control cases may get better. On the other hand, peer reviewed scientific papers on this subject are scant. Because of this, the Maxhealth food for dogs is primarily a premium maintenance and growth food. No claims are being made on its label in fact this is not a prescription diet.
The formulation is also designed to take into consideration the needs of all our dogs from small to large breeds and all life stages. Two sizes of kibbles are available: Small bites and Regular bites. A Puppy Junior formula, based on the same principle is also available.
It is important to remember that fish is the most valuable source of long chain polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for optimal brain and eyes development and function.
Maxhealth is packaged in 2, 6 and 15 kg bags. Small bites for small dogs and regular bites are available in 2, 6 and 15kg . Finally, we know that it is unfair to deprive the more sensitive dogs of their beloved treats so a new, totally vegetarian, Maxhealth Truffle Mini Snack has also been developed and is available on request.
Maxhealth Pet diet was created by a Vet who noted that many of the patients presented for common problems, for example an itchy skin or an inflammation of the ear/s, responded well to a simple diet change. These dogs where fed a combination of plain minced pilchards (found in every supermarket) and boiled rice for a period of at least 10 days. This is not a complete diet though as it lack essential nutrients, but is a simple and easy to prepare elimination diet. For a short period of time dogs can be fed ocean fish and rice only. Results were good as most of the time problems disappeared or where markedly attenuated at least until the previous food was reintroduced.
In light of these observations the Maxhealth Vet formulated a complete revolutionary dry food for dogs which contained ocean fish as the sole animal protein and fat source. The first batch of Maxhealth Pet diet was subsequently produced in June 2005.
The result was outstanding, dogs loved the new food.
After palatability tests, we had to find out if the new born Maxhealth food for dogs would help as well as the basic pilchards and rice recipe.
Dogs presenting with itchy skin were examined, all possible causes taken into consideration and finally a period of Maxhealth diet was started (2/3 weeks). Results were very good, the itch disappeared and when the old food was re-introduced the condition re-surfaced. At this stage though we were not sure if the cause of the itchy skin was an allergy to the animal protein contained in the old food or if there was more to it. In fact if these “itchy” dogs did not eat commercial dog food but were fed a home made diet containing organic or non intensive farming chicken, beef or pork, as animal protein and fat sources, the itch also disappeared. We also noted that sedentary more than active dogs fed home made diets presented more acute symptoms which were related to the amount of meaty meals eaten (skin, bones, animal fat, broth etc.) Dogs which were exclusively fed dog food presented less intense reactions, but these continued over time. In other words, every dog food containing a standard level of animal by-products and fats could cause, in sensitive dogs, an on going or recurrent problem. Furthermore, dogs that ate table scraps on top of the usual dog food presented with a basic chronic condition with peaks of reactions shortly after the consumption of such table scraps. It is important to remember that every sensitive dog has a specific organ or system which may be more affected (skin, gastrointestinal system, eyes, ears, anal glands or more than one simultaneously).
It has been hypothesized that sensitization may be a concomitant effect of different sensitizing factors. Therefore the elimination of only one of these factors (in this case a diet without intensive farming meat and fats) could increase the sensitization threshold hence making the symptoms disappear. This could explain why different types of intervention may lead to the same result. In fact we believe that the metabolites/residues contained in intensive farming meat, meat by-product and fats could be the major contributors to the lowering of the sensitivity threshold. By using a diet free of land animal meat/by products and fat it may also be possible to reduce the summer hypersensitivity due to the elevated presence of environmental allergens.
It has been demonstrated that omega-3 from fish are more effectively incorporated into plasma lipids than when administered as supplement (1, 2), therefore a fish based diet may be more effective than adding omega-3 to the diet. This could be attributable to differences in physio chemical structure between lipids in fish and in fish oil. (3)
1)Visioli F., Barassi M.C., Marangoni F. and Galli C. Dietary intake of fish vs. formulations leads to higher plasma concentration on omega-3 fatty acids. Lipids 2003; 38: 415-8.
2)Torkildsen O., Brunborg L.A., Milde A.M., Mork S.J., Myhr K-M. and Bo L. A salmon based diet protects mice from behavioural changes in the cuprizone model for demyelination. Clinical Nutrition 2009; 28: 83-87.
3) Elvevoll E.O., Barstad H., Breimo E.S., Brox J.,Eilertsen K.E., Lund T., Olsen J.O. and Osterud B. Enhanced incorporation on omega-3 fatty acids from fish compared with fish oils. Lipids 2006; 41: 1109-14.