A veterinary review
Recently, I happened to come across a program where the author’s primary goal was to discredit the importance of a detox or cleanse in the process of treating and preventing diseases. He was adamantly against cleanses, suggesting that they are a waste of time and money, a marketing plot hatched by the “natural healthcare industry” to sell more products.
The program prompted me to look at some of the objections the author made in his program and share my professional point of view and practical experience with cleansing and detox procedures in dogs, based on my 30 years of working as a veterinarian.
1. Biochemistry of Disease
Based on scientific estimates, there are a staggering 37 billion chemical reactions taking place in the body every second. Elements and minerals interact with each other, vitamins, and amino acids are delivered to cells and organs to ensure proper function.
A disease can be seen as a disturbance in the body’s biochemistry, a metabolic and energetic disturbance that leads to health problems. Such disorders are often caused by foreign, toxic substances in food or the environment .
2. How do these disturbances happen?
Putting physical injuries and infections aside, on the molecular and biochemical level, disease occurs when there is:
a. Lack of nutrients such as minerals, essential amino acids, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients most of which the body cannot produce on its own.
b. Lack of blood and oxygen flow to a group of cells or an organ—a good example is a back muscle spasm that restricts the blood flow to a muscle group or an organ, such as kidneys, the brain or liver, to give you a few examples.
c. A disturbance caused by foreign substances—toxins that the body has not been able to neutralize.
3. Is there a limit to the body's neutralizing and detox capacity?
Over tens of thousands of years, the mammalian body has developed a certain capacity to process, metabolize, and get rid of toxins. However, it cannot keep up with today’s neck-breaking pace of toxin exposure. When the toxin levels rise above a certain threshold, the body’s biochemistry is altered, and signs of intoxication start to appear. A good example is arsenic (continue reading here...), a toxic element that is present in many foods. Rice is the most common food item to contain high levels of arsenic.
In small amounts, the body is capable of neutralizing the negative effects of arsenic; however, if the arsenic level reaches a toxicity threshold, the poisoning will be fatal. Another example is the correlation between the elevated levels of mercury and epilepsy I have seen in dogs on a fish-based diet.
A good analogy of the body’s toxin level management would be a bathtub with a limited outflow when too much water is flowing in. In other words, there is a limit to the detox capacity.
4. What happens with foreign or toxic substances that get in the body?
No one can dispute that the number of foreign toxic chemicals in the environment is on the rise and that they interfere with the body’s biochemistry and health.
For example, heavy metals directly compete with good minerals by occupying their spots in cells and biochemical reactions. If the good minerals are missing, heavy metals with the same electric charge take their place. See it as if you left your theater seat to get a snack only to come back and see that someone else (“the heavy metal”) was sitting in your seat. This would not happen if the seat was not empty; the relationship between heavy metals and good minerals is the same. Supplementing plant-based minerals protects the body from heavy metals .
Here are a few examples of good minerals and competing heavy metals:
5. What biochemical processes can heavy metals disturb?
The chart above and the following summary of the roles that minerals play in the body will give you a better understanding of the far-reaching effect heavy metals have on the body’s biochemistry and health.
Calcium is a very important mineral in human metabolism, making up about one to two percent of a human adult's body weight. In addition, calcium manages the acid/base balance in the bloodstream and helps control muscle and nerve function.
Iron is essential to life as it is an integral part of hemoglobin that carries oxygen to cells to keep them alive. It is also crucial in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral found in soil, water, and some foods. It is a component in the amino acids cysteine and methionine. Selenium’s function is a vital factor for antioxidant enzymes, as it helps protect cells from oxidative damage and ensures cell and growth survival.
Zinc is a trace mineral necessary for the functioning of more than 300 different enzymes, and it plays a vital role in a large number of biological processes. Within the body, zinc is distributed in the muscle, bone, skin, kidney, liver, pancreas, retina, prostate, and particularly in red and white blood cells.
Sulphur represents about 0.25 percent of our total body weight and is mainly bound to proteins. Keratin that is present in the skin, hair, and nails is high in the amino acid, cysteine, which is rich in sulphur. The sulphur to sulphur bond in keratin gives it greater strength.
6. Is there a way to measure toxin levels in your dog’s body and re-check the detox results?
Mercury is especially dangerous because it can replace several essential minerals, such as iron, selenium, zinc, and sulphur. This is one of the reasons mercury toxicity should be a concern and why I no longer recommend feeding fish to dogs.
7. Does it take a long time to eliminate heavy metals?
Despite the popular belief that heavy metals are difficult to eliminate, my experience is that they can drop dramatically in several months with the following steps:
- Measure the levels of toxins in your dog’s body by using the HairQ test (hint: you can save $30 off a HairQ test when you join our community).
- Use healthy plant-based minerals to push heavy metals out.
- Boost the body’s capacity to neutralize toxins and support the liver.
- Recheck the HairQ test in six months.
- Continue providing plant-based minerals.
- Repeat the liver cleanse every six months for four weeks.
Yes, the HairQ test is an inexpensive way to check the levels of the most important toxins, such as mercury, lead, arsenic, and strontium.
My experience is that the levels of these toxins generally correlate with the overall toxicity levels or other more complex substances. If you have any concerns about exposure to a particular compound or chemical, more specific tests may need to be done based on a consultation with your veterinarian.
According to my knowledge of veterinary medicine and biochemistry and 30 years of practical experience, a regular cleanse is an essential part of your dog’s long and healthy life. In my practice, it is as important as washing your dishes or vacuuming your home.
PS: I hope that you enjoyed Part Two of the new course in the Essentials of Nutritional Therapy for Dogs. Part Three has now been released and is ready for you too! You can watch it now below:
Part 3: Essentials of Nutritional Therapy for Dogs
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM