Nature and Nurture
It seems clear, however, that all CHD is not entirely genetic. Selective breeding has been too inconsistently successful to believe otherwise. Dr. Belfield says that he constantly sees sound parents. A Swedish doctor who x-rayed army dogs concluded that dysplastic dogs produce only ten percent more dysplastic pups than normal dogs. But again, if we accept Dr. Belfield's vitamin C theory, it all makes sense. Vitamin C does 300 different jobs in the bodies of animals, including humans. One ofthe most important is collagen production. If you think of cells as bricks, collagen would be the mortar. Without enough collagen, you can't build muscle tissue. You can't build bone, either, because collagen forms the honeycomb holding the minerals in place in bones. Furthermore, it's possible to have not quite enough vitamin C to manufacture quality collagen. Weak collagen builds weak muscles and bones. A second function of ascorbic acid is to cope with the effects of stress. It does thisby nourishing the adrenal glands and by helping the body produce its own cortisone, which combats histamines produced by dying cells. A rat can multiply its vitamin C output tenfold when stressed. Humans can't make any at all, much less increase it, so we must eat all that our bodies need or supplement our diets. Apparently, our ancestors ate huge amounts of fruit containing vitamin C, so unlike most animals, our livers didn't develop the ability to turn glucose into ascorbic acid. Dogs are poor producers. A goat can make five times the vitamin C produced by a dog of equal size. A rat, small as it is, makes nearly four times the vitamin C produced by a full-grown dog. I hate the term "conventional wisdom." Too often, it means believing what everybody else believes, no matter how foolish, for fear of being ridiculed. But in this case, the definition is accurate. Conventional wisdom has it that dogs need no more vitamin C than their bodies make. Dr. Belfield asks why, if that is the case, do dogs or wild canines, when left to their own devices, act like they need more? When possible, canines do eat fruits, berries and vegetation containing vitamin C. In my experience, there are two times when dogs eat large amounts of grass and otheravailable vegetation. One is when they've run long and hard, and there's no water to be found. At such times, they chew and swallow vegetation for the moisture. The other time is when they've been kenneled too long. Even some hard-running bird dogs and hounds often stop and eat green vegetation before taking off to hunt. We've always wondered why. We even thought up several explanations, but they didn't ring true. Could this simply be caused by a need of additional vitamin C? Keep in mind that there is no extra vitamin C in most commercial dog foods. That's not a criticism, either. Ascorbic acid oxidizes rapidly when the lid is off the container. It probably would oxidize rapidly as a minor ingredient in a large bag of food. Also the high heat during the extruding process would probably destroy most of the vitamin C added to the food. One manufacturer that does add ascorbic acid makes no claims for its benefits, nor is the amount specified or guaranteed to be in the bag. To sum up so far, our dog is a poor producer of vitamin C, there is no extra C in his usual food, and like us, he needs far more in proportion to size than we do to achieve normal growth. While our growth is stretched out over two decades, most of theirs takes place during the first year. The bigger the breed or strain, the more rapid the growth, and the greater the demand for ascorbic acid, the greater the incidence of hip dysplasia. Dr. Belfield suggests that we should also consider the stress assault on a domesticatedpup. It's weaned, separated from its mother and littermates, involuntarily carried to a new and unfamiliar location, stuck with needles, mildly poisoned to eliminate worms, and possibly operated on to remove dewclaws or part of the tail. All of this happens while the animal is already stressed by teething and phenomenal growth. The growth factor induces a very high demand for ascorbic acid through additional stress and the massive need for collagen.
Ze'eva Li'ora - GSD 06/26/2010 [SAR/Wilderness Air Scent]
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