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The Blue Dog Blog: Treating Disease with Diet

By Dr. John Schoettle, DVM

A hundred years ago, visionary veterinarian, Dr. Mark Morris, Sr., began treating disease with diet. As one of the pioneers of small animal medicine, Dr. Morris helped shape its foundation. Today, treating dog and cat diseases simply by changing their diet is so commonplace that its revolutionary concept is often overlooked.

With the help of a mostly supportive world of pet owners, we can precisely control what a pet eats and improve its quality – and quantity – of life. We can lessen the clinical signs of some diseases and cure others. Does your pet have a urinary tract infection? There is a diet that assists treatment and prevents recurrence. Pancreatitis, diabetes, heart failure, brain failure, or cancer? There are diets for those, too… and they work!

When my first dog, Hampton, developed chronic kidney disease, a simple shift to a renal diet kept his disease in remission for two years with no drugs or surgeries. My current dog, Blue, has inflammatory bowel disease. I initially treated him with conventional remedies, but after multiple recurrences, I switched him to a GI diet, which keeps his disease well controlled.

Dr. Morris’ ideas are well known today but were not well received initially. However, one hundred years of success is a proof of concept. In his new book, How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Gerger compliments our profession by saying, “I think the only medical professional who ever asked me about a family member’s diet was our veterinarian.” It’s funny because Thomas Edison once predicted that the “doctor of the future will give no medicine.” Instead, they would use diet to prevent disease.

Two thousand years ago, the founding father of western medicine, Hippocrates, famously said “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.” Somewhere along the way, ‘western medicine’ lost touch with this wisdom. Thankfully, Dr. Morris built our profession on that concept, and our patients are the true beneficiaries. I say, “eat to live, not live to eat.”

If you’re looking for a healthy dog food for your pet, try Paula Deen Premium Select. It’s manufactured right here in America and comes in three flavors: Lamb Meal & Rice, Chicken & Rice, and Beef & Rice. Meat is always the first ingredient, and Paula made sure all the ingredients she selected were natural, without any artificial flavors or preservatives. That’s why it tastes so good. Paula and the team at Hugs Pet Products are working with nutritionists and vets to develop further flavor palates that combine healthful ingredients with good tasting flavors. Paula Deen Premium Select is available now on Paula Deen’s General Store,, and Amazon. You can also find it in Food City, HEB, Ingles, Schnucks, and Associated Food Stores.

Dr. John Schoettle, DVM - Dr. John Schoettle was born in Pennsylvania and raised on Saint Simon's Island in Coastal Georgia. A graduate from Auburn University, John has lived in Savannah since 1992. He founded Innovative Veterinary Medicine in 2006 and has been caring for Paula's pups ever since. An animal lover like Paula, John is active in Savannah’s animal community and plays dad to a black lab named Blue and a Hurricane Katrina rescue dog named Bayou.