Many times, when our dogs go through a transition phase especially when linked to food, someone will definitely say this, "don't worry, your dog is detoxing!".
Now what is detox?
Are there really such a thing?
In this post we will share our personal experience and opinion on this term.
The word detox
Most people, especially internet savvy ones would appear to use the word detox as a period to eliminate unwanted substances from the body. For example, a health drink that will help to 'purge' unhealthy stuff and toxins out of the body, or a diet that has negative effect at first, but serves to make a person/pet healthier after a period of time.
In scientific terms, detox (or detoxification) is more or less linked to removing drugs, poison and/or alcohol from a person/animal's body, it could also mean to reduce taking certain harmful food to help the body heal. In recent years because people are more health conscious, greedy businesses are creating the myth and promoting that certain food/supplement can rid of a body's 'toxins' accumulated throughout the years, this is when the word detox starts to become popular.
So what is it that my dog is going through if not for detoxification?
The truth to this widely spread misconception is very simple, below are the 3 common things that people tend to be misled.
1 - Diet
When a dog is going through a strict diet, certain ingredient(s) which could've harmed or cause negative effects to the body is eliminated, which in returns helps the body to heal, bear in mind that the diet doesn't heal the body, it is the system inside the body does the work.
2 - Simply removing a harmful ingredient will just be helping the body to heal better
The thing is that different dogs have different tolerance to certain ingredients, what works for one dog may just harm another, therefore there is no such thing as 1 solution for all canines. To simplify this even further, imagine that your dog had been drinking bird nest (for example) and having diarrhea for some time, and I, the detox guy gives you a bottle of plain old water instead, your dog stops the diarrhea. Well if you understands this logic, you are already getting there!
3 - Special diet/Supplements
The danger appears when money is involved, diets like raw and other supplements takes up a lot more money from you than you think, a simple $3/meal (or more) and monthly supplements can round up to more than $2500/year without owners knowing, remember this is an ongoing routine (as advertised by salesman not to ever stop), it becomes even more dangerous when owners give these food and supplements to their dogs blindly. Charts like to elaborate how much calcium, protein and other source of vitamins dogs need, salesman/advertisers(blog, magazine, website etc) tells you that all of these can be stored in a pill or diet, but they don't tell you that a dog's body cannot absorb so much of the mentioned stuff all at once, if your dog is lucky and have a healthy body, it will excrete out any excess stuff, which also means that you are wasting unnecessary money, if your dog is unlucky, negative effects will start to appear after a couple of months or even years.
Lastly, the most famous word used on food these days - Detoxing
When your dog takes a certain diet and start to have negative effects - skin problem, coat shedding, lethargic, weight loss, diarrhea and other issues, it is NOT detoxing, nothing is purged out of its body so don't be fooled by this. This in fact is what we like to call a transition phase, where the dog's body is rejecting certain food because it isn't used to it, and this can be very dangerous if you do not monitor closely and take necessary precautions.
I'll take raw food for example, when you introduce this to a dog that had been taking cooked/other forms of diet in the past, it is common for it to experience side effects especially those symptoms mentioned above, this is a transition phase that the body will go through, and don't get the wrong idea that your dog's body will gradually accept it sooner or later, some dogs just cannot accept it no matter what, either because they have unhealthy digestive system or simply because this diet isn't suitable for that particular dog. Do note however that this article is not about debating what words to use, but to know that when a dog is going through 'transition phase' it never 100% safe and risks do possess, if this was treated as a 'detox case' then many will just continue to wait it out as advertised, which will threaten the health of the dog and at times even death may occur.
Remember, side effects when prolonged can permanently destroy the immune system of your dog, and there is nothing being purged out of the body, we don't believe in toxin and detox nonsense. You have to consider if they are harmful and if it is worth it to wait it out, Amber for example has slight watery stool and redness on the eye after taking K9 Freeze dried, we decided to give the food more time as the side effects were not life threatening, if there were extreme rashes and constant diarrhea then it would've be better to stop the food completely. Although raw is good on its own, there are evidence that many dogs cannot accept this diet. This logic applies to any other food out there, though people like to say that it depends on individual opinion, one needs to understand that opinion is one thing, however if this owner is not equipped with the proper knowledge then the person's opinion will just be putting his/her dog's life in constant danger.