We asked Dr. Erin Holder of FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital about her thoughts on diet, health, and longevity for your dog. Dr. Holder graduated with honors from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002, where she also works as an adjunct professor in the Zoo and Wildlife Department. Dr. Holder incorporates Chinese medicine and acupuncture into her daily practice and believes in giving pets holistic care.Q. Do you have a favorite tip or advice that you like to give dog owners?Answer: Feed whole food. It’s the absolute best way you can care for your pet. Q. With so many dog food brands on the market, how do you suggest the best ones for your patients? And how do I know I picked the right one?Answer: There is not one right brand for our beloved furry pets. Each patient at FloridaWild gets assessed and the correct formulation is recommended. For example, is the patient yin-deficient (older, hot, and thirsty)? This requires a cooling food.You can see that choosing food is not a simple task. Beyond that, the rotation of foods is also critical. Q. What are the top things you recommend not to give your pet?Processed foods,Unnecessary drugs and treatments to suppress the immune system, andToxic foods like grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate and xylitol.I also caution my patients to keep their pets away from lawn chemicals, as they are linked to lymphoma. Q. Can a dog's diet cause personality changes? (More or less hyper?)Answer: Diet affects the gut microbiome.As human studies show, there is a direct correlation between gut microbiome and the brain. Abnormal microbiomes can cause depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity in humans. If we extrapolate that for our animals and take into consideration the overuse of pesticides, processed foods, vaccines, and drugs, you can see that the microbiome of our pets is often extremely unhealthy.Unhealthy guts manifest in a variety of diseases such as anxiety, skin disease, inflamed bladder, or other endocinopathies. The list goes on and on. Eventually these pets end up with cancers. Q. I heard a raw diet can prevent or solve health problems in pets. Is that true?Answer: Raw diets can be a wonderful food for some patients. Yet again there is no one food that is right as a blanket diet for our pets. Q. I read the ingredients list on dog food bags, but what should I be looking for?Answer: The top four ingredients are listed in order on the bag. This is the what is in the food for the most part. Avoid by-products, meat meal, and any preservatives that are not natural. Q. What are your thoughts on human-grade prepared food for dogs, with whole ingredients and no preservatives? Answer: Simply put, it is the best way to feed our pets. Q. Is it okay to give my dog bones to chew on? And if so, which ones?Answer: I do recommend giving bones to dogs. I do not recommend cooked bones, however, smoked bones or frozen bones are a good choice.I also recommend giving large bones but if they start to splinter to take them immediately. Q. I want to feed my pet human-grade food, but I'm afraid to tell my vet. What should I do?Answer: Before the introduction of "pet food" (that is, food that was created and marketed specifically for pet consumption), dogs thrived on human-grade food. Why? Because it was healthy, whole, varied, and (most importantly) unprocessed. Your vet's primary concern should be the health and safety of your pet. At FloridaWild, diet is incorporated in every aspect of our treatment plans, from the healthy to the chronically ill.