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Most infections are not caused by exposure to an infective agent. Rather, they are caused by a weakened host that has been compromised by stress and/or nutritional deficiency. Pathogens are opportunists that prey on a weakened immune system. Starches displace immune enhancing nutrients. Most importantly, they substitute for the important proteins so critically needed in carnivores. Starches, such as used in so-called “Grain Free” pet foods, have been shown to decrease beneficial probiotic organisms and encourage pathogenic organisms.

• “…protein deficiency alone can impair immune responsiveness for prolonged periods, perhaps permanently, if imposed during critical periods of immune ontogeny…” Gershwin, M. E., et al. Nutrition and Immunity. Proc Nutr Soc, 12, 1987.
• “…protein supplement accelerated the development of immunity to O circumcincta…”Coop, R.L., et al. Effect of dietary protein supplementation on the development of immunity to Ostertagia circumcincta... Research in Veterinary Science, 59 (1), 24-29, 1995.
• “…8% protein diet [compared to 15% and 33%]…difficulty expressing a competent immune response to pathogenic challenge in the wild.” Lochmiller, R. L., et al. Relationship between protein nutritional status and immunocompetence... The Auk, 110 (3), 503-510, 1993.
• “...the amount and type of dietary protein impacts C. perfringens concentrations in dog faeces. Protein quality may greatly influence intestinal microbiota by changing the amount of protein that reaches the lower bowel. Lower quality proteins that are poorly digested will provide more protein to microbes inhabiting the lower bowel and increase the occurrence of proteolytic bacteria, some of which may be pathogenic and/or produce putrefactive compounds…” Lubbs, D. C., et al. Dietary protein concentration affects intestinal microbiota of adult cats: a study using DGGE and qPCR to evaluate differences in microbial populations in the feline gastrointestinal tract. Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition, 93 (1), 113-121, 2008.

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