Kyle Baker is the Senior Nutritional Specialist for DOGPerfect. He has 17 years of research into the world of dog health and nutrition. It all started with his dog Toby whom he found living on the streets. Kyle understands that food and nutrition is not a one-size-fits-all practicality. Different pups have different needs. Check out our conversation here for some quick tips – and insights about improving your dog’s quality of life.
For your convenience, we’ve included a transcript of our chat with Kyle.
Rover Reporter: Welcome to the podcast. I’m excited today to welcome Kyle Baker. Kyle is the Senior Nutritional Specialist for DOGPerfect. Welcome Kyle.
KYLE BAKER (00:20):
Hey welcome. Thank you. Thank you for having me here.
Rover Reporter (00:23):
I’m so excited to talk about this because dog food and the nutritional aspects can be so confusing for dog lovers. And so I’m hoping that you can dispel some myths and give us some background that we can use moving forward. I know that you’ve been working in the area locally here in the Sarasota Bradenton area. Tell me what sparked your interest in nutrition?
KYLE BAKER (00:48):
Just kind of like, like, like listeners in you. My love for my animal. I found a dog, a dog on this, on the street that had a compromised immune system. He had no fur body was a body was pink, so you can see all the information coming out of them. So I took that dog and took him to the vet. I got him checked out to see to see what if they could figure out what was going on with them. The veterinarians couldn’t figure out exactly how to heal that except with the use of steroids and prescription diets. Me, I couldn’t handle that as a, a true answer. I knew there had to be another result out there that could help my Toby out. So I kinda started doing my own research. I found a book called barf it’s biologically appropriate, raw feeding.
KYLE BAKER (01:35):
It’s written by a gentleman named ends in billing worth. And that was kinda my my eyeopening to nutrition. I put that doc, that diet ideology towards Toby and within weeks of time, the pink information started to go out of his body. First started growing back. So of course I was super, super, super excited about the results I was getting. And then when I took a Toby back to the veterinarian to get a checkup kind of show him the results. My, my answer to him, his answer to me was totally opposite what I thought I was going to get. He told me that you know what, these were all diets that could be possibly killing my animal. That right there scared me. But I didn’t understand that because I seen the results. So I kind of left there a little bit confused and disturbed of not really knowing what to do, but I stuck to my grounds and kept on doing more and more research. And through that, Toby kept on healing and that opened up my eyes to a whole nother career that I didn’t think was going to happen. Cause I kind of figured out there’s going to probably be other people out in this world who had issues with animals, compromised immune system allergies.
Rover Reporter (02:44):
Just jump in here for a second, Kyle, because you’re moving pretty quickly. And I’d like to know more. You said you found Toby on the street.
KYLE BAKER (02:53):
Yeah. I found Toby on the street. There was a homeless guy who had him in Ybor city, which is in Tampa. He owned the little puppy. I mean, Toby was probably eight to nine weeks old when I walked by. I seen Toby had a note for all pink on side and had an extended belly. And so I knew there was something, something wrong with them. So I knew that this needed to get this dog away from him.
Rover Reporter (03:14):
Did the guy give him to you willingly?
KYLE BAKER (03:17):
No, I paid, I paid the guy $10 for him.
Rover Reporter (03:19):
And how, how old were you when that happened?
KYLE BAKER (03:22):
I was 20 or 21 when that happened. And I knew that there was probably other people out there who were having compromised dogs, dogs, or cats with compromised immune systems or allergies that didn’t have this kind of resources or no, these options were out there for them. So I decided that my career path was going to, to research all these great products from Raul to gently cooked to herbs and supplements to help other pet owners with issues with their dogs. And that’s kinda how I ended up getting into pet nutrition. And if there was something I never, if somebody came to me and, and had a problem that I never knew of my always answer was we’re going to find out, we’re going to find this out together through research and trial and error and through the 17 years now that I’ve been doing this came up with a pretty good repertoire.
Rover Reporter (04:21):
I know that particularly here in Florida, allergies can be troublesome and widespread, but in your experience, working in a retail environment, what percentage of dogs do you see that have allergies?
KYLE BAKER (04:37):
I’d say about a 10 to 15% of dogs out there have allergies. But over, over 57% of dogs have some kind of endocrine disease, which is, you know, the, the number one thing is overweight, but also some other things hyper or hypo thyroid issues.
Rover Reporter (04:55):
So when people come into your store and they’re looking at a food and they have their dog with them, do you approach and, and talk about the dog or do you wait for them to come to you? How does that work?
KYLE BAKER (05:10):
Of course you know, I’m, I’m always a proactive person. So when anybody comes into the store, I always, you know, I want to always greet and introduce them, make them feel welcoming. But I always take a look at the dog because the dog, the dog will tell, tell a lot of stories on the way his gate is, the way he walks the way his, his coat feels, the way he sheds he coming off of, off of his body. So those are the things I kinda look at when I first approach a dog. And then when I’m petting them, I’m feeling for heat. See if we’ve got excess shedding, I looking for those things. So I can give some tips and techniques that could possibly help, help resolve some of those issues. And you also take an account, the dogs, the dogs, a age activity levels, if he’s active, inactive allergies, food intolerances. And those are the kinds of things that I kind of look into when, when it, when, when somebody brings their pet in to the pet stores themselves.
Rover Reporter (06:07):
So how do you help, I guess, based on what your experiences and your knowledge of the foods in the store, you can help guide people to a particular brand or type of thing,
KYLE BAKER (06:18):
Right? Yeah. I can always find ways to maybe help better their diets or figure out what is causing these minor or major inflammation in the body and see if we can get those removed out through change in diet or through detox in itself.
Rover Reporter (06:34):
What’s the detox process?
KYLE BAKER (06:37):
Different things, detox. One of my favorite detox is, is going to be milkthistle. So, the detox that you use to flush out the liver or liver in kind of Chinese medicine is kind of the pump that pumps all the energy through our body when that gets built up. And sludged up with things toxins,from other things that the liver – is trying to filter through. It’s not able to move things through the body itself. So we like to add milkthistle up to the diet, to clean, clean up the liver and move that through. A real easy way to know if the liver is slightly inflamed, is if you feel on directly on top of the dog’s head, if that, if that has more heat coming off of it than the rest of the body, it’s a good, good sign that there’s probably some minor inflammation going on in the liver itself. And you might want to look into a detox for three to four weeks, and you’ll notice that the top of the head will start cooling down and even, even up with the rest of the body spill.
Rover Reporter (07:34):
Wow, that’s fascinating. So is the milk thistle a capsule?
KYLE BAKER (07:39):
It can come into capsule coming in liquid form can come in different forms. So I usually use the liquid forms easier to absorb into the body quicker to get to the bloodstream itself, to start doing it’s detoxing.
Rover Reporter (07:51):
Yeah. Interesting. So I don’t know if you remember, I’m sure you do, but there was a big controversy some months back about grain-free and you know, people were saying that it could lead to issues with the heart and other maladies what’s, what’s your opinion of that? The whole thing’s kind of died down.
KYLE BAKER (08:13):
The reason why the whole thing has died down cause the controversy was not really nutritionally bound. It was more big publicly traded businesses against private private businesses. At DogPerfect we don’t look at foods if it has grain or grain-free in it that that doesn’t matter.
That is a category for the marketers and the propaganda is out there. What we look in for foods is that you derive most of your protein from meat content instead of vegetable and brain foods thrive most of protein from corn wheat and soy which is hard for dogs to break down. They don’t have the stomach the four chambers in the stomach to break that down like cows do. And also in those and corn wheat and soy, they’re all so raised with GMOs have been proven now that it damages our microbiome, which is one of our most important health factor things that control all of our health and our body.
A majority of your microbiome is found into your gut, your intestines, but it’s also found in your bones, your skin, your hair, your saliva, and your ears. And so once that starts getting damaged, that starts to open up a lot of things to get into the bloodstream as such as proteins and bacterias, once those proteins start getting into the bloodstream, that’s when allergy starts to come out. And when bacteria starts getting into the blood stream, that starts feeding your major diseases as authorized illness pancreatitis cancer, and other major illnesses.
Rover Reporter (09:48):
Yeah. Now here’s a softball question for you. Maybe do you recommend feeding once a day, twice a day or three times a day?
KYLE BAKER (09:57):
You know, that all depends on your lifestyle. There’s, there’s, there’s been a lot of people who tried to do studies on seeing what is better. The, the purists are the true naturalist out there. Who’ve studied wolves. They’re going to say one time a day is going to be the best, best thing for me personally, I like to do two times a day. Just cause I, I don’t want my dog to always feel like he’s having a, an empty stomach. Although that kind of, sometimes that scavengering and depleting their stomach helps their organs detox and take that inflammation out. And that’s why the purists will say one time a day, but we’ve got a lot of small dogs who’ve been domesticated and through throughout time their sugar levels get out of whack. So that’s why I like to do two two feedings a day to try to keep the, the sugar levels balanced or more balanced. Sometimes smaller dogs or older dogs, they might need to be fed three to four times throughout the day. Depends on if they have any kind of medical issues and things like that. So, so that’s that, that answer varies. But just for a true healthy dog, once to twice a day is going to be my best answer. But I, I’m more leaning towards twice a day.
Rover Reporter (11:12):
Gotcha. The other thing that, you know, we all struggle with as dog lovers, especially now that we’re home all the time is trreating our dogs. And it’s so hard not to grab something off your plate and give a little bite to your dog. And =we know the things that you shouldn’t do that with, but what is it okay to give just a little bit of?
KYLE BAKER (11:36):
Yeah. That’s, that’s a great, that’s a great question. You know what I mean? We hear this all the time. You know, people say that says, don’t give people food. Well, what is people food and what is dog food? Food is food. To me it’s just, we don’t want to give our dogs are over-processed over salted, over sugar base foods. But like me, I eat apples. I share that with my dog, oranges, banana is cauliflower, green peppers, red peppers, broccoli, all those, all those things in a raw and natural form, that’s not processed and had sugars and salts added to it are, are great treats and snacks to feed the dog. My dog loves crunching on carrots. So, so, so it’s not, it’s not really people food. We should stay away from it’s over processed foods that have too many sugars, salt, and other unknown things. And it is what we need to stay away from feeding our pets. But of course there’s some natural ingredients that are not good for them to onions few on a few other ones on the list too. But I, you know, to play it safe double-check and research before you do it, but in all, in all, if the food is wrong and process without sugars and salts added to it, most likely it’s going to be food for good food for your dog.
Rover Reporter (13:00):
And if you were going out to buy some healthy treats to carry with you in your bag or keeping the car or whatever, what should you look for in terms of ingredients?
KYLE BAKER (13:12):
That’s a very good question. And, and that goes in the same with food. There’s a lot of qual qualification questions. I kind of asked to see what you’re trying to get out of a tree, but the general rule on treats itself, I’m a big fan of Chinese medicine and Chinese medicine says, eat, eat what is ailing? So that means if you have in hardest at heart issue, eat heart treats, treats that are made with chicken hearts, beef hearts, lamb hearts, you got liver issues, eat, eat, treats that are made with liver. Cause you’re going to get all those benefits out of that. But there’s also other, other things that people are looking for in treats, you know, training treats. I just need a good training tree, which is going to be something that’s a little bit smaller. I like to go with freeze dried because of that that absorbs into the mouth a little bit easier.
KYLE BAKER (14:02):
It’s not as dry as a product. There’s your dental treats that help that are longer lasting treats that help aid in breaking down plaque and tartar and your mouth. And then there’s also your therapeutic treats. Those are treats that can bring benefits to the dog’s body from, from different omegas to a glucosamine, can Jordan a two different mushroom things to help build, build immunity. So it really depends on what you’re trying to get out of a tree, but a general treat that I like to go with is, is your, is your Oregon parts, your, your chicken hearts, your beef livers, your lamb, your lamb lungs, a more natural, more natural organ meat treats from a, is what I liked by my, my pets with, as a treat itself,
Rover Reporter (14:48):
I guess they’re probably tastier right? The organ treats?
KYLE BAKER (14:53):
Sure. That’s, that’s what dogs in the wild thrive off of. If you ever watch a dog in the wild eat the most, the first thing they go after is the organ meat itself, because it has the highest amount of nutritional value and the easiest to digest. I try to stay away from cookies and biscuits. And the reason why is we are already feeding our dogs, a, a over-processed basically biscuit and a kibble form that has no moisture towards it and has a lot of sugars, carbs and starches. So when I provide a treat, if we have a kibble based diet, I’m going to try to bring something that’s going to be a little bit more beneficial that doesn’t have all those carbs and starches to it and can bring some kind of freshness back to the diet that the dog’s diet itself.
Rover Reporter (15:38):
Are there any online resources that you feel are particularly helpful to consumers?
KYLE BAKER (15:44):
There are a few but there is a lot of confusing things on the old inner web here that can, can drive you crazy and contradict a one one site from the next site. So I kinda, I kind of stay with you know, like I said, the barf book by dr. E Billingsworth dogs naturally is a great website to go with a whole dog journal is another one that I look into a lot. I also follow certain veterinarians and doctors dr. Judy Morgan is absolutely amazing. Dr. Karen Becker and Rodney Habib have a lot of great information on the, on the internet. And there’s a pet food company called the answer’s pet food. Their team of veterinarians and staff are absolutely amazing. They have great videos, but what I learned the most from is my customers, you know, their, their stories about their animals and the results we get with great products. That’s where I’ve learned the most from. But if you ever have any questions, you know, you can always hunt me down.
Rover Reporter (16:46):
Yeah. You’ve been a wealth of information, Kyle, we really appreciate you joining us here. If we wanted to find you, where would we look?
KYLE BAKER (16:56):
Well, I work at I work for the dog perfect company. We have three locations. We have one in the Lakewood ranch area. We have one on university across from UTC, and we also have one in South Sarasota and a Plaza called landings. It’s in between Clark road in and be rich. But if you need some, if you, if, if you need something direct that you want to talk to me about or touch up on certain subjects there is a link on dog Perfect’s website for an, for a nutritional consultant. And as long as you click on that and fill out that information, that will send a email directly to me, and I can get in contact with you to let you know what stores are, Matt and what, and to see what actually works best for you. And then we can do a free, a nutritional consultation. I can address your address, any questions you have, I can kind of down foods that you’re already feeding. And I can introduce some of the things that I really love in this pen industry is by adding raw, fresh ingredients to your diet, either substitute some of your kibble with that or adding bras, goats, milk, cow Keifers, and other things to the diet to add more hydration and better nutrients to your dog’s life.
Rover Reporter (18:10):
That sounds great, Kyle, and then the nutritional consult that’s free?
KYLE BAKER (18:14):
It’s not a hundred percent free. I am proud to do this for free, and I’m very happy to do it. This is a this isn’t a job for me. This is a passion I’ve been blessed in this world that the community of Sarasota Manatee County has afforded me to allow me to do what I love. I felt like I haven’t worked a day in my life. That’s awesome.
Rover Reporter (18:35):
Awesome. Well, thanks again for joining us. And again, if you’re trying to reach Kyle, you can visit dogperfect.com and there’s a link to fill out a form for a consult. I’m Mary Lou Davidson, the Rover Reporter. Thanks for joining us.
Disclaimer: Remember to always check with your veterinarian about your dog’s health and for annual visits.