A place to find and share information to help our loved ones live the best life possible!
Happy New Year everyone! I know it’s been a while since I’ve published anything, which I feel terrible about. I have been learning a LOT and really hope to start sharing again very soon! I’m taking additional on-line classes and reading so much right now, I’ve gotten slightly overwhelmed but I am hopefully going to be in a better position to offer good information once my schedule slows down. When I started this blog, I wrote only about things that I knew very well. Now my goals are to become more educated so that what I say can have the greatest impact for good. I’m struggling to begin for a few reasons but one is that I really don’t want to scare anyone out of raw feeding because I’m making it look too complicated. It truly isn’t and none of what I’m doing now is necessary for someone to do it. For example, analyzing every vitamin and mineral, making my own fermented vegetables and studying food data banks, is in no way needed to prepare raw dog food. I want to share articles that hold good info without making it seem necessary for those who are beginners. Hopefully over time that will come across. I really only started all of this to help spread awareness about companion animal health and to insert my voice as one that stands against what’s been done to them by the pet food industry. They have even badly influenced veterinary medicine and it’s simply not ok. My efforts are to help pet parents keep they’re animals healthy by providing some useful information and maybe bring awareness to an industry that has become so corrupt. That being said, this is still the raw dog diary section, so I just want to update that things have been going very well! Jersey Girl is still super picky but then again she always was that way lol it probably won’t change. Fasting is a good way for her system to detox in between meals anyway so it’s a great way to allow her to be hungry enough to try things she often ends up loving! We also finally found an amazing vet! I’m studying a lot of natural medicine myself for home use but I will never be a vet, so to finally have someone in our corner is one of the best feelings there is! I don’t have much to share other than the quick update and promise of more to come!
Love and puppy kisses from Jeanne & Jersey Girl
As an aside, I know the last article I wrote was kind of angry. It was anger directed at kibble and the pet food industry. I may have gotten a little too heated when I wrote it. It was not intended to say anything bad about those who feel that they can adequately do homemade vegan diets. It will never be my first choice for dogs but I felt bad when I saw all of the anger that article contained, it is 100% not my intention! I’m here because I love animals and everyone else who loves them too!
What is vegan dog food?
The kind you can buy, is basically kibble without the meat. Kibble already adds synthetic vitamins, the only difference here is the number of synthetic vitamins added to make it nutritionally adequate. There are nutrients found in meat (such as taurine) that dogs absolutely require to live, that cannot be found in ANY plant based sources. In order to be vegan, these nutrients can not come from animal sources and therefore MUST be synthetic.
There are multiple problems with adding synthetic vitamins. These are just a few:
- The body can’t process them correctly so they can lead to deficiencies.
- They tax the liver, get passed as waste and can cause countless other health problems.
- Many are made in China and other countries where standards are low and are contaminated and dangerous.
- Manufactures are not obligated to disclose the amounts present after processing. This is made worse by the fact that they degrade over time.
- A pet food sitting in a warehouse for a year before getting to a store shelf, could have almost none of the original vitamins added in it that are listed on the label and this is perfectly legal.
Both vegan and premium traditional kibble pet foods add these synthetic vitamins due to the severe lack of nutrition in kibble regardless of the ingredients. This is due to the processing required to make it shelf stable. Nutrients are lost and need to be added back in to meet minimum requirements. What makes vegan food worse is the amount they must add because of the essential nutrients missing by not having meat.
Also the meat is being replaced by plant-based carbohydrates. Dogs require little to no carbohydrates biologically. These tax every vital organ as they are eliminated from the body. This speeds up the aging process and leads to chronic diseases.
The Vegan Argument
People argue that dogs have adapted over the years of being fed kibble, however research based science clearly proves that this is not the case.
A pug may no longer resemble a wolf, but his digestive tract DOES! Breeding has changed the way our dogs look and behave but biologically speaking, their DNA differs from wolves by only .02%.
Dogs unlike cats (who are obligate carnivores) can technically eat other things. They are survivors. Eating things other than meat has helped them survive during hard times in environments where food is scarce. This has been proven by their survival on kibble. However, mere survival does not make kibble or vegan kibble healthy. This has been made very obvious by the growing numbers of diseases that are currently plaguing the canine population. Everything from arthritis due to nutrient deficiencies to cancer is directly related to their diet. Bad breeding may exacerbate this but it is far from copiable for all of these health crises.
The small amount of actual meat left in kibble after processing, was pretty much all dogs had left of what their bodies (carnivore bodies) were meant to eat. Taking that away increases the danger posed by kibble 10X. There is no credible evidence to counter what science has already determined biologically appropriate for a canine. There is no reason dogs should be experimented on to counter sound medical evidence.
Vegan dog food has not been around long enough. People can be paid to tell stories about examples of healthy vegan dogs. Those who want to believe it will not challenge these accounts.
While I stand behind vegan ideals 100% when it comes to animal cruelty, factory farming and the devastation to our planet, dogs are not responsible for any of this and should not be made to pay the price for it.
Without human intervention, dogs eat based on instinct. This is the same as how a cow knows to eat grass. In the wild, dogs would eat wild prey. This is proven through studies done on the stomach contents of wild dogs and wolves. They eat based on what their body needs and was designed to digest.
Do we need to work towards fixing what we’ve done to our planet? Absolutely, but just because we can choose the diet for a particular species, doesn’t mean that we have the right to.
Humans alone are the reason our planet is suffering because of the meat industry.
Dogs also have a large population because of humans. We as a species have an obligation to work on fixing both of these issues, not by denying what another species needs to live but addressing the actions of our own.
I stand behind vegan ethics to protect our planet. One way to do this is to stop eating meat ourselves, because we can do so safely. Dogs can not and should not be made to.
Why is vegan pet food becoming popular?
There are a culmination of reasons for this. One is that the pet food industry is a very competitive multi-billion dollar industry. They influence everything from dietary industry standards to veterinary schools, hospitals, pharmaceuticals and even labs. The market has become turbulent. More people are looking for traditional kibble alternatives. Being different, gets attention and nothing is more different than trying to feed dogs without meat. On the other side of things, the human food industry is going through very similar issues. Milk produces for example, lose profits every time someone opts to buy animal free varieties. Companies are now becoming diversified in order to stay afloat. Many now make non-dairy and other products as well.
Who is really responsible for the vegan dog trend? I can’t say that I know for sure, but what I do know is that there are definite monetary incentives for many parties. They were smart to target a group who wants to believe that this is a safe alternative. They will be easier to convince that it’s ok through whatever random “evidence” they choose to provide.
We already know that doctors can be bought and so can reviews. We see this happen in virtually every other industry. The difference here is that they are honing in on something that people care very deeply about.
To be a vegan isn’t easy! You HAVE to care deeply to live this way of life. The fact that the good intentions and passion of this well established group is being capitalized on is truly deplorable. I don’t know at this point who is funding the marketing behind the movement or who is actually set up to make money and who is being conned, but I do hope that it comes to light eventually. Allowed to progress I am very afraid of what else may happen to the dogs who are already barely surviving on kibble fed diets.
The move towards putting vegan dog food in shelters:
This is currently happening in LA and is of particular concern for a multitude of reasons.
One being that it is being made to look altruistic, which I do not believe it is. This makes it that much more offensive. Shelters are overcrowded and we know this. They need a LOT of food. Because of this, they look to be a good way to make a large dent in breaking away from the issues caused by traditional pet food companies on the environment. Again, this issue of overfilled shelters has become a problem because of humans.
Dogs that end up in shelters are often malnourished and have an even greater need for quality nutrition. Giving them a plant based diet puts them at an even greater risk of becoming even sicker.
Sick dogs in shelters are often put down because there is not enough money for medical care. Sick dogs also have a harder time being adopted because most people don’t want to take on an animal with medical needs.
The other issue with malnutrition, is the simple fact that time and again it has been proven to be a significant factor in behavioral problems. When a dog is missing nutrients, it has a much harder time in social situations and if shelter dogs didn’t ALREADY have a hard time due to histories of abuse, this is clearly not going to make their lives any easier.
My final issue, is that when fed a vegan diet as long as they may be in a shelter (often years) if the adopting parents decide against it, the dog may not be able to cope digestively. I see this as a play to keep customers of vegan dog foods and nothing else.
Even if I am wrong about all of the corporate corruption, and this movement really is entirely based on a group of people who just care about the environment, I can not support the way they are going about doing that in this case. I see this as animal abuse due to misinformation at best, and human vegan abuse as well at worst, if it really is being funded by people talking advantage of this group of people desperate to save our environment.
I am one of them, and I do my part by not eating meat among other things. I also raise my dog responsibly and this includes feeding her a species appropriate diet and only buying her food from ethical meat sources.
I see no reason why dogs should suffer because of problems that humans have created and therefore should not be targeted in trying to fix it. There are other ways to help our planet that are safe and there is no valid reason to risk our dog’s health in this way.
I’d also like to add here that this in no way means that I believe that dogs can not benefit from eating vegetables! I absolutely believe that they can and should have access to them in their diet. All I am saying here is that plant-based food should not make up their ENTIRE diet.
To sum up, I’ll use the words of Dr. Judy Morgan: “If you want a vegan pet, get a bunny!” Please, do not do this to your dog!
If you would like to take action and make a difference, or simply learn more about the information presented here, follow this link.
It took a long time, but I have finally found a good source so I had to share it right away. This is an update to Dogs and omega 3
I will include more info soon but if you are looking for a great source (that you can use also) Marphyl is Definitely it! I was very unhappy with most of what I have seen so far so I was very happy to find this resource!
Eggs are one of nature’s most complete and perfect foods! Adding a raw egg to your dog’s food is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to supercharge their diet. If you think about what an egg is, its easy to see why. An egg contains all of the ingredients necessary to grow life. This is pretty significant! Why don’t more people take advantage of this? Mostly because lately eggs have gotten a bad rap.
Some Myths About Raw Eggs
- Cholesterol– It is true that for HUMANS this could definitely be an issue. Dogs however don’t digest things the same way as people do. The only dogs that would ever have to be monitored for cholesterol are those that are either diabetic or have hyperthyroidism. Outside of that small percentage, a dog is not ever going to have to worry about this.
- Salmonella– Again, unlike people, dogs are literally built in a way to handle things like salmonella. Exposure to it won’t give them salmonella because their stomach acid literally destroys it. This is why a dog can eat out of the garbage can and we can’t!
- Biotin deficiency– Eating egg whites only might be healthier for people but the same is not true for dogs. As long as a dog also eats the yolk, they don’t have to worry about having a biotin deficiency. This is because egg whites contain a biotin inhibitor called avidin. The easiest way to counteract this is by eating the yolk which is naturally rich in biotin. This eliminates the risk. The other way to do this is by cooking them, in which case egg whites lose their avidin. The problem with this is that they also lose a large number of other nutrients that are extremely beneficial.
- Digestive upset- Egg whites contain enzyme inhibitors that make them difficult for some people to digest. As long as your dog is not eating eggs and nothing else, they should have no problem digesting them. One egg mixed in with dinner for example is a great way to introduce them and reduce the risk of any digestive upset.
Why Are Eggs So Beneficial?
- Eggs are one of the most complete sources of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are essential to life. When a protein is correctly evaluated, its value lies in its amino acid profile. High protein is useless without the amino acid profile because these are what the body uses exclusively and the rest just turns into waste. The amino acids in eggs are also highly digestible for dogs which make them even better!
- They are packed with vitamins and minerals including but not limited to:
- Vitamin A – A fat-soluble vitamin that promotes eye, skeletal and muscle health. This is a good vitamin for dogs because they easily convert it into a usable form. This is an especially important vitamin for growing puppies.
- Biotin – Necessary for growth, digestion and muscle function, it also is important in maintaining skin and hair health.
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B) – Also known as B 2 is a water-soluble coenzyme that regulates the energy production from fats, maintains cells and helps the body utilize amino acids. It is essential to growth, muscle development and skin and coat health. As with the other B vitamins, it is not stored within the body and must be present in the diet.
- Vitamin B 12 and Folic acid – Folic acid and B12 are necessary for bone marrow and bone health because they help the marrow produce red blood cells.
- Niacin– Promotes essential enzyme production.
- Panothenic Acid – Enables the body to produce useable forms of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
- B6 (pyridoxine) – Helps the body utilize amino acids and is essential to life.
- Phosphorus – A mineral that works with calcium, that is vital to bone development. Together they maintain the growth and structure of the skeletal system.
- Vitamin D – A Fat-soluable vitamin necessary for bone formation, nerve and muscle control. It balances phosphorus and calcium and regulates these in the blood stream, allowing calcium to be utilized and retained. Vitamin D is an important part of a dogs diet because they cannot produce it on their own. Vitamin D toxicity is very rare but could have a negative effect by causing calcium deposits in the heart, muscles and other soft tissue. (This is not a concern in one egg!)
- Iron – A mineral that increases the production of red blood cells. This helps maintain bone marrow and prevents anemia. Iron is necessary for certain enzymes in the body to function normally. Iron also combines with copper and protein to produce hemoglobin (the molecules in red blood cells that carry oxygen). The body needs a constant supply to maintain red blood cells, as they need to be replaced in the body every 110 days.
- Selenium – An antioxidant that works with vitamin e and certain enzymes to promote heart and skin health. It also helps prevents arthritis and cancer.
- Fatty Acids – Essential to organ health.
- Protein: Maintains healthy bodily functions and provides energy fuel. Protein is necessary for all aspects of growth, development and immune health. This is because it contains amino acids and the body cannot produce every one that is essential on its own. They must come through diet and eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids plus 4 non-essential amino acids.
3. Eggs Shells are full of Calcium which can be very important for dogs lacking calcium in their diet (explained at the end). They also contain micro-elements, such as magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, silicon, zinc, etc. There are 27 elements in total.
Calcium is a mineral that is essential for bone formation, blood coagulation, muscle contraction, nerve and impulse transmission, heart health, immune health and endocrine function. Calcium is an important part of your pet’s health! (Without calcium in the diet, the body extracts it from its own bones, which leads to many issues related to mobility.)
Many dogs will eat the shell with their food but I only trust shells from local growers because most from the grocery store have been sprayed to look nicer. My dog is not one who will eat the shell. For days when she may lack bone for calcium in her diet, I save the organic unused shells.
You can dry them in the oven on low for about 10 minutes and then easily crush them into a powder using either a clean coffee grinder or a pestle. This a very easy way to make your own calcium supplement. I love this because there are a lot of concerns about the safety of many calcium sources in supplements on the market and as long as you get good quality eggs, this takes away the guess work.
My dog is 25 lbs so she needs 550 mg of calcium per day. (50mg per kg) She gets calcium from other sources so if I need to I only use 1/4- 1/2 tsp. based on the assessment that:
“One whole medium sized eggshell makes about one teaspoon of powder, which yields about 750 – 800 mgs of elemental calcium plus other microelements, i.e. magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, silicon, zinc, etc. There are 27 elements in total.”
4. Dogs usually LOVE eggs! Even dogs who love food, don’t always love things that are healthy. Because eggs are so highly palatable, I use them as a food topper to help get my dog to eat other healthy items that she’s less fond of!
Calcium Phosphorus Ratio:
NOTE: Eggs without the shell will have more phosphorus than calcium in them. If you are not feeding them with other items that have calcium (bone) it is important that some calcium be added to balance this out. Each shell-less egg has about 78 mgs more phosphorus than calcium, this means you should add about 85 mgs of calcium if your dog is not getting it from other sources. An occasional egg will do no harm, this is more for those that use them every day without balance because the imbalance may add up.
The ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be about 1:1 or 1.2:1 in favor of slightly more calcium. Because calcium is the mineral that is required in the highest amount, phosphorus is number two. Phosphorus deficiency is very rare in dogs. Too much phosphorus is more common and can accelerate kidney failure or renal disease. Because the calcium to phosphorus ratio is so important in dog health, its important to pay special attention to the amounts of both in each food. Excess or deficiency of either can cause problems. There are some foods that have a natural balance, like green tripe, but not most. For this reason, out of everything thats in an egg, this is the one I would pay attention to most. Imbalance over time can cause skeletal problems that can be very severe. There should not be enough phosphorus present in eggs to cause an issue, due to other food items, but it’s a good thing to be aware of.
We feed about 4-5 raw eggs per week with bone and/or shell powder when we have it. We use a lot of eggs, but my dog also has plenty of bone in her diet so I don’t worry about it very much.
I love eggs because my dog loves eggs and they are so good for her and easy to keep in stock!
Another great use for eggs shells:
Another busy week but we’re making progress! On tap for this week is:
- Unconventional oils such as black seed and CBD
- Colloidal silver
Along with at least 15 other things that I’m currently researching.
It’s been a lot of computer time for Jersey Girl to endure but I’ve been doing better with the walks! It’s gorgeous out now so we do an hour minimum. It’s no where near the exercise we used to get but it’s better than it was!
The biggest news this week was that we finally found a holistic vet! They all seem so busy I was afraid we’d never get an appointment, but we finally got one for the end of the month. It’s good timing because I really want to change her heart worm pill and that’s usually when she takes it. I love living in Florida but the heartworm meds are a problem. I am 100% holistic except for this and I hate that. I’m really praying for some answers! I’m also interested in seeing her most recent blood work. I finally got a glucose/keytone reader (that we’ve yet to use lol) but that’s not my primary concern, so hopefully we’ll have a good experience with this new vet!
She’s finally being open minded and eating all of her meals!! For a while it was only the farmers market items but now it’s everything and I am so thrilled!
I’m starting official classes in canine nutrition soon so I am probably going to be blogging less but hopefully I’ll also have a lot more to share!
Best wishes to you and your fur family and love always,
Jeanne & Jersey Girl
When it comes to mushrooms for dogs, my general rule of thumb has always been, “when in doubt, go without”. The truth is, there are MANY different species of mushrooms. There are some that are toxic to dogs and people also, however, there is a reason people still eat mushrooms, and its not just because they like them. Mushrooms can be a powerhouse of nutrition and have been used for centuries in medicine. When I kept seeing dog “immunity blend” vitamins with mushrooms in them, I decided this was something definitely worth looking into.
While I would never trust a mushroom that I found outside, most of the mushrooms that you will find at the grocery store are also safe for dogs. That being said, not all mushrooms are created equal. Some mushrooms are worth a lot more than others health-wise. Because my dog’s not particularly interested in veggies, if I am going to incorporate mushrooms in my vegetable blends or broths, I want them to be worth the effort. Immunity blends can be great, but I prefer whole foods and unless my dog has a specific need for a blend, I always prefer to go the homemade route. There are a number of vitamins, minerals, biologically active compounds and fungal enzymes in mushrooms that can help with things like:
- Immune system health
- Digestive health
- Respiratory health
- Joint health
- Normal cell growth
Some mushrooms are easier to find than others, so I also have a list below of whole-foods based supplements that might be helpful for those varieties that are not as easy to buy locally. Blends can also be beneficial because many contain important nutrient dense parts of the mushroom like the mycelium, that you just can’t buy in a store because they are cut in order to sell.
As with everything, moderation is key. Not all vitamins are beneficial in high amounts. Vitamins A, C and D for example can become toxic at certain levels, so it’s best to be aware of how mush your dog is getting combined with their other food per day. The benefit of buying store-bought mushrooms is that a lot of them have nutrition facts that can give you a general idea of how many vitamins you are dealing with at a time. The easiest to find beneficial varieties that can either be grown at home or found at most stores are shiitake, maitake, reishi, and button.
Most notable attribute: They are a symbol of longevity in humans and have health benefits for dogs as well. They are considered one of the world’s healthiest foods.
Additional benefits: They contain: protein, zinc, copper, thiamin, folate, selenium, iron, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, manganese, pathothenic acid, niacin, vitamin D and dietary fiber. They also contain more than 50 enzymes including pepsin, which aids in digestion.
Most notable attribute: They are one of the most medicinal mushrooms on earth. They have a host of healing qualities and have been called an anti-cancer agent.
Additional benefits: Regulating blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and immunity enhancing. Due to the unique chemical structure of its ploysccharide compound it has proven to be a strong tumor suppressant. They contain protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, selenium and vitamin D.
Reishi: These mushrooms come in a variety of colors but those that are purple, black, yellow, blue, white and red are the most beneficial. Red is the most common.
Most notable attribute: It helps reduce fatigue, bone marrow suppression and risk of infection especially for those undergoing chemo therapy radiation.
Additional attributes: They are used to relieve allergies, support cardiovascular health, improve digestion, improve the immune system, aid in detox, improve cognition, healthy respiration, they are anti-inflammatory and increase energy. They are rich in polysaccharides, polypeptides, 16 amino acids, organic acids coumarin and micro elements. They contain protein, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, omega 6, and selenium.
Button aka White mushrooms:
Most notable attribute: They contain antioxidants that are not destroyed through cooking.
Additional benefits: These mushrooms have growth cycles that produce Button (can be white or brown), then Crimini and finally Portobello. The nutritional values vary between growth cycles but they all contain all of the B vitamins except 12, protein, fiber, omega 6, vitamin C, vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folate, pantothenic acid, choline, betaine, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper and selenium.
Other beneficial mushrooms:
These are much more rare but worth getting in a supplement:
Lion’s Maine: Helps improve memory.
King Trumpet: Anti-oxidant, maintains healthy cholesterol levels and contains high levels of l-ergothioneine, selenium and beta-glucans.
Turkey Tail: Promotes immune, digestive, urinary and respiratory health as well as normal cellular growth. This is because of a a particular polysaccharide called PSK.
Chaka: An immune nourisher, cancer preventive, and an aid to those dealing with melanomas.
Coriolis: Maintains, protects and restores immune health.
Himematsutake: Immune support and cellular growth. Related to the button mushroom.
Cordyceps: Restores stress from aging, supports healthy energy, circulation, respiratory health and healthy cholesterol.
A Brief Description Of What Makes Mushrooms So Valuable:
- Beta-glucans and Proteoglycans: Two of the most biologically active compounds that support the immune system. Beta-glucans in mushrooms are exceptional because they are large, complex long-chain molecules made up of polysaccharides. Proteoglycans are special protein found in connective tissue. They also contain other bioactive compounds such as: alpha-glucans, pectins, ribonucleases, peptides, lectins, ubiquitin-like proteins, enzymes and antioxidants.
- Digestive enzymes: Protease- digests proteins and aids in detox. Lipase- helps digest fat. Cellulase- breaks down fiber, promotes bowl health and regularity. Amylase– breaks down starch into sugar and supplies energy. This is important because unlike humans, dogs don’t produce this in their saliva and they need it to absorb nutrients from vegetables.
- Antioxidants: Mushrooms contain many antioxidants including polyphenols and selenium but they are unique sources of the most powerful antioxidants which make them truly exceptional. One is L-ergothioneine. This is now called the “master antioxidant” because it can be transported throughout the body to fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Mushrooms are the only producer of this anti-oxidant. Unless your dog can receive some through grass fed cows that happen to be eating grass that was fertilized by these mushrooms, they will not be getting any at all. It’s ability to target and fight oxidative stress, protect cellular DNA and protect against free radical damage that speeds up aging, makes this a vital source of health and longevity. They also help prevent cancer and allergies.
- Protein: Maintains healthy bodily functions and provides energy fuel. Protein is necessary for all aspects of growth, development and immune health. This is because it contains amino acids and the body cannot produce every one that is essential on its own. They must come through diet and protein quality is based not on the amount of protein itself, but the number of essential amino acids that it contains.
- Manganese: Regulates carbohydrate and protein intake and fortifies the skeletal system. It is also essential for certain enzymes in the body responsible for the production of energy and making fatty acids. Excess levels of calcium and phosphorus can interfere with the absorption of manganese in the digestive tract. Manganese toxicity is virtually unheard of but deficiencies can lead to significant skeletal abnormalities and increase the likelihood of injury.
- B vitamins: Water-soluable vitamins necessary for cell metabolism. B1 (thiamin) promotes nerve and muscle health. Niacin promotes essential enzyme production. Pantothenic acid enables the body to produce useable forms of energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. B6 (pyridoxine) helps the body utilize amino acids and is essential to life. Folic acid and B12 are necessary for bone marrow and bone health because they help the marrow produce red blood cells. Biotin is necessary for growth, digestion and muscle function, it also is important in maintaining skin and hair health. B vitamin toxicity is virtually nonexistent because the vitamins are not stored within the body. Because of this, it is important that they are provided through diet.
- Vitamin D: A Fat-soluable vitamin necessary for bone formation, nerve and muscle control. It balances phosphorus and calcium and regulates these in the blood stream, allowing calcium to be utilized and retained. Vitamin D is an important part of a dogs diet because they cannot produce it on their own. Vitamin D toxicity is very rare but could have a negative effect by causing calcium deposits in the heart, muscles and other soft tissue.
- Vitamin C: (Ascorbic acid) A water-soluble vitamin that boosts the immune system, speeds healing, promotes bone formation and can decrease joint pain. It also fights viral diseases, bacterial infections and is an anti-carcinogen. Vitamin C is not an essential vitamin for dogs because they can produce it on their own but deficiencies can happen on occasion. Because it is water-soluble, it is considered safe and too much usually just causes diarrhea.
- Riboflavin: Also known as B 2 is a water-soluble coenzyme that regulates the energy production from fats, maintains cells and helps the body utilize amino acids. It is essential to growth, muscle development and skin and coat health. As with the other B vitamins, it is not stored within the body and must be present in the diet.
- Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin that promotes eye, skeletal and muscle health. This is a good vitamin for dogs because they easily convert it into a usable form. This is an especially important vitamin for growing puppies. The chances of toxicity are low with this vitamin but as with all fat-soluble vitamins it should still be avoided.
- Potassium: Regulates hydration and proper fluid balance throughout the body and maintains the nervous system. Potassium is necessary for proper enzyme function, muscles and nerves. Digestive disturbances (like diarrhea) can lead to potassium deficiency which can be very dangerous. Prolonged vomiting or diarrhea should always be checked by a vet. As long as the kidneys are properly functioning, potassium toxicity is very rare. If the adrenal glands are not functioning properly, however, blood potassium levels can reach dangerous levels and cause addison’s disease. Dietary potassium may exacerbate this condition but it is not the cause of this disease.
- Selenium: A trace mineral that should be used in limited amounts. It is an antioxidant that works with vitamin e and certain enzymes to promote heart and skin health. It also helps prevents arthritis and cancer. Selenium deficiency is very rare in dogs because they usually get an adequate amount in their diet. In rare cases, if dietary intake is in excess of 0.9 mg per pound of food eaten, over time, toxicity may occur and symptoms such as hair loss, anemia, liver failure or lameness may occur.
- Iron: A mineral that increases the production of red blood cells. This helps maintain bone marrow and prevents anemia. Iron is necessary for certain enzymes in the body to function normally. Iron also combines with copper and protein to produce hemoglobin (the molecules in red blood cells that carry oxygen). The body needs a constant supply to maintain red blood cells, as they need to be replaced in the body every 110 days. Iron toxicity in dogs is extremely rare but can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb phosphorus.
- Phosphorus: A mineral that works with calcium, that is vital to bone development. Together they maintain the growth and structure of the skeletal system. The ratio of calcium to phosphorus should be about 1:1 or 1.2:1 in favor of slightly more calcium. Because calcium is the mineral that is required in the highest amount, phosphorus is number two. Phosphorus deficiency is very rare in dogs. Too much phosphorus is more common and can accelerate kidney failure or renal disease. Because the calcium to phosphorus ratio is so important in dog health, its important to pay special attention to the amounts of both in each food. Excess or deficiency of either can cause problems. There are some foods that have a natural balance, like green tripe, but not most. For this reason, out of all of the items on this list, this is the one I would pay attention to most. Imbalance over time can cause skeletal problems that can be very severe. There should not be enough present in mushrooms to cause an issue, but it’s a good thing to be aware of.
- Dietary fiber: Carbohydrates that aid in the metabolism of nutrients by regulating the digestive track allowing for better nutrient absorption. Fiber also lowers blood sugar and prevents the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the digestive track. Fiber can help with weight management, reduce the chance of diarrhea, constipation and diabetes.
Water-soluble vitamins are carried to the body’s tissues but not stored. If they are in excess, they simply pass through usually with minimal side effects or slight digestive upset.
Fat-soluable vitamins are the ones to pay close attention to. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body for long periods of time for further use. For this reason, the body doesn’t need theses vitamins every day. They are mainly stored in the liver and fatty tissue. They are essential to health but when eaten in excess they can cause toxicity.
How To Use Mushrooms:
When dealing with mushrooms at home, it is always best to cook them. It is also safest to buy organic and wash them throughly before using, to get rid of any possible pesticides. The easiest way for a dog to digest mushrooms is to cook them and cut them up, puree or make them into a broth. The broth may lose some nutritional value but it also helps release some of the nutrients. They are more likely to get a higher concentration especially if they are not interested in eating them.
I mostly add them to purees or make broths and save the mushrooms for our dinner.
There is much more to the story! I tried to cover a manageable amount here, but mushrooms are really amazing. I will be interested to see what else there is to learn!
Some Good Mushroom Blends To Increase Immunity:
In an effort to be responsible I wanted to be sure to add a bit about which mushrooms are most toxic. Generally these may only be found on occasion outside, but I consider all outside mushrooms to be dangerous.
This is from PetMD:
Poisonous mushrooms for dogs include the following types:
Liver toxic mushrooms
– Amanita phalloides (Death Cap Mushroom)
– Amanita ocreata (Angel of Death)
– Lepiota (False Parasol)
– Amanita pantherina (Panther Cap)
– Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)
Mushrooms Containing Muscarinic Agents
False Morel Mushrooms
– Gyromitra esculenta (Beefsteak)
– Gyromitra caroliniana
– Mushrooms in the Verpa genre
– Mushrooms in the Helvella genre
Mushrooms That Cause Gastrointestinal Distress
Find out more information on mushrooms that are poisonous to dogs.
If you are reading this right now, I am certain that you’ve already got the most important thing going for your dog. That is Love! Dogs thrive the most when they are loved, so that is always ground zero. The tips listed below are simple suggestions that people can easily implement, that have proven to be life extending. All of my tips regarding food come directly from Rodney Habib. Rodney has dedicated his life to studying canine longevity. He is the leading nutrition expert on the planet right now, and has traveled the world collecting evidence from scientists, veterinarians and pet parents of dogs that have lived to be in their 30’s.
5 Ways To Increase Lifespan At a Glance:
- Add something fresh
- Add something moist
- Fresh Air
- Kick the chemicals
Below is a simple description of each
# 1 Diet – Add Something Fresh
As time goes on, it is becoming more and more evident that kibble is not the best food for dogs. That being said, kibble is what most people feed, so these are tips for things that you can do today! No shopping necessary.
Rodney worked with the leading scientists in the world right now regarding canine nutrition, and found that you can increase your dog’s lifespan and reduce their risk of cancer by as much as 80% JUST by replacing 20% of their dry food with real fresh food. Some examples of simple ways to do this are:
- Ripping up some kale, spinach or any leafy green and putting it into their kibble.
- Throw in a piece of broccoli or a chopped up carrot.
The point of these vegetables has less to do with nutrients and more to do with slowing down the digestive track. To gain nutritional benefits, it is true that they need to be puréed. If you have time, this is great, however in their whole form, they work just as well by increasing fiber and lowering blood sugar. Over time, the impacts of this are incalculable!
- Add in a piece of whatever you are having for dinner either raw or cooked without seasoning. Chicken, beef or fish for example. 20% is all that they need.
- Crack a raw egg into their bowl (cooked is fine too) just be sure to include the yolk because egg whites alone can cause a biotin deficiency. This actually takes care of the next suggestion also because it adds moisture at the same time.
Here is a quick reference guide for dog safe veggies:
# 2 Dietary Moisture – Add Something Moist
The biggest problem with kibble is that it is dry. This is extremely taxing to internal organs. Most people choose dry food because of the fact that it keeps teeth cleaner. A good way to do both is by adding in some coconut oil because it works just like toothpaste!
- Add some coconut oil to their dinner. This not only eases digestion, but actually helps keep teeth even cleaner. 1 tsp to 1 tbs is all that you need per meal.
- Fish oil is another great option because it helps balance out the omega 6’s that your dog is already getting in their diet. Too much omega 6 is bad for a lot of reasons but the most obvious is that it speeds up aging and leads to inflammation. The fastest way to reduce this is by adding in omega 3. This neutralizes the impact of omega 6 and adds important dietary elements along with moisture which is crucial.
- If you don’t have the above two oils you can even add olive oil or avocado oil because these still effectively accomplish adding moisture and decrease organ stress.
- An egg here also works in this way
For more information about these oils, I have a few articles, such as: Dog Supplements: What’s really necessary? , Coconut Oil and Dog Health or Phytoplankton, Fish oil or Raw Fish? Safe Ways to Give Your Dog Omega 3
# 3 Exercise – Fresh Air
The dog that lived to 33 ran about 8 kilometers a day. I’ll be very honest right now, for me, this one is the hardest aspects of dog care. I have health issues and running around isn’t really in the cards. However what I CAN do is go outside.
- Make an effort. I’ve learned that just by being mindful of the amount of time we spend outside or how long we walk, makes me make a conscious effort to increase this. Tennis balls allow me to sit for some of the time and I know my dog is happier simply being in the sunshine.
- Dog parks can be hugely helpful because I can make human friends there that make the time pass while my dog gets to be social and run.
# 4 Probiotics
Just like with humans, the dogs who live the longest always have the most diverse gut flora. A healthy gut = A long life across the animal kingdom. There are countless options of probiotics on the market today, but to do this right now you could either
- Add in some of your probiotic supplements if you have them or
- Give them a small bowl of plain (unsweetened) kefir or yogurt
Probiotics or healthy gut flora, over time, have proven to be the number one common denominator between all of the oldest dogs they have studied.
# 5 Kick The Chemicals – Cleaning Products
If you have a dog that likes to clean your floor like mine does, it’s important to reduce their exposure to chemicals. Even walking on the floors can be harmful if they are cleaned with chemicals, especially bleach. Dogs have pores on their feet that can absorb toxins, they also tend to lick their feet. Accumulation of this kind of exposure can lead to a number of problems down the road. Neurological disorders, cancer etc. With all of the different chemical exposures dogs may have, this is an easy thing to take out of the equation. I’m a germ freak, and have looked into this extensively. In 2010 they did a study comparing bleach to vinegar in killing an array of viruses and things like e-coli. In EVERY test they did, vinegar showed itself to be 100% as effective as bleach across the board. This finally convinced me, and my current favorite cleaner is vinegar!
- Distilled white vinegar (in a pinch any vinegar will work, this one just smells the least)
- Lemon juice
- Castile soap
- Baking soda (for scrubbing and deodorizing)
They all have multiple uses but for my floor, I just mix vinegar with Castile soap and water and it does an amazing job! I have some additional tips for this here: Pet Friendly Household Cleaners
*Along with kicking the chemical cleaning products, I wanted to say something very quickly about vaccines and heart worm medication. If your dog has been properly vaccinated early on, they should not need further vaccines. A titer test can tell you weather or not they are still covered by a vaccine. More of it doesn’t do any good, so this can be a great way to eliminate extra toxins from vaccines. Furthermore, if you live in a place that has winter, you can also safely take your dog off heart worm medication during these months and give their system a break! This isn’t a quick tip, but I did want to put this information out there because I know early on I was hesitant to ask my vet. This was a mistake because these chemicals can do a lot of harm and reducing them truly is a longevity increasing step! I have some more information about titer testing here: Titer Testing and the Dangers of Over-Vaccinating
Never Stop Learning. This is probably the one thing that encompasses all of this. The best thing we can do for the animals we love is to simply be open to learning. There is some incredible information coming out today. Now more than ever, it is easy to stay up to date and current simply by following these people either on their websites or on Facebook (links below). The two biggest positive influences in the pet world right now are:
Rodney Habib and
They are very engaging and absolutely worth looking up!
Why Diet Is So Important
Studies done on life spans for dogs show that the biggest factor that separates those that live longer is what they are eating. Science has proven that raw food is the best quality of food for canine health. I am a raw feeder now, but I can tell you, I certainly did not start out that way! Like most people, I fed what my vet recommended without questioning it because they are doctors and I am not. It wasn’t until I took a moment to look into the food they were recommending that I began to question this advice. I’m not going to get too much into it but the bottom line is, most traditional veterinary schools are funded by pet food companies. These schools provide very little education when it comes to nutrition. Well meaning doctors, that love dogs, are told to protect the masses by suggesting foods that meet AAFCO guidelines. They don’t mention the detrimental effects of synthetic vitamins and denatured meat sources. Even the highest quality kibble is deficient, simply based on the process that is necessary to make it kibble. For most vets it’s all about what most people will realistically do, and that is buy kibble. Raw diets require a certain understanding of balance and if done wrong animals can get hurt. This along with not having enough education about it, is the biggest reason they do not usually recommend going this route.
However, things are changing. There are currently a number of resources available today that take the guesswork out of raw feeding. There are companies that hire food scientists to create pre-made raw options that are completely balanced and ready to serve. You can get frozen options that can be poured into a bowl just like kibble or you can save money and buy “chubs” that are the same thing, except you have to cut it yourself. This is by far, the easiest way to make the greatest impact on your dog’s longevity.
Two companies that provide this that I like very much are:
You can buy them or order them from your local independent pet shop.
To save even more time Darwin’s Pet Food offers a subscription service where they pre-portion meals for your dog specifically, and send them frozen to your door.
A wonderful documentary that explains all of this on Netflix is Pet Fooled it’s an easy watch and very well done!
For some better kibble options, if you are not ready to make the switch I have found a few here: Kibble
You certainly don’t have to change everything over night, this just isn’t realistic. What you can do is just add one thing. Even just one carrot can make a difference! Science has proven this and because I know how much every moment with my dog means to me, I wanted to try to share some of what I’ve learned with you.
Rodney has many great videos, but here is just one: