In a perfect word, we would not need supplements. In the world we LIVE in however, it has been pretty widely accepted by the medical community that we simply aren’t getting everything we need from our food any more. We can help ourselves tremendously by buying the best food we can but there are still certain things that can benefit us enormously in a GOOD food-based supplement. I know a lot of raw feeders are very much against this when it comes to dogs but I can’t be so certain animals eating even the “best grass” are truly maximizing my dogs health so my philosophy is simple: if it’s safe and beneficial, I’m going to add it. That being said, “safe” includes really understanding the fact that 1 safe thing + 1 safe thing can = an unsafe thing. That’s the tricky part. When the list grows too high all the safe things added together can be dangerous so I really do my best to research not only the product itself but the effects other products can have with it. It’s daunting because we don’t quite frankly KNOW what all of these effects can be, new studies are coming out all the time and there’s a lot of contradicting evidence. For peace of mind I try to get all of my supplements from one place and follow a (good) DOCTOR’S very specific advice about them. I am grateful for this and I try to pass on some of what I learn here. I however, am not a Dr., so I am always trying my best to learn as much as I can especially about the things I can’t ask a professional. Fortunately with most of the supplements I use there is actually little danger because they are considered benign and food based but yesterday when I read an article and started looking into aswaganda for dogs, I realized I had really better hold off on that because it’s entering a different class of supplements. (I’m not saying this is bad at all it’s just not something I know about yet so it’s my example here)
I also realized the other day that some things that I don’t consider supplements, actually are and I need to broaden my research there. One example is raw goats milk. I just heard literally for the first time ever that raw goats milk fed with apple cider vinegar (often in bone broth) or coconut oil is not dangerous but they can cancel each other out! I was shocked because I do that ALL the time! It’s like dessert for my dog and it looks like now it’s gonna have to be breakfast!
(I will pass on the rest as I find them!)
I study these things a LOT and never heard it so it’s concerning but it also made me realize that I will never stop learning. I try to stick with Dr.s recommendations only and always stay in the “safe” range when it comes to mistakes because they’re unavoidable but if I’m not messing with things that are too potentially dangerous my mistakes are worth the benefits from things done right.
*I should also note that virtually all kibble has added synthetic vitamins so even without supplements, giving kibble includes the worst kind of supplements because they are not made from real food. Just ONE example of the dangers here is: “while it’s virtually impossible for real food to cause vitamin A toxicity synthetic vitamin A toxicity is well published and probably a lot more common that you might think” there are countless other examples but this is just one example of the importance of sourcing.
I am still excited to learn about all the benefits of a healthy diet. Supplements can sometimes be more “fun” because research is intriguing, it’s why people do it, and it is more fun to write about the benefits but I will start to try to look more into side effects or interactions as well, including the less mentioned ones.
To answer the question of how much is too much, for myself, I think it just boils down to common sense.
We have 6 from a Dr. (That includes a multivitamin, green mineral powder, dental kelp, probiotic, fish oil and coconut oil) that are all fine together and we skip days sometimes. She’s not sick so I only occasionally add fermented fish, raw goats milk or turmeric. I try to cover my bases and not use anything unnecessary. If she has an issue I research and then take my research to a professional.
I guess I want to say that because I write a lot about these things but I don’t want to come off sounding like I’m giving my dog 97 supplements a day and being irresponsible. I truly just mean well and try to help pass on things I find in an effort to help someone. Having a sick dog is one of the most heartbreaking things to ever go through so my effort is all done for that reason.
For some peace of mind for pet parents who are trying to make their pets nutrition more complete, here is an excerpt from an article written by a doctor on the subject:
“Are you confused about which supplements dogs need? Do you find conflicting information? Would you like to know what to give your dog without giving too little or too much? I understand your pain. People often contact me because they are not sure what their dog needs. Some believe that good food is enough and others have their kitchen counter taken over by dozens of bottles of supplements and pills.
It always fascinates me that the human species spends an incredible amount of time and resources to create systems that replace the natural ones. A good example is using chemical fertilizers versus the natural cycle of recycling nutrients.
In nature, a tree loses leaves to feed its roots, cows eat grass to later fertilize it with manure. In other words, all the nutrients that come from the soil are returned back to the soil. At least this is how it was before humans got involved.
Agriculture and food production is one of the glaring examples of humans trying to reinvent the wheel. For nearly a century, we have tried to replace the already perfect nutrient cycle with our own that is flawed and ridden with toxic chemicals causing further damage.
Food is now transported over long distances and then put half of it in a landfill. This creates an ever increasing deficit of nutrients in the fields where the food is grown. In order for the farmers to grow something, chemical fertilizers come into place, creating serious imbalances and dead soil that erodes easily because it contains no organic matter.
Why good food is no longer enough
I agree with those who say that “ideally” no supplements would be needed. An ideal world would be one where nutrients are recycled back into the soil and the animals would eat a bountiful variety of foods.
The problem is that our present world is miles away from ideal and nutrient deficiency is one of the most undiagnosed and serious problems connected to disease.
What the chemistry teachers forgot to teach us
Most people do not like chemistry. I must say that I used to think I didn’t like it until I saw a connection with real life. Biochemistry is especially fascinating. Millions of biochemical reactions happen in you and your dog’s body every day and they are completely automated. No CEO, no middle management, just pure force of nature nothing short of miracles.
What the biochemistry teachers forgot to remind us is that none of these biochemical reactions can happen without all the elements – building blocks – being present. This is where it becomes clear how important nutrients are and why I am so relentless in passing the message on. This is why I love formulating supplements that replace those nutrients missing because of the wide spread irresponsible management of natural resources.
Most people do not realize that the most common causes of disease are not viruses or bacteria or even toxins but deficiencies of nutrients. That is why so many people see such miraculous recoveries of depleted and ill dogs when we simply add a few essentials that are missing.
Six mighty nutrient groups that can help cure or improve almost any disease
In principle, no matter medical condition your dog has, the first step you need to do is to correct deficiencies for the body to be able to heal.
The key nutrients are:
Essential Fatty Acids
All these nutrients can be found in four essential supplements. I can already hear some people saying – but I do not want to give so much or my dog hates pills. It is like saying, I want to have roof above my head but I don’t like roof builders and shingles.
I agree, the pharma industry didn’t make it any easier because they made us associate pills with toxic drugs. I suggest you see essential supplements as food, not as “pills” or potions.
What role does each nutrient group have in your dog’s body
My goal here is to give you the gist of what these nutrients do and why they are important in keeping your dog healthy. If you need to learn more about the source of this nutrient group, click on the group name to learn more details
Minerals – not a single mineral can be synthesized by the body. They are essential in the structural and chemical function of the body. Their deficit also creates a state of dehydration because the body cannot absorb water in sufficient amount and dehydration is at the core of premature degeneration and aging.
Vitamins are the allies of minerals. They catalyze biochemical reactions, ensure proper formation of cells, tissue regeneration and function of organ systems. For example Vitamin E is important in skin and epithelium formation, Vitamin B is essential in proper function of the nervous system. We now know that food grown with the use of artificial fertilizers have lower vitamin content.
Essential Amino acids are more complex then minerals, they are the building blocks of proteins, hormones and tissues. The are called essentials because the body cannot make them and they are also irreplaceable when it comes to health.
Super Food Greens – your dog knows how important superfood greens are because he or she eats grass. Some people think that grass eating is a sign of disease in dogs but it is not true. Grass or chlorophyll rich substances are important in neutralizing toxins, cleansing the digestive tract and have an anti-cancer effect.
Essential Fatty Oils come either from plants, seeds, fish or krill. These nutrients are rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6. There is a difference in opinion if plant-based oils are a sufficient source of EFA’s in dogs. If in the wild, dogs would be getting them from the prey animals, their digestive tract content and also fish. I suggest avoiding fish oil blends that appear to be high in mercury (a heavy metal) and strontium (a radioactive element that comes from radioactive pollution in Japan).
Probiotics – I often say with a pinch of humor nothing makes a dog lover happier than a perfect number two, but there is more to probiotics (the beneficial inessential flora) than perfect number two. Probiotics strengthen and condition the intestinal tract and especially the colon where eighty percent of the body’s immune function resides. They have also a positive effect on neutralizing toxins such us BUN ( blood urea nitrogen), which is a toxic by-product of protein metabolism.
How many supplements are too many?
Finally, I am getting to answer this frequently asked question. It is very apparent from nature that living organisms are extremely capable of selecting nutrients that they need and throwing away the ones that are in excess. The body does it without any outside regulation and with ease.
The problem of excess nutrients only arises when synthetic chemicals are offered instead of food based concentrates and supplements. These supplements including synthetic vitamins and minerals can correct symptoms of severe deficiency – for example scurvy – Vitamin C deficiency and Beriberi vitamin B1 hypovitaminosis. However, synthetic non-food based supplements can create severe excesses and overdoses. Good examples are fat soluble vitamins ADEK or overdoses of minerals in chemically manufactured mineral supplements. I frequently see this in hair tests done on dogs.
The body is designed to process food based nutrients and not chemicals which can easily create a state of excess often expressed in agitation, heat production and digestive problems. These are the main reasons why I only recommend naturally-fermented vitamins, probiotics, plant-based minerals and naturally-sourced omega oils that are powerful, yet gentle and can be managed by the body well.
One can experience the difference between taking a cheap synthetic multivitamin that commonly causes stomach upsets when taken on empty stomach and a naturally fermented multivitamin that usually does not cause such symptoms.
Nature never “measures’ the exact amounts of vitamins and nutrients in food. It just provides nutrients that are natural and non-synthetic.
There are two major and very common problems in nutrition and the origin of premature aging and chronic disease:
1. Deficiency of nutrients and vitamins.
2. Supplementing them in artificial forms.
A few more things to remember
Now when you know, what each of these nutrient groups is good for there are a few things that you need to know.
Go for natural. Food can’t be grown in the lab and neither can vitamins. Many people have still no idea that most vitamins on the market are made from coal or crude oil. These products create chemical imbalances. I use only naturally cultured certified organic multivitamins because they do not cause nausea when they are ingested and the body is capable of absorbing and processing them more efficiently because they are real food.
Go for capsules or powder and ditch tablets whenever possible because tablets contain additional bonding agents and are heat processed. Capsules are better for less stable supplements such as probiotics and EFA’s because they are less likely to oxidize when capsulated.
Go for glass packaging because plastic leaches into the product and may have a long-term negative effect on the body and our environment. Glass is natural packaging made of silica – one of the most common elements in earth’s crust.
Go for quality and do your math. Some manufacturers may try to convince you that they can make and sell an all natural product for fifteen or twenty dollars. In reality, it is impossible unless they source second-grade quality ingredients from China or use artificial ingredients or fillers.
Remember essential supplements are not drugs or pills but nutrients that used to be present in food but are now often missing because of intensive agriculture.
Supplementing these six nutrient groups in four essential supplements is the foundation of treating or preventing any disease for dogs of any age. Nature does not make a difference between puppies, adults and seniors. As soon as puppies are weaned they should be getting food and essential supplements.”
Dr. Peter Dobias
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