The Truth About Garlic

Garlic has been on every “what not to feed” list for dogs that I’ve ever seen. Like most people, I just assumed this was correct and left it alone. That being said it was also in a TON of dog supplements that we see every day. At first, I just assumed that these supplement makers just somehow magically changed the deadly garlic into something safe and extracted the benefits, but this didn’t change the fact that any other garlic was still unsafe.

This literally could not be further from the truth.

The real reason garlic is on these lists is because (just like avocado) it can harm some animals but not most dogs. It’s added as a precaution if overdose occurs or if the dogs that shouldn’t have it have too much. It’s also on the list because of studies done exclusively on garlic extracts, excessive doses or garlic mixed with other things, NOT on normal amounts of fresh raw garlic.

The other reason people fear garlic is because garlic is part of the Allium family (along with onions). This means it contains aliphatic sulfides (propyldisulfide and thiosulphate to be exact) which can damage red blood cells. Because this damage is often without symptoms it can become a concern with prolonged use. HOWEVER, the actual AMOUNT of thiosulphate present is so much less than in onions, it’s often untraceable.

It’s a heated debate but the evidence of harm is severely lacking and in proper use cases, I haven’t seen a single piece of evidence proving any cellular damage whatsoever.

In my opinion all this means is that large amounts and pro-longed use are important guidelines to keep in mind but not reasons enough not to use it.

What dogs should not have garlic?

-Dogs with anemia or who are scheduled for surgery

-Dogs with a compromised digestive tract (it could exacerbate symptoms such as IBS or leaky gut)

-Dogs on certain medications (immune suppressants, heart medications etc.) The prescribing vet will know for sure.

-Dogs with diabetes

-Puppies

-Pregnant mothers

-Japanese dogs such as Shiba Inu’s and Akita’s (I know this sounds crazy) The reasons are still not 100% clear but it has to do with their digestive system and how they break down certain things.

In these cases, small amounts should still be no reason for concern, but if your worried it’s always best to call your vet!

What makes garlic so beneficial?

Why bother with an item that has been so controversial? Because it’s an absolute POWERHOUSE when it comes to benefits. People who have years of experience and success using it have a staggering number of explanations why. A few of them are listed here.

Garlic Properties and uses:

-Antibacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-parasitic

-Immune system enhancer

-Detox – liver and digestive tract; breaks down waste before it enters the bloodstream

-Digestive enhancer – helps the body absorb nutrients, supports beneficial bacteria, eliminates harmful bacteria and balances the digestive system

-High in vital nutrients such as: vitamins A, C & B, Calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, germanium, amino acids, inulin, sulfur, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.

-Decreases cholesterol

-Improves circulation and organ function (especially lungs, large intestine, stomach and spleen)

-Prevents tumors

-Prevents blood clots and widens blood vessels

-Stimulates lymphatic systems to remove waste

-Cancer prevention and treatment – ongoing studies are proving this more and more!

-Natural tick, flea and mosquito repellant (after daily doses for at least 2 weeks)

-Dewormer

-Topically for Ear infections and ear mites

That’s a pretty big deal so now,

How to safely add Garlic to your dog’s diet:

-ONLY use fresh, organic WHOLE shelled garlic from a trusted source (never jarred or dried because this voids the value)

-Always peel and mince, cut or crush directly before use (it’s suggested to then let it stand for 5-15 minutes at room temperature before serving to maximize the benefits. These activated benefits last for about an hour.)

This has to do with a reaction that takes place within the garlic. It’s not dangerous to serve garlic you chopped yesterday for example, but the active benefits won’t be nearly as effective.

-Always follow dosing guidelines.

*I often mix some in with puréed vegetables, (not ideal for benefits but a lot of people do it) I pre-measure it in this case, but I also don’t stress because my dog would need more garlic than she could ever eat to actually make her sick.

Dosing is everything

The general rule of thumb here is:

• 10 to 15 pounds – half a clove of garlic

• 20 to 40 pounds – one clove

• 45 to 70 pounds – two cloves *many stop at two for all weights but some add

• 75 to 90 pounds – two and a half cloves

• 100 pounds or more – three cloves

Or

  • 1/6 tsp for 5 lbs
  • 1/3 tsp for 10 lbs
  • 1/2 tsp for 15 lbs
  • 2/3 tsp for 20 lbs
  • 1 tsp for 30 lbs

Many people also recommend rotating one week on, one off, or every other day. I also use slightly less than the recommended dose.

Conclusion

I am still wary of the health warnings but try to stay on top of new research. So far hard evidence of harm seems to be lacking… significantly. One recent development was that the “major” study that supplied the information about garlic causing red blood cell damage, (that flooded the internet!) was done on literally four dogs that were given very high doses (25 cloves for a 50 lbs dog per DAY!)… plus afterward it was determined that they were totally fine. So… so far the benefits seem to outweigh the concerns and the holistic community has been using it for a very long time with great success.

We tend to use garlic seasonally, when I want to give my dog an immune boost but I know a lot of people who use it daily. As always, it is best to ask a holistic vet about holistic things, plus one who knows your pet.

It is definitely something to consider especially with winter coming up!

Brewer’s Dried Yeast, Flax-meal, Fish oil and Biotin for Dog Health

These are all common dog supplement additives, especially those involving skin and coat health. Knowing a little more about them can allow you to do what I did: either buy the human versions and make my own or make sure the supplements I look at contain a high enough amount of quality sourced ingredients to make them worth buying. It’s also just good to know what to look for in a supplement.

BREWERS DRIED YEAST is rich in Mega fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants. It enhances health, aids with flea control and improves the immune system. Improving skin health and coat shine, while reducing itchy dry skin helps minimize shedding due to inadequate nutrition. The B vitamins help with nerve function and stress management, reducing anxiety and balancing hormones including those related to adrenaline and epinephrine.

FLAXSEED meal provides Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, necessary for good skin and coat health. It aids in making the coat softer and shinier, with healthier skin underneath, while providing dietary fiber. In addition to the omega fatty acids, it contains alpha-linoleic acid, which offers benefits to the immune system. Alpha-linoleic acid also has an anti-inflammatory effect which may help if there are any joint problems. Lignans in Flaxseed contain antioxidants.

(Flaxseed oil or meal is not high enough in these omegas to replace Fish oil.)

FISH OIL with OMEGA 3 & 6 (dogs can’t use 9) EPA DHA

Fish oil can greatly improve skin, coat, joint, kidneys, heart, and immune system health. Fish oil contains two essential fatty acids: EPA and DHA. Both are Omega-3 fatty acids that can only be made in a limited capacity in dogs.

EPA acts as an anti-inflmmatory. It will help with any condition that cause inflammation of the heart, kidneys, skin and joints. It will ease inflammation due to allergies, and reduce itchy skin and dandruff and is used to treat hot spots. It promotes a shiny, healthy coat and reduces shedding.

DHA is important in brain, eye and neuron development. This fatty acids affects cell permeability and the growth of nerve cells which is important for optimal development.

Both EPA and DHA are important components of cell membranes. These unique fatty acids act as signals in cells to decrease inflammation. Less inflammation leads to less pain, redness and swelling in the skin, joints and other organs.

Source matters here because fish oil can contain mercury and other toxins that are much more dangerous for dogs than they are for people.

BIOTIN is a water soluble B vitamin that is essential for protein and fatty acid metabolism. Some common names for biotin include vitamin B-7, Vitamin H and coenzyme R. Biotin supports a healthy nervous system, skin and coat.

We only use Biotin every day.

Spirulina, Chlorella and Kelp for Dogs

These are all health powerhouses that have been clinically studied and proven helpful to dogs. They are ingredients in an all-in-one supplement we use called Green Min

Prior to finding this supplement, we have bought them all separately as well. I have studied spirulina extensively and found that getting a quality source was not only important (contaminants can be more dangerous for dogs than for people) but somewhat difficult to find. It took so much effort because it was one of the ONLY supplements that needed to NOT be organic. The process of making it organic is actually detrimental to the quality in this case. It also needed to be from Hawaii. I found a few but when I found green min I finally felt 100% good about the source so that’s the bottom line reason I use that. I have some other brands as back up or to increase the dosage (down side of an all in one) but I’ve yet to find a share-worthy brand. The best ones I’ve found were unaffordable for me so I have no experience with them. If that changes I’ll definitely share it! (Chlorella and Kelp were easier and I have some, but again, using the green min I’m at a loss of brands that I might want to promote.)

A basic run-down:

SPIRULINA is one of the most complete sources of essential nutrients on the planet. Abundant in chlorophyll, essential amino acids, omega oils, beta-carotene, and other phytonutrients that nurture, cleanse and detox. It is a complete protein source, containing 60-70% protein, B-complex vitamins, phycocyanin, vitamin E and numerous minerals. It contains antioxidant and inflammatory properties and improves endurance. One of the richest sources of chlorophyll rich foods in the world, it helps remove toxins from the blood and boosts the immune system which reduces allergies. It has been proven to improve fatigue, anxiety and depression in humans and has been shown to have a similar calming and balancing effect on dogs. It contains ten times more beta-carotene than carrots. Clinical studies have shown it to reduce tumors and prevent the formation of cancer cells. It absorbs and removes heavy metals and other toxins. It is a great source of essential fatty acids critical for proper function of the brain, nervous system, tissue and cell regeneration and healthy coat and skin.

CHLORELLA is an immune booster, gastrointestinal aide and detoxifier. It is also rich in chlorophyll and contains a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and high levels of protein. What makes chlorella unique is what’s called the chlorella growth factor which is rich in nucleic acids. Nucleic acids are hugely important in slowing down the aging process and boosting health in dogs especially as they age. Other benefits include the detoxifying benefits of destroying toxic build ups left over from things like pesticides, herbicides, vaccinations, unhealthy food, chemical pest preventatives for fleas, ticks and heartworm and environmental pollution. Exposure to these toxins can wear on dog’s organs so eliminating them is important in preventing chronic conditions that can appear later in life.

KELP contains a rich natural mix of salts and minerals (including iodine, magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium) which help keep your dog’s entire glandular system, the pituitary gland, the adrenal gland as well as the thyroid gland, (the glands that regulate metabolism), healthy.

Kelp helps reduce dental plaque and tarter buildup in dogs. This is due to a bacterium that resides within the kelp that releases an enzyme that breaks down the plaque coating the teeth. It is rich in iodine, a chemical element necessary in thyroid health. It reduces itchiness due to allergies and other skin conditions as well as repel fleas. It improves the general condition of the skin and coat. It is high in iron and calcium which improves the ability of blood to distribute oxygen to the cells. This helps dogs heal faster and helps prevent arthritis and other bone condition. The amino acids support tissue repair and improves longevity.

Coconut Oil and Dog Health

Coconut oil is truly one of nature’s greatest gifts to us. It can be used internally, externally (and even around the house). So much has been written about coconut oil, it’s almost like, “ok already, tell me something coconut oil CAN’T do!” and I get that. It all gets very redundant so I’m going to be brief because honestly I’m not going to come up with anything unique. Just at a glance, in reference to dogs, COCONUT OIL aids in nutrient absorption and digestion, improves skin and coat, elevates metabolism and thyroid function, reduces allergies, prevents and treats yeast and fungal infections, is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent, heals hot spots, speeds wound healing, improves cognition and increases energy.

What I want to focus on is quality. You can use different qualities for different things. For toothpaste (great results), paw butter, sunscreens and wound care I use almost any solid organic coconut oil. As a daily diet additive though I only use organic virgin cold pressed liquid coconut oil with MCT standardized to 95%. The most valuable component of coconut oil is MCT content. When a company doesn’t clarify this percentage it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad but it doesn’t cost any more to find a brand that does so I always do. MCT (or MCFA) stands for medium chain triglycerides. MCT is made up of Lauric Acid, Capric Acid, Caprylic Acid, Myristic Acid and Palmitic. Coconut oil also contains about 2% linoleic acid (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and about 6% oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acids).

“Lauric acid has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Capric and caprylic acid also have similar properties as lauric acid and are best known for their anti-fungal effects.

MCTs are efficiently metabolized to provide an immediate source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding weight loss. In dogs, the MCTs in coconut oil balance the thyroid, helping overweight dogs lose weight and helping sedentary dogs feel energetic.”

So in short, it’s all about the MCT’s.

The final thing I want to mention is amount. Some people get scared off when they give their dog coconut oil because they get diarrhea. This is just a sign that their system isn’t ready for that amount. The rule of thumb is 1/2 tsp per 10-15 lbs body weight. You can do more or less, this is just a general suggestion. It’s best to start out with 1/4 tsp or less as your dog adjusts to it but this should happen quickly. My dog is 25 lbs and we now use 1/2 -1 tsp daily in her food. (I’ve accidentally used more with no bad reaction.) Amounts can also vary depending on use, or what’s being treated, this is just maintenance or a health booster for a generally healthy dog. We’ve never had skin or allergy issues so we’ve never used it to treat that but I know so many people who have with great results. I even used the would healing balm I made for her recently on myself and I healed faster with that than from any injury I’ve ever had, so I know it works.

Coconut oil easy to over look because it’s so popular and over marketed but it’s worth remembering because it can do so much for you and your dog’s health! These are only a few quick reasons and things to keep in mind. This article goes a lot further into the subject.

Health benefits of coconut oil

(The images below are not brands I’m recommending just helpful photos)

The Truth About Poop!

Dog poop is one of the quickest, easiest health barometers there are! I’m not ashamed to admit it, I look forward to my dog’s poop every day! It’s like a daily vet consult because there is SO much information found there. This is less true for dogs that eat the same kibble daily because their poop usually doesn’t change, but it works for them too. The biggest difference between kibble and raw fed dog poop is the amount. Kibble is mostly filler so it creates very large stools where as raw fed dogs’ absorb more and poop less. They also smell less. Otherwise the recognizable signs of health issues for each are the same.

Raw fed dog owners tend to pay much more attention to their dogs poop, (especially when they make their own food) because like their diet, it changes everyday. There may not be huge differences when the diet and digestive track is healthy but they still vary to some degree. This list is a quick reference guide to the most common things to look out for. There are more advanced lists but it’s a good place to start. Understanding poop goes hand in hand with understanding diet. When you can recognize what the poop is “saying” you can know how to adjust the diet before the next meal.

Poop Color and Action to take

White – too much bone, lack of nutrient absorption or old poop

Yellow – Parasites or bacteria

Orange – food coloring (or carrots) but could be blood tinged

Red – blood from large intestines or anal area

Brown – normal

Black – Digestive blood CALL THE VET

Green – Gi Hypermotility, bile not fully digested

Mucous – secretory or detox response (if the mucous is ‘wormy’ though call the vet!)

Blue or Aqua – Rat poison or toys

Grey – The right amount of bile isn’t being produced (could be a sign of EPI or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency)

This list is from keep the tail wagging and there are many more.

Hopefully most won’t happen but it’s good info. As a raw feeder I mostly look out for white or brown and the consistency.

Poop should be firm and moist. Too much fat or organ is usually dark brown and too mushy. I’d fix this by using less organ and more bone. Too white, next meal less bone. So on and so forth. I have yet to see anything outside of these 3 (brown, dark brown & runny and white) but I keep my eye out for yellow and green for sure.

Diarrhea is something that happens to almost all dogs at some point. In our case I would examine her last meal. Sometimes we just can’t identify the source for sure and sometimes it’s just adjusting to a new food. Color and hydration should be monitored and if it doesn’t pass, call the vet, but it usually clears up in a day or so. Some things that may help are:

Adding bone to raw food

Slippery Elm Bark

Pumpkin

Probiotics

Olewo dehydrated carrots

There are many VOLUMES written on this subject, this is just a quick reference and reminder to value your poo! 😉

Another great idea for raw feeders especially, is to keep a meal journal. That way you can link the poop directly to the meal and make adjustments easier for the future. It would also come in handy if you ever needed to see the vet!!

Here are a few more charts but there are a ton out there.

Here is a link for more info:

Dog poop assessments

Happy pooping!

Turmeric for dogs

A few years ago Turmeric (or Curcumin) became a huge hot topic in the human nutritional world and it didn’t take long for the animal world to follow suit. This is mostly good news because it is hugely beneficial and may reduce the need for chemical intervention for both human and animal health conditions. However, just like with anything that becomes really popular, the value can become compromised by people looking to make a profit. Marketers can use the name to make an inferior product look good or inferior qualities of the turmeric itself can be sold. This happens with everything of course but when something gets such a high level of exposure it seems to happen even more. The other thing to watch out for is the simple fact that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Overdosing on turmeric is uncommon because it passes through the digestive track quickly but it can absolutely happen so it’s good to be aware of how much you are giving or how many products might contain it within their ingredient list. Diarrhea is the most common side effect but it can also interact with other issues and medicines so it’s always good to check with the vet especially if you’re using a dose high enough to treat a medical condition.

The other important detail is the form in which it’s given. Without the proper combination of ingredients present, the benefits will go through the system without being absorbed (the same is true for people). This is why you often see “with black pepper” or “with bio perine” added to a label for increased absorption. Dogs need an additional additive because of the speed in which dogs metabolize. For them, coconut oil or something similar is also crucial for absorption. This is important along with it being organic because otherwise the quality or amount of curcumin may be too low and it is rendered useless. The same is true for dogs and vegetables, if they’re not broken down to a digestible level, the nutrients pass through and may provide great low cal ruff-age but no nutritional value.

Having gotten that out of the way, I still LOVE turmeric! As time goes on we seem to keep finding increasing benefits and more and more real life examples of the difference it can make for both animals and people alike.

So, what is Turmeric?

In short, a spice ground from a root that looks a lot like ginger except it’s orange. Like I said before, the list of benefits is extensive so here are just a few:

TURMERIC decreases inflammation and can help with itchy skin issues, is a powerful antioxidant, helps thin the blood (lowing the risk of blood clots), protects the liver from toxins, naturally relieves pain (can replace some medications that have damaging side effects), naturally detoxifies the body, helps with allergies, eliminates parasites and stomach ailments, increases heart health, and can help protect the body against things like cancer. It can put a stop to ongoing skin infections caused by various yeast, bacteria and fungi. It improves the skin shine and coat. It is effective in fighting and preventing infections caused by viruses and bacteria, and enhances wound healing. It improves the activity level and socialization in older dogs by stimulating cognition and has recently been identified to induce neural stem cell proliferation which may explain its positive effect on brain function and depression. Reduced inflammation is important to gut health and may improve a variety of stomach conditions. It increases the levels of glutathione in the liver and this component is a major antioxidant and conjugating agent which is used to detoxify and eliminate harmful compounds.

The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin but to date, at least 235 compounds have been identified. These compounds are fat soluble so the coconut oil is used along with piperine (ground black pepper) because it is necessary for the metabolism of curcumin by considerably slowing its excretion and prolonging the positive metabolic effect.

So… dental health, detox, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, increases heart and liver health, reduces blood clots that can lead to strokes, reduces heart attacks by thinning the blood, promotes digestion, acts as an antioxidant, relieves allergies, prevents cataracts, has been used to treat epilepsy, natural pain relief, treats diarrhea (at the right dose) and the list just goes on and on.

Sourcing and dosing takes some homework but I think it’s more than worth it. PLUS you can take it too! I work very hard not to over supplement because I am always trying to give my dog the best of everything and sometimes that can cause more harm than good. Some supplements can even counteract each other like raw goats milk and apple cider vinegar or coconut oil (which will be in another article) so it’s important to be careful. However, turmeric in the correct dose for a healthy dog has been shown to be hugely advantageous, so we keep it in her diet. We take breaks and it’s not every day, but I like to always have it on hand.

Below is a recipe (from keepthetailwagging.com) for a very simple “golden paste” there are TONS of variations out there (and I actually bypass the paste with the coconut oil I put in her food most days) but it is a very convenient way to keep it readily available in a form that’s already made for easy absorption.

1. Warm 6 cups of water in a pan on low heat

2. Add 3 cups of organic turmeric powder and stir

3. When the mix thickens, add either 2 cups of organic coconut oil OR 1 cup coconut oil and 1 cup bone broth AND 3 tbs freshly ground organic black pepper

4. Turn off the heat and keep stirring until the mixture thickens into a paste

*optional: adding 2 tbs Ceylon ground cinnamon if the dog has an odor issue after ingestion (some do and this will counteract that!)

Storage: keep in the fridge for 2 weeks and then freeze

Dosing: For healthy dogs: about 1/4 -1/2 tsp per meal

For pain relief: 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs body weight at least 2x a day (it’s recommended not to start at full dose but gradually work up to it by adding 1/4 tsp every 7 days)

This is a large batch recipe but like I said, there are a lot out there. Some even get more specific about curcumin mg etc which is great but as long as the ratios are correct, that’s all that really matters!

Fermented Fish Stock for Health

So, this one smells even worse than green beef tripe, but the health benefits are more than worth it. I’m still getting Jersey to warm up to it but dogs who love sardines or raw fish should have no problem! The key benefits are:

Kidney health

Joint health

Thyroid health

Digestive health

Liver detox

Skin and coat health

Immune system boost

I wanted to start with kidney health because I know it’s a hard issue to treat. (I spoke about this in a previous post so if you are looking for help there that post has a more comprehensive list of solutions.)

The explanation below is directly from the only people that I know of currently who make it (Answers pet food) my guess is more will come but I know this is made from wild caught and ethically sourced sardines.

“Great for dogs with kidney disease, because it offsets the low protein diet and helps to reduce stress on kidneys. Adding to diet of dogs fed low protein diet kidney disease will help prevent detrimental side effects of low protein; Contains high amounts of arginine, required to metabolize protein waste & reduces blood pressure reducing stress on kidneys. It reduces the need for protein intake by 50% which helps alleviate stress and contains high amounts of arginine which is required by the body to metabolize protein waste.

There is a more comprehensive explanation in the link below.

Answers quick link

Answers detailed

JOINT HEALTH

It contains a substance known as glycoaminoglycans or GAGs. GAGs are a major component of joint cartilage, glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid – all things needed for optimal joint support.  It is also high in anti-inflammatory amino acids which helps reduce the swelling that causes arthritis.  Also contained within, is gelatin, whose job it is to coat the joints and act as a shock absorber between joints.  In short, fermented fish stock might just help your dog who suffers from any sort of joint ailments or prevent your healthy dog from ever having issues.

THYROID

It is a natural source of iodine and thyroid nutrients – perfect for dogs that are pre-disposed to hypothyroidism, dogs that are borderline or dogs who actively have hypothyroidism.

DIGESTION AND LIVER HEALTH

Both the digestive system and the liver are impacted by the fish stock in beneficial ways.  First, gelatin has the ability to line the digestive system which acts as a barrier to bad bacteria, helps heal leaky gut syndrome and helps ease colitis.  It holds digestive juices in the belly longer which aids in digestion of nutrients and aids in increased absorption of vitamins and minerals.  It is high in glycine which encourages liver detox. Glycine is an essential amino acid which helps regulate the making of bile salts and secretion of gastric juices that is required for liver detox.

OMEGA

All Omega fatty acids are concentrated in the fermented sardines which leads to better skin and coat health.

DIABETES

Insulin secretion is stimulated naturally by the fermented sardines.  They are also quite high in magnesium which aids in insulin sensitivity making this a perfect addition to a diabetic pet’s diet.

Fish Stock, when used as a supplement to your pet’s regular diet, will enhance immune function, provide easily absorbed minerals and nutrients, and promotes healing from within.  It can help with joint function and kidney issues as well as give your pet a gorgeous coat.”

So… this is why I’m stoked to try this stuff. It’s a new product for us but getting some buzz so I thought I’d put it out there even though I’m still learning about it myself! If it can help someone now, no reason to wait! We’ll be updating as we learn more!