Mushrooms for Dog Health

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
  • Detox
  • 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.

Shiitake: 

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.

Maitake: 

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!

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Some Good Mushroom Blends To Increase Immunity:

Dr. Mercola

Well Pet Dispensary

BIXBI

Mush

Canine Matrix-Turkey Tail

Canine Matrix blend

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)

– Galerina

Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

– Conocybe

– Gymnopilus

– Psilocybe

– Panaeolus

Toadstool Mushrooms

– Amanita pantherina (Panther Cap)

– Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric)

Mushrooms Containing Muscarinic Agents

– Inocybe

– Clitocybe

False Morel Mushrooms

– Gyromitra esculenta (Beefsteak)

– Gyromitra caroliniana

– Mushrooms in the Verpa genre

– Mushrooms in the Helvella genre

Mushrooms That Cause Gastrointestinal Distress

– Boletus

– Chlorophyllum

– Entolomo

Find out more information on mushrooms that are poisonous to dogs.

Happy Howl-o-ween! Tricks for Treats

Since making the switch to raw I think the thing I miss most is making adorable holiday themed baked treats! That being said I always used top quality ingredients with health benefits, so in the next few weeks I still plan on sharing those recipes! I also plan on going a lot more in-depth on the treat subject in future posts, this was just something that came to mind during doggie dinner time. I thought it might be helpful with Halloween coming up!

Treats can be as simple (or as complicated) as we want them to be for various purposes. These are a few of my favorite “tricks” to keep quick and easy treats on hand.

1. Almost anything can be dehydrated! I can’t say enough about how much I love my dehydrator! It’s a cheap and easy way to make whatever meat I have an excess of into a long lasting crispy treat. I can also control the quality this way and I know it won’t be full of preservatives! AND it saves money and freezer space!

I also dehydrate veggies for snacks for both animals and humans in the house 😉

2. Almost anything can be frozen! This is another great and even easier option for excess meat!

It’s also a great way to hide veggies! I bought these adorable little paw print silicone molds (ice cube trays work just fine) fill them with a veggie purée I make and throw in something appetizing. A lot of dogs will eat them plain… mine won’t! Adding a bit of puréed liver or ground beef makes her love them. Typically she’s not great about the veg mix so I like this method a lot.

BONE broth works great also!!

Frozen chicken feet take longer to eat on a hot day and blueberries are great to use also!

After these more basic treats is my personal favorite for fall:

Candy corn frozen treats:

(Any silicone mold or ice try will do)

1. Fill 1/4 of tray with plain yogurt (I use raw goats milk yogurt) and place in freezer for around 20 min or so just so it freezes

2. Fill the next 1/4 layer with organic pumpkin purée and freeze again

3. Fill the last 1/4 with golden paste (or puréed banana) and freeze until the whole thing is solid.

The extra 1/4 is just to allow for expansion, I always end up going over the 1/4 measurement and it’s always fine. It’s just a guideline.

Now you’ve got yourself some super healthy candy corn dog treats! *These can be messy so be careful to serve on a surface that can be cleaned easily!

3. Almost anything can be baked! Before I had a dehydrator or even now sometimes when I just don’t have time to use it, the oven is the next best option. I don’t personally like to use it for all meat because of issues with cooked meats being linked to cancer risks, but I do bake veggies and liver.

I try to stick with a low temp (200 degrees max) for liver. It’s also a GREAT way to make kale, apple, sweet potato, etc crisps for some crunchy, tasty, healthy fiber!

*Also, most dehydrated treat recipes come with oven version options!

Here is a link to my go-to liver treat recipe:

Liver treats

4. One final trick I use is feeding her daily bone AS a treat. 2-3 times per week she gets a larger meaty bone. I serve it separate from dinner time because it’s messy and takes longer to eat. This might be cheating but she’s always thrilled to see it!

All of these items (besides the candy corn) can also be found at most independent dog stores, they are all healthy and great for cleaning teeth! I also love to buy and keep some freeze dried in the house because they retain their nutrients the best (I can’t freeze dry on my own) and they’re a great back up for unforeseen circumstances and trips!

For Howl-o-ween this year I made

chicken and duck feet because I had a bunch and they’re supper creepy!! I also made some bone broth pupsicles with dried string bean sticks.

Every dehydrator machine is slightly different. I have a Nesco but they all come with detailed descriptions for different items (meat, fish, fruit, veg etc). I do most meats at around 158F. Different cut thicknesses and fat content also vary the time they take to make so many recipes are just guesstimates. You kind of just have to check. I’ve left them in too long many times though and it’s always fine so I usually don’t stress about it.

The down side of feet is they take 3x as long as lean thin cut meat strips so when I make these, I make a lot so I don’t have to do it too often. Dehydrating most meats takes around 12-24 hrs but feet take me 3-4 days at 122F. (Lean meats also lasts the longest because fat can’t fully dry.)

A good tip for thin slicing (organs especially – after washing and patting them dry) is freezing them first!

I also ALWAYS dehydrate outside on my porch because it can be pretty stinky. Not really lean meats but feet, organs, ears and tripe would be nauseating in the house (learned this one the hard way lol).

Pig ears are another great treat! They take a little bit less time (16-24 hours depending on thickness) and provide extra entertainment because of how long they take to eat!

As we get closer to the holiday madness, I will be trying to come up with new ways to make these items more festive. Raw food is perfect for Halloween however and couldn’t make for a healthier treat!!

Remember, tricks deserve treats on this holiday 😉 and it’s no fun being healthy without the occasional treat!

We hope everyone stays safe and has a spooktacular night!!

XO

Candy corn pawsicles

Dehydrated chicken feet

Dehydrated duck feet

Dehydrated pig ears

You can make anything interesting if you want to! As adults we can play with our food (I know my dog does!) It’s fun to be creative!

Raw Feeding Diary 10/27/17

So, I decided to upgrade from parts 1-5 to a diary on here because we’ve finally turned a corner (or I have) and am successfully making my own food!

It’s been another crazy week and I’m kind of exhausted, but extremely happy with how far we’ve come. Miss picky Mcpickerson is finally EATING!! And it’s only because I stopped trying pre-made!

I’ve also been multitasking like crazy trying to get some posts out from my previous knowledge that I had saved in draft. I still have a few more to go such as Natural Ear Remedies and Allergies but hopefully I’ll get to that next week. Then I hope to start with recipes and tips on things as I come across them (beef trachea and fish for example). One day maybe I’ll have some sort of guide for my hybrid barf model diet also.

I also want to clean up my post about raw meat suppliers because I wrote it after a really long day and I just wanted to get it written but it ended up being way too long. I didn’t even want to read it lol so that’s on my list too.

One thing that’s been a big help has been joining a raw feeding group on Facebook. I got a TON of articles to read plus direct advice. It’s hard to find a good group because so many can be so judgmental but I finally did at: Raw Feeders “Kicked Out” Club

An anecdote to all the intense animosity in the other groups lol they are brutal!

These guys are awesome! That being said, because it’s so active I spent like half a day responding to posts and checking my notifications lol so I need to step back a bit. I’m definitely in danger of burn out so I’m going to try to take a night off. It’s unlikely lol but I’m gonna try! Tomorrow I’m going to start in on trying to learn how to ferment my own vegetables… then I’m going to try sleep! 😉

Today we got our box from raw feeding Miami and we’re waiting on my pet carnivore for all our exotics so that was exciting! My bulk comes from the local farm but the selection of these other companies is so crazy awesome, I was really happy to have new things to add.

The important thing is she’s eating, I’m learning and we’re on the right track.

I never wanted her to just be ok I always wanted her to thrive so I am hugely grateful that I got this information when I did! I hope it helps someone else some day! We are 100% inspired by love.

Amino Acids and Raw Feeding

Although I have never seen a homemade raw feeder worry about this because the balanced raw diets take care of this issue very well, I know that amino acids are important so I thought this was a worthy share.

AMINO ACIDS

Most people know the importance of protein in a dog’s diet, but what most people don’t know is that it is not actually the protein itself but what its made up of that is important. Amino acids make up the basic building blocks of all protein. The arrangements of these amino acids is what makes each protein unique. Every dog has the natural ability to manufacture every amino acid he needs except for 10 very special ones. These 10 amino acids must come from the diet. The protein chains are manufactured by the dog’s cells but if just one amino acid is missing the entire process shuts down. It is because of this that every dog’s diet must contain all 10 and why the quality of protein is more important than the quantity. These amino acids are: Arginine, Methionine, Histidine, Phenylalanine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Leucine, Tryptophan, Lysine and Valine. (For cats, Taurine is also essential, humans can synthesize both Arginine and Taurine.)

Aside from the amino acid profile, the digestibility of the protein is most important. More than the amount of protein in the meat, it’s all about digestibility, so high protein is misleading when it doesn’t have the right amino acids because its valueless (not common in raw diets). The best part of feeding raw is that:

“Eggs, muscle and organ meats are the most complete, most digestible sources of protein and should be the main ingredients in a quality diet.”

(Luckily, raw covers this but it’s still good to be aware of.)

Even though every cut of meat is unique, and every dog will metabolize it differently and need a different amount, I tried to get some guidelines. Below are some charts from Pack lunch raw that I like to keep around just to be aware of. It’s good to remember that more isn’t always better so once again, variety is key!

For more info you can visit: Canine Nutrition Basics

Requirements for a 50 lb dog:

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!

Raw Feeding 101 and How To Find The Best Raw Food Suppliers

While I really don’t think learning how to correctly feed raw is as difficult as people might think, finding the right raw food sources can be absolutely DAUNTING! (I am particularly strict about my sources so it does not have to be this way for everyone!)

There are two basic models that people follow (BARF and Prey) that I’ll discuss more in another article. The most common and simple raw feeding guidelines are: 80% meat 10% bone and 10% organ (usually 5% liver and 5% offal aka a secreting organ) In the beginning, it doesn’t have to be perfect and you learn over time what works best for you and your dog. Balance is the goal but in the beginning we all just do our best, the important thing is to start. You don’t have to learn everything in one day or have it all figured out before hand, nature kind of has a way of teaching us what we need to know as we go along. Dog poop is the best indicator if there’s too much or too little of something and we’re lucky because we get this daily 😉 The easiest place to start is either with pre-made raw (links below) or with simple protein choices such as chicken and beef. Then you can be a little experimental. The important thing is, anytime you add something new, just read up on it and soon you’ll have a whole book full of knowledge just based on experience. You don’t have to worry about remembering everything or knowing it before hand unless your dog has certain health conditions to watch out for. Variety is very important and is the key to avoiding most problems.

I chose to home “cook” so I learn everyday. Today for example, I learned that beef trachea can lead to hyperthyroidism (especially when you combine it with necks, feet or green lipped mussels) This is because the thyroid is often left attached and unless you can cut it off, your dog will be getting too much of the secreted thyroid hormone and if you feed a lot of it over time it can lead to problems. In small doses it’s a GREAT joint supplement because of the glucosamine and chondroitin levels, so it’s shouldn’t be avoided but it’s just one thing to look out for. I’ve also learned a lot about how long it takes to thaw meat …I’m bad at it lol, but all of these things come with hands on experience. It’s a learning process, it can be overwhelming if you decide to make the food yourself but if I can do it, anyone can!

To start, I want to dispel the myth that raw feeding has to be expensive. I can honestly tell you that I am not someone with resources. I have the same amount of money as I did when I bought kibble so everything I talk about on here is coming from someone with a very small budget.

Like everything, our journey to raw didn’t happen over night. The first dog I had all on my own literally found US out of the blue one day and all of a sudden I was a brand new dog owner. I had some background in human health issues but none in dog health. Our first stop was the vet for obvious reasons because she came from the streets of Miami and we wanted to make sure she was OK! Luckily she was and no one claimed her so I was blessed to be granted with the gift of being her mom. One of the biggest jobs of any mother is providing food, so I asked my vet what the best food was. She said Science diet… . I’ll admit I bought this once but fortunately learned very early on that this wasn’t only a bad food but one of the worst on the market. I did some research and the next step we took was Honest Kitchen . I am very grateful for this because I still feel like it’s a good quality food. I’m also grateful because I know how expensive premium kibble can be and it would have been an absolute waste. I got some Origen occasionally which I think IS the best kibble and it still doesn’t compare in quality. We did that for a while and then one day she just stopped eating it… like entirely! At the time I was super busy so I resorted to cooking her organic chicken etc and just adding it so she would eat at least a small portion and get a balanced diet. One day I finally just decided this had to stop because she wasn’t getting a wide enough variety of the things I knew she needed. I decided to really take the time to commit to finding her the best food for her. I discovered after reading countless volumes of evidence on the subject, that doing that meant only one thing: raw food. From that time forward, we haven’t looked back. I set out on the path to make that happen and that has brought me to where I am today.

Because I knew the danger of raw food is not parasite related but balance related, I tried to learn all that I could about what that meant. (I should add here that balance is only a problem over time, in the short term transition, it is perfectly safe to introduce raw meat slowly. Some days are more perfect then others and dogs systems are set up to naturally balance as long as they get what they need over time. In the wild they didn’t get perfect meals and they skipped days getting food (it’s actually good for them), so while balance is a big deal long term, it should not scare people from trial and error.)

It wasn’t too complicated, just very important. To err on the side of caution, I decided to start with a company that took the guess work out, came from a reputable source and was readily available in my area. That lead me to Steve’s real food and Answers. Answers, as a company truly blew my mind because not only were they 100% ethically sourced but they had come up with a solution for unlocking the key ingredients in food that’s usually lost because dog’s don’t have the ability to extract nutrients from certain things like vegetables. Their fermentation process literally unlocks the foods full potential (meat too) and because they use such high quality sources, this was a very big deal! They even have incredible and unique supplement products like raw goats milk and fermented fish stock, that use the same process and provide superfoods in a way like no one else in the industry. PLUS they were SO affordable, I was literally in shock when I heard the prices. They deliver to my local pet shop so no shipping fees and no having to order ahead of time! I was in love (and still am) but alas our journey wasn’t quite over yet because my dog just wouldn’t touch it. This doesn’t mean I’ve given up, I know it takes time and I will go back to it eventually for supplemental feeding, it just made me decide to cast a wider net of resources.

* Fermenting is not the only method but it’s one of the best because it’s the most similar to how the dog would receive vegetable nutrients from an animals stomach in the wild and helps maximize the digestive process at the same time. One side goal I have is also learning how to ferment my own vegetables. This way I can be sure of ingredients and benefit by eating it myself. It’s still far off but when I get there I’ll post about what I did to do it!

*Another easier method is blending or food processing. The important thing is to break the cell wall to release nutrients. The finer grind the better. Feeding this along with an enzyme supplement or probiotic that contains amylase is my go to solution when I can’t get fermented.

(Dogs don’t have salivary amylase (what breaks down the cell walls in fruits and veggies so the nutrition can be released) they do have some amylase in their pancreas but not very much overall. Cooking, freezing and pureeing are all ways of breaking the fruits and vegetables down into a more usable form.)

SIDE NOTE: When Answers comes up, often Darwin’s does also. In my eyes it’s a company very similar to Steve’s (the other pre-made raw food I tried) so it’s the main reason I haven’t tried it. I think it’s a good company also, just not one I could get without a subscription. That along with the fact that I didn’t see any outstanding reason to use it (or any other pre-made) is why I’m not going to. I know they offer a trial but I was only looking at things I could pick up locally. Steve’s was my backup for answers (that she wouldn’t eat either) and other than answers I’m going home-made for stronger source control. I’m not discrediting the value of these resources. Many are wonderful and extremely convenient. They also help a LOT of people make the transition. It’s very important however to be sure it’s coming from high quality meats. Here are two links for more info on these companies that may help in choosing one.

Best Raw Dog Foods

Raw Dog Food Reviews

The journey continues…

One thing I am obsessed with is quality. This is the reason my journey was so difficult. It doesn’t have to be this hard, I just refused to compromise. If I was going to learn raw feeding, I was going to learn how to do it right and if I was going to learn all that, I wasn’t willing to use sources that I didn’t trust absolutely! Human Grade didn’t cut it. The meat industry is FULL of horrible profit based practices. They are inhumane and I am not willing to support that.

I am a vegetarian, so ethical farming is of huge importance to me, plus it’s the highest quality of meat.

The grocery stores and even Whole Foods might be ok for finding some organic meats but ultimately I wanted better. My first stop was finding a local organic farm. I did this by using a service online called Eatwild.com . This is not the only search engine, just one I came across that had good results for where I live. I found one small farm right away, but they only sold meat a few times per year and weren’t selling at the moment. I ordered some for the end of the year but ultimately it was a dead end. Some hours and google searches later, I found a local seller who worked at one farm but traveled and sold from a network of organic farmers. This made their resource list HUGE and their ability to supply a year round operation. I was beyond excited about this and blown away by the fact that they had organs and bones on their lists!! One might think this meant that my search was over lol but I’m never satisfied, so I kept looking for a secondary source for certain cuts that were more specific to my dog’s needs. (I could get chicken bones from this seller for example but no other bones that were a good match for my dog’s size.) The biggest benefit from this is that by casting a wider net I have a better chance of getting high quality things. I enjoyed the people I met at this small farm very much and I think human quality is always better, but I didn’t get to see the animals or other farms. I trust them but these are just the best farms in proximity to where I live, so I wanted a wider net for more reasons than just the cut choices.

I tried to google “best raw food suppliers” but as you know if you’ve ever googled something looking for unbiased reviews or truth about a product, it’s an unlikely thing to find directly. First you need patience, then you need to sift through all the nonsense, fake reviews and huge amounts of MONEY put into making certain companies come up first. Once you do that, you might actually get somewhere.

It took hours but I finally stumbled onto something useful by reading the comments section in a blog thread of the Dog Food Advisors chat forum. (I forgot to mention why I didn’t do this with raw meat for humans: 1. They didn’t have cuts any different from my local supplier and 2. They rarely ship and if they did I couldn’t afford it) I followed the discussion by real unbiased people who had real experience trying certain companies and shared my sourcing concerns. I took some notes and then proceeded to look up each company one by one. My conclusion to all of this was that while it IS hard to find true transparency, it’s not impossible. I ended up learning a lot about meat also. Everyone’s pretty much heard of “grass-fed, steroid, antibiotic and hormone free” but denatured and irradiated were two new terms for me that made me really re-evaluate what I wanted to know about my meat. I’m not going to get too much into it but basically Denatured means it’s been made “safe” and the USDA requires this of all “compromised” (3 and 4D for example which stands for “dying, diseased, disabled or dead”) meat. It’s considered too dangerous for human consumption until it goes through a process usually done with charcoal and other dangerous additives that get rid of diseases the meat may contain (not including many chemical drugs that the animal may have been treated with however) but have horrible side effects. Irradiation is similar but it’s done to preserve (salts, and yes, RADIATION etc). BOTH are horrible for dogs so I wanted to add these to my list of requirements. (These links provide great info on both!) The problem with this is, because they’re less known words, “unaltered” may in fact mean these things but I wanted a source that had more clarification than this. (Plus a raw food company that uses 3 or 4D denatured meat will say it’s USDA approved NOT that it’s 3/4D OR made from from certain farm animals fed this, or affected by the contamination in their food as a byproduct of this, which is another big deal… so it’s important to clarify!) Almost all kibble comes from these sources. The USDA’s guidelines when it comes to this are notoriously lax and continued abuse of the system takes place, especially where marketing is concerned. Getting clarification has become something we as consumers unfortunately have to do on our own. There was only one company that I’ve found so far that did this completely.

What I will say is that out of the companies I looked at, they have one of the worst web sites and their packaging is “lame” but I see this as one of their biggest advantages in my book. It means they’re not spending oodles of money on “selling” and to me the people who do are usually trying to sell an inferior product because they’re making more of a profit and that allows for the marketing budget. I know this is cynical and NOT always true but it seems to be a consistent thing in this particular industry. They also had the smallest selection and I even liked THIS because it means they’re not outsourcing or accepting lower quality products just to sell more. They say it’s all local and this proves it really is. One more thing that I liked was customer service. I scoured their face book page and they had only one or two negative comments (shipping related of course) but they responded and went above and beyond to refund. Plus the fact that they had a review option matters because many companies now just don’t even ALLOW it! And their website was “nice” no rules or saying things like “if you order too little your order will be deleted and refunded!” Just things put in a rude way for no reason. Plus they had PHOTOS of the farm all over… not just cute staged dogs everywhere! If I’m ordering from a farm I want to see the FARM animals not dogs on a photo shoot. But I digress… lol Anyway, I liked these people. All of the companies I looked into had pros and cons but these guys are number one on my list because my only “cons” are in selection and shipping costs. It’s unrelated to quality so to me it doesn’t really count. I just can’t order from them all the time. Because of that I’ll follow this link with my reviews of the other sources I found.

1. My pet Carnivore

The next two companies I interrogated come in at a tie because I really think they’re very comparable but one is right by my house so it’s second on my list ONLY for that reason.

2. Raw Feeding Miami

The pros of this one is that they are the only one with organic options. They also have a key word search where you can specify things like “grass fed” so although all their meat may not be grass fed they have a huge inventory and are honest about was is an what isn’t. Because of this they have cheaper options and a slightly lower shipping cost. There are also no minimum orders! I can tell you also that I visited the distribution center. It was briefly last year before I moved and we didn’t stick with it at the time but I met the employees and tried their products. They really seemed to care and it was a positive enough experience for me to order from them again for sure!

3. Reel Raw

This company in my opinion is very similar to raw feeding Miami. They have a larger amount of grass-fed options (I think they say it’s all grass fed) but no organic. I may try an order from them but I’m out of freezer space so I unfortunately can’t review them after trying them just yet. They seemed slightly vague about their sources but very adamant about them being grass fed and unaltered. I want to trust the qualities represented by both of these companies, I just wish there was a little more clarification. My carnivore even tells you what farm! These two will be on my back up list however just because their inventory lists are so huge!

4. Hare Today Gone Tomorrow

This company is only very slightly below the other two. My only qualm was once again having to do with sourcing. Just not enough info. Great info, just not enough about the meat. They have minimum orders but it’s only 10 lbs so shipping is comparable to the other sites. The one thing they had going for them was very good reviews. People really seemed to like the freshness and quality, and there’s a lot to be said for that! I’m keeping them on the list because the vagueness could be an oversight and I might be able to find out more if I emailed them.

I plan on emailing these last two companies to see if I can find out the missing source info. As soon as I do I will post it, I just didn’t want to wait to share something that might be valuable. When I get there I’ll put it in a linked post.

All of the companies mentioned also have ready-to-go options which is great for time saving. It’s not accepted by some raw feeders but some people really need this option and I love that they provide that! They also have good selections of (size appropriate) raw meaty bones, organs, whole prey etc that some local small farms may not and many offer high quality supplements also!

Whew! So that was my last 2 days lol! As always, in doing this I came across some fringe benefit info.

If you’re looking for a good green tripe source, at least one of the top 3 companies have organic, but THIS organic really impressed me!

GreenTripe.com

I’ve contacted them to see if they’ll ship to me. Still haven’t heard and they won’t show you prices until you email them but it looks like an awesome source for that so I’ll also let you know when I find out more about it!

Update: they would not ship to me so I still don’t have prices but they do have an east coast distributor at Green Cuisine 4 Pets

* finally got prices… only about $4/lb but minimum order is 20 lb and shipping is $30 or more PLUS a $13 service fee… so out of my price range. Customer service gave me one other option of picking it up but it requires a two hour drive. I appreciate that they did offer that though so that’s a good thing to know. We’ll still try to get it at some point. (Plus they have a lot more than just green tripe by itself.)

Oh! And I almost forgot to mention

CO-OPS! They’re not available by me or I would have absolutely gone there first! It’s basically a group of people who buy in bulk. They are formed when demand creates the supply. People get together and order from suppliers (a lot of which are just for human clients but cater to these requests). They tend to have the highest quality and are local enough that they send trucks to delivery points where your group can collect its purchases. I don’t know a ton about them because I don’t have the option but I’ve heard the most positive feedback on sources and prices from this option.

Here is one link that has more info and links to a co-op directory

Co-Op Directory

One final website that may help find local meat is Food Fur Life

It’s slightly redundant but it may have some other options.

CONCLUSION

At the end of the day this whole endeavor is a learning process. I don’t think it ever will (or should) end. I’ve shared my findings so far but I know there’s a TON I haven’t found yet. My game plan is to use as much local meat as I can. I’ve ordered from my pet carnivore and raw feeding Miami for the things I can’t get. I’ll cast a wide net and try to get the best of what each has to offer. We’ll keep trying with Answers also, for at least occasional feeding and supplementation. Not putting all of my eggs in one basket gives me options because anything can happen, companies close or get bought out so I like knowing that I have knowledge to fall back on. When I get more confident I’ll share recipes and feeding requirement info as well. This process has been a little frustrating but very enlightening. I look forward to learning more and thank you for taking the time to read my story. I hope it’s helpful and I wish you all the best in happiness and health for you and your pet!!

Supplements: How much is too much?

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.

Follow nature

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:

Minerals

Vitamins

Essential Aminoacids

Superfood Greens

Essential Fatty Acids

Probiotics

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, probioticsplant-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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