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!

Raw Green Tripe

Fortunately I got introduced to green tripe and heard about the benefits BEFORE finding out what it was (I’m pretty sure I thought it was fish) or what it smelled like. Luckily what it really is only actually matters when you need to source it and the smell well that just takes a little getting used to. Green tripe is called green tripe to distinguish it from tripe that has been altered in some way (usually for human consumption) but renders it useless for health benefits, so not all tripe is the same. It comes from the lining of a ruminant or grazing animal such as cow, bison, sheep or deer. It is usually brown mostly maybe with a hint of green. It is enormously nutrient dense and an incredible resource because of the unique composition that allows these nutrients to be fully absorbed. The tripe is the stomach lining only found in these grazing animals that have 4 digestive chambers, because they need it to digest plant material and utilize it themselves. The chambers break down grasses with digestive enzymes, amino acids and gastric juices. The digestive enzymes make the tripe very easy to digest and have the staying power to help increase digestion for weeks or more following consumption. Digestive enzymes also cleanse and purify the blood, remove toxins, parasites and fungus. This includes things like e-coli, salmonella and listeria. One unique enzyme that dogs and cats can’t produce is amylase. This is what allows the grazing animal to absorb nutrients from vegetable matter. By eating the tripe, those nutrients are then transferred to the dog or cat that would otherwise be unable to receive them by eating vegetables on their own. Digestive enzymes also improve hormonal function and the immune system. The combination of digestive enzymes and pre-digested green matter is what makes it such a powerhouse of nutrients. All of this is dependent on the tripe being raw.

The high quality mid-range protein, easy digestion, balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio and slightly high pH make it a especially valuable for animals with kidney disease.

So, basically it helps the animals receive the full nutritional value from their food, eliminates needing a probiotic and strengthens their immune system! THEN there is the omega factor. Natural omega 3’s and 6’s help enhance skin and coat, lubricate the joints and promote healthy brain function.

Green tripe has also been said to help animals with allergies. All in all this is a pretty amazing food source.

The only down side is availability. Because getting it canned or even freeze-dried reduces the quality so much (cooked or canned being the worst) finding it can sometimes be a little tricky. The farm I buy from doesn’t have any right now so I decided to do some further research.

I know the importance of finding this organically or grass-fed so I may have to wait for a local supplier. The sad thing is most farms either throw it out or only sell to big companies in bulk. This is starting to change as more people request it locally but it’s still hit or miss where I am. Some smaller organic pet food companies sell it frozen or mix it in their food, so I’m hopeful some of the companies I trust will start to also. I know the raw food “suppliers” by me don’t use quality meat so it might cost more but it’s worth it. This is not something my dog needs a ton of so that is helpful. In the mean time I got some freeze-dried from a company that seems to use a quality source but this was mainly just to get some (and turkey necks because they’re also hard to find by me) in the house right away. I will update as I find more resources!

Update: I may have located a place that is connected to others around the country and looks to be good quality. Will post the link as soon as I get the details!

Yes! The website Hare Today Gone Tomorrow is awesome and ships nationwide! There are others too so I am extremely excited to replace this freeze https://hare-today.com/. dried!

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!

Raw Goats Milk

I was first introduced to raw goats milk actually just as a way to help get my picky eater to try new things. We had some raw goats milk cheese treats that she loved so I grabbed the milk, kefir and yogurt to try also. She loved it all and I was thrilled even before I found out about all the amazing benefits!

It’s hard to know where to begin but it aids in digestion, helps joint tissue, relieves allergies and has been even linked to treating cancer just to name a few things. Here is a bit of a break down of how and why that I got from an article that summed it up pretty well.

Digestion:

“Raw Goat milk contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, and fatty acids. In fact, the body can digest goat’s milk in 20 minutes. Having fat molecules one-fifth the size of those in cow’s milk makes it easily digestible and tolerable even for dogs with digestive issues.

It is packed with pre and probiotics (over 200 species).

Those, mixed with enzymes help the gut to establish healthy flora, ease digestion and help alleviate any GI issues. Because of the speed of digestion this also makes it almost 100 times better than probiotic powders or pills.

It is also a great source of easily absorbable and palatable protein.

It can even be used as replacement milk for kittens and puppies.

Arthritis or other joint problems:

The same enzymes that help relieve digestion issues can also help to alleviate inflammation, swelling, and pain related to joint issues. They also help speed up tissue repair and improve circulation, all things that can help to alleviate arthritis symptoms.

Allergies:

Raw goat’s milk contains high levels of caprylic acid. This acid helps to fight yeast that often builds up in response to allergies (have you ever given your dog’s paws a sniff? If you have, you might notice they smell a bit like corn chips. What you’re smelling is yeast which naturally develops in that area. Allergies can make that yeast multiply which is why a dog who has allergies will often chew at their paws, among other things). Also, like the good flora that gets built up in your pet’s GI system, raw goat’s milk will also help that healthy flora to establish on the skin and in the ears which will help curb any infections that often are linked to allergies. Raw goat’s milk is also a natural antihistamine.

Cancer:

Many researchers have found that carotene (or Pro-Vitamin A) contains cancer preventing properties. The milk fat in goat’s milk contains a higher evolved carotene that is readily available for the body to absorb. There is also a fat in raw goat’s milk, called conjugated linoleic acid (or CLA), that is known as the cancer fighting fat. CLA has actually been shown in some cases to shrink cancer tumors.”

Raw goat’s milk is also great for people who normally can’t digest lactose because in raw form the composition should not impact the intolerance.

I’m still collecting information on this but I wanted to put something out now as there seems to be a big increase in the market lately. As long as it’s raw and from a good source I’d say it’s absolutely worth a try!

NOTE: raw goats milk is best when fed separate from coconut oil or bone broth that contains apple cider vinegar because this can compromise the nutritional value.

Raw feeding part 5

Ever since Jersey ate the chicken foot I’ve been stoked about the fact that if she’s willing to do that there’s hope for us yet! It can be overwhelming at times trying to learn how to really do this right. I try to remember that it’s only been a few weeks. Even though we’re not starting the transfer from kibble (we used Honest Kitchen and cooked meat) it’s still a big change and I need to give it time. I’ve come a long way also, in terms of sourcing and reading up on how to measure things but there is just SO many resources out there. I’m trying to be patient. I get really excited when I find new supplements and I try to share them here. Raw goats milk and Fish stock are two things I will be discussing this week! I also found an awesome calculator in the App Store (called Raw Dog on apple) which is full of great info and additional reading. (Pictured below)

Today we made some great source connections. I found a local, ethical and high quality meat vendor that had literally everything I could ever need (including the weird stuff like turkey necks) no tripe but whole animals so there’s hope there. I bought a whole chicken, beef and organ mix. We did pretty good at dinner tonight but she turned her nose up at the raw egg and shell that she loved yesterday… even the goat milk… so I’m forced to conclude there’s no rhyme or reason for her pickiness. The fact is I spoil her and cater to her pickiness so it’s really not about her adjusting as much as me. Stopping that will help. I have to be ok if she doesn’t eat. I actually heard a doctor give a talk about the benefits of dogs fasting one day a week. It helps them detox and is more in line with how they would eat in the wild. It’s all stuff I know but implementing it is still hard for me. So we’re advancing maybe at the pace we should be. I’ll report on how the chicken goes… I might need some assistance touching that! My vegetarian belief system is cringing but the love I have for my dog will make me do literally anything lol! Progress not perfection.

Joint Health, Fish Oil, Green Lipped Mussels and Healing Supplements

Dogs are a lot like people when it comes to joint health and arthritis. Some are more prone than others but diet and life style make a huge difference! Staying active and eating healthy are the keys to preventing and treating these debilitating conditions. Not all activity is created equal however and variety is important. A dog who plays fetch obsessively for example is a lot like a professional baseball pitcher. The repetitive use of certain muscles to an unnatural degree is more likely to cause harm to a certain area than a more natural and varied amount of activity. An occasional game of fetch is not bad by any means especially if your dog loves it but a wider variety of movements is better for the body. Running, swimming, hiking and socially frolicking is the most natural movements dogs were built for and changing it up keeps the body in equilibrium. Dogs usually stretch all on their own but massage and physical therapy can be very helpful in dogs especially to help alleviate preexisting conditions. Maintaining muscle mass and regular activity can do as much for the dog as their human companion so it’s a great routine for both parties. It’s mostly common sense but easy to miss due to the busyness of life!

Next comes Diet. This is a more complicated subject but the principals are simple. Healthy food. Because there are almost as many dog diets as their are people diets these days this can mean something different to different people. To me it means my dog eating the food her body is designed to eat. A balanced raw diet. It has been proven to reduce a multitude of heath issues; diabetes, kidney failure and arthritis to name a few. I believe this helps a lot but just like with people, it doesn’t always prevent a condition so it’s not the only answer. Aside from advanced physical therapy when necessary a lot can be done with the help of supplements to both treat and prevent painful arthritis later in life and they seem to be the same for animals and people in different doses. The good thing about this is that human Grade vitamins are often better, there are exceptions of corse and a LOT of snake oil in the industry for both species but typically better options for humans due to regulation and our ability to fight for higher standards. As long as care is taken to examine the ingredients and dosing I try to stick with these unless a canine specific supplement offers something I can’t otherwise find or is extremely transparent and reliable. For joint health I have found that there are many options and brands because a lot of the supplements have multiple uses.

Fish oil for example can be used to treat too many conditions to list, but it can also be toxic, so you have to be very careful about your source. Although different oil concentrations and extractions are directed at different things I believe what counts most for dogs is omega 3. They can’t produce it or get it from most of their food so they need it even more than 6 and 9. Next is DHA & EPA levels and a good source is high in both. Krill oil for example is an oil I am particularly not impressed with for use in dogs. It has low omega 3 and there is no proof yet that any benefit from the antioxidants it contains does a thing (for people either). My other concern is toxins. Our liver can handle more than our dogs so it’s vital that the fish be free of mercury and other things that could weigh heavily on our dogs health. There are a few companies that I’m just ok with like New Chapter, Nordic Naturals and Carlson but the winner in my book is squid. They have the least heavy metal toxicity and provide the highest omega 3 levels that I’ve seen. The only company that I know that carries this and is transparent is Dr. Dobias. He is a holistic vet in Canada that has standards that go above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen. My entire human family uses his fish oil but like I said the purity here is paramount for our dogs. Answers also makes a fermented fish broth that’s a great dietary addition. It doesn’t replace the oil necessarily but it’s bioavailability is key and it’s list of benefits goes beyond what fish oil alone can do.

Next on the list is glucosamine and chondroitin. This is often combined with other supplements for enhanced absorption. To help make it easier many manufactures have taken the guess work out and added them for us. Glycoflex is one example. I think their supplements are good because their derived from Green Lipped Mussels. They make for easy one stop shopping but I prefer getting things straight from the source and adding a multivitamin. Green lipped mussels have gained in popularity lately. As a result a simple Amazon search will show you dozens of companies that have cropped up recently to make a profit. Doing this kind of research is my least favorite because I hate feeling like I have to play defense as a consumer but the research is necessary. I’m by no means done but the conclusion that I came away with so far was that powder straight from New Zealand is the best. For whatever reason the process that has the best extraction rate is the powder (unlike oil with fish) and the company that seemed to have the highest standards was called Xtendlife. If this changes I will update but so far they just seemed to be the best that I could buy on-line. This is a human supplement so I am still trying to establish the dosing but it’s a start. Honest kitchen also makes a freeze dried mussel treat that I think is great but not adequate to treat a dog in pain. Just like fish oil helps other things this and the vitamins that go with it at a maintenance dose is ideal and though we don’t use it every day like the fish oil and vitamins I like to keep it in her diet on a regular basis because it can do a lot of good.

Ok so now that I’ve exhausted these first two main supplements, here is a quick run down of some other key ingredients to look for both within supplements or on their own:

GLUCOSAMINE helps the body naturally rebuild and repair damaged cartilage.

MSM to ease pain and inflammation, increase cortisol (a natural anti-inflammatory hormone) reduce swelling, improve the cellular uptake of vitamins and aid in detox.

CHONDROITIN that helps cartilage to retain water and ease pain.

KELP which is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic that repairs and rebuilds damaged tissue, increases energy levels and helps to clean and detoxify internal organs.

COLLAGEN a protein that supports elasticity in joints, tendons, cartilage, skin and ligaments. It also increases bone strength.

CoQ10 for heart health and to defend against oxygen free radicals that aggravate arthritis.

ALFALFA a protein rich in vitamins and minerals that reduces pain and inflammation.

TURMERIC decreases inflammation (helps 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, 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 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 cmpounds 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.

FISH OIL with OMEGA 3, 6 & 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.

VITAMIN E to aid in the absorption of Omega oils, DHA and EPA.

VITAMIN C to reduce inflammation and free radical damage.

MANGANESE to increase the efficiency of Vitamin C in the body.

HYALURONIC ACID to provide joint lubrication.

VITAMIN B to promote a healthy nervous system

BREWERS DRIED YEAST is rich in Omega fatty acids, B vitamins and antioxidants. It enhances health, aids with flea control and improves the immune system. 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 and 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.

ZYFLAMEND is a fabulous supplement that I forgot to mention for treating on-going and more critical issue!

BONE BROTH is another fabulous addition for dogs with (or without) joint issues because it contains collagen, glucosamine and other compounds that build joint health and is unique because:

“the glycosaminoglycans from bone broth are resistant to digestion and are absorbed in their intact form. According to Dr Shanahan, they act like hormones, stimulating cells called fibroblasts, which lay down collagen in the joints, tendons, ligaments, and even the arteries”

RAW GOATS MILK contains enzymes that reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain related to joint issues. This helps speed up tissue repair and improve circulation, all things that can help to alleviate arthritis pain.

And finally, FERMENTED FISH STOCK is yet another great source to boost the diet of a dog with joint concerns. It Contains glycoaminoglycans (GAGs), a major component of joint cartilage, glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid to name a few benefits.

This is just my list, it might be a bit much but if you’re looking to maintain these are key words to look for. If you’re treating pain however it’s paramount to look at the levels. An ingredient with no percentage or milligram is not enough. Treating arthritis this way is so much more effective than chemicals because it solves the problem rather than masks it while the damage continues! Obviously if the level of pain is too great this does not hold true but real healing is always best and thankfully nature really helps us do that!

* I should add here that I am 100% a free blogger, it would be nice to be paid by any of these above mentioned companies but I can assure you I am not.

Here is my favorite fish oil by Dr. Dobias (all of his supplements are but this one especially)

Calcium and Feeding Bones and Bone Alternatives

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Most people learn early on that it is 100% unsafe to give dogs cooked or smoked bones because of the fact that they are brittle and pose choking and digestive hazards. Due to this a lot of pet parents stay away from bones altogether. As a result the pet food industry is full of all kinds of manufactured bones for dental health, chewing, recreation, vitamin supplements etc. These are just as bad (if not worse) then the kibble products and in some cases aren’t even safer in terms of choking and digestive hazards. If you feed raw you most likely already know a bit about bone safety but if not here are a few reasons so many raw feeders love RAW meaty and recreational bones.

1. They are a wonderful source of calcium and phosphorus. Calcium is an important part of your pet’s health! (Without calcium in the diet, the body extracts it from its own bones, which leads to many issues related to mobility.) They also contain a variety of minerals not found in other food.

2. They are the best possible form of teeth cleaning outside of the vet’s office. They promote gum health and reduce bad breath.

3. They provide ruff-age and help to maintain anal glands naturally

4. They can help balance the digestive tract and tone digestive muscles that can help reduce stomach issues later in life.

When fed appropriately (about 2-3 times a week unless ground in food at 10%) the digestive hazards are avoided because raw bones break down naturally in the stomach and don’t stay large enough to pose any threat. It’s important to always supervise your dog with a bone no matter what. Instinctively they should know how to chew and swallow them correctly but anything can happen. Aside from the smaller raw meaty bones like poultry necks, spines, feet etc. the general rule of thumb for recreational bones is that they should be about the size of the dogs head or larger. Never smaller because these types of bones are meant to be chewed on and scrapped of marrow but NOT eaten completely. I am personally not a fan of the recreation bones because they can chip teeth and don’t contain the nutrition components that make their positive attributes outweigh their risks. If my dog loved this activity, I’d make an exception but otherwise I see them as completely unnecessary. Marrow can be obtained without them so she doesn’t need a knuckle bone to pass the time and possibly break her teeth on. Raw meaty bones on the other hand are a different story. They should never be weight bearing bones because they are too hard to chew and unlike recreational bones are meant to be eaten completely. I see the value of these bones but they still make me nervous so I plan on sticking with necks and backs because the are considered to be the safest. Chicken wings can be cut to be made safer, but I still don’t love these because I have other options. Ideally I would give her lamb and goat bones because they are considered to have the perfect balance of hardness to effectively clean the teeth but not break any. However these bones, for me at least, are very hard to find. Although red meat should make up about 50% of her diet, chicken, duck, lamb and duck are closer to a dog’s natural prey so they make the safest bones to eat. Chicken and duck are much more readily available where I live and while they might be considered too soft to clean teeth by some people, I brush her teeth daily and am more interested in their nutrition than their dental care anyway. That being said, if your dog (or you) is really against dealing with raw bones in general there are 100% adequate alternatives available and you do not need to feel forced to do so. It may be controversial in some circles but I truly believe you can go without bones and still have a healthy and balanced raw diet as long as you are educated. Things like bone meal are dangerous alternatives (most are toxic unless from a local farm that makes food Grade) but egg shells are a GREAT alternative source of calcium! You can dry and crush them into a powder very easily and make your own supplement. I love this because there are a lot of concerns about the safety of many calcium sources in supplements on the market and as long as you get good quality eggs this takes away the guess work. A lot of people also just add one whole egg shell and all to get the same result. I don’t do this daily so I keep the shells as back up on a day she doesn’t get a bone. For the other minerals you can simply use a mineral supplement, which actually should be given even if you do feed bones because it’s broad spectrum and you know that your pets needs are being met. Some feeders are against supplements altogether because your dog wouldn’t “get fish oil pills etc out in the wild” however I disagree. We need supplements now because of the world we live in TODAY. We have depleted the soil and changed the environment. For this reason I think it’s appropriate to adjust. My dog’s wolf ancestors didn’t live in the same world and it’s the same reason I take supplements myself. I just want the best shot and as long as I am getting them from trusted sources and know how to use them, I think they’re great! Teeth cleaning can be substituted rather easily as well. Any mouth size appropriate tooth brush will do. You can make your own toothpaste or even just use coconut oil. If your dog won’t let you brush, a bit of ground kelp added to the food should help. For more advanced dental issues and plaque you can either get a cleaning at the vet or look up where to get one that is anesthesia free. This method is increasing in popularity, so they’re relatively easy to find now. Either way there are many alternative methods, all of which would be great to add EVEN with the help of bones.

Bottom line, raw bones are WONDERFUL if your dog likes them but if not you can absolutely still feed raw! Some dogs warm up to them over time so I’d say don’t give up but don’t stress over it too much either! It’s no reason to wait to go raw or worse not at all.

Personally I am doing about one small raw meaty bone per week because my dog doesn’t love them. Chicken feet are the easiest to find organically and they are an excellent joint supplement (glucosamine and chondroitin) so because she eats egg shells and takes supplements I know her dietary needs are being met. Eventually I hope to move to a food that has some ground in so this 1 per week will probably stay at that and if we miss a week it’s no cause for concern.

My super easy calcium supplement is pictured below. My dog is 25 lbs so she needs 550 mg of calcium per day. (50mg per kg) She gets calcium from other sources so I only use 1/4- 1/2 tsp. based on the assessment that:

“One whole medium sized eggshell makes about one teaspoon of powder, which yields about 750 – 800 mgs of elemental calcium plus other microelements, i.e. magnesium, boron, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, silicon, zinc, etc. There are 27 elements in total.”

A vet should be able to assist you if you don’t want to measure it out on your own. Fortunately dog’s having a “fast track” metabolism helps mitigate some concern. A good thing to remember is the simple fact that wild dogs eat what they find. Some days they get a lot of one thing and other days none. It tends to balance out over time but I also do blood tests at her annual check up. Hair tests can be very helpful also. So far we’ve been right on track but never hesitate to ask a medical professional. I know many holistic vets even offer nutritional counseling now so there are resources available if you have any concerns!

*Another great bone replacement for calcium is raw green tripe! It has an ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio and most dogs absolutely love it!

Homemade Bone broth and bone marrow soup

I’ve been using bone broth for some time now. There are some great ones on the market so I never really intended on making my own until today. Today I got to visit a real working farm and it was incredible! In my effort to be efficient I grabbed a little bit of everything. In doing so I ended up with a package full of recreational knuckle bones that were WAY too small for my dog to eat. Rather than let them go to waste I decided to turn them into broth. Because these bones were full of marrow, this is sometimes called ‘marrow soup’ however the process is the same. I chose to add in some chicken feet because I had a lot of them and they are a great broth source because of their high glucosamine and chondroitin concentration. The process takes a while (about 24 hours for chicken, 48 for beef) in a crock pot or on the stove top but the recipe is super easy.

Fill a pot with the bones you want to use and cover with filtered water. Add 2-4 tbs of raw apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hr for chicken, 2 for beef. Reduce to low and leave on heat for 24-48 hours and that’s IT! The same goes for the crock pot (high medium and low settings). You can add dog-safe vegetables if you want but that’s the basic process. I’d say it’s important to keep an eye on the water level because I had to add some half way through but other than that I ignored it.

For my first batch, I kept it very simple. I don’t have a crock pot yet but I found one on Amazon that claimed to be lead free (the problem with many crock pots is chemical leaching). It’s stone ware so I think they are considered safest. When that comes maybe I’ll get more creative, but Jersey definitely gave her stamp of approval! It’s a great supplement to help her eat her vitamins and an all around great dietary addition no matter what (for both of us) so it’s one of the best mistakes I ever made!

Here are just a FEW awesome benefits that bone broth provide:

It helps maintain a healthy gut, especially for dogs with digestive issues.

It supports your dog’s immune system and detoxes the liver.

It helps protect his joints and is a wonderful source of collagen and glycosaminoglycans including glucosamine and other joint protecting compounds.

Also the “glycosaminoglycans from bone broth are resistant to digestion and are absorbed in their intact form. According to Dr Shanahan, they act like hormones, stimulating cells called fibroblasts, which lay down collagen in the joints, tendons, ligaments, and even the arteries.”

It’s full of minerals, including calcium, silicon, sulphur, magnesium and phosphorus.

The list goes on but these are the highlights and why so many people love it for themselves and their dogs!

NOTE: Excess bone broth should be frozen because the shelf-life of this is very short. 3-4 days in the fridge max

Kibble

As most people know, as a general rule for myself I am truly 100% against kibble as being an appropriate food source for cats and dogs. However, that being said, I am also very aware that not everyone feels this way. We are fortunate today to have options. Small companies that are willing to take the time to deliver wholesome, pre-made, balanced, frozen raw food to the market at affordable prices along with freeze dried options make it very easy to make the switch but still, it’s not appropriate for everyone at every time. Shelters are a good example of this and during the holiday food drives I absolutely plan on participating and buying kibble. Because of this I feel obligated to share some positive information on the subject. All kibble is not created equal. I have a list of brands I suggest to anyone who needs to feed this way. Just as with any product it’s important to stay up to date, as companies get sold, formulas change, etc. but as of now this is what I have found to be the most trusted:

Origin, Acana, Zignature or Nutrisource for dry

Honest Kitchen, Grandma Lucy’s, Humankind, Stella and Chewy’s or Primal for freeze dried.

There may be others of course but the reason I feel the way I do about kibble is simple. Most brands in the store have unregulated (AAFCO doesn’t count) labels and parent companies. They use trusted celebrities like Rachael Ray and key words that they’ve changed definitions of to make people think they are doing good for their pets. They mislead consumers and lie about things including “organic”. People are losing their animals because of this so I am heartbreakingly passionate about spreading awareness about this. Please just consider these realities. You don’t have to go raw or watch “Pet Fooled” just please consider other options. We all buy what we think is best, don’t let these companies get away with abusing key words to make us purchase their products! The cost is the same and it could literally save your animals life!

Homemade Organic Dog Toothpaste

I was always a big fan of using enzymatic toothpaste until I looked at the ingredients. Unable to find a brand offering a better option, I decided to bite the bullet and make my own. I still use a dietary kelp supplement and organic spray additionally but because I brush my dogs teeth daily, I just couldn’t keep using all the chemicals. I’ll admit I was even shocked by the results! After only one weeks I saw a noticeable difference! Using simple household items her teeth looked better than they did after 2+ years of using the expensive enzymatic brands! (For occasional brushing these are probably just fine.) I may still experiment and come up with new formulas but due to the positive results I wanted to share this one right away!

1/4 c organic coconut oil

A pinch (or 1/4 tsp) organic Turmeric

” organic kelp

” baking soda

” organic dried crushed parsley

> 1/4 tsp organic cinnamon

Mix them together and store in the fridge. I have no problem using it solid but you can let it soften to help get it onto the toothbrush if you like.

Another tip is trying gauze in place of a toothbrush to target certain areas or if your dog doesn’t like the toothbrush.

I haven’t added mint leaves or peppermint oil but they can help freshen.

I also haven’t had to add flavor but I’ve seen a lot of recipes with added chicken or beef bouillon or human Grade flavoring such as this one by Basics (pictured below)

Another recipe that is even simpler is:

2 tbs baking soda

2 tbs coconut oil

For a stronger version or gingivitis you can add:

10 drops of colloidal silver

1 tsp colostrum

1/2 tsp turmeric

(I haven’t tried this one yet)