Dog Supplements: What’s really necessary?

This is a topic I speak about a lot because it’s a question every dog owner comes across. In an effort to not be too redundant, I’m going to try to keep this answer short and to the point.

I break supplements into two main categories:

Maintenance supplements for healthy dogs and

Treatment supplements for dogs that have some kind of issue to treat.

For healthy dogs, the question I get most often is: If you give your dog balanced whole foods, why does your dog need supplements?

The short answer is: She doesn’t. If we were to lose all of our supplements today there’s a good chance she would be ok. I supplement because even whole foods can be deficient in certain things and I do it to prevent future health conditions.

I study supplements on a daily basis and I share what I learn. I don’t give my dog every supplement I research because it would simply be too much.

There is only one supplement that I consider truly necessary for healthy dogs and that is:

FISH OIL

Fish oil is the only thing that she really needs to thrive and cannot produce on her own or get from her food. (Omega 3 essential fatty acids) Even if I were to feed her fish, it simply would not be enough. Because fish oil can potentially also be TOXIC if not sourced correctly, this plays a huge role in it being beneficial.

My favorite article about this is Facts about omega supplements

I also go into more detail about this in a few article but especially here: Fish oil and joint supplements

After fish oil come the non-essential staples for us which are:

Coconut oil

Multi-vitamin

Green mineral supplement and a

Probiotic

I write more about this here: Our supplements

And here: How much is too much?

Sometimes we add things and/or skip days but these are our most important ones.

The number one thing to consider when choosing supplements, is finding a source that you trust. A good holistic vet can help a lot with that as well as what your dog’s unique needs may be. I know a lot of people can’t get this, especially right away so unless there are health issues, there are many holistic vets on-line that offer great information. I choose to follow Dr. Peter Dobias

Dr. Karen Becker is another great choice.

Due to the over-saturation of the vitamin market, it can be incredibly overwhelming to have to find this information out all on your own. There’s so many opinions about everything and many of them are not coming from vets! Following a good holistic vet on-line is the next best thing to in person and it helps weed through the conflicting opinions and information.

For healthy dogs this may be all they ever need. For dogs with health conditions however, I believe a direct consult is a lot more important. I am passionate about holistic vet care because I’ve seen it work miracles in cases where traditional medicine simply fell short. Things such as:

Arthritis

Kidney failure (renal disease)

Liver toxicity and even

Cancer

Have been treated successfully in this way where all the tradition medicine could offer was symptom reduction and pain management. This is why I always suggest holistic care to people who have dogs with chronic conditions. It allows them to have the opportunity to treat the underlying causes of things and achieve full recovery. There are many testimonials of this and every case is different, but especially in the early stages of things, it’s always worth looking into. This is where supplements can go from beneficial to life saving and part of what keeps me writing!

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!

Kidney health

So many dogs struggle with kidney health as they age. Because of this, I’ve been researching it a lot lately and one presumed treatment that really stands out as being detrimental is the low protein diet. This can be harmful to so many other areas of the body and because it’s easier to tell people low protein than specify what kind of protein most people only get told that much. I will follow up on what that means tomorrow but I felt compelled to write something because it’s frightening that so many pet parents aren’t given the whole story. I’ll follow this with a discussion about prescription diets and how truly dangerous they can be. It’s a challenge because we want to trust the professionals but too much evidence has come out now. There are REAL solutions available but they are not being offered by traditional vets.

Prevention and catching the problem early (veterinary testing) are crucial but because symptoms don’t usually present until later stages it makes this extremely difficult. That being said I try to always be solution oriented so here is an article and one product that I really believe in that can aide in kidney health for those pets who may be suffering already.

https://peterdobias.com/blogs/blog/11015021-holistic-approach-to-kidney-disease-treatment

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