Beets for Dog Health

There is a lot of debate about how much dog’s can benefit from vegetables. It is 100% true that their digestive systems were designed for meat. That being said, they also are meant to receive vegetables pre-digested from prey and definitely sometimes used to eat fruit whole. I’ll go more into vegetables in general in another post. For now I want to assume that they can access at least some nutrients from vegetables, especially when prepared properly and talk about why beets can be so beneficial.

Beets and especially beet greens are an incredible resource of nutrition that you can easily add to your dog’s diet (as well as your own!). Although it’s already become a popular dog food additive, this is mostly for filler reasons and profit margins, because the processing involved takes away almost all of the nutritional value. In many cases also, they are using sugar beets which are even cheaper and have absolutely no nutritional value. (Beets or beet pulp is actually a good thing to look out for and avoid in food!)

The two best options for beets are fresh or freeze-dried. Never canned or pickled.

The primary reasons people choose to add beets to their dog’s diet is for liver detox, allergies, inflammation, iron deficiency or weight management, but these are only a few benefits they offer.

The great thing is that because they are so packed with nutrition, a little goes a long way so you don’t need to use a ton of them! (This is good because too much could lead to red tinged diarrhea.)

Red tinged urine on the other hand, should not be an issue because in a balanced diet, this most likely will not occur. The same thing happens to people. Pink urine indicates a lack of hydrochloric acid in the digestion process. This is not dangerous and some digestive enzymes or a good probiotic should prevent it if it becomes an issue. Pink urine and stool can be a scary thing to see and this is the reason many companies that use beets properly (like Darwins) has removed them from their food. It is not dangerous but it is startling.

The general suggested amount is around 1/8 c.

Beets are full of antioxidants, vitamin C (immunity), vitamin B folate (cardiovascular support & normal tissue growth), manganese (helps bones, kidneys, liver and pancreas), fiber (aids digestion), iron (aids formation of healthy blood cells), potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function), and magnesium (bone health and nerve function).

Some dogs with issues such as allergies, inflammation or anemia can benefit from these properties but dogs with diabetes should probably stay away. Although beets are low in calories they are higher in sugar than other types of vegetables and may not be good for this reason. (An important note here however is that unlike other high glycemic index items, beets have a LOW glycemic load, so contrary to intuition they are still moderate in terms of affecting insulin levels making them still a great weight loss tool.) The greens however, would work just fine!

I’ve read a lot of articles and it is still unclear to me exactly how well beets are digested and absorbed in the digestive tract. I looked into the different ways to prepare them, for this reason and still could not find any one method that out-shined the rest. I already know that fermentation is the best way to allow the unique digestive system of dogs to absorb nutrients. I am in the process of learning how to do that, but now I try to do the next best thing which is to purée.

The idea is that the further broken down something is, the easier it’s absorbed. The important thing is to break the cell wall to release nutrients. The finer grind purée 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.

This is because 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.

I know this works well for spinach for example. It’s also true of beet greens. For lack of further evidence, I will assume it’s also true of beets. They lack fiber this way, but hopefully add more nutritional value. After fermented (not jarred) Raw or puréed seem best. Cooked is the next best after that and is easier for some dogs to accept. Juiced is usually ok for leafy greens but in this case it is not good because of the release of sugar.

I can definitely see myself using them as healthy treats because the fiber is filling and my dog needs to lose a few, but for meals, I primarily use the beet greens with one raw beet as just one ingredient in a big purée. I also like to change up my purée ingredients a lot to add variety. If you supplement with beets to treat a certain condition, it’s always best to get dosing information directly from a holistic vet.

Beet greens are high in protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and manganese, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Beet greens contain more iron than spinach, improve immune function and help protect bone health.”

The compelling reasons listed here are good to consider because while hard evidence regarding digestion is still lacking for this particular vegetable, if they can be fed in a way that they are absorbed, they would be a tremendous resource. This is from dogtube:

“5 Reasons to treat your dog to red beets

1. Beets are believed to lower blood pressure – The natural nitrates in beets covert to nitric oxide which relaxes and dilates blood vessels improving blood flow and blood pressure.

2. Fight Inflammation – Beets contain betaine, which “helps protects cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It’s also known to help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, enhance performance, and likely help prevent numerous chronic diseases.” (World’s Healthiest Foods)

3. Anti-Cancer Properties – It is believed that the Phytonutrients in beets may help prevent cancer.

4. Detoxification Support – The betalain pigment in beets cause toxins to break down so they can be eliminated from the body and help purify the blood and liver.

5. Beets boost stamina – Thought to be the result of beets reducing the oxygen cost of low-intensity exercise as well as enhance tolerance to high-intensity exercise.”

To me it sounds like this is geared more towards people, but there is no debate that beets are good.

This all brings me to the reason I decided to write this article:

Yesterday I was ecstatic to find out that my local pet store had the highly anticipated Answers Turkey Stock with Fermented Beet Juice! I’ve been waiting for this one! First, because of their fermentation process, that unlocks nutrients and maximizes the benefits of everything they make. Second, because red BEETS are included now!

I will still use the greens and some beet on my own, because this is only beet juice, but with this product I am more confident that my dog is benefiting from the beet. This is exciting because beets have a lot to offer!

* For a good freeze dried treat style option I love Olewo for their dedication to quality! (Sold on Amazon, chewy etc)

Finally, a wonderful article on vegetables for dogs is written by Dr. Dobias

Here he explains more about which vegetables dogs can benefit from the most! (Note *The feeding guide fermentation he mentions here is not the same as the process we make.)

Beets are below their greens, but they’re still on the list!

Here is a good quick list of useful veggies (I leave out peppers)

And here is just a quick way to remember which beets are best for dogs (the only really bad one is the sugar beet – the one that looks like a bull’s eye)

The highly anticipated new Answers product:

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 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!

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.

Easy Homemade Treats -Liver

I make a TON of different treats just because I enjoy it so I’ll probably have a bunch of posts for this topic, but

I came across a recipe today that is SO simple and awesome I thought it’d be a perfect one to start with!

Baked liver and parsley treats

1. Preheat oven at 325

2. Fill a lightly greased baking sheet with cut up beef liver (or chicken if it’s easier to get and organic if they have it!)

3. Sprinkle with minced parsley (optional)

4. Bake for 30 minutes

5. Flip pieces over and bake for an addition 20

Cool, cut into bite size pieces and they’re

Ready to eat!

*Note- an option that involves a lower cooking temperature (a slightly healthier option if your concerned about carcinogens) is instead cooking them at 200 degrees for 2 hours roaring the pan after an hour

(I like this option best but it’s definitely more time consuming)

Big crowd pleaser here!