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!

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!