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:

Raw Dog Diary 10/31/17

First of all, Happy Howl-o-ween! We hope everyone has a safe and amazing night!! By the end of the week, I promise to have some good info about pumpkin and possible uses for pumpkin leftovers!

If anyone is seeing this for the first time, my “diary” series posts are just where I put weekly or bi-weekly updates, talk about our transition to raw food and try to pin-point what some upcoming articles might be about. It’s hard, because I have 20+ topics that I’m currently looking into and sometimes things change, but they are all topics that will be covered at some point.

This week I’m focusing on indexing to try to make it easier to organize my articles. I have so many now, with various topics so I want to make things easier to find things. After that, I wanted to cover pumpkin because it’s seasonal and colostrum because it’s become a recent interest. I’m sure more topics will pop up as priority (they always do!) but those are two short term goals for this week. I am also open to input! If there’s anything anyone wants researched, I’ll always prioritize that or try my best to answer any questions!

Other than deciding whether Jersey’s gonna be a spider, a pumpkin, a witch, daisy duke or batgirl, tomorrow’s gonna be a busy day! I’m still struggling to pre-make meals for her because I’m still learning a lot and trying different things. I will say though, we’re doing pretty good! For the first time EVER she LOVES her food! I’m so excited because it used to be such a struggle! Even though I HATE touching raw meat… especially when I have to break up big pieces of it, it’s definitely worth every bit of effort. I’m happy when she’s happy, and this new diet is making her very happy! I’m a bit under the weather at the moment so it’s even less pleasant making food but I’m thrilled I get to do it for her!

I have to take a moment out of computer time this week to try to organize her food and do the corresponding math, so I may post slightly less, but one article a day is still my goal.

I hope everyone is having a safe and wonderful day and gives their pups something special because they’ve been doing tricks for treats all year! 😉

XO Jeanne & Jersey Girl

The Truth About Garlic

Garlic has been on every “what not to feed” list for dogs that I’ve ever seen. Like most people, I just assumed this was correct and left it alone. That being said it was also in a TON of dog supplements that we see every day. At first, I just assumed that these supplement makers just somehow magically changed the deadly garlic into something safe and extracted the benefits, but this didn’t change the fact that any other garlic was still unsafe.

This literally could not be further from the truth.

The real reason garlic is on these lists is because (just like avocado) it can harm some animals but not most dogs. It’s added as a precaution if overdose occurs or if the dogs that shouldn’t have it have too much. It’s also on the list because of studies done exclusively on garlic extracts, excessive doses or garlic mixed with other things, NOT on normal amounts of fresh raw garlic.

The other reason people fear garlic is because garlic is part of the Allium family (along with onions). This means it contains aliphatic sulfides (propyldisulfide and thiosulphate to be exact) which can damage red blood cells. Because this damage is often without symptoms it can become a concern with prolonged use. HOWEVER, the actual AMOUNT of thiosulphate present is so much less than in onions, it’s often untraceable.

It’s a heated debate but the evidence of harm is severely lacking and in proper use cases, I haven’t seen a single piece of evidence proving any cellular damage whatsoever.

In my opinion all this means is that large amounts and pro-longed use are important guidelines to keep in mind but not reasons enough not to use it.

What dogs should not have garlic?

-Dogs with anemia or who are scheduled for surgery

-Dogs with a compromised digestive tract (it could exacerbate symptoms such as IBS or leaky gut)

-Dogs on certain medications (immune suppressants, heart medications etc.) The prescribing vet will know for sure.

-Dogs with diabetes

-Puppies

-Pregnant mothers

-Japanese dogs such as Shiba Inu’s and Akita’s (I know this sounds crazy) The reasons are still not 100% clear but it has to do with their digestive system and how they break down certain things.

In these cases, small amounts should still be no reason for concern, but if your worried it’s always best to call your vet!

What makes garlic so beneficial?

Why bother with an item that has been so controversial? Because it’s an absolute POWERHOUSE when it comes to benefits. People who have years of experience and success using it have a staggering number of explanations why. A few of them are listed here.

Garlic Properties and uses:

-Antibacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-parasitic

-Immune system enhancer

-Detox – liver and digestive tract; breaks down waste before it enters the bloodstream

-Digestive enhancer – helps the body absorb nutrients, supports beneficial bacteria, eliminates harmful bacteria and balances the digestive system

-High in vital nutrients such as: vitamins A, C & B, Calcium, manganese, magnesium, selenium, germanium, amino acids, inulin, sulfur, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.

-Decreases cholesterol

-Improves circulation and organ function (especially lungs, large intestine, stomach and spleen)

-Prevents tumors

-Prevents blood clots and widens blood vessels

-Stimulates lymphatic systems to remove waste

-Cancer prevention and treatment – ongoing studies are proving this more and more!

-Natural tick, flea and mosquito repellant (after daily doses for at least 2 weeks)

-Dewormer

-Topically for Ear infections and ear mites

That’s a pretty big deal so now,

How to safely add Garlic to your dog’s diet:

-ONLY use fresh, organic WHOLE shelled garlic from a trusted source (never jarred or dried because this voids the value)

-Always peel and mince, cut or crush directly before use (it’s suggested to then let it stand for 5-15 minutes at room temperature before serving to maximize the benefits. These activated benefits last for about an hour.)

This has to do with a reaction that takes place within the garlic. It’s not dangerous to serve garlic you chopped yesterday for example, but the active benefits won’t be nearly as effective.

-Always follow dosing guidelines.

*I often mix some in with puréed vegetables, (not ideal for benefits but a lot of people do it) I pre-measure it in this case, but I also don’t stress because my dog would need more garlic than she could ever eat to actually make her sick.

Dosing is everything

The general rule of thumb here is:

• 10 to 15 pounds – half a clove of garlic

• 20 to 40 pounds – one clove

• 45 to 70 pounds – two cloves *many stop at two for all weights but some add

• 75 to 90 pounds – two and a half cloves

• 100 pounds or more – three cloves

Or

  • 1/6 tsp for 5 lbs
  • 1/3 tsp for 10 lbs
  • 1/2 tsp for 15 lbs
  • 2/3 tsp for 20 lbs
  • 1 tsp for 30 lbs

Many people also recommend rotating one week on, one off, or every other day. I also use slightly less than the recommended dose.

Conclusion

I am still wary of the health warnings but try to stay on top of new research. So far hard evidence of harm seems to be lacking… significantly. One recent development was that the “major” study that supplied the information about garlic causing red blood cell damage, (that flooded the internet!) was done on literally four dogs that were given very high doses (25 cloves for a 50 lbs dog per DAY!)… plus afterward it was determined that they were totally fine. So… so far the benefits seem to outweigh the concerns and the holistic community has been using it for a very long time with great success.

We tend to use garlic seasonally, when I want to give my dog an immune boost but I know a lot of people who use it daily. As always, it is best to ask a holistic vet about holistic things, plus one who knows your pet.

It is definitely something to consider especially with winter coming up!

Happy Howl-o-ween! Tricks for Treats

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

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

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

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

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

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

BONE broth works great also!!

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

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

Candy corn frozen treats:

(Any silicone mold or ice try will do)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liver treats

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

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

For Howl-o-ween this year I made

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

XO

Candy corn pawsicles

Dehydrated chicken feet

Dehydrated duck feet

Dehydrated pig ears

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

Raw Feeding Diary 10/27/17

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amino Acids and Raw Feeding

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

AMINO ACIDS

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

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

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

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

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

For more info you can visit: Canine Nutrition Basics

Requirements for a 50 lb dog:

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!