Supplements for dogs a whole foods approach

Supplements for Dogs: A Whole Foods Approach

Supplements for dogs a whole foods approach

In a perfect world, we would not need supplements.  That said, this is not a perfect world.  Far from it.  No corner of the globe, however remote, escapes the far-reaching side effects of today’s society:  air and water pollution; topsoil erosion and soil depletion; radiation; exposures to toxic chemicals from pesticides, herbicides, immunizations and medications; and, with all due respect to those who deny its existence, climate change.

Even if we have state-of-the-art air purifiers and top-drawer water filtration systems, unless we live in our very own biosphere, never receive vaccinations or take pharmaceuticals, grow all our own produce, and raise and butcher our own animals, we will most likely have to resort to supplementation in order to combat the ravaging effects of the modern age, and to meet our nutrient requirements.  And as we age, this becomes even more important.

The same is true for our dogs.  No matter what we feed our canine companions, I would wager my beloved home on the fact that, if we were to send samples of our dogs’ suppers out for laboratory analysis, we would be surprised at best, and horrified at worst, to learn how many nutritional gaps would be found.

As guardians of older dogs in particular, it is up to us to ensure these animals are getting enough critical nutrients to prevent, and in some cases, minimize the effects of, age-related issues like inflammation (such as gastrointestinal conditions or arthritis) and oxidative stress. 

As I am first and foremost a holistic nutritionist, I believe in the concepts of Fix It With Food First and Food as Medicine.  If we approach supplemental support for these conditions from a holistic perspective, we may be able to avoid, or at least reduce the need for, NSAIDs, steroids and pain medications, and drugs like Adequan and Anipryl, which come with both high price tags and serious health risks.

Back to Basics

Let’s take a closer look at three, all natural, easy-to-find, affordable, and most importantly, safe whole food supplements that you just might already have in your kitchen cupboard.

Bone broth

First on the list is bone broth.  Ridiculously popular with Paleo and GAPS diet devotees, bone broth has been enjoyed by myriad “primitive” societies for centuries, albeit without the stoneware slow cookers and mason jars.

All you need to brew a great batch of this rejuvenating superfood is a large stockpot, filtered water, raw apple cider vinegar, and, you guessed it, bones (though feel free to get creative and toss in some carrots, celery, parsley or even mushrooms).  It’s best to select cartilaginous bones such as beef knuckle bones, chicken feet, or even that turkey carcass from last Saturday’s soiree in order to yield plenty of collagen, glucosamine and other gut- and joint-supporting nutrients. 

The key to good bone broth is to take it slowly.  Start a batch early in the morning, and let the apple cider vinegar work its magic as the hours pass, even overnight, as the acetic acid extracts the minerals from the bones.  It’s best to cook the broth for 24 hours or more on the lowest possible heat setting, stirring occasionally, and then allow to cool before you remove and discard the cooked bones; and then refrigerate, de-fat, and finally strain, the remaining contents of the pot.

I fasten a piece of fine cheesecloth over open mason jars for one last strain when I am ready to pour the final product, then I simply pop the sealed jars in the fridge, where the broth keeps for as many as five days — though it never lasts that long!    (If this seems like too much work, you can always purchase ready-made or instant, powdered bone broth.  Just be sure it isn’t made with onions, as onions are toxic to dogs.)

Alpha-lipoic acid

Next on the list is the antioxidant called alpha-lipoic acid.  This powerhouse nutrient is found in every body cell, and works hard to convert glucose to usable energy. 

Antioxidants fight free radical damage, which occurs as a by-product of cellular metabolism.  This damage contributes to oxidation (think about what happens to metal when it is exposed to the elements – a sort of rusting process occurs that, over time, degrades and ages the metal), hence the need for something that attempts to combat this: an “anti-oxidant.”

Some holistic veterinarians call alpha-lipoic acid the Fountain of Youth because it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier in order to assist in prolonging sound mental and emotional states of dogs well into old age.  Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks?  Take that, canine cognitive disorder!

There are many ALA supplements on the market, but why not feed your dog his ALA?  It is found in abundance in foods including beef heart and liver, broccoli and spinach.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Finally, don’t forget about omega 3 fatty acids.  Many people feed their dogs commercial dog food that contains fish oil.  I do not support this, for these reasons:  even the best fish oil is very fragile, and starts to turn rancid when exposed to heat and/or air, and even when frozen; and most of the fish oil that is used in commercial pet food is not suitable for human consumption, and has been chemically treated, often times with dangerous solvents. 

A better option would be to feed your dog a fish oil-free commercial or home-prepared fresh food diet, and add human-grade (small bodied) fish oil, or phytoplankton to his meals just before serving.  This way, your dog will benefit from the stable, inflammation-fighting, brain-building fats he was designed to eat.

Hippocrates had the right idea when he advised: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”  After all, some say he lived to be over 85 years old, during a time when the average life expectancy was 40 years!  Just food for thought.

 

This post was kindly written by Dr, Reema Sayegh. She holds doctoral degrees in Holistic Nutrition and Naturopathy, and has over 20 years experience in the field of integrative medicine and holistic health.  After she rescued a nine-year-old Great Dane mix named Zeus in 2004, Dr. Reema was inspired to “shift gears” and has since become a Reiki master teacher, certified holistic pet consultant, published author, public speaker, and animal welfare advocate.  She works in tandem with veterinarians and their clients to provide companion animals adjunct natural wellness modalities, and, when indicated, specialty geriatric and hospice care.  Dr. Reema resides in California with her husband and the love of their lives: a spirited canine teacher, healer, and gigantic, fun-loving goofball named Dakota.  She can be reached at drreema4pets@yahoo.com.

the natural path toward a springier step

The Natural Path Toward a Springier Step

the natural path toward a springier step

As anyone fortunate enough to have a senior canine knows, these animals are in a class all their own, and, as such, warrant specialized care.  Much like their two-legged counterparts, senior dogs tend to develop age-related health challenges that may involve any or every body part, from mouth to gut to joint to bone to brain, and beyond.

For example, dogs with conditions like arthritis, degenerative disc disease, or orthopedic problems may not fare so well using solely the typical allopathic approach that employs pharmaceutical-induced symptom suppression and physical therapy or rehabilitation.  Based on my opinion, plus years of experience with both my own dogs and those of my clients, a more fitting protocol might include diet changes, veterinary acupuncture and chiropractic, cold laser therapy, and massage.

In some circumstances, this may not be enough, or, conversely, may prove to be “too much” for a more sensitive canine.  To this point, as our dogs develop some twinges in their hinges, veterinarians often write prescriptions for hydrotherapy.

However, after having patronized some highly reputable facilities, I remain concerned about several things:  the amount of chlorine in the water; the high temperature of the water; the number of ailing dogs confined to a small space (picture a liquid dog park filled with fatigued, nervous canine curmudgeons and their harried guardians, a natural path toward a springier stepcoming and going all the time); and, most importantly, the oft-reported negligible benefits gained by dogs who suffer from auto-immune forms of musculoskeletal conditions.

This information motivated me to pursue less taxing, more natural modalities that could not only improve a dog’s physical state, but his mental and emotional states as well.

To this end, why not spend our money on a doggie life vest, harness, and maybe even booties, and head for a nearby lake or river?  We wouldn’t be exposing our dogs to noxious chemicals or hordes of hounds, and the water would be cool and inviting, with plenty of fresh air and sunshine. The pups would get a good workout, without stress or strain, doing what comes naturally.  If that doesn’t lift one’s spirits, what does?

If we want to stress less, let’s take a look at Reiki

The word Reiki itself is an amalgamation of two Japanese words, rei (universal life) and ki (energy).  During a Reiki session, a trained practitioner acts as a conduit for this energy, which is directed to the recipient using either a hands-on technique, or a hands-off method where hands hover over the body.  This method is ideal for touch-averse, itchy, or painful dogs. Reiki is quite popular now, because word has spread that it promotes profound levels of relaxation and well being, and awakens innate healing mechanisms in order to achieve a more balanced level of mind-body interaction.

I have found Reiki to be as valuable as Tellington Touch, massage, acupressure and flower essences for rescued, reactive, nervous dogs, including those who have been diagnosed with the canine form of PTSD and impaired cognitive function.

And finally, a magic circle?

According to manufacturer Assisi Animal Health, the Assisi Loop is a hand-held, portable device that delivers targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEFT) as a non-invasive, drug-free form of pain management for assisi loopmany inflammatory conditions.  The Assisi Loop is available through veterinarians, or by prescription, and may reduce the amount of, or even the need for, NSAIDs, steroids and pain medications.

Even better, the Assisi Loop can be used by a guardian, in the comfort and privacy of a dog’s own home (or, better yet, back yard), at any time of the day or night.  This can be ideal for those of us with crazy schedules, or with big dogs who have a hard time getting comfortable in the standard exam room environment.  We can even take it on long car rides, in order to make travel more enjoyable.  And nothing reinforces the human-canine bond or says I Love You better than a cozy pre-bedtime session to promote sound sleep and sweet dreams.  Good night!

 

This post was kindly written by Dr, Reema Sayegh. She holds doctoral degrees in Holistic Nutrition and Naturopathy, and has over 20 years experience in the field of integrative medicine and holistic health.  After she rescued a nine-year-old Great Dane mix named Zeus in 2004, Dr. Reema was inspired to “shift gears” and has since become a Reiki master teacher, certified holistic pet consultant, published author, public speaker, and animal welfare advocate.  She works in tandem with veterinarians and their clients to provide companion animals adjunct natural wellness modalities, and, when indicated, specialty geriatric and hospice care.  Dr. Reema resides in California with her husband and the love of their lives: a spirited canine teacher, healer, and gigantic, fun-loving goofball named Dakota.  She can be reached at drreema4pets@yahoo.com.