Tag Archives: DHA

Help Your pet Beat the Itch with These 4 Natural Remedies

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Fall allergies are in full swing and we no doubt have several weeks left. If your pet is suffering from an itchy rash here are four more helpful remedies (on top of the four from last week).

1.      Give Fish Oil – Another factor regarding pet allergies is the balance of essential fatty acids in their food. Omega-6 fatty acids increase the inflammatory processes of the body while omega-3s dampen inflammation. Processed pet foods are often lacking in omega-3 fatty acids and high in omega-6 fatty acids which means that they promote inflammation.

A recent study concluded that 45 percent of dogs with seasonal allergies respond favorably to increasing the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. The best source of omega-3s for pets is fish oil as opposed to flax seed oil. Allergic pets often benefit from daily supplementation of 1000 mg. of fish oil per 20 pounds of body weight.

2.      Give Digestive Enzymes – Another supplement that can be helpful when treating allergies is digestive enzymes. Digestive enzymes can increase the absorption of fatty acids in the diet by 71 percent. Adding them to a pet’s treatment will help the animal get more bang for the buck out of the fish oil.

3.      Give Herbal Licorice – From a Western herbal perspective, licorice root can be helpful in reducing allergy inflammation. Licorice has been shown to increase blood levels of the cortisol that the body naturally produces. This is much better than giving the pet cortisone pills or shots. Plus, licorice has a sweet taste that dogs usually tolerate well. As safe as this herb is, I do not recommend giving it to pets suffering from heart, liver, or kidney disease unless prescribed by a veterinary herbalist. Be sure to only use herbs from reputable companies. Here’s some basic herbal dosing info.

4.      Get TCVM Treatment – For me, Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) is invaluable in the treatment of skin allergies. There are several conditions from the Chinese perspective that can cause allergy symptoms. Seasonal allergies are often the result of an invasion of “wind.” Sometimes there is “heat” or “dampness” associated with the condition. Other times allergies are the result of a “blood deficiency.” These Chinese disease entities require the special skills of veterinarian trained in Chinese herbal medicine to determine and treat effectively.

Allergies can take time to bring under control. Because there are many issues that contribute to the problem, it takes a multi-pronged approach to solve it.

What natural remedies have you found that work?

Why is this Dog Goofy?

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Recently I went on a special house call to Disney World to answer this age-old question. You will never believe what I discovered.

It all has to do with a nutrition study sponsored by the Iams Company in 2004. The research revolved around the idea that feeding extra DHA (an essential fatty acid found in fish oil) can improve brain function.

DHA and the Brain

In fact, 30% of the brain is fat – so the next time someone calls you a “fat head” you should respond, “Oh, thank you very much.” A large portion of that fat (up to 5% of the brain) is DHA. That would seem to make DHA an important nutrient for the brain. (Imagine flying in a jet that has 5% of its engine parts missing).

The Iams Study

The Iams study started with two groups of pregnant female dogs. The first set of dogs (the experimental group) was fed Iams diet plus fish oil. The second group (the control group) was fed plain Iams diet. Now, the puppies from the first group of dogs were also fed Iams diet plus fish oil. The pups from the second group were fed the standard Iams food.

When the puppies got older, they were put through training performance testing. Amazingly the puppies that got the fish oil in their diets were found to be twice as intelligent as those in the control group. The researchers concluded that “since the number one killer of dogs is euthanasia due to behavior problems, we should be recommending high DHA diets.”

Unintended Conclusions

I agree with the findings of this study. However, this research leads to an interesting conclusion. Remember the control group – the stupid dogs. They were being fed standard Iams diet which we all know from the label is “100% complete and balanced.”

If you believe that statement then it follows that dogs are inherently stupid, but feeding them this “new” nutrient can make them smart enough for us to keep them alive. I think a more rational idea is that we have created and continue to create behavior problems in dogs due to our arrogant attitude toward nutrition. We think we know everything but we do not.

Two troubling corollaries to this study are:

  1. DHA is still not on AAFCO’s list of required pet food nutrients
  2. It makes one wonder how many other health problems are we inflicting on pets because of nutritional deficits we are unaware of?

The bottom line is that Goofy and his mother had been fed conventional pet food all their lives and that is what led to his mental deficiencies.

Do you supplement your pets with fish oil?

Poor Puppy

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The recent sale of some of P&G’s pet food brands to Mars brought out the “experts.” In a news article, here’s what one pet food authority had to say:

“Ninety percent of pets live on the cheapest pet food and survive,” says Nestle, co-author of “Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat.”

Wow, doesn’t that sound like a great marketing slogan – Feed Brand X and your pet will survive! (Barely). Marion Nestle is a professor of nutrition. She made this comment after basically saying that it really doesn’t make sense to spend money on quality pet foods because there are no studies proving they are any healthier.

This attitude is what keeps us veterinarians in business treating pets with chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, arthritis, allergies, recurrent infections, and cancer. This is what “survival” looks like. The myth that these diets are “complete and balanced” perpetuates the fantasy that they promote pet health. In reality, countless pet illnesses are related to poor nutrition.

Many of the major brands of pet foods are made with low quality ingredients and filled with cheap carbs in order to keep pet food prices low. In fact, pet food brands are being bought up by major players in the human food business as a way to make money off of the waste of their industry. The problem is that when it comes to pet nutrition the old saying holds true: Garbage in – Garbage out.

Speaking of garbage, later in the article there is another telling quote of Professor Nestle:

“The more disgusting it is to humans,” she says, “the more dogs like to eat it. They like rotten meat flavors. They like garbage.”

Yes, let’s feed them garbage. That is the attitude of nutrition experts and many pet food companies. How unfortunate for 90% of pets.

My aim is to help pets thrive, not survive. Proper nutrition, from puppy-hood to senior, is the way to do just that.

It is true that more expensive pet food is not necessarily better. There is also the over-use of catch words such as “Natural” and “Holistic” on pet food bags. You really have to carefully read the ingredient lists and know what tricks pet food companies like to play. I’ll have more on this in upcoming posts.

What do you feed your pet and why?