Tag Archives: Fish Oil

The Five Supplements Every Pet Needs

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Nutritional supplements can be very beneficial to our pets because most pet foods are deficient in certain nutritional factors. Conventional pet foods are especially devoid of nutrients because the high-heat processing destroys most of the vitamins, enzymes, and phytochemicals foods naturally contain. The synthetic vitamin/mineral mix that pet food manufacturers add back is a poor substitute for the nutrition found in whole foods.

Even raw pet foods can be missing nutrients. It is difficult to mimic Mother Nature. For example, the wild game that the ancestors of our pets ate, themselves fed of grass which is high in omega-three fatty acids. Thus, the meat they provided was high in omega-threes. Most of our food animals these days are grain fed which instills the meat with omega-six fatty acids. Pets benefit from a high omega-three to omega-six fatty acid ratio. This cannot be accomplished by feeding most modern meats.

As important as supplements are, they are a supplement to, not a substitute for, a wholesome diet. The quality of the ingredients a diet contains as well as its macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) balance and its degree of heat-processing all factor into your pet’s overall nutritional status. You simply cannot undo poor nutrition with supplements.

The problem is that the nutritional standards that pet foods are held to are meant to prevent nutritional deficiencies. In other words, many pet foods do not provide optimal nutritional value, but rather the bare minimum. High-quality foods are best, but even they can fall short. Supplements are a way of ensuring our animal companions get everything they need to build healthy bodies. But remember that not all supplements are up to snuff.

  1. A balanced, whole-food multivitamin – Such a vitamin supplement is made by concentrating the nutrients from whole foods rather than producing them synthetically. The result is a supplement that provides the full range of vitamins and phytochemicals at doses found in whole foods. My product of choice is “Canine Whole Body Support” for dogs or “Feline Whole Body Support” for cats made by Standard Process.
  1. Fish oilFish oil is high in omega-three fatty acids which are lacking in the vast majority of pet foods. In fact, most pet foods are high in omega-six fatty acids which promote inflammation. On the other hand, omega-three fatty acids decrease inflammation. Foods lacking omega-three fatty acids promote skin allergies, arthritis, and cancer. Supplementing fish oil in a pet’s diet can help to alleviate these issues. The omega-threes is fish oil also help to promote brain development and health. My fish oil supplement of choice is “Canine Omega 3” for dogs and “Feline Omega 3” for cats from the company Ascenta.
  1. ProbioticsProbiotics reinforce the good bacteria in the gut. These bacteria help to maintain intestinal health. Furthermore, since three quarters of the immune system is located in the lining of the GI tract, probiotics actually help the immune system function better. Because of the gut-brain connection, probiotics can even affect mood and behavior. My probiotics of choice is Answers Pet Food’s cultured, raw goat’s milk called “Additional.”
  1. Glucosamine and chondroitin – These two natural compounds help to promote healthy joints. Arthritis is a common, painful condition in both dogs and cats. Prevention of this terrible disease is paramount. Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements can help the body maintain joint health as well as help once arthritis has set in. The joint supplement I recommend is Vetri-Science’s “Glycoflex.”
  1. Digestive enzymes – By supplementing digestive enzymes we can support the digestive process and replace some of the natural enzymes that are processed out of commercial pet foods. It has been shown that adding digestive enzyme to the food can improve the absorption of omega-three fatty acids by 71%. Importantly, as pets age, their production of digestive enzymes diminishes which is why some pets lose weight in their senior years. The digestive enzyme supplement I recommend is called “Prozyme.”

All pets can benefit from these supplements throughout their lives. It is best to provide optimal nutrition before your companion runs into problems. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

What supplements have you found helpful?

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?

4 Natural Allergy-Busting Tips

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The most common conventional treatment for any allergy includes either antihistamines or cortisone. Antihistamines tend to have fewer serious side effects (mostly drowsiness) but they are also less effective than cortisone. While almost always great at stopping the allergy symptoms, cortisone also suppresses the immune system, stresses the liver and increases the animal’s thirst and appetite. In my view, a more holistic approach to treating allergies is preferable

For me, any allergy is a symptom of a sick immune system. Face it, a normal immune system does not react to foods, pollens, or flea bites. Since allergies of all kinds are so common these days, you might wonder if we are doing something to over-sensitize our pets’ immune systems.

Here are 4 tips to get your pet’s immune system back in shape and fight allergies naturally.

  1. Stop Over-Vaccinating – The outdated practice of yearly vaccination is one major stress on a pet’s immune system. Even the more recent 3-year distemper vaccine protocol is probably excessive for most pets. I recommend that vaccine titers replace the usual shots. A vaccine titer is a blood test that measures the antibody level and can show whether or not the pet has adequate immunity to the disease.
  2. Give Probiotics – Any time we want to positively influence the immune system, probiotics can help. Probiotics facilitate the establishment of healthy bacteria in the animal’s intestine. Interestingly, 70 percent of an animal’s immune system is in the lining of the intestines. Studies show that supplementing with probiotics improves the health of the entire immune system.
  3. Feed Raw – I have found that many pets with allergies respond favorably to balanced, raw diets. Processed foods tend to be pro-inflammatory and the phytochemicals in whole, raw foods nourish the immune system.
  4. Use Natural Flea Control – The insecticides in topical and oral flea/tick medications also strain an animal’s organs. (Doesn’t it bother you that the label cautions against skin contact and yet that is how you apply it to your pet?) Toxins in the air, water, and food of the pet can also compromise any animal’s bodily functions. Reducing the toxic load on your pet’s system can help him stay healthy and allergy-free. Consider more natural methods of parasite control.

These 4 natural allergy-busting tips are a start. Next week I’ll have 4 more.

Do you have a pet with allergies?