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Jun 2011

Top Five Supplements For Your Dog


As concerned pet parents, we always want to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to keep our dogs healthy and happy so that they can live a long life. Feeding home cooked dog food is the first step, but as we all know even a healthy diet of whole foods can use a little help now and then. That is where supplements can be a great benefit.

Just as I am very picky about the home cooked diet my dogs eat, I am also very particular about the supplements they receive. Often I will choose human over canine products as they are more regulated, but even human ones can vary greatly in quality. Here are a few rules I follow:

1. If it is a human supplement, I will choose one with a well known name that has been around for a long time and has a positive reputation.

2. If it is a human supplement, I will take it myself to see if I received any benefit from it.

3. If it is a canine supplement, I always look for the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) seal. This means that the product has undergone independent testing for valid ingredients. I will not buy a product without this seal unless I know the company very well.

4. ALWAYS look for supplements based on whole foods, not chemicals. They are better utilized by the body which will take only that which it needs. Chemical based supplements are often looked upon by the body as foreign and will be eliminated without being utilized.

5. Less is more. Over supplementing can be as dangerous as not supplementing at all. Choose what you feel your dog needs the most on a regular basis. You can add something different for a short period of time to give your dog a “boost” but his bowl shouldn’t be filled with supplements!

6. Finally, be careful with herbs. If you feed a supplement with herbs (joint supplements are most often the culprit), be sure to give your dog a break from them for a day or two every week.

Now that you know my rules, here are the top five supplements I feel every dog should have:

Please note: Omega Fatty Acids are not listed as a supplement because I feel they are so vital to your dog’s wellbeing that they are included on a daily basis as part of their home cooked dog food If you do not feed your dog omega fatty acids currently, please do so.

Whole food based multi-vitamin


These will help to help fill in any nutritional gaps there may be in your home cooked dog food that you are not aware of. There are several canine ones available that have the NASC seal.

Vitamin C


While dogs are one of the few animals that can produce their own vitamin C, I still recommend supplementing it since our dogs are exposed to the same environmental toxins that we are. If you use a wormer or flea product or vaccinate regularly, supplementing vitamin C is a must. I prefer to use a whole food based chewable vitamin for children. Be sure that the product does NOT contain artificial sweeteners as these can be dangerous.

Cranberry


Through poor breeding practices, bad diets and vaccination protocols, dogs seem to be exceptionally prone to kidney issues. Cranberry is the ultimate kidney cleanser. There are both human and canine products that are of excellent quality on the market.

Probiotic


This supplement is very important as it helps dramatically with digestion, allowing your dog to reap the most benefit out of your home cooked dog food. There are many canine probiotics on the market with the NASC seal.

Glucosamine

(dogs older than 6 or who show early signs of arthritis).
My mother-in-law is a human supplement guru and she told me about the benefits of glucosamine years before it became popular. As someone who has used a joint supplement myself for many years, I can tell you that they really are a benefit. The best joint supplements will contain glucosamine HCL, chondroitin sulfate, MSM (a type of sulfur) and HA (hyaluronic acid). I have personally found that those supplements that contain glucosamine sulfate instead of glucosamine HCL don’t work as well for me, but that is not necessarily an indication that they don’t work at all. Make sure you choose a joint supplement that has the NASC seal to be certain that it contains the ingredients they list on the label.

A client once asked me what my best home cooked recipe was. She was obviously talking in terms of food, but since I don’t follow a specific “recipe” for home cooked dog food I gave her instead my recipe for a happy, healthy dog:

“Give your dog lots of love and play time, plenty of exercise, avoid vaccinations, heart worm and flea treatments, feed them a balanced home cooked diet with lots of variety and supplement wisely.”

Truly a recipe for success!

Time For the Heartworm Hype


It is that time of year again. Veterinarian clinics all across the country will be putting up posters that are meant to scare you about the imminent danger of heartworms. Some vets are going so far as to recommend that pet parents consider giving the “preventative” year round just to be safe. Yet before you decide to go down that slippery slope, it is important for you to understand not only the business aspects of why these drugs are being so strongly encouraged, but also the truth about just how your dog gets heartworms. So lets begin by getting a few things straight.

The American Hearworm Society has a website that contains a wealth of information to help concerned pet parents, yet one cannot overlook the fact that this website is also a marketing tool to be used by buyers and resellers of heartworm medications. The sponsors of this website are in fact the very drug companies who manufacture the medication and of course, like any viable business out there, their goal is to make money. Yet what is the true price we pay for buying into their hype?

Everyone understands that heartworm infestations can be life-threatening, but they are far from inevitable, and they certainly are not the death sentence the drug companies would have you believe. Perhaps the greatest lie told to the public is that these medications “prevent” heartworms. In truth, the only way you can prevent your dog from getting heartworms is to keep them from ever being bitten by an infected mosquito. Heartworm “preventatives” are actually poisons that kill heartworm larvae that were picked up over 45 days + earlier.

So just how does your dog get infected? The process is a lot more difficult than the drug companies would have you believe. In fact, although they recommend you feed their “preventative” all summer long, if not all year long, to get to the stage where heartworms actually mature to the size where they can affect the heart takes over ten months!

Step 1: You need a hungry female mosquito of an appropriate species. Females are the only incubators for heartworm babies (microfilaria).

Step 2: This mosquito has to bite a dog already infected with
sexually mature male AND female heartworms that have produced babies (microfilaria) that are circulating in that dog’s blood.

Step 3: The microfilaria
must be at the L1 stage of development when the mosquito bites the infected dog. Any other stage and they will die.

Step 4: Ten to fourteen days later - if the temperature stays at or above 57 degrees both day AND night, the microfilaria mature to the infective L3 stage
inside the mosquito and then migrate to the mosquito's mouth. If temperatures drop below that, development cannot occur.

Step 5: This particular 
female mosquito must then bite your dog and transmit the L3 stage microfilaria to your dog's skin. If all conditions remain right, the L3's develop in the skin for three to four months (to get to the L5 stage) before making their way into your dog's blood.

Step 6: Only if your dog's immune system (which is very good at attacking these little buggers) doesn't rid your dog of these microfilaria do the heartworms develop to adulthood.

Step 7: It takes approximately six months for the L5 larvae to achieve maturity.

In summation... A particular species of mosquito must bite a dog infected with circulating L1 heartworm babies. This mosquito must carry the babies to the L3 stage during which the temperature must remain warm day and night. Then this mosquito must bite your dog. The conditions (warm) must remain right for the L3's to develop in the skin. Your dog's immune system has to be weak enough not to be able to fight the infection.

Remember this... when was the last time you heard about wolves dying off in large groups from heartworms? You haven't because even though they have much more chances of being infected their healthy immune systems fight off the microfilaria. Parasites don't want to KILL their hosts, because if they do, they die as well.

The only reason why heartworms have become a deadly issue to dogs in the last decade is because we stress our dog’s immune system with too many vaccines, pointless "preventatives" and feed them a poor diet of over-processed kibble.

Your best defense against heartworm disease is to feed a high quality
home-cooked diet with high antioxidants like those found in Bingo’s Bounty, avoid excess vaccinations, and perform the heartworm blood test twice a year to check for microfilaria. If the test comes back negative... DON’T give the medication. Otherwise, you are simply poisoning your dog for no reason. Dogs rely on their owners to stay well informed and to look out for their best interest, don’t let them down!

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