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Supplements for Every Day Dog Health

You already have your dog on a healthy diet so what else does your she need for optimal health and wellness? The answer might be dietary supplements.

At The Happy Beast, we always address diet first. A species-appropriate diet lays the foundation for proper health by reducing the risk of illness and injury in animals and helping them recover from existing illness and disease. Often times, our animals have a lifestyle need or health condition that can be addressed by adding supplements to the appropriate diet.

For example, my dog, Pi, eats raw foods prepared by Primal and Small Batch and she occasionally gets air-dried food from The Real Meat Co. She’s on an optimal diet, but to meet her specific health needs, I stock my doggie medicine cabinet with Connectin joint support, a fish oil, Pet Natural’s Calming treats and Optagest prebiotics.

Check out these common scenarios we hear in the store every day and how the right supplement can help improve your animal’s health.

My two-year-old border collie mix is my hiking and running companion.

A young, active dog is susceptible to joint inflammation and injury. Omega-3s from fish oil and glucosamine keep joints healthy and moving. Colorado canines will also benefit from a daily prebiotic or probiotic to stave off environmental bacteria like giardia. Try InClover’s Jump or Connectin for joint health and Optagest Prebiotic and Enzyme.

I have a seven-year-old dog with a history of urinary tract infections and struvite crystals.

Powdered cranberry contains tannins that prevent certain pathogenic strains of bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Free-floating bacteria can then pass through the bladder, reducing the risk of infection and growth of struvite crystals. Try Cranimals or Wee Wee Boost.

My lab has itchy dry skin and sheds incessantly.

Omega-3s from fish oil or algae combat inflammation and soothe itchy skin. Anecdotal evidence shows that those same omega-3s reduce shedding, but conclusive research is still ongoing.  Try InClover Glow or Alaska Natural’s Salmon Oil.

My dog’s breath stinks!

Bad breath can come from tartar in the mouth or bacteria in the gut. To combat both, pair a prebiotic with a green detoxing supplement. Try InClover’s Grin or PetKelp’s Wellness Blend.

I have a dog who is a Nervous Nelly at the vet and sometimes vomits on car rides.

There are several supplement approaches to calming an anxious dog and some are more effective than others depending on the dog and the cause of anxiety. Theanine helps dogs who are generally anxious, while flower essences like Rescue Remedy work well for sensitive dogs. A dog who vomits in the car will find relief from an herbal supplement like Ark Natural’s Happy Traveler.

My dog got into the trash and she’s had loose stools for the last few days.

Pumpkin fiber soothes tummies by regulating stool volume and density, meaning it binds loose stools and combats constipation. Firm-Up’s dehydrated pumpkin also boasts soluble apple fiber for an extra stomach-soothing boost.

We hope this blog post provides a good, quick summary of some of our favorite supplements, but stop by the store if you’d like to talk more about your pet’s specific conditions and how we might be able to help.

Digestive Enzymes for Pets

What are digestive enzymes? Enzymes are responsible for making the chemical reactions in our body faster and more efficient. Digestive enzymes aid the body by breaking down proteins from food into amino acids which can be absorbed and utilized. Enzymes facilitate proper absorption of foods.

Digestive enzymes are found in raw foods. They are what cause foods to break down and decay. For example, bananas contain the enzyme, amylase. Amylase breaks down raw starch into sugar, which is why green bananas become softer and sweeter as they sit on the counter. All raw foods contain the right amount of the specific enzyme required to break the proteins they are made of.

Why is this important? Cooking destroys the enzymes that are required to break food down, so when we eat cooked food our bodies have to source enzymes from an internal supply. If the body is focused on producing enzymes for digestion, less energy is allotted to the metabolic enzymes used in organ, muscle and cell function.

Efficient and complete digestion is essential to good health. When the digestive system is functioning well, the rest of the body is prepared to maintain good health and fight disease. Digestive enzymes can take the body from merely surviving to truly thriving. This is especially important in animals with allergies, compromised immune systems, IBD, IBS, and pancreatitis. Symptoms of an enzyme deficiency can include bloating, gas, irritability and fatigue.

How should this affect your choices for pet food?

  1. Feed raw. Any food that hasn’t been cooked over 118 degrees will retain its required enzymes. Choose a frozen, dehydrated and freeze-dried raw food that is complete and balanced. See some of the foods we recommend here.
  2. Supplement with a digestive enzyme. Choose a plant-sourced enzyme as they survive under more diverse conditions. Avoid enzymes called “animal pancreas extracts” which may not survive the acidic environment on the digestive tract. We like InClover’s Optagest.
  3. Choose raw treats like frozen marrow bones and raw goat milk. These treats contain live enzymes to support the digestive tract and overall good health and your animals will love them!
  4. Read our blog post on “Helping Pets with Digestive Problems for more info and recommendations.

Ending the Monotony Meal Plan: The Benefits of Pet Food Rotation

At The Happy Beast, we believe that there are significant benefits from pet food rotation. In fact, we think it’s a big pet food myth that animals should eat the same formula of the same brand of food for their whole lives. While this is a great marketing ploy for the pet food companies (who don’t want you to feed anything but their brand of food) it is not in the best interest of your animal’s health and well-being. For one thing, eating the same thing over and over is boring… just imagine eating one kind of cuisine for every meal for the rest of your life! Even more importantly, from a health perspective, a monotonous diet can have negative effects on your animal for the following reasons:  

  1. Although pet foods are formulated to be “balanced and complete,” it’s unlikely that one food will meet all of an animal’s nutrient requirements over a long period of time.
  2. Feeding one food may cause your animal to develop an intolerance or allergy to the ingredients in that food.
  3. The digestive system of an animal that has only had to process one kind of food will be weaker and less tolerant to changes and natural aging.

The good news is that there are many ways to incorporate pet food rotation into your animal’s diet:

  1. Even if you like feeding a specific brand, choose a different recipe or protein source each time you buy a bag, box, or can of food. Most companies offer several formulas. If you usually feed a chicken recipe, try bison or fish.
  2. If you normally feed dry food or kibble, supplement with another, less processed food. Raw, dehydrated, freeze-dried, and canned foods can all make great mix-ins.
  3. Add fresh food. “Table scraps” aren’t necessarily bad as long as you’re not feeding them during a meal at the table! Just limit what “people food” you share with your animals to healthy foods like lean meats, salmon skins, yogurt, and cooked vegetables. Although small fish bones are fine, you should not typically feed larger “table scrap” bones because they have been cooked. In comparison to raw bones, cooked bones can more easily splinter and cause a choking risk. 

If your animal has a very sensitive digestive system or has been eating the same food for a very long time:

  1. Add in new foods very slowly.
  2. Supplement the diet with a prebiotic, probiotic, or digestive enzyme. (We like Optagest or raw goat milk.)

Chicken, turkey, lamb, and beef are often used in pet foods, but new protein sources are making their way into the market. “Novel proteins” is an industry term for meats not commonly found in pet foods. We commonly recommend novel protein diets for animals with food sensitivities or allergies, but healthy animals can benefit from these meats as well. Try including goat, rabbit, venison, alligator, or kangaroo in your animal’s next pet food rotation!

 

If variety isn’t the spice of life, is it catnip?

Transitioning Your Dog to a New Diet

Here are our Happy Beast tips for transitioning to a new diet!

Allow 4-10 days to transition your pet to a new food. Choose a supplement to make the transition easier on your animal.

1) Choose a supplement!

It’s not uncommon for dogs to have loose stools when transitioning to a new food. Pick one or two of the following to help your animal’s digestive system adjust get the most out of his new food:

2) Phase in the new food!

Combine your dog’s old and new foods together in the proportions shown in the diagram at the top of this post. Spend 2-3 days on each phase. A dog with a more sensitive system will benefit from a more time in each phase.

3 Super Simple New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Dog

Sticking to resolutions can be hard, but everything’s easier with a buddy. This year, let’s make New Year’s resolutions for you and your dog! Here are three easy ideas for you and your pup to do together.

  1. Exercise
    You don’t have to join a gym or start training for a marathon. To get started, take your dog for a walk around the block. Getting out for a ten minute walk promotes healthy blood flow, allows you to soak up Vitamin D from the sun and helps boost your mood, altogether protecting his you from stress and disease. Your dog will benefit from the mental stimulation provided by the ever-changing smells in the environment and the relationship-building power of leashed walking. (Read more here!)
  2. Eat Fresh Food
    YOU: Grab a salad for lunch or replace your afternoon sugar snack with an apple.YOUR DOG: Add a little life to your dog’s food! Dogs fed mostly kibble miss out on all the awesome nutrients and enzymes found in fresh foods. Adding a dehydrated food like Sojos or The Honest Kitchen is an easy way to provide the benefits of home cooking without having to do all the work.
  3. Take a Fish Oil Supplement
    Omega 3s reduce inflammation, joint pain and promote healthy skin, fur and hair! This one’s easy. Keep your dog’s fish oil next to yours, and when you take two, he takes one (or two if he’s a big guy.) I’ve been giving my dog the awesome Omega 3 supplement from InClover called Glow. She LOVES these little treats, and reminds me to give her one every day.

Happy New Year’s to all you happy beasts and good luck with those resolutions!