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Does My Dog Need Supplements? Our fourth and final in the series, Taking the Mystery Out of Raw Feeding,

covers the importance of including supplements in your pet’s diet. –by Yvonne Guibert

Many veterinarians are concerned with pet parents feeding home-prepared diets for pets. We are creatures of habit, and some people may not realize the importance of putting forth the consistent and diligent efforts that go into ensuring pets are getting a balanced diet. Supplements help fill in the gaps where daily nutrition may

fall short. But, adding supplements to your pet’s diet is not the cure all to feeding a poor or imbalanced diet, whether it’s home- prepared, raw or using commercial brands. Most of the studies cited in regards to commercial pet foods

with claims of being “complete and balanced” are based on food trials performed by the companies that make the food. These food trials last a year or longer on a limited number of animals and are considered adequate for the “average” pet. Consider this: if your pet has had surgery, or has a chronic illness, or is a high- performance pet (agility), the nutritional requirements for your pet are greater and much different than the average pet, and may not be met by the nutrients available in most commercial pet foods.

Second, every animal (humans included) on any given day,

week or year, is at a different life stage of wellness, and therefore absorbs nutritents at different levels. Depending on how well your pet is and how efficient your pet’s cells are functioning in his body determines how much of the nutrients are absorbed from the food he eats. THE MOST COMMON SUPPLEMENTS YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER AND WHY. Whole food supplements.Supplements made from

whole food sources like berries, vegetables and herbs are always better than synthetic supplements. They are more readily absorbed into the digestive system and the nutritional value is superior.

Balanced Multivitamin/Mineral Supplement. While

most commercial pet foods claim to include all the vitamins and minerals your pet needs, much of the nutritional value is lost during the cooking process. Then there is the question of the efficacy of synthetic vitamins. Synthetic vitamin packs are often used in the manufacturing of commercial pet foods and it has been found in recent years that the majority of these vitamin packs come from China. Many studies have proven that nutri- ents provided from whole clean foods are best. It is hard to beat what Mother Nature gives us. I personally recommend vitamins by Nature’s Farmacy as well as Deserving Pets, and have been encouraged by the excellent results. Fish Oil. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are unsaturated fatty

acids the body needs to make and repair cell membranes. Since the cells in our bodies have critical jobs in every process that occurs in the body, it is important to keep them healthy. EFAs play a major role in almost every cellular function performed in the body, including growth, vitality, brain function, the transfer


of oxygen, the production of hemoglobin and the movement of nutrients through cell membranes. There are two types of EFAs: Omega 6’s and Omega 3’s.

Omega 6 fatty acids are mostly found in plant-based things such as grains and other plants and certain animal-based fats like poultry fat. Most canine diets are plentiful in Omega 6’s. Omega 3’s are found in fish oil and flax seed oil. Dogs lack the enzymes needed to obtain DHA and EPA from flax seed oil so the preferred source for obtaining Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs is fish oil. It is the Omega 3’s that are largely deficient in the majority of commercial pet foods. The right balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is somewhat up in the air, but accord- ing to Douglas Knueven, DVM, “…researchers believe that a five-to-one Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio is optimal. Alarmingly, many commercial pet foods contain ratios of up to and above 50-1.” Dr. Knueven goes on to say that this specific dietary imbalance leads to many chronic health issues in dogs. Digestive Enzymes. Normally, the pancreas secretes

enzymes into the intestines to break down food particles so they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Adequate enzymes are critical to the digestive process so the body can absorb all the nutrients from the food eaten. Even healthy animals obtain many benefits from extra digestive enzymes. As animals age, the pancreas produces fewer and fewer

enzymes. Additionally, extra enzymes increase the absorption of many nutrients. According to Dr. Knueven, when EFAs are taken in conjunction with digestive enzymes, there is a 71% increase in assimilation of nutrients in the digestive system. Simply put: the better the digestive system works, the more your pet will thrive. Glucosamine/Chondroitin. Glucosamine and chon-

droitin are needed for healthy joints. They help keep cartilage healthy by maintaining 65% - 80% water content. This is what allows the joint to act like a wet sponge, providing that neces- sary shock absorbing quality. Joints that lack these substances degenerate, develop arthritis and become painful. Not only can glucosamine and chondroitin help with

arthritis, studies have shown they can help prevent arthritis. All dogs can benefit from these supplements. However, performance dogs whose joints undergo a great deal of wear and tear or large breed dogs are especially good candidates. Probiotics. Probiotic bacteria are beneficial because they

keep the disease-causing germs under control and help with absorbing more nutrients from what’s left of the food in the intestines. When there is an imbalance in the intestinal flora, diarrhea and nutritional deficiencies may occur. Good bacteria in your pet’s digestive tract can be thrown off by medications – especially antibiotics – dietary irregularities and stress. Probiotics are supplements that help replenish and maintain good bacteria in the intestines.

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