With 2015 behind us and the New Year beginning, I thought it would be good to reflect back on the past year and address some of the facts, fads and fallacies of canine nutrition and health. As you read through this, feel free to take of it what you wish and leave the rest, as these are some of my own observations on the most popular health questions and what works and what doesn’t!
- Bladder Stones – a common problem. There are a variety of bladder stones and each requires a different approach. If your dog has stones or crystals, always have your veterinarian perform a sterile urine culture as each are handled VERY DIFFERENTLY and not treated the same way! Remember, the only accurate pH reading on your dog’s urine comes from the first catch of the day!
Want to Feed the Best Diet for Your Dog, But Don’t Know How?Now there is a fast and easy way to learn! Check out Lew Olson’s easy-to-follow, on-line course videos! Read on to learn about Canine Nutrition and preparing Raw and Home Cooked Diets! Click for Video
- Coconut oil is NOT a godsend sent to earth to save all dogs and people! It is a plant oil and doesn’t offer much to dogs. Dogs can’t get omega 3 fatty acids from plant oils as it is in the form of ALA, which dogs cannot convert to omega 3. Coconut oil is a fat and is fattening and it may help dogs on kibble or other diets that have poor fat sources, but it does NOT kill bacteria, fungus and viruses. The coconut industry has done a wonderful job of marketing and the word of mouth over the Internet has made the industry a bundle of money. Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a fatty oil that raises cholesterol in humans. Lauric acid is something dogs and people need, but in only in SMALL amounts. It is found naturally in breast milk and also goat and cow’s milk, yogurt and cottage cheese.
- Bone broth is nutritious, however it is NOT a ‘cure-all’ or ‘tonic’. It is delicious to some dogs, but it does not cure illness.
- Dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates. Grains, fruits, vegetables and seeds are all carbohydrates. It is doubtful dogs get anything from carbs other than gas and larger, sloppy stools. If you feel carbohydrates benefit, give them dried seaweed vegetables like kelp, spirulina, dulce or blue green algae for phytonutrients, but NOT grass greens like barley or wheat.
- When starting dogs out on a raw diet, remember half the diet needs to be raw meaty bones. Good examples include chicken necks and backs, pork necks and breast bone, pork tails, and turkey necks. Do NOT start out new dogs on chicken leg quarters as these are large AND fatty and can cause digestive upset. Cut the raw meaty bones into smaller pieces until your dog stops gulping them out of greed and joy! Dogs don’t naturally chew food; they swallow food in big pieces.
- Variety is important! Try to use at least FOUR different protein sources over a week’s time. These can include beef, lamb, goat, turkey, chicken, venison, rabbit, pork, etc. Do NOT feed a diet of mostly chicken. Dogs get the best nutrition from red meat (lamb, pork, beef, venison), so be liberal with these meat choices over chicken whenever and wherever possible.
- It isn’t the ‘chewing’ of bones that keep a dog’s teeth clean, but rather feeding a diet with NO carbohydrates! Carbohydrates covert to sugar and dogs have no amylase in their saliva to break down sugary foods, so they stick to the dog’s teeth and gums. It is grains, fruits and vegetables that cause tooth decay, discoloration and gum disease!
- Allergy testing. One of the most common problems in dogs is itching, scratching and losing hair. I get a lot of emails from people giving me lists of what their dogs are allergic to and what they can and can’t eat. This is great; except that allergy saliva and blood tests are highly inaccurate. In fact, research questions whether or not testing for IgE (or the others) even mean allergies. It is speculated that dogs that show no allergies can test positive for allergies! Skin tests MIGHT be more accurate, but it means using anesthesia and shaving numerous places on your dog to get these. Please note: Food allergies are extremely rare in dogs! And if they do occur, it usually happens after a dog is two years old. At any rate, Dr. Hines explains this very well on his website. I invite you to read it, along with his sources:
Take a look at your dog’s diet. Does it contain a variety of high quality proteins (raw or lightly cooked meats, not processed meats)? Is the diet low in carbohydrates? Carbohydrates are probably one of the biggest offenders for reactions in dogs, including yeast issues on the skin. Does the diet contain omega 3 fatty acids? Good sources of omega 3’s include fish oil capsules, canned fish (salmon, sardines or mackerel packed in water) or grass fed raw meats. Until you and your veterinarian determine the root cause of the problem, diet corrections and adjustments oftentimes lead to the biggest improvements.
- Fish Oil for Omega 3. Please use fish oil capsules as opposed to bottled oils as they expose the oil to air. Fish oil capsules should also be kept in an opaque bottle to keep light out and they should be kept in a cool place. Fish oil is fragile and when exposed to air, light and heat, the oil can lose its integrity quickly.
- Does apple cider vinegar kill yeast? NO! ACV is fermented and contains a small amount of sugar. At best, it would help feed yeast. Use white vinegar instead. A mixture of ¼ white vinegar and ¾ water is good to use on affected feet, in ears and as a rinse after bathing. It also helps remove any residue from the shampoo!
- Fasting, yes or no? The answer is NO. Dogs need a schedule and to fast them for a day is simply unkind. If we have food around the house or we cook and prepare a meal, the dog will smell it and their gastric juices will flow which could possibly cause gastric upset in your dog. The only time I recommend fasting is if he dog has an upset stomach, and then, I would fast just one meal.
I hope this clears up some common questions. If you have questions about other nutrition issues, please let me know. I will try and address these more often in my newsletters, so keep reading!
Happy New Year