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Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 05-01-2017
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

A question that frequently comes up is whether blood values can or cannot determine the nutritional needs of dogs.  For the most part, the answer is ‘No’.  Blood work results are described as a ‘snapshot’ of your dog’s blood values at the time the blood work is done and shows if infections, disease or other abnormalities may be present. It also indicates how the body is metabolizing certain values. For instance, if a blood work test shows high calcium, it does not mean that too much calcium is in the diet. Certain diseases or ailments can cause the body to metabolize calcium so that more is circulating in the blood and does not apply to what is in the bones (where calcium is stored).



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!


High phosphorus levels does not mean the dog is getting too much phosphorus, but rather the body is having problems filtering it so it is staying in the blood. This may indicate renal problems, but it is important to look at the blood values for more clues. The same holds true for other blood work results.


What blood work can do is help with diagnosis and discovery of certain conditions such as liver problems, renal issues, adrenal disorders such as Cushing’s Disease or Addison’s Disease, dehydration, infection, hypothyroidism, and diabetes, to mention a few. Some of these may require diet changes depending on the severity of the problem.


What blood work values do not tell you, and cannot tell you, is what nutrients or supplements your dog may be lacking.  , or if the diet you are feeding is insufficient. Usually, a dog will show physical symptoms of the nutrient loss (such as calcium) before it shows up in a routine blood analysis.

I will briefly explain each of the conditions and values that may require diet change, with links to explore more in depth.




Generally, some blood levels that show the liver may be affected include:


ALP (Alkaline phosphatase)

ALB (Albumin)

GGT (Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase)

AST (also called aspartate aminotransferase or SGOT)

TBILI (Total Bilirubin)

ALT (alanine aminotransferase or SGPT)


As mentioned before, blood work values are a ‘snapshot’ in time, and repeat tests are needed to make sure the results are consistent. Moreover, while blood work reflects the ‘normal’ for the test, some dogs (and people) may be normal at slightly high or low levels in many of these. For further details on liver blood work explanation, see the following links:




If there is a liver issue, diet changes can be made that are beneficial for supporting the liver. See the recipe link below:




Renal Disease


BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen)

CREAT (Creatinine)

PHOS (Phosphorus)


There are other blood levels that can be used to determine possible renal disease, but generally, these are the first three blood levels to become elevated. Renal disease can be caused by many factors, including genetics (malformed kidneys), tick borne disease, leptospirosis, chronic urinary tract infections, NSAIDs and other drugs or poison insults. It is important to get a good diagnosis from your veterinarian and to understand if the problem is acute (treatable) or chronic. Simple diet adjustments can be helpful for dogs with renal problems, especially when the BUN is over 80 and creatinine is over 2 or 3.  Two simple diet adjustments that can be very beneficial are providing moist foods and foods lower in phosphorus.  Moist foods will help keep the dog’s body from pulling other body fluids to the digestive tract to help digest the food.  Additionally, dogs with impaired kidneys have trouble processing phosphorus, so feeding foods with reduced or lower levels of phosphorus helps reduce the strain on the kidneys. For more diet information for dogs with kidney disease, see the link below:




For dogs with struvite or oxalate crystals and stones, the following link provides helpful information:




Please note, the biggest cause of struvite crystals and stones in dogs is a urinary tract infection.  This condition does not require a diet change, but rather a sterile urine culture to find the correct antibiotic to stop the infection.




AMY (amylase)

LIP (Lipase)


These are both enzymes and when the levels become elevated, it can indicate pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is another problem that can be caused by many things and these need a veterinarian’s diagnosis. These can include medications (steroids), hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease, to mention a few.  Low fat diets can help a dog through the healing and recovery of Pancreatitis.  The following link gives some examples:




It is a good idea to do a yearly blood chemistry test on your dog, and to keep each year’s records on file in the event any issues arise. Blood work panels are a great diagnostic tool. They help indicate health problems that might occur, and are an excellent way to monitor your dog’s health. This is especially important for senior dogs. However, blood work does not give you information on diet, nutritional needs or deficiencies, or diet changes and/or adjustments that may be needed, except when needed in the event of specific illness.


For further information on canine blood chemistry values:






Interpretation of Canine Blood Test Results:




Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 03-02-2017
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 



Whether people feed a commercial dog food, a home-cooked diet, a raw diet, or a special needs diet for a specific health condition, I am frequently asked questions about carbohydrates. The most common question asked is, ‘Which carbohydrates are the best to add into my dog’s diet?’ While the question may appear to be a simple one, the answer is not! The subject is complex, so we are splitting this newsletter into two parts.

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!


Part I addresses the many questions people ask about carbohydrates. We will look at the different types, which are best carbohydrates to feed, when they are needed, and how different carbohydrates can affect various health conditions.


Part II, which we will bring to you in March’s newsletter, addresses more health conditions, discusses the benefits of low glycemic (sugar) diets, and includes several low glycemic recipes, which benefit a wide variety of health conditions.




There are two kinds of carbohydrates: simple and complex. All grains, vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates. All carbohydrates break down into chains of sugar. However, there are differences between the sugar chains of simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Examples of simple carbohydrates that break down into simple sugar chains include white refined sugar, honey, molasses, white flour and fruit juice. Examples of complex carbohydrates that break down into more complex sugar chains include grains such as oats, rice, barley, and vegetables such as beans, lentils, and potatoes. It is important to know how these sugars affect canines and to understand what the purpose of carbohydrates are in a canine’s diet.


Commercial Pet Food


All commercial dog foods contain carbohydrates. The carbohydrates used in commercial pet foods are inexpensive, high-fiber ingredients that allow the dry food to maintain a longer shelf life and to help firm stools. Carbohydrates are a benefit in this regard; however, they are also a liability and can compromise the health and well-being of our dogs.


Carbohydrates offer less, or no, nutrition to dogs than animal proteins and fats. While the fiber helps firm stools, they also create larger, looser stools that have a much stronger odor and can cause gas and bloating. If you feed a commercial dog food, it is important to do your research. You want to select a food that contains a quality animal protein and offers the least amount of carbohydrates. Some commercial dog foods are ‘grain free,’ however; grain free foods are not carbohydrate (sugar) free! Most grainless commercial foods use either potatoes or sweet potatoes. These grainless foods can be a benefit to dogs that have certain grain allergies or gluten intolerance (which are rare), but these foods are still high in sugar and offer no nutrients.


Home Cooked Diets


Carbohydrates are used in home cooked diets simply to add fiber to the diet to keep the dog’s stool firm. Bones, which are used in raw diets for calcium and for firm stools, are not used in home cooked diets so a fiber source is needed. When using carbohydrates in home cooked diets, I recommend using about 75% animal-based protein and 25% carbohydrates. When selecting vegetables for home cooked diets, I recommend low glycemic (sugar) vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, yellow squash and zucchini. I avoid using potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, winter squash and beans. I also avoid all vegetables from the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. When feeding vegetables, they must be fully cooked or pureed to breakdown the cell wall of the carbohydrates. Dogs cannot break down this cell wall or digest the vegetables in their short, simple digestive tract unless they are fully cooked or completely pureed.


Raw Diets


If you feed a raw diet, it is not necessary to add carbohydrates to the diet! Raw diets contain bone and the bone offers the fiber needed to keep stools firm. Carbohydrates do not offer dogs a nutrient value, so they are not needed in a raw diet. Some people like to add vegetables to the diet for variety. When adding vegetables to a raw diet, I do not recommend feeding more than 10% of the total diet with carbohydrates. Adding more than 10% of the total diet in carbohydrates will increase stool size and can cause gas. Again, the vegetables must be completely cooked or pureed in order for the dogs to digest them.


For further information on carbohydrates and more references, see the following link:




High Glycemic (Sugar Content) Vegetables


Dogs are carnivores and do not need carbohydrates. Their digestive system is not designed to digest carbohydrates and their bodies do not need, nor do they adapt well to, the constant influx of high-sugar foods and high amounts of fiber. Dogs get their energy from animal protein and fat, which are the nutrients they need to survive and thrive. When a dog’s diet consists of too many carbohydrates, more than 33% for example, there is a risk of protein starvation’. When you feed a diet that is 33% carbohydrates, it does not mean the rest of the diet is 66 1/3% protein! This is because there is fat and moisture in the protein, and in some cases bone and connective tissue. Dogs rely on, and depend on, the amino acids found in animal-based proteins. They are important for stamina, endurance, overall health and well-being, and are necessary for healthy kidney, heart and liver function.


Food spends less time in our stomach and a longer time in our intestines. The time food spends in the human intestinal tract allows foods to digest and ferment. Humans have a much longer and more complex digestive system than canines. Canines have a short, simple digestive tract and do not digest foods the same as humans do. Canines have more gastric juices in the stomach. As a result, food spends a longer time in the canine’s stomach to break down nutrients and kill bacteria. As a result, food spends a much shorter time in the intestines. Dogs are unable to ferment or break down carbohydrates as efficiently as humans (omnivores) or herbivores can. Because of this inability to break down the carbohydrates, it causes gas and cramps, and creates large, smelly stools. Additionally, it can irritate the intestinal tract and create intestinal inflammation.


Carbohydrates may also contribute to health conditions such as diabetes, allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, infertility, low thyroid and yeast growth. They also have the ability to promote urinary tract infections and may contribute to seizure activity in dogs with epilepsy. Additionally, high sugar foods contain more calories, which can result in unwanted weight gain. In the home-cooked recipes I will bring you in next month’s newsletter, I always suggest low glycemic carbohydrates be used. Low glycemic vegetables offer the lowest sugar content.


Low Glycemic Diets


While the diseases Epilepsy, Hypothyroidism, Diabetes, Allergies, Arthritis, Yeast Infections and Cancer are all very different, they share a common denominator. Diets that are high in sugar and starch can negatively affect these diseases. In my series on Canine Nutrition, published in the B-Naturals newsletters between August 2005 and June 2006, I explained that dogs are carnivores and their bodies are designed to best utilize and digest animal protein and fat. The advent of commercial diets in the last 60 years introduced large amounts of grains and starches. These foods are high in carbohydrates, which all convert to sugar. Besides adding unnecessary sugars to the diet, these foods also add more fiber and bulk to the dog’s system.


Sugar directly affects the blood sugar in the body. Canines are designed to make glucose from amino acids (proteins), which keep the dog’s blood sugar levels even. Feeding diets high in grains (wheat, corn, oatmeal, barley, amaranth and rice, just to name a few) and starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets and carrots) cause blood sugar levels to rise and then fall. This type of action has a direct affect on diabetes, can trigger epileptic seizures, creates aggravation in the joints of dogs with arthritis, affects thyroid conditions and lastly, offers energy to cancer cells.


As stated in canine nutrition textbooks, no nutritional requirement is given for these types of foods for dogs. The Waltham Book of Companion Animal Nutrition states, “There is no known minimum dietary requirement for carbohydrates”


For more information on Carbohydrates in the Dog’s Diet:




With each health condition discussed below, be sure to get a confirmed diagnosis and receive the advice and full treatment recommendation from your veterinarian. The correct diagnosis under proper veterinarian care is the best defense for treating any disease or ailment.

Depending on the dog’s condition, there are two different types of low glycemic diets. This month we are including the “LOW FAT, Low Glycemic” diets, which are suggested for dogs with epilepsy, diabetes, hypothyroidism and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Next month, when we bring you Part II, we will bring you Low Fat, Low Glycemic Diets, a different low glycemic diet, for a few other health conditions.




While research has been done on a low carbohydrate diet for dogs with epilepsy, the results showed that these diets did not help. However, the research did not indicate the type of protein used, or the nature of the diet (dry, fresh, cooked), but the research did contain an extreme amount of fat. Additionally, the diet was inconclusive due to the loss of some participants (owners not complying) and a subsequent low number of dogs that completed the study. 1


Other factors that may precipitate seizure activity by feeding carbohydrates could be related to food allergies, gluten intolerance (found in grains) and lack of certain amino acids, such as taurine, which are lost through the process of heavily cooked diets. For more information on this, go to the link below and read the section titled, “The Possible Connection between Grains and Seizures”.




While the connection between carbohydrates and seizures is uncertain, a fresh food diet, which is medium to low fat, high in animal protein, and low in carbohydrates is worth a try, and may help in some instances. Again, removing grains from the diet reduces the chance of gluten intolerance and some allergies. The animal protein provides the amino acids a dog needs and fresh food diets offer more nutrients.


An additional supplement that helps reduce seizure activity is DMG, or dimethylglycine. Diethylglycine is a derivative of the amino acid, glycine. DMG helps the neurotransmitters in the body. It is also been found to help control cholesterol; however, this is not an issue with dogs. It also helps boost endurance and stamina. It is thought to help oxidize the blood, which is not only useful for fighting fatigue, but may also be helpful in immune problems and with certain types of cancer treatment. It may also have some usefulness in controlling glucose metabolism and be helpful with brain function.


DMG for possible seizure control in dogs:








In small animals, Diabetes is a complex issue. The type of diabetes found in cats and dogs is different. Cats often have Type II diabetes, while Type I is more common in dogs. New research has indicated that higher protein diets are more effective for cats and this research suggests the same may be true for dogs as well.


“Diet in the prevention of diabetes and obesity in companion animals”


“Conclusion – Consumption of diets with low carbohydrate, high protein, and moderate fat content may be advantageous for prevention and management of obesity, impaired glucose tolerance, and diabetes in cats and dogs. Use of low glycemic index carbohydrates and supplementation with carnitine, chromium, and vitamin A may also be advantageous.” The full article can be seen here:  http://www.vetcontact.com/en/art.php?a=1268&t


While studies on cats discuss that cats are carnivores and need protein, dogs are carnivores as well and the same is true for them. Higher animal protein diets create a more even blood sugar level in the blood stream. Fresh food diets provide more optimum nutrition than processed foods by offering a more easily digestible food with bioavailable nutrients. In addition, DMG (Dimethylglycine) is also thought to be beneficial with both hypoglycemia and Diabetes.


Hypoglycemia, Diabetes and DMG:






Dogs with low thyroid (hypothyroidism) can have issues with pancreatitis until treatment with proper medications can help bring thyroid levels back to normal ranges. Dogs with hypothyroidism tend to do better on homemade diets that are low glycemic, medium fat and contain higher protein levels. For dogs with hypothyroidism, avoid goitrogenic foods. Some goitrogenic foods include soybean and soy products, cabbage, broccoli, turnips, rutabaga, mustard greens, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, peaches, pears, strawberries, cauliflower, potatoes or corn. Fully cooking these foods will render them safe to consume for hypothyroid conditions; however, do not feed them as the majority of the diet.


“Some experts contend that as little as 30 mg of soy isoflavones will cause trouble by competing with hormones for the same receptor sites on cells. Because of that, they can cause endocrine disruptions. The endocrine system may mistake the isoflavones for a hormone and therefore may not send out signals that the hormone needs to be produced. This can be problematic if you already have lower than normal levels of thyroid hormone production.”


To find more information on the warnings about soy, read this article:




Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)


IBD has recently become a more common health problem in dogs. When a dog struggles to digest high fiber commercial foods, laden with carbohydrates, it sets up an inflammatory condition in the intestinal lining. Then, as the inflammation continues, the dog also has difficulty digesting fats. The dry food that consists of large amounts of carbohydrates and fiber aggravates this condition even further. As this occurs, dogs can also develop an intolerance to fat due to the inflamed intestinal lining. When this occurs, veterinarians will often prescribe dry dog food manufactured for this condition. Unfortunately, these foods are even higher in fiber and carbohydrates, are low fat, and often carry a less bioavailable source of animal protein. These higher fiber diets achieve nothing more than additional absorption of the moisture from the dog’s colon. This makes the stools ‘firmer’, however the irritation and inflammation continues in the dog’s digestive tract. The low fat, low glycemic diet (or a raw diet, which is even more ideal), puts less strain on the digestive tract to handle and ‘ferment’ the fiber. At the same time, it offers the dog better nutrition to help heal this condition.


Supplements that help heal IBD include probiotic powder (beneficial bacteria to aid digestion), l-glutamine (which helps heal the digestive lining) and animal based digestive enzymes (which help pre-digest fat and protein in the stomach, before reaching the small intestine). A product that contains a good combination of all of three ingredients of these ingredients is the Berte’s Digestion Blend. Taken together, these three products help in cases of poor absorption, diarrhea, and nausea and help heal the intestinal lining.


As you can see, the subject of carbohydrates is not a simple one! Please stay tuned for next month’s newsletter when we will bring you information on cancer, arthritis, allergies, incontinence and yeast overgrowth conditions and several low glycemic recipes to benefit these health conditions.


1 Publication: Patterson EE. Results of a Ketogenic Food Trial for Dogs with Idiopathic Epilepsy. University of Minnesota PhD Thesis (Chapter 4). © Edward Earl Patterson 2004.


Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Last month, in “Let’s Talk about Sugar and Dogs” we addressed many of the questions people ask about carbohydrates. We talked about the different types of carbohydrates, which ones are best to feed, which diets have and/or need carbohydrates, and how the different carbohydrates can affect certain health conditions.

For any dog, the best diets are homemade, either cooked or raw. Raw is probably the most beneficial, as it can be served with NO carbohydrates. This is because the raw bone in the diet acts as the ‘fiber’ needed to provide firm stools. For more information on a raw diet, I would refer to my book, “Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs”. A raw diet is fed in two meals per day. One meal is raw meaty bones and the other meal is a mix of muscle meat, a bit of organ meat and eggs and yogurt.

This month, we include home cooked low sugar diets and include several low glycemic recipes that benefit the health conditions we spoke about last month, which included epilepsy, diabetes, and hypothyroidism. We also discuss additional health issues including cancer, arthritis, allergies and yeast overgrowth and offer recipes to help with these conditions.

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!

It is also good to know that diets high in carbohydrates (sugar) can affect fertility in dogs, both males and females. High sugar content in the diet can affect hormones in an adverse way, that lowers sperm count and a females ability to get pregnant. For more on that:  https://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/causes-of-infertility-in-dogs/

The recipes listed below are low-glycemic and reduced fat recipes. While these recipes are good for any dog for their best long-term health, they are especially beneficial for dogs with Epilepsy, hypothyroidism and diabetes.

The amount to feed is approximately 2% to 3% of the dog’s body weight.* If you do not have a food scale to weigh out the food, one pound of food equals approximately two cups.

100 lb. dog = 2 lb. to 3 lb. daily, or two meals of 1 to 1-1/2 lbs. each

75 lb. dog = 1-1/2 lb. to 2-3/4 lb. daily or two meals of 12 oz. to 18 oz. each

50 lb. dog = 1 lb. to 1-1/2 lb. daily, or two meals of 8 oz. to 12 oz. each

25 lb. dog = 8 oz. to 12 oz. daily, or two meals of 4 oz. to 6 oz. each

*Smaller dogs often have higher metabolisms, and *may* (not always) need more than the 2% to 3% of their body weight and often do better with three smaller meals a day, especially toy breeds.

*Puppies under the age of six months require three to four meals per day and they need a bit more calcium; about 1500 mg per pound of food served while they are growing. Puppies will eat about 10% of their body weight at 8 weeks of age or 2% to 3% of their anticipated adult weight.

For all home cooked diets, you MUST add in Calcium at 900 mg. per pound of food served. Other recommended supplements include EPA fish oil capsules at one capsule (180 EPA/120 DHA) per twenty to thirty pounds of body weight daily. Do NOT add minerals, as the variety in the diet will provide all the needed minerals. However, adding in vitamins, such as vitamin E and vitamin B complex, is recommended.

For diet changes, probiotics and digestive enzymes are helpful. Berte’s Immune Blend contains vitamin C, vitamin E, B complex, enzymes and probiotics. For a daily vitamin blend without enzymes and probiotics, there is also Berte’s Daily Blend. This vitamin blend contains kelp and alfalfa, which provide trace minerals.

Do not overcook the meat! To retain more of the nutrients, lightly cook the meat.

The sample diets below will feed one meal for a 100 lb. dog, two meals for a 50 lb. dog, or four meals for a 25 lb. dog.

Sample Diet One:

  • 1 lb. low fat hamburger
  • 4 oz. beef liver or kidney
  • 1 or 2 egg whites, no yolks, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup steamed or boiled broccoli
  • 1/2 cup cooked yellow crookneck squash
  • 4 oz. nonfat milk yogurt

Cook meat, eggs, vegetables, and mix. When cooled, add yogurt.

To this, add:

Sample Diet Two:

  • 1 lb. white meat chicken with no skin
  • 4 oz. of chicken liver
  • 1 or 2 egg whites, no yolk, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup steamed or boiled Spinach
  • 1/2 cup cooked cabbage
  • 4 oz. nonfat Cottage Cheese

Cook meat, eggs, vegetables, and mix. When cooled, add cottage cheese.

To this, add:

Sample Diet Three:

  • 1 lb. beef heart, cut into small pieces
  • 4 oz. of pork or beef liver
  • 1 or 2 egg whites, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup steamed or boiled Bok Choy or Chinese cabbage
  • 1/2 cup zucchini
  • 4 oz. nonfat Yogurt

Cook meat, eggs, vegetables, and mix. When cooled, add yogurt.

To this, add:

Sample Diet Four:

  • One 16 oz. can of Mackerel or Salmon, drained and rinsed
  • 1 or 2 egg whites, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 cup Kale or other dark leafy green
  • 4 oz. nonfat Cottage Cheese

Cook vegetables and eggs (no need to cook the canned fish, it is already cooked) and mix. You do NOT need to add calcium to this recipe as mackerel, salmon or sardines, already contain soft, steamed bones for calcium content.

To this, add:

Dogs with cancer, arthritis and allergies also benefit greatly when they eat a low glycemic diet, however for these diseases, higher amounts of fat are better.


Cancer cells use sugar found in the body for energy. Therefore, elimination of high glycemic foods is important. Additionally, it is very important to ensure the diet consists of high quality animal protein and fat sources. Higher fat is recommended to maintain weight and help with energy. More information on Nutrition for Dogs with Cancer and diets for dogs with cancer can be found in this newsletter: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/cancer-diet/


A primary concern with dogs that have arthritis is managing their pain. Inflammation causes pain, so it is important to do what you can to reduce inflammation. Carbohydrates can aggravate inflammation, especially grains and vegetables from the nightshade family of vegetables. These include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant.

By avoiding these foods, you can help keep your dog’s inflammation down, which helps manage their pain. Another way to help reduce stress on the joints and the inflammation that accompanies this excess stress is to make sure your dog is lean and maintains a healthy weight. The sugar content in grains and starches are high in calories and can cause weight gain and aggravate inflammation. Avoiding grains and starchy vegetables helps with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight, so additional stress on sore joints can be avoided.

Commercial dog foods can be very high in grains and starches. These foods can aggravate your dog’s arthritic condition and cause your dog to gain weight.

Some supplements that are very beneficial for reducing inflammation and helping to manage pain are:

EPA fish oil: The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil help control inflammation.

Yucca Intensive: An herbal tincture made from fresh yucca that contains saponins. Saponins are a natural steroid that helps reduce inflammation and pain. Yucca should be given at one drop per ten pounds of body weight, twice daily WITH meals. (Do not give this supplement on an empty stomach!)

Willow Bark: This is a natural form of aspirin and contains the whole herb. It is thought to be safer to use for dogs, and like Yucca, MUST be given with food! You can use this supplement as needed, rather than daily.

Home cooking provides a more nutritious way of controlling what your dog eats. With the recipe suggestions offered here, you have a basis for a balanced diet (calcium to phosphorus ratio and the amounts of animal protein and fat), but you can choose the ingredients that best suit your dog. Never forget about the importance of variety! Dogs require a balance of amino acids and nutrients. This can only come by offering the widest variety of proteins and foods your dog can tolerate. Feeding the same thing repeatedly can result in not only more allergy issues, but also nutrient deficiencies.

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil can help with skin and coat and can help reduce inflammation in red, itchy skin.

DMG liquid (Dimethylglycine) can also help with skin and allergy conditions. It can help support the immune system and helps ‘regulate’ the reactions to allergic substances.

Yeast Overgrowth

Low sugar diets also help combat topical yeast problems in dogs, most commonly found on the skin (feet and near the anus) and the ears. Antibiotic use can kill off and deplete the beneficial bacteria in the body. This beneficial bacterium naturally fights off yeast. When this bacterium is depleted, it provides an environment for yeast to grow. Some of the symptoms that arise with yeast overgrowth mimic allergy symptoms. As a result, the two issues can ‘ping-pong’ back and forth. A visit to your Veterinarian is the best way to determine if your dog has a yeast problem. A skin culture can be done to determine whether the problem is yeast or allergies. It is very important to know what the real issue is so it can be treated properly.

If it is determined your dog is suffering from yeast, adding a probiotic powder to your dog’s diet helps fight yeast overgrowth by adding back in to the body the healthy level of good bacteria needed. Another way to fight yeast overgrowth is to offer frequent baths with an oatmeal based shampoo and rinse with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Olive leaf Extract and Yeast and Fungal tincture are also helpful in combating yeast issues.

For more reading on yeast problems, go here: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/scratching-and-itching-could-it-be-yeast/


Incontinence is the leaking of urine. Chronic conditions can lead to rashes, irritation and urinary tract infections. It is thought that grains and starches may aggravate incontinence in spayed females and senior dogs. Removing grains from the diet can alleviate the problem and sometimes completely stop the incontinence without having to resort to prescription medications. The herbal tincture blend, Kidni Care, can help strengthen and tone urinary tract muscles.

For more information on incontinence and diet, see Aunt Jeni’s article:


A natural diet that offers variety is very helpful for all these conditions. Cooked diets can be made in large batches, packaged into meal-sized portions, and frozen for later use. Feeding amounts are the same as they were previously listed.

The amount to feed is approximately 2% to 3% of the dog’s body weight.

100 lb. dog = 2 lb. to 3 lb. daily, or two meals of 1 to 1-1/2 lbs. each

75 lb. dog = 1-1/2 lb. to 2-3/4 lb. daily or two meals of 12 oz. to 18 oz. each

50 lb. dog = 1 lb. to 1-1/2 lb. daily, or two meals of 8 oz. to 12 oz. each

25 lb. dog = 8 oz. to 12 oz. daily, or two meals of 4 oz. to 6 oz. each

One cup is approximately 8 ounces, or 1/2 pound. Some dogs will do well on two meals a day; others may need three or four smaller meals a day.

As mentioned earlier, do not overcook the meat! To retain more of the nutrients, it is best to lightly cook the meat. Butter can be used for cooking to add flavor and palatability. If you are using butter, unsalted is best for dogs with kidney or heart problems.

The sample diets below will feed one meal for a 100 lb. dog, two meals for a 50 lb. dog, or four meals for a 25 lb. dog.

Sample Diet One:

  • 1 lb. regular hamburger
  • 4 oz. beef liver or kidney, cook with small amount of butter
  • 1 or 2 eggs, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup steamed or boiled broccoli
  • 1/2 cup cooked yellow crookneck squash
  • 4 oz. whole milk yogurt

Cook meat, eggs, vegetables, and mix. When cooled, add yogurt.

To this, add:

Sample Diet Two:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 4 oz. of chicken liver, cook with small amount of butter
  • 1 or 2 eggs, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup steamed or boiled Spinach
  • 1/2 cup cooked cabbage
  • 4 oz. Cottage Cheese

Cook meat, eggs, vegetables, and mix. When cooled, add cottage cheese.

To this, add:

Sample Diet Three:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 4 oz. of pork or beef liver, cook with small amount of butter
  • 1 or 2 eggs, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup steamed or boiled Bok Choy or Chinese cabbage
  • 1/2 cup zucchini
  • 4 oz. Whole Milk Yogurt

Cook meat, eggs, vegetables, and mix. When cooled, add yogurt.

To this, add:

Sample Diet Four:

  • 1 can 16 oz. Mackerel or Salmon
  • 1 or 2 eggs, scrambled or soft boiled
  • 1/2 cup broccoli
  • 1/2 cup Kale or other dark leafy green
  • 4 oz. Cottage Cheese

Cook vegetables and eggs (no need to cook the canned fish, it is already cooked) and mix. No calcium is needed as mackerel, salmon or sardines already contain soft, steamed bones for calcium content.

To this, add:


While carbohydrates (sugar) are not necessary in a dog’s diet, they can be useful when you are dealing with certain health conditions. Carbohydrates are used in home cooked diets for the sole purpose of adding fiber to the diet. In dogs with certain liver or renal issues, carbohydrates are needed to add calories, absorb ammonia, and reduce phosphorus in the diet.

However, using too many carbohydrates can cause larger and smellier stools, produce gas, and cause unnecessary weight gain. Because carbohydrates convert to sugar, they can also adversely affect dogs with epilepsy, diabetes, and hypothyroid conditions, as well as dogs with cancer, arthritis, allergies, yeast issues and incontinence.

It is important to know these variables so you can make the best, most informed, decisions on whether carbohydrates can help or hinder your dog’s health. It is not a question of whether carbohydrates are good or bad. It is about making the best decision for your dog based on their individual needs.

If you find this two-part article helpful and would like more information, we recommend Lew Olson’s recently published book, ‘Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs’. This book is an easy read with more great information on diet and supplement recommendations for the various health conditions discussed in these two articles.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!


Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Does Your Dog Have IBD? What is it, how to diagnose it and how can diet help?

By Lew Olson, PhD Natural Health


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!


When a dog has ongoing symptoms of diarrhea, gas, and occasional vomiting, this is often diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD). The best description of this is that the lining of the intestinal tract has become inflamed. This causes the food to shoot through the digestive tract, which in turn, forces the food to pass without being digested properly. The diagnosis will occur when symptoms of diarrhea, upset stomach and weight loss have continued for several weeks or months and other causes have been ruled out. Other causes of long-term diarrhea may include the following:

  1. Internal parasites, such as whipworm, hook worm, giardia or coccidia
  2. Bacteria overgrowth, including helicobacter or SIBO (small intestinal bacteria overgrowth)
  3. Addison’s disease, an adrenal disorder due to low cortisol
  4. Ulcers

It is recommended that you take a stool sample to your vet and have a complete wellness checkup done on your dog. If the cause is not diet related, it could be a variety of things, which can include parasites, bacteria and/or inflammation of the intestinal lining.


Parasites can be a common cause of diarrhea so it is important to rule these out first with your veterinarian. Parasites that can cause diarrhea are roundworms, whipworms, hookworms, coccidia and giardia, just to name a few. Once parasites are identified, proper treatment usually clears up the diarrhea.



Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO)

Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) is caused by a bacteria overgrowth. This is becoming more common in dogs. This problem creates large, gassy stools, weight loss and often appetite loss.




Other causes of diarrhea to rule out include:

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

EPI is a condition where the pancreas does not secrete the proper enzymes to digest foods. This is common in German Shepherd Dogs, but is seen in other breeds as well. Testing is needed to determine and confirm the disorder and prescription enzyme medications are needed for treatment. Like SIBO, EPI has large stools with odor.

Symptoms of EPI include INCREASED appetite, fluffy, very smelly, greasy, gray colored stools, loss of weight, gas, loud stomach noises, etc. The dog’s pancreas does not produce enough digestive enzymes to break the food down and therefore no matter how much they eat, they cannot digest their food. Untreated, weight loss happens quickly and can lead to starvation and death.




Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

With HGE there is bloody diarrhea, which is often red and clotted in appearance. Vomiting and lethargy can develop later. A high packed cell volume (PCV) in a blood panel will confirm the diagnosis. Toy breeds are more at risk, but HGE has good recovery outcomes.




When all the above are ruled out, your veterinarian will oftentimes refer you to a specialist who will recommend a series of tests. These can include using an endoscope or doing exploratory surgery to obtain a biopsy. The results will determine which part of the intestinal tract is involved and what degree of inflammation is present. At this point, several medications are usually recommended. These include steroids, immunosuppressant drugs, antibiotics and flagyl (metronidazole), or other drugs to slow motility (lomotil)


These drugs tend to mask the symptoms and do not address or treat the problem. Steroids will bring back the appetite and help control inflammation, but long term use of prednisone and other steroid drugs have numerous negative side effects that include frequent urination, diarrhea, GI disturbance, ulcers, pancreatitis, renal and liver problems, diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, thinning hair, pancreatitis, muscle wasting, bone thinning and changes in behavior.

Immunosuppressant drugs can cause bone marrow loss, anemia and a permanent loss of tears in the eye, causing dry eye.

Metronidazole is an antibiotic with some anti-inflammatory side effects. However, this drug is processed through the liver.  Long-term use can cause neurological disorders and it destroys the natural flora and fauna in the system. Tylan is another antibiotic used that also has anti-inflammatory effects, but again, using antibiotics long term can destroy the good bacteria in the digestive system and it can lead to antibiotic resistance.

Diet recommendations often include prescription dry diets of the hydrolyzed protein type, which claims to be more easily digested.

I find it amazing that when a dog’s digestive tract is inflamed and the dog is in a weakened condition, the treatment is to offer harsh drugs that reduce the immune system and have a myriad of harsh side effects. On top of that, a poor food source that is heavily processed and high in fiber is included. Besides offering poor nutrition, high fiber diets continue to irritate and keep a dog’s digestive tract inflamed. Dogs are carnivores and therefore it is easier to digest animal protein and fats. Food spends more time in a dog’s stomach and then speeds through their short and simple digestive tract. Humans on the other hand, have a longer digestive tract, designed for longer transit time. Dogs labor tremendously trying to digest diets high in fiber. While high fiber will remove moisture in the large intestine and produce firmer stools, the intestinal tract remains inflamed and continues to cause spasms and creates poor digestion.

Rather than feeding a high-fiber diet and using immunosuppressant drugs and high power antibiotics that strip the digestive tract of good flora and fauna bacteria and cause further damage to the digestive tract, ideally, a diet change would be the first treatment of choice!

This diet would never be a dry food diet such as kibble, which is more irritating to a dog’s digestive tract. Instead, this diet would be a moist diet, high in good quality animal proteins and fats. A small amount of carbohydrates would be useful in a cooked diet for a fiber source. In a raw diet, the bones act as the fiber, which keeps stools firm.

Keeping stools consistently firm is not the main part of the ‘healing’ process, but it makes the human owners more secure when they see their dog’s stool look more like their own. Canines in the wild often have loose stools. This is not a sign of being unhealthy or having an illness, as long as they are digesting and utilizing the food consumed. Diarrhea now and then is not a big problem; it is projectile or liquid diarrhea for more than a day that can cause dehydration. The idea is to reduce the inflammation in the intestinal tract, which puts the digestive tract back into good health and allows for the proper digestion of food. My best advice is to look at the overall health of your dog. What is the condition of the skin and coat? Are they at a healthy weight? Are their stools consistent? Pay less attention to the stool and pay more attention to their coat, skin and weight for signs of recovery and good health.

Diet Recommendations

If you prefer a cooked diet, I recommend the low fat, low glycemic diet. This diet is 75% animal protein and 25% low glycemic (low sugar) carbohydrates. I would use a variety of proteins, such as beef, chicken, turkey and pork. Remove the chicken skin and trim extra fat from the other meat choices. You may also use low or nonfat yogurt and cottage cheese and egg whites, as they are also low fat. Low glycemic vegetables include broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans and dark leafy greens. For more recipes, see my newsletters on Low-Glycemic Diets:

Carbohydrates and Low Glycemic Diets Part I

Carbohydrates and Low Glycemic Diets Part II

You can also get information that is much more detailed in my book, Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dogs.”

In raw diets, I suggest using a menu that consists of 50% raw meaty bones and 50% muscle and organ meat. For raw meaty bone meal, I suggest skinless chicken necks, turkey necks and pork neck bones. For the muscle/organ mix meal, I would use leaner meats such as low fat hamburger, white chicken meat chicken (no skin), and wild game such as venison and elk, with a small amount (5% of the meal) organ meat (liver or kidney), and nonfat yogurt or cottage cheese. More fat can be introduced to the diet later, but while the digestive tract is healing, higher fat diets should be avoided.

For both home cooked or raw diets, it may be best to start with three or four smaller meals per day for the first few weeks. Additionally, adding the supplements below will help during the transition of the diet and help heal the digestive tract.


I recommend three main supplements for dogs with IBD and gastric problems. These include:


L-Glutamine is an amino acid that is helpful in healing the lining of the digestive tract. This supplement helps maintain muscle mass and helps healing after surgery or an injury. The recommend dose is 500 mg per 20 pounds of body weight daily.

Berte’s Ultra Probiotics:

Berte’s Ultra Probiotics are a blend of beneficial bacteria, which are typically found in the digestive tract. These probiotics contain the good bacteria the digestive tract needs for proper digestion. During times of stress or illness, this natural bacterium can be depleted. Adding these probiotics to the diet, twice daily with meals, is helpful in restoring the flora and fauna needed for proper digestion and maintaining a strong immune system.

Food Science All-Zyme:

Animal-based enzymes include pancreatin and pancrealipase. They help predigest fats in the stomach so that when food is released into the small intestine, less strain is put on the liver and pancreas. The fat is better digested for easier passage through the small intestine. This leads to better formed stools.

Berte’s Digestion Blend:

This supplement offers all three of the above suggested supplements, L-Glutamine, Probiotics and Animal Enzymes, as well as GAGs to help heal the gut, and ginger to help prevent nausea.

Yucca Intensive:

Yucca is a natural steroidal herb that helps control inflammation. It MUST be given with food and at no more than 1 drop per ten pounds of body weight.

DMG Liquid:

Dimethylglycine is an amino acid recommended to help support proper immune response and glucose metabolism. For dogs with allergy problems, this supplement has been found to be beneficial in helping the immune system. This supplement also helps support skin and heart health, as well as proper nerve and brain functions.

You can find more information on this subject in both my newsletters Gastric Problems and Digestion and Gastric Problems FAQ.


Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 01-05-2017
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Newsletter Reference by Topic – 2017

Three years ago our New Year’s Newsletter was to give you an easy reference source for information by topic.  We thought it was time to do this again as many new topics have been added and so much updated information has been obtained.  All of the newsletters are linked to the Newsletter page of the B-Naturals website.

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!

History of Dog Food


Canine Diet and Diet Health – Resources



Canine Diet – General Information



Canine Diets – Specific

Raw Diets


Cooked Diets:  Low-Glycemic


Mixed Diets – Fresh and Kibble


Vegetarian Diets


Feeding Performance Dogs


Feeding Senior Dogs


Feeding Toy Breeds


Diet, Pregnancy and Fertility


Puppy Rearing, Whelping and Feeding


Canine Diets – Ingredient Components








Supplements General


Vitamins and Minerals


Enzymes and Probiotics




Canine Health Issues and Diseases

General Information


Addison’s and Cushing’s Disease




Arthritis and Joint Problems


Bladder, Crystal, Stone and Incontinence Issues


Blood Work and Blood Values






Digestion and Gastric Problems








Immune System








Muscular Dystrophy


Pain Management




Stress and Anxiety:




Tick-borne Diseases


Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 12-01-2016
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Before deciding on any course of action or treatment plan for your dog, it is critical that you have a correct diagnosis in hand. Time and time again, people post on the K9 Nutrition list a few symptoms their dog is having and ask for suggestions on how they can help their dog. Most often, these concerns pertain to itching or skin problems, upset stomach or loose stools, frequent urination and increased water drinking, or they are a small list of vague symptoms that don’t seem to point to a particular or recognizable problem.


Inevitably, this brings a variety of suggestions for supplements and diet changes.  Many of these stem from popular fads frequently seen on the web.  Some include all-in-one remedies for kidney cures, liver treatments and arthritis/joint problems.  Others suggest single potions such as coconut oil, apple cider vinegar specifically mixed, and formulated turmeric concoctions.  Other more expensive recommendations include saliva tests for allergies and intolerances or all-in-one specialty ‘cleansing’ or prescription diets are suggested.

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!


While certainly, in a few cases, some of these suggestions can be helpful, oftentimes the dog’s symptoms return, with no resolution to the problem.  When this happens, the owner frequently tries another variety of new remedies hoping to resolve the problem. This tends to result in frustration and disappointment, not to mention the cost of the remedies and the loss of time in getting the real issue resolved.


When people give me a list of symptoms and ask me for recommendations for a supplement or diet, I will ask for more information. Most commonly, I will ask what the dog’s current diet is, the history of prior diets, a list of current supplements and remedies they might have tried already, and always, what diagnosis did their veterinarian give their dog.


And in most cases, the dog hasn’t yet seen a veterinarian or the owner did not provide enough information to the veterinarian for him/her to know which tests would be most beneficial to run to determine a diagnosis. Below are some examples of this:


-The dog is drinking more water and urinating more frequently. Blood work shows BUN is elevated, along with the creatinine showing slightly high elevations. The diagnosis given is renal failure and the question asked me is, ‘what is the right diet?” At that point, I might ask if the veterinarian did a sterile urine culture and did he/she do a leptospirosis blood titer and tick borne disease panel? The reason I ask these questions is because if a dog is showing some indication of renal issues, it is important to find the cause. Generally, dogs don’t suddenly go into renal failure without an underlying reason. In that light, often a diet change isn’t required and simple antibiotics can cure the underlying condition.





-The dog has itchy skin and sores. The owner has tried topical treatments, special baths, ‘allergenic’ foods and a supplement or remedy to cure it, to no avail. Often at this point I suggest asking the veterinarian to do a skin scraping and culture to look for either bacteria or a fungal infection on the skin.  In that light, the right antibiotic or fungal medication can resolve the issue.




-The owner has tried numerous remedies for a dog’s lameness with no success. Again, it is important to rule out certain disorders that might cause the lameness.  These include a tick borne disease, Addison’s disease, Valley Fever or leptospirosis.  Arthritis can cause lameness and discomfort, but arthritis is not the only cause.  It is important to look at the whole picture, assess the situation and find the exact cause.  If you suspect the lameness is from arthritis, radiographs are important to diagnose arthritis.


Treating Inflammation and Pain in Dogs – October 2013


-The dog is showing chronic diarrhea, reflux or gurgling noises between meals.  While certain supplements such as probiotics, digestive enzymes and l-glutamine, may help, it is important to examine the diet, and the diets that were fed prior to these digestive issues.  Certainly, prescription drugs can help temporarily (metronizadole, tylan, antibiotics), however, most often they don’t resolve the underlying problem.




My point with this is to stress the importance of knowing what the actual problem is before you start looking for a solution! It is helpful to sit down and write down all the symptoms in a list along with a history and timeline for your dog’s diet, health history, and the dates and timeframes for when the various symptoms occurred.  This can help you better understand when the issues started and what might be the cause.  A visit to your veterinarian with a good history in hand of the symptoms, when they started and what you have tried in the past, can help give your veterinarian clues so he/she can best determine which tests are needed to rule out what the problem is not and get to the root of what the problem really is.


Once you have a diagnosis in hand and you know the cause of the problems, you will be able to select the best diet, choose the right supplements that can help, and you can see your dog improve.  Trying to guess what your dog’s problem is on your own and offering various foods and/or remedies ‘willy-nilly’ rarely works.  Also, it frequently costs you more in the long run than a productive visit with your veterinarian. If you can’t get the answers you need from your regular veterinarian, please get a SECOND opinion!


Over the years, the right diagnosis has helped me with my dogs in so many ways. I was either able to resolve the problem or work with the condition presented to make my dog the most comfortable.  If your dog has symptoms, it is fine to present this on the K9Nutrition list for ideas on the cause and what tests to run to determine the root of the problem. THEN, with a diagnosis in hand, it is easier to suggest diet changes, supplement additions or deletions, and to get the best recommendations. Please know, there are no ‘miracle’ cures out there no matter what you might read on the Internet or what your friends might tell you.  There is no ‘one’ cure for kidney failure, cancer, allergies, itching skin, arthritis, gastric upsets or other chronic conditions. Most of these issues are complicated and are not ‘one-size-fits-all’. And truly, it is not worth the risk to rely on these without a good visit to your veterinarian, the appropriate tests done to rule out (or ‘in’) what the actual problem is and the cause. That is what will lead you to find the best solutions for your dog.


Please feel free to discuss issues with your dog and ask questions about health and nutrition on K9Nutrition. We help as we can with resources, references, advice and sharing our own experiences!

dec16-dogs-1 dec16-dogs-2


Filed Under (Dog Nutrition) by B-Naturals.com on 11-01-2016
Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

I get many questions regarding the best nutrition for dogs as they begin to reach their senior years. Most people want to make sure their companions are comfortable and getting everything they need. So, to answer some of your questions, we’re going to take a look at an overview of diet considerations, common senior health problems, and suggested supplements for seniors.



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!


The most common questions I get regarding older dogs pertain to diet. Many people believe they need to feed a senior dog a diet that is lower in protein and fat. Many commercial dog food companies make senior diets that do just that – lower protein and fat. However, the truth is, senior dogs need high amounts of quality protein in their diet and a moderate amount of fat.




High quality animal-based protein is essential to canine organ health, muscle tone and healthy skin and coat. High quality protein is even more important for older dogs. As dogs age, their ability to maintain good muscle tone and a strong immune system lessens. This is due partly from inactivity and partly from metabolism changes that occur as dogs get older. Senior dogs that don’t get enough quality and quantity of animal-based protein have less body mass and are more prone to illness and disease.


“This research is contrary to conventional opinion that senior dog foods should contain lower protein levels than adult maintenance formulas in order to avoid progressive decrease in kidney function. However, senior dogs that were fed a high-protein diet had stable renal function and a lower death rate than those dogs fed a lower-protein diet”



  • Older dogs need more protein than young adults (50% more to maintains protein reserves and lean body mass
  • Prepares body for stress and challenges
  • Good quality protein essential!

So don’t skimp on the protein! Don’t feed your senior dog a reduced protein diet.  Be sure to feed a good raw or home-cooked diet with plenty of quality animal-based protein!









Fat is also important for seniors. Fat is what makes food taste good and when fat is reduced, the dogs tend to crave more food – they are usually looking for more fat. If you have a senior dog that needs to lose weight, do not substitute the fat with carbohydrates (vegetables, grains, starches) thinking you are doing your dog a favor. Carbohydrates can be fattening because they cause increased hunger.  This is because your dog needs and wants fat.  Feeding carbohydrates also increases stool size and gas. Generally, it is recommended to keep the animal protein amounts high and the animal fat at moderate levels – not low levels – and simply reduce the total amount of food fed by 10%. The following article was written by Christie Keith and gives specific instructions on weight reduction:




Additionally, dogs do not have the ability to break down sugars like we do as they have no amylase in their saliva.  Therefore, the sugars remain on the teeth and gums and cause decay. If your dog has chronic dental problems or bad breath odor, it may be a good idea to switch it over to a homemade diet with no grains or starches. Look to the low glycemic diets listed below.




One health consideration with weight gain in seniors is hypothyroidism. If you have a dog that won’t lose weight by food reduction or increased appetite, it is probably a good idea to get a full thyroid panel on your dog. Hypothyroidism can cause weight gain and other health problems.






Health Issues for Seniors


Arthritis and Joint Pain


Arthritis is probably the most common complaint for dogs as they age.  Joint inflammation and pain can affect dogs in many ways. They may become less active; they may show pain upon rising or after activity, and it can even affect their appetite. Any time you have a dog that shows pain in a joint or the spine, it is important to see a veterinarian and get a full blood panel, urinalysis and radiographs. Many things can cause pain and lameness, including arthritis, pinched nerves, muscle or tendon sprains, renal issues, pancreatitis and Addison’s disease (rear end weakness and muscle loss). In order to treat effectively, a diagnosis is paramount, don’t try and guess the problem. If the problem is arthritis, there are several approaches to try.  EPA fish oil capsules are very effective, as the omega 3 fatty acids found in this animal-based oil helps reduce inflammation. Additional benefits from omega 3 fatty acids is that it is renal, heart and liver protective and it improves skin and coat.


White Willow Bark Liquid, derived from white willow bark, is a natural pain reliever. This comes in a liquid tincture and can be dosed in the gum line or mixed with food. Do *NOT* give Willow Bark if you are already giving a NSAID (Rimadyl, Metacam, Deramaxx, etc.). I have used this for my senior dogs during seasonal arthritic pain commonly caused by weather changes. Yucca Intensive is another good herbal product that helps relieve inflammation.  It is given at one drop per ten pounds of body weight once or twice daily.  This needs to be given with food to avoid stomach upset. Lastly, try to reduce the amounts of grains and starches in the diet as these can aggravate inflammation and pain.


A good homemade diet to help with arthritis pain and inflammation is the low glycemic diet. You can find information on this diet in this newsletter http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/low-glycemic/. You can also add quality animal protein and fat to a high quality grainless kibble food, which will help reduce the carbohydrates found in dry kibble diets.  You can read this article, http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/mixing-fresh-food-with-kibble/, for more information on adding whole foods to kibble:


Urinary Incontinence


An issue that may affect senior dogs is leaking urine. This may be due to a weakening of the urinary tract muscles, however, be sure to contact your veterinarian first to test for a urinary tract infection. This would be determined by a sterile urine culture and sensitivity test. This is done in house at your veterinarian clinic to capture sterile urine. This sample is sent off to a laboratory to see if any bacteria should result. This test will not only identify the bacteria, but will also determine the correct antibiotic needed if there is an infection. If there is an infection, generally a four week course of antibiotics is needed. Then ten days after completing the antibiotics, another urine culture should be done to ensure the infection is gone. A UTI (urinary tract infections) can cause incontinence.






Diet changes can help. Often diets high in grains or starches, (which would include dry dog food or homemade diets where grains, potatoes, carrots, etc., make up more than 25% of the diet), may make incontinence worse.  Removing the high amounts of sugar and fiber can help in many cases.




I would suggest trying both of these methods before pursuing prescription incontinence medications. They may be needed, but I would rule these out first. Often a dog with a urinary tract infection is thought to have renal problems. Whenever an older dog is found to have elevated BUN, creatinine and phosphorus levels, be sure to check for a UTI, have a leptospirosis blood titer done, ACTH Stimulation test (Cushing’s and Addison’s disease) and a tick borne disease blood panel. Old age does not cause renal problems. It is wise to run these tests to either find the source of the problem or rule these other health conditions out. With Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease and leptospirosis, liver enzyme values may be high as well. More information on diets for dogs with renal issues can be found here: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/kidney-diet/


Skin Problems and/or Odor


Some senior dogs may develop dry or itching skin and dry hair coat. Sometimes these issues can be taken care of by changing the diet. Increasing the quality and quantity of animal protein in the diet may help. If you are using a senior dog commercial diet, change to an adult diet (higher fat) commercial food or a home-cooked or a raw diet. Fat quality is also important for good skin and coat. I have often found homemade diets reduce odor in dogs, as the fats in dry foods can oftentimes cause body odor. Adding EPA fish oil capsules at one per ten to twenty pounds of body weight daily will help due to the omega 3 fatty acids. If the dog has mouth odor, be sure to have a complete check up on the dog’s teeth and gums. Often teeth in poor condition or gum disease will cause this. Removing grains and starches will often help keep teeth cleaner and reduce the need for dental procedures. As mentioned earlier, dogs do not have the ability to break down starches in their saliva which can, in turn, cause tooth decay and gum disease. Weekly baths with a good quality oatmeal based shampoo such as Pure Pet Care Herbal Shampoo will also help skin and odor. Rinse with a solution of ¼ white vinegar and ¾ water. If the skin problem persists, be sure to have your veterinarian do a skin scraping to check for bacteria, yeast or mites. Both bacteria infections and yeast can cause skin odor. For more information on skin care:




Cognition Problems in Senior Dogs

Symptoms of possible cognitive problems in senior dogs can include confusion, restlessness and less enjoyment of life, and some can have increased house soiling incidences. Research done in humans has also been found to apply to dogs. BOTH senior dogs and people, need MORE protein for good health; especially for heart, kidney and liver health.  Dogs who have been raised solely on dry dog food tend to be more prone to decline in cognitive ability. Studies have shown that when protein levels are increased and antioxidants and fish oil with EPA and DHA (from animal based oils such as fish oils) are added to the diet, senior dogs were known to sleep better and show clarity improvement in their surroundings and had less house training issues. I would suggest senior dogs have a fresh food diet – home-cooked or raw – or a commercial diet with fresh animal protein added in.  Additionally, I think it is important to add a couple of quality supplements.  These would be Berte’s Immune Blend, which contains antioxidants and other good nutrients, EPA Fish Oil capsules at one per ten to twenty pounds of body weight daily and CoQ10 at 2 to 3 milligrams per pound of body weight.  CoQ10 is also thought to help cognition as well.



Additional Health Problems of Senior Dogs


Adrenal Disorders


Cushing’s disease and Addison’s disease are both adrenal disorders caused by either too much or too little cortisol production. Either disease can create a major health crisis. Both diseases can be vague in their symptoms, which can cause these health problems to be over-looked and mistaken for simply being attributed to old age. Cushing’s disease is an over-production of cortisol and symptoms often are mistaken for other ailments. These can include sudden onset of thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, development of a pot belly, poor hair coat and/or skin, dark spots on the belly, more prone to infection and lack of energy. If any of these symptoms occur, have a complete veterinarian evaluation.  For more information:








Addison’s disease is caused by under production of cortisol and there are three types, primary, secondary and atypical. Like Cushing’s disease, the symptoms can mimic other problems and are often over looked or confused with other health problems. These symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite, rear end weakness, loss of energy, shaking and depression. Both Cushing’s and Addison’s disease, if not treated can result in death. Your veterinarian can test for either of test with an ACTH Stimulation test. For more information on Addison’s disease:








Daily Supplement Suggestions


Two good supplements for senior dogs include the EPA Fish Oil Capsules and the Berte’s Immune Blend. The Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids which help with skin and coat and are renal, heart and liver protective. Recommended dose is one capsule per 10-20 pounds of body weight daily. The Berte’s Immune Blend contains the antioxidants vitamin C and E and also a B complex (good for nerve and eye health), L-Glutamine (helps slow muscle atrophy and helps with digestion), digestive enzymes (helps break down proteins and fats) and Probiotics (help keep the good flora and fauna in the digestive tract).


On a final note, it is always important to keep your senior dog in good condition. This means daily walks and exercise as their mobility permits. Good nutrition, bi-yearly wellness checkups at your veterinarians, and keeping your senior physically fit and mentally active will lead to a long and healthy life!

rotweiller-dog-puppy two-dogs-sitting two-dogs-outside


Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

When it comes to your dogs, Fat is where it’s at! Fat is the best source of energy, warmth, calories and hydration. Fat is essential for good canine health. It is important to provide fat sources from animal-based foods in your dog’s diet. In a normal, healthy dog, fat is easier to digest than either proteins or carbohydrates. Studies have shown that animal-based fats digest at a rate of about 95%. Fat is also the primary and best source of energy for dogs. This is especially true for working dogs that undergo stress, and need endurance and stamina, such as sled dogs. (1)


Fats, or lipids, have a more complex method of absorption than proteins. Since they are fats and not water soluble, they need to be emulsified. This means they need to be broken down so they can pass through the small intestine. Bile salts from the liver are released from the gall bladder, and aid in fat digestion by enhancing the fat enzyme, lipase. Bile salts coat the fat and enable them to break down into smaller particles called micelles. These break down into monoglycerides and fatty acids. If fat is not being digested properly in a dog, common symptoms include large, foul smelling stools that are often accompanied with mucus, diarrhea and dehydration. The stool is often light in color, coated with mucus and has a loose consistency. Poor digestion of fats can lead to liver disease, pancreatitis (inflammation or disease of the pancreas), Cushing’s disease or diabetes.(2) Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency can be another cause and more details about that disease can be found at the Purina website, www.purina.ca.

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!


Fats are essential for several reasons. Fats are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. They also provide protection from cold and protect the nerve fibers in the body. They provide more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein, and improve the flavor and palatability of the dog’s food. Fats also help satiate the dog’s appetite. While many commercial dog food brands offer low fat diets to dogs for weight reduction, these foods actually cause the dog’s appetite to increase because there isn’t enough fat to satisfy the dog’s hunger.


Fats do not affect canines the same way they affect humans. Fats do not cause high cholesterol in dogs, nor do they cause heart disease. Dogs are carnivores and do not have the ability for cholesterol to clog the arteries or produce strokes. High cholesterol or triglycerides in a dog means there are other health issues present. If your dog tests high for cholesterol, it should be tested for diseases such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or Cushing’s disease.


Lastly, fats provide a source for essential fatty acids. Dogs need a good quality source of fat in order to maintain sufficient levels of fatty acids. Rancid fat or poor quality fat, common in commercial foods, can cause a deficiency of these fatty acids.


If your dog is suffering from a deficiency of essential fatty acids, the first signs are commonly seen in poor coat and skin condition. This deficiency can show itself as pruritus (itching), dermatitis (skin inflammation) and seborrhea. To help absorb essential fatty acids, a good source of vitamin E is recommended. (3)


The two essential fatty acids most commonly discussed for nutrition are Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in animal sources such as chicken and pork. Smaller amounts are present in beef, and larger amounts are found in plant sources such as olive, safflower and other plant oils. Omega 3 fatty acids are less common. They are found in fish oil, other marine sources such as spirulina and blue green algae, and flax seed oil. (4)


However, dogs CANNOT utilize Omega 3 fatty acids from plant based sources. They must come from animal-based sources, such as fish oil.


Omega 6 fatty acids are more readily available in animal fats and plant sources, so it is easier to ensure your dog is getting enough Omega 6 its diet. Therefore, it is not necessary to add Omega 6 fatty acids to your dog’s diet. However, Omega 3 fatty acids are less common and not as readily available or easy to come by, so it is important to supplement your dog’s diet with a quality animal-based source of Omega 3. The best ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is thought to be approximately 5:1 to 10:1. (1)


The best sources for Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish and salmon oil. Fish oil has a readily available form of Omega 3 called EPA and DHA. Plant based oils do not. Therefore, the body must convert these oils before they are beneficial to the body. Most dogs are unable to do this conversion and therefore plant based oils result in a higher amount of Omega 6 than Omega 3. When there are higher levels of Omega 6 to Omega 3, it promotes inflammation, poor coat, allergies and skin conditions.


“While flaxseeds or flaxseed oil is not harmful to pets and does supply some essential Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil is a source of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), an Omega 3 fatty acid that is ultimately converted to EPA and DHA. However, many dogs and some people cannot convert ALA to these other more active non-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids due to a deficiency of desaturase enzymes which are needed for the conversion. In one human study, flaxseed oil was ineffective in raising levels of EPA and DHA. Therefore, I do not recommend flaxseed oil as a fatty acid supplement for dogs with atopic dermatitis (skin problems caused by environmental allergies). Instead, supplement with quality fish oil that provides EPA and DHA.” (5)


Other benefits of fatty acids include controlling inflammation, aiding in heart disease, cancer therapy, arthritis and renal disease. In heart disease and cancer, cachexia (muscle wasting) can cause a severity of side effects. Cachexia is caused by excess cytokine production. High doses of fish oil (1,000 mg per ten pounds of body weight) have been found to suppress cytokine, thus increasing life expectancy by maintaining the integrity of the heart muscle and reducing loss of muscle mass in some types of cancer.


Because high doses of Omega 3 fatty acids are found to reduce inflammation, fish oil is known to be helpful for dogs with arthritis and orthopedic problems. The anti-inflammatory properties are also helpful with dermatitis and other skin conditions, and certain gastro-intestinal disorders such as Irritable Bowel Disease and Colitis.


Lastly, Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for kidney disease. They have been shown to be renal protective and in certain kidney disorders such as glomerular disease, fish oil helps to reduce inflammation. (4) (6)


In conclusion, EVERY DOG can benefit from the addition of Omega 3 fatty acid sources regardless of their diet (commercial, raw or home cooked), age or health condition. Always look for fish oil capsules that contain at least 180 EPA and 120 DHA per capsule. Avoid bottled oils, as the Omega 3 fatty acids in fish oils are fragile. They are easily destroyed by heat, light and oxygen. Pump bottles introduce oxygen into the oil and therefore, fish oil capsules are best for maintaining the integrity of the oil. Recommended dose is one capsule per 10-20 pounds of body weight daily. Some dogs will eat the whole capsule but other dogs can be finicky. If your dog is finicky, you can open the capsule and put directly on the food.


(1) Case, Linda P MS, Carey, Daniel PD, DVM and Hirakawa, Diane A, PhD, Canine and Feline Nutrition, Mosby Press, 1995) 245


(2) Simpson, JW SDA BVM Mphil MRCVS, Anderson, RS BVMS Ph.D MRCVS and Markwell, PJ Bsc, BvetMed MRCVS, Clinical Nutrition of the Dog and Cat (Blackwell Scientific Publications, 1993) 66-70


(3) Kronfeld, DS Phd DSc MVSc, Home Cooking for the Dog, (American Kennel Club Gazette, April) 1978 60-61


(4) Kendall, Robert V. PhD Therapeutic Nutrition for the Cat, Dog and Horse, (Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, Mosby Press, 1997) 62


(5) home.ivillage.com


(6) www.dvmpharmaceuticals.com


november-2016-1 november-2016-2 november-2016-4


Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Sept 1I occasionally get questions from folks on which carbohydrates are best for their dog’s diet. These questions are asked regardless of whether they are feeding home cooked diets, raw diets, or various commercial dog foods that offer grain-free recipes or foods for dogs with special needs.

Carbohydrates include all vegetables, fruits and grains – or anything grown in plant form. Carbohydrates are made up of chains of sugar and there are differences in these chains from simple sugars (white refined sugar, honey, molasses, white flour and fruit juice) to complex carbohydrates (grains such as oats, rice, barley to vegetables, beans, lentils, pears and potatoes).

Commercial Pet Food

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!

 All Commercial dog foods contain carbohydrates. These foods offer fiber (to help with firm stools) as a less expensive food ingredient and to aid in the ability for dry foods to maintain a longer shelf life. While they serve a purpose in this regard, they also add some liabilities. Carbohydrates make stools larger with more odor and gas, but offer little, if any, nutrition. It is important to do your research if you use commercial food. Shop for a food with the least amount of carbohydrates offered and with a good primary animal-based protein. Some foods are now being offered as grain free. However, remember that the other ‘grain-free’ sources are still carbohydrates, with potatoes being the ingredient most often used. This can benefit dogs with certain grain allergies or a gluten intolerance. Some dogs can have digestive issues when they are fed food with gluten. Additionally, commercial foods that are grain free can be a novel food source to try for dogs with food allergies, however, in my opinion, food allergies are rare and over diagnosed.


Sept 2Home Cooked Diets

 Carbohydrates are used in home cooked recipes. The primary purpose for adding carbohydrates is to offer a fiber source, not nutrition. It is doubtful that dogs get much nutrition from carbohydrates. They are carnivores and require animal-based proteins which provide the amino acids, vitamins and nutrients they need. Most carbohydrates are high in fiber and this is what helps keep the stools firm. Without using fiber in cooked meals, the stools would be VERY loose. When using vegetable sources, they must be fully pureed or cooked. Dogs cannot digest grains or vegetables very well unless they are fully cooked or pureed as they do not have the ability to break down the cell wall of carbohydrates and they can’t ferment grains in their short, simple digestive tracts. When using carbohydrates in home cooked diets, I generally recommend using about 75% animal-based protein and only 25% carbohydrates.

High Glycemic (Sugar Content) Vegetables

 Equally important to note is that the type of carbohydrate used affects stool size. Most of the recipes offered in the B-Naturals articles (in the newsletter directory) use low-glycemic carbohydrates. These are vegetables which offer the lowest sugar content. Dogs are carnivores, and genetically speaking, they do not have systems that need or adapt well to a constant influx of high-sugar foods. Dogs need fat and animal protein to survive and thrive. High-sugar foods contain more calories and also add unneeded and unnecessary weight gain. They may also contribute to poor health conditions such as diabetes, allergies and yeast growth.  High-sugar foods can also cause urinary tract infections, adrenal gland and hormone imbalances, and they may contribute to seizure activity in dogs with epilepsy. For more information, see the following article on low glycemic recipes:



Raw Diets

 Carbohydrates are not necessary in raw diets. Raw diets contain bone which offers the fiber needed to help create firm stools. Some may wish to add vegetables to the diet for variety, but in this case I would not feed more than 10% of the total diet in vegetables. They may not add to the nutrition of the diet, but they aren’t harmful either. Please note that adding more than 10% of carbohydrates to a raw diet will only increase stool size and in some cases may cause gas as the dogs short and simple digestive system struggles with TOO much fiber. Their small intestine is simply not designed to ferment or handle large amounts of fiber. In fact, too much fiber can cause intestinal lining inflammation, which leads to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), colitis, diarrhea, cramping and pain.


For further information on carbohydrates and more references please read the following article:





It is also thought that grains and starches may aggravate incontinence in spayed females and senior dogs. Incontinence is leaking of urine and chronic conditions can lead to rashes, irritation, and urinary tract infections. Removing grains from the diet can oftentimes alleviate the problem and sometimes completely stop the incontinence without having to resort to prescription medications. Also adding the herbal tincture blend, Kidni Kare can help strengthen and tone urinary tract muscles.


For more information on incontinence and diet, see Aunt Jeni’s article:





 Dogs with arthritis or other inflammatory affected problems need to avoid grains and starches. The sugar content of these foods may aggravate inflammation and cause pain. This would include avoiding fruit, as well as vegetables in the nightshade family – ESPECIALLY tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. I have had many emails from people over the years testifying that moving their dogs to a raw diet or a low glycemic cooked diets has reduced arthritis pain in their dogs.

Other ways to help reduce inflammation in dogs with arthritis would include adding the following supplements:

Omega 3 fatty acids found in animal-based fats can help reduce inflammation and pain. The best source for these omega 3 fatty acids is found in fish or salmon oil. The EPA and DHA in fish oil helps reduce inflammation throughout the body and also supports the immune system, heart, liver and kidney function and is great for healthy skin and coat. Give one capsule (180 EPA/120 DHA) per 10-20 pounds of body weight daily.


All-Zyme and Quercitin/Bromelain capsules can also help reduce inflammation and they both aid in digestion and help reduce gas.

Yucca Intensive, which is a liquid tincture made from fresh yucca, also helps fight inflammation. This plant contains saponins, which help reduce inflammation and pain. Use one drop per ten pounds of body weight, twice daily WITH food. NEVER combine Yucca with any other NSAID, such as Rimadyl, Metacam or steroids!


If your dog has a low thyroid condition, it is important to avoid raw vegetables in the cruciferous family such as cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, as they contain natural chemicals called goitrogens (goiter producers) that can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. Interesting, these vegetables are fine when they are cooked, but do not give them raw to dogs with low thyroid problems.


Sept 3Conclusion

 While carbohydrates are not necessary in a dog’s diet, they can be useful in certain conditions. They add the needed fiber to a home cooked diet and they are beneficial in certain liver and renal issues where carbohydrates may be needed to add calories, absorb ammonia or reduce phosphorus in the diet.

Using too many carbohydrates however, can cause larger stools with more odor and gas. They are composed of chains of sugar, so they add calories and can adversely affect dogs with diabetes, seizures, arthritis, dogs with incontinence, and dogs with hypothyroid conditions.

Additionally, sugars in the diet can cause tooth decay, staining of the teeth, tear staining, and they can cause yeast to grow topically on the skin, feet, face and ears.


Even more concerning, sugar affects the adrenal glands and hormone production. They can adversely affect fertility in dogs which can result in reduced litter size. Sugars may affect sperm production and it also seems to cause heat cycles to occur more frequently in female dogs. Heat cycles occurring more frequently results in poor fertility due to the uterus lining not recovering well enough to sustain fertilized eggs. Raw fed females, typically cycle every 6-12 months, which results in better fertility.



Lastly, high carbohydrate and sugar intake can create a hormonal imbalance which affects the adrenal glands. This can lead to Addison’s or Cushing’s Disease.

In certain health conditions, when fat must be reduced, such as pancreatitis or chronic liver disease, high calories carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes or carrots can be helpful for weight gain. When formulating a diet that is low in phosphorus for dogs with chronic renal problems, using low phosphorus carbohydrates is beneficial.  However, fat is usually fine for dogs with renal problems.


In order to make the best decision on whether carbohydrates will help or hinder your dog’s health, it is important to know all these variables.  It is not a question of whether or not carbohydrates are ‘good or bad’.  It is about the individual needs of your dogs.


The best benefits of a carbohydrate free diet are:

  • Clean teeth
  • Less or no ‘doggy odor’
  • Smaller and odor free stools
  • Better muscling and condition of your dog
  • Increased fertility and sperm production
  • More balanced hormones that help with better health and immunity

It is only in specific health needs (pancreas, liver, certain stone forming conditions) that I would recommend using carbohydrates. For dogs with these ailments, they can be useful for weight gain and to able to offer a full ration of food for calories to help keep the dog satisfied.


I hope you found this newsletter helpful.  Your feedback is always welcome.


If you have questions about your dog’s diet or about specific health conditions, please take advantage of the B-Naturals Newsletter Archives.  Chances are what you are looking for is right here!


Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog. 

Regardless of the diet choice you make for your dog – kibble, raw or home cooked – the vast amount of supplements on the market today, including vitamins, minerals, digestion aids and anti-inflammatories, can make choosing the right supplements for your dog very confusing. It seems just when we might be getting comfortable with our choices, new products pop up or we read an article that warns us to avoid the supplements we have already been giving to our dogs! We want to feed our dogs the best we can and we want to make sure what we are giving them enhances their health and gives us the best value for our dollar.
First, let’s talk about minerals. I do not ever recommend adding minerals to a commercial diet (kibble or canned). These foods already contain the recommended minerals and you never want to give MORE than the recommended amount. Additionally, some minerals balance each other, such as zinc and copper, and you don’t want to risk unbalancing those minerals. So, do not add minerals to any fixed commercial food diets!
Calcium and Commercial Diets and Raw Meaty Bone Diets
In a raw diet with bones, you do NOT need to add minerals because the raw meaty bones contain the needed minerals, including the correct ratio of calcium and phosphorus. When feeding a raw diet with bones, you want to avoid supplements that contain minerals. NEVER ADD CALCIUM to a raw meaty bone diet or a commercial dog food diet because too much calcium can harm your dog, especially growing puppies and pregnant dogs!
Calcium and Home Cooked Diets
If you feed a home-cooked diet however, you DO need to add calcium because you can’t feed cooked bones safely. Calcium is added to the diet based on the amount of food fed and NOT the body weight of the dog. Dogs need about 900 mg of calcium per pound of food served, which is about 2 cups of food. The best source of calcium for a dog, when given as a supplement, is either calcium carbonate or calcium citrate with vitamin D3. These are both economical and can be found at any supermarket or drug store. You can also feed ground eggshells (use a coffee bean grinder to grind the shells). 1/2 teaspoon of crushed eggshells equal about 900 mg of calcium. Vitamin D3 is very important as it helps with the uptake of the calcium. Please note, it is important that the Vitamin D offered to your dog is Vitamin D3, which is animal sourced. Dogs can’t utilize plant based sources of Vitamin D. (More on this later).
Again, do NOT supplement with calcium if you are feeding a commercial diet or a raw meaty bone diet because these diets already contain enough calcium.
Good Vitamins to Add
Water Soluble Vitamins
Two good water soluble vitamins to add to your dog’s diet are B complex and vitamin C. Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, so any excess is flushed out in the urine.
B Complex vitamins are good for the nervous system, brain function, cell division (important in pregnancy!), and they help prevent anemia and support memory. This vitamin can be more fragile and doesn’t keep well in commercial foods. They are helpful for pregnancy, puppies and seniors. Turkey and liver are high in B vitamins.
Vitamin C was first found to prevent scurvy. But more recently it is considered an anti-oxidant and helps support the immune system. Too much vitamin C can result in diarrhea. If this occurs, just reduce the amount of vitamin C by one dose. I give dogs about 100 mg of vitamin C per 10 pounds of body weight daily. For dogs, the food highest in vitamin C is liver.
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins don’t flush out of the body easily. Instead, they are stored in fat. The first fat soluble vitamin I will discuss is vitamin E. This is also considered an anti-oxidant and helps the immune system. It also works with omega 3 fatty acids as these two nutrients need each other to work effectively. Vitamin E also helps with neurological functions and protects against lipid oxidation. I generally give dogs vitamin E at 50 IU per 10 pounds of body weight daily.
Vitamin A, Specifically Retinol
Dogs, because they are carnivores, do best with animal-sourced vitamin A, or retinol. This vitamin supports eye health, the immune system and thyroid health. It is rich in liver and organ meats and is also found in eggs and yogurt. Dose is about 25-50 mg per 10 pounds of body weight.
Vitamin D3
As mentioned earlier, it is important that the vitamin D given is D3, which is animal-based, such as calcium carbonate (made from egg shells) or calcium citrate. Avoid all plant-based forms, which are often known as D2. Dogs need about 400 IU per 100 pounds, but more can be given – up to double this dose – for immunity. It is also thought to protect against cancer. Vitamin D3 is necessary for the uptake of calcium and it is needed for healthy bones and teeth. It is also helpful to protect against diabetes. Foods containing vitamin D3 included fortified milk products, eggs, salmon and sardines.
Digestion Aids
Digestion aids help support the digestive system and are very useful for puppies, pregnant mothers, when you are changing your dog’s diet, for dogs that travel, and for those dogs that suffer from digestive issues.
These beneficial bacteria help maintain the good flora and fauna in the digestive tract. These help promote well-formed stools, support the immune system and help control excess gas. I find these especially helpful for diet changes, while traveling with my dogs and for puppies. These ‘good’ bacteria also help keep bad bacteria at bay and in check.
Animal-Based Digestive Enzymes
These include pancreatin, pancrealipase and ox bile. These animal-based enzymes help pre-digest fats in the dog’s stomach, ease the digestion of fats in the liver and pancreas, increase assimilation of nutrients, and help promote better formed stools.
This amino acid is used to help heal the digestive tract lining. It has also been used in infants and starvation cases to help with weight gain. Once the digestive tract lining is healed, it continues to help by assisting with property digestion. Dogs with IBD, IBS or colitis have an inflamed digestive tract which can result in diarrhea, mucus covered stool and loss of the ability to absorb all the nutrients. L-glutamine helps heal the lining over several weeks and works to restore health back to the stomach and intestinal lining.
Essential Fatty Acids
There are several types of essential fatty acids. Two of the more common ones are omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 is found in most foods and therefore, is abundant in the diet. Because of this, there is NO reason to add more omega 6 to your dog’s diet. Avoid any plant-based oils such as corn, safflower, coconut, olive or canola oil. The essential fatty acid your dog DOES need to balance the omega 6 already in the diet, is Omega 3. It is important to use animal-based sources of omega 3 because dogs are unable to convert the omega 3 oil found in plant oils (ALA) to a usable form. Animal-based sources include fish body oils like salmon, menhaden, sardine or mixed fish oil. Omega 3 oils are fragile and heat, air and light can destroy their properties, so use fish oil CAPSULES rather than bottled oil. Omega 3 fish oil is a natural anti-inflammatory and it helps with the immune system, supports liver, kidney, heart, eye and brain health, and it is very good for the coat and skin. Use fish oil capsules at one capsule per 20 pounds of body weight (generally a capsule is 1,000 mg with 180 EPA and 120 DHA).
Arthritis and Inflammation
It is always important to get a diagnosis if your dog is limping, acts sore, has rear end weakness or shows discomfort. While it may be arthritis, it could also be something else. Just a few of the diseases that may resemble the symptoms of arthritis are Addison’s Disease, cancer, Lyme’s or tick disease, or leptospirosis, and more. If the problem IS inflammation, then some following supplements to try include:
Fish Oil Capsules: Omega 3 fish oil helps fight inflammation
Yucca Intensive: Yucca contains natural steroidal saponins which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents to help reduce pain. DO NOT use yucca with other prescription NSAIDs such as steroids, rimadyl, metacam, etc. Give one drop per 10 pounds of body weight, WITH FOOD, once or twice a day.
Glucosamine/Chondroitin Blends – these are thought to help lubricate the joints and repair cartilage
Willow Bark Tincture – a natural form of aspirin, only give with food!
There are numerous remedies for arthritis on the market. Therefore, always check the ingredients and their safety for dogs! The best diet for a dog with arthritis is a carbohydrate-free raw diet. Carbohydrates are sugars which help promote and increase inflammation in dogs.
I know trying to put together all these supplements can seem daunting. To make it easier, I would recommend B-Naturals Berte’s Daily Blend, which contains all the vitamins I have listed, as well as kelp and alfalfa. This is a powder supplement that is easy to mix with your dog’s food.
Another choice is Berte’s Immune Blend. This mixture has all the vitamins I have listed with vitamin C and E in double doses. While it doesn’t contain kelp and alfalfa, it does have added probiotics and some digestive enzymes. The Immune Blend is ideal for dogs with health issues but it can also be given to healthy dogs at half dose.
For those with dogs with digestive issues, B-Naturals carries Berte’s Digestion Blend. This blend contains the animal-based enzymes, as well as l-glutamine and probiotics. It comes is a palatable powder form that can easily be mixed with your dog’s food or you can mix it with some yogurt.
I hope you have found this information helpful. If you have any questions, please email us at B-Naturals and we will answer any of your questions: lewolson@earthlink.net