Monday, July 12, 2010

Supplements for your Dogs and Cats

I have always had a great love for animals, domestic and wild alike. It is no surprise to my family that I have chosen to study Veterinarian Medicine in College. However, I must explain my blessing of first working at Food for Thought Inc. and of reading Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats. Working for the Foley family has opened up my eyes to a whole new world of health, holistically speaking. Working in the grocery, produce, vitamin and natural beauty sections, I have learned without hesitation that nutrition, or the lack there of, pays the most important role in our health. Our prescription drugs will not save us, only we can make the internal life changes needed to cure our ailments. There is no magic pill, sorry.

I came across Dr. Pitcairn's book the moment I started working at Food for Thought, but it wasn't a book I bought until here recently. Maybe it was a sort of fate, that I needed to first buy tons of books about Human health and nutrition (which I have) in order to see the truth of his words. This blog, however, is not meant to be a book review, as I would never be able to encompass all my gratitude towards the Doctor who wrote it, the wonderful teacher that he is.

However, I would like to focus on one aspect from his book at this time: supplements. Many people just buy pet food without ever reading labels or researching what exactly is in the "food" (if the companies even know, now that would be a miracle, but I will save that topic for another day). I do not believe I can convinence you to change your dog's or cat's diet at this point, but I would like to challenge you to try some additional measurements for their health. As follows is a basic but essential list:

-- Calcium: available in Bone Meal form as powders, which are much easier to add to dry and wet foods. Bone meal also provides trace minerals and is a very concentrated form of calcium perfect for carnivores and is the best choice for larger dogs prone to bone problems or hip-dysplasia.
--Oils: This supplement provides twice as much energy as other sources of food and helps in the production and maintenance of many tissues in the body. Inadequate levels of these essential fatty acids can lead to skin eruptions, loss of hair, inability to heal wounds, liver and kidney degeneration, weakened immune system, heart problems, impairment of vision, loss of the ability to learn and possible arthritis.
The first is Omega-6, which is found in safflower, sunflower, borage oils, poultry fat, and pork fat. The other is Omega-3, found in fish oils such as salmon, mackerel, halibut and herring, as well as canola oil, both flax seeds and flax oil, walnuts, soybeans and wheat germ. Both types of omegas can be found in dried beans (great northern, kidney, navy and soybeans but will need to be processed before added to diet due to the inability of your pets to digest them raw), sardines, lake trout and albacore tuna
*Cats require Arachionic acid, which is present
in cod liver oil, pork far and poultry fat, which has
importance in the control of blood clotting, pain,
inflammation and contraction of the muscles of
the intestines and bladder.
--Vitamin A: an important supplement for cats (dogs can make their own from carotene found in vegetables) and those dogs who do not have veggies in their diet. Cats require a pre-formed animal source of vitamin A and are sensitive to either too little or too much Vitamin A in their diet. Great sources of Vitamin A and D are Cod liver oil, vitamin capsules or liquids and your basic pet vitamins.
--Vitamin E: it is an antioxidant that aids important body functions and preserves and protects the vitamin A and fatty acids in other supplements and foods. Wheat germ oil is a good way to provide vitamin E in a natural complex, but before administering the oil, taste it yourself to check for a bitter or burning aftertaste which means it has gone rancid.
Of course, if natural supplements and vitamins are not your cup of tea, you can always substitute with healthier snacks and flavorings to your pets diet, like fruits, vegetables, nuts and sees, veggie burgers, flavorings (such as nutritional yeast, tamari, miso, tomato sauce, natural brother powders, and herbed sea salts) and garlic cloves. Specific details on the preparation and dosage of these snacks can be found in Dr. Pitcairn's book or from your own veterinarian.
**This post is neither meant to prescribe medical intervention nor substitute speaking with a Veterinarian. Although it is a subject a believe in strongly, it is not meant for everyone, and changing your pet's diet should always be approached with caution as every animal is different and are much more sensitive to such changes than humans.

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