Natural Supplements for your Companion Animals 11/16/11
Part 1: Paul Jacobson shares top supplementation tips for optimum health for your pets.
Over the last few weeks I have presented a number of articles on the benefits of vegetables in your pet’s diet and offered guidance in formulating natural and wholesome food for your beloved companion animals. But what about diet supplementation?
Natural supplementation is extremely important for your pet, especially when treating an ailment or condition. Here’s a list of my preferred supplements to include in your animal companion’s diet:
- OMEGA-3 FISH OIL – for skin conditions and allergies
A quality Omega-3 is essential in restoring cell damage and should be your first choice supplement. Almost every vet will recommend Omega-3 when treating skin disorders and inflammation.
Sally-Anne Creed is one of South Africa’s leading nutritionists and her stance on whether to use fish oil or flax oil is very clear. She firmly warns clients to avoid flax. Although flaxseed oil is often touted, even by some doctors, as a substitute for fish oil, new studies show it’s not a reliable alternative. [Note: Supplementation only assists in supporting healthy living. Wholesome diets, that are correctly balanced, will also supply the correct omegas, vitamins and minerals. So, if fish oil as a supplement is offensive to your household then make sure that you provide such a diet.]
A 2006 Emory University study found that taking high daily doses of flaxseed oil caused no increase at all of Omega-3 DHA in the blood of subjects. Similarly, feeding animals alpha-linolenic acid, as found in flaxseed oil, did not increase DHA in their brain cells, according to research at the National Institutes of Health. New British research says high doses of flaxseed oil may even cause a decrease in Omega-3 DHA and that flaxseed oil does not adequately nourish foetal brains. According to the study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition flaxseed oil is found very less effective against inflammatory conditions.Generally, flaxseed oil has been considered to be anti-inflammatory agent. But few more studies reveal the shocking truth that it actually increases inflammation in most of the cases.
My preference, especially when treating skin ailments, is high-quality fish oil, preferably salmon oil.
[Ed’s Note: If you do decide to utilise a fish oil supplement for your pets, be sure that you are using a sustainable product. Here is a US-based guide to safe fish oil brands in relation to contaminants.]
- APPLE CIDER VINEGAR – for itchy skin & arthritis
Apple cider vinegar is a remedy with multiple uses for dogs: alleviating allergies, arthritis and establishing correct pH balance.
If your dog has itchy skin, the beginnings of a hot spot, incessantly licks its feet, has smelly ears, or is picky about his food, the application of apple cider vinegar may change things around. For poor appetite, use it in the food – 1 tablespoon, two times a day for a 20 kg dog.
Taken internally, apple cider vinegar is credited with maintaining the acid/alkaline balance of the digestive tract.
If you have a dog that has clear, watery discharge from the eyes, a runny nose, or coughs with a liquid sound, use apple cider vinegar in his or her food. One teaspoon twice a day for a 20 kg dog will do the job
After your weekly grooming sessions, use a few drops in his or her ears after cleaning them to avoid ear infections and to clean out mites. Two parts apple cider vinegar to eight parts warm water would be the desired dosage.
For itchy skin or the beginning of hot spots, dilute apple cider vinegar, three parts water and one part the vinegar, and add into a spray bottle or dab onto the dog’s skin. Fleas, flies, ticks and bacteria, external parasites, ring worm, fungus, staphylococcus, streptococcus, mange, etc. are unlikely to inhabit a dog whose system is acidic inside and out.
Your dog will also smell so nice that you may mistake your companion animal for your garden salad.
- SPIRULINA – for immunity & digestion
One of my preferred supplements is Spirulina.
Spirulina contains a remarkable combination of vegetable protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and powerful antioxidants. These vital substances work in synergy to assist in immune enhancement, disease prevention, the promotion of healthy bowel flora and general well-being.
All vitamins and minerals in Spirulina are present as natural, organically-bound complexes. Unlike synthetic combinations of isolated vitamins and minerals, these complexes are easily recognised by the body and are therefore highly bioavailable. Spirulina provides superior nutrition, especially at a time when many commercial foods are becoming increasingly more nutrient depleted.
Spirulina has the highest protein content of any natural food. Spirulina contains between 65 and 70% protein. This is 270% more protein than fish, 334% more than beef and 556% more than tofu.
Spirulina also excels with regards to protein quality. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Unlike non-essential amino acids, essential amino acids can not be synthesised by the body and must be obtained from the diet. Spirulina provides all the essential amino acids and is therefore considered a complete protein. With regards to usable protein (as a percentage of the food’s composition), Spirulina is second only to whole, dried eggs. Furthermore, protein from Spirulina contains various trace minerals and provides 475% more calcium than whole milk and 5756% more iron than spinach. Iron from Spirulina is more than twice as absorbable as the form of iron found in most meats and vegetables. Spirulina is the best natural iron supplement available and has been shown to correct anemia, increase blood haemoglobin content and increase iron reserves.
In general, Spirulina enhances overall immunity, promotes a healthy gut and overall well-being. Spirulina is an excellent supplement for a healthy skin and lustrous coat. It even enhances appetite for finicky cats. Spirulina fed pets have a fresher breath odour.
In short Spirulina has been shown to:
– Boost immune system
– Improve digestion
– Produce healthy skin and lustrous coat
– Improve appetite
-Improve overall well-being and freshen breath
In my next editorial I will continue with this important subject of supplementation and I wil look at the health benifts of Rooibos Tea, Diatomaceous Earth and Rosehip and Devils Claw for our pets.
Paul Jacobson is a Pet Food Nutritionist and qualified chef and owner of Vondis Holistic Pet Nutrition. Vondis has been producing natural pet food for 14 years and is a registered nutritional pet food. Vondis is actively involved in educating the public on the benefits of natural diets for pets and a holistic approach when treating them. Go to www.vondis.co.za for more information.