B-Naturals Newsletter, August, 2008
Basic Supplements for Daily Use in the Dog's Diet
Lew Olson PhD Natural Health
One of the most common questions people ask me when it comes to feeding their dogs is “What supplements should I add to my dog’s diet?” This question is asked whether they are feeding a raw diet, home cooked meals or a commercial dog food. Regardless of what type of diet you are feeding, all should receive the same supplements, with the only exception being the addition of calcium to home cooked recipes.
Each of these diets is already adequate in minerals. Commercial diets add minerals to their diets to achieve the NRA dog nutrition standards. Raw diets contain meat, organ meat and bone, which already contain balanced minerals. Home cooked recipes have meat, organ meat and added calcium carbonate, ground egg shell or citrate to help balance calcium. All of these diets, when a variety of proteins are used, also contain adequate amounts of minerals. I do not recommend adding minerals to any of these diets without the advice and supervision of a veterinarian, again with the exception of adding calcium to home cooked meals to balance the calcium/phosphorus ratios.
The daily supplements I recommend are the ones that are harder to find in foods or are most fragile, or perishable in storage and handling. These include water soluble vitamins, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, probiotics and enzymes.
Water soluble vitamins include B vitamins and vitamin C. Neither of these store well, such as in commercial dog food packaging, and are more difficult to find in large enough levels in fresh food. B vitamins can be found in meat, organ meat and dairy. B vitamins are beneficial for the nervous system and to help build red blood cells. They help in metabolizing amino acids which are found in proteins. Raw diets generally will be richer in this vitamin, as some B vitamins loose potency when heated. And while dogs can make some vitamin C, more is helpful for collagen repair, capillary integrity and as an antioxidant. Bioflavanoids are an important addition to vitamin C as it helps with uptake and absorption in the body.
Both of vitamin C and B vitamins are water soluble, which means they are easily excreted from the body. They are needed daily as they not stored in the body. I recommend giving both of these daily.
Vitamin E is a valuable fat soluble vitamin that is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals. This is also helpful in fighting cancer. It is also heart protective and helps lower blood pressure. Most sources are plant related, so it is important to add this important vitamin.
Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish oils. They are also present in plant oils (flax, hemp) but dogs have difficulty converted the ALA in plant oils to a usable form of omega 3 fatty acids. It is difficult to find in many food sources, mostly because most feed animals are fed grains rather than grasses. It is also a fragile essential fatty acid in that it is destroyed when exposed to heat, light and air. My general recommendation is to give one capsule (180EPA/120DHA) per 20 lbs of body weight daily. Omega 3 fatty acids help to support the immune system, help the skin and coat, and is renal, heart and liver protective.
The last two supplements help with the digestion system. These help fight gas, help to assimilate and digest food better and aid in forming better stools. Digestive enzymes are composed of animal and plant based enzymes. Animal based enzymes help to predigest fat and proteins in the stomach, making the food easier to digest when it hits the small intestine. Plant based enzymes help to prevent gas.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, such as acidolphilus, bifidus and more. These help keep a good colony of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut to help digestion of food, reducing gas and producing firmer stools. They also help make vitamin B and vitamin K in the large intestine.
Daily Supplement Recommendations for All Diet Types
B-Naturals carries the Bertes Immune Blend, which contains vitamin C, bioflavanoids, vitamin E, B complex, plus digestive enzymes and probiotics. My recommendation is to give the Bertes Immune Blend at half dose to all my healthy dogs and give one fish oil capsule per 20 lbs of body weight daily. These would be recommended for raw diets, home cooked or commercial diets.
Fish oils are fragile, and must be given separately, in capsules. We carry two strengths, the EPA Fish Oil Capsules in 180EPA/120DHA per capsule, or the EPA Fish Oil Capsules in the 300EPA/200DHA.