Supplements in the Diet?
No diet is perfect, if we consider that all our fur kids are unique living creatures. Using a natural vitamin-mineral preparation assures us that the fur kid has at least obtained the essential macro and micro nutrients each day.
We view supplements as an essential part of our fur kids’ diet, so the topic is reasonable to discussed here. As with raw feeding, there are many opinions as for the pros and cons of supplements.
And just as people eat foods such as yogurt with live cultures for its ability to keep the micro-bacterial balance of the intestines at healthy levels, and soluble fibre for aiding in digestion, some of these same ingredients can be used to make probiotic and prebiotic formulas for animals for the same use. Pre- and probiotic supplements are especially good for digestive health, but they also help the immune system to maintain a healthy response, reduce allergy symptoms, and prevent diarrhoea.
Supplements that are formulated for joint health typically include the ingredients glucosamine and chondroitin, which have been found to be useful in treating arthritis in both humans and animals. Supplements that are made for healing dry, flaking skin and dry hair coats include ingredients that add essential fatty acids to the body to increase moisture in the skin and hair. Some fish oils are a typical ingredient in skin and hair supplements. Vitamins C and E, both well known for their antioxidant properties, can be used to reduce inflammation and may even help to maintain cognitive function in older animals.
In summary, the most commonly used supplementary products for pets include those for strengthening the joints, protecting and conditioning the skin and hair coat, improving digestive health, and for overall well-being.
Other dietary supplements are available for specific problems, e.g. joint and skin problems, and their use can reduce or replace the need for drug therapy in these conditions. Undoubtedly, as interest grows in these products, the number of products available and their range of applications will increase rapidly.
Having said all that, nutritional science is a dynamic subject and research may modify present-day RDAs as, for example, in the case of antioxidants. Levels of free radicals appear to be rising in many animals, possibly due to increasing pollution levels. Current RDAs for antioxidants are probably inadequate given these increases and future recommendations may suggest higher levels than are presently included in diets.
In contrast, many of the exotic species should routinely be given vitamin and mineral supplements because of the inadequacies of their diets and the artificial conditions under which they live.
Recommended daily amounts (RDAs) are, however, only averages and cannot take into account the quirks of the individual. Certain dogs and cats with specific clinical problems may require supplementation. This should only be provided on the advice of your veterinarian and the effects carefully monitored.
These nutrients are needed in tiny quantities and more is not necessarily better. An example is that of large breed pups being given mineral supplements to encourage bone growth. Rapid growth in these breeds is now known to be undesirable, increasing the likelihood of skeletal disorders developing.
Mention of supplements is usually taken to mean the addition of vitamins and / or minerals to your fur kids’ diet in either tablet, liquid or powder form. In the past, when balanced, life stage foods were not available, there may well have been a greater need for such supplements. Nowadays it is generally accepted that a normal, healthy animal fed a balanced diet, appropriate to its age, lifestyle and species, will receive adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.
A number of vitamin-mineral preparations are available today. The best preparations are whole food preparations rather than synthetic, chemically processed multi-vitamins. Several studies suggest that the bioavailability of natural food complex vitamins is better (more superior) than that of most isolated synthetic vitamins, and that they may have better effects on maintaining aspects of human health, and therefore we assume our fur kids as well, beyond traditional vitamin deficiency syndromes, and at least some seem to be preferentially retained by the human body. These whole food products provide proper nutrition for your fur kids, as they provide vitamins and minerals in their natural states, similar to those your dog or cat would acquire by eating a natural raw diet.
These supplements should be the basic supplements for your fur kids, and then you can build on your pet’s individual needs from this point.
Health Blend Formulas
Health Blend Formulas are products that combine a number of plant (herbs) and animal tissues in one easy-to-use powdered formula. The powder formulation allows easy administration of the product. Most products are palatable, which makes their acceptance by pets quite high.
The idea behind health blend formulas is that the heat and pressure used when preparing commercially (kibble and canned) processed foods may alter some or all of the nutrients contained in the food. Providing a blend formula gives back to the pet those nutrients that may be lacking in processed foods, including enzymes, protein and amino acids, fibre, beneficial bacteria (probiotics), phytochemicals and vitamins and minerals.
Here are 10 things you should know about vitamins for dogs
- There is a difference between synthetic vitamins and those found in food. Most people are unaware that unless marked otherwise, vitamins are made chemically from crude oil and coal. They are a mock version of food-based vitamins. It is true that synthetic vitamins may correct major problems, but the body does not process them the same as natural vitamins. They can cause stomach upsets and can be easily overdosed.
- It would be impossible to make vitamin supplements solely from plants and fruits. The cost would be prohibitive and the product would likely be incomplete. The pile of food that is needed to make one jar of multivitamins would be huge.
- Naturally cultured vitamins are a reasonable compromise. They fall into the whole food category because they are cultured on a probiotic media. This process bounds these vitamins into bio-proteins, and the body recognizes them as food. They are unlikely to cause stomach upsets or overdose.
- No one can really say with absolute certainty how much of each vitamin each dog needs. The recommended doses are just an estimate. Offering a broad-spectrum, naturally-cultured multivitamin is the most reasonable solution. Remember, nature never gives an exact amount of vitamins. The mantra here is abundance and variety, but not excess.
- Nutrient soil depletion is a serious problem. Food is transported long distances and minerals and nutrients do not return to the soil. Some people mistakenly believe that feeding healthy raw or cooked food is enough. This statement may be true in the zero waste natural system of the Serengeti, but not in real life. Even if dogs were fed meat from animals that are raised in a pasture, they can’t roam freely to get a balanced diet. Why? Because different areas have different nutrient and mineral content.
- Vitamin manufacturing is one of the best-kept secrets of many supplement companies. Most people do not realize that a vast majority of synthetic vitamins are made in China. Most of us understand that products made in China are often lower quality.
- Vitamins work the best when the body has a good source of minerals, amino acids and omega oils. Without these building blocks, the vitamin's effect will be greatly reduced.
- Mega doses of synthetic vitamins can be toxic and cause side effects. Especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K can cause serious problems because they can’t be easily eliminated, unlike water-soluble vitamins such as C and B complex.
- Smaller dogs have higher vitamin requirements because of their higher metabolic rate.
- Plastic packaging exposes vitamins to toxic chemical residues. Choose certified organic vitamins packaged in glass whenever possible.
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at::
- How to choose the right vitamins for your dog, by Dr. Dobias (Dr Peter Dobias)
- How many supplements are too many for your dog, by Dr. Dobias (Dr Peter Dobias)
- Health Benefits of Coconut Oil by Organic Facts Online (Organic Facts)
- Article by Brian and Marianita Shilhavy on Coconut Oil Offers Hope for Antibiotic-Resistant Germs (Coconut Oil)
- Article by Dr. Mercola on Coconut Oil: This Cooking Oil Is a Powerful Virus-Destroyer and Antibiotic (Mercola)
- Article by Dr Becker on Supplements - Are Nutritional Supplements for Pets Really Necessary? (Mercola)
- Do your own research on topics such as coconut oil - Google Scholar Search (Google Scholar)
- Dr Karen Becker discuss Coconut Oil in Your Pet's Diet (YouTube)
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