Essential Vitamin Test Results for my Senior Raw Fed Dog
Posted on July 14 2023
Earlier this year, I decided to test Doozer, our 10 year old Golden doodle, to see where his Essential Vitamin levels were at. Initially, the intent was to test his Vitamin D levels, but found this test on Dr. Judy Morgan's website and thought, why do just one?
I was happy with the results! Continue reading to see what they were.
The desire to test Doozer was prompted by the research I did for a post on Instagram about why Vitamin D is so critical for our pups.
Did you know that dogs don't receive Vitamin D from sun exposure like we do?
Dogs require Vitamin D in their diet. The sun does not provide Vitamin D like it does for humans. Vitamin D plays an important role in calcium and phosphorus absorption. Vitamin D is essential for bone and teeth growth and plays a role in building a healthy immune system.
Long Term Vitamin D deficiency can lead to.....
- Immune System Dysfunction
- Kidney Disease
- Heart Disease
- Atopic dermatitis
While too little Vitamin D can cause issues, so can too much. The kibble industry has learned this the hard way. Over the years, they have added too much Vitamin D resulting in illness and death.
Hills Pet Food had one of the biggest recalls in pet food history due to high levels of Vitamin D. Recalling 1 million cases of pet food. (Source: Feeding Dogs: Dry or Raw? The Science Behind the Debate by Dr. Conor Brady)
Whether you feed raw or kibble, it's important to know what your pups levels are at. Testing for Vitamin D ensures they are getting what they need and to prevent any health complications that is associated with low or too high Vitamin D levels.
Optimal levels of Vitamin D for dogs is 100 to 150 ng/ml on blood testing. Levels below 40 ng/ml is when illness can start to show up.
Factors that can affect Vitamin D levels:
- Age - as a dog ages, their ability to absorb Vitamin D lowers
- Poor quality diet
- Lack of variety in diet
- GI Tract Diseases
- Spay or Neutering
- Steroids Use (corticosteroids like prednisone)
I was listening to Lee Hood and Nathan Price, co-authors of The Age of Scientific Wellness, the other day on an Armchair Expert episode. One of them spoke about how their genetic make up prevented them from absorbing Vitamin D efficiently. Resulting in them needing to supplement more than what was recommended in order to get the appropriate amount for their body.
Who's to say the same isn't true for dogs? (This is speculative).
The best sources of Vitamin D is through food. Excess Vitamin D is less likely when using whole food as it is in a lower concentration than synthetic.
Natural forms of vitamins are absorbed in the body much more efficiently than synthetic sources.
- Raw Egg yolks*+
- Cod Liver Oil*
*The most potent sources of Vitamin D
+ Ingredients found in our raw pet food blends. See ingredient list for your blend to verify what's included.
The Other Vitamins I Tested
Along with the Vitamin D, I also tested Vitamin B12, Magnesium, and Folate.
Vitamin B12: Responsible for the nervous system, concentration, and aids digestions.
Food Sources: Liver, heart, kidney, rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine.
Magnesium: Prevents birth defects, improves cardiovascular system, reduces and dissolves calcium phosphate kidney stones.
Food Sources: Rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine.
Folate: Produces red blood cells. Promotes proper iron function. Controls blood levels of amino acids. Important for pregnant females to decrease risk of birth defects.
Food Sources: Liver, rabbit, chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, goat, ostrich, buffalo, egg, beef, salmon, halibut, haddock, sardine.
I mean, look at this face! 🥰😍 This picture is of Doozer after the drive home from Ooodles of Doodles with his first ever marrow bone. I remember the day he came home so clearly - one of my favourite memories.
Age: 10 Years Old (as of March 2023)
Breed: Golden Doodle (mom was a Golden Retriever and dad was a Poodle)
He has never eaten kibble in his life.
Doozer's test results show that his B12 and Folate numbers are normal. His magnesium levels are normal, but on the lower side of the spectrum. As I suspected, his Vitamin D levels are low.
Due to his age, the fact that he has been neutered, and has been vaccinated according to a conventional vet's schedule, his Vitamin D levels are not surprising to me.
As I mentioned before, I am quite happy with the results. To be in the normal ranges for three out of the four vitamins tested is remarkable for a dog his age in my opinion. He is living proof of a dog who has thrived on raw dog food in a world that still believes kibble is the only option for our pets.
Since receiving the test, I have have been supplementing Doozer's food with Vitamin D and have boosted the Vitamin D rich foods in his diet. I will retest him later this year and will report back!
The test itself was very easy to use. The results were clear and provided a recommendation for appropriate supplementation levels based on the test results.
The experience at the vet was not as easy and a bit time consuming. If you decide to try it, I hope your experience is a little smoother than mine.
It was obvious this was the first time my vet clinic were asked to do this. They all meant well and were accommodating, but it felt like a bigger production than it needed to be.
They took the blood and packaged it up based on the instructions in the kit. They passed it off to me and I did the shipping. At first they were going to do it for me, but then they decided it was best I take care of it. It needed to be done the same day.
The results were sent directly to me and my vet. My vet took the time to call and go over the results with me. They were concerned about Doozer's Vitamin D levels (rightfully so) and as soon as I told them he was fed raw, it was clear they thought the levels was due to his diet.
They went on to promote Hills Science Diet kibble and tried to tell me that if he were to be on a kibble diet, he would be getting the appropriate levels. My questions to them in response were:
Do you test Vitamin D levels in dogs and see this? Well, no because it's too costly. (Thank goodness we live in Canada! I always think about the American system when I go to the vets office and shell out hundreds of dollars for a BASIC check up.)
What about the dog food that is recalled for high levels of Vitamin D? Well, that doesn't happen too often. (Define too often.....😒)
The conversation didn't really go much farther than that. I am still quite confident in the power of a raw food diet for my dogs. I mean, let's not forget the other three vitamins tested as normal.
Is there such a thing as one meal that is complete & balanced?
Obviously I don't believe kibble is the only option for my dog. In fact, I take issue with the many dog food companies will tell you their meals are complete, balanced and all your pups need.
I believe this is a disservice to you.
There is no such thing as one "complete" and "balanced meal" for dogs. This narrative provides a false sense of security and feeds the belief that you don't need to do anything more for your pups.
I do not believe that the recommendation given to me by my vet is fool proof to ensuring my dog is not deficient in something.
Truth is, no food - whether it's kibble or raw - will be 100% for your dogs.
➡️ Kibble companies tend to have recalls for vitamin excess or deficiencies.
➡️ Not all food includes Omega 3 - an important part of a dogs diet.
➡️ Pet nutrition is always evolving.
➡️ AAFCO standards aren't perfect.
➡️ Saying food is complete & balanced doesn't account for the fact that all dogs have different requirements, respond differently to foods, and environmental factors like age, life experiences, medications, etc.
Feeding one food for your pups entire life shouldn't be the recommendation. We should be more focused on feeding a variety of foods to our pups with appropriate supplementation.
For a raw dog food diet this means a variety of proteins, variety of organs and a variety of fruits & vegetables. Add in high quality Omega 3. Yes, there should be balance from a ratio standpoint. But if your dog isn't getting a variety of foods, they aren't getting the most out of their diet.
If you feed kibble, switch up the blends you feed. If you can, add in some fresh fruit & vegetables from time to time. Again, add in high quality Omega 3.
It doesn't have to be hard, but it does require some engagement on our part. A step away from looking for "complete" and "balanced" in one package.
Knowledge is Power
Tests like this one opens a window into our dogs health and provides knowledge on how we can better feed our dogs. While it is only a snapshot, but it can help create a broader picture of health when used with other tools.
It can also be a tool when having conversations with our vets. I find that the minute you say you feed your dog raw, the conversation seems to stop and blanket assumptions are made. Mostly that the diet is not meeting nutritional requirements.
When we can provide results showing how well our dogs are doing, they might be more receptive to having a more holistic conversation about our dogs health.
I also tested Doozer's stool recently to examine the bacteria in his gut. This had some very interesting results that addresses the concern of bad bacteria from a raw dog food diet. More to come on this!
Have you done any tests like this one for your pups? What tests have you done and what did you learn about your pups?
Thanks for sharing your time with me! I hope you found this article valuable; please share with anyone you thing might benefit and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Amanda Monsma (she/her)
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Disclaimer: All information presented on this website is for informational and/or educational purposes only and based on our experience and those shared by our clients. These statements have not been evaluated by a veterinarian. This website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and is not intended to be a substitute or replacement for any medical treatment. Please seek the advice of a holistic veterinarian for your dog’s specific health concerns.