Supplements to Enhance Your Dog's Health
Posted on May 22 2020
“Do I need to feed supplements to my dog?” This is a question we get often when people switch to raw dog food. People want to know if our food enough for their dog or if they need to add extras.
The beef, chicken, and turkey formulas found in our store provides your dogs with the foundational aspects of a raw dog food diet: muscle meat, organs, and bone. These are the components that are mandatory. So if you want a short answer, it would be no, you don't need to add any supplements. Many dogs thrive on a meat only diet provided that the above mandatory requirements are met.
Supplements are another option for you to further enhance your dogs diet. Once you have the basics down, you can then decide what extras you might like to include if any. Choosing supplements depends on what your goals are for your dog. Do they have health issues you want to address? Does your dog have dry skin? Does your dog have digestion issues?
When adding supplements, I would start slow and then increase servings or frequency to the appropriate amounts. This allows you to monitor how your dog's body reacts and if the supplements are a good fit. You might find there is hesitation from your dog at first, this is normal when introducing new foods. Give it time and they may warm up. If there is digestive upset over long periods of time after you introduce something new, this might mean they are intolerant to it.
Below I am going to highlight supplements I choose to include in our dogs diet and why.
"Because dogs are omnivores, vegetables should form a substantial part of their diet. They are not essential, however. Dogs can live and survive without such fare. There is only one problem. They will never be totally healthy." Give Your Dog a Bone, Dr. Ian Billinghurst
There are many in the raw dog food community that would argue that vegetables are not necessary in a raw fed diet. As Dr. Ian Billinghurst notes in his book, they are right, dogs can live without vegetables. But, as we learn more about a raw diet for dogs, evidence shows that feeding some vegetables provides benefits that can help your dog live a long, healthy life.
If we are looking to the wild dog as a guideline for feeding our dogs a raw food diet, we see that vegetation is an important part of a balanced diet. When eating their prey, wild dogs will first eat the contents of the stomach and intestine which is full of vegetation eaten by the animal. Vegetables provide additional vitamins and minerals along with fibre. Fibre promotes a healthy digestive tract and helps feed the gut flora in the large intestine.
Vegetables also provide phytonutrients, which can only be found in plant sources. So if your dog eats only meat, they could be missing out on nutrients that can help prevent and treat disease and inflammation. The foods that have the most phytonutrients are berries, apples (with skin), kale, and broccoli.
A good rule of thumb is to try to incorporate 5-10% vegetation in your pups diet. Our Doggy Moggy Veggie blends make it easy for you to include vegetation. If you choose to add your own, make sure to blend, lightly cook, or ferment veggies before feeding to your dog for optimal digestion. If you choose to feed fermented vegetables from the store, make sure it does not include any extras like salt or seasonings.
Balancing Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids is critical to ensure your pup has a healthy immune system. Typically most dogs on a raw fed diet are getting a lot of Omega 6 through the protein they are eating particularly if they eat a lot of chicken. Because of this, we need to make sure our pups get some Omega 3 in their diet to ensure there is balance.
Omega 6 and 3 work together in the body to balance the immune system. Omega 6 produces hormones that increase inflammation and helps with blood clotting and cell growth. Inflammation in the body is a natural defense process in the body, but if there is too much in the body (chronic inflammation) it could lead to disease like autoimmune conditions, diabetes, obesity, or arthritis. Omega 3 works to reduce the inflammation in the body and control the immune system.
Fish is one of the best sources of Omega 3. A great option for fish is our herring or Safe Sea Green Lipped Mussel Oil . If you find it hard to feed your dog fish, our Doggy Moggy Advanced might be exactly what you need as the beef can hide the fishy taste for those picky eaters.
Other Omega 3 Sources:
- Hemp seeds
- Flax Seeds
Eggs are one of the most nutritious sources of food to supplement your raw dog food diet.
Eggs are a complete protein source and contains all 10 of the essential amino acids your dog requires. If your dog isn’t able to rotate through different proteins, eggs may be a good addition to ensure they are getting all essentials amino acids
While providing all the amino acids your dogs need, they host an array of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A & B12, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, and Selenium. The shell is also a great source of calcium. If you're concerned about your dogs calcium intake, this would be a great option to add to their meals. Feed the egg whole or just the insides and dry the shell to grind in a coffee grinder and serve over their next meal. Our Doggy Moggy Veggie blends include eggs in the formula, so we have you covered!
Eggs can be fed a couple times a week. Start by giving one raw egg and if you don’t see digestive distress that’s a good sign your dog can tolerate them! If you find your dog can’t do a raw egg, you can see if cooking the egg yields better results, just keep in mind that cooking depletes some of the nutrients.
PRE AND PRO BIOTICS
A happy gut means a happy pup. The key to a happy gut? Pro and PreBiotics.
Probiotics are the good bacteria found in your dog's digestive tract. They are responsible for regulating the immune system, protecting your dog from cancer causing toxins, ensuring nutrient absorption, and protecting your dog from harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E.Coli.
In order for the probiotics to work effectively, you need to ensure your dog is getting prebiotics. They feed the probiotics to help them grow and thrive.
The more good bacteria your dog has, the better his body is able to defend against toxins and prevent autoimmune disease, obesity, mood disorders, and diabetes.
The best food sources of probiotics are cow/goat kefir or yogurt and fermented vegetables.
Natural source of prebiotics include: apples, asparagus, dandelion greens, mushrooms like Turkey Tail, Reishi, or Chaga), fresh garlic, and banana. Make sure to crush or chop up the garlic and let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving to allow the medicinal properties to activate. Feed 1 tsp per 30 lbs of body weight per day for garlic. If you feed bananas, less is more and try to feed while the banana is still green to limit the sugar consumption.
For a deeper dive into the science behind pre and probiotics, check out the article Probiotics for Dogs: When They Help and When They Harm .
"Think of feeding polyphenols and fruits as making deposits into your dog’s bank account. These deposits help your dog’s health account to stay balanced and healthy against: environmental toxins, stress, and poor diet. " Dana Scott, "Fruit for Dogs: Research Says Feed Them!".
Similar to vegetables, fruit is not an essential requirement in a dog's diet . But studies are finding that fruit can provide many benefits to your dog.
Chronic inflammation in dogs is on the rise and is the culprit to many common diseases like allergies, diabetes, and cancer. The polyphenols in fruit can help reduce the amount of inflammation in their body.
For more on why fruit is beneficial to your dog, especially during the summer season, check out our blog post: Three Reasons to Feed Summer Fruit
WARNING: this last supplement will truly put your love for your dog to the test. Tripe stinks. It's the worst. But, dogs LOVE IT! They really do, in fact dogs who are known to be picky eaters can be enticed with tripe.
Tripe is the stomach contents of a grazing animal, typically from cattle, pigs, sheep or buffalo. Tripe contains digestive enzymes found in the the animal it comes from. Those same digestive enzymes will help your dog digest their food. The more enzymes in your dog's body, the better they are to extract nutrients from the food they eat. If your dog suffers from digestive issues, yeast overgrowth, bacterial infections, anxiety, or chronic diarrhea, they might benefit from some tripe a couple times a week.
Balancing calcium and phosphorus in a raw dog food diet is critical. The ideal ratio is 1:1, which is exactly what you will find in raw green tripe. Adding tripe along with bone and muscle meat is a great way to supplement your dog's diet to ensure they are getting the calcium and phosphorus they need.
Tripe is also another source of natural probiotics to feed your dog.
Stay away from the treated tripe you see in the grocery store. Raw green tripe is what you want. As soon as it's been treated or cooked, the nutrient value lessens. You can find raw green tripe in our store online, available in 10 lbs or 45 lbs boxes.
As your dog grows older, his requirement for glucosamine goes up. Glucosamine is produced in your dogs body and it helps form the cartilage in your dogs joints. The older your dog gets, the less glucosamine is produced in their body. Which is why vets will recommend supplementation. Glucosamine is also a natural anti-inflammatory which will help with your dog's joint pain or stiffness.
One of the best natural sources of glucosamine is chicken feet. Feed them raw (some dogs like them frozen!) to your dogs on a weekly or monthly basis depending on your budget.
Other sources of glucosamine:
- Oxtails or Pig tails
- Beef knuckle bones
- Shellfish shells
- Bone Broth (we have a super simple recipe here)
That concludes our list! I would love to know what supplements you feed your dogs and why - let me know in the comments below!
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