Have you noticed how bright, healthy and happy your dog or cat is now that you are providing them with natural foods, treats and supplements? Want to share the pleasure? Research suggests that the best way to raise healthy, happy children is to be a healthy and happy person yourself. We all know the same is true for our animal companions – if we’re healthy and happy, they’re happier. This month’s article will help you discern the healthy things you can share with your furry friends (or they can share with you).
If you have read many of our articles you know how much we emphasize nutrition and healthy diet choices for your pets. If you cook fresh food for yourself, then don’t forget to make a little extra for your canine or feline friend. Some traditional veterinarians warn guardians to keep their food to themselves, but holistically trained and more open-minded veterinarians sing a different tune – encouraging people to share healthy “table scraps” with their pets. This can include lean meats (not fat trimmings), lightly cooked vegetables and most fruits. Adding fresh foods to your pet’s diet improves nutrition and provides variety – not to mention producing lively tail wags and vociferous purrs.
Many dogs will eat whatever is on your plate, but cats can be a bit more discerning. Try sharing some cantaloupe with your kitty next time you are having the orange melon for breakfast – you might be surprised just how much she’ll like it! Several caveats here: 1- No chocolate, onions, grapes or raisins for your furry friends. And no junk food or highly processed people food, (Garlic is fine for pets – please seeGarlic’s Many Health Benefits); and 2- Remember not to feed from the table (unless you like your companion staring at you during every meal); and 3- Reduce their regular food by the appropriate amount so they don't get fat! Overweight pets are at higher risk for a whole host of health problems.
Digestive enzymes improve digestion and the assimilation of nutrients and may also help protect against the development of allergies, illness and immune disorders. You can eat - or feed your pet - the healthiest foods you can find, but if the nutrients, proteins, vitamins and minerals are not unlocked from that food via the enzymatic process, you will not reap the benefits. Enzymes release the nutrients locked within the foods we eat, and that our pets eat, and transport them throughout the body. Cooking destroys the natural enzymes in foods, so supplementing with enzymes - especially when feeding kibble or canned food, can be highly beneficial. Both you and your furry friends can try digestive enzymes like Similase, Bio-Zyme, or Opta-Gest.
Signs you may benefit from digestive enzymes:
Signs your dog or cat may benefit from digestive enzymes:
- Most digestive disorders
- Dairy intolerance
- Food allergies
- Fogginess or sleepiness after eating
- Sugar intolerance
- Gallbladder stress which may manifest as the following symptoms
- Nausea following meal
- Headache prior to meal or following meal
- Excessive shedding
- Chronic ear or urinary tract infections
- Gas or bloating
- Chronic loose stools
- Body odor
- Stool eating
- Food allergies
Another helpful supplement for the digestive tract and immune system is probiotics. These are the "good" bacteria and yeast organisms that populate a healthy digestive tract that keep the "bad" bacteria and yeasts at bay. When the population of the good guys is low in the digestive tract, opportunistic organisms like Candida (yeast), coccidia (parasites) or clostridia (bacteria) can become a problem. The digestive system is the first line of defense for the immune system, so keeping it healthy is in your best interest. Probiotics are essential whenever you or your companion must take antibiotics for an infection. Antibiotics kill the good bacteria in your system along with the infecting bacteria, so replacing them during and for at least 2 weeks following a course of antibiotics will help you avoid the many problems that can ensue. Probiotics must be taken 2 hours apart from antibiotics and should be taken at least 2 times per day during antibiotic use. Steroids and other medications can also be harmful to the healthy balance of organisms in the digestive tract. Two probiotic supplements you can use along with your companion are NF Spectra Probiotics and Probiotic Pearls (appropriate for dogs over 50 lbs).
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential Fatty Acids are another very helpful diet supplement that just about everyone - two legged or four - can benefit from. Every week more and more studies are published showing the many health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are required in the diet; they cannot be produced by the body (hence the “essential” in the name). These essential fatty acids are necessary for proper formation of cell membranes, are precursors for prostaglandins (hormones involved in pain regulation among other things), aid in proper cardiovascular function, and nourish the skin and coat as well as the lining of the digestive tract. In addition, omega 3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA act to reduce inflammatory processes in the body, reducing the effects of arthritis and many other problems associated with inflammation. Studies have linked omega 3 supplementation with better brain function, higher intelligence in children, less depression, support of healthy cholesterol levels, protection from stroke and even prevention of breast, colon and prostate cancers. Even the healthiest of American diets is higher in omega 6 fatty acids than omega 3 fatty acids, and so are most commercial dog and cat foods. Eskimo-3 fish oil is one of the most extensively researched fish oil supplements available. For those looking for a vegetarian source of omega 3's, try Nutiva Organic Coconut Oil.
Stress and Trauma
Stress and anxiety effects everyone and one remedy no one should be without is Bach's Rescue Remedy. Rescue Remedy is called for in many situations such as trauma from accidents or frightening experiences such as bites or fights between animals, thunder storms or fireworks, visits to the vet, or anything that causes stress. There are countless stories of the amazing healing and calming properties of Rescue Remedy following a trauma for both animals and people. Keep a bottle in your car, desk, purse or pocket for emergencies - or just for those days when life is moving too fast and you feel stressed and overwhelmed - Rescue Remedy can help.
After working too hard in the garden, going all-out on the playing field, or taking long hikes this summer, you may need some joint support for those achy joints and sore or strained muscles. Traumagesic Complex is a great supplement to have on hand for those times you or your companion over-do it or sustain minor injuries.
Have you been feeling fatigued, foggy or just plain yucky and cannot find the cause? Candida overgrowth, called Candidiasis, is nearly an epidemic in our society and is responsible for many of the chronic illnesses so many people suffer from and struggle to find answers for. Candida albicans is a yeast organism that is a normal inhabitant of the intestinal tract. When this yeast begins to overgrow and crowd out the good bacteria, throwing off the balance of microorganisms in the digestive tract, the trouble begins. If left unchecked, Candida albicans can grow from a single-celled organism into a fungal form that can grow through the intestinal wall causing leaky gut. Please see the articleCould it be Candida? in our archives for more information about Candidiasis in animals. The list of symptoms in humans is far too long to list here, but here are some of the more common signs of Candida overgrowth.
- General fatigue, mental fogginess, irritability, chronic headaches, mood swings
- Gastrointestinal issues such as food sensitivities, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.
- Respiratory allergy problems including rhinitis, sneezing and/or wheezing, chronic cough.
- Central nervous system disorders including anxiety, depression, memory deficits and/or loss of ability to concentrate.
- For women - menstrual abnormalities such as severe premenstrual tension and/or menstrual irregularities, and/or recurrent vaginitis.
- Difficulty losing weight
Candida overgrowth has been linked to a variety of original causes including the use of broad spectrum antibiotics, oral contraceptive use, a diet rich in yeast-containing foods and/or simple carbohydrates and major changes in hormonal balance such as pregnancy. Treatment for Candidiasis will vary depending on the severity of the problem, but will most always include following a diet low in carbohydrates and sugar, supplementing with digestive and systemic enzymes, probiotics, and herbs and nutraceuticals to help bring the yeast under control. In addition to the digestive enzymes, probiotics and EFA's mentioned above, a few Candida supplements you and your pet can both use to fight Candida include:
- Phytostan - An excellent natural antifungal blend of powdered extracts for anti-Candida intestinal support. This high-potency preparation combines Caprylic acid, Undecyclenic acid, and Grapefruit extract with Pau d'arco and other key botanical extracts.
- Bio-Zyme between meals - Systemic enzymes are just high protease enzymes taken on an empty stomach. Bio-Zyme can help remove circulating toxins and dead Candida cells - reducing the effects of "die-off". Systemic enzymes are given between meals on an empty stomach so that the enzymes are absorbed into the blood stream. If given with too much food the enzymes will work on digesting the food rather than entering the blood stream and cleaning up debris.
- Coconut Oil - Caprylic acid in coconut oil is deadly to candida cells. The fatty acids in coconut oil can further aid in healing the lining of the digestive tract, improve metabolism and fuel the body’s cells. Applied topically coconut oil promotes healing of damaged tissue and has antimicrobial properties to aid in controlling yeast or bacterial infections on the skin.
- Seven Forests Quercenol - A liver support Chinese herbal supplement and supplement for the detoxification process – especially for those who have been treated conventionally with antibiotics and/or steroids. Quercenol contains a synergistic blend of herbs and nutrients that support the liver in detoxification and provide powerful antioxidant activity to boost the immune system.
Astragalus is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine and is increasingly found in Western herbal preparations as well. It's main use is in strengthening the immune system. Astragalus contains antioxidants as well as having antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and diuretic (helps eliminate fluid from the body) properties. Astragalus 10+ by Health Concerns combines astragalus with other Chinese herbs for advanced protection from colds and flu as well as support for chronic or allergic rhinitis. Astra 10+ is an excellent remedy to keep on hand for those times you feel that scratchy throat or stuffy nose of a cold coming on, or as a preventative when traveling or under extra stress. Astra 10+ is also a great support for dogs prior to and while boarded, as well as when traveling for shows or performances.
Medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. Studies have shown that medicinal mushrooms can boost heart health, lower the risk of cancer, promote immune function, ward off viruses, bacteria, and fungal infections, reduce inflammation, combat allergies, help balance blood sugar levels, and support the body's detoxification mechanisms. Stamets 7 is a blend of 7 of some of the most well-researched medicinal mushrooms providing an excellent overall health tonic and immune support for you and your canine or feline friend. Power Mushrooms by Health Concerns is another good option for both pets and their people.
Go Outside and Play
After eating well and taking your supplements you and your pet will be feeling so healthy you'll have loads of energy to go out and play. Grab a Chuckit! or a Ruff Wear Lunker and head for the park with your dog. If you have indoor cats, get a kitty harness and let them explore the yard or nearby park with you. Exercise is as important as a good diet or any supplement regimen, so make sure you and your furry friends get plenty of it.
Hiking, camping or picnicking this summer? Only Natural Pet Herbal Defense Spray is all-natural and safe for you and the kids! Repels mosquitoes, ticks and other pests. (Fleas, too – but hopefully you don’t have those!) Smells great and a little goes a long way.
Treats!Cats and dogs love cheese! People, too. Cheese Please is a tasty, cheesy treat you can share together after your romp in the park.Peanut Butter is another favorite of dogs and people. Pack some Wetnoses Peanut Butter and Molasses or Newman's Own Organics Peanut Butter Dog Treats in your backpack, or your dog'sRuff Wear Palisades Pack, along with your favorite kind of nut butter, when you head out for a hike or head for the hills to do some camping. The perfect energy food for the trail!