Like their owners, dogs are called upon to deal with a variety of challenges throughout life. Reproduction, travel, athletic events, working, and more, can bring a variety of issues to the table. Stress, brought on by the need to be boarded, whelping and even enjoyable events such as being with other dogs, can translate to a need for specific nutrients or dietary changes that best address specific situations.
An excellent diet provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals. During pregnancy, the body's reserves of these nutrients are called upon to support the growth of puppies - sometimes at the expense of the bitch's own body. Ensuring that nutritional needs of both mother and pups are well taken care of without risking the bitch's own nutrient reserves is the goal of every caring breeder.
Excessive amounts of vitamin A ( liver, fish liver oils) during pregnancy may be associated with cleft palettes. Insufficient folate has been associated with other birth defects.
Essential fatty acids are found in oils such as Borage Oil, Flaxseed Oil, Primrose Oil and Wild Salmon Oil. They form the membranes of every cell in the body and play vital roles in brain and reproductive function.
Ellagitannins (see Antioxidant Booster) have been shown to help the immune system. Calcium and phosphorus in the correct balance, are critical components for health - not only to support a developing skelton, but also for muscle function, including the heart. Di-Calcium Phosphate may be used as a hypoallergenic source of both minerals.
Kelp provides iodine to support function of the thyroid, green foods in general provide small amounts of important nutrients to boost the nutrient profile of a diet.
Stress and Anxiety
How stressful can a dog's life possibly be? That depends on the state of health as well as personality of the dog in question! Allergies and disease are stressors to the body and life itself may not be as calm as we envision. Stress can be a part of life when your dog is kenneled, at dog shows, visiting the vet, meeting new dogs, pregnant, or becoming overly excited for any number of reasons. Stress can affect the overall health of a dog.
The Things That Can Help
A calm environment with a predictable routine is what most dogs thrive on. Even those high-energy working dogs like to know that their job is based on a reliable schedule. Supplements can play important roles in maintaining your dog's health and some are geared to help address the affects of stress. Acidophilus helps to improve the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract in particular. Ellagic Acid (see Antioxidant Booster) has been shown to help support normal liver function, have anti-cancer properties and affect some bacteria. B-Complex are required for almost every body function and some are directly associated with the brain. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and CoQ10 has been reported to help general cognitive function, especially for older dogs.
Puppies, Adults and Senior Dogs
Special dogs with special needs come in all sizes and ages. Now, if only they came with zippers down the front so we could see what was going on inside! The growing pup is like a house under construction. The body uses vitamins and minerals while also needing to store more for future use. The adult dog is like a house under constant renovation. Old cells continually die and are replaced with new ones. How well these processes take place is, in so many ways, dependant on healthy nutrition.
Impacting the Results
Food is very powerful and certainly, most nutrients should be coming from a properly constructed diet plan. In addition, there are several things that can improve health and help to address maintenance. Essential fatty acids form the membranes of every cell in the body. They are found in products such as Primrose Oil and Wild Salmon Oil.
Green foods, such as Alfalfa and Kelp, provide some vitamins and minerals. Kelp, in particular, provides iodine to support the thyroid gland. Acidophilus is a healthy bacteria naturally found in the gut. Providing it in supplement form helps to strengthen the immune system, the gastrointestinal tract in particular. Acidophilus is the best studied probiotic in dogs.
Protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are the axis that good nutrition revolves around. But there's more that can be done if we consider cognition which has been shown to impove when the diet is boosted with antioxidants. Think green veggies, and the Healthy Energy Package.
For Further Reading
Optimal Nutrition: This book provides in depth discussions about various health goals and diseases that may affect your dog, as well as sample diet plans for the above.
K9Kitchen: The how and why of creating a balanced diet for a healthy dog. Step-by-step instructions as well as recipes.
Balance Needs With Nutrition eBooklet
Cooked Diet Recipes eBooklet
Raw Food Recipes eBooklet
Enhancing Commercial Diets eBooklet
Feeding Older Dogs eBooklet
Power of Food seminar Audio Download - created for people who wanted to be proactive.
Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Gammalinolenic Acid by Dr. LJ Leventhal et al. An EFA found in borage seed oil help treat the inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis
Efficacy of Fish Oil Concetrate in the Treatment of Rheumtoid Arthritis by Dr. D Volker et al. Fish oils help improve patients with rheumatoid arthritis
Dietary Enrichments Counteracts Age-Associated Cognitive Dysfunction in Canines by Dr. NW Milgram et al. Antioxidants can partially counteract the cognitive decline that comes with age.
Bacteria in the Gut by Dr. RA Rastall Acidophilus probiotics improve immune function.
A study looked at ellagitannins, commonly found in items like raspberry and strawberry seeds, and its effects on cancer cells in a laboratory environment (cells in a test tube). They tested cervical carcinoma, and found that at a high concentration, the ellagic acid slowed, then stopped the test cancer.(The full study can be purchased (PDF or HTML) from Science Direct for $30.00.) Further studies were performed in people and showed postive results. See our August newsletter for more information.
Abstract: Ellagic acid is a phenolic compound present in fruits and nuts including raspberries, strawberries and walnuts. It is known to inhibit certain carcinogenic induced cancers and may have other chemopreventive properties. The effects of ellagic acid on cell cycle events and apoptosis were studied in cervical carcinoma (CaSki) cells. We found that ellagic acid at a concentration of 10(-5) M induced G arrest within 48 h, inhibited overall cell growth and induced apoptosis in CaSki cells after 72 h of treatment. Activation of the cdk inhibitory protein p21 by ellagic acid suggests a role for ellagic acid in cell cycle regulation of cancer cells.
Study Authors Narayanan BA, Geoffroy O, Willingham MC, Re GG, Nixon DW. Cancer Prevention Program, Hollings Cancer Center Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29425, USA.