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Newsletter - April 2006

The News At Home

I wish I could read Cassie’s mind. We went for a walk and she did what all dogs do - sniffed every blade of grass and every post along the way. At her age, I let her walk as quickly or slowly as she pleases and give her lots of time to enjoy the outing at leisure. After all, this is her walk much more so than mine. One post in particular must have had interesting “calling cards” left by other dogs. Cassie sniffed one area and wagged her tail excitedly, sniffed lower and didn’t find anything of particular interest and then got up on her back legs to sniff way up high. For Cassie, that’s probably about two feet. Whoever had marked that area wasn’t going to get away with it. Cassie told that post off in no uncertain terms. She gave a soft growl and began kicking her back paws in protest. Undaunted, the darn post refused to move away so our girl was forced to get serious with it. Her tail arched over her back and she barked furiously. Apparently the post had been put in its place so we were free to continue our walk. You’ve got to wonder sometimes.

What’s New at Alfalfa Powder

Organically grown and dried naturally, our alfalfa leaf powder is harvested at the height of potency. The earlier alfalfa is cut, the higher the nutrient values. This green food benefits digestion, the liver and musculoskeletal system.

Alfalfa contains up to 50% protein by weight, trace minerals, fiber and small amounts of vitamins. Rich in chlorophyll, it serves as an antioxidant in the bloodstream.

We’re very happy to provide this high quality product in 8 oz bottles. Convenient to use without the mess of powder flying all over the kitchen, a little goes a long way.

Fact of the Month About Mineral Absorption

Dry and canned diets have additions of minerals, many times greater than what a dog actually needs. The reason for this, and one of the reasons that some home prepared diets benefit from adding a multi vitamin or mineral is that availability, and therefore absorption, differs from dog to dog and diet to diet. Why is this so? The distinction between a “good” mineral source and a poor one is based on a number of factors. The analyzed nutrient content is the first step but keep in mind that what the diet shows on paper and what the dog can actually use is bound to differ, sometimes greatly.

The chemical form of a mineral affects availability. Body stores that an animal may or may not have (dietary history is usually a fair guide in this regard), amounts and proportions of other minerals that play key roles in the uptake of the mineral we focus on, age, are all considerations. Generally, minerals found in animal based foods are more available than those in plant derived foods (veggies and grains). A term called “anti-nutritional factors” is used to describe things that can impair nutrition i.e. availability and absorption of a nutrient within a feed. These anti-nutritional factors include phytate (a phosphorus compound that makes minerals less available), goitergens (inhibit the uptake of iodine), oxalate and fiber. Plant based foods contain more of these factors. Beet pulp seems to be consistent in its ability to reduce the availability of calcium, phosphorus, calcium and zinc. Commercial diets don’t present a problem in this regard because although beet pulp may be used and, in fact, has it’s own merits, the addition of minerals added to the diet compensates for any affect it might have on mineral availability. How does any of this fit into home-prepared diets? The answer lies in knowing the mineral values your dog needs and comparing them to what the diet provides. Now, give consideration to mineral availability rather than simply looking at the numbers. It’s not just about food. It’s also about the feeding history, source, and possible interactions between minerals, vitamins and anti-nutritional factors.


“Dogs need to sniff the ground; it's how they keep abreast of current events. The ground is a giant dog newspaper, containing all kinds of late breaking dog news items, which, if they are especially urgent, are often continued in the next yard.” -- Dave Barry, Humorist



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