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Newsletter - November 2014

Tori's been eating five times daily. Yes, five. She couldn't be happier - or more demanding. See, she really needed to put on weight, but 3 meals per day provided too much volume of food at one sitting for such a small dog. The result was that she was pooping about as much volume as she was eating, but by feeding smaller meals five times daily, and tweaking the ratio of meat to potato, it all worked out. Another half pound to go. In the meantime, feeding all these meals has given us an even more demanding dog. Hard to believe, I know.

As with all dogs, she can tell when it's time to eat. The first couple of days, she was so surprised to be offered food again and again that she was nothing but a grateful love-bug. Then the demands started. If not for the absolute need to give medications at certain times, I'd change things up, so she wouldn't be sure when to expect meals. As it is, I'm looking at this as having five chances to do some training every day. A sit here, a down there, and we're managing to get through her ever present question: Got food? But, doesn't help that I crack up laughing when she gets so excited that she stands on her back legs and spins like a top.

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If you haven'r read it, you should. No dog remains healthy for life, so knowing more and being able to act proactively is a huge plus. As well, I hate to bring this up but...Christmas isn't all that far away. This is a great gift for your vet. Every vet I know who's read it tells me they wouldn't be without it. Many keep a copy right in their office, and Dr Jean Dodds says " This outstanding book offers comprehensive and well-documented review of the optimal guidelines for feeding dogs in health and disease. It provides a balanced, practical viewpoint as well as detailed specific diets for those wishing to home-cook for their dogs, or feed raw food diets or use a combination thereof."

Solutions to 3 Common Problems

My in-box has been flooded lately. It seems that every time an article or blog someone follows gets published, I receive questions about whether something is true, or not. Frankly, these publications would do everyone a service if they stated their source of info along with all the claims being made, but that's another subject. What I see is that people want to believe the claims because their dogs could use a bit of a miracle cure, so that's the part I want to address. Not miracle cures (clearly, if it's touted as preventing, or curing cancer, et al, you might want to find another publication to read), but the fact that there are problems with real solutions we could be considering.

1. You want to balance a diet: Spirulina has been mentioned as being a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Be careful what you deem "rich" to be. This product will not provide enough of any vitamin, or mineral a dog requires if the diet itself is lacking. Feeding it as an adjunct to a balanced diet is fine, but once a dog is deficient (it can take a while for this to become evident) in something, getting that level back up to a healthy range takes time, and the source of the vitamin/mineral can make a big difference to how well it will be absorbed. Best bet: Food sources. Second choice (and very viable): vitamin, or mineral supplement.

2. Flaky, dry skin: be sure the diet provides a good amount of essential fatty acids, and the diet is balanced. For those who feed a "prey diet", please take note that red meats are far more nutrient dense than chicken, duck, or turkey. That said, even grass-fed animals don't provide enough omega 3, so a meal of fish is warranted once weekly, or you can add wild salmon oil. A recent article in a magazine wittily explained that the food pyramid for dogs should be a whole chicken (feet to head and everything in the middle) and it made me smile, but it's not really true. Farmed animals (including organically farmed) have a very different nutrient profile from wild ones. So, chicken isn't the best example, but I do agree with the idea that feeding a whole animal makes some sense. It can still lead to dry and flaky skin though, so keep B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids, and all minerals in mind. I've corrected more of these cases than I can count simply by balancing them for the particular dog.

3. Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, so managing symptoms becomes key, and I like to try and slow it down as well. A joint supportive supplement containing glucosamine, chondroiten and MSM can be very helpful, but I've found that the ratios between the three matter a lot. Omega 3 fatty acids from wild salmon oil have anti-inflammatory properties, so that's helpful as well. Turmeric has many wonderful properties including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Speak to you holistic vet about the amount to add (it can interfere with some medications, and can be contraindicated for certain diseases) Lastly, I've had good luck with Antioxidant booster, and while I know it provides ellagic acid and antioxidants, I don't know the mechanism of action that would cause such dramatic improvement for arthritis in particular. Then again, I can't argue with the result!

Personally Speaking

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