Many of my patients go home with recommendations to include some form of nutritional supplementation into their diet. I am often asked why would my pet need a supplement if I am feeding a premium brand of balanced dog or cat food?
The answer to that comes in two parts.
First the why?
Most commercially prepared cat and dog food contains the minimum nutritional requirements for pets in a balanced formula. If the pet eats nothing other than that balanced diet, then they will receive the minimum requirements for maintenance (survival), nothing more. Many people add other foods to their pet’s diet (bones, family left overs, home prepared pet foods). Even though these added ingredients are all good quality, human grade food, they are not completely balanced. Unfortunately their addition effectively dilutes out the other nutrients leading to an unbalanced diet.
So do we recommend these added ingredients or not?
Absolutely YES! More on this later.
The other reason is that commercially prepared tinned and dry foods for adult pets typically only contain the minimum requirements for maintenance. That is they don’t have anything extra for growth, illness, pregnancy, stress or high levels of exercise. Supplementing these diets with extra nutrients can really boost your pet’s vitality. There are also some nutrients that do not survive the extreme processing temperatures such as anti-oxidants and omega-3 essential oils.
So what is needed?
In an ideal world, everyone would get all of their required nutrition from the food they eat. We all know that a richly varied diet of organic whole food ingredients, with balanced proportions of each of the food groups, vitamins, minerals and essential amino acids would provide all of the necessary nutrients for us all. Yet, many of us, if asked to list ALL of the vegetables and fruit that they ate in a given week, would struggle to list much more than potato, carrots, peas, bananas and apples. We are surrounded by a wealth of variety in available foods. As a result of marketing, supermarket subsidies and plain old habit forming, we consequently fall into the rut of choosing from the same narrow list of ingredients week after week.
As well as this reduced variety, many of the foods that we eat are loaded with toxins including fertilisers, insecticides, growth promoters. This is due to the way huge crops of single species are raised and harvested. Although we may try to choose healthy ingredients in our diet, it is just not possible for us to avoid these environmental toxins completely. Most of all our diet choices really limit the beneficial nutrients that we take in.
How does this relate to pet diets?
If we stick to feeding a single brand of processed food for our pets, we are severely restricting the variety of nutrients going in. There have been studies recently showing that as many as 1 in 4 brands of commercial cat foods did not contain the minimum requirements of nutrients to sustain life if fed as the sole food source to an adult cat! The study included both expensive and cheap brands of cat food.
This is why we recommend a natural, whole food diet for pets, packed with natural vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, cofactors and flavour! It is vital this is a balanced diet which is why we recommend a nutritional supplement of some sort. Even for those on a natural diet. Those eating processed diets will hugely benefit from nutritional supplements. Some ‘real foods’ should also be offered in their diet too.
What pet supplements do we recommend?
My favourite product that I recommend for all of my canine patients is Wellbeing Essentials by Wellbeing for Dogs. This is a wholefoods derived source of all of the essential vitamins and minerals that should be in a dog’s diet. Added to processed diets, it really boosts the nutritional value of that food. Also when added to home prepared cooked or raw diets, it gives the confidence that you are providing an appropriately balanced diet with excellent quality real food ingredients.
Other nutritional Supplements
We also recommend other nutritional supplements based on a pet’s particular problem or complaint:
Wellbeing Essentials will protect against a nutritional deficiency causing poor skin and coat health. Fish oil (omega 3) and seed oil supplements provide omega 3 and 6’s and reduce inflammation in the skin. Non-processed diets can also reduce the triggers of inflammation and promote better gut health. Improved gut health can result in better skin health.
Tumeric (Curcumin) and Fish oil supplements both naturally reduce inflammation. Chicken frames also provide a natural source of chondroitin and glucosamine to boost joint health.
Good gut health is essential to maintaining a strong immune system, healthy skin and reducing inflammation within the body. Unfortunately many commercial diets are deficient in good quality live nutrition. Probiotics help digestion, and improve health in so many ways. We recommend probiotics such as Protexin or PAW Digesticare or cultured foods such as kefir, yoghurt or sauerkraut.
Fish oil supplements can help to protect the kidneys. Dogs and cats with renal insufficiency can be managed with reduced meat but adequate protein in the diet to reduce the toxins circulating due to poor kidney health. This diet alteration must be guided by a veterinarian.
Click the link for some more information on nutritional supplements to consider adding to a dogs diet.
If you think your pet would benefit from a nutritional supplement (they will!) or would like any more information on targeted nutrition, give us a call or make an appointment with one of our friendly vets.
Bentons Road Veterinary Clinic loves treating Mornington Peninsula pets from Safety Beach & Moorooduc to Mornington & Mount Eliza.